Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dressy Eyelet Blouse



For this pattern I used New Look 6563 but I did a few changes from the pattern. I started with View C but decided on a lantern sleeve instead of the little cap sleeve. I have recently decided these arms were made for waggin' and that's just what they'll do, ( do you feel the beat?) so I have taken a pledge to forgo anything sleeveless or tiny cap sleeve. I think this lantern sleeve is pretty flattering for my aging arms. I LOVE the peplum. I think that is very flattering. I need to find more of that style and luckily I have seen quite a few jackets with peplums so that may be a future project. It's as if the peplum makes whatever hips are underneath seem a little smaller. Is that wishful thinking? As far as the fit, I did LOTS of adjustments. I added 3/4 inch to the neckline edge as it was much too decollete. I did a SFBA, (my saggy full boob adjustment) adjusting for a C-cup and lowering the bust point. I increased the dart size. And, most importantly, I did an S-dart adjustment. That was something new I had never tried. I really like the diffence it made in my fit. The dress form does not fill out the "cup" area but in real life it fits my boobs much better. I will be doing the S-dart from now on. French seams would be what I would normally use for this type of blouse, but the eyelet is just too "bumpy" for French seams. All seams are therefore stitched, serged, and some are top stitched.
I tried taking these pics outside, yearning for some very artful type of photo, but it seems the wind kept whipping the blouse around and the shadows, while lovely dappled light for my hostas, do not make for good fashion photos. So, back inside I came. I think I need to read Lindsay's article on photos again!
To trim the neckline, I used a double row of those tiny flowerettes. The organza is cut on the bias, folded, gathered, and then stitched down, and covered with the flowerettes. The organza is then trimmed back to show a top layer shorter than the bottom layers. I really like bias raw edge trim. There are some weird shadows on this pic as it is one that was taken outside. Once again, I can't describe how this eyelet is "silvery". The threads that make up the stitching are a metallic silver. The fabric has a silver "pearlized" look to it. None of this is evident in any of the photos. Trust me, its very metallic!


The closures I just love. First I split the fabric a little right of center front so I would have a seam to insert the folded bias organza strips into. They would make a loop for the jewelry finding I found. That finding had a circle that I stitched down by hand and that was connected by jump rings to a bar that I put in the loop. Click on the pic to see it in closer detail. There are four of these that go down the center front. Underneath I put snaps, covered snaps. I covered the snaps with some poly chiffon. This is a tutorial I did on the Everything Sewing site on how to do covered snaps. Covered snaps are such a lovely way to deal with such a mundane closure.

Yesterday I auditioned three different fabrics with the blouse for DH to comment on. I put on the blouse and then pinned the skirt fabrics around my torso. DH and I both agreed on a black linen for a skirt. I hope to get that started when I get back home.

I will be away for about a week, going to New Hampshire and Mass. on business. I hope to make a side trip to Fabric Fix and hopefully they will have some dupioni or charmeuse. They were really weak with those products the last time I visited but hopefully that has changed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008















The "lace" on the left isn't really a lace. It is a very tiny ricrac that is handstitched at the points into this triangular shape. I have several yards of it and can't imagine what this was adorning. With a pressing board, the kind with all the shapes on it, I think one could easily put together their own version of this ricrac trim.

The lace on the right is really unique. It is relatively coarse and appears to be made from a linen thread. I have probably about 5 yards of it. It is about 4 inches wide. It is definitely a hand made lace. If it is indeed linen, I am thinking maybe Irish in origin. I can't think of how I would ever use this one, but I certainly enjoy just admiring it.

Friday DH and I are leaving for Massachusetts on business. We will be gone for about a week and will attend a wedding for a dear friend's daughter. We are not sure yet when we will be back. I am hoping to have my blouse up on the blog tomorrow. It is all done but needs some handwork to be really finished. This morning I auditioned the blouse with several different fabrics for a skirt and a black linen was definitely the way to go. So I hope to get that made when I get back. After the completion of this I hope to start working on some contest entries, one being for the SAGA convention design contest. The other is for a fabric manufacturer. It has been a challenge finding his fabrics up here. I may search out a few quilt shops for more of his fabric while I am on the North Shore of MA next week.

