Friday, October 30, 2015

Those pesky cording/welting ends!

While I have several posts on the blog about my previous excursion into cushion making, it occurred to me today that I didn't show what to do when you have finished stitching the cording/welting to the home dec fabric. They need to meet in a smooth, rather unnoticeable way and that can get a bit tricky to do.

On this project I am attaching welting all around the rectangle of fabric that will make the top of the cushion. The bottom of the cushion will get the same treatment. There will be a band of fabric, aka, "boxing" running around the perimeter of the cushion but that's later!


On the seam that attaches  the welting to the rectangular base, both raw edges are met, just like sewing any seam. I've made my seam and my welting seam allowances just a hair under a half inch . Stitching will begin about 2 inches up from the end of the welting. The welting is attached all around the rectangle.Stop sewing approximately two inches before the start of the seam.



You should now have an unsewn area of about two inches on the rectangle and  couple of dangling pieces of covered welting.


Trim the right hand welting to one inch in length. Open up the stitches on the left hand welting. Put some Fray Block on both ends to stop unravelling.



Go to the ironing board. Move the cord out of the way. Trim and fold back the end of the left hand welt and press into place. The left hand welt will need to be trimmed so that it is long enough to cover the right hand welt by about1/2-3/4 of an inch once folded and in place.


Wrap the fabric covering the left welt over the trimmed right welt. Trim and Fray Bloc the left cord so it meets up with the right cord.



Pin and take it to the machine. You can see my wet Fray bloc in all the pics.


Stitch with a 1.5 stitch length over the unstitched area. 


Still wet with Fray Bloc but done! Two points: this technique can be used with any sort of corded piping. Here it is on Home Dec but I have often used it with baby piping. Also, an effort should be made to plan the welting so that the joins are far away visually, in this case on the short side of the cushion.  Happy welting!......................Bunny

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday Words





"They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well they are wrong.

I have stopped feeling motivated or safe sharing my ideas and images of my work, especially online. This greatly saddens me. I want to keep creating, I want to share, I want to inspire others but I need to make a living and not give away my time, energy, ideas and work. How is this possible?"...........Christine of Christine Marie Davis designs.     

courtesy sunaz.com

Monday, October 26, 2015

"Couture Sewing Techniques" Book Review




The "Dressmaker's handbook of couture sewing techniques" by Linda Maynard  is one of those rare sewing books that I got from the library and now have to go out and buy. In my opinion, and apparently that of others, this is NOT couture. The book is populated with scrumptious haute couture runway fashions but these are merely  backdrop and lovely eye candy.
HOWEVER, I love this book and highly recommend it.

Good points:



* The book is spiral bound, perfect for laying out next to your machine.
* The photos are very clear, close up and large. Any beginner could take this book and follow the      directions to achieve a    successful result. It is like having a patient teacher looking over your shoulder.
* This is all about machine sewing, not the hand techniques of haute couture. That doesn't lessen the value of the book in any way,however. 
* The chapter on bindings is fabulous and makes the book worth buying just for that. 
* The book covers many design details: collars, hems, waistbands, pockets, linings, and so much more. The techniques given are what you would find in high end RTW. 


Not so good points:

* There is a section on "Underpinnings". It shows large photos of skirts backed with various backings. The technique is explained well enough but the photos are cropped in a way that really makes it hard to see the difference the author is trying to show that backings make. It may be the lighting, or the fact of being too cropped to make the point, or the circular closeup photo layed on top, but the five pages devoted to this technique could have been done better visually to make the point. It is hard to discern.
* In the chapter on linings only two fabrics are mentioned, silk crepe de chine and acetate satin (!). I have seen couture garments lined with silk habotai and silk charmeuse but these fabrics are not mentioned and I don't get that. In all the haute couture garments I was fortunate to see up close at Shaeffer's retreat, none had acetate linings that I remember. 
* A serger is shown as a tool of couture (?) but not once mentioned in the book. While I don't see it being mentioned in the lessons, why is it shown as necessary? It's not. 

All that being said,  I LOVE THIS BOOK and will buy it. I think the section on bindings covers more possibilities and the correct technique for them than any other book out there. I would love to have this book with it's spiral binding  to reference for sewing bindings on all the various fabrics mentioned. They do require different techniques and they are all here. 

I highly recommend this book for beginning sewists as well as all others. Do not be put off by the title as this really is a book about just sewing better, in my opinion. Newbies, inside you will find large pictures, closeup and clear, showing how to do many techniques that will bring your sewing a more quality look. It's the sort of teaching that will remove the "loving hands at home", "Becky Home Ec-y" look.  There are wonderful lessons on v-necks, hems, waistbands, collars and more that are really the sign of high end ready to wear. If you are not into the time investment or hand techniques of haute couture, but want a Neiman Marcus look this book will get you there. I learned much from this book.  It is really good and I am off to Amazon to order my own copy! ..............Bunny

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bias Strips and Bags!


