Sewing Vloggers

Sunday, March 14, 2021

I've Got A Notion


I have been working away on the portrait project. I believe I've remade the eyes twice and the mouth at least 3 times but it does look like her. I've played with threads, stitches, paints and pencils and in the midst of my inexperience have come to some sort of agreement with all of that. One of the issues is that there are so many different techniques for doing this sort of sewing. All I know is that I will finish this portrait and do the next one differently. It is not that one method is any worse or better than the other. It is just that one technique is more likely to give me what my brain was envisioning. After all, this is a lot like making my first dress. So, lots more to come. I won't sew a garment until I am done this project. That decision is also fueled by the ability to shop for fabric down near Boston. I will be post my two vaccines soon and plan to make a day of it with my sister. I hope new fabrics will inspire as we get into warmer weather and get out of slouchier clothing. We'll see how that all plays out as well. I just know it is lookin' good out there now!!!  Each day we are closer to a happier, more huggable world and I can't wait! 


I've got a few notions for you to check out here, two new, one not so new but so indispensable. 


First are my Clover Pressing Strips. These are new to me. I saw them suggested somewhere on line and immediately went to order them. I cannot tell how many times I have ironed bias tubes and wished I had a strip to put in side that would take the heat of the iron and let me iron the seam open and then let me turn the tube and line that seam up evenly down the length of the tube. My vision has the seam line going perfectly down the middle or the side of the tube. Oh, I've done it but fingers get burned by steam, and it is a touchy, aggravating process. I have slipped a thing or two down a tube or two but they have always turned out to be something that got too hot and burned me or didn't come out of the tube very easily. I can't wait to try these. The package gives you lots of widths from spaghetti strap width to 18 millimeters, roughly a bit less than 3/4 of an inch. They are called Clover Loop Pressing Bars and are available in many places online with prices ranging from 8.00 to 9.50. I paid 8.00 and free shipping. 


                                   



My next great notion, and one I use A LOT, are my Derwent Inktense pencils. I know you have heard me mention these before. I've actually done a demo on them where I showed how to make a buttonhole on a print fabric a using a white thread, preferably cotton but poly can work too, and using the pencils with water to color the parts of the buttonhole thread  to match the parts of the print. The  BH literally disappears and it is really awesome. Another use is when you cut a buttonhole  and that white interfacing or that white back side of a fabric is showing on the front of the BH which may be made in a thread of an obvious color, say red  or blue. Once again, you can dip your pencil in a tiny dot of water to turn into paint and paint the inside edge of the BH where that white edge is sticking out. Looks so much better. Pressing anything you've painted with your Derwent pencils, which are technically "watercolor pencils" makes them permanent and I have had no problem with that. They are also great for mending and hiding those light thread ends. On this notion I say go  big or stay home. I have the 36 count tin which goes for around 50.00 but it is so nice to have all the colors to match up when I need them. I  have used them on my daughters face in my portrait project. They can be blended as well. I consider them a must have sewing notion at this point. I think if you get the smaller set you will wish for the larger one in no time. Make sure you get the INKTENSE pencils as Derwent makes many different kinds of pencils. 



My last is another new discovery and wow, do I love it! it is , let me take a deep breath here, "Acorn Precision Piecing Products Seam Align Glue", whew!  I must tell you, sewists, you do need to hang around the Local Quilt Shop. You will find amazing notions to really help any garment sewist that are not found in most places that have garment fabrics. OK, we've all heard of fabric glues. I've used many over the years from Aleene's  to Elmer's white school glue  to a fairly good product called Roxanne's Glue Gaste It and all in between. I use Wonder Tape a lot as well. This Acorn stuff, which my official name for it, from what I understand, is meant for people who do paper piece quilting. It is awesome for garment making as well. You have to use it in seams but that's the idea. It holds seams together. You put the tiniest dot imaginable  down in your seam allowance and then hit it with the iron. If you have one of those tiny applique irons that has sort of a leaf shaped end to it that gets really hot, that is perfect. (There is actually a picture of one on the front of the package of the pressing bars.) You heat that up and keep it carefully close by. You dot your seam allowance, press the fabrics together, hit with the tiny iron, or a big one, and boom! you're stuck and you can sew with no shifting. Needless to say, this has been great  for the tiny pieces on my portrait project. I also used it on a large mending project I did for a friend and it worked great. This glue has worked better than any I've tried over the years. It would be great to stick an underlining to the fashion fabric in the seam allowances before sewing to prevent shifting or to hold down those bias strips on Hong Kong seams that you wrap to the back and then topstitch, hmmmm,,,,How about some plaid matching too?  Warning, this glue looked ridiculously expensive on Amazon but it was in a 4 ounce bottle. My bottle is one ounce and from my LQS. I may have paid around 8.00 or so. I have used it a lot and it has barely moved in quantity. If you can find the one ounce bottle, I suggest trying that out first. I think you'll really like it. 

