Sunday, February 28, 2010

Zen and the Art of Organizing Buttons

 
There is something wonderfully meditational about organizing a multitude of buttons.  You start with basic color sorting. Then you sort colors into sub colors and sizes. You get rid of the nasty old strips of paper that make them jam up their little organizer box. After a few hours of this in husbandless, childless quiet you stare at your achievement and come back to reality with a renewed sense of peace and that all is right with the world. 

I have 3 more bins to do. These are all from Ima and what a pleasure to sort thru. I had no idea what I had. There are some wonderful vintage buttons. She seemed to buy things 20 at a time, full knowing the misery and frustration of coming up one button short at the end of a project. I could start a button store. She clearly bought out the equivalent of a button store. 

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 My pin weaving board is finally all properly strung up. I used about 5 very close shades of periwinkle floss. Took me 5 skeins to do this small amount. If you look closely you can see the interfacing, face up, underneath. This is there for one, I can get an idea of the shape I am following. Also, once it is all woven I will spot tack it before removing it from the board. Hopefully I will get started this afternoon. Gotta find my hair pick. It's a great sewing tool. I use it here to push the weft threads down nice and tight. 
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Thanks so much to Claire Kennedy who has been helping me along with the fit on my jacket. She suggested reassessing the fit of the bust once I add the shoulder pads. She was spot on. The pads/3/8ths inch/ worked miracles but now the princess seam needed adjusting. That slight lift of 3/8ths inch really moved the apex and I will deal with that this afternoon. The shoulder pads have eliminated the issue with the uneven shoulders. Yippee! I have also decided that this must be lined. Between the pads and chest pieces, this is definitely necessary. This won't be a Chanel lining, just a basic bagged lining. I have found the best small trim at JAs. It is a 1/4 inch wide braid, as in a three strand hair braid, of the exact taupe and beige. It is screaming pre shrink to me so that is on the table for today too. Hope you are all enjoying your weekend as much as me....Bunny

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Pin Weaving Starts


 
Threads issue #51 from 1994 is one of my all time favorites. It enlightened  me about this fun weaving technique which just seamed so quick, creative, and easy. It was all of that and more. I couldn't wait to get started and here are a couple of my efforts. 
This is a section from a vest I made for Christmas, back in the day when did more holiday obvious clothing. You know, the kids are home, little and you make your clothing  all part of the festivities. The red strips are felted wool . This was really fast and easy to do.
This is the back of a coat/jacket I made out of all sorts of cottons, beads, and sparkly threads. "Flyaway" backs were big then and I decided to make mine out of the pin woven fabric. Here's some closeups. 

There were a couple other garments too but they are packed somewhere and I just wasn't up to digging them out.
This is all a lead up to my latest project, the Periwinkle Bag.  The newest Threads has redone the pin weaving thing with an article from a different fiber artist. I haven't read it. But I did go dig out my 1994 article  by one of the Ericsons.  I am inspired enough to use this technique for my "Periwinkle Bag" .

I started by tracing off  the pattern for the bag  and then doing this undulating pattern piece which will be for the woven fabric.  I also pin weaving the tab that comes over from the other side of the bag to close it.Once I cut out the "undulating" area from the tracing paper, I used that pattern to cut out Decor Bond interfacing in the same shape. I did the same with the tab. This interfacing will be face up on the board and the weaving will eventually be pressed to the interfacing underneath to secure everything.
I am using a double thickness of foam core  duct taped together. On one of the sides you will see the blue painter's tape. This tape was put on with the edge of the tape on the company edge. In one of the many art classes I took years ago with Sister Teresita we learned about what she called the "company edge". This is the cut edge of anything that you buy. It is perfectly straight and when you use it to line things up, you are perfectly straight. So the blue tape lines up with the company edge to give me the first edge for my pins. They are every half inch along the blue tape and everything else gets measured and pinned from there.Why is the thimble in the middle? You use it to push your pins in the foam core. Only way to go.

So that's where we are now. Hopefully this will get strung up this weekend. The muslin jacket is priority though. I am really wondering how those pockets are going to look on my boobs and hips but they seem to work for everyone else so pockets it is....Bunny

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

McCoya's Bishop Completed!

One more bishop under my belt but this one had some new twists. For the first time I used variegated floss, something I will definitely be doing again. I have learned that it will be much more effective on a solid than a print, however, and that the print and various floss coloration can contribute to a look of "imperfection" for lack of a better word. But I am very happy overall with this little dress, and even happier that I have beat out McCoya's birth which is due NOW.
Another first was to finally try making smocked pockets that were previously just figments. I was worried about the shape and I wanted a curved "bellows" effect. By cutting the bottom edge of the pocket in the shape of a boat or crescent moon, if you will, it came out just the way I wanted. It did take some fiddling to get it to lay right and puff but ended up as imagined. So now I have another tool hanging from the tool belt. Yippee!
 
