Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Book Review on "See and Sew"

Maybe it's a Retro thing. Maybe it's a trigger to the wonderful memories of my grandmother's sewing with me as a small girl in the 50's. And maybe it is just a really strong desire to teach my grandaughter to sew. But I fell in love with this little book.

"See and Sew" by Tina Davis brings back the artwork found in primers and readers from the fifties. More than that, it is a clear, simple, real introduction to sewing for a child. There are chapters with headings like "Getting Ready to Sew" which can be read with Mom and understood by a three year old but also goes into enough depth for a nine year old. There are clear explanations of everything from thread and needle types to the importance of pressing. The projects are darling. They start with the little bag that we all made as a first project and go into egg cozies, embroidery cards (Remember those?), crosstitch and embroidery projects and much much more.

While I am enamored of the artwork, if I leave you with any thought on this little gem it would be that there is real substance here. This would make an excellent gift for a grandchild or favorite niece, along with the time to read with them and do some of the projects together. I purchased my book at Joanns, well hidden in the back of the book section, and used my 40% coupon. MSRP is 19.95.
Thumbs up on this one.

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Thanks go out to Martha of Southern Matriarch for some lovely comments on her blog. Have a great time at convention. Wish I was there with you all.

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The view from our living room window today is just incredible with the spectacular color show from Mother Nature. I hope to be back later with some pics for you. The sidebands of Kyle aren't stopping me!.........Bunny

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Back from my rainy soujourn. Here is one from the family room window and the last one is a view of the Deer River which runs 100 feet from our back door. Autumn is so beautiful, even in the fog and rain.

Book Review for "See and Sew"

Post deleted for duplication.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More on the Autumn Bag

Back to my "Autumn Bag" for my Canadian friend, Jocelyn. Here you can see the faux, ( as in Joann's) tortoise shell handles that I plan to use. I just love the lining fabric. It is a 100% cotton in gorgeous fall colors. I am not a fan of cotton linings for bags but this is a casual bag and the print is just so doggone appropriate that I had to use it. To the left you can see the side and bottom pieces. They are the base orange cashmere but stitched with a tiny zigzag of olive green on the diagonal.

This is where we are at the moment. I have added lots of hand embroidery to the sides and also have decided to deep six the zipper. I want my lining to show!!! This bag will be your basic tote. My next effort is to stitch in the plastic for the bottom of the bag, install the bag feet, interface the sides with some hand stitching and interfacing, and then sew up the lining. I should have some pics of those processes shortly.

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I just want to thank you all for all the lovely comments on my Kaufman Quilt Quest bag entry touring the country. Your comments are so very appreciated. Also thanks to those who have tagged me for the newest meme. I have just been so straight out with work that I haven't had a chance to respond appropriately but thanks so much anyway. This weekend will be company free, rainy from what we can tell, and a great time for catching up on my sewing and blogging. Thanks again, all of you dear sewistas.............Bunny

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Robert Kaufman Quilt Quest

This contest also had a division for art bags, naturally made with Kaufman Fabrics. I entered a smocked bag I called "Starry, Starry Night" and crossed my fingers. While I didn't place in the top three, I got notified of the following:

"Congratulations, your 2008 entry has been selected to travel in the Quilt Quest 2008 Collection." .......yada yada............They have selected a group, I believe 30 if memory serves me, of quilts, bags, and miniatures to tour the country. To say I am excited about this recognition is an understatement!

This group will be traveling to the big Sewing Expos and then some. So if you are planning to visit any of them check out this link to the dates and places to see the exhibit. There will be photos of the winners up after Oct first. It was really fun competing in this contest. I am hoping for some sort of critique but am not sure any will be offered. I believe I will definitely enter next year but will go about deciding on fabric a little differently. Now, to gloat some more............

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I have been missing in action for a bit. DH and I had a wonderful visit from our DD, DSIL, the angelic twins, and our special grandson Graham. Yes, they are all special! DD#2 will be coming up with her brood on the Columbus weekend and we can't wait to see our other special little ones then.
Anyhoo, we drove to Lake Placid, quite close to home here, and then to the top of Whiteface Mountain. I will leave you with a pic of Graham and Grandma Bunbun sitting on the summit.

And here's one with Lake Placid behind Graham. The Adirondacks are truly beautiful, and this comes from someone who lived in New Hampshire for many, many years.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fiber Play!