So these are some notions I am using right now, two of which I very recently discovered. I just have bumped into them and have no connection to anyone selling any of these products, just wanted to share a good thing.

                            



There is something really weird about walking into your studio when you haven't been in there for a couple of days and turn on the light to see your daughter's face looking up at you from under the presser foot on your machine. Haunting,,.:) ............Bunny


Saturday, March 6, 2021

A Difficult Topic

photo courtesy sixty and me 


Let's set the platform first here.  This topic has been brewing with me for a long time as I have been witnessing its expression online repeatedly, each time with quite a sting. Now, I know you are immediately going to jump to an assumption here. You are going to say, " Bunny is an older woman. She is feeling slighted. So what? So she writes a blogpost." No. This topic crosses a broad spectrum from our newest sewists to our oldest and most experienced. They all have prejudiced assumptions made about their abilities, their skills, THEIR STYLE, their experience and more. It is across the decades of sewing experience and practice and really needs to be acknowledged, discussed and stopped.   

Ageism and the Sewing Community


Ageism is practiced, like all prejudice, from a viewpoint, one nurtured by upbringing and ignorance and reinforced by our culture, media, workplace, and social associations. Let me give you a perfect recent example. 

I recently was on a FB page that I really enjoy, one known for its inclusivity which I  appreciate and respect. It has a broad spectrum of followers and experiences which makes for interesting reading and I like that every now and then I am truly inspired and helped and that once in a while I can help someone with their sewing challenges. 

A proud sewist showed a picture of her daughter, who appeared to be thirty  years of age or less with her puppies. I only mention that so you get an idea of the posters possible age. The young daughter was a teacher and facing the difficult challenges of teaching remote and through teacher friends of my own I know how difficult this has been and can sympathize. She keeps her  classes interesting by having theme weeks and decided with students to have, and I quote here, "old people" week. Her mom made her an outfit she would be wearing all week to teach the kids remotely and similar little outfits for the dogs. If you remember Ruth Buzzi from Laugh In, it was similar and the image my brain immediately went to. She wore a pink turban,  a dress made by Mom from a sheet and a long white cardigan. If you saw this costume it was a total "joke" of what any old person would wear and I would venture that you haven't seen anyone dressed like that over 60 in the supermarket in decades, if ever. The "old person" looked like someone from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and would be the image the Mom  and Daughter complicitly would present to their students for a week of remote learning about "old people."  I immediately expressed my feelings and why to the administrator of that page and she  removed it which I appreciate and shows her stand on inclusivity and prejudice is real. I thanked her and thank her again here. 

That was Ageism in the Sewing Community.

It is a good thing my daughters weren't being taught by this teacher as I would have gone straight to the Superintendent of the school district and rattled some serious chains. 

You may think you don't see Ageism in the Sewing Community but it is there every day. At least every day I see someone post a lovely dress or outfit, beautifully made and fitted and someone asks/says "Wow, how old are you? and the maker responds with her age. What then proceeds is a lot of "Wow, you don't look 63!" or fifty or 70 or whatever the age is.  I am going to paraphrase Gloria Steinem here when she was interviewed on her fiftieth birthday by some famous journalist, forget who. 

Journalist: I can't believe you are fifty. You look great. 

Steinem:   This is what fifty looks like. 

Can we just tell our makers they are beautiful, fabulous in their new outfit, made an incredible garment, the fit is amazing, etc. Why does their age have to be a measure of their accomplishment here and asked about?  I see this over and over and it bugs the heck out of me. 

There is more to this topic before you think I am being one sided here. How many negative  pages have you read on social media about "entitled Millenials"? There are scores and scores in the sewing community. I have read  many  of these types of comments, actually pages, just on PR. Different generations do things differently and all generations inherit the future. Millennials seem to be advancing in age and a newer generation of sewists is on the horizon now as well. Newer sewists are just as guilty of Ageism as the longer experienced. I've often witnessed an assumption of lack of computer capability by older sewists on the part of younger sewists. Another is the assumption that if the knowledge is not from Youtube it is not worthy of learning and therefore experience is devalued.  That is a big one I see too often.  Newer sewists need to assume nothing about experienced sewists and what and how they learned all they know and vice versa. It is still knowledge. It goes both ways. 

I would like to make a couple more points about Ageism in the Sewing Community. 

Too long, aging has been something that is the brunt of a joke. Just like that original FB post I mentioned, the teacher made being old a joke to her students. Being old is presented as a joke all the time. Be aware of this and how you comment, post and live on social media in the Sewing Community. Millennial jokes are just as offensive as "old people" jokes in our community and only serve to separate any sense of community that exists. 

