Friday, July 31, 2009

Smocked Insert

Finally, the geometric smocking on my insert is done! This took HOURS! It is now resting happily on the blocking board. I drew out the shape I wanted to block it to on that cheap 911 interfacing. (That's the only think it is good for.) Then I pinned to the outline of the shape , sprayed with spray starch, and left it do dry. This insert is not done. Now it will get some bullion daisies and beads. After that it will be inserted into the upper waistline of the blouse. There is more smocking and bullions going in other places but more on that later. It takes me about 45 minutes to do a row, which translated to 36 hours. I really don't think I took that long to stitch the insert but maybe between twenty and thirty. I really hope to get this finished this weekend. Everything is ready and just riding on finishing the embroidery. Got to get this puppy done. Ever get to the point in a project when the next project is really pushing you on? That's where I am. This may be more due to the fact that I don't multi-sew, but never have more than two projects at a time. So finishing one means I get to start the next. It is very motivational. I guess I could just keep planning, cutting, and putting in ziplocs or totes but that does not work for me. I stick to two projects and that is it! How long did it take me to learn this trick? About 30 years! And worth every minute it took me to get me there! If you have loads of UFOs I highly recommend trying the two project method. The way I do it consists of one handwork intense project and one machine project. That way I can work on my handwork in odd available moments that the machine can't offer me. Yesterday I was stitching away in my car while waiting for lunch. This method lets me grab every available moment to get some sewing in and max out my productivity. I have harped on this before so if I have bored you, forgive me, but on this one I have religion....Bunny

Thursday, July 30, 2009

GWS Continues!



Here you see a couple of the details of the shirt. The sleeves have a pleated, piped, hemstitched treatment. ( click to enlarge and see better. )You can also see the hemstitching on the pleat detail in the back of the shirt. The piping worked up so sweetly, nice and tiny. I used a tiny drapery cord for the first time and really liked working with it. It stays firm but is nice and small. For my hemstitching I used a wing needle and regular sized thread. I just liked the look better than the fine embroidery weight thread. I did samples with them both and the heavier thread won out. It has before.

The smocking continues. I have experimented with various bullion flowers and have decided on daisies. Bullion roses would give too much of a christening gown look and that is not what I am after. I think the daisies will be a much lighter touch.

All other aspects of the blouse are completed and just waiting for the insert to be finished. Once it is I can put it together. I am pretty sure this weekend it will be done. Then it is on to Carly's bishop......Bunny

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Odds and Ends


I found this porcelain doll with the hand painted face (I think) at our local Good Will. I have always loved porcelain dolls but they have never really been a priority on the shopping list. This was kismet. For 2.99 I got her, complete with an amazing head of hair that feels really nice, porcelain hands, head, and feet, and slender cloth body. She needs a slight cleaning but nothing a good wipe won't take care of. I have researched cleaning these dolls and have found a LOT of different methods. So if anyone has a secret, safe method, please let me know. I hope she becomes a canvas for some heirloom work as well as some tiny tailored garments. This doll will definitely be given to one of the grandaughters. I have two, but only one doll, so will be on the search for another. The dress she came in is absolutely horrendous, huge, tacky and not doing any justice to her pretty face. We will change all that. I have lots of doll clothes patterns but her body is slender. I think the AG patterns would fit on the length but not on the width. I will be pattern hunting now. So this is my latest inspiration. She just needs a name. I think I will let my DGD #1 pick out her name. She has great names for her dolls.

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The GWS is coming along with the sleeves just needing to be gathered and steamed into shape at the sleeve cap. If you are new to the blog, this is the method I used on my last linen blouse. Linen is not the easiest thing to shape, particularly the finer it is. The smocking is 2/3ds done but other handwork on the back and collar needs to be adressed. It's coming..............

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DH and I are staining and painting our decks. The whole stripping, power washing part is done and we are just waiting for some serious continuous sunshine before putting brush to deck. We had to remove everything from the area. After a couple of days of drifting around the garden, I moved the table and chairs out of the way to one of our ancient apple trees. Bingo! This little grouping is perfect under the big apple tree and may never return to the deck. What you can't appreciate in the photo is the lovely canopy engulfs you when you are at the table under the tree. It feels really nice and there is a great view of the shade garden from there. Behind the apple tree to the left are woods. DH keeps a path cut thru them so we can freely visit with our neighbors across the bush.



















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And last but not least on this summer Sunday, a bouquet for all of you. Thanks for reading the blog, making your comments, and being friends. Welcome to our new visitors. You are always welcome here and hopefully will enjoy your visits. Thanks to all my loyal followers. You give to me so much with your knowledge and kindness. You are all appreciated.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

GWS continues....


