Sunday, February 27, 2011

Simplicity 2501

If you have been following for a while you may know that my usual "MO" is to have one project of handwork and one project of machine work going at the same time. I find limiting myself to a max of two projects at a time can really prevent UFOs. Yesterday I decided on my machine project and have spent today altering the pattern and cutting and marking.
I will be making the blouse on the model but with the short sleeves of the little green version on the upper left. This is one of those patterns with different fronts for different cup sizes. I have had good luck with these in the past so did not make a muslin. The fabric is a poly georgette, not the most accommodating, but I think it will work well enough and will certainly take to the washing machine. The big quandary I faced, before attempting any cutting, was to decide if I wanted to wear this with a camisole or just do a double layer of fabric. Georgettes are rather sheer.  I had to lay everything out to first see if I had enough for a double layer bodice and I did. Doubled up gives sort of a mild psychedelic effect  but that's OK. So the decision was no cami, double bodice.
On the front this meant that the seam line would be on the fold. I marked it, folded back the pattern piece, and placed it on the fabric fold after the other alterations were made. For the back I simply cut two layers.



 


Next I had to "petite" the pattern. I have a tute on this in the right sidebar. You can see the small amount I folded out from the armscye to the neckline near CF. I needed to true the cutting line.
After "petiteing" the front, back, and sleeves, I needed to lower the apex of the bust. ( Aging sucks.)You can see how I cut out a block here that included the dart. A piece of tracing paper was placed behind the block and it was lowered the correct amount and taped in place at the top only. As I am doing all of this I am thinking, "will I regret not making a muslin?" Hmmm... You can tell by lowering the dart that now the waist line doesn't match up and I have some pleat details to worry about. To handle that I simply folded up the pattern so the hem edges were even again. This pic shows better what I mean.

Another nice feature of these "cup" patterns from Simplicity is that they give you the finished bust measurements of the pattern. You can see them here outlined in green. So, hopefully with this information everything will fit OK. If not, it will go under a jacket!!!

At this point it is cut out and marked. But now I feel like going back to my handwork. It is moving right along, but as always happens with embroidery, you just can't wait to move to the next color change. I have a lot of two step trellises to complete before that happens. This dress will have a coordinating print for a hem band and the straps and the piping. I took the colors from that print to pick the floss colors. It is all moving along pretty quickly and the whole garment should be completed within a few days. It just depends which project I decide to focus on the most.

This is the view from my front porch looking down the drive this morning. Depressing, isn't it? We may get some rain tomorrow. Hopefully that will happen and spring will rear its lovely head soon...Bunny

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Emilee" from AS&E #74

My fingers have been itching to smock and to work on something "Spring-y". What started out as a nightgown for Carley has now changed to a sweet little summer dress. The pic above is from Australian Smocking and Embroidery issue #74 and is called "Emilee". I not sure why I landed on this choice. Could it be that the beautiful child in the picture is almost a twin of my youngest at this age? My Audrey had the curly auburn hair, round cheeks, and chubby little arms. Or is it just the type of summer dress that my oldest daughter likes to put on Carley? Perhaps a bit of both, but right now it feels good to be working on something very lightweight and with challenging handwork. The back of this dress is a criss cross strap and so cute.
The pattern has been traced off, cut out and put through the pleater. The fabric is a softly printed cotton batiste. You can see how tightly the pleats have become. Hindsight tells me that I could have interfaced the pleating but I think it will be OK.
 
I am always surprised to see how prints pleat up. I love how this one came out with a moire design. They don't all come out this nicely. Some prints pleat up into a nasty concoction of color. You just never know and it is risk, but this one was a sweet surprise. The smocking will be mostly in the aqua color with either cast on or bullion daisies. Not sure yet. 
This is the perfect project right now for me. It portends of Spring, takes some focus, and puts my mind off of nasty coughing. I am feeling quite better from the "bug" part but my coughing has caused my cartilage to have ripped from the rib cage and to even possibly have a cracked or broken rib. I had to cough that hard. It hurts like the dickens. Sitting and smocking will be perfect to keep me "in the zone" and not coughing. I am sure looking forward to this all being over. I promise, no more references to my issues. I am sick of it too!....Bunny

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

McGehee Tote Bag

This bag was very easy, particularly once I nixed the initial zipper instructions. It took little time to make. The fabrics are home dec prints I bought some time ago to make a different bag.
The pocket is trimmed with two strips of zipper tape from a separating jacket zipper. The bag is lined and the upper edge is a simple bias strip folded over and ditch stitched from the front with a 1.5 stitch. I use my edge stitching foot for that as it gives a really hidden ditch stitch. The one seam that wraps around the bag is piped with the plaid on the bias.
I have a nice collection of buckles, many mother of pearl, that I inherited from my great Aunt Yon. I decided to use a couple of them on the strap. The strap is simply some grosgrain with another bias strip of the plaid running along its length.
 