There are amazing sewists of a more advanced age out there. They have terrific style and can sew like magic comes from their fingers. One of my favorites is Margy of  A Fool for Sewing. While she has stopped blogging a quick jog through her blog will impress you with her skills and incredible style. 

A Fool for Sewing

Another fabulous sewist who impresses me nearly every day is Ms. Vera  of Alterations and Design by Vera of Savannah, Georgia. She is an extremely hardworking designer who does highly skilled work all with a smile and loving every minute. Her work will blow you away. She can sew or fix ANYTHING as you will see as you go through her page. Ms. Vera, once in a while, will regale us with a new outfit she made for herself for church or a new hairdo and makeup she chooses to share. She doesn't miss a beat when it comes to trends and always looks stylish  in rare glimpses of her personal life. 

ETA: There are many platforms in social media. I don't partake in Instagram, at least not yet, because I just simply don't have the time. I enjoy writing and the depth of socialization that blogging has provided me over the years. I also enjoy FB as I can get quick inspiration and also help others as well and they  often help me, too. But you have to draw the line somewhere so Insta is not on my agenda. I do listen to sewing podcasts a lot and enjoy having them in the background as I sew and organize and plan. I feel like I am with friends and getting to know others in the community. Again, it is that depth of the experience. I have tried Insta a few times but just find it very shallow and it doesn't hold my interest. 

Listening to podcasts made me realize some things. Where are older sewists? Where is the voice of experience? It is nearly nowhere,  people.  I want to commend podcasts that have really broken that rule and I ask WHY have not others? There are only two podcasts I listen to where an older sewist is part of the team. Their participation greatly enhances the quality of the podcast. We all know our tongues get looser as we age and the more seasoned team members here are no exception. They are delightful. And their knowledge is priceless as well.

First, there is Clothes Making Mavens. If you have not heard their podcasts you are really missing something. They are working seasonally now and will re casting soon with a new season but all of their casts are still on line and worth listening to.  Barb Emodi, long time blogger, writer for Threads magazine, book publisher and all around sewing expert, is on the team with Helena, Lori and Hila, talking about very interesting topics in the sewing world. They never run from controversy and are great conversationalists. They always admit what they don't know and when they have been stumped and failed and when they have scored and succeeded. They interact wonderfully with Barb discussing particular topics where her experience is valued and clearly shown. It is all pretty loose, or seems enjoyably so. Barb contributes tons of wit and wisdom and can be counted on for laughs and giggles and an occasional shocker or two. It is clear the other members of the team really value her input. Why aren't other podcasters making experienced sewists part of their regular programming?  Are they afraid to look less experienced? I don't know but from what I have seen (heard) it adds greatly to the entertainment value of the podcast, never mind what we learn from such a wealth of knowledge.

Another podcast I would like to acknowledge for its clear acceptance of all in the sewing community is The Self Sewn Wardrobe and their podcast "Sewing Out Loud". This podcast is quite unique in that is broadcast by two women, no biggy, right? Well, these two women are biggies. They are a mother and daughter team, both extremely knowledgeable sewing professionals who have done it all from owning sewing related businesses to now podcasting and every sewing related activity in between. There is classic, mother daughter chatter, often hilariously pitting the two generations, and always informative and  entertaining. Mom is into aerial acrobatics and makes her challenging costumes and Mallory has small children and a husband, while pursuing a busy professional life. One of the hall marks of  Mallory and  Zede's businesses, besides, skill, and experience, is acceptance of all. 

We need more Self Sewn Wardrobe and Clothes Making Maven type podcasts where those doing the casting are not just talking about their own personal experience but talking with those who have a longer, wider sewing experience than they do. I just don't hear it out there. From where I listen, I here other podcasts that consist of not much more than discussions of new patterns and how to sew certain fabrics. I have heard Barb Emodi and Zede Donahue add a great depth of knowledge to what other casts cast out there. They can't be the only ones and shouldn't be. I think we need to demand that all voices are heard in the sewing community and not just those who have sewn only Indie patterns. Experienced sewists have sewn Indie patterns as well but for some reason they are not being brought into the podcasting community with interviews or as team members. Barb is a great example but just check out Pattern Review to see many others older sewists sewing Indies. Many have done so for a long time. 

There are countless more  women like the ones I have mentioned above, women of high skill and style. They are valuable members of the sewing community and DO NOT look or sound or make clothes like the depiction of an old person that the FB poster put out to her students. Crap like that has got to stop. Comments about entitlement and millennials does too and really is so yesterday. It is still always so wrong to generalize a whole generation. ANY GENERATIONAL PREJUDICE IS WRONG, SO JUST STOP IT AND SEW ON. Share the love and the passion. Always in peace and love,,,,,,,,Bunny




Sunday, February 21, 2021

What I have been up to......


