Friday, February 29, 2008

Got my mojo back!


That nasty cold left as fast as it came. I am back in the creative saddle with one garment nearly done and two others cued up. I am on the tail end of sewing a spring jacket for myself out of a new pale yellow matelasse bedspread. For the longest time I have lingered over these bedspreads at Home Goods, whipping them into jackets in my mind. Well the time has come, the color is right and so Spring-y too. I am using Simplicity 3843 but you wouldn't know it. The bedspread has beautifully stitched scalloped edges that I wanted to use for the collar and an ouside front facing. After fiddling with strips of the scallops on the near finished jacket, I canned that idea and decided to do a jewel neckline with no scallops and to put a scalloped cuff on the 3/4 sleeve. I think that look will be more flattering to my shape and less busy. The other way was just too foofy. So I am near done and pics will come as soon as I get my camera back from DD's, miles away. I hate the idea of shipping it as it is very pricey camera setup and I won't take that risk. So bear with me, sewistas, greatly appreciated.

Next in the cue is Simplicity 3662, an awesome little pattern. I have already made the piped blouse View B and now will try the jumper. A search on the Everything Sewing site for 3662will bring lots of pictures and inspiration. I have been wanting to make this jumper since these pics were posted. My fabric is a bright green and pink Monkey print and that's all I'm sayin'! Next in the cue is New Look 6333, another wannatry for a longtime. It is a darling kimono and pants and I have the most wonderful Kona cotton sateen oriental print to pull this one off. So lots going on here. I have been duly inspired and am working my plan. Wish you all the same!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Easter Sunday Best!

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Let me tell you, it's not easy to think spring with this weather we are having today. At Easter our family traditionally joins together for an egg hunt and glorious Spring inspired feast. Last year I made DGD Sophie a smocked Madeira hem confection that I knew wouldn't fit her. She will be wearing it this year. I seem to always be a year ahead with fit for my little girls when it comes to any holidays. Anyhoo, her dress is made from pink and white oxford cloth and has smocking and Madeira hem and collar techniques. There are also bullions and my everpresent piping as well. Closeup of Sophies Easter Dress and Pinstitched Madeira collarI REALLY like doing the Madeira treatment and it is so easy with water soluble threads. I would like to thank my heirloom mentor, Betty D, for teaching me via cyberspace, how to do a great Madeira hem and collar. If you would like to see more of Betty's brilliance check out the www.everythingsewing.net site under tips. Betty is a treasure who has done and sewn everything when it comes to heirloom. I am so glad I know this wonderful cyberfriend.

The Madeira hem and collar are pinstitched for emphasis and just plain beauty. The hem undulutes instead of the traditional scallop, the better to not do those nasty points! I use the technique as taught by Carol Laflin Ahles in "Fine Machine Sewing." This is my bible. I can't wait to see my darling Sophie in this dress. Do you like long dresses on little girls? I sure do. I find the ones in Australian Smocking and Embroidery are just to my liking when it comes to hem length. they just look like such ballerinas in the longer length.Sophie\'s Easter Dress with a pinstitched Madeira hem and collar and picture smocked baskets.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sick and in a slump!

My sewing has taken a back seat the past ten or so days as Mr. Sewista and I went 4 states south to help DD with her very sick and hospitalized infant twins. The good news is the babies are recovering back at home and that makes everyone happy. Fast forward back north those same four states to home and I am shuffling my feet with my creativity. My head is filled with equivalent of quilt batting and my red eyes are not that way from staring at a presser foot. I have a cold. Simple enough. But when I go look in my sewing room, all I see are stacks of fabric and patterns and I don't seem to have the energy to weed thru them to the next project. I know that once I feel better physically the ole' creativity will kick back in.

So here is what's sitting around in my studio: an unsewn black wool hat with a felted flower on it, a basket of all my new rovings, a stack of blue wool and hand dyed wools waiting to be a pocketbook, Twin Baby Girl's bishop waiting to be hemmed, a kimono pattern for TBG, a new pattern for a linen top for Moi, a pale yellow matelasse bedspread aching to become a spring jacket, an ironing board and ironing. I am sure I will get my mojo back soon and maybe even fold up and put away all these goodies and start something new and unthought of. Meanwhile, let me get some more Robitussin.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Whipped and Bound!


Still plenty left to do but this phase of the bishop is done.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More Poop on Piping!


Since smocking is finished, piping is the next step to deal with on Baby Girl Twin's peach colored bishop. I've canned the use of the wavy striped fabric for the piping that I posted yesterday. It was too high contrast on such a soft pastel. This is how I love to design, just comfortably evolving from a very specific concept. I have decided to use one of my favorite techniques, a wrapped or "whipped" piping. It will go around the neckline and a few inches above the hemline. I just love to accent deep hems on little girls dresses and this will have a softer effect and a more "designerly" approach than the original plan. Here is a link to a boys christening gown I made for Twin Baby Boy out of silk taffeta and whipped with blue floss on the piping.