This simple little tote was just what the doctor ordered. It was easy, pretty, and Spring-y.

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This could be TMI, but about 8 years ago I came very close to losing my life to status asthmaticus and sudden severe pneumonia. I learned a few things back then. One of the things I was taught was to meditate when I got those inevitable coughing jags that were my closest friend for nearly six months. While this pneumonia go round is not the same as that horrible episode, thank the Good Lord, I still have awful coughing jags and probably will for some time. I have found, despite feeling exhausted, that sitting at the machine and getting "in the zone" has the same effect. It seems to calm that reflex and helps my breathing a great deal. Who knew? I am now trying to think of another project, again something pretty simple that I can drop and go back to no problem. It may be a little nightgown for Carly or some jammies for Zak. One thing I can tell you. I won't be cutting into any felted wool any time soon!....Bunny

Monday, February 21, 2011

Back to Sewing!

While I was sacked out on the couch I watched many a sewing video I had saved up with the DVR. Some were boring, didn't apply to my type of sewing and got erased. Others were inspirational. One video that particularly caught my eye was Sue Hausman of "America Sews" of public TV. She had on as a guest Linda McGehee of long time bag fame. I decided a perky little spring bag would be just the ticket to get my ass of the couch and back into the sewing room, albeit bit by bit and between hacking episodes.

McGehee's constuction is what intrigued me. She made a layer of fashion fabric, fleece, and muslin and quilted it on the machine. Next she took the lining fabric and covered it on the wrong side with Steam a Seam. Once the top was quilted the lining was fused to the top. Then all the pieces were serged all around. This all very different from my approach which always has a separate lining, but hey, they are always two ways to skin a cat!

Next she did some really intriguing embellishment. She used a separating zipper. Had one! She installed the zip across the top of the bag in a really unique manner. The extra zipper that was cut off was then used to decorate the pocket edges. I could do that! or so I thought...

Here you see my pieces all fused and serged per her instructions. So far so good! I didn't use a pattern here, just cutting a couple of shapes symmetrically that were pleasing to my eye.
Now we are getting to the fun part. My zipper was a separating zipper. Once under construction I realized it had a pull at each end. Linda didn't use that kind. I could just close up one end with a few stitches.Mistake! But at least now I had the zipper leftovers. Here you can see two stacked pieces of zipper tape. My pocket edge is folded down.
I used my edge stitching foot and ran the blade right down the edge of the fold.  The needle position was moved a few clicks to the left.

Once the pocket was installed on the outside of the bag it was time for the zipper. I will spare you the details but I was basically trying to put a square peg into a round hole. No matter what I tried it just did not work. I ripped the zip out and that's where we are now. This is really sort of a tote-y bag so it will be fine being open at the top. Next is wrap the top with binding and install the handle. She had a cute trick there too. Back to the couch.......Bunny
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THANK YOU, EVERYONE! for all your kind thoughts, prayers, and wishes. They are so appreciated. You are all so special and don't you all forget it!

I would also like to welcome the many new followers. Please feel free to ask questions and comment. I love to share the passion I have for this art......Bunny

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hiatus

Remember my bout of bronchitis? It seemed nearly gone and then while visiting my daughters I got sicker and sicker. I now have pneumonia, no fun. The worst part was driving back home in a blizzard with chills, fever, and very bad cough. The next morning, yesterday, my fever was climbing and I went to the doctor where he gave me x rays, the diagnosis, and lots of meds. So for the moment I am making friends with my nebulizer instead of showing you my latest fabric purchases. I will return to blogging when I get my strength back, hopefully within a few days. Thanks for being here to listen to my moans and groans....Bunny

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February 2011 Pants Finis!

These pants make me happier than January's pants. That's what it is all about, getting them better each time I work on a pair. The pic above is how I would most likely wear them.
The camera is tilted not me! I have a new tripod and this keeps happening so I have to work on that!
Here are some details:
  • The fabric is a rayon/poly blend, no lycra this time and I like that. The weave is that of a linen with some black and some copper colored threads. Like many rayons, it has a heavy drape. What looks snug around the waist hip area really has plenty ease. It just drapes downward from its own weight. 
  • These pants are fairly heavy. They are lined fully with a poly anti static lining. 
  • They feel great. That stay just seems to give you some sort of oomph going on in there. You can see that it DOES NOT pull in the side seams and yes, the stay is smaller than the pants, all just a matter of cutting right and following directions. 
  • This pair has slanted side pockets. They lay really nicely, again a contribution from the stay.

