Saturday, June 13, 2020

For the Love of Challis!

 Moving onward and upward from that last garment!!! Who doesn't love a good challis? We put up with it's incredible ability to fray, it's need for care in washing during it's entire lifetime and a bit of special attention when pressing (yes, it needs pressing) all because we love it's drape. It is soft, takes dyes beautifully and drapes over a fist like fondant on a wedding cake. It's not hot or cold, just swooshing around the body in styles that don't cling or fuss. 

This fabric seemed to abound in the 80's. I bought and sewed a lot of it back then. There was a lot in retail, too. There were even coveted versions of challis, like wool Viyella. I had a wool viyella skirt I made back then that  I still sigh for.  Well, it seems to be making a comeback.  Today most challis seems to be rayon or its cellulosic cousins, lyocell and tencel. I think as more newer sewists learn how to sew with this fabric and experience the joy of wearing it this will hopefully become more available. On a recent escape from Covid isewlation, one brought on by our Governor's "opening" of retail, I grabbed my mask and hit the big Joanns in Concord, NH. There were like no people in there which was good for me. There was also very little fabric, at least on that big wall of calico. Seems mask making made a serious dent in that and elastics. But newer garment fabrics were there and the prices were fire sale for what I was considering. Let's face it, no one had bought any for a couple months and they wanted to move this stuff. 

edited to better show, black is always hard.

 My head needed a serious sewing fix. I really needed to sew outside of my stash. I had been stash sewing since day one of Covid isewlation and with a complete fail on my latest project I just needed something fresh. I also needed to feel fabric draping off of bolts, have all the colors and textures excite me, have pattern books tease my brain. I really really needed all that. It felt good. I decided to do another "outfit" again, coordinating pants and top.  I am sure you have seen these pants floating around Pinterest. I have wanted them since the first time I have seen them and my brain has been trying to figure out how to make them. Along comes Simplicity 8922. I bought that along with a linen/lyocell blend for pants and a rayon/lyocell challis for a top. 

View D has the tulip hem. I used this pattern as a base with my Sure fit sloper. These will show my ankle, cropped a bit , not long like the pattern. 

I had to shorten the pant part as well as the tulip "cuff". I also wanted a bit more shape in the "tulip" so took my french curve to the sides and brought it in a little over a 1/4 inch at the side seams of the tulip. I stacked the top and bottom cuff pieces together to make sure I got them matching when I made the cut. 

 I also tucked and shortened it by about a half inch as well, that petite detail thing.  I lined up the cuff pieces and drew a line to fold the tuck on so they would match as well. 

 I gave a lot of thought to finishing the seams. The pant fabric is lovely, some drape, not heavy at all. I decided on Hong Kong  seams as I have always liked the way they add weight to a garment and contribute to a nicer "hang". I think this fabric will be better off for it. I am also going to face the tulip cuff as opposed to the "tiny hem" the pattern has you do. I just think that skinny hem looks cheap, IMO. Some on Pattern review did rolled hems but I think the faced hem will also add a nice weight at the bottom as well. We'll see how that goes. 

This is the pattern I chose for the top, Simplicity 9143. I just love the detail on this one, the collar, the tie, the loose shortened sleeves. I think my fabric  choice will transition nicely into fall. I will work on these two projects and show them to you as a unit when both are done.


A few weeks ago I got up one morning and staring into my closet made a decision. I was not going to look like a Covid slob. I don't think I was doing too badly but I was in this rut of every day putting on a pair of old jeans the minute I got up and an old tee shirt and then waiting to see what the day brought. I made a conscious decision that morning to just stop that insanity. Each morning I get up now and unless I am going directly into my garden to work or to paint something on our house or such I am refusing to wear jeans, just refusing. I will not wear them!!! I start looking through all my lovelies and pic out some nice pants and a top or even a dress. I am enjoying this, It feels really good too. I have decided I will keep this up as much as I can. We will see what the depths of winter bring but for now it is just so nice to see real clothes on my body. They feel good. 