 

When I decided to put garment sewing aside for a bit, this is what I wanted to work on. It is a portrait of my daughter. I have two daughters and hope to make a portrait of each and then hopefully follow up with our grandchildren. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time. It merges my love of oil painting with my love of textiles. There is no oil painting here but there is tug back to a dear mentor, now deceased, who was an amazing portrait painter among the many artistic abilities he had. I was his assistant for three years and learned so much from him. He was also my dad's best friend and best fishing buddy. 

Please don't judge as this is only half way done. Details in the face and elsewhere will be filled in with free motion stitching on the machine and a bit of painting as well. This is one of the reasons I built my expansion table for my machine. I will keep you posted as to how it is going. It has been quite a journey and I really look forward to my other daughter's portrait as I have learned so much making this one. I feel her's will be a much smoother journey. This week I will set out to buy threads for the free motion quilting. I think they may all be variegated. There is much more detail to come. She looks heavier in my version. I will have to do something about that. I think just slim down the scarf. 

It has been a winter of sewing and searching  more casual sewing. I have enough right now. I do have a need for pajamas and a robe but it has to be natural fabrics or rayon. I am searching for those fabrics right now. Finishing this portrait will come first before I get back to garment sewing. Be patient with me....Bunny

Monday, February 15, 2021

Zero Waste, do you? Sure you do!

 

Visible mending by Collingwood=Norris, pretty awesome


When I see versions online of Zero Waste garments, sorry, they look like either wrapped bath towels or large pieces of yardage pushed into a smaller rectangle made to look like a wrapped bath towel. I have yet to see anything I or anyone I know would wear. I am not talking garments like sheath dresses  where the maker has used the leftover pieces of fabric to make a bag or a stuffed animal or such. I am talking one piece of yardage made into an entire garment. 

I love Studio Faro and their amazing designs. Here is one of their takes on a zero waste design: http://www.studiofaro.com/well-suited/pattern-puzzle-squares-zero-waste  I won't publish any pics as I  have found fashion pics have a way of disappearing from the web over time so please click to get my drift. This is a very creative design but I would never be caught dead in it. Is it brilliant? Total use of the yardage for sure. Would it work in the hills and lakes of New Hampshire Mmmmm......maybe in a local coven. Definitely not for me but could work in a more sophisticated environment like NYC or Milan. 

Now before you think I am anti Zero Waste, let's go back to the very beginning----of time. You've all seen those memes circulating with "old fogies" telling millennials about how recycling and green living were invented  back in the day. They  list things like glass milk bottles being returned and reused each week; paper bags covering books at school; yada, yada, yada. I even remember the ice boats we made from old hockey ice skates, old sheets and some discarded 2x4s. Wow, they flew across the lake and what fun! I am from the pre all plastic generation and it is true. We actually mended clothes and that's coming back now too as if it is the new big thing! I do  think some of  the work of Celia Pym and her peers is positively artful.

Visible mending by Celia Pym 

But let me get to the bottom line here. Who sews and wastes? "Not I" says any passionate needle artist. Who doesn't save, organize or even donate or use for other higher causes their leftover bits and bobs from sewing? "Not I"  screams the driven needle worker. What lover of fabric and fiber does not occasionally scour rummage sales, thrift shops and yard sales for that rare gem of fabric at a bargain price to recycle into their own precious interpretation of great style? All of us sewists, that's who, newbies, experienced sewists and all in between. The thought of forcing yardage into a garment that I don't like and that has been designed without regard to what might flatter a body of whatever shape just to have no pieces of fabric left over is something I find so disdainful and even ridiculous.  I would suggest that those driven but such green ideals, which I do share, look elsewhere in the textile chain to rid this planet of over consumption and manufacturing with disregard to Mother Earth. Sewists are doing just fine with saving the planet. 

Today they are condos.  This is one of  five that we used to make all those suits.


Back when I was fresh out of college and wanted a real job I got one in a garment factory.  At the time it was the largest manufacturer of men's clothing in the world. We had 5000 employees and turned out 150,000 men's suits on an average week back when men wore a lot of suits. I worked my way up from receptionist to admin assistant to the treasurer of the company. It was fascinating. I loved it and was surrounded by fabric. I LEARNED A LOT. All that to say that the mill next door got all our scraps, much of which were 100 % wool. They got all the scraps from all the textile mills in a city of more textile mills than you could count. There was NO waste. They did not bale them up and send them to India or Bangladesh. They "reprocessed" them. The were shredded and chopped and made into tiny litle fibers that went to other clever manufacturers in our city of textile manufacturers. They were  remade into other items from new fabrics to carpet pad and more. I mean, 2021, Duh..... can we not do this??? 




