Sunday, November 8, 2015

For Rain or Shine

“Mommy, can we do the umbrella class at Bungalow?”  “Well, ok,” she said, neither of us realizing what we were getting ourselves into.  I don’t know what we thought making an umbrella entailed.  A couple hours?  Some scissors?  Magic?  Well, it turns out to be a little more than a couple hours,  a little more than some scissors, and no magic.

The hardest part was choosing the fabric.  I had a concept in my head, but nothing was singing out to me, and the fabrics I kept finding myself drawn to didn’t match a thing in my wardrobe.  Mommy, however, little over achiever that she is, found her fabric right away.  She was a good deal of the way into assembling her umbrella before I had my fabric selected.

Mommy chose two complimentary fabrics: a cute  print on white with 1950s-style Parisian women doing things around Paris, shopping, sitting at a cafe, standing by the Champs Elyse or near the Eifel Tower; and a large grey polka dot on white. 

I chose a black and white print of cityscape silhouettes, people in business clothes going here and there with briefcases interspersed with large round clock faces and park bench scenes. WP_20150328_018 I liked the modern, busy city feel of the images combined with the old-fashioned simplicity of black & white.  It seemed perfect for a busy city like D.C.  I had some trouble choosing a complimentary fabric, but eventually went with a black, grey and white flower on a variegated pink background.  I hedged a bit, looked at lots of fabrics, and pretty much just went with this combo because I was tired of looking and race-horse Mommy was on her third lap.  And being the little trouble-maker that I am, that wasn’t enough.  I decided I wanted a binding along the bottom and picked black with small white polka dots.  Mommy and the lady helping us, Peggy, cut the polka dots into strips and ironed it into double-fold bias tape.

attaching binding First step to making umbrellas is to cut out your 8 panels.  Then – here’s where things seem a little backwards – you hem them each individually.  Since I was putting on binding instead of hemming, I had to sew each bias strip onto the bottom of my panels while Mommy hemmed hers (well after Mommy hemmed hers cuz I’m a slow poke).

Next, you sew all the pieces together, being sure to leave an opening at the top for the umbrella post.  You also make a strap to wrap around the umbrella and hold it closed and stitch that onto the umbrella.  It turns out those are the easy parts.  Then, you put your machine away and take out the hand needle.  Oh boy.

WP_20150328_025The umbrella frame is kind of scary on its own, like a giant pokey spider.   It comes with 9 parts to be assembled onto the frame, 8 little metal tips and 1 cap.  The metal tips are sewn onto the umbrella covering and then lock onto the ends of the metal frame.  The tips are sort of like little metal tube socks.  At the top end, there’s holes in the metal across from each other for stitching the tips to the umbrella.  It’s a little tricky at first, and it helps a lot to safety pin the tips to the umbrella covering and slip onto the frame first, then slip them off the frame one-at-a-time to sew individually, removing the safety pin after a few stitches.  The really cool part about this step is you get to see how your umbrella’s going to look!

We had to go home before I got to sewing on the tips, but Mommy was able to finish her umbrella during the class.  After she sewed on all the tips, Peggy helped her glue the cap onto the top of the umbrella.

gluing the top

button Next, Mommy sewed each seam to the umbrella frame.  When she got home, she added a button and button-hole to the closure strap.



Voila!  A beautiful umbrella.

Mommy's umbrella


Mommy and her umbrella

Mommy’s going to spray hers with waterproofing so that it can actually be used as an umbrella.  I want mine to be a parasol for the hot D.C. summer sun, so I’m not spraying it with waterproofing.  I originally wanted to add lace to it, before I picked out my fabrics, and am still toying with the idea.  But for now, here’s my parasol.

business outfit cropped 

It wound up perfectly matching the outfit I had on that day, the polka-dotted side of my wrap skirt and a light pink blouse with black and white spectator stilettos.  Goes ok with my suit, too.

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