Monday, June 18, 2012

Before and After

Hostas before.

 Hostas after!


The deer have decimated our prize, turkey platter leaved  hostas. They also chewed the flowers off all the impatiens including hanging baskets! I was so disheartened and Murphy's Law of course made this happen the day before our annual wave of summer visitors begins. All that yard work.......... Anyway, we sprayed the yard with the only thing we have found to work, Liquid Fence,  and of course the company arrived a couple hours later. Now if you have used this product you know what that means. For 24 hours it has the smell of death, urine, and rotten sneakers  pervading the air. Is your stomach turning yet? We shut all the windows and stayed inside. The next day we went out playing tourist for the day in Alexandria Bay, NY, and the lovely eau de garbage was gone by the time we got back home. We were able to enjoy a lovely cookout down by the river. No sign of our four footed friends since! You wouln't come back either if you smelled this stuff!


As we prepare and enjoy our annual wave of summer visitors up here in the Adirondacks the sewing is sparce. I  did get to finish the smocking on my Sand Dollar top and am pleased. I will probably hit that up first when I get back to the machine, that and Danny's Project. 


Hope you are all enjoying your summers as much as we are up here. The weather has been fabulous as is typical for an Adirondack summer. It's hot and dry  and sunny during the day and cool to sleep at night. Gotta love it. Happy sewing..........Bunny 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Newbies, I'm here for you!

In the recent rant I posted I mentioned  looking at higher end ready to wear to  oneself to what sort of techniques indicate quality construction. There are all different levels of quality when it comes to clothing. We don't all have access to "real" Chanel or D&G garments and that's not what I am really talking about here. You can follow websites of Dior and Chanel and so on. You can also get great visual knowledge from sites like Net-a-Porter. They are great fun to cruise. What I am really talking about tonight though is just your better quality garment available in nearly every town that has a department store or dress shop. Think Ann Taylor, not Kohl's. Most of us have access to some "better" quality stores and boutiques in our home towns.  Just be forewarned. Having a "big"name doesn't necessarily mean a garment is made with all quality techniques.
Here is a pair of capris I thrifted  recently and they are made by Izod. Now you can get these in a lot of places and they are not super expensive but they are made really well. I LOVE these capris. I will point out to you a few things that let you know a better garment, not what you would find in Wally World.

First, the fabric: This fabric is really really yummy. I love wearing it. It is soft like butter. It feels like a very expensive cotton but is 100% polyester. I have never seen poly like this in the fabric store. It does not sweat and comes out of the washing machine like a dream. If I could find poly like this I would wear it all the time. It is comfortable.
This is the waistband. It is piped all around, big detail you will never find in Wal Mart. Each side of the waistband is perfectly double topstitched.

The pants came with satin ribbons to hang them on the hanger. Pockets are made of mesh so you don't get all sweated up in your summer capris. Yes, the waistband is wrinkled and that looks to me like a poly/cotton blend was used in the thread and it in turn shrunk with washing while the fabric didn't That's the only fault I can find with these pants.

You can see how the pocket is faced with matching fabric and zigzag topstitched to the mesh.

Here you can see the pocket. It is topstitched. Where it meets the waistband is a tiny zigzag to prevent ripping out. The waistband has a double layer so there is a line across the waistband to secure the "flap: and keep the waistband flat as well.  Love that piping!

Under this grommet tie sort of flap is a perfectly executed fly zipper with a flap between the zipper and your tummy, another nice touch.

Like many capris, this pair sports flap pockets that stride the side seam.  Again, you can see the tiny zigzag reinforcement at the pocket corners. Look at the perfectly executed topstitching.While the appropriate factory machinery pulled this off, no doubt a skilled operator made that curve.I love how the inner stitches are small and the outer stitches are large. Makes sense, right? Would a double needle do that? I will have to try out that one.

When I wear these the pockets fall perfectly along my hips with no bagging or stretching out, not an easy feat with my wide hips.

So these are my fancy pants for beach and boating. I like them with a simple white tank, great summer wear.

I did this post to show  our newer sewists just a few of the details they can easily replicate. Details like piping and perfectly falling pockets and straps to hang your pants are all small details that can easily be mastered. Practice these techniques before you commit them to a garment. Practice makes perfect! Then stitch your garments knowing that you are duplicating far better quality than what you may be used to from the big box stores. That's a good thing. Wearing well made clothing will give you confidence and sewing quality clothing will give you a terrific sense of satisfaction, particularly when someone asks you wear you bought it.

The point of this post is for all of us to make ourselves more aware of what is really nice and what is rather shabby when it comes to garment construction. Go to those fancy department store designer departments and the high end boutiques. Try on the clothes. Look inside of them. Take pics with your phone of the insides. Cruise websites from designers or like net-a-porter.  Try on, try on, try on. Open them up. Keep a little notebook handy to jot down ideas. Bring a tape measure or 6 inch ruler to measure things.  Get out there and have fun. Then interpret what you have seen to your own sewing and practice those new skills. Each new skill will be another tool in your toolbox. A girl, one who sews at least, can never have too many tools in her tool box...................Bunny

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Sand Dollar Top begins.....