Another first was using that new "Cotton" method of making double fold bias with no bulk at the ends. Wow, am I happy with that technique. Move over tools, another needs to hang on the belt. I highly recommend you try this method.
Next, and while not new to me, I am pretty sure it is the first time I show this on the blog. Take a good look at the back closure. I am using hair elastics for the button loops. They are caught between the dress and facing edge. This pattern doesn't call for a facing, but folding the SA to a mere 3/8 inch width twice, the usual "heirloom" way. Sorry, I don't like that., just not quite wide enough for me. I cut a strip of fabric, fused it to Formflex, put the elastics in between, and stitched it at 1.0, backtacking at the elastics. They are in there nice and tight. Somewhere, maybe a dollar store, I picked up a huge bag of elastics in every color you could imagine and have used them many times. Give it a shot. It's easy. I do not like these buttons. Once they were all on I found them too big, perfect color and shape, but too big. So tomorrow I will see what the local JA's brings and change them out. After that it will be a pretty box and a big bow and off it goes.
Next, probably not till this weekend, will be finishing the Oatmeal jacket. I have to get that out of the way just so I can say I didn't waste my time on it. I know it wasn't a waste of time as it was my muslin. Then it is on to the next big adventure......Bunny


Monday, February 22, 2010

Smocked Pockets for McCoya's Bishop

I have always wanted to try making smocked pockets. What I had in mind were little puffs of pockets with smocking at the top. McCoya's bishop just didn't feel finished to me so I decided to take a little longer with the finishing and fulfill my pocket fantasy. I knew exactly what I envisioned and just needed to make it work. Keep in mind this is a 6 mo to 1 yr little dress, so the pockets were strictly decorative and had to be in scale.  Directions? I was on my own here.

I started by cutting a strip of fabric 6 by 24 inches. I gathered the top with half rows. Once pleated I opened the strip flat and attached a pink bias binding to the top. This same binding is on the sleeves and neckline, so a little continuity here. Once the binding was on I pleated the top with just 3 rows of cable stitch, totally plain. In the middle of the pocket I then embroidered a little french knot bouquet, the same that is on the bodice. After some measuring and ironing, I decided the pockets needed to be 2 1/2 inches wide. I wasn't sure about length yet. I did a tiny zigzag from the top edge to the bottom at the point where I wanted the pocket to be cut. This was my 2 1/2 inch width plus 2 1/4 inch seam allowances on each side. I then trimmed off the pocket back to the zigzagging. Next I folded my pockets in half right sides together and by eye only, cut them into a boat shape. I made sure they matched in their cut and size.  Then I ran a basting stitch all around the pocket from the left, across the bottom, and up to the top right of the pocket. I then pulled up the gathering and miracle of miracles, they puffed just like I wanted.
 
These are still rough, but you get the idea. They will be stitched to the dress and I think they are pretty doggone cute. I hope to complete this tomorrow and then complete my CJ muslin jacket. 

That jacket has been christened  the Oatmeal jacket, so blah, with its beige and off white hounds tooth check, boring but very nice fabric. Twice this week I went to  JAs just to get the juices going on how to spiff this thing up. I saw opportunities to be funky with turquise sheer trim, tailored with white and brown grosgrain, ladylike with brown organdy ribbon, etc, etc, etc. After sleeping on it last night I think I am going to trim just the pockets and sleeve edge. I will do a Hong Kong seam treatment and will bind the edges and turn them in to the inside, all a nice , but quick unlined jacket. I have decided a 3/4 sleeve for this with no vent. This baby just has to get done so I can move on. I'm thinking I can finish the bishop tomorrow and the jacket this upcoming weekend I hope. Then it is on the spring things and my CJ...........Bunny
    

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Binding Technique!

I learned the neatest thing today and I just have to share. I give absolute full credit to Betty Cotton, author of Cotton Theory Quilting and Nancy Zieman and her program on public television.

Cotton was on part two of a program where she is demonstrating her very unique method of making a reversible quilted jacket. I doubt that I would ever make one but her approach and result were definitely out of the box thinking. The jacket was attractive, but not my style. Her seams were done with a hard to describe method of using two wide bias strips sewn together down the middle then flipped here and there. Nuff said. You had to see it. All seams used the technique which left her with a hem that needed to be bound. She showed a unique way to do this. Her method brings to mind Judy Barlup's method of moving seams to different places to reduce bulk. Remember, "reduce bulk whenever possible", Roberta Carr's cardinal sewing rule.