I'll get back to this glorious fabric in a moment. Today was spent working on the cushions for DD #2's bay window seat in the family room. She chose a linen fabric, but not being a sewist like her mom, the linen is a bit thinner than I would have chosen for a cushion. No problem.


I will  underline the fabric with muslin for the cushions. But since welting gets the most wear, usually, on upholstery, and I wasn't about to underline bias strips of welting, I backed the fabric I planned on using with a woven cotton interfacing. Here you can see it block fused to the linen. I am pleased with how this worked out. I matched grains so when I eventually cut the strips it all ended on the bias, as it should have.


Above you can see me using the technique for bias strips that can be found here, in the tutorials. I love that it is easy and SO accurate, way more accurate than other technique I have tried.


This gave me 13 yards of bias stripping. Sadly, that is not enough. I had to do another whole section which is giving me ten more yards. I am now good to go! Next step will be filling it with cording. Putting the actual cushions together should go pretty quickly, at least once the zips are in!



Back to that gorgeous fabric: I wasn't sure what my next project would be. I've decided I need skirts. I LOVE skirts and want to try different styles. I also really need a new winter bag. Having recently "Kondo-ized" all my clothing, I find I am down to a lot of bare bones for clothing and accessories. That's OK. It allows me to fill the void with new projects that "will bring me joy". If you have read Marie Kondo's "The magic art of tidying up" you know what I mean. Many of my bags were donated to a local group that helps people get jobs and they provide more professional clothing. They were very appreciative. I've  purchased a wonderful pattern from Studio Kat Designs.  They are an Indie company and their bag designs are so awesome. I have been eyeing them for quite some time, now. I will be using the Bagalista pattern.  Their designs are very well thought out and this one should work well for me. I wanted a style that would let me feature something on the front flap. That had me looking for fabrics with large motifs that would fill that area. I kept striking out on line as it is difficult to do a search for "big motifs" and get anything in response. I LOVE this fabric above. The background is black denim and it is machine embroidered with the fabulous motifs. I have black denim coming in for the rest of the bag. One of the best things about this fabric is this:


Is that selvedge not incredible? I got this fabric at my local small Joanns. I have black denim coming for the rest of the bag. I also picked up this large motif home dec fabric. I think it has great bag potential too.


These each cost me five dollars a yard and I bought one yard of each, 54 wide, so it could make several bags. You just have to keep your eyes peeled for these wonders.

Hopefully DD's cushions will finish up easily. I have this and next weekend to get it all done. That is because the week after that my sister and my two daughters and myself are going to Vermont to have girly time and take classes at King Arthur Flour. Anyone for pasta making from scratch?...... Bunny

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday Words

 courtesy Bishop Clothing Construction book




"Directional staystitching is rarely used in couture, and never on necklines as is often recommended nor on armholes. If you are concerned about stretch, fold a bias strip of silk organza over the edge and hand baste. The thread itself will prevent stretch.                

As to directional stitching, if a seam is hand basted, as it is assumed to be in couture, you can sew it in any direction and retain control if the seams are of like grain. If they are of mixed grain, follow the weakest grain on top and handbaste, then machine baste. ".........................................Roberta Carr in "Couture, the Fine Art of Sewing"  ( bolded words as originally written)

Do you stay stitch? Do you do it directionally? 

courtesy weallsew.com


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Felted fun!


I have been working on a bit of palate cleansing creativity since I finished the foil top. You know, just fun stuff. I ended up cleaning out a corner of my closet, the one holding my totes of felted fabric and this necklace above and a few other fun goodies were the result.
I never pass up a bright colored wool,no matter how it is being utilized. The wool used in the necklace above was a boiled wool jacket someone  gave me, circa 1982, and I just loved its vivid colors. However, it just wasn't boiled enough so I threw it in the hot washer, cold rinse and hot dryer and ended up with some very seriously felted fabric. All I could think of was rugs or shoe bottoms. But I couldn't throw those bright colors away and didn't. The "beads"  were made from layers of the felt glued together with the leather cord in between. Laminated wool beads? Two beads were at either end of the cord which was tied to the necklace cord, easy peasy. Shams, of Communing with Fabric was my enabler along with her wonderful video on fabric beaded necklaces. The felted beads were my own idea, inspired by a vague Pinterest memory. I look forward to making more of these soon. It was fun and easy and I got lots of positive feedback when I wore them. My college attending young workmate did tell me "oh, that's really cute. They look like sponges".  I'll take that as positive ;).