I love that a generation brought up on juice boxes and nylon backpacks destined for landfills is disgusted by what they see happening with the results of Fast Fashion. It needs to change so badly. Sewists are in the front line changing that. Read and have your friends read Elizabeth Cline's book "Overdressed" to see what you can do about this. While we will never go back to the milk man picking up our glass bottles each week and brown paper bag book covers, I do think those in the Fashion business need to use their efforts more responsibly.  Designing patterns for sewists is a waste of time. Get back to a twice seasonal fashion cycle  where quality clothing is the norm, where you buy far less and wear it longer. This would be a world where the skills of dressmaking and tailoring would be just as highly regarded as those of the electrician or plumber and paid accordingly. Those two fields would be so respected by all for their ability to extend the life of clothing  and even change it's look as fashion changes, therefor eliminating feeding the monster in those Bangladeshi mountains of used fast fashion. 


My final thoughts

* Designing Zero Waste patterns for sewists is preaching to the choir. 

* The Fashion Industry needs to wean itself from On Demand inventories, aka, Fast Fashion by becoming more seasonal in its offerings. This demands higher quality garments that use more natural fabrics and better construction techniques. 

* The Fashion Industry can expend it's efforts on cleaning up the environment by utilizing natural fibers and mindful dyeing processes. Anyone who ever lived in a textile manufacturing center can drive through with you blindfolded and tell exactly where the rayon is manufactured, where the big dye works are, etc. They STINK specifically with their unique odors   and pollute their surroundings. Let's use our science and brains in the textile industry to cleanup our act here, not waste time on zero waste garments.

* Lets go back to processes that will reuse the fibers that are left over from manufacture as they were years ago. Where there is opportunity there is money to be made. 

Sewists are so ahead of the game on these fronts. Reading Cline's book will let you know how special you are and how you can influence the future. Just don't get sucked into the myth and waste of time of zero waste garments. Fads can change moments. They don't change the world.....Bunny





Sunday, February 7, 2021

Another Inspired shirt !

 


When I find a design I really love, I tend to make two or three of them in pretty short order. I went to my local quilt shop and back in the area where they have garment fabrics, which are mighty fine by the way, I found this Japanese fabric that up close looks and acts more like a linen. It is all cotton. It's a bit funky and the grey is rather muddy which the computer doesn't pick up that well.  I decided it needed to be the same design as the lovely white tablecloth shirt I just posted previous to this one. 


It took me 1 3/8 yard of 45 inch fabric to make this little top which started out as McCalls 8144 for knits. All I kept was the neckline and it's center front seam and moved on to a woven.  You can see all the construction on the previous post but I will point out a few highlights I did differently on this one


On this version you can better see the shape of the front hem. It is one inch shorter at center front than it is where it meets the side seam. It looks very cropped on my dummy but it totally covers my waistband and a bit of my tummy below. If  you look at the pics in the last post you will see  no skin at all shows when I wear it. 

You will also notice in the second iteration that the cowl is much more pronounced . This is because this is a lighter weight fabric than the cotton damask used in the white version.  I really like this effect. 


This time I cut a bias facing and it was understitched and then turned and catch stitched to the top.  I was careful to pull just a couple of threads so they wouldn't show on the public side. 


It's a bit confusing but what you see above is the invisible zipper opened up to show you the neckline facing. On the original it was handstitched to the zipper. Here you can see that the invisible zipper was installed on serged seam allowances and the big facing piece was machine stitched to the zipper and turned, a nice clean finish that I often forget to do.  It really is so easy with inviz zips too. 



Once again, on the back, I have the yoke going across and the inviz zip in the middle going up the neck so I could easily get this over and on for dressing. It was easy.  This print was very random and I did not bother to match at all.  I tried and tried but could not pull it off at any point that would let it match on the opposite side.

I just want to comment that I think this is a cute top but would be really great for those of us of a certain age. There is wonderful flattering neck camouflage, and the sleeves show some skin for ventilation yet are still pretty flattering. I am really also into shorter tops the past couple years as I find they flatter my petite height better. It's a good proportion for me. So version #2 of my inspiration top has been put together until warmer times. I think it will look great with jeans. 

I am going to put sewing garments aside for a bit and work on a couple of other creative projects I have going on. I feel like I am just making clothes to fill up my closet at this point. I have my vax scheduled and am looking forward to life going on. I am going to try some other creative endeavors in the meantime, some bead weaving and some pictorial quilting. I will blog about them as they get interesting. 


Happy Sewing!