A little geography: I live way way up in upstate New York, in the farthest north region of the Adirondacks. We are about an hour from Montreal and Ottawa, centered between the two. Saranac Lake and Lake Placid are within a 50 minute drive and we love visiting those two towns. There is so much to do in Lake Placid. We spent last weekend there going to the top of Whiteface Mountain. It was great fun. We had lifelong friends for the long weekend and had a ball. DH went to first grade with both of the halves of the couple and I have been good friends with the wife of the couple since I was fifteen. We had a ball. There is something about those lifelong friendships that is so special, so forgiving, and so loving. I will treasure last weekend always and I wish the same for all of you out there.

I am hoping to get my blouse posted tomorrow. Keep those needles crossed!...Bunny

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Samples

The past few days have brought about some talk of samples out here in the sewing world. This is how I handle mine. I make samples for just about everything I put to the machine. Sometimes it is just pure play. Other times it is purely functional. On the left are some woolen samples I did. I made a jacket in the houndstooth and did the bound buttonholes with a purchased whipped piping. It was black with copper whipping. Loved that jacket and its still tucked in the back of the closet.

This is a great way to get to know your machine, stitch by stitch and foot by foot. At one point I had the samples in sheet protectors in a binder but that got too cumbersome. So now I just keep them in a plastic box. I refer to my box often, sometimes just for inspiration and other times for specific technique. Sometimes I forget I know how to do something!
When I make samples I do all sorts of trial runs with different stitch lengths, threads, needles, tensions, etc. When I firm up on the way I like the technique best I take a Pigma pen and write on the sample all of the above and any other pertinent info. I use abbreviations, N-needle, SL-stitch length, T-tension, etc. If I am trying a technique I have seen in a book or magazine, I abbreviate that too.
If I am trying a technique I saw in "Fine Machine Sewing" on page 47, I will take the pen and write "FMS-47" and now I know exactly where to look up the technique if I need further info. If the technique comes from a magazine, ie, Sew Beautiful, page 28, it will say "SB-28.
I have found this to be time really well spent. It can be mindless fun or a garment specific endeavor. Either way, I end up with lots of samples at the ready next time I need a little inspiration.

The finger is a little better. I didn't do any sewing today but did manage to clean the pink cave.

As we sip our lemonades and grill our burgers, lets remember those many who have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can embrace our freedoms. May we never forget how much they gave. I say that for all the generations of men and woman who have gone before as well as our soldiers who are now serving. May they come home soon to enjoy their own freedoms and families in this wonderful country of ours.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rotary Cutter Accident



Those are three words that will put the fear of God into anyone! I was trimming the organza on my blouse and moved it into position and Zip! my finger was sliced, I swear the bone stopped it. Bleeding like a stuck pig, I immediately lifted it up and put hard pressure on it. Then I ran and got DH. He doctored me up and all is OK. I am not about to go get stitches as I just don't have the time! I think it will be fine. I do all my cutting out with a rotary cutter and this is the one and only time I have had an accident. I have been sewing since 6:30 this AM and its noon now so I think I was just getting tired. Time for a break.

This is what I have accomplished today. I did my loops for the closure. they are strips of bias organza double folded and inserted into a seam. I had to add the seam break there to accomplish this.
This blouse meets at center front with no overlap and a toggle closure. To prevent unnecessary peekaboo and also to have a place to install some snaps, I added this placket which will lay underneath the other side.
What looks like a stripper's boa is the bias cut organza trim. I stitched it down the middle and slightly gathered it. I first pinned it all to the blouse and then handbasted it into place.
As I handbasted it into place, I did so on the fold where the gathering line was. I like this pic because you can see the shimmer in the fabric. After this I went to the machine and stitched on that fold. Then I placed another row of the little flower trim over the fold all the way around the neckline and CF. I decided to trim back the trim making one layer shorter than the other but cutting both back. Then Cutzilla attacked me and my sewing binge was over.

