CIBA Sunday: Apologies From a Slacker, and the First Article

Ahhh, my master plan to create the CIBA archive for students! It was so well intentioned, and yet, fell apart so completely by my inability to figure out how to make a multi-page PDF file.

It’s such a lame excuse.

I have figured out how to make a PDF, now, and I have been slowly, but surely, scanning all 175 of my CIBA Reviews. It’s a process.

I apologize

Now, on with the first article!!!

Spanish leather hanging

Spanish leather hanging

I think I may have said, many, many, many months ago that I am starting off with the first volume in my collection. That is to say, I’m starting off with Volume 3, because I don’t have volumes 1 or 2.  Volume 3 is all about wall coverings. Tapestries, wall hangings, wall paper, curtains. If it can cover a wall, it’s covered in the articles.

 17th cen spanish hanging

17th century Spanish hanging

The first article is a fairly informative one, by Grete de Francesco, in November of 1937. In fact, at least for this volume, she appears to have written the majority of the articles. The first article, which you can download at the bottom of this post, in a PDF, is entitled “The History of Mural Hangings”. It sounds a little dry, but the pictures in the article are stunning, dating back at least as far as the 16th century.  The article briefly explains the practical functions of mural hanging, as well as the aesthetics; it then goes on to trace the evolution of wall paper from the “humble” origins as hangings.

 17th cen wallpaper

17th century wallpaper

There is a detailed explanation of the method of creating Cordova leathers, which were popular as wall hangings from the 11th to the 16th century. These were gold or silver leafed leathers, which were then painted with various colored lacquers. De Francesco compared the resulting works to silk and gold (or silver) weaving, which at the time, with silk being a costly import from Asia, would have been even more expensive than the Cordova leather panels!

 Embossed leather and flock paper

Embossed leather and flock paper

The Rococo and Baroque eras departed from the costly tapestries, silks and leather hangings, and instead favored painted panels on the walls. De Francesco accredited the popularity of this style to Marie Antoinette. In addition, this painted wall panelling trickled down to the middle classes in the form of wallpapers, which were more affordable, if not as intricate and detailed, as the paintings in the homes and halls of the nobles.

The History of Mural Hangings (Full Article PDF. Zoom to read!)

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Impulse Control Issues

Sometimes, I just can’t help myself. I’m sure a lot of people have this problem. Maybe you see the perfect pair of jeans in a store and you buy them for 110$, ignoring the fact that they look EXACTLY like EVERY, SINGLE, OTHER pair of jeans in the WORLD. Or maybe every time cellphones go on sale, you buy five of them. Not because you need them, but, because, c’mon, they were on SALE!

Actually, maybe most of our problems with over buying would be solved if stores stopped offering “buy one, get X” sales… You can ponder this for today and get back to me!

As I was saying, this impulse control issue with spending is perfectly normal. I myself am known to spend almost beyond my means. And it always comes back to bite me in the tush.

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My most recent splurge was the result of my throwing a tantrum at the fabric store over the cutting counter gremlin. I happen to love Halloween, and this fabric is just so PERFECT. SO I bought ten yards of it, with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it.

I did the same thing with a bolt of creepy haunted house fabric…

And a bolt of Dia de los Muertos fabric…

Always with no idea what I was going to do with it. I just knew that I wanted it.

But this time, I came up with a genius idea. I sketched out this dress idea-

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And that was when it hit me. I don’t really have the time to do a full scale, 500000000000 piece collection… but why not a Limited Edition Halloween collection?

I ran this idea by my Friend-Who-Remains-Anonymous.

“That’s a wonderful idea!” he said. “You should start creating a buzz about it now.”

And, yet again, I was stumped. How does one “create a buzz”, I wondered.

“Let me guess,” he said, blandly. “You forgot that you had a blog, and haven’t updated it in three months.”

Ha! that’s where he was wrong! I showed him my posts.