Monday, February 1, 2021

A Cobbled White Shirt

 



I so enjoyed making this deceptively simple top.  It brought together a lot of creative ideas of mine and I am pleased with the results. I apologize for the pictures. Many are highly corrected to show the details. White is so hard to work with photographically. I'll describe what you see above. It is a top inspired by a pattern specifically for knits. I was determined to used it but had none of the knits needed and shoved it aside for another day. I decided to move on to other possible projects. I have been longing  for some time to make my annual white shirt and I was overdue.  I made one, a total total failure, and I will tell you about it in a later post. Right now let me glory in the results of this one. I love this top, LOVE IT. I think it is elegant and I like elegant. I'm in lockdown and elegant gives me some fantasy and right about now that feels good. I am preparing for that elegant life once my vaccinations are all injected. A girl can dream, can't she? There is another side to this misery, right? Anyway, about now, elegant is what I need even if it sits in the closet for a few more months. I also have had on my mind some creative use of some lovely textiles needing upcycling and this seemed like a good opportunity for that.  Let me give you all the really interesting details on this one. 


Pattern:

I have been searching out and collecting patterns for more casual sweatshirt type garments. This one caught my eye. I've yet to find the right fabric for it but it is in the top of the queue and just nagging the heck out of me.  It is a knit only pattern with center front and center back seams. Even though I didn't have fabric yet, I took the pattern pieces out the see how the neckline was done. The center front seam has this "hump" in it that when stitched and added to the funnel shaped neckline it becomes this lovely slight cowl collar. It looks very natural and unstructured. There are sleeve options. I did not like them. I did not have a knit but I loved the  cowl effect. Sigh...I thought that would work on another day............... It is McCalls 10736, aka, 8144 



Leftovers

Fabric:

This is where it starts to get interesting. I love to cruise rummage sales at churches and places like thrift shops and Good will. I have scored some gorgeous textiles in them. What you see above are the scraps leftover from my top. This top was made from an exquisite HEAVY cotton damask tablecloth, very vintage. I wonder if it was actually an alter cloth in the church where I bought it for one dollar. It was beautifully pressed, folded and cared for. I've been wanting to utilize it for a long time but until McCalls 10736, nothing hit me. I did try various painting techniques and none excited me so it had  to be something white. It was a delight to work with. There was a very wide border of  an almost  fleur de lis design and a negative center space with sweeping branches and little berry cluster things. You'll see more as we go along and get closer. It was great to sew on. Alas, it did not stretch and surely was not a knit.

Construction:

Hubs has been taking my pics from too high. Gotta talk to him about that!

First there was the challenge of the pattern. It was for knits. I measured it all and went up  a few sizes  to a 12. Then I  crossed my fingers and it worked. So I cut my garment in a size 12 with my woven fabric, flat patttern measured all to make sure it fit and moved on. 


To accommodate the fact that this was not a knit and it had to get over my head and the fact that I had to use the designs in the tablecloth with a bit of respect I decided to split the back of the pattern and make a large yoke.  This allowed me to do a lovely match of the small motifs in the negative space of the tablecloth and to add an invisible zip at CB. The zip really is invisible. Shadow and the high contrast I had to use are making it look open. 


About an inch up from the yoke seam is where the Inviz Zip actually ends. I marked it with the red line for you. I used Kenneth King's method which I highly recommend.



Here you can see the inside of the back and the invisible zip. All the seams are serged. There is a one inch seam at CB before you hit the yoke. The long zipper is then stitched with a stationary zigzag and cut off below that. That is not done yet in this pic. 



What is really lovely about this pattern is the neckline. There is an interesting bump in the center front seam. Once on the body it makes a lovely cowl effect as you can see above. It is even better on a real body. It is what sold me on this pattern, so very simple and so very elegant. If you look closely you will see that the entire front is all the tiny leaf motif in the damask. I was able to arrange it so the sleeve received some lovely border treatment on each side. When we think about using panels and border prints it is so universal  to stick a big medallion of sorts on center back or center front. Most sewists take that option and think no further. Nothing is written in stone and you can use your panels and tablecloths and borders any way that feels right. It was a challenge  to figure out a way to get the small leaves all over the entire front and still have a bit of  border on the sleeve edges. I love this sort of fabric play and it feeds my creative soul well. There is no interfacing in this garment anywhere. 

The funnel neckline had a deep facing that went into the shoulders. I ditch stitched this in the well of the shoulder seam to keep it in place and also in the center front seam but just for an inch or so there. 

I did do topstitching, mostly on my machine hems. The hems were changed radically from the pattern as well. The original pattern was a bit flared and even all around and a second option offered a band. I did my own thing. For the  petite I am, I really like the hi lo hem in tops,  but in a  more subdued way. It allows for a longer looking leg length in front and covers a bit of bum in the back. I decided to do a shaped front hem and the back hem would be even all across and about an inch and a half longer. 