And would you look at what a sewing angel dropped on my doorstep? How cool is that? The blue micro check is a great weight to make rompers for twin baby boy and would work wonderfully with the smocked insert I am working on for him. Love all the goodies! Thanks Sewing Angel...Bunny

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My fitting issues!

I always need to start every pattern with making it a petite. I do this as Sandra Betzina suggests and that is by folding out fabric in the upper chest, front and back, and the corresponding fold out in the sleeve . I make this to every pattern I use right out of the envelope. It has made a major difference in my fit. Thank you, Sandra! I fold out a total of a half inch. I am narrow in the back and torso in general , I guess. But I take a C cup and then small waist, and healthy hips made for birthin' babies. I usually use a size 6 but this pattern started at 8, but that's fine.
After petiting the pattern I did my usual SFBA, saggy full bust adjustment! I did an increase to the side dart for a C cup. I lowered the dart based on my bust point and also moved the waist to bust darts a little closer together. Then I did a pivot and slide to cover my flat pattern measurements. Are you spinning yet? Next I did an S dart adjustment. This was my first time, so it will be interesting to see how that comes out. I also needed to add width at the high hip. All of this took me all day. I did a brief stint in the garden, but once my back started singing I quit and came back in to sew some more.

When I came back in I cut out my muslin and sewed it together. I was generally pleased. I decided to add 3/4 of an inch to the neckline. Too much d├ęcolletages for moi! I also added to the high hip some more after that. But when it was all done I was pretty happy. Now lets see how the actual garment comes out. Fabrics have such idiosyncrasies in their fit and draping. Many's the time a muslin fits perfectly and then the garment needs to be majorly tweeked.

Tonite I will be watching American Idol and hopefully cutting out the eyelet. I know I could avoid surprises by using similar fabric to to the garment, but eyelet is eyelet and it made no sense to do an eyelet muslin for an eyelet blouse!

I had fun playing with my closures. I will hold that one for a surprise. Lets just say they are silver plated! LOL!!!....Bunny

Monday, May 19, 2008

Improved Trim Options

Amazing what a stroll around Joann's can do for ones creative juices. First I found white rattail which would make a smaller, smoother piping. Duh! Why didn't I think of that? I have actually used rattail for piping before, too! Another senile moment sets in. Then, after lots of searching, I found a small piece of that silvery organza in the red tag fabrics. Snatched that up for insurance! Then I came upon a tiny little trim that I think will work nicely as well, kind of little flowerettes (heirloom term). So I am rarin' to go. Tonite will be a sewing night, at least till I get punchy. I don't like to sew at night but you gotta do what you gotta do. So I am psyched.
ETA: My sewing friend, Nonie, asked if I always make samples. I pretty much do. I try out the tensions, needles, etc on just about all my ideas. I don't like sewing surprises. So pretty much everything gets a sample tried out, even just plain straight stitching on cotton. You have to see the differences in stitch length, etc...
Nonie also asked where I get my ideas. They just pop into my head. I dont' think I have any better explanation. I see one thing, whether fabric , trim, or whatever, and that jump starts something in my head and I go from there. It just happens.

This lovely lace is one of my favorites. It truly is just a film. It is so sheer and so special. I hope you like it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Piped Raw Edge Organza Trim


I have decided that I need something to wear to a garden wedding in NH in two weeks. I am going to try my dangdest to get done an eyelet blouse with some nifty embellishments and some sort of grey skirt, not sure what type yet.

My eyelet is "pearlized" and I love it. It is a tinge of grey instead of snow white with the silvery eyelet threads. The eyelet has a silver sheen to it, hard to detect in the photos. I am duly inspired by vague memories of a blouse I saw a couple of months ago. I played with making trim samples this afternoon until we had to leave to meet friends. These "trim tries" are tryouts and not lessons in accuracy. I was looking for a way to outline a neckline that would trim it off and also allow for the unique closure I plan. I would have played with more and more samples but my fabric is limited and I did not want to cut into it too much more. I am big on samples.