VLOG THOUGHTS:  I have been watching a lot of  sewing vlogs  since we have our new big TV with all the apps. I'm getting to know a lot of  vloggers and am still picking up more. It is my early morning indulgence while hubs sleeps. Today I watched one, a well known vlogger, who is a delightful person, so positive and lovely. but her sewing leaves a lot to be desired. What she wears is never interfaced (doesn't believe in it)  showing  wrinkly collars and seams, etc. I won't share  any more negatives.  I am only saying this to make the point that there are wonderful people doing sewing vlogs who don't sew that well and I just feel for newbie sewists who are not getting the best of info. Sigh....... It is just the nature of the medium. There are also some really good vloggers out there who are amazing. There are some who are highly skilled but are kind of boring.  There are some all about industry technique. I don't want to sew like a stitcher in a factory. I worked in one of those, just no. Another sigh.........I am still new at this vlog thing and it is fun to search these out. Maybe one day I'll do a review of some but for now I am just discovering this world.  Some have bored me, some have inspired, some have taught, some have made me laugh, some have pissed me off, etc. but they are there for us! Isn't that wonderful? I love how we have this resource. It is just wonderful and good or bad, thank you to all who go to such great effort to vlog. Wow, what an effort it is! It is appreciated, whatever way it turns out.  You are bringing the love of sewing to everyone and that is all that really matters. Thank you.....Bunny

Thursday, June 11, 2020

An Inspired Failure

It has been ironed.  Isn't it awful?

I can't even wear this for you. It just looks that bad on me. I don't know what it is. I think I am just a natural fabric sort of gal.  I was so excited about this experiment and had high hopes to use that pretty red fabric from my last post to make a really lovely version. Alas, no such luck. It is just frump city on me. Even my husband took one look and just gave me the side eye, like really?  

It all started out with another Peggy Sagers video,  this one about tank tops. She did all sorts of cute things with them and of course wore a top that I wanted to make, like yesterday. She showed how to make it. It had these ruffled sort of sleeves made out of triangles  that extended down the bodice  and into the side seams. They connected at the inner neckline and were stitched down the bodice and very casually ended up in the side seams. It looked great. It seemed easy. "Just serge the edge and stitch it down."  I got to work. 

This tank was an experiment. I wanted to make my tank sloper work for a knit tank. I took ease out at center front. I took in the side seams and shaped them a lot more. I took in the CB seam and shaped it more. I will say, that was the one thing I was happy about. I think I made the shape work for a knit in the way I like to wear a knit. I don't do body con but I can do  "skimming" with a knit garment. Now for those triangles. The "just serge and stitch" was just not good enough for me. That was OK. This was an experiment and on my pretty red rose fabric I would give it a lot more finesse with hidden seam allowances, accurate and measured placement of the triangles and maybe even making them into more of a curved flounce. The next one would be better. I worked away. Done. Far from great work, but Done. 

Ugh, double ugh. It just looked awful on me. It was so out of my wheelhouse. I looked dowdy, frumpy and every other awful  post meno stereotype you could think of. Hey, maybe that's what I am at this point but do I have to emphasize it with my clothing? I am moving on. I have decided it is time to hit the fabric store and find some nice fabric I like and just do something pretty I don't need, something not from the stash, something that I am not sewing because it is in my studio pile and Covid has my staring at it. Gotta get my mask and hit the road. Movin' on..................Bunny

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The EF Cropped Poncho and petited!

This is my effort at a coordinated outfit, something I can't remember doing since my business suit days of long ago. It's not anything I've done for casual clothing. I LOVE my little poncho.  I give props to Peggy Sagers for this design and her inspiration. Her video, which I wrote about in my last post here, showed how to make this Eileen Fisher garment. It seemed so easy and looked so stylish on her, as everything pretty much does. I just had to try it. Now, Sagers often mentions how tall she is. I often mention here how short I am. I knew I would have to adjust this little number. I will give you the dimensions I used for all our petites sewists out there. The whole premise of this outfit is the proportions. I think if I do it again or maybe even now, I may make the tank top about an inch or so shorter but other than that the poncho is CROPPED. I looked at the original on the EF website and on Sagers as well and it sits an inch or two above the natural waist. Sagers mentioned that she tried making one longer and definitely didn't like it. I can see why. It's all in the shortness. I'll go through this piece by piece. 

The tank top is made from two different seersuckers to use up some odd leftover stash. To make it work I put a band across the bustline out of the smaller seersucker. It took some thought to decide where to place it as there was a dart involved. 

I decided to just place the dart needed at the bottom of the band.  I used my tank top you've seen lately but I put a center back seam into it with some shape,  curving in at the waist there. I also took width out of the side seams and curved in there as well. I placed the center front fold a half inch in so a lot of width was taken out. I think I can still take out a bit more. I have always been so averse to close fitting clothes, just a me thing, so I tend to get there bit by bit with a garment. You can also see the neckline is just a scoop front and back. If I am standing straight, it hangs better than what you see here.