Today I focused on auditioning various parts of the machine sewing equation for the shirt. I have areas to embellish and was not sure if my idea would work. I also wanted to have the tensions, needles, threads, etc, all worked out before putting fabric to machine. My final embellishment that I settled on is not in this pile, ;) .Surprises coming on this blouse! It is so much fun working out the design as I go. I definitely started out with a design in mind but I love taking different turns on the road to completion. My basic original design is there but the embellishment keeps evolving. If you have followed this blog for any time at all you know that this is my normal procedure. My finished products have a way of growing into major productions no matter how simple I start out. I guess it is just the way I enjoy doing things.

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The grey, dank weather continues here. We have had ONE day over 80 with sunshine since June 1st. It is quite disheartening. Between the mushrooms growing outside are my garden spots and they are thriving. Everything is lush and laden with flowers. Tonight I had a wonderful salad made with our lettuce and all sorts of fresh herbs from the garden. It was yummy. I will leave you with the latest shot of my lovely blue hydrangeas. They are very happy.... Bunny

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Petiting" a Pattern


As I finished tracing my BWOF pattern for the white shirt it dawned on me that perhaps a post on how to petite a pattern might be of interest. It was my next step in the process before making my muslin. I "petite" all of my patterns now as soon as I take them out of the envelope or after finishing their tracing. This is done before any other pattern alterations. The rule is do any lengthwise alterations first.

First you need to figure out on your next project whether you need to take length out of the upper chest area or the area between waist and bust. It may even be both. For me and I think many petites it is between the bust and shoulder, right about where a measuring tape would go for an upper chest measurement.

You will need to adjust the sleeve, front bodice, and back bodice pieces. There will be some experimenting here as you learn just how much to take out for your own figure. I highly suggest a muslin or two to experiment with so you will get the exact amount down. For me, 5 feet tall and very narrow of shoulder and upper chest, I remove a half inch between the bust and shoulder seam. That means I FOLD OUT 1/4 INCH. The size of your fold will be HALF THE WIDTH of the amount you want to take out. If you want to remove a 1/4 inch you will fold a tuck 1/8 inch wide.

First, find your straight of grain, which should be clearly marked on your pattern piece always. On the upper chest, at a 90ยบ angle to the straight of grain, draw a line from the center of the armscye to the CF of the pattern. I have a big acrylic triangle that is wonderful for this. It doesn't need to in an exact location, just somewhere mid armhole and perpendicular to the straight of grain. Do this to the front and back bodice pieces. Now fold the pattern on that line you just made. Next is to fold that edge down the amount you need to adjust. So the line is on the edge of the first fold. You will then see the amount, 1/4 inch in my case, in a tuck across the bodices.

Next you need to do the sleeve. Again go perpendicular to the straight of grain on the sleeve and draw your line across. In this picture you can see how that makes the tuck at a slight slant for this particular sleeve. That's OK. Fold out your tuck the same width as on the bodices.

Folding out the bodices has now made your armholes smaller, so some scooping needs to be done. I scoop out a healthy 1/4 inch from the bottom of the armscyes on the bodice pieces. I start about a third of the way up the armscye on the bodice and true down to the seam so that at the seamline it has beens scooped a 1/4 inch. Here again, your experimental muslin pays off. I can't stress this enough. That's because if you work this out now it will be so easy to do with every pattern you use right from the get go. It literally takes minutes to do so don't worry about adding too much work to the process. The payoff is there.

This takes care of the bodices and sleeves. Next are the details. This is so important to us petites. Big details make us look bad, no matter the fit. Again here comes the priceless muslin. You don't need to make entire lined flaps here or totally install a collar. And, after a while you will know intinctively just what to size back. Most of my collars are cut back a 1/4 inch on the width. On a jacket or such with a big collar I may cut back a half inch. Don't ever cut back your short collar edges or length. You are really messing with the fit if you do. Trust me, don't do it. They need to line up with CF so that is why you don't touch those . I am just talking the depth of the collar from neckline to outer edge on the long edge only. This has made a major improvement in the appearance of my clothes.

For flaps and pockets I also cut them all back a 1/4 inch all around except for the edge that will be stitched to the garment, usually the upper edge. Look at your pattern closely. Are there other details that need to be changed? My current blouse project has a pleat in the back. On my muslin I made the pleat exactly the length specified on the pattern. I thought it might be stitched down for too long of a length. In this case it was fine, but these are the details you need to check out with each garment and change if needed. Back to flaps and such, make them one layer of fabric and just pin them to the garment. You don't have to get into heavy construction to see the size of things. Just a cut outline of a flap or pocket will let you know.

