Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28th, 2010 and WTH???

 This is what was on my front porch when I got up at 5:30 this morning:

When I left the house at 7:30 there was two feet on the ground. What you see on the front porch has the additional roof snow that slid off. Hearing it thumpalump from the roof to the ground had me in bed wide awake way before I needed to wake up. Frankly this sucks, but our forecast has 60s tomorrow and 80's Saturday. Go figure!

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Because of the light shining thru the window I can't get a good head on picture of my curtains. I think I will have to try at night. I wa able to get a pic I took at an angle while standing in the tub. I did a contour tieback and put the tassels on the the screw eyes to cover them up. I like it. I have major houseguests  for the next 5 days so won't get back to the sewing for a bit, but when I do I am all done the "colorful" top except for some buttons and next in the queue is a smocked insert for the little blue dress. Here's a closeup of the tieback:


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I will leave you with a pic I took out of the front door a few nights ago when we were having a beautiful sunset......Bunny

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Re-organized!



The past couple weeks have seen a lot of cutting and sewing as well as fabric purchases. With company coming, I figured I better clean this mess up and do some organizing. I did my usual as everything has its place around here, but I wanted to redo my "jelly cupboard". If you lived  pretty much anywhere in New England 20-30 years ago, I would bet you had some of that VERY dark Yield House pine furniture. You may have even had a jelly cupboard as they were pretty popular at the time. I always found this piece of furniture quite functional and it has been in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and basements. When we moved here it went to the basement as I was frankly finding that dark pine a bit embarassing. I missed my jelly cupboard. So when we built my studio, I redid it in a favorite green color with the cream inside, the better to show off its innards.

I like to use the door to hang fabric from so the new pashminas have taken residence. On top are "dish" of yarns and my prescious silk from Arab Street.  Inside on top, other than those blatantly blue bottom pieces of felt, are my hand dyed wools. I doubt I will ever cut them but I sure like to look at them. I dyed some, some I purchased. Shelf #2 has a big jar of my angelina and rovings, some jars of primary colored buttons and a picture of my gorgeous MOM who so encouraged me with my sewing as a child and then some. Next shelf has a vintage toy machine I picked up at a yard sale for a dollar. I couldn't put this away if I tried and underneath it are my first ever quilt and the fabric for my Chanel Jacket. Bottom shelf is the queue. These are my immediate projects and their patterns. I like looking at my jelly cupboard. I think now I will just call it my sewing cupboard.........Bunny

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Window Treatment Tips

A fair amount of moons ago I designed and sold custom window treatments. It was something I found challenging, fun, and really enjoyed. I learned a lot about construction from the two workrooms I used. I loved going in the workrooms and seeing the staff cutting on the large tables in rooms so well lit it brought on jealousy. Then there were the rolls of pricey designer fabrics just waiting to be turned into a designer's fantasy. That's where I was lucky and the workroom ladies thought so too. Many designers had not a clue about construction, dreamed up designs, and then left the rest to the workroom. Far too often these were ideas defying fabrication due to a lack of knowledge of what machines and fabric can do. I was lucky to develop a great relationship with the workrooms. They would let me troll their digs, ask tons of nosy questions, and respect their skills. On the other hand, they knew with my designs they had someone who understood grain, pattern matching, fabric qualities, etc. It was a great mutual respect and I learned so much.

Since those days I have tried to make all my window treatments "custom". As I put together these simple bathroom rod runs a few things came back in their construction.
 This first pic came out really blurry and now the curtains are put together but I think you will get my drift. This shows my much used oak tag template being used to turn and press a half inch hem. This is simply made from a manila folder and marked out with perfect 1/4, 1/2, 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch, and 2 inch lines. The raw edge is turned to meet the appropriate line and pressed. I have had this template for years. While it is showing, I will mention lining. Unless it is some sort of sheer treatment, I personally wouldn't dream of not lining any window treatment. Well, maybe if I lived in a saltbox on Cape Cod and was doing real Cape Cod curtains, but other than that, no. I also have a big issue with how the windows look from the street. Well, you all know how anal I can get by now, but I don't like the windows to not match across the front of the house, or the rest of it for that matter. Ah, but she uses a brown gingham lining, you say......This is a bath windwow that no one would ever see from outside. This side of the house is not a place where anyone would walk around and it abuts woods. Ima gave me TONS of brown gingham so I used that and my inner tightwad was happy. It actually looks pretty good too. But normally I plan and sew so that everything looks matchy matchy from the outside of the house. As we speak it does other than this window.
Much better quality on this pic. In this and the last pic I am working on the headers, that top section the rod will go thru. These will be simple rod run tiebacks. I always figure 4 1/2 inches over the finished edge to add for the header. So we turned back a half inch and now we will measure, turn, pin, press, and sew down the next 4 inches. I use blue tape to mark this on my clear ruler and get a perfect hem.