Things I did to this pair and not the last pair:
  •  The fit has been tweaked. I cut the side seams, from the bottom of the pocket to the hem 3/8ths of an inch deeper letting the pant legs fit more closely. 
  • I changed the crotch curve, lifting the front curve a half inch and tapering it into the back curve. I think it looks better, do you? 
  • I did Sandra Betzina's fly but also followed her suggestion to iron the stretch out of the bias rear crotch points. I stretched them with the steam iron and then re cut the pant leg.
  • I interfaced the rear crotch points with armo weft interfacing as suggested by Claire Kennedy. I think it helps a lot. 
  • I made the pants longer. Whenever you make pants you are faced at the end with the decision, do I hem for flat shoes, sneakers, or heels? I decided on this pair I would hem for heels. Maybe some of you tall sewists don't concern yourself with this but with my height a quarter inch can be the difference between looking chic and stupid. 
  • These are fully lined. I handstitched them around the zipper area and did a Hong Kong treatment on the inner waistband. 

    This monthly pants challenge to myself is all about learning techniques for making pants as well as getting a better fit each time. But that is not the only journey. Its also a quest to figure out what looks best on my particular figure. I can't buy pants that fit me. I need to know that I can make pants that will fit as well as help me look my best. Do you think that the fuller, straighter leg looks better or do you prefer the closer fitting style with its pockets? Please feel free to share your opinions here. This is a journey and I would like you all along for the ride. Thanks.

    Your comments re: the wearable art conundrum were very interesting. Thanks to all of those who shared their thoughts. .....Bunny

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Wearable Art, Aaacckkk!

    Sorry, I just think the term is a very hackneyed phrase.What does it conjure up for you?

    A couple of different things come to mind, all of this philosophizing being spurred on by a snoop shopping trip and a possible interpretation of some RTW I saw.

    The first thing I think of when the term "wearable art" is heard between these two ears are visions of patchwork vests with Ohio Stars pieced on the back. Don't get me wrong here. I love quilters. I love quilting fabrics. I was a quilter for many many years. (blush) I even made one of those vests, well, mine was a jacket. But some how in quilting magazines and guilds across America  this use of traditional quilt patterns and 100% cotton came to be called wearable art. Is it? No, it is a quilted vest. JM2cents FWIW.

    The next thought I have, and more to my way of thinking, is the work of the likes of Lois and Dianne Ericson, Marcy Tilton, etc. I like their work. It shows a reintrepretation of garment lines. Seams are creatively used. Closures come forefront. Books were published and patterns were made. I read the books, found them very inspiring. I bought the patterns and loved those too. This work definitely was hatched from an artistic mind that found inspiration in nature, architecture, ect.  I sure have made a few of these too. At this age of mine, however, I am finding many of the styles really are not that flattering to me. They are great canvases, and tell the world what I am capable of, but do they look good on me? Not often, at least at this stage. They look fabulous on some and there are great examples of that. They just never really worked for me and now I finally admit it. Maybe I am just too small to carry of some canvasses. That doesn't mean their wonderful work won't seduce me again at some time. And I need to give thanks here, too. My interpretations of their inspirations made me think out of the box and taught me a lot. I am so thankful for that.

    Thought three is just amazing wearable art. This is the stuff of fabric challenges, national competitions, and the studio of Summerset Banks. Those who make this type of wearable art are artists, skilled artists. They bring to the table tremendous sewing and drafting skills. Their creativity bounds in their interpretations of themes. This is no holds barred sewing, the stuff of fantasies. I love this work. I am inspired by this work. I am very impressed by those who practice it well. But alas, I can't wear fantasy either.

    So here I am trying to find my expression of wearable art. First, I would like to call it something else. I just haven't thought of what yet. It would be truly wearable. It may turn a few heads but not look out of sync with its environment. It is more than just line and color. It is the employment of textures, embellishments, paints, technique to die for. It is way thinking out of the box for a garment that could actually be worn shopping, to church, to a wedding. It is the coat felted with polka dots by Shams. Actually it is a lot of stuff by Shams. She is really good at making truly wearable art. It is the painted lining Caroline, the Sewing Fanatic, did for one of her TNT garments. Whoodathunkit? She did and her lining was fabulous. It could be one of Sivje's, aka Goose Girl's, interpretations of childrens clothing. Sivje thinks sooo creatively to make original very wearable gorgeous clothing for children. No fluff and stuff here. Her "Olivia" dress, all from her hands and mind is the stuff of dreams and I think she could launch a career on that dress alone.