So here were what I tried. I cut my organza strips on the bias. My next move was to cover white piping with the organza. Why? If I used white cording, it had a twist to it that showed thru the organza in a nasty fashion. On one sample I cut the SAs off the piping and wrapped it with the organza. On the other I left the SAs on. Then I worked up the two samples above. On the right hand sample I have the eyelet under and the piping/organza on top with the SAs cut off the piping. It is triple stitched up to the piping and the organza lays flat - not exciting. On the left sample, toward the bottom, I left the SAs on and topstitched the right edge of the SA of the enclosed piping fabric with a small zigzag. On the top end I left the organza unstitched to see how that one worked out. A strip of bias organza is VERY slightly gathered, folded on the gather line, and stitched to the base eyelet. I like that.
Then there was my next sample. This is the slightly gathered ruffled organza, folded in half, the organza wrapped piping, and a bias band. This I liked. I am thinking of running this around the neckline. So now that I have settled on the trim, its time to make a muslin. Muslin report up next post. ........Bunny

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Room With a View

There are many, including our own children, who think DH and I live at the ends of the earth. We have lots of reasons why we chose to live up here on the Canadian border after spending 21 years in New Hampshire on Lake Horace. One of these reasons is the unique beauty of our property. We live on the Deer River on a 650 foot section of white water 100 feet from the house. Wildlife abounds. The bird watching is phenomenal and we have been visited by critters that we have never seen before. We have been here three years.

Two years ago we built a family room and a sewing room addition. The window in my sewing room where I sit and sew is blessed with a view into the shade garden. The crowning focal point of this garden is the very large boulder that you see. I tried to take the picture as you see it from my window. I am in a continual process of refining this garden and get so much satisfaction out of its textures and shades. There is a natural pool that the birds visit every evening as well as the beautiful stone slab bird bath that DD gave us before we moved. I will never forget the day DH and I moved that puppy off the truck. I thought for sure a foot or leg would get crushed. Then we paid one of the locals with his heavy equipment to put it on top of this rock after we moved here. It was well worth it.

I thought I would share this slice of my sewing world as it pops out its spring growth. We are a little behind the rest of you around the country, being in zone 4. I have been sewing and looked up and seen a herd of wild turkeys, or my chickens that broke loose, or little songbirds, or deer, or voles, or other critters. It is a delight to sit in my sewing room. I hope you have enjoyed this visit into my room with a view....Bunny

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The biggest problem with these pants is the awful job I did ironing them. If you look at the little fold at the peak of the bum, that is where my crease should line up and end and now does. The front crease is askew also, too far out to the sides. That' what I get for being too eager. The pants have since been pressed properly and they look much better. DH and I have spent nearly every daylight moment of the past two days outside, covered with dirt, gardening. So after today's gardening, I decided to just post the pants as is. You can get an idea of the fit anyway.

My fit is not perfect but I think before I left for MA it was closer. Seems this fabric has a tendency to sag a wee bit. The hemline that I have used on every pair of pants that I have made for the past two years is now slobbering around my insteps. When I got home and tried on the pants for the photos I couldn't believe how much longer they were. That is one part I haven't fixed yet but certainly will.

The pants FEEL great. The fabric is a blend of rayon and linen and apparently rather unstable. I do like the look however with its slubs. It drapes beautifully, but just a little too much. This fabric is VERY heavy. If you can imagine a woven slinky with the texture of linen, this is it. The lining is an anti static poly that is a first for me. I really generally dislike intensely any kind of poly lining but thought I would give this one a try. I didn't do a separate lining, choosing instead to underline and serge the seams. I thought that would give some strength to this really ravelly fabric.

These pants have no details. My knee to waist area doesn't need any further emphasis. But I did topstitch the waistband and the front darts. I basically topstitched down the seam of the dart, then turned and headed back the other way, making it a little box effect. If you have read this blog fairly often you have probably figured out I can't leave things alone. So that little dart topstitching was my ode to further embellishment. Not much, but my ode.

DD gave me the top I have on. I love it and it is put together in a very interesting way that I can't wait to try. The back is turned and topstitched at the neckline. Two fronts are cut and then seamed at the front neckline only. The neckline is trimmed. The shoulder seams of the double front are now wrapped around the back should seam and stitched. This is then turned and the back is secured within the two fronts at the shoulder seam. This gives a really pretty finish to the neckline IMO. I can't wait to try this technique. The top is a J.Jill.