Once in a felt mood, and seeing all that I had in the totes, well, I was on a roll. Doesn't everyone need small little gifts around the holidays? The little gifts that show those who really make our lives easier that we do appreciate them and care. That's when the pincushion bug struck.

Cat food cans are perfect for these endeavors. And don't tell me not everyone needs a pin cushion. Everyone does. For those who don't sew or are of the guy type variety, fill the pincushion with safety pins. We all need safety pins and who goes out and buys one when they need one?

Digging a little deeper in the felt totes, I found some yardage and a cuff or two. A few rolls of the felted wool, this one much thinner, and voila - a stylized rose, sort of. But I think it works.


A paler pink felt and some black and white whipcord and another fun result. 


Time to put the totes full of felt away for another day. But I'm not done yet. I purchased some batik from the  local Joanns and gave Sham's bead necklace lesson a whirl. If you haven't seen it, this is a great video and so professionally done by one of our favorite bloggers. This necklace is not done yet. I am still making beads and playing with wire, but it's coming. Thanks, Shams, for your inspiration. You do inspire me a lot!

So these have  been fun little projects. I always love those tiny projects that still have the ability to excite. As much as making a tailored jacket makes my heart skip a beat or two, these little projects provide an occasional break from more serious sewing. I guess that's the good part. We can pick and choose what we want to sew, such a lucky thing.


This pretty print is a piece of linen, one of two, that will hopefully turn into one of two welted cushions for a window seat in a large bay window in DD's family room. I have two  pillows that will fill a 110 inch width, 18 inch depth. The fabric is rather thin, at least thinner than ideal for window seats and because of that the cushions will be lined with muslin. The window seat will never likely get sat in but it will be pretty when done. I will be meeting DD in about three weeks so this is priority in the studio. After that, I am good to go on other projects. Right now I am toying with a new bag, a Chanel cardigan, or even a new knee length coat. The spaghetti has all been tossed at the wall. We will see what sticks!....................Bunny

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wednesday Words








“A generation of consumers has grown up wearing what is often referred to as ‘fast fashion’ — trendy, inexpensive versions of runway looks that shoppers wear for one season, or one occasion, and often toss,” Elizabeth Holmes wrote in The Wall Street Journal last year. “Now, many of these shoppers are graduating to a philosophy of quality not quantity.”

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Such splendor!

I've spent some of this long Columbus Day weekend doing what I call  a bit of palate cleansing tchotchke sewing. And what in heaven's name is that? Well, I've made 4 darling little pin cusions, so far anyway, and now I am working on some cute felted jewelry. I will be presenting a program at our library on making easy mini gifts for the holidays, the type of things that would be great for teachers, mail people, etc. I will definitely report more as I get more done.

In the meantime, our environment is currently so spectacular, that hubby and I and my camera went on a ride to take some pics. All of these are very close to our home. I couldn't wait to share them with you all. Fall in the Northeast is truly something spectacular to behold. As my hubs said today, "it's the gift before the horror of winter." Hope you like......................

This is just one of the many fields in our rural area.



This is the Deer River taken from the little bridge at the top of our street.


A typical road in our village. I drive this to work  each day and yes, it's dirt.


This is the St. Regis river, two miles from our home, facing south.


The St. Regis River facing north. There are many iron mines in our area so the waters run clear but brown due to the high iron content. .

I hope you've enjoyed our little foliage tour. It would be hard to leave such beauty, but when we move it will be to a very similar environment in New  Hampshire and very close to our children. We can't wait. If you ever care to see this spectacle up here in the Northeast, plan for Columbus day weekend. It is always peak color for NY, NH and Vermont and a week later for Massachusetts, R.I. and Connecticut. Hope you have all been surrounded by a bit of beauty today................Bunny

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Saved by a pencil!


I found another use for my Inktense pencils: coloring elastic! I needed a strong answer to a button loop around a metal stud. The first one, of thread, wore out quickly. But a white piece of elastic would stick out horribly. So I took my pencil, drew on the elastic, and then painted it with water to  spread the color, which is what you do with these pencils. I then heat set it with the iron till dry and voila! Matching elastic loop, happy sewist! (NAYY)..............Bunny

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Words








"......so I asked her just what I was lacking that she didn't

have me test (her new pattern)  and her response was "I 


choose testers mostly based on the size they want to sew, the 

photography and skill level".................Lisa O. on FB





Sunday, October 4, 2015

Vogue 9035, the foiled top from Marcy Tilton


Lame smile, hubby making me laugh! While I think this looks like a maternity top out of Mad Men, I like it. It's comfy and out of my "style zone". I definitely favor more hour glass emphasizing designs , but for a casual work top, this is perfect. I wore it to work Friday and to a party after work with slim black pants. There were many compliments but more than that, this top just felt good. I wish you could see how the foiling sparkles. I did make my buttonholes a tad too big and they shift, therefore the wonkiness. I am going to tighten them up and then all should fall evenly as it does when I pay more attention to such things.
As with most Marcy Tilton designs, the collar sort of does its own thing, flopping this way or that and that's OK. I like an interesting collar. The pockets add a LOT of volume to the garment. I was able to bring them under control with some pressing. This is ideal for someone choosing to hide a tummy or waistline. My fingers are pointing to the actual seam line for the dropped shoulders. I am pleased with how that turned out. Here are more details.



I foiled an irregular rectangle on the back. I think it adds to the Japanese vibe this top sort of has. The collar is cut on. The back has some interesting details at the lower level.

There is sort of a pocket effect going on but actually its a tuck with zigzagged topstitching separating the sections, Marcy's idea, not mine. I like it.

Here you can see the pocket. The pattern piece has a very unusual shape to pull this off. I found the pocket really billowed out front but with some pressing came under control. The one thing I don't like about the design/pattern is the sleeve cuff. I love that there is an option for a fold back cuff with a slit as I really detest long sleeves. BUT, that slit is on the underseam of the sleeve and barely visible. You can see it here, almost. I would have preferred more effort put into the sleeve design so the slit would be on the outside of the sleeve, the norm. But I will live with it. By having the slit of the cuff tied into the underarm seam, it is easier to pull off. A split cuff would definitely take more thought and pattern pieces, probably a facing, to pull off. But I would have liked that better.



There is a definite "swing" shape to this garment which you can see above. Heck, that's what makes it so comfy. I've always liked me a good swing top or jacket so I am comfortable with this.

Pattern: 
This pattern is Vogue 9035, a Marcy Tilton design. It has a dropped shoulder, a cut on collar, interesting back detail and a very unusual bodice front that incorporates the bodice into the pocket, if that makes sense. It has a definite "swing" silhouette to it. I found it comfortable, stylish enough to get many compliments and a very interesting design. Tilton's patterns have not often worked for me fit-wise but this one was perfect. I have narrow shoulders and full biceps and a C cup. I made this in a size 6 with absolutely no alterations. FWIW, length alterations could be difficult on this pattern due to the unusual shape of the front bodice.



Fabric:
Fabric was a linen/cotton blend made by Kaufman that I purchased from Fabric.com.  It is 55% linen and 45% cotton. I have used this blend before and really like it. It has been washed and does that non wrinkling linen thing that comes from washing. I love that it had the linen look but not the wrinkles.

I did Hong Kong seams as you can see. They are made with bias strips of poly charmeuse. I love how this looks on the inside. It makes me feel good. When I wore it to work I wore a black negative ease tee underneath, mostly because it was cold out. I didn't hesitate to take the top off and show my friends the inside. As my twenty something workmate said "I would wear that inside out". I bound the sleeves exactly the way it is shown in the latest issue of Threads, where the bias binding is attached using the same seamline as the sleeve, folding it over and ditch stitching in the well of the seam. Then the fabric was cut back to the seam line underneath.


Construction:

This is a pattern where you MUST follow the directions on the instruction sheet very closely. Marking all notches, circles and squares is critical here. The bodice/pocket construction is very unusual. I think I paid more attention to the directions on this pattern than I have on any other in a long time. One of the challenges were the Hong Kong seams. I decided I want to do this from the get go, but when it came to the pocket area I was stumped. I ended up doing them "after the fact" only finishing the pockets around the top three edges after they were installed. It was hard to figure out what I could HK seam before it was all constructed but you can do the most of it before seaming if you pay  close attention, particularly in the pocket area.

I did "foiling" on the pocket facings and the collar facings and the rectangle in the back bodice before any construction started. This pattern, like most Marcy patterns, is ripe for embellishment. Have fun with that!

In conclusion:

I really like this top. It's a bit "jacket-y" but that's OK in my cold climate. I love the linen blend fabric, the foiling and the uniqueness of the design. Being comfortable adds to my enjoyment as well. It was a fun challenge to sew and I really enjoyed that aspect. Will I make it again? Probably not as it is rather unique, but I really like the way the shoulders and upper bodice fit. That makes it a winner in my book.
********************************

Last night we were able to get some fresh dug Maine clams up here in the boonies and I made us a dish of Clams and Linguine Rosa from Mario Batalli. What a feast!..............Bunny