It's been another glorious weekend up here in the Dacks so you know that means non stop gardening for DH and me. I must say it is looking pretty nice around here and we are almost at the point of relaxing in this beautiful outdoors. Today we limbed up many trees, chopped down quite a few trees, and cleaned up almost all the remaining beds. That chain saw was humming! We cut limbs so that from our back porch there is a lower understory of brush and a high canopy of foliage, not much in between. It gives a beautiful backdrop and if you have ever laid down on the ground in the woods and looked up you know how special a forest canopy can be.  Being on our back porch puts you right into the clear space under the canopy and you can see the birds flying across and it is so pretty.

Bottom line, at this time of year, if it rains, I am sewing. If not, I am gardening. Just the way it is.

I do have some handwork going. There is always TV time and minutes before work and at lunch that I can get a few stitches in so I make sure there is some sort of hand project with me, my trusty ziploc in the pocketbook. My choice will be a top for either Carly or Sophie from the soon to be defunct and oh so wonderful Australian Smocking and Embroidery. Actually it is one of their special publications dedicated to Tots to Teens so some nice big girl choices are here. I am actually going to make the top on the cover which you really can't get a good idea of. It has a bit of smocking at the top edge, lots of puffy gathers across the chest and then more smocking below the chest. The original design shows embroidery on the straps and across the center of the smocking. I will more than likely change that as the fabric choice is a pale turquoise and cream design of sand dollars. Didn't you just love sand dollars as a kid? It was so special to find one on the beach.
Here is the fabric which I think is just so sweet for a summer outfit, 100% cotton but nothing I picked up in a quilt department.
Here is some of the smocking done, not much more to do. The top edge is "baby hemmed"  after pleating. The pleats are totally spread out flat and the top edge hemmed. Then the pleats are pulled up snug again in prep for the smocking. This can get tricky sometimes with the pleats developing little "Ys" but this wasn't too bad. I chose a dark teal thread for the smocking, again, my  sewing friend Lainey's lesson to take the lightest or darkest color in the fabric and go a shade or two even lighter or darker. This will be picked at during the week and next rainy day will be put together. There will be embroidery but it needs to work with the sand dollar and colors so some thinking is in order for that.

I hope you are all enjoying fabulous summer weather and get to play in the dirt if that is your heart's desire. There is just something so satisfying about busting your hump in the dirt and then at the end of the day seeing all you have accomplished. And if it gives you a sense of beauty, what could be more wonderful?....Bunny

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A New but Much Thought Out Project Begins

First I would like to thank everyone for their comments and input to the conversation regarding my last post. It is wonderful to hear all these opinions. It was all very intersting. What Robin of A  Little Sewing says sticks out the most to me. This will all shake out. And those who want to be better at the craft will find the right resources. Amen, to Robin.

I also want to say I welcome all newbies to my blog spot. This is a place where I gladly share what knowledge I have. I may not always have the answer for you but I will try to find a resource that will. Feel free to ask me questions if you need to.

Now on to the next project.

You all know not long ago about the tragic loss of my young nephew. He was dealing with mental illness. Despite that, he was so young, twenty, and it hurts us all so. His mom and dad gave me his favorite jacket, a nice quality textured knit lined with a sherpa type fleece to make some sort of commemorative piece. I could not open the box until now. I decided to face this emotional project during this long rainy weekend where I could give it the concentration it deserves. It will take some time to finish this. It is the type of project I have not done in years but like riding a bike, I feel it coming back to me  as I work on it. I think it will get done in fits and starts so bear with me. I have given myself an August deadline when the family gets together for a wedding. I pray God guides my hands and I pull this off. So it begins....
 I am not going to share my vision as this is an evolving sort of project.Lots of samples will be made to see if I can pull this off and incorporate the jacket into it as well. It will be  pictorial in nature. I need to use a fabric base and don't want to draw on that so what I decided to do is an oaktag "under pattern". I pieced together my folders and tried a new technique. I truly can't remember where I saw this and if you are reading, thank you so much. The trick is to connect the pieces with Avery Labels. It holds the oaktag together better than my usual duck tape. Above you can see how I cut a solid page of label into pieces to connect the oaktag. Once it was all stuck together I flipped it over for the next process.
Here the oaktag is flipped over and I don't have anything to distract me from the design. All I wanted to do here was block out the most basic shapes and outline them heavily with a Sharpie. This will then go underneath my base fabric so I can place the pieces where they need to go. You can see numbers on the oaktag. This is to let me know the order that the fabric is placed down. I will embellish each piece before placing it on the base fabric. Then it will be on to the machine for more stitching and securing to the base.
Here are some samples I fiddled with. I am using batiks in some places and felting with wool roving and other sorts of fibers, ribbons and threads on top.

So that's where I am right now. My first piece needing completion will be the sunset sky you see in the orange piece at the top.

I also hope to get  some fabric pleated up to make a little smocked outfit for a local charity. So things are happening around here and I am excited about it all. Sometimes you just have to be in the right frame of mind to get started and I am finally there for Danny's project.......Bunny