“Very good,” he said approvingly. “you told them that you hate the only fabric store in your area because the people are mean, you told them you are a starving artist, and you told them you are insane and think the DEVIL possessed your sewing machine.” Maybe “approving” was the wrong word…

“Now,” he informed me, “you are going to tell your readers all about you idea for this mini collection, and show them your adventure in the creative process.”

I think he was expecting a little too much from me. I think he was probably over estimating my abilities, too.

He sighed. “Mack, just do it. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee for each post you put up about this project.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, sealed the deal. This officially goes to my first cup of free coffee!! I win!!!!!

The Lie of Lace

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word “Lace”? Some people think “The curtains my cat ripped to shreds”. Others think “Something I wish my wife/girlfriend/finacee/lover would wear more often…”. Still others think “I wonder if they finished altering my wedding dress yet”. And of course there’s a plethora of people who think in abstraction : Sexy, pretty, girly, flirty, soft, decadent, expensive… the list probably keeps going on into eternity.

Now, with a show of hands, how many of you thought “I hate you”? Not many, am I right. Maybe a few new sewers, who are in the same boat I am. Those of us who are still getting the hang of working with lace twitch in horror. I have nightmares. I’m being chased by a bolt of lace that is screaming “SEW ME!!!!”, and I can’t escape.

My fear of lace is actually pretty logical. It gets pulled down into my machine while I’m sewing, and then rips. And if it doesn’t do that, then it stretches while I’m sewing (now matter how many pins I use), and then has a bubble effect. I can’t mark it very well when I’m cutting the pattern. And let’s not talk about how many times I’ve sewn something together backwards and then had to take out every. Single. Seam.

I recently encountered a new problem with lace. This time my problem arose with the lace trim. Those dainty strips of gorgeous lace that you can use to trim skirts, and dresses, and socks and gloves, and, well, anything at all. The sewing instructions called for lace that was 1″ wide. I’ve got a HUGE drum full of vintage lace, in every width, and color and pattern. So i dove in to this barrel-o-lace (literally and figuratively) and like a cat with yarn, I started unrolling the lace until I’d made an ungodly mess.

And not a single lace was 1″ wide.

Sure, there was scalloped lace that in PLACES was an inch wide… But in other places it was 2-3″ wide. i had lace that was straight edged and 1.5 ” wide, lace that was .75″ wide, lace that was 6″ wide… but no 1″ lace.

“What the heck,” I said to myself. “Does it REALLY matter? I’ll just use a thinner lace!”, and so I did.

Now is when I should probably say that the lace in question was going to be used for inserts. What is this “insert”? you may wonder. Basically, I was supposed to sew the lace flat against the finished dress (or stitching line on each side of the lace), and then slit the fabric behind the lace, fold it back, and sew it into place, thus creating sort of windows. Doesn’t that sound pretty?

Now that you know what I was supposed to do, please divide .75 by 2. If you don’t want to, that 3/8 of an inch. That’s not a whole lot of a seam allowance to be sewing on, especially with a machine.

My machine agreed. It sucked the fabric down into the hole for the needle, and ripped a big old hole in the dress. I screamed a little. Then I swore a black streak. I stomped my feet, and pounded on the table, and, after three more failed, and destructive, attempts, I surrendered and threw the dress into the garbage.

This week, I decided to try the dress, all over again, with many modifications on the sewing instructions. As for the question of lace, I took two thin trims and sewed them together with a zig-zag stitch. The machine enjoyed this, and did NOT try to eat the lace. And while I have not yet gotten around to doing the inserts, I have a feeling that this time, with the help if a zig-zag stitch and a WHOLE lot more patience, I will be much more successful.

In conclusion, I offer these words of advice on using lace: patience is a virtue. So is a fresh needle and a zig zag stitch. And if you feel like I did, and want to eradicate lace from the face of the planet because it just DOESN’T BEHAVE, do as I did. Take a break. Drink some decaf herbal tea. Do some yoga. play fetch with your dog. Take the time to unwind, and then, once you feel calmer, return to your project. It will go a whole lot better. I promise!