I had to try this for the binding of my little bishop neck and sleeves. I usually use a double fold or "French" binding for my edges. At the end you always seem to have to fidddle to get it just right and can easily end up with a bumpy lumpy end to your binding. With this technique I can still use my double fold and have a much sleeker finish at the end. Here is what I learned:

First, cut yourself a strip of true bias. I like 2 inches to bind my little bishop necklines. 

Next, cut a trapezoid. You will need to know the finished length of your bound edge. Let's say it is ten inches. To find where to start measuring your edge place a dot in the middle of the strip on the right side. You can find this either by folding the strip in half on the length or just measuring up one inch from the long edge. You measure ten inches plus two 1/4 inch seam allowances from that dot to another dot on the left side that you will make. So the finished length you need is NOT the length of either edge. It is the length in the exact middle plus seam allowances. Take your acrylic ruler and place it to get the 45º angle with the edge of the ruler going right thru the dots you just made. If you enlarge this pic you will see on the right a big blue dot that I measured thru with the ruler to get my 45º angle.

Take the tip of the longest edge and pull it over to the other side. The tip will extend beyond the long edge. It is important to make sure the point is in the middle of the strip.  Sew from where the two edges meet across to the point with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Trim and flat press. Turn the point. (EDIT:

EDIT, 02/18/10: I am going to explain this again, hopefully with a little more clarity for those who don't quite grasp (no pun intended) it. Let's make this easier. Take the trapezoid strip and place it in front of you vertically, right side up. This will put the longest edge of the strip on the right. As you now look at it, grab that longest edge at the very top, the point. Carry it over to the short edge on the left until the point extends about a 1/4 inch beyond the strip. Now, on the left hand side of the strip, at the top left, you will have two raw edges running from the extended little point to the point at the very top in the middle of the strip. Sew a 1/4 inch seam here. Trim the seam and press flat. Turn that point so it is now right side out. Now------
Put your thumb into the corner and pull the fabric around until you no longer have an arrow but have a squared off flat edge. 


You can see how this puts all the bulk further up the binding and it is very secure and flat. There will be no fiddling with turning under the edges. Trim the edge to straighten if it has stretched out a bit like mind did. Remember, bias stretches. Use this strip to now bind your edge on the garment. It is so nice and doggone flat and bulkfree.

You can see it attached to the suiting here. The right edge of the suiting is folded and therefore double and thick.

The binding was folded over and stitched down. Here you can see how nice and thin and flat it all is. Click to enlarge any of the pictures. This was such a Eureka moment  when I tried this. Hope you give this a try for binding anything....Bunny
 ETA: I have added some further description of the folding and stitching and I hope this helps those of you who needed additional  explanation. I had to watch the program  twice and pause to see how she actually did this so I understand it is not that easy to grasp. I guarantee you, it is one of those crazy things that once you try it you will realize it is really quite simple. Shoot me an email if you need any further help..,,,The reverse side of the suiting has one edge folded, like you might have a facing, just to give it more "reality". The binding is a double french fold binding. This is a strip of bias that is folded in half. Both raw edges are lined up with the garment edge to be bound and then stitched by machine. The folded edge is then brought over to the back and stitched down by hand, usually, although certainly can be machine stitched as well. This double binding makes a stronger, more easily finished, prettier edge to the completed binding. Hope this helps.
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 This is the public toboggan run on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, where DH and I spent the day today. There is a large group on the upper steps waiting to come down. This is quite steep and shoots you 2/3s of the way across the lake. This toboggan run is open till very late at night when the party animals show up and give it a try. We've seen it open as late as midnight and the course is all lit across the lake. It's pretty cool and quite the cure for cabin fever!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Saga Continues - CJ Muslin #2

It occurred to me that my muslin, made out of an old cotton sheet, was worn on top of a cotton sweater. I noticed as I took it on and off that it kind of stuck together but the bulb didn't light till later. It would be much better to have a muslin of a close drape and weight as my boucle( and I did know this before starting) and to try it over a silk blouse as in the future silk lining to get a better hang.  I dug thru my Ima stash and found a heavier cotton suiting that really was close in character to the boucle. It seems to be a really nice quality and there was plenty, all prewashed.  
    