As far as skirts, it is the same process, but I find for my five feet I usually just have to hem shorter. A skirt with any sort of draping or bias will absolutely need to have the length taken out and trued probably at the fullest part of your hip. This, again, all depends on your own petite proportions.

Now that you have "petited" your pattern you can do any further alterations, FBAs, SBAs, shoulder changes, ect. Learning how to petite my patterns has greatly helped me in my fit quest.
Hope this info helps you.

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Now, speaking of further alterations, has anyone seen my cup? The one I lost recently? Last week I went on a bra buying binge of my beloved Vanity Fairs. I do that every few years. For the first time since I was twelve I am taking a Bcup. I actually doubted that I took a B so grabbed all sorts of sized to bring into the dressing room. 34B it was. I welcome this change. I have had a lifetime of size changes, despite keeping my weight pretty much what it was on the day I got married. My point here is that as sewists we need to constantly be aware of our bodies. The changes seem to increase exponentially as we get past the Big M. You have no idea how I have welcomed the body changes of menopause. RTW never looked good on me as a young women and that certainly was a huge motivator in my sewing. My hourglass had the gaping waist no matter what. Nothing fit unless I made it and I wasn't that good at fit at that point. When I got married , swear to goodness. It was 34DD, 21 waist, and 40 hips. Dolly Parton had nothing on me. Some years later with childbirth my waist expanded to 24 and I loved it. Now I could at least get a little better fit in a pair of jeans, but that ass......Than there came the years of working on my feet and walking huge showrooms. Add in an epiphany with exercise and my bust and butt decreased. It's getting better here. And now with the deflation, literally, of the Big M I am really happy. I can go out and buy clothes off the rack. My sewing is tremendously less frustrating. Yeah, that 34DD is now a 34B. The waist is 25, and the hips have stayed at 37-8 for the last five years with lots of walking. Sometimes getting older is an OK thing.......................Bunny

Sunday, July 19, 2009

GWS - Smocking started!


I am smocking an insert for my GWS. I didn't want white floss or certainly not a color. After auditioning several colors I decided on a light khaki shade of floss. I had to rip out a row and a half due to a miscount. By the time I got two rows smocked, I hated it. It was way too much color. I wanted a more subtle look and something that would contrast with the white linen. More audtions and ecru floss was the result. Now I am happy. It gives a subtle pearl look to the smocking which is wanted as I MAY be adding some pearls to this design.

Cissie wanted to know where the smocking would be. I am thinking a waistline insert but perhaps more smocking in other places. Not sure yet. Like many designs I do, they evolve from the original concept as I start working on them. Nothing like seeing the real thing to put you in the proper perspective. And I love the freedom of changing my mind. Isn't that called "artistic expression"?

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Nancy, thank you so much for the wonderful info on hydrangeas. It was very informative. Today is a cool cloudy day so gardening is on the agenda. My rasberries need attention badly and everything could use a dose of food or as one gardener said to me, "plant cocaine"......Bunny

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Great White Shirt





Every summer for years I try to make one essence of summer blouse or dress. They are always white. Last year's white blouse was this eyelet number. As I was contemplating the smocking for the oxford cloth shirt, I realized it was time to make this years Great White Shirt and canned the oxford cloth idea.

After some scrounging thru the pattern stash and mags, I decided on BWOF 05-2009-110. I like the raised waist and tailored collar. I will change this a tad to accommodate some heirloom work. Linen is just so wonderful to work on. It responds so well to whatever the machine throws at it. As per usual I'll some samples first. This design will develop as I go along but I foresee piping, smocking, and pinstitching.

Another part of the decision to start this new project is coming up short with the black toile I need. It is still available and I just need one full yard more but until I have that in hand I need another project to keep my sanity. The GWS is it.
The pleating is done and blocking as we speak. Now I am searching out the proper plate, something simple, geometric and maybe a mirror image or such.

Also ready to go is the pattern for Carly's bishop. It is all traced and waiting for that extra yard of toile.




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I am so excited. Hydrangeas, particularly blue ones, have evaded me for years. We've lived on too acidic soil for them to turn blue. This year my Endless Summer hydrangea is 3 years old and finally loaded with blooms. It got all the right chemicals to turn blue and they worked! This is a big garden deal for me so I had to share. An expert nursery woman told me a week ago to put the blue chems on it every two weeks. I am using an organic product so don't worry. When my daughter lived in Connecticut many had dark dark royal blue hyrdranges. Only in my dreams.......