Working on a Christening gown can be pretty intense as much sewing can be. Sometimes you need to just go and play with fibers, threads, and color. Today was that day and it was glorious.

I spent one hour this morning with my green tea and smocking away on the gown, very enjoyable. Next came household chores then time for more sewing. I really, really felt a need to just play, and that I did! I walked in the sewing room, looked around, and decided to renew my relationship with my felter. I pulled out all the yummy rovings I have accumulated over the last year and just started playing, placing fibers and colors on a piece of orange cashmere from the stash. That, and the fact that it was a chilly Autumn day, made me reach for the "fall" colors. Place and play, play and place. I decided my play will turn into a bag. I went to the felter first to make autumn leaves and that was fun. But the real fun happened when I just started putting together the fibers for the background. Two hours later, I was happy, and I had the front and back of my next bag, all ready for Fall.

I used some Angelina fibers on this. They don't embed in the base fabric for some reason. I had to layer a really thin wisp of fibers on top to secure down the angelina. I also used some of my curly haired Cotswald rovings and those were a nice counterpoint on the surface. So all in all it was great fun putting this bag together. Next I will do some free motion stitching with the sewing machine to add some more dimension to the surface, maybe even some beads too. So this is far from being done. The bag will have a zipper closing, a lining, and more surface embellishment.

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Since not everyone goes back to check comments on a post they have already commented on, I thought I would respond to a few questions.

A while back another dear blogger asked if I was able to read comments on old posts. Yes, I can. I have any comments to the blog sent to my email account and that way I don't miss the comments to those older posts. So if you are commenting on a garment I made months ago, I will get your comment and will be able to respond accordingly. Now if only I could remember who you were, dear blogger. (:(

Next was a question from Sherrill, of Sherrill's Sewing Saga.
Sherrill asked if I really counted all those tiny pleats. Yes, I do, and I came up with 240 for the Christening gown. The pleats will be superimposed with embroidery/smocking stitches. Each stitch on each row needs to follow a pattern and also line up with the next row. So an off count is just disaster. It means that any stitching must be ripped out and started over. If you have ever done needlepoint or counted crosstitch, you know where this is coming from.

I do my counting by using large headed pins and I put one in a "valley" every ten pleats. Then I recount to make sure it is ten and go on to the next ten pleats. When all the pleats are counted, I do the math and come up with the exact CF and CB. This way the smocking design is lined up perfectly. This is important to maintain the integrity of the design. It also will help me have a flow of stitches at the opening placket. Yes, this is fussy work, but that is why they call it heirloom. These garments are meant to be passed on and worn by the next generation. Just think how wonderful it would have been to have your own christening gown to pass on to your grandchildren.

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I am so doggone excited! Today DH cut down two trees and dug a trench. All that work was done so we could get satellite internet! YAHOO! We had broadband for many years thru Comcast, but upon moving to the Adirondacks, the land of no cell towers or fiber optics, we lost that capability. Now, arrives satellite high speed to the boonies! We hope to have everything installed by the end of the week. This will mean a new e-mail account and other aggravations but oh, so worth it. So please bear with me. I will post the new email as soon as I have it. I can't wait to zip thru all those new pattern reviews posted on PR, watch sewing videos, visit youtube, etc..... Did I say I was excited?.....................Bunny

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Time to Count the Pleats!


I finally got my christening gown all pleated. Whew, was that nerve racking! You can see it here with the pleats waiting to be counted and spread out properly, and then blocked.

Dear blogger, Martha, of Southern Matriarch, and heirloom sewista extraordinaire, commented the other day that I should not baste the lace overlay to the dress before pleating. Now, you need to know that every book I have read says to do that. Martha, with her great wisdom and experience, told me to feed it thru without basting. I told her I would give it a try my way first. Well, dear Martha was so right. I had Y pleats all over the place. I also was not happy with the placement of the lace on the dress. I really wanted a deeper lace ruffle and had seen something I liked in an As&E book. So my problem became an opportunity to get it right the way I wanted it to be. I moved the lace down about an inch and a half and then stitched it with heirloom (very fine) thread to the dress. Then I fed it all through the pleater. I really like the way it looks now.

Next came the choice of the threads. I wanted a slight hint of color. I decided on DMC 225, a very pale shell pink. There will be lots of texture in this stitching and I did not want to lose that in a total matchup of fabric and thread or a big contrast either. And, since it is for a little girl, just a slight hint of pink will be lovely.

