The first time I saw her sewing machine must have been the first time I ever saw a sewing machine. It was a Singer--the kind with a heavy metal stand and a treadle. At the time, I was looking for ways to get more clothes for my dolls. This discovery told me that I had found the answer. All I had to do was to learn how to sew! I didn't know anything about patterns. I didn't even have fabric. But my grandmother did (of course). It wasn't long before the weekends would find us in her bedroom, in front of the sewing machine sewing up whatever she thought would be easy enough for me to try.
The doll clothes came much later when I was able to deal with sleeves and darts and such. I also learned how to do a French seam because my grandmother liked everything tidy. When I was older, I took sewing lessons and even learned how to draft my own patterns.
Nowadays there are endless patterns to choose from and while I don't spend a lot of time sewing, I find myself buying patterns for those just-in-case moments. For the longest time, however, I've been mulling over a dress pattern that I felt would be ideal for someone like me who likes "shapeless" clothing. Since I do lots of planning and designing in my head (not ideal when you come to think of how my mind flits about but well, there you have it), I had been mentally drafting the pattern and reminding myself to commit it to paper.
Then I found Tina Givens! Her clothes aren't for everyone and maybe most of them belong to a whole other era altogether, but I knew I found what I'd been looking for. Best of all, she shares four free patterns that are PDFs that you can download, print, and try out.
I downloaded the ones I wanted to try out and quickly realized that they're easily adaptable. I also delighted in the fact that they made perfect "canvases" for whatever I felt like painting on them! So I sewed one of the patterns and after I washed the finished blouse, I grabbed my box of yet unused (and bought during a huge online sale) DecoArt Fabric Paint. It was the first time I used this brand of fabric paint. In my teens, I used a Japanese brand.
When I bought the paints, I also bought a resist medium and I was truly thankful that I did! It helped keep the paint from spreading out too far and it also made the leaf outlines possible. After 48 hours, I washed the blouse again to see how the paint would fare. It was perfect.
I sewed the blouse using the smallest size option because I had my niece in mind when I started the project. After sufficient drying and a quizzical once-over, I wrapped it up and sent it off to Hawaii. Today (just when I was starting this post), she popped me a message on Facebook to let me know she got it and even shared a photo of her wearing it. I hesitate to share it here because since she blocked her face with her phone, I figure she wouldn't want me sharing her image with the rest of the world (not that the world reads my blog but it sounds nice, doesn't it?).
I'm still going to draft that pattern in my head at some point, by the way. The painting in my head needs a "canvas" and that dress will be perfect for it.
Next up will be the painted wooden bangles although they might make their appearance on my Paper With Everything blog because I'll be using mixed media which means more tea bags and paper!