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Sheer Blouse or "¿Estoy Boriqua?"


As soon as I got this blouse finished and on for photos all I could think of was, "Man, I am ready for a block party in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico." I mostly love the blouse. DH definitely loves it and says it looks "Boriqua" as well. And that's great! It's a light, fluffy, summery blouse that I don't take too seriously, despite all the handwork in it and dealing with sheer issues.

This is a combo of BWOF 06-2009-122 and 123 and a fair amount of my own design changes. The directions from Burda? SUCK. I had to do my own thing every step of the way. The only time I referenced the directions was on the CF bands. They were useless. If you can figure out their directions, let me know. Somehow, on my own, I got thru it. That band alone takes it out of the dot and a half category.

The fabrics are sheer poly chiffons for the shell and sleeves/ruffle and a poly georgette for the lining.

Design changes I made:

* I used a sheer which necessitated French seams everywhere as well as a lining. The lining is attached at the CF bands and the armscyes. The selvedge of the lining is used across the upper chest and back giving the illusion of a sheer yoke above. To support this I did a running stitch across the selvedge in 3 strands of complimentary colored floss. The lining hangs free otherwise in the garment. All ruffle, sleeve, and hem edges were treated with the edge treatment shown in this tute.

* I changed the sleeve. After making a muslin with the BWOF sleeve variation, I decided it looked, well, as per Gwen, like a handkerchief sewn on, fugly. I played with a muslin ruffle and ended up doing a 6 inch bias cut ruffle for the sleeve. I used double the width of the upper armscye and tapered the width down to nothing at the ends. I thought it was pretty flattering for these aging arms. I also had to figure out how to deal with the bottom of the armscye. It is square, parallel to the floor, with sharp corners. First I dealt with that bottom edge. I used a double fold of bias to trim it off. The ends were folded in so no raw fabric hanging around. (Click to enlarge the pic to see this and sorry for the poor lighting. )
You can see the remaining raw edges of the armscye. The ruffled sleeve was attached to these edges with a French seam. The finished edges of the bias binding and the edge of the sleeve french seam were then sewn together in the corner making a smooth transition on the interior.

* I guess you could say the CF band was my own design because I don't have a clue how BWOF put their's on. I was really pleased with the tiny buttonholes made by my 38 year old Kenmore. My Pfaff did not pass this test. The buttons I used needed to be flat and tiny, so I found just what I needed in my stash. They were MOP inherited from my great aunt, so a nice antique touch here. I used two sheets of stabilizer underneath the buttonholes. This is one of those applications where the extra fine thread really makes a difference.














My recommendations for anyone using this sheer fabric:

* Use fine weight embroidery thread. This is critical. The thread must be appropriate for the fabric and this fabric is fine. In this blouse I used Mettler silk finish cotton as well as some Coats and Clark fine embroidery thread. You are limited in color choice with these fine weight threads but some compromise is OK here.

* Use a small stitch. Throughout this construction I used a 1.5 stitch length. This is critical for the French seams, particularly. These sheer fabrics love to shred and this will help prevent that.

* Think out every seam and cross seam before you stitch it. You will see everything thru the fashion fabric. French seams can be bulky at intersections and you need to plan for that. Plan for a lot of handstitching to make things work.

* Old fashioned bottled liquid starch will be your new best friend. Every seam got starched before pressing as I worked thru this project. It helps manage the unruliness of the fabric and cut down on ravelling. As always, do some test starching and pressing before committing to your project.

* Keep things light. Sheers are all about the light passing thru, the floaty nature of the drape, and downright femininity. Don't get to heavy handed with your design. That will put you back in "hippie from the sixties" mode. If you lived thru it, like I did, it won't look good on you at this stage, trust me.

As far as fit, I love the fit from the waist seam to the hip and in the upper bodice. The waist to boob area is different. I took in the sides seams at least an inch each. It still seams to "blouson" above the waist seam, giving the SBS (saggy boob syndrome) look. They were perky when I took the pic, really. You don't see the bottom hem edge of the blouse either in the picture. I have lost weight lately and all my clothes are hanging off my hips with the crotch line dropping a good couple of inches. I am not sure I am up to making those adjustments in jeans. Actually, I know I am not. So this did not pose a pretty pants picture with the blouse, no matter what pants I tried. Time to buy more fabric.

