Fabric Mixologist: Fernweh

Today we welcome RaeAnna and Jessica as our first experts in fabric mixology! They'll put their mastery over fabrics to use interpreting their prompt:

Fernweh is a German word often described as being "homesick" for a place you have never been. Pick a place (in space or time) that you have never been, or long to explore again, and let it inspire your children's garment. Entry must include at least one fabric type unique to the location you choose. 

Their objective is to incorporate multiple colors, prints, textures, and trims to create a one of a kind outfit, as inspired by the prompt.

RaeAnna's Look:

"Ohio Konnichiwa" everyone!!! The challenge prompt for this edition of Top Stitcher made me squeal! I love traveling and have been to many countries, yet the Eastern countries are still uncharted territory for me! As a music teacher, my school was heavily populated by Japanese, Chinese, and Korean students as their parents were students at Vanderbilt. I was so sad to see many of them move back home, but every Spring was so much fun when their parents would help us put on a multicultural program! This is what inspired me for this week's challenge!

First of all, you can't think of Japanese culture without thinking of the gorgeous kimono fabric! I have an authentic kimono in my closet that was given to me by my Grandma. I believe she bought it in San Francisco many, many years ago. I couldn't dream of cutting it up for this challenge, so I got on Etsy and found a wonderful store that makes finished items but also has kimono fabric scraps for sale! I thought the scraps would be enough to highlight the fabric for this challenge! When I think of Japanese clothing, linen is also what comes to mind. There are so many wonderful Japanese pattern books out there but none of the patterns really jumped out at me, so I thought I would come up with my own design for the dress! And to keep with the theme of the Orient, I used a sewing technique called the Hong Kong finish for the side seams of the skirt!

  • Kimono fabric: The beautiful culture of ancient Japan
  • Linen and Chambray fabric: The simplicity of Japanese Sewing Patterns
  • Gold faux leather: Representative of the colors of Koi fish (meh....that may be reaching a bit. I guess the better reasoning is just that I thought the dress needed a bit of "pop" and faux leather was the perfect option! ha!)
  • Hong Kong finish: Sewing technique from China

I had so much fun putting this dress together and I used another kimono scrap to fix a mistake on the back of Eva Mae's dress - while serging the skirt to the bodice can you guess what happened????? UGH! I hate when something is caught by that nasty cutting knife! Fortunately I knew right when it happened and it was only a nick into the top of the bodice. I think the "tag" made from kimono fabric looks really neat on the back of the dress!

Thank you Domo arigato for visiting and reading about the Sakura dress!!! (Oh, and Sakura is one of the songs I always had my children sing in their multicultural program! It is the Cherry Blossom tree that always makes me think of spring when I see the blooms! For beautiful pictures, look up the Sakura trees in Washington, DC! They were donated to the United States by Japan in 1912.) And if you would like to learn how to add a Hong Kong finish with ribbon, come visit my blog for the full picture tutorial!

Jessica's Look:

As a musician, Fernweh is not something new to me. I love learning about different music and instruments from foreign countries and eras. While the idea was simple, the choices were not! I finally decided I'd go with my newest obsession: Scotland. I've always wanted to go, my husband has Scottish roots, and my latest reads have included a few series of historical fiction (hello, Outlander), so it just made sense to choose this in the end.

I didn't want to go all Braveheart in my selection, but I did want to take the traditional Scottish dress and turn it on its head. Plus, with a last name like Stewart, I'm kind of obligated to bring in our family's plaid, right? I went with a chic version of the traditional Scottish kilt and tunic. Instead of using the plaid in the predictable place, I used a breezy, plaid georgette from JoAnn Fabrics for my Josephine top from Violette Field Threads and a solid, black polyester from Hancock Fabrics for my Lottie skirt from brownie-goose. I really wanted a fun purse that mimicked the look of a sporran, and a friend found this perfect bag pattern from Puperita. I sewed it up in some faux leather from JoAnn with a tapestry tassel and trim. Sewing smaller tassels to a pair of cable knit knee socks completes the look.

This project stretched me in ways I never thought it would! First of all, the fabrics. Georgette and pleather are both very finicky fabrics to deal with and they definitely challenged my patience more than my comfortable cotton/lycra knits and quilter's cotton. Second, I used sewing techniques that were new to me and even had to rethread my new serger twice during the process. Go me, right?

I think my favorite thing about this, though, is that my 5 year old is SO excited about these pieces and I wasn't sure that was going to happen. It's always better to enter a competition with items that will get used again! 

Maybe we should totally rock the motherland thing and get her into bagpipe lessons?

Um...maybe not.

Until next time~

WOW! How darling are these little ladies! Well done, sewists :D

Before we give them their marks, let's have a refresher of the rules, shall we??:

  • Please rate each challenger, and every category. Max of 5 stars, 5 is highest.
  • Challengers will receive an average score for each category, and an average score overall. (You can see an example here)
  • Your feedback helps each challenger recognize areas that they can improve their craft, and celebrate those areas that they already excel. 
  • As such, please submit your feedback for each contestant only once. Admittedly, I cannot enforce this, but the objective is for each contestant to receive a thoughtful rating, not skewed scores. 
  • It is SUPER DUPER NERVE-WRACKING to put work on display for others to judge, so let's remember to leave some love and encouragement for our challengers in the comments! 

Voting begins immediately and runs through midnight Thursday. Tune in Friday for the results!

Do you have a place in space or time you are dying to go? Sew up a Fernweh look and enter it in our Sew Along linky!