Tonite's parting lace shot:
This is a Swiss embroidery about 9-10 inches wide. I have about 2 yards. It is really lovely and in perfect condition. Based on what I know about this piece it is from between the 30's an 50's. ....Bunny

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One Way I Organize

This is probably the most important book in my sewing room. When I find something on line or in a magazine that I know will make my sewing more professional and more creative, it goes in this book/binder. This is a 3 ring binder with clear vinyl covers that you can insert pictures or text into. When I come across a tidbit of info I can't live without I scan it, then copy it to paper. It goes into this book. This binder is also for things that I would have the dangest time finding when I get to needing them. I refer to it often. I had a big pile of these papers and decided to organize them. I have included things as varied as Debbie Cook's fish eye dart and patterns for heirloom clothing for deceased preemies. Its contents are across the board, but all priceless to me. Here are how I have organized the chapters:
So it is a simple go to when I need a bonnet pattern, as I recently did. Yes, it is full of patterns. I trace them on to Pattern Ease and insert them into vinyl sleeves along with their directions. Its a very fat book! So if I need a pair of booties pattern or need to know how to do a pants stay, its all in the book. It certainly makes my life easier! Do you have any organizing tricks? ....Bunny

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Toile Ensemble for TBG




It's finally done! I finished the bonnet today. The fabric is an aqua and brown quilting cotton, a toile with a co-ordinating pin dot. The pattern is a very loose version of "Tickled Pink" from Australian Smocking and Embroidery, Issue #70. That pattern calls for pants with lace at the hem. I did capris with a split band. The band is topped with 1/4 inch grosgrain and a tiny aqua button, so nothing like the original. The original top had embroidered bullion roses but they would have looked mighty strange in the aqua color. So, I just did some some decorative bullions in the aqua. I also added the grosgrain instead of piping to the neckline of the top. I have made this top MANY times and really don't use the pattern any more. The original pattern has the armholes cut WAY TOO BIG so I took out about 2 1/2 inches of armhole width on a size 6 months as well. I also chose to make a coordinating bonnet. I "slightly" used a bonnet pattern from Vaugh Pierce that is in Sew Beautiful, April 05. Basically I used the shape and did the band totally differently. Hers is pin stitched in rows. My bonnet just has the contrasting band with the grosgrain trim, once again.
I thought you might enjoy seeing a few details of the bonnet.



The bonnet was stitched using French seams. I pretty much use french seams for all of my children's sewing, choosing to use a 1/4 inch finished seam. (When I smock, those french seams are at max 1/8 inch.) I find the 1/4 inch french seam has more strength, a quality certainly needed in children's clothing. I stitched the contrasting circular back of the bonnet to the slightly gathered bias edges of the bonnet back. I then took a circle of the contrasting fabric and cut it out with a template. A gathering thread was sewn around the template, the thread pulled, and the resulting circle pressed hard.
The resulting circle was hand stitched to the interior of the bonnet, covering the wrong side of the exterior circle. In order to do this you had to be very careful to not stitch the bonnet fabric as the stitching threads would show on the outside. So what I did was catch the seam threads and then the interior circle threads, as here:

Another detail I like to do with my smocking is cover it up on the wrong side. I don't like those little tails. Despite trying various ways to finish off a thread, there always seem to be those tiny threads. So what I do is use either a FusiKnit or Form Flex fusible interfacing and "slightly" fuse that to the wrong side of the smocking. This covers the nasties and is stuck enough to then include it in the seam allowances. I think it is a much nicer finish. I have occasionally used wide laces to accomplish the same.