Right now it has the pleats counted, has been sprayed with spray starch, blocked on the board, and will be ready to stitch in the AM once dry. I will be taking this on the road to work with me to get it done by the October baby delivery. That shouldn't be a problem.....................Bunny

Monday, September 1, 2008

"Sewing With Whimsy"

Kari Mecca, designer of children's clothing, has always been an inspiration to me. I think of her as the Queen of RickRack. Her approach is fresh, contemporary, and yes, whimsical. There is no stuffiness in the way she re-interprets classic childrens clothing. Her use of bright pastels, sometimes retro fabrics, pattern mixing, and unique embellishments really set her designs apart.

This book is a 96 page soft cover that you can get from her site or from Martha Pullen. In it are also included full size patterns clearly printed out on heavy stock for all of the garments in the book. At 24.95, I think it's a value.

Mecca takes three very classic children's designs and kicks them up notch after notch with her various interpretations. She gives easy to understand, thorough directions for all of the garments that could make even a beginner pull these off. Also included are detailed instructions for the many creative embellishments that she is famous for. Her modern interpretations of rick rack and ribbons should liven up any little girl's outfit. Even you non-sewistas of children's clothing could find inspiration for your own interpretation of the embellishments. I hope too use some on my own clothing and certainly on my granddaughter's.

So it's a thumbs up for "Sewing With Whimsy" by Kari Mecca from this sewista. NAYY

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While we are reviewing here, I thought I would also throw in my two cents on the latest issue of Sew Beautiful, issue #120. Over all, I like it. Here are my cons first: The cover has a rather tabloid look to it. I guess I am just used to a beautiful child on the cover. While there are two beautiful children on the cover, there is also their Mom, Nancy Grace. Being the good Southern gal that she is, Nancy's children wore christening gowns fabricated by the staff at Sew Beautiful and the gowns are exquisite. But it kind of rankles of a little exploitation, you might say.
Next, and I know I am a nit picker about this stuff, I really wish they would get their grammar right. Let's just say Martha's letter had a blaring mistake, not one you'd expect from the publisher. Or is she editor at this point? Whichever, there should be better editing as this is not the first time for this faux pas.
And finally on the cons, Is there any real smocking in this issue? Almost every thing is embroidery machine smocked, just too much, IMHO. I thought this was an heirloom magazine. But then again, marketing is rearing its ugly head here. After all, MP is in the business of selling embroidery CDs. The magazine has taken a major shift in that direction since she started selling them. I really think that dilutes her magazine market in the long run.
Will someone please make sure the clothes on the children fit and are well made before publication?
While every issue has its share of flipped up collars, the little coat called Coco is just a dreadful picture. I would never let my child go out the door in a outfit that fit like that. Besides she couldn't breathe and her coat looks like it has a wedgie somewhere.

Now for the good stuff: There is a gorgeous article on some garments remade from vintage lace. There is some real eye candy in that one.
Finally, finally, there is a really wearable, very attractive smocked Woman's garment featured. It is designed by Vaune Pierce and I would wear it in a heartbeat. It fits right, is up to date, and beautifully made. In the past, womens garments in this magazine have been far from the latest fashion and basically remakes of christening gowns. Do any of us really wear these fluffy and beautiful non fitting garments while we are sipping our juleps on the veranda? I think not. Well, Pierce's garments are wearable and fashionable. Also along the vein of adult clothing, there is a great article on North American Lattice Smocking with a beautiful bag project well worth making.
Lately the issues have been featuring young sewistas of major sewing accomplishment. I applaud this addition to the magazine. It is so encouraging to see high schoolers WANT to make gorgeous clothing and give it all they've got. So Kudos on that one.
And last but not least, there is one gorgeous silk dupioni smocked, beaded vision called "Ice Princess" that is the type of garment most have come to expect from this magazine. Why just one?

All in all, I think it is one of their better issues lately and I really enjoyed it. I do get the feeling this magazine is in some sort of state of flux but other than the machine embroidery business, I think it is headed in the right direction. JMHO.

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I thought I would get my dress pleated yesterday and it did actually make it to and through the pleater. About 2/3 ds of the way into the pleating I thought to myself, this is awfully thin and I should have interfaced it. Then the big light bulb went on. I forgot to do the lace overlay which needs to be pleated in at the same time. So all the threads were pulled, the smocked area backed with FusiKnit, and the lace overlay basted to the front. NOW, I am ready to pleat. Haste makes waste! (as in my time).....Bunny