Monday, May 31, 2010

Green Dress Muslin Part Two

Part Two and final on the muslin. I had my usual gobs of fabric in the back bodice to deal with. First I did a swayback adjustment taking out 3/4 of an inch of fabric horizontally about 2 inches above the waist and tapering to 0 at the sides. That helped a lot but I was still left with a bit wrinkle from my sloping shoulders. I tried taking it in and it just looked too upholstered. Then I added thin shoulder pads and I think I will go with that as you can see. It created a slight pull below the back neck but I think once the neckline is enlarged from stitching it and the seam allowance removed it will be fine.
I know there is too much width at the back armscye, an eternal fit issue here. Years ago a tailor at a sewing seminar I attended told me to just scoop out 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the back of the sleeve as I sew it in. I find this usually works so thats what I am going with. Other than that I am good to go and now have the green linen all cut out.

I have decided to underline this with a white lining from the stash. I usually use that anti static or a bemburg. It's  not the Bemburg. I will cut it out and serge the dress and underlining together and then just proceed with the construction. A Hong Kong finish on the seams would work well here.  Off to the pink cave.......Bunny

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dress Muslin.

My heavens, this looks depressing! Fear not, it is a brown gingham muslin for the green linen dress. I cut a size 8 and morphed to a 10 at the hips. I think it is pretty good. I could not get a decent pic of the back and DH was not around. I need to do a slight swayback adjustment there and tweek the right shoulder and that should do it. I am having thoughts about this linen dress and may do a white binding for some linear emphasis. I am also thinking if I do the breast pockets as in one of the views it could give me some needed balance at the top. You can see the gingham is marked up. I did my straight of grains in red but other markings in blue and green. The apex is right where it is supposed to be, a surprise to me , and the waistline just a tad higher. If flares out comfortably so I don't think I will have the buttons popping like I experienced at 17. I am liking this pattern so far. Question for someone. On patterns there is a cross in a circle marking the apex of the bustline on the bodice. I have that same mark on my outer thigh right where you see my thumb tip. It is in the middle of the side front piece. Its way to low for a hip bone and in a weird spot. Anyone know what that is for? TIA..

Thanks for entering the no makeup no hair zone here on the blog. I knew you would understand. Did anyone see the babes of the Today show go on without any makeup last week? It was incredible to see them in real life. They all seemed to like the no makeup look and feel. Myself, don't know if I will ever be ready for that.......Bunny

The Masthead

Ellie Inspired asked about the white shirt in the masthead banner above. She didn't remember seeing the posts. Ellie, I have decided to review all of the pieces in the masthead for you. They were chosen for the masthead because of the way they worked visually together, not because of any particular pride in those garments. I spent an evening going thru all my photos and trying all sorts of photos to get a good color balance and arrangement. There were infinite ways one could have lined these all up and I used Photoscape, which I love, to help me out. It is wonderful editing software that I highly recommend, much better than any other free offering out there, IMO. I used to have Photoshop but it got lost with a massive virus attack and the need to get a new computer. That happened at the same time we moved and the disc disappeared into that place where all things misplaced while moving go.
So, from left to right::
This is a felted wool bag from lavender cashmere. Wish I had more of that fabric now! It is embroidered with felted pieces for the stawberries and leaves. This was part of a bagapoluzza that I did for all my favorite females a few Christmases back. I made them each a very different bag and had the pleasure of knowing these gifts went to people who truly appreciated my efforts. We all know how that can go! The bag is hanging a little wonky, FWIW, but is straight.

This next effort became my Great White shirt which you can see in a lot more detail on the post here.
There are several posts regarding this blouse if you scroll back a bit. I love doing this type of work as well as love working on beautiful linen. If you have been following lately you know that each summer some sort of white garment gets made and this was last years effort. This blouse received an Honorable Mention in last years Threads magazine Summer Sewing contest. so I have my prouds on with this one.
 