This project is done and Miss Twin Baby Girl will wear it to a cookout next weekend. Have to mail it in the morning! If the weather agrees, I will get my linen pants posted tomorrow as well. It is good to be back and DH and I have the check! Closing this deal had its moments but it is done now and thank goodness! To every time there is a purpose......Bunny

ETA: Paula G of Sew Confused has just tagged me with the "meme" (?). Let's see if I can get this right:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

OK, the closest book is "How to Make Clothes that Fit and Flatter" by Adele Margolis. It is a hardback from the library that I have to return this week. I spent a lot of time reading this in the car while traveling. Now to page 123:

"Establish a new waistline (Fig 118B). Fitting above the elbow: release the underarm seam. Refit and pin."
I am almost done reading this really great book. It was published in 1969 but the fitting info is as pertinent today as it was then. I enjoy Margolis's writing. She can be one blunt babe and I like that. So I am off to tag those who haven't been tagged yet. Thanks for the fun, Paula!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Miscellanea










The above two pics are of a rather heavy linen that is embroidered in what appears to be a floche thread. The grapes are quite pronounced. They are actually filled with something hard, and are a good 1/4 inch high from the cloth. The grapes appear to be made like granitos with all the threads coming out and going into the same hole. I would love to know what the hard object inside is. I have often been tempted to open one up but always back down from that awful idea. I put in the pic with the fingers to give you a sense of the scale. I love this piece. It is so understated and lovely. The matte finish of the thread is so complimentary to the large stitches. This is typical of the altar cloths I remember as a child. Hope you enjoy.

I want to introduce you to a new blog I found. Nellie Durand's work was featured in a book I recently read so I decided to google her. As luck would have it she is a blogger with her Nellie's Needles blog. To say she is very creative is an understatement. Her type of work is right up my alley and I really find her sense of color and creativity very inspirational. Hope you do too.

Today was crazy. DH and I are in the process of selling the business we have owned for the past 15 years. We are starting a new endeavor. Decisions like that keep one young after all! So today was running around, getting the documents all in order for our closing as well as getting ready for our trip. We will be leaving in the AM v. early for NH and Northern MA. We have lots to tend to business wise and also want to spend time with our children and grandchildren. So we will be down there till the weekend and hopefully will return with a fat check in hand! That is all background to the fact that I have maybe 5 more inches to hem on Twin Baby Girl's little toile outfit. I also have my completed linen pants sitting on the sofa waiting to be hemmed since Saturday. Its just been too crazy. I am hoping to get this all done when I return and then post the garments. Till then Sewistas,,,,Bunny

Friday, May 2, 2008

Better Computerized Buttonholes

Buttonholes on today's computerized machines can be rather temperamental. I keep my old 35 pound mechanical Kenmore around for just that reason! But not long ago I just didn't feel like hauling it out for one buttonhole and went to the Pfaff instead, my computerized machine. Reality is that the buttonholes on this type of machine can be heavily influenced by any nearby seams or any inequity of height in the area under the foot. Since most buttonholes are next to facings, waistlines, and cuffs, the height difference on one side can mess up the buttonhole to be stitched out. A perfect example is the picture above where I am doing one buttonhole on a pants waistband. The area on the left of the foot includes the thickness of the inner trimmed seams. The area to the right of the foot includes nothing but a double layer of fabric. There is interfacing the full width of the band. This is where the light bulb goes on! We all know how "hump jumpers", "jean-a-ma-jigs", and/or the folded piece of cardboard are put behind the presser foot to equalize the level of the foot and to allow continued even stitching. Tah-Dah! It occurred to me to put a folded piece of paper under the side of the foot that isn't thick with inner SAs. It worked. Hope you try this tip and let me know how it worked for you. I have used it a few times with the desired results......

I am on a pants binge with the next pair being out of a rayon/linen blend. They are lined and with the tweaks I did to my sloper fit pretty awesomely (?). Soon as they are hemmed I will get up some pics. They look so differently from the cotton twill ones....

I am also in the final stretch of the baby toile. It is darling but no pics till I make a bonnet to match. The capris are all done. The top is nearly put together with the bullions and smocking completed. Now all we need is a bonnet. Can't have my little redhead getting a sunburn....

Lace of the day:
This is a collar that was in the collection. The fabric is snow white pique. You would never know this was very old. The center front is wonderful but the neckline has this tatting connected by very tiny ric rac. A lot of the pieces that I inherited had this tiny ric rac on them. Very ladylike, to say the least! I often wonder what the dress would have been like that went with this crisp looking collar.