Here you can see my muslin and it's comments:

As you can see I have SBS, Saggy Boob Syndrome, and a bit of a swayback, all of that despite wearing my favorite perky bra. I guess I can only get so perky at this point.  The first muslin has the shoulders increased but I added still more in muslin #2. Here's what else I did:

*3/8 inch swayback adjustment
*Interfaced a chest piece into the front and side front. I think this helped majorly.
*Put in a bit more ease. The pattern has 6 inches of ease in the bust. I would be lost in that. So my pattern has two inches, as does most of the jacket. So this is where we ended up:
  Bottom's pinned a litttle crooked. The houndstooth kind of makes that princess seam look odd above the apex. It actually is quite smooth. Below the apex is weird, poufy. I fixed that on tweak number three which I don't have pictures of. So you're not seeing  the completed muslin here that I feel good about. Any further needed adjustments after #3 can be made on the boucle. Every fabric fits differently.
The shoulders feel so much better and look better. I will experiment with a thin pad. I don't know whats happening on just the right side. I noticed that in the original muslin too and will deal with that in the CJ with some padding maybe. We'll see. I think a thin shoulder pad could make a difference. I am not aware of any kind of figure difference up there. Next challenge is to get the sleeves in and see "how it's hangin'". 
At this point I have a jacket started that I didn't plan on having or working on, so I will see this unexpected adventure thru till completion and then start with the CJ. This is not a CJ. It is a down and dirty version of Claire Schaeffer's pattern, Vogue 8259. Edges are serged and this may have the facing like the pattern. My real CJ won't. DH took the pics, liked the fit and look but said, "Are you going to do anything else to it? It's kind of plain. It looks like oatmeal."  He is right on. I don't want to do fringe or braid and am thinking a more tailored effect. I am leaning toward heavy topstitching and brown accents somehow. Any ideas? 

So we are getting there. I have put it all away and will go back to the little bishop and get that all sewn up on my next free time. 
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Thanks for all the birthday wishes. It is great to receive them all. I hope you all had the Valentine's Day you wished for. My Beef Bourguinon was absolutely fabulous and if you would like to try it here is the recipe from Ina Garten. The only thing I did different was add a bouquet garni of 2 bay leaves, 1/2tsp rosemary, and 1/2 tsp dried thyme, as Tyler Florence does in his recipe.
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Julia asked for some help with some pleating problems she is having. "The last couple of times I've tried to pleat something with my Amanda Jane pleater either the needles broke, or the needles skipped stitches and made puckers instead of pleats."  First, every time you go to pleat, run a piece of wax paper thru the pleater and needles. A lot of the time when I pleat I feel like I need 3 hands. I tend to slightly pull the dowel rod away from the pleater as I go along, pulling it left or right to keep the grain straight as it feeds. I put my needles in so they start on the left side of the pleater not on the right or middle. The bulk of the fabric stays out of the pleater on the left and this helps keep it on grain. Every time you stop to push the fabric off the needles, pull and straighten the loose fabric on the left that is not going thru the needles. I watched Martha Pullen pleat a couple of weeks ago and she just pleats away. I go very slow and am constantly adjusting the tension and fabric with my hands and the dowel. Hope this helps. If you have any more questions or if anyone else does too, just shoot me an email. Some fabrics are much more difficult to pleat than others.

As far as what to do about the bishop seams, I used to stop and push them into a groove with a shish ka bob stick, which worked pretty well. But I have since learned better. Got to Martha's blog , Southern Matriarch, and on the right you will see her tutes. Click on the one "Seamless Pleating". I don't think I could pleat a bishop any other way now. Martha is a master, by the way. Good luck, Julia.
...Bunny

                                         

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pins and Egg Cups

My sister in law gifted me with these precious little egg cups a while back. They are darling, but fact is I don't coddle eggs very often. Within the past week I have read somewhere, probably in one of my old Threads, this sweet little hint to store your pins. I love it. Have my basic steelheads on the left, my fave and slender silk pins on the right, and my yellow headed bruisers in the center. We'll see how this works. I like my sewing studio to have some "pretty" aspects. ( Hey, its my world!) We'll see how functional this ends up being. One tip of the pins to the floor and this tip will go the way of  the dinosaurs! 
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McCoya's bishop is nearly done. The handwork should see it's "finis" today. I can't wait to start on what will be the "Periwinkle Bag", my spring bag, as the next hand project. Yup, it's a hand project because I will weave some sections of it. More on that later. 

CJ muslin report: It occurred to me that I had on a cotton muslin with a cotton knit sweater and the two stick together not giving a clear clue of the fit.I am going to make muslin #2, hopefully today, in a weight and drape similar to the boucle and try it with a silk blouse. I have to get those shoulders worked out as they are not making me happy. Pics to come. 