For the pants, they are a lighter weight linen, very comfortable, in a stripe requiring some care to match. The big white stripe is evenly spaced. The thin stripe is not. I just ignored the thin one. The pattern is my sloper from Sure Fit designs. I think it fits pretty well. This time the sloper was made into what they call a "stovepipe" pant,  a full straight down leg. It has a gathered waist, possibly the first I've made other than on PJs. You cut the pants straight down from the hips and then straight up from the hips for the gathered waist. You don't do the darts but cut that  same amount away in a curve at the side seams. It is a snug pull on. I think next time I may add a half inch to each side for an easier pull on. I like the fit of these full pants. 

Now for the cropped poncho, which I love. Sagers gives the measurements on her video which basically is made with a yard of fabric. Here is what I did for my five feet of proportions. I will say that my torso, on the length is "normal", no short or long waistedness. 

Sagers used one yard of fabric for this project as did I. She ran the 36 inches from elbow to elbow and that will include some hemming.  I used the full yard as well so no difference there. 

The next important measurement is the neckline hole which you get by folding the yard in quarters, all of which you can see on her video here. She cut a 6 inch hole, I cut a 5 1/2 inch hole. This hole she leaves for you to finish as you want. I serged mine, turned it and topstitched with two rows. I had to snip a bit at the curves and therefore the two rows of stitching. With the linen it all pressed beautifully down. 

 Now you can try on the poncho and see how long you want it. She cut hers at 18 inches. I cut mine at 16 3/4. That includes  a finished length of 15 1/4 inches and a hem of 1 1/2 which includes a 1/4 inch fold under and 1 1/4 inch hem. This is the measurement you will get when you fold the poncho in half ,on a table, at the neckline, across the shoulders, a big rectangle with the neckline hole on top and raw edges on the other three sides. Her 18 inches and my 16 3/4 are the measurement, basically, from what would be our shoulder seam to the hem edge. 

Here you can see that I mitered all the corners. I really think it is necessary to do little touches like this so the whole thing just doesn't look like a rag thrown over the shoulders. If you are wondering why I just didn't serge it and turn that under, I did a sample and found it left a pretty visible ridge line on the right side of the hem. The folded plain edge of the linen gave a much flatter finish so I went with that. Remember, as Roberta Carr says, "reduce bulk whenever possible."

The last important measurement is where to put the ties under the arms. 

She suggests soutache braid which I happened to have a ton of. But how do I connect with a bit of class? I had to sleep on this one.  She went ten inches up for hers.  I went seven inches up for mine.  I cut my braid 12 inches long.  I liked the dangling cords. 

With the hem all pressed as if ready to be sewn, open it up.  You can see that it has been pressed under one quarter inch and then pressed again into an inch and a quarter hem. Determine where your braid will go. Again, mine were 7 inches up.  I took a piece of  Wonder Tape and placed it on the inside hem on where I marked  and placed my braid on top. It's important that the braid be perpendicular to the edge, nice and straight. 

Now, fold up your hem. You are looking at the  inside of the garment here. Bring the long end of the braid over and line it up right over the piece inside you just taped down. Pin. Bring it to the machine. 

Now stitch right  in the center of the braid. I used a 1.5 stitch length.  It should catch both layers of braid.  Doesn't that look nice and finished instead of a bunch of zigzagging? Your stitching opens up the middle of the braid. 

Above is the outside of the garment. I like how this puts the braid and its tie at the very edge of the hem. 

I hope you give this cropped poncho a try. It is so easy and can be whipped out in no time.  Sagers had on a sheer version with a fitted white tank, very attractive. I can see this for winter in a sweater knit or even a thin but nice fleece. Let me know if you have any questions. particularly in regard to the petite thing.  A couple more things..........

I've gotten a bit more inspiration from Sagers and this was in my donate pile, a dress I bought under duress. We were far from home and had an unexpected evening out and needed something  a bit nicer than what our bags held. It never fit, was too big then, way too big now, and I just never liked it, but loved the fabric. It will become something else soon, I hope. Love the fabric. Next......

I have the fastest growing hair in America and it is driving me nuts, nuts I tell ya. My little pixie cut went Covid. I have cut it twice, myself,  a big amount. It took GREAT effort to get it to look this decent and I just don't have the time, at least its not a priority. I don't feel comfortable with getting my hair done yet either. So I will keep hacking at was looking rather "mullet" last week and dealing. I miss my pixie cut, so very easy. Peace and love to all........Bunny

Saturday, May 30, 2020

I'm doing co-ordinates! Who knew?