To do this I used my aged french curve and placed the 19 at the center front seam and moved the other end of the curve to the side seam to where it looked pleasing and was an inch and a half above what I decided the back hemline would be, which frankly, I forget. I drew two  lines with my frixion pen. One was at the hem edge to cut and the other at the hem fold. I found this fabric, being all natural and not a tight weave, easy to shape with some steam and heat from the iron. The shape is pretty subtle and more noticeable from the sides. The back hem had the same depth and markings but was straight across the back and longer. 



The edges were all serged and  then topstitched into place.  



The side seam meeting of the hem left the bulk of the hem seam allowance. I pushed it to the back in a wedge shape and secured it down with topstitching that then ran down the edge to meet the back hem and continue, a fun little feature. 

This pattern had sleeves. When I tried on the top early for fit testing, I decided right then and there, no sleeves. This would be an evening sort of top or a summer wear piece. All in all, I think with the fabric I used, a woven, and the design changes I made, I feel it is an original other than the gorgeous McCall's funnel cowl neckline. Let's see...what did I do?

   * Used a woven when a knit was designated.

   * Used short sleeves instead of the long sleeve options offered.

   * Used a Hi-Lo shaped hem instead of the flat or band hem offered

   * Separated the back into a yoke to utilize my vintage textile to best advantage. 
      The pattern is a solid back with a center back seam all the way. My design has a
      solid piece with no CB seam in the "skirt" below the yoke. This way I could show 
      a solid flow of beautiful fabric. 

   * Added an invisible zipper in the back yoke to accommodate dressing. The pattern        is a pull over the head design. 


I emphasize all of this with the bullet points to make the point that patterns are just a beginning. It took me years to learn that I could break the rules and move a seamline or actually change a design. I was so afraid those reknown Pattern Police were watching and I was not a beginner. I was just one of the good girls who really didn't break rules. But as I began to look at sewing and fiber work as Art and began practicing other forms of creativity, I  realized you really can do what you want, You can create and when you do it is the most wonderful feeling. I am thankful for those years of sewing that I did follow the rules because it laid a great foundation. I often see newer sewists going full tilt into the mash up hack up mode and then throwing the garment out because it didn't come out so well or asking online what is wrong and why is it so awful. We all have to start somewhere. We need to build that foundation by sewing, sewing and sewing some more. We need to learn how to use patterns before we can mash and hack to our best advantage. We also need to remember we are not in a race. The biggest joy of creativity is being "in the zone". Once you've found that, you will never feel like rushing again and will learn that's where the good part is, not in completing the mostest and the fastest. Hope you enjoy my Vintage tablecloth top as much as I did figuring it out and getting it together. .........Bunny

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Tea Garden Tee


  The jury is out on this one. I love the fabric and the color isn't too bad. Revisiting an old pattern, however, may not have been the wisest move. 

Pattern:

This is the Tea Garden Tee from the Sewing Workshop. It's an oldie and I originally purchased it as a required part of a class project back in the early 90s. Knowing little of knits back then, I bought a stable knit with almost no stretch and never wore it as it was too uncomfortable. I did succeed at the machine cutwork which is what the class was about but the top spent its life in a drawer and eventually was donated. My covid life brought the pattern out again. It is a very interesting design as pretty much all of the Sewing Workshop designs are. 


The entire design consists of two pattern pieces, the blouse bodice and it's underarm gusset. You cut the bodice out twice to get the left and right sides. It has a center back and front seam so you are cutting out the left and right of the pattern with this one piece. It is a trilobal looking affair that I promise you defies any possible attempt at alteration and looks totally different from any top you've ever sewn.  You better be a good guesser at the size you might need. I remember my first attempt being tight. I went with a medium. I never sew a medium. I did no alterations other than shortening the sleeves. I was not worried about cup size because of the dolman sleeves. 

Fabric:

This is made up in a rayon/modal blend. It really is lovely. I decided I needed to jump on the blush pink bandwagon and it seems like a flattering color for my skin. I am just not sure about going all pastel here. I know my own coloring is changing but I am resisting "a certain look" if you know what I mean. The fabric was delightful to sew and more than met the stretch requirements for the pattern. 


Construction:

The big selling point on this top is the neckline. I really think it is beautiful. It is made from a combination odd interfacing placement, snipping and pleating. You have to pay attention here. It's not hard, just needs attention I think it is lovely. 


Here you can see the gusset used to get the dolman effect to the sleeve. It is one huge gusset, very long, going down to the waist and to the elbow. This contributes to a lot of excess wrinkling in the garment, more like sagginess. I am seriously thinking of how I can change that. The front and back head on fit fine.  Then there is this pile of wrinkles sagging on the sides. yuck. Maybe I'll just let it go. I don't know.........