This bag was also part of the Christmas bagapalooza. Stash story here: This wool was a pleated skirt I made in HIGH SCHOOL, yikes! Many years ago I took the skirt apart and saved the fabric as I thought it was a gorgeous piece of wool. It came from one of the many fabric outlet stores that existed in New Bedford, Mass at the time. Talk about  stashing! New Bedford was textile city when I was a teen and there were many back door mill stores where you could buy great  fabric cheap. Those were the shopping days, I tell ya! Anyway, I designed the applique, felted the wools, and used some faux leather for the corners. I really liked this bag.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of the masthead design. Thanks, Ellie Inspired for inspiring me to do this post.......Bunny

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Linen Print Dress, McCalls 6116


Back to working with some color! This is a nice green and white 100% linen shirt weight, heavier than a hanky linen but not as heavy as a suiting. I think it will work well for this classic shirtwaist dress. I will be making View B which has no collar and hopefully I will have enough to do the fold up tab 3/4 sleeve. It is an armhole princess seam dress which buttons up the front. I remember when I was 17  or so I made a similar style and found that when I sat down the buttons seemed to pop. That dress was not tight either. Isn't it amazing how we remember the garments we've sewn over the years? I think my lesson back then was to not make that style again and here I am many years later trying to master it once again. Hopefully I won't be the two time fool.

Since linen lends itself so well to topstitching that will be part of the finish. If I can get this fit worked out I think I will have a great tried and true pattern for the future.

A few comments about the pattern, McCalls 6116. It's a Palmer Pletch "fit" pattern. I have read it thru and thru. I know there are many who will disagree with me but I am just not a tissue fitter. 15 years ago that was my method of choice. I don't like it. Give me a muslin any day. Paper crinkles, rips, does not cooperate or drape. This pattern teaches tissue fitting. I am not about to spend time taping all the armholes and rounded areas with tape  to keep it from ripping. I could be cutting out my muslin during that time. Then the directions to make the adjustments, oy,,,, Let's just say this could be a little overwhelming for a beginner. So without further ado, I cut a muslin from some of the miles of brown gingham Ima bequeathed me. Gingham makes a good  muslin as it is so easy to see the grainline. I have the front all sewn and hope to have the back sewn tomorrow. Friday I am off and should be able to have some fit pictures up.Then I will cut out the real thing.

Thanks for your nice comments on my pseudo silky blouse. Yes, it is nasty stuff. Yes, I would prefer and love to work on real silk any day. But once in a while those sirens call out to me. At least now I feel I have some tools to deal with that fabric a little better.
. My smocking for the little blue dress is slowly coming along. I have been ironing each needles full of floss and rubbing with spray starch as well. I do think it makes my cables stack a little better. But, it does take time. We will get there....Bunny

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sewing Poly Silkies & McCalls 5469

We've all seen them. They are seductive. Their brightly colored synthetic shininess reaches out for our pocketbooks.I mean, they sure look like silk charmeuse. And the price! Can't beat that with the proverbial stick! Oh, you're right. They make horridly uncomfortable linings. They don't breathe and they are hot. I've tried too many hopeful times to repeat that mistake!  But hey, for a flowey, open sleeved, billowy little top - perfect! I caved.

First I'll make some comments on the construction and then go onto the pattern.

Here are some hints gleaned from Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina and some from my own experience.

* These suckers ravel. MAKE SURE you serge before proceeding to any part of the construction. I didn't with this because I forgot the necessity of it all. You really need to do this.
* Use fine machine thread, the kind recommended for heirloom. Use it in both the bobbin and the needle. I mark my bobbins with a red sharpie and an "F" for fine.
 * Use a #10 Microtex needle.
* "Taut sew" pulling the fabric taut as it flows under the presser foot.
* Use your single hole presser foot. My 1/4 inch quilting foot is my single hole foot.
* Press on synthetic with low steam. DON'T move the fabric until it is cool. I get the best results if I press with the iron and immediately continue pressing with my point presser tool until cool. I go back and forth till no heat is left in the fabric. I find this sets creases, which you need for a nice looking hem and cools the fabric faster. If you move that fabric before cooling it will hold the folds and creases from where you touched. Really.
* Use French seams and bind the armscye.
* For your hem you can topstitch, not particularly that great looking in fine thread, do a double needle, what I would do in hindsight, or hand stitch. Use a regular whip stitch if hand hemming. I did the sleeves in a catch stitch, my usual, but the whip stitich I tried on the hem looked much better. I swear I never picked up more than two threads with each stitch. The stitching shows and there is no way to get around it. A good press with that point presser really helps though.
* Use silk pins, aka, fine pins. I only used my yellow heads to secure the pleats. 
On to the pattern, McCalls 5469:

* I cut off a good 6 inches from the length of the top. For one, that length would have my body cut right in half, not a good luck when you are 5 ft tall, or for anyone for that matter. You can see I lost a lot of the border but that's OK.. I knew that was a big possiblity.
* This pattern is very easy, but this fabric will cause you to fiddle a lot and take more time.
* I did the view that has the pleats opened and "fluttering". They are secured by stitching which is covered with the little grosgrain bow. I kind of like this. If I were to do it again I would make the pleats face the center. In my minds eye the above configuration could never look symmetrical due to the nature of the pleats and that bugs me.
* I also would place the ribbon and the stitching it hides higher up, maybe 3/4s of an inch from the edge. I am very narrow in the upper chest and the advised location of the ribbon just pulls funny above my boobs. I will live with it but next time, higher up.
* Do you see how the stripes are distorted? I flat pattern measured and am very narrow on top, front and back so did not think their would be any fit issues. Clearly there are. Raising the ribbon stitching would help that as well as a wider bodice. I suggest that if you need to do this to this easy pattern, just adjust your pleats so there is more fabric in the neckline. Make sure you adjust the facing piece as well. This did go over my head easily.
* That facing piece is interesting. The neckline is bound except for the pleat area. That is covered with a square piece of fabric. Binding and square are stitched and then flipped to the inside. I then topstitched them to keep it all down.
* The entire time I sewed this top I just KNEW that the neckline would be too big and low. It isn't I always take out a half inch between shoulder and apex and didn't this time. No decollete here. 
* I wanted fuller sleeves than the pattern. It looked too narrow to me. I added 6 inches to the width and raised the cap one inch. To echo the pleats in the bodice I pleated the sleeve caps.

I would definitely sew this again, possibly in another cheapy pseudo silky. I think it is a fun look and will go with black work pants as well as jeans. I recommend it with the suggestions made above. So don't feel guilty about giving in to the sirens of pseudo silk. They can be pretty rewarding if attention is paid.....Bunny

Monday, May 17, 2010

Next - McCalls 5469

 Thank you all so so much for the lovely comments regarding the Retro Blouse. I definitely think it is a style just made for petites. I want to particularly thank Claire of Claire Kennedy Design who kindly taught me the difference between raglan and kimono sleeves. I always get those two mixed up since forever, and think it must look like a kimono if its a kimono sleeve. Clearly I needed some educating here.  If you haven't visited Claire's blog, you are missing a treat. She is an incredible designer of national repute catering particularly to brides and debutantes. She is also extremely generous and has given me so much help and encouragement this past year. Thanks, Claire, for all your kindness.


I am just on a tear making things for work. Tops and pants work best but I think I will try some skirts soon too. I have the basic collection of brown, black, navy, grey pants and am in need of tops, preferably tops with color. Given that my last blouse was snow white and the next one is black, white, and grey, am not doing well making good on that promise. If my next top is a neutral, please, someone slap me!

I love fiddling with borders and stripes. This piece is a poly charmeuse with, Akkkk, lycra. I have done my homework and will go into this project with a microtex needle, (did that last time), cut my fabric on the cross, which I would do anyway for the border, and taut sew. All of the above are recommendations from S. Betzina for this challenging fabric.Personally, I will cross my fingers as well. OK, what will I make, pray tell? This little prego looking top. I will wear it much shorter than the pattern as tunic length is horrible on me. So I may lose a fair amount of this border before I am done, but we will see.
View B has your basic pleated neckline, but View A is a bit more interesting. The neckline is first bound but leaving a large section at center front with no binding. Then a large square of fabric is attached to the neckline and covering the raw ends of the binding. This is then all flipped to the inside. THEN you make your pleats. This lets the pleats stand alone and have more of a ruffled look. There is also a small ribbon used to secure the loose pleats. I think that will tone down this fabric a bit and let it not be too serious. And despite my previous rants, I am going to make short sleeves on this too so I will have to re draft the sleeve. It is just too warm in my office. I have a huge window on a hot courtyard and it heats up no matter what. So a fun challenging project ahead. It's cut out except for the sleeves and tomorrow I hope to hit it after some serious gardening happens. We finally have sunshine here!!!