These last two pics show how I go about hemming the header. I have on a clear foot with a red mark on it for the center needle position. The even feed is engaged. Use your walking foot for stitching these long lengths of fabric. The red line in center is lined up with the absolute edge of the fold. The needle position if on position 5 right of center. I am actually starting to stitch here and you can see the needle is about half an inch from the side edge of the curtain. So start one half inch IN from the edge. Put your stitch length at 1.5, BACKWARDS. Start stitching backwards till you hit the edge, then change the stitching to forward and continue for that half inch. Now change the stitch length back to 2.0 and stitch across the top of the curtain. When you get to one half inch short of the opposite edge, change stitch length back to 1.5 and stitch to the edge. Change to BACKWARDS. Go back one half inch and stop. Clip your threads and use a little fray check if you think your fabric will take it. Starting and stopping the header and hems this way will make it much stronger. I remember in my lean years of buying cheap little curtains from the discount store they would always come unstitched at the beginning and end. This method will prevent that. Who wants to be reminded of the lean years every time they look at a thread hanging from their curtains? Here you can see the result.
 Once I got these up it was time to "train" the drapes. Learned this trick from the installers. You really should use clothes pins for this but who has clothes pins in this day and age so I used  some clippy sucker thing and large paper clips. OK, you just don't put these on the rod and walk out the room. It takes some fiddlin' and diddlin' to get them just right. Play with the header and pull the fabric toward the floor to get it to hang even. Once your header looks pretty, go for the hem and make large accordian pleats with it. Make sure the ends face the wall. These are soft pleats. Once you are happy pin them at the bottom. Don't pin the pleats on the front or they will look like a sharp press when you are done. You want a soft effect here. Now take your trusty CLEAN water filled spray bottle and spray the dickens out of your window treatment. Of course you would not do this on any sort of silk or water stainable fabric. Now walk away,,,,,
Twenty four hours later unclip the drapes and let them fall out. They may look a little stiff at first but within the next 24 hours they should look great. You just "trained" your drapes!
Hope these little hints help. I should have these done soon. Right now I am ripping thru my studio and the basement, major reorganizing. Once that is done I will hit the shower curtain. I am going to upholster the rod and do a single panel. More to come......Bunny

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grey Linen Dress Finished

This dress has actually been finished for a few days now but I wanted an outside picture and the weather has just been dreadful. In a brief moment of sunshine DH and I and the chickens went out to take the pictures. I love him for taking them but he just doesn't get how to fill up the screen so sorry for the distance shots. I think you get the drift though.


This pattern is Butterick 5348. The sleeves can be either gathered or angel sleeves. I am so glad I did the angel sleeves. But if I make this again will make a longer sleeves. I just don't like short sleeves on me period! The hem is the length the pattern advised and I LOVE that. Didn't know my legs could take that length but it seems they can so more mid knee lengths are in the future. It is hard to see here but there is an interfaced belt type piece sewn with buttons to the front bodice and another to the back bodice, great waist emphasis. Out of this piece on each side are long, thin sewn tubes that tie into bows under the arms on each side. I think its kind of a cute  touch. If anyone out there needs some volume added to the bust, this is the dress for you, with all those gathers at the neckline and waist. I think it makes me look a little too booby, but I'll  live with that. One great thing about this dress, I made no pattern adjustments whatsoever. Given that I am 5 feet tall, that could be an issue for someone who is taller.

I agree with the commentors. This needed more detail shots. So the dress went on the form and here we are. You can see the partial belt sewn on to the back and front. I think its a cute detail.