    So we are talking more than color, line, fabric, and drape here. And above all, it is truly wearable. Can we not think up a new name for this? It's bugging the crap out of me......Bunny

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    A Pants Stay

    Today I mostly worked on getting the 2-11 pants completed up to the waistband installation. That will come tomorrow. Today I worked on the stay and I will show you what I did. If you have Sandra Betzina's More Power Sewing book, it is in there as well. 

    First I had to make my pattern. These pants have slanted side pockets. The stay will consist of the side/pocket and a lining piece extending to the end of the fly. It was simply a matter of copying my pattern across the top of the pant front. The I measured down the length of the side/pocket piece and that determined the length of the stay at the side seam. I drew and cut a line from there to the end of the fly extension.It will definitely curve upwards when you do this. Cut out your pattern. Next, draw and cut a line from the waistline down the center of the dart and on grain.Leave a tiny bit of paper still connected to make a hinge. Tape it shut on the back and cut out your stay from lining or any other thin firm fabric. If you are looking to get a little help holding your tummy in, you can cut this on the cross grain. That will put the "width" on the length and therefore with less give. I just cut mine on the straight of grain.
    Have handy some twill tape or selvedge (what I used) to stay the bias edge of the pocket. Pin your stay and your pant front and your tape/selvedge along the pocket seam and stitch. Grade and trim. Understitch the lining, favoring the seam toward the lining. Turn it all to the wrong side and press. With the tape/selvedge in there, there should be no stretch on this bias pocket edge. This is now when you will want to do your topstitching on the pocket edge if that was your plan. 
    Next, place your pant front pattern right side up on the table. Lay your pocket piece on it to match the pattern. Now lay your pant front on top. Pin the pocket to the bias edge. Pin at the waistline and at the bottom of the pocket at the side seam. Put a ham underneath this area, simulating your own body curves. Remove all but the top and bottom pins and let the pocket bag slide where it wants to. Once it is in position, pin it back to the bias edge. This helps keep the pocket from gaping. If need be cut any now excess fabric from the edges. Carefully bring the pieces to the sewing machine and machine baste the two pieces together  (This basting will stay in until the pants are completed and ready for wear) along the bias edge. Remove the pins. Now flip the pant front over so it is wrong side up.
    Smooth everything out. Don't force things here but get it smooth. You will very likely have some fabric extending beyond the fly. Carefully pin the edge of the side/pocket to the stay, where you see serging in the picture. Now carefully lift that up and bring it to the machine. The pant front is free and hanging to the left in the photo below. You are going to stitch along the serging to secure the pocket/side to the stay so that it will be flat.Go all the way around. You are making a pocket bag here.

    Once the pocket bag is all stitched in, place the pant front wrong side up and lay the stay and pocket across. Smooth everything out. You will very likely have excess fabric now. Don't force this issue. Just get it smooth.If it is done right you will have a dimple of fabric in the pant front below the stay as you can see here. 
    The bubble you see at the pocket edge is the height of the dart pushing against the stay. At the fly edge the fabric just needs a good press. Trim any excess in the fly area and baste across the waist and down the fly. You can see that the stay is not pulling the side seams (as many have feared) and there is an appropriate dimple from the end of the dart creating the space it is supposed to.
    Now you are all ready to put your fly in. 

    What does this all do? It helps keep the pocket bias edge from gaping. It helps the pants fall from the waist a little more "cleanly" if that makes sense. And, it may even make your tummy feel a little flattened.

    When I initially started this I serged the bottom of the stay. I then saw that it created a small ridge and I decided to pink the edge instead. All of this process will be hidden behind the lining....tomorrow will  be waistband and lining and we should be done! That is after I get my new eyeglasses!....Bunny


    Friday, February 4, 2011

    February 2011 Pants Begun

    Thank you, everyone for your very positive comments on the red wool jersey sweater. That sort of commentary could go to a girl's head! It was a fun project and a new challenge and that combo makes for some very pleasant sewing. HOWEVER, my red fuzz attack has now been diagnosed as full blown bronchitis and nothing allergic. Thank heavens! I am sure the red fuzz aggravated the situation though. The project was done and two days later I was definitely worse. My darling husband, in the throes of the last Snowpocalypse, drove me to the doctors and that was good. A normally 35 minute ride took an hour and a half one way. Luckily we planned on nasty driving. My prince got me there and back home, tucked into the couch with my blanky like I knew he would. At this point I am still dealing with the infection, just a small amount of better and know it will take a bit of time. During this time I got the Feb. '11 pants and lining cut out and today I interfaced and serged them, not that much but at least some sewing. 
     