A big sewing weekend is planned between our celebrations of Valentines and my B-Day the next day. My gift to DH is a gourmet beef dinner, Beef Bourgouinon with Parsley Buttered Noodles. I tell you he is a treasure and still my valentine after 39 years of marriage. Yes, he was my high school sweetheart and is still my sweetheart. Right now he is detailing the bathroom while I head down to the pink cave for the day. He knows how to make me happy. Soooo, as I lilt away to the strains of romantic Brazilian jazz and the scent of Mr. Clean, happy sewing and Happy Valentine's day.......Bunny


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

CJ Muslin


The left side of the muslin is "improved". . What you can't see is that on the right the princess seam, from about 3 inches above and below the bust has had the stitching removed.. It was way too tight. I opened the seams in that area on both sides, added additional fabric to the one on the left  and resewed the seams. That meant that additional length was needed on the center front  and you can see that the CF is split open from the bust point to CF for additional length. The hollow between the shoulder seam and bust apex is really pronounced on me and you can see where it is caved in. The best solution I have found for this over the years is to have a fill of interfacing, a "chest piece". I may add an additional layer of silk organza or even some heavier silk dupioni once the jacket is cut and basted. I know it is not in the original sweater type couture process of making one of these but you have to make it work on your own individual body. I am sure if Mssr. Lagerfeld is faced with a hollow upper chest he would deal with it appropriately and so will I. So the tweaked fit is on the left, not the right of the muslin. One thing that really surprised me about Vogue 8259, which I picked out immediately upon seeing the pattern, is the slope of the shoulder. In all my years of sewing, shoulder slope has never been an issue. My shoulders are definitely small but the slope has always been normal. This pattern slopes bigtime and I had to let out the should slope to a half inch at the top of the armscye. Beware. I fit this with a turtleneck underneath as that is more than likely how I will be wearing it. I know.....


The back looks a little wrinkly on one side but that is just the way I am leaning, I think. DH is not real good at saying "stand straight." but he was a help.  My plan is to further tweak the fit in the fashion fabric. What I have to do now, before cutting, is to add an additional half inch to the length at the hem. What you see is with the hem cut off.

So here is what I did to this pattern so far:
*     Let the shoulder seam out tapering from nothing at the neckline to a half inch at the shoulder   knob.

*     Took in the center front seam from waist to hem. It flared out and just hung off my boobs.

*     Recurved the entire princess seam, actually taking in a bit for my hollow chest, then expanding out an inch and a 1/4 at the bust apex . That inch and a quarter was on the side front. The center front only was increased a 1/4 inch. This became an S-dart.

*     In the back I did a slight swayback adjustment at the waistline taking in about an 1/8th of an inch on the seamline, so actually a 1/4 inch removed. I then tapered out to the hipline.

*    Added about a 1/2 inch at each side seam and center back, sloping out from about an inch below the waist to hemline.

*    Did my usual petiting and length adjustments on the bodice and sleeves.

Next I have to put the sleeves together and do a mockup with the buttons. I am 90% sure it will be a shortened sleeve length with buttons and vents. That probably won't happen till the weekend.

I have been moving right along with McCoya's dress and it is darling. Must have smocked on it at least 3 hours today. Gottaluvit. Love those variegated threads. They really bring life to the party.....Bunny

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ah, the Possibilities!

Tonight's post is about possibilities, creative possibilities. How do you explore creative possibilities? We all have collections, stashes, resource centers, call it what you want. I like to pull out all possible when I am thinking of the next creative bit of problem solving. Here you can see my pallette for an upcoming project (mum's the word for now). I may not use all of these items but I am throwing them all together in order to eventually pick out awesome textures and the right colors for my project. I will let this hang around a bit before I start culling. I may add more.
I love this color combination and it just screams spring to me. Sometimes it is just fun to work in certain colors, no matter what the project may be. For me, this is one of those projects.

After cleaning up all the fibers that didn't make the cut, I decided to play with other POSSIBILITIES. Next in the queue was a search for buttons for my Channel jacket. I pulled out some of Ima's antique buttons and auditioned quite a few. The first, I just loved, but won't be able to use them as I just don't have enough. Love these pink retros:

 
These are just so much cooler and prettier IRL, but sadly, just not enough for the jacket. 

These actually look quite nice with their facets and aged bronze look. They are much more faceted and sparkly than the photos shows. Alas, I have enough of these but they are a little larger than ideal. 


These work really well. They are the right size. What you can't see is that behind the metal filagree is a mirror effect, which once again, my camera fails to show. Right size and lots of them. 

I won't make up my mind on buttons until the very end of construction, but I will continue to look and experiment until the right one comes along. I rarely buy the buttons until the garment is complete and this probably won't be any different. 
But isn't it fun to play with possibilities? So, pull out your collections, spread them out, lay them on top, and watch them for a while to see what really works for you. It is just great fun.......Bunny