 

I lined the bodice and serged all the seams before I started as this fabric was way ravelly. I recommend the linen/rayon blends as they barely wrinkle. It went together quite easily. I will make this again and have already started. I have a colorful poly silky print that I am using and it will be cut to be just a top. I had to do the angel sleeves because of the amount of fabric I had but I will live with that. I have pledged myself to get more color into my wardrobe and life. I look in my closet and it is brown, beige, navy, gray and black. I desperately need and love color. I think my thrust for now will be colorful tops to go with the pants I already have and maybe another dress or two. I do love to wear skirts in the summer as they are so much cooler and more comfortable than pants.

So I am working on the top right now and will probably start working on the smocked insert for the little blue dress......Bunny

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Little Blue Dress


Once upon a time there was a pretty young girl, age 14 or so, and a handsome slightly older soldier. The pretty girl was from a large French Canadian Catholic family and the handsome soldier had a similarly large Irish Catholic family. She lived near the soldier's sister, Bunny, and would often babysit Bunny's babies. The babes loved her. Bunny loved her. And the soldier soon loved her. It was easy. Terry had that rare blend of kindness and terrific assertiveness, something you had to respect. She would bring the colored soaps for the babes to finger paint the shower wall while she bathed them. She would also beat all of my brothers and husband at tennis. She was a pro, an actual tennis pro, at a very young age. 

Life went on and Terry and Billy eventually married and settled in to raise a family. This was extremely difficult and she had many losses a couple late in her second trimester. After 7 years of trying she and Billy finally had a teensy weensy baby girl, born way to early, and in lots of peril. I remember Billy taking a picture of Lainey, the baby, in a shoe box of Terry's. There would be no more children after Lainey. Lainey grew and the need for a more substantial home became pressing. The only way they could afford the home they wanted was to have an in law apartment. My parents had just retired and they asked my mom, Mimi, and Poppa to move into an in law apartment and watch Lainey while Terry worked to cover the mortgage. Mimi and Poppa were thrilled.

Terry became Mimi's best friend. Everyday after work they would share a game of Scrabble and either a coffee or a shot of brandy. They became very close. It was an ideal set up and I can honestly say I have never seen in laws get along like this, never mind become best friends. Terry was my friend too. She was always the athlete and never wore a skirt or dress except for her wedding, really. For her own parent's wedding anniversary she asked me to make her a black velvet suit and to make Lainey a black velvet dress, anything I wanted to. I was honored and thrilled. She looked gorgeous in her pretty suit. She had great legs no one had ever seen except on the tennis court. I can honestly say Lainey's dress was without a doubt the most beautiful child's garment I have ever made, to this day. It was a swirl of jewel colored ribbons and black velvet and Lainey and Terry loved it.

Life was good, family picnics, celebrations, friendships. One night Terry went in the kitchen after the dinner dishes were done and grabbed a beer from the fridge. Before she could pop it open she dropped to the floor in a brief seizure and died almost instantly, in front of Billy, from an aneurism. From that moment on, nothing was the same for any of us, but for Lainey and Billy it would become a nightmare of depression and loneliness and all of the poor decisions that come from such feelings.
Oh, Terry was buried in the black velvet suit, with Lainey's swirley ribbon dress in the coffin with her.

Billy shortly endured a 6 month marriage with someone who cleaned out all of his insurance money and left when there was no more. At one point she cleared out anything in the house, all pictures, clothing, furniture, that had anything to do with Terry. Billy was too lost to even know what was happening. Remember my mom lived in the in law apartment? She trolled thru the garbage and managed to pick out this little blue dress. Terry had saved it from when Lainey was 3 and she was now six. Mimi cleaned it and tucked it away. Terry had told her she was saving it for when Lainey had her own little girl one day. Mimi would save it for Lainey.

Life got better. The despair lifted and things eventually got close to normal. My dad passed away and the house was sold. My mom went into elderly housing. As I helped her pack she gave me the little blue dress and asked that I save it for Lainey. Of course I would. It has been hanging in my sewing room since.

The little blue dress is really not that special other than the sentiment behind it. The sleeves are drafted way too large. The buttons down the back don't all match. The stitching is huge. But it is still pretty. I have always wanted to make another little blue dress, one that would fit more correctly, and be more heirloom sewn. For years I have been on a quest to find this fabric or something similar. I can't tell you how many pieces looked right in the store, but when I got them home they just weren't right. Enter Angel Kristine of Just Keep Sewing.   
 