This technique is pretty straightforward. You stitch your piping. Thread a darner with 6 strands of floss. Bring the needle up between two stitches. Bring the needle around to the back, wrapping the piping. Count down two or three stitches and come up again with the needle between two stitches. Be consistent, all two or all three stitches down the seam line as you wrap. When your piping is inserted into its seam you will be stitching right up close to the cord. Using your stitches as a ruler is a great tool to throw into the toolbox!
The only drawback to this technique is for piping a hem as I plan to do. It will take a lot of time to whip a long length of piping. But all good things come to those who wait .....and sew!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I am in love with a piping ruler!


A recent comment reminded me that the rest of the world may not be familiar with a tool that I just take for granted. It is my Darr Piping Ruler. Making piping is a must have skill in heirloom sewing and smocking, but truth is, I like piping on everything. It is that little spark of extra effort that accents an interesting shape or lights up a timid textile. Here are my piping tools: a Darr piping ruler (NAYY), rotary mat, cutter, and ruler, a 5 groove pintuck foot, and some crochet cotton. Sewing maven, Betty D., recommends #3 cable crochet cotton. I have had a giant ball of something similar so long I am not sure what it is. Looks like Betty's cord, though.

The piping ruler is only 8 inches long but that is one of the things that makes it work. It has deep grooves underneath at well marked 3/8, 5/8, etc. seamline measurements.

Heirloom patterns generally have 3/8 inch seams. For that size seam I like to cut 1 1/4 inch true bias strips using my rotary cutter and Olfa ruler. This gives me more seam allowance than I need but you will soon see why. I line up the 45ยบ line on the selvedge of the piping fabric. Make sure the ruler is to your left and the bulk of the fabric to your right for safer cutting. Lefties would be opposite. There are many other ways to make bias but for most children's garments that just require a neckline and cuff edge piped, the short edges of a half yard of fabric cut this way do fine.

Fold the bias around the cord, matching the cut edges. Using your 5 groove pintuck foot, stitch the piping with a 2.0 stitch. I use the groove second from the left and a 3 needle position at this point. I increase the stitch length to 2.5 and then 3.0 in the next two passes attaching the piping to the garment. This increase in stitch length accommodates the increase in fabric thickness and layers, preventing puckering and a shortened seam. You will need to adjust the needle position each time you stitch to get closer to the piping cord.

OK-piping is completed. Lineup your piping ruler fitting the cord into the 3/8 inch groove, or whatever applies. A wider SA will require a wider bias strip. Cut off the excess SA with the Rotary Cutter. Push the ruler up the cord, keeping it in the channel. Rotary cut again. Continue to push the ruler up the piping cord and cutting once in place. You will be left with absolutely perfect 3/8 inch seam allowances. Once this edge is lined up with a garment edge and stitched you will have the perfect 3/8 inch seam. Stitch your piping to the garment going a hair closer to the cord and with a 2.5 length. Add the facing or other patttern piece, matching edges. Now, FLIP THE GARMENT OVER. You will see the stitching line perfectly. Stitch a hair closer again to the piping with a 3.0 length.

You should now have a very nicely installed piping. Many times piping needs a little further tweeking. Don't feel bad if it does. Just keep tweeking. Further treatment of the SAs depends on their location and function so I will save those options for another day.

My little bishop is near ready for its piping so I will try to have pics for that shortly.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Next projects lined up!


I have always tried to have one hand sewing and one machine sewing project going. Beyond that I rarely ever work on more than one project at a time, one by hand and one by machine, that is. I find I am more focused and productive if i stick to this rule. As I am on the tail end of my bishop, it is time to get going on another smocking project. I have wanted to make something for Twin Baby Boy that would not be overly "foufy." Up here in the Northeast #1-the climate is way to cold for batistes and hanky linens most of the time, and #3-dads in these parts would do hard time before they would allow anything "foufy" on their sons. That being said, I am blessed with a wonderful son in law who is an accomplished sailor and will indulge grandma as long as it is boat related. I picked this plate from Little Memories which I think is prescious. It will be stitched on some tea dyed hanky linen for the insert and some heavier mocha linen for the garment, a longall. So, masculine color, masculine theme, and cute as the dickens.

For a new machine project, I will time out with a simple knit top, Simplicity 3790, view D. It will be part of my pledge to not dress as though I had stock in the turtleneck concession. Kinda makes one look prego, but hey, that's the look, and I am going for the look.