I was asked if those were white poinsettias in the white blouse pictures. They are very real looking  fakes. I pulled them out at Christmas and they stayed. They seem to look right.....for now......Bunny

Friday, May 14, 2010

Simplicity 4047 - 1950's Retro Blouse

Finis!























I love this blouse! I am not real savvy about altering raglan sleeves for a full bust but over all I am pleased with the fit. I think this fabric is so pretty, which you can't pick up here but have seen in my previous post. DH said "that's beautiful" so it all works for me. Here is what I had to do with Simplicity 4047:

I cut the side seams wider from the armpit down to accommodate a C cup. I had to do a sway back adjustment cutting off 1 inch at the center back waistline on the bodice, not the peplum. This was tapered back to normal at the side seams. Based on reviews I read on PR, I made my side seam invisible zip go right up into the armpit. Frankly, I don't know how you would get this on if you used the recommended 9 inch zipper. I used a twelve. With the twelve inch zipper I could not get this over the shoulders on my dress form. But I was able to get it on me, no problem. All facings were eliminated and the blouse is fully lined from edge to edge. I sewed the lining in around the neckline, clipped, turned, and under stitched. Then I decided to bag the lining, reaching into the sleeves, grabbing the lined up sleeve edges, pulling them to the outside  and stitching. This worked like a charm. I left the rest of the lining to hang freely and hemmed the blouse and lining separately. To secure the lining so it would not roll out I ditchstitched in the underarm and shoulder seams and it worked great. This lovely linen really required a lining and a facing would have shown horribly thru the white linen.

I am very pleased with this. I do think this pattern runs snug as others have said on PR, so beware. In a perfect world I would have made a muslin first. I can see this in that glorious silk my daughter brought me back from Singapore with the cropped narrow pants to match, very Mad Men. Will somebody please invite me to a wedding or such so I can make that outfit, please..........Bunny

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thoughts on Mimi

As I cut and marked my white blouse to the wailing voice of Mahalia Jackson this morning, I thought of the many things my Mother gave me. Certainly my love of sewing, and definitely a love of Mahalia. Most of all she gave me permission. There was permission  to be as creative as I wanted, permission to hole up in my bedroom for hours oil  painting, permission to cut out Barbie clothes and make a tremendous mess with no repercussions, permission to cut patterns out on my bed when my sister wanted to come in and study in bed, permission to shop downtown and its fabric stores unattended for entire afternoons without any supervision at the age of 12, permission to design beach coverups at the age of 16 and pitch them to a local high end boutique, (they bought), just so many permissions that I knew other children didn't enjoy. I guess it was permission to be me.

Aside from permissions she gave me loves. There was the love of music most of all. Mom was a contralto in the opera. Music was all around us. She graduated from high school at 15 having skipped 3 grades. She immediately went into the work world and by age 18 had her own program on WWL radio in New Orleans sharing her love of opera all over the South. With my dad working in radio stations in the early years we had a massive album collection. He brought those records home for her. She played us show tunes, opera, and yes, our beloved Mahalia. My mom had a love of Gospel music that I am almost as passionate about as sewing. She would sing those black spirituals, Baptist hymns, and Latin choir music.  I would go with her each week to choir practice, her only time out on her own with 8 kids, and just rejoice in hearing here voice resonate through St. Johns's Cathedral in Lafayette. It gave me such a feeling listening to her voice.

Another love she gave me was the love of food. She always had a petite little figure until her later diseased years, and that was with all the Creole cooking that was staple in our home. She taught me to love "ranch style grits", shrimp etouffe, smothered okra, and so so much more, never losing that little figure. It was amazing.

As Mahalia sings in my background, may I wish all the Moms out there a beautiful Mother's Day with their families. May you remember the permissions your Mom gave you, and all of the loves. It is what made you you.......Bunny

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Next in the Queue

I recently showed you all my jelly cupboard and in particular the bottom shelf, my sewing queue. I have been smocking away on the insert for the little blue dress and just finished the colorful top. It's time to move on. Out of the bottom shelf came this really lovely  linen, an Ima legacy, once again. It is  unique and  appropriate to the heirloom sewing she loved to do.  I am blessed with  over 4 yards of it.
I needed to put a pattern weight, a stone from the beach in Maine,  in the pic as well as lower the light so you could see the detail. White is such a bear to photograph. The fabric is stripes of linen with bridging and some sort of alternating machine fil tire stripe down the middle, very "heirloom".