Here you can see the gusset inside. It wasn't hard to insert at all and the directions were pretty clear. 



Here you can see how I treated all the seams. I really dislike the bulky ridges that serging can add to some knits and this was one of them. I simply pinked all of my seams as that provided the least transfer to the right side. What you see above is also how I treated my hem, my usual, and edgestitch and then more topstitching about an inch above. It is backed with fusible quilt batting tape, all my usual MO. 

The two pics directly above were really enhanced so you could see the detail. Also forgive the Covid hair. Last time I went to the hairdresser one hour later a customer who tested positive got her hair done and the salon shut down for 14 days. They told me I missed the contact tracing and lockdown by one hour. That was too close for comfort so what you see is what you get! God, I'll be glad when this is over!

In Conclusion:

I got this long desired remake out of my system. I love the neckline on this top and will either figure out how to rebuild those sleeves or transfer that neckline to another pattern, the latter being easier I think. The pattern is very unique and not prone to alteration. I loved the fabric and will seek that out again. It was just lovely to work with  and wear and I think it sews up nicely. In the end, the Tea Garden Tee is a buyer beware and definitely for the more experienced sewist. Happy Sewing, everyone!.............Bunny

Friday, January 8, 2021

Build an expansion table for your sewing machine!



I have a nice piece of collage fiber art near completion and I really need a large flat surface to achieve my first attempts at free motion quilting and embroidery on this piece. I began searching for an expansion table for my Pfaff sewing machine online. A 24 x 24 inch table would run me anywhere between 109.00and 200.00 dollars plus shipping. I figured there had to be a better, less expensive  way.


I measured my machine and made up a schematic for a 24 x 18 just to see what the price would be. If it wasn't too bad I would go for the 24 x 24 that I really wanted. I put my mask on and zipped to the big city where our glass guy would surely make me something similar for less money. I knew he worked in plexiglass. I crossed my fingers, made my way through a lot of contractor types and he came out to talk to me. He was very nice. He explained that he couldn't use an acrylic because it was too brittle and would crack when he did the cutting and drilling. He would have to use a "polycarbonate" and said a 1/4inch would be plenty thick enough. I showed him where the red dots you see above would be holes drilled for legs that my husband would attach  and that all that needed to be cut was that indentation on the right and some rounded corners. He handed the schematic to his quote person, politely said goodbye and I waited for my quote. $120.00!!! Well, no savings there! I took my blueprint and headed home. 

Hubs and I had done a lot of cutting and sawing and minor home improvements together over the past year and were feeling pretty confident that we could make something  that would work. I told him it had to be, more than anything, really smooth all over and I explained why. He said no problem and he could sink the screws. Hmmmm.....A big discussion ensued and we decided the two of us together would build this thing. We had no idea how but we would. This is how we've attacked many home projects that have  come out successfully, blind as bats and ready to fly. 




The next morning we headed out to Lowe's. Our grand bill was $36.25. but could we pull it off? We did. It's not the polycarbonate see through wonder that could probably also serve as a Kevlar shield in a police raid but it is s m o o o o o o t h and fairly attractive. You be the judge but I think it will work fine and it looks pretty nice as well. Here is how we did it.

Supplies:


We had no idea what we would use to make our table. We wanted to keep the cutting to a minimum and we were searching for smooth. We talked about buffing the surface with wax as many DIY vloggers did or just painting or staining the table. We walked all over the store looking at all sorts of  options we had previously discussed. Then I saw this beauty. They had 24 inch squares of cut plywood with wood veneer on top. This one is a white birch veneer, smooth, tight grain and very pretty. It is all sanded, cut and ready to be made into cabinets. 

I also grabbed a couple of wooden yard sticks for my edge trim. Worked out great.


You can get a better idea of the smooth grain here. They had other wood grain choices as well. The rulers will be my edge treatment to cover the plywood edges which were kind of rough. I will sand them down. 


Here are other things we bought but we did not use them all. More on that later. We found these clear corner bumpers on the far left  that come with sticky paper to glue them to the corners of the board. I am not sure I am going to use them. They have a rubbery feel that may cause things to actually catch.  I have gotten the corners quite smooth with sanding so will hold those out until I actually use the board and see how the corners work out while FMQing. Next in the middle are those little Scotch pads for under the legs of the table. We didn't know if we'd need those but we did. They brought the table up to perfect level once they were installed under the feet of the table. Also in the center were the flat head screws for the legs.  Hubs says he will sink those in and they will flat to the table top. On the right are adjustable furniture glides. You screw them into the legs and then turn them to adjust the height, as they do on appliances. We ended up not using