When I saw Kristine's post on her beautiful daughter's Easter dress   I knew that was the fabric. Her daughter's dress was adorable and the fabric pretty near a perfect version of Lainey's little blue dress. E-mails ensued back and forth. Kristine had enough left over for me to make another small dress and was glad to give it up. I have a package on my counter as we speak to go to the Post Office to show my appreciation for her generous offer. The internet is such an amazing thing. You are all my sewing circle. You are my night out with the girls to talk sewing. You are my fellow fanatics who understand my passion. You are my friends. Thanks, Kristine........Bunny

Friday, April 16, 2010

Arab Street in Singapore

A couple of weeks ago DD#1 had a business trip to Hong Kong and Singapore. While HK did not leave her impressed (can you believe it?) she came home wild about Singapore and said she would live there in a heartbeat. ACK!!! While I knew these areas were some of the best textile shopping in the world, I never would ask her to shop for me while on business. Her job is VERY high level and intense and for one of the Fortune Five. She has a tremendous brain for business, totally respects my passion for textiles, and couldn't sew a button if her life depended on it. So  never even broached the subject.

We went to visit her last weekend and at one point she called me up to her bedroom. I got this weird feeling like she was going to tell me some deep dark secret but it was way better than that. On the dresser she had folded up 5 exquisite Pashmina shawls and said "Mom, pick two." To say this was difficult is an understatement! I eventually settled on these beauties and MUST make a new winter coat to wear with them.

On the tag you can see that this a a 55% Pashmina cashmere wool and 45% silk. All I know is it feels incredibly yummy, soft, and luxurious. On a totally different tangent I also picked this brightly colored one, the better to cheer up our dreary winters.
It seems DD knew this was textile heaven and with what little time off she had she asked where to shop. She ended up in and area called "Arab Street", go figure, and said it was all fabrics, beads, buttons, tailors for custom suits, etc., IOW,  heaven!  She knew she wanted to bring me back some fabric and as she walked by one particular store the following was in the store window. She said it took her breath away as it did mine. She bought all that was on the bolt. This is 100% silk, 3.5 yards, 45 inches wide, and has this green/blue warp weft thing going on. As it ripples the color changes. It is so much more beautiful in person. I love the design as it is very small making it easier to work with in my opinion.
What you see that is blue will shift and move and turn green as the wearer moves. It is just exquisite. Now she also bought me some beads to go with it, understanding full well how I design. I have them here by some hand embroidered numbers and Asian letters(?) that are on the selvedge.
 What I will sew with this and when is up in the clouds. In the meantime, I have the thrill of knowing that my daughter understands, encourages and remembered  my passions while she was busy on the other side of the planet. That's worth more than all of these treasures....Bunny

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Grey Linen Dress or is it Black and White?

This is the linen dress. I think I just answered my question and the fabric is black and grey. I really like it. There is a bit of rayon in it, just enough to give it a softer drape and not so many wrinkles. I did line the top with some grey Ambiance I found in the closet. This is a summer dress for work. It is very warm where I work so I did not line the skirt. I will wear a slip if I need to but I don't think I will. I am still not sure what to do about the sleeves. Puffy or Angel sleeves? Remember, I hate my arms. The angel sleeve would soften the look and be more flattering. Drawback? The dress will look like a muu muu. Puffy sleeve? Maybe if I don't have the elastic tight so it is not squeezing my upper arm. I will make this decision last, once the skirt is on. Maybe once the skirt is on with the belts and empire waist it won't be so muu muu like. So the sleeve finish will be last.

Are you ready for the back? I did an invisible zipper. I am really pleased with the results and how the print matched up. I truly never expected it to come out that well. Don't you love invisible zippers?


The sleeve seams and neck band are topstitched but it doesn't even show. The thread just imbeds  right into the fabric.

DH and I will be heading South this weekend for a long weekend in the Cape and Boston area. I cannot wait to see my babes. I miss them terribly. We will be visiting his Mom as well. Hopefully the dress will be done by the weekend.....Bunny