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I know I have been somewhat MIA. I mentioned previously some heavy work commitments and DH and I are thru that now. But last last Monday my brother's oldest son took his life. We have been reeling ever since. My heart goes out to anyone who has lived thru such a horror.

I must say that Tommy was a beautiful young man whose troubles came as a surprise to all. He was close to family, communicated exceptionally, had many friends, and worked hard at two jobs. As one of my dear cybersewing sisters, Ann, said to me, "he didn't mean to kill himself. He just wanted the pain to go away." We may never know the reasons for such a horror. All I know is that there is a chasm in our hearts that just can't be filled. He belongs in there.......Bunny
Tommy

August 24, 1982 - July 6, 2009


We will miss you always.



Saturday, July 4, 2009

Upcoming Projects


In my last post I mentioned 3 upcoming projects. Two were for my grandaughters and inspired by Gail Doane's work combining smocked dresses and little embellished jackets.

Here you see the fabric combo for Carly's ensemble. I foresee a smocked black and white toile bishop with plaid binding and piping. The jacket will be red cashmere, also bound with the plaid, and definitely embellished in some sort of way, not sure yet how. This cashmere is so soft and light and yummy, a perfect weight for a little two year old. Her platinum blond looks will play wonderfully with this fabric color combo. The toile is a Waverly decorator weight, but once washed it will soften up nicely. I have used this before in other colorways, (See Sophie's Toile Dress.) I know it will work out fine. The plaid is a homespun 100% cotton. I am really excited about this project. It has the things I love to work on. First, I have always been mad about toiles. Secondly, black and red are one of my favorite combos. Third, I love the juxtaposition of the homespun, cashmere, and home dec fabric. So, this one really has my juices going.

Here you see the black oxford cloth for a blouse for myself. I haven't honed in on the pattern yet, but haven't really had the time to dig thru the pattern stash lately. I am looking for a basic blouse, raised waistline, long or 3/4 sleeves, and opportunity for embellishment. I really think I will get a lot of wear from this one. I love my black jeans as much as Lindsay loves her white ones! You say this fabric isn't black? Oxford clothes are made with white wefts so if a black is the warp, it reads as grey. Did I get my wefts and warps mixed up? Wouldn't be surprised. I have done it before.

Sherrill asked about cast on flowers. In my comments I responded that they remind me of knitting on your sewing needle. You can see what I mean in this photo from InAMinuteAgo, one of my favorite embroideryblogs. If you are interested in embroidery, particularly the contemporary expression of this art, you will love this blog.


Learning how to do cast on flowers and roses have been on my goal list for some time now. They are up there with bullions, which while I may not be a master, I can apply to my heirloom sewing fairly competently. I would like to learn and get to the same place with the cast ons. Once I start I will definitely keep you posted of my efforts. The smocking I envision for Carly's toile dress would have cast ons on the dress, I think. I am still working out that design. I just realized as I wrote this, that I am working on a design requiring something I don't know how yet to do. Certainly has not been the first time for that!

DH and I are straight out until after the 12th, but once I turn that corner, I should have my sheer blouse done and be working on one of my new projects.......Bunny

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What's Next?

I am on the home stretch with the sheer blouse. The sleeves are edged and gathered. Now I just need to install them with a bias binding. This binding is going to have to be very tiny to work on this sheer. I am trying to figure out if there is a different way to do this. Some thought is needed before I take the next step.

In the meantime I have been picking out and planning the next 3 projects. I am still not sure which I will start on first. The fabrics you see pictured are for a shaped yoke dress with a smocked front bodice from waist to yoke edge. This will be for Sophie. Her Mom picked out this fabric for me to make her something and a design has finally clicked. Looks like cranberries, doesn't it? I will be using a pattern from Gail Doane's new book, Sew Cute Couture. The green fabric is 100% double faced wool and will be for a coordinating jacket. I may felt it first. I also may felt other fibers in to it to be the background of my embroidery. This is a work still in design morph mode. The one thing I know is that the jacket will have lots of cast on flowers and maybe cast on bows.

The beige you see is a coordinating fabric I stumbled upon in a different store. I am not sure how or if I will use it. Still morphing, remember?

Project number two will be a smocked bishop and wool jacket for Carley. More on that later after I buy the plaid coordinate I have picked out.

And project number three is a blouse for myself with a high waist. I hope to have a smocked band around the waist. This will probably be the first of the three to get made. I am thinking a black oxford cloth. I like the bodice on the sheer blouse a lot so with a different sleeve that may end up being the pattern I use. I really want long or 3/4 sleeves on the blouse. ...Bunny