It is the fabric for my next machine project, Simplicity 4047. Every summer, for a long, long time, I have made a very summery white dress or blouse, sometimes dressy, sometimes not, but light and airy. I don't know why. It just seems to happen every year. Last years white effort was the smocked linen blouse, aka, Great White Shirt. This year I am going with a retro blouse design that is really quite simple. It will be done up a little differently, at least as far as the construction is concerned. Lately I have an aversion to facings, so I have decided to line the blouse and will try the Kahlje edge technique for the installation of the lining. There will be an invisible zipper under the arm in the side seam as the pattern specifies. I have already cut out the lining. This weekend is work free, so after gardening is dealt with, it will be Retro White Blouse time........Bunny

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Colorful Top , Jeans Tip, and More.....
























The first really colorful addition to my wardrobe is complete. It is the same pattern I used for the grey linen dress, simply cut shorter, Butterick 5348.  The fabric is a poly spandex charmeuse nightmare. I have sewn poly charmeuses before, not the easiest thing to do, but adding this lycra/spandex or whatever that made it stretch really tried my skills and patience. I never realized the fiber content was part stretch until I couldn't figure out why I was having such a time topstitching. Last night I asked for hints on how to do this on this fabric. I have since figured out you DON'T do topstitching on this fabric, just let it flow. I must have tried every thread/tension/ fiber combo possible and nothing gave good enough results. So today, after looking at my miserable mess I ripped out all the TSing and now I am happy. Learn something new all the time! The seams are all French seams, invisible zipper in the back, and pretty run of the mill construction otherwise. I do love the fabric, the flow of it all, the wonderful colors. This is perfect for my work. It gets terribly hot there and this will be perfect. Now it is time to put this pattern to bed, at least for a while. I did see Andrea Mitchell on TV today with a very similar top that looked great. It was grey (there I go with no color) with a tiny stripe. The neckband was laid so the stripes went evenly left to right, not what one would expect so it made an interesting design statement. Go Andrea!
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Before I ripped out my topstitching I stopped procrastinating and took up the hems on four pairs of pants this morning, one slinky, one ponte type knit, and two jeans. For my jeans I tried a new to me technique that I found fast and fabulous. I take no credit for this but am so excited about it's ease and results that I must pass it on to you. This is on a 2005 page of DaciaRay.com and is so clearly explained there that I won't go into the technique myself. I just followed her directions. Here are my results. This is the original hem that came on the heans but it is 2 1/2 inches shorter!


This went together in minutes and I doubt I would hem jeans any other way now. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this technique, also known as a European jeans hem. Who knew?
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And last but not least DH and I went on a combo 4 wheel/ hiking adventure about 2-3 miles up our Deer River in the state park. It was so lovely there. The water is flowing full white water in lots of spots and it was quite majestic. We found about 3 miles deep into the woods an exquisite maple grove. I took lots of pictures and here are a few:
These are trilliums, a plant that has always intrigued me and is a protected species. They are quite lovely and hold their blooms for an extended time. I had them on our slope in NH and they are blooming in the deep shaded woods up here in NY now.
We saw several beaver dams, huts, and ponds. This was at one beaver dam. Can you guess what it is? Better yet, can you guess what killed it? Not the first time DH and I have seen this in the woods.
Yup, its the remains of a deer carcass. As we finished our afternoon trek and headed home this is the street I live on as it comes out of the state park. You can see the ominous storm looming. We made it in the house dodging egg size raindrops and lightening. Glad we were out of the woods when it hit.

Bunny

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Little Blue Dress Begins

I have my insert pleated in prep for the smocking. I chose a lovely white batiste Ima bequeathed me. The pleats are really packed and maybe I should have backed it but I think it will be OK. I am using a plate that is quite dense which should compliment all the blue fabric.It is from issue 100 of Sew Beautiful.

Tomorrow I hope to be able to photo the top I just finished. Overall its cute but sewing on a poly and lycra charmeuse was a bear and not one I am experienced at. Any hints you may have please let me know when I put up the post. TIA....Bunny