    The fabric:   
     Poly/Rayon blend, forgot the percentages of each but based on the look and behavior it seems to be mostly rayon. It is sort of tweedy and sort of linen looking so it should be a good transitional fabric. Being quite ravel-y I serged all the edges even though the pants will be fully lined.  The lining is an anti-static poly from JA's. 

    The pattern:
    I will be using the same pattern used in the January pants,  a re draft of an older pair of pants I had made. However, this pair will be more like the original pants. It will have slanted pockets, fly front zipper, darts instead of pleats, and be fully lined.

    The lining:
    This will be a traditional lining. In other words, the lining will be like another pair of pants, connected at the waistline with the fashion fabric, and hanging freely inside of the pants. Next month I will either underline or flatline, depends on the fabric I choose. I am trying to expand my experiences here with pants. I have done all of the above but by focusing each month on a pair it should reinforce and refresh my pant making knowledge base.

    Construction:
    This pair will have a stay. My original pants have a stay across the abdomen and I love that feature. I really think it makes the pants hang better and makes the tummy look flatter. I have been doing these stays in pants off and on for a long time based on a pattern, which I can't remember, that had this feature. Once you make pants with a stay across the front you will be hooked. So, I will try to have some more details when I get to that point. I haven't seen a pattern with a full tummy stay in a long time. If you have Betzina's MORE Power Sewing she explains, clearly as usual, on page 109. 

    I will once again use Betzina's fly method, in her first Power Sewing book and also on the Threads website. Its brilliant and so easy. 

    Right now all pieces are cut out, serged, marked, interfaced and ready for construction. The rest of my day will be spent back on the couch and I will hit the construction tomorrow. 

    I so despise Februaries! TGFS!...Bunny     


    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Simplicity 2313 - Doin' the Happy Dance!

    My warm, cuddly, soft wool jersey sweater is done and I so love it. It just feels so cozy on. It is Simplicity 2313, a versatile  little jacket pattern with all sorts of varied collars and sleeves. It has shoulder princess seams, the better to fit, and they finish in the side seam, not at the hem. If you are not an hourglass and want to be , this pattern will definitely  give you that sillouette.


    There is a peplum at the back which while not bias, flares out just the right amount.
     The fabric was felted in the washer and dryer and lost a third of its size but gained the ability to hold a cut edge without ravelling. I had to give a fair amount of thought into the edge treatments. For the front under bodice I edged the raw uninterfaced edges with a strip of the felted wool triple zigzagged  on. Then I cut back the right edge to the stitching to show both levels. A rotary cutter is a must on this project. For the bias ruffle and the back peplum I justs left the edges raw. The buttonholes were another challenge. I used one of the methods shown by Linda Lee in her Threads article. You simply cut a small rectangle and place it where the buttonhole will go. Then you stitch into it a 1/8 inch wide box for your buttonhole with a 1.5 stitch length. After that you cut the original fabric square back to the stitching line of the inner rectangle. A final slice up the middle to open the BH and your done. Care had to be taken in the measuring but other than that we are talking easy peasy here.

    I didn't think the tucks in the ruffle would look right but I think you will agree, they really do and I am glad I kept that pattern detail.
    I would highly recommend this pattern as I really think it has a lot of style. However, this requires a muslin, for sure. That princess seam ending in the side seam right below the waist could be a challenge. Here is what I did to get this to fit:
    • First, the pattern was "petited" as in the tute in the side bar.
    • Reshaped the princess seam from the apex to the shoulder for my narrow upper chest. 
    • The sleeve was given an additional two inches width in the upper arm area. It was also tapered in two inches at the hemline. The sleeve  pattern basically is a rectangle. My new altered sleeve was wider at the top and narrowed as it got to the bottom hem. I actually like wearing the sleeves rolled or pushed up, that wrist hangup I have.
    • Shortened the sleeve length. 
    • Added an inch to hips. 
    I like the sweater-y fit on this and it is very comfortable. I also love the red color. I really need to wear more red. This is the only piece of red I own and it suddenly seems not enough. Can you tell I like my sweater?
      Caveat:
    My second day of working on the sweater was my second day of a burning sore throat and hacking cough. By mid afternoon I realized I was surrounded by the tiniest powdery red wool fibers everywhere. Could that be it? After a night of hacking and burning, I sewed the sweater the third day with a mask on and  major improvement. As soon as I was done it was time to totally vacuum every nook and cranny of the cave and wash it all down. I have been getting better ever since. The red powder was pervasive. That has never happened to me with any other project I have sewn. I may have itched a bit with the fur and a cough or two but nothing like this.....Bunny