Being home combined with a brand new 4k ultra HD TV with what seems like 3000 channels has me watching a lot of sewing on Youtube and Prime. I have barely made a dent in what is available. There is so much I like on there and some I have seen that is downright awful but most is pretty great. One of my favorites is the work of Peggy Sagers. I love how she shops the big designers, picks one of their garments and in some cases even buys the garment and then shows how to easily sew that lovely designer look yourself. Recently I chanced upon a program for something she made knocking off an Eileen Fisher "cropped poncho". It was part of a three part casual summer look. I loved it and it was right up my alley. The three piece look fit right into the clothing I am making right now, basics from classic summer fabrics.  Now let's be real here. Have you ever seen me make co-ordinates? Uh, no. I am an inspired creative, get an idea and hit it. Wear it with some basic from my closet and go!  This was a 3 part gig here and I loved every part. There were straight, full pants and I have just found my Sure Fit Sloper after being lost for 2 years. There was a tank top, sort of fitted, and that was on my very to do list. And, then, there was the "cropped poncho" on top. It was a great look and I wanted to make the whole shebang. I never want to make the whole shebang. 

Now came shopping my resources for the three fabrics. I knew I needed a good white linen for the poncho. Check! I had plenty of that. Linen's my thing.  Next,  two more pieces. I decided on a lighter weight linen with a bigger stripe and darker gray background for the pants. The tank would be a gray and white seersucker, that classic summer fabric known for it's comfort, crisp look, and easy care. But a quick check on the yardage showed that the new tank top I developed, longer and more fitted, was not quite enough, so I found another piece of seersucker with a slightly larger stripe in the exact same colors. They worked great together and once again, necessity fueled my  creativity and I think you will like the results. 

I got right into the pants. They fit quite well despite the sloper being a couple years old. The style is straight down from the hips and a pull on but really not too gathered. I think this  is a new Covid milestone, my first pair of pull on pants. Let's not even go there.  I was looking for quick to make and the top of the pant would not show, period. I got that. It took me one morning to put these zipperless babies together. 

Then came the tank. That took some fanagling and I developed the pattern from my last one but it fits very differently, more coverage and more fitted. I liked it.  I think I got the two different seersuckers to work pretty well. 

Now it is time to make the cropped poncho. I am excited about this and can't wait to show you all. The poncho will have some machine heirloom stitching on it if all goes well. I'll sample things first. It will be the first time I get to model a co-ordinated outfit for you. I may be on to something here! ............Stay safe and stay healthy...........Bunny

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Tale of Two Tops, and a Shelf Bra

Lots to talk about! I am going to show you pics from a room in our home that has been a long time coming. I normally don't discuss such things on my sewing blog but this room was a nightmare to pull off. It was an addition to the home by the previous owners and made with hemlocks from the property. I'd give you a full tour but will let it just serve as a backdrop. It has cathedral ceilings and very wide hemlock floors and is a large room with wood everywhere. This is usually not my style but we loved it's warmth and the way it took to our antiques. Why is it such a big deal? It was built around a monster of a hot tub, a hot tub that could not be sold to anyone anywhere. a hot tub that could not be given away, a hot tub that my husband and I no more wanted than the man in the moon. The hot tub went in first and the room was built around it. We were ready to take a sawsall to it and call it a day. We had a vision for this room and it did not include a hot tub. One night we met a lovely young woman and the subject came up. Long story short, the very next morning her electrician brother and her other carpenter brother came in at 8:30 AM and got to work. It was a big deal. An entire wall of fixed glass and slider had to be taken down. The room has three walls of glass. By 5:30 the tub was out the door with ONE QUARTER INCH TO SPARE IN THE MOVE and on its way to a new home. Nobody died. We were thrilled and so were the new owners. Yay. So now we have this lovely room  to see the beautiful lake and woods and it's on to sewing! Yay!

I just finished two more tank tops from that pattern I developed. It is a comfortable trapeze shape with a low back. My challenge here has been to use some small pieces of favorite fabrics I found in my recent reorganization/purge of my resources which brings me to a little sidebar here.

What exactly is Covid Sewing? Well, it has its phases and this is how I've experienced it. 

* First was the initial thrill to be out of work and move my way through a queue of projects I had been dieing to get my hands on. I did that pretty quickly and am sure you all experienced that initial high as I did. 

* Just as that pile dissipated, the call came for mask making. I read many posts, watched videos but didn't quite catch the bug. The next thing I knew my family needed these masks and I started to sew them. I think I sewed every style and tie type out there. I probably made about fifty before everybody had their masks, and my sewing passion had been sucked into some black hole of despair. It seemed each masked made, as I sat at the machine, was a reminder of the isolation we were in and the horrid politics being affiliated with something just so human and non political. 

*I lost my sewjo. I'll admit it. I had big anxiety setting in and not much was helping me sleep better as I desperately missed my children's and grandchildren's hugs, laughs and visits and vice versa. Our world was changing. Planned celebrations never happened and that was grieved. My BFF mourned the loss of her big 70th birthday celebration. I totally got it. We lost the joy of making it through 50 years of marriage and sharing that joy with family and friends. But we found a new way to celebrate and moved on. I mention this because it was all part of the funk and anxiety that contributed to my not sewing at all for several weeks. Big funk. But I made decisions to turn it around and did. 

* Next phase of Covid Sewing was a massive cleanout and reorg of my sewing space. That and some personal changes really got me back into wanting to sew. But what to sew? No weddings, no parties, no trips............I found in my resources some great pieces for great dresses for such events but also found some small pieces of lovely fabrics and thought I could use those to make smaller more day to day garments or accessories. These would not be earthshaking garments  but I would give them my best shot. This is the phase I am in now. It's working for me. I've also been watching lots of videos. particularly Peggy Sagers and really enjoy her and find her very inspirational. I am now at what I hope is the final stage of the Covid sewing experience. I am now thrilled again to be sewing. 

*Oh, one more part of the Covid experience that has to do with sewing sort of: modeling one's garments for the blog. This means sporting Covid hair. OMG, I just can't take my hair and am ready to either just shave it off or wear a scarf of interest. I've been watching scarf wrapping videos, I think I am liking this idea! Now for those tops!
This top originally had this sort of trapeze shape which I like a lot for comfort. I do think on the next one I will try something with more curves for a change. It has the low back which I like. I brought the facings to the front. with some leftover Irish linen. The body of the garment is Kaufman "washer linen" which I think is a rayon linen blend if I remember right. It's comfy and doesn't wrinkle much. This little number was a PITA to make and fought me every bit of the way. I measured and remeasured before sewing on those facings and the neckline facing came up over an inch short at center front.  Ackkk! I slept on it and fixed with a little arrow thingy that looks like the facing is intentionally running underneath. 

This is an outside shot with lots of shadow.
I also did slits at the side seams. 
This was a lot of fuss. I can see wearing this around day to day with jeans and such, a simple summer top, no biggie and used up that 1/2 yard of linen blend. 
This next one I really like.

Is this label fun or what?  I just love them and could not resist. They are made by a company in New Zealand and when I left them in my cart after duely fainting from the shipping costs, they contacted me via email to refer me to US sources so I would not pay the outrageous shipping. Great service! They have many clever labels and I have no affiliation. You can find them here: Kylie and the Machine.  at Stylemaker. 

Here is another big surprise with  this top. It has a built in shelf bra. This is the first time I did this and will definitely do it again. It was so easy to do but it is a learning curve. I do have questions. 

There are lots of videos and directions online for making shelf bras. Basically you cut a lining or even the same fabric in the same pattern as your top but about a third of the top section. It needs to include enough to go under the bust and have a bra band that can  be sewn on and then turned once. There are no measurements so it takes some futzing to figure it all out. You sew in the cups which I stole from a sports bra I had and stitch them down. Then you cut away the lining from the cups. Why? I am not sure. Then you attach elastic on the bottom edge, turn and stitch again. Drop this into your top and then bind the neck and armhole. Done. I've simplified here but that's because I really don't know much about this and will pose a few questions here and perhaps some can help. I saw lots online that was different. 

I used swimsuit lining for my bra. It was one of the suggestions I found. Because it had four way stretch, I found my boobs wanted to drop a bit and if I hiked it up, the whole thing wanted to pull down the outer garment. Would a two way stretch on the horizontal be better? Would a woven work for more lift? 

The directions had me turn things in a way that seemed wrong. I read them over and over to make sure I got them right. When we line a garment, we want that lining to look all finished and smooth with no construction showing. When we put on a bra, next to our skin is all the inner workings of the bra. This was sort of weird combo of both. When I put on this top, would it be ok to make the shelf bra so it is all pretty and the construction is all between the garment and the lining? Or should I be looking at the guts, like a regular bra? Is it like a swimsuit? 

Is there a particular reason why you cut away the lining from the cups? My lining was super stretchy so it didn't seem to make much difference.

If anyone can help me with this I'd appreciate it. I have to say that they hold me up just as well as a standard bra. I would definitely like to do this again with other sleeveless tops. It is just so very comfortable to wear. I wear a C cup for what that's worth. 

I mentioned watching Peggy Sagers and love how she just slashed those patterns and it so inspires me. I am going to make a three part outfit, casual summer pants, tank and odd little cover up next. I love how she shows us how to knock off these very expensive outfits and also explains why they are expensive. Thanks for making it through to the end here. I hope your Isewlation is going well. We are all doing OK here, and staying safe and occupied. I officially apply for Covid unemployment next week so that should be fun. Take care all and stay safe!..............Bunny

Monday, April 27, 2020

Scarfarama Drama!

In my previous post I mentioned how I went through each and every piece of fabric I own. I came across some real inspirations, some that I forgot even existed. I think we are all a little guilty of that now and then. I did find some small pieces that were lovely and I know I kept them for possibly making scarves as they were small enough that that or a Hong Kong seem would be all that could ever lie in their future. In the past day and a half I have made three scarves with different techniques and I know I will get good use out of all of them. The first you see above is very sentimental. I had a great aunt, quite a character as the stories go, who among other things was a bit of a hoarder, an unmarried one. Luckily for me one of the things she hoarded were textiles of all sorts. She would cut laces of off things and bag them up and keep them and throw out the garments, that sort of thing. She traveled a bit too, and from the looks of my inheritance perhaps Mexico was part of that journey. She lived not too far from the Mexican border so it was a common vacation spot in her day. She died at 96 years of age when I was 25 so looooong time ago. Her textile goodies all came to me. This hand woven cloth above was in the stash. I have washed it three or four times over the years. It is really soft and has a lovely hand and drape. It was a smallish square. I never knew what to do with it and carried along with through life. I decided to make it into a scarf and I just know I will wear this a lot. 
Here you can see the hand woven edge. Like any weaving, two ends were fringed and the other two opposite ends were stitched around with each pass of the shuttle. You can see the irregularities in the weaving above. I don't know why they would pull the shuttle so tight every ten or so rows . You just wonder about these mysteries. This was a square. To make it a scarf I had to cut it. 

That meant the opposite edge had to be dealt with. First was thread color choice. I couldn't win either way so just decided on the navy. You can see down the blue bar a seam. I did a mock flat fell, basically a french seam that I topstitched down. I wanted something sturdy and this did and kept the threads all enclosed. For the opposite edge I experimented and the best I came up with was to first run a narrow line of satin stitch zigzag, not too tight, down the edge. Then I ran on top of that another row of stitching that was a blind hem stitch. The satin stitch alone would have pulled right off the edge. The big zag of the blind hem stitch caught it in and feels secure. The scarf is now 20 by 60. It has great fringe.

I hope I haven't ruined Antique Roadshow's next great find! But it is finally going to get some use after all these years.  Next scarf>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This was just a pretty piece of poly chiffon I think I actually bought to make a scarf. I like light scarfs in the summer  and loved this print. 

The other detail that made this fabric very scarf worthy was the fringe. I mean, really! So all I had to do was hem up the sides and done. I did the Kenneth King hem and it was done pretty quickly. It's been a while since I used that technique and this scarf making binge was a good refresher course in the method. I'll point out a few tips, particularly as they pertain to poly chiffon. This blue one was quite compliant but the next pink scarf fought me every step of the way but got tamed anyway. 

Stitch and Ditch is the perfect stabilizer for this process. It is very light but just heavy enough to control these light fabrics. This is the big roll that came in and that my husband says he will cut. I think I will keep it large now that I am using it. Adding machine tape or anything heavier than this might not rip away without distorting the stitching, IMO. This bolt of S&D will be here forever. It never runs out. 

You really need a rotary cutter for this technique. Here you can see a strip of the Stitch and Ditch pinned to the very edge of the chiffon which has just been cut with the cutter. It is also well pinned. Clips are far too heavy for this. Professor King says if you have a see through chiffon you can also use Ultra Solvy.  Another tip I found helpful was to have an awl at the machine to secure down the paper to the chiffon as it went through the machine . This is slow sewing. You have to keep your paper/fabric edge butted perfectly up to the edge stitching blade. Go slow and use your hands at all times. It's not hard at all, just takes focus.

The Kenneth King Hem tutorial is in Tutorials in the right sidebar up top. You can get all the directions there. I am just adding a few hints here. Above you can see what a beautiful tiny hem it makes. The right side is on top, the wrong side on the bottom. Once you have mastered this, and it's easy, read the comments on the tutorial, you will probably never use your rolled hem foot again. I haven't. Even the corners and curves are easy.  Next scarf................

This is the pink scarf that was a bit more challenging. It is another chiffon and wanted to ravel like crazy. I tamed the beast by lightly spray starching the edges and pressing three times till dry each time. You can see the edges of the scarf looking stiff here. I will wash this out shortly. After they were dry, recut the edges with the rotary cutter and then pin on the paper and proceed with the process. Another tip I forgot to mention for any chiffon you may use or other lightweight fabric is to use a starter paper. Take a double layer of Stitch and Ditch and lay your start of stitching int the middle of it. Begin stitching away back from the cloth with the blade of the edge stitching foot in line with the edge of the paper even though you aren't on the scarf and its paper yet. Start stitching on the paper and smoothly move right on to the scarf. I start with a 1.5 stitch length and once I have a few stitches on the scarf I jack it up to 2.0. I dial it down again when I stitch off the scarf about a 1/4 inch from the end. NO Backstitching. That starter paper will save you a lot of misery.  

These scarves are simple straight line sewing. Learning to sew a tiny hem is a skill that will serve you well for a long, long time. Trust me, some time some place, somebody you love dearly will ask you to sew a three layer chiffon hem with a taffeta lining , all needing a tiny hem.  You've got this!...........Bunny

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Covid Garment #4, Musings, Masks, and Milestones

I have to show my basement studio. Nothing has changed but I have given it some serious cleaning and organization. I have folded and touched every piece of fabric I own which frankly isn't the giant stash I know so many of you own.  However, I am now so inspired. I admit, mask making took the happies right out of me and I just had to walk away from my machine for a bit. I have read that many others feel the same. I have never been able to be happy making two of anything, never mind  about fifty but when it is part of such a life altering situation that makes it even more painful. I was glad to make the masks for family and friends. I really felt I needed to take one for the team and so dove in.  I did three different versions and assorted varieties of ties and filters. I won't get into it as I know you are probably making them yourself and have read all that's out there already and as I've said I am done. Why such finality? More later.

In the first pic you can see my latest garment, a very simple to construct gathered skirt made without the benefit of a pattern. And directly above is the fabric which I adore. It s a rayon challis in various shades of purple-y periwinkle. Like all good challises (?) it drapes beautifully and is a delight to wear. I won't get too deep into the construction as it is simply a full width  of fabric, 60 wide, cut to length desired. A casing was put in at the top edge, an inch and a 1/4 non roll elastic inserted and the top edge topstitched. The skirt was machine hemmed and it's single seam, straight up the center back, had serged edges. Done! I had enough left for a scarf and used the Kenneth King hem to finish the scarf's edges. You can find a tutorial for that method in the right sidebar under "Tutorials".  Right now it is still cold out and this eyelet shirt was really the only thing in my closet at the moment that looked good with the skirt. I will probably wear this a lot and with a tank top, that is if we ever get a warm day around here! It was really cold out while taking these pics!

And for the front view:

Now,  as to why I am done with mask making..... I've done a few things to help alleviate the anxiety that has become a daily visitor to my life since Covid19 has saturated our world. It's just everywhere, at every turn, in every conversation, on everyone's mind.  I was suffering anxiety like I haven't felt in years and decided I had to be proactive. Sewing did not help. While it would put me in the zone for a bit, the big "A" still did its haunting.  I made changes. changes that have really worked for me. 

I make sure I grab sunshine and get out and walk a couple miles every day I can. If not, I put on music while I sew and dance away when the spirit hits. 

I do my best to watch only our very local TV news for a bit in the morning. If I really need to know anything that important, they will filter it through for me. I am a recovering cable news junkie, no more. This alone has had a major positive impact on my mental health. 

I have cut people from my life who live and breathe the current political situation. I even agree with some of them politically.  I just don't need this input in my life right now. 

I have blocked people on FB who put up political realities as well as lies as I don't want to hear either right now. Some are just FB friends, others are people I love and have known for years. I do not need this stress in my life. I cannot tell you how this act alone has reduced the stress and anxiety I have been feeling. I will not give a website that power over me. I still go online to forums and even FB but now all I see are people sewing lovely garments, asking for help which I can offer at times and cheering each other on positively.  I see friends and family who are showing me pics of their babies, fabulous breads they've made and such nice things. I am letting positive in my life. It's not as easy as you think and does require assertion. 

I am calling friends and extended family I haven't spoken to in a long time and trying to NOT talk about the virus but about them and their lives. Those have been really positive talks. some just really special. I have heard from others, even the very young, how much they are enjoying long talks on the phone and face time. I am too. 

My husband is the light of my life. We are celebrating our fiftieth anniversary this past week. While it was nothing whatsoever as planned our children made it one helluva socially distanced pile of awesome, something we will never ever forget and that could not have happened any other way. It was unique, crazy, creative, and did not include one single hug but the love that spilled over through all of us  was like a flooded river that no amount of sand or silt could hold back. 

So I am doing much better now. I take things one moment at a time. Going through my fabrics has given me lots of plans and ideas that I intend to get on soon. I still have a bit more organizing in store first but I see some pretty things coming up. I have some really nice fabrics and had forgotten that! I have much to look forward to. 

I want you all to know that I am thinking of you and all the challenges you may be facing, whether it's the actual illness, the difficulty of social distancing, loss of income,  being in the home with so much family or just the fear that has been in our faces for some time now.  If you are an essential worker, I praise your courage and strength and thank you for your service. You are a saint.   I hope you all can find some ways to find a bit of calm,  a time of peace, all of you. Bless you all........Bunny

Monday, March 30, 2020

Sewing Linen, Covid Garment #3

Linen is my absolute favorite fabric to sew and probably to  wear as well. Before I can explain  my favorite method for its construction I really need to explain how best to wear linen. There are a few caveats. 

To really get the most out of a linen garment both financially and stylistically it helps to follow a few tips. 

* Linen needs to be washed at least three times before cutting and sewing. It can take bleach but really shouldn't ever need it. It thrives on the hottest of water. 

* Linen garments, to be fully enjoyed, should be totally washable in the machine and dryable in your dryer. I have owned linen garments I've made, jackets, pants, tops and pajamas (wonderful, by the way) that I have worn for over ten years and they looked great till they could go no more, all washed and dried  over and over. 

* If you take your linens out of the machine just a hair shy of total dryness and if they are constructed the way I tell below, you should be able to shake them out, put them on a hanger and an wear them about 15 minutes later. I very rarely iron these clothes. They get a bubbly "boutique" look. You know, the bubbly casual look you pay for five times more than you should in the beach town boutiques on vakay. Just shake those bubbles out and rock on!

*To be able to have your garments  take this sort of  maintenance means starting with medium weight linens, nothing see thru. This weight rarely requires a lining for modesty. 

* Grey linens are generally not the best quality fibers. Go for colors or whites and light beiges with Irish linens being worth the expense. Remember, you will wear these garments over and over for years and years. Cost per wear, remember?

*Because of their longevity, your design choices are best in simple classic looks. It is also better for the construction and maintenance as well. 

*Garments with a fair amount of ease will work better for you over the years as weight fluctuates. 

*Solids will give you the longest and most wear time.  Just thinking about the investment side of good linen and how prints can be trendy.

After I finished my last two projects, I was sort of bumbling in the shadows of covid19 wondering what to do next. I decided to work on something I needed. I need sleeveless summer tops. I don't like knit tanks, just simple tops that pull over and are woven. I decided to draft my own. I really enjoyed that. I had some nice scraps of white medium weight linen that would be perfect. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I was missing about 1 inch of fabric to get in just one of the shoulder straps. I bumbled around some more and realized I had plenty of smaller  pieces to make a yoke of sorts in the front bodice. It worked fine. I committed it all to permanent paper and now have a new top pattern for summer, one that I can use with or without the yoke.  I like it. 

The above photo shows you how I like to sew linen  to get it to last me decades. I apologize for the all white photo and I did try to squeeze out as much contrast as I could. If you click it to another screen I think you will be able to see it better. 

*I choose simple designs.

* I don't line any thing made with this type of linen and I very rarely use a facing. If I do use a facing it is stitched down on the edge and an intentional part of the design. 

* EVERY seam is machine stitched, pressed as sewn, pressed to the side, and then serged together. The seam is then topstitched an 1/8th of an inch away from the original seam and then a 1/4 inch away from that topstitching, on top of the serging. It gives the look of a felled seam, is very strong and secure and it  holds up to years of machine washing. 

* The entire garment is clean finished within and without. On this top I used a lightweight cotton voile in a French fold bias finish for the armholes and neckline. On the side seams I carefully banged them where needed on cement with a hammer to reduce the bulk in the seam. I only needed to do one spot at the top of one side seam. Having all the edges enclosed and serged and topstitched makes for one tough garment. 

As in all sewing, there are various ways to sew, treat and wear/enjoy linen. It is just so versatile, comfortable in the heat, classy (I hope), and just a delight to sew and wear. As you plan your summer wardrobe and as we dream of days when we can get out in the summer sun, think of investing in some good medium weight linen and making yourself some pieces with simple design lines. They will bring you years of comfort and joy. Covid #4 is a skirt, another original, not pattern.......................Bunny

For the Love of Challis!

 Moving onward and upward from that last garment!!! Who doesn't love a good challis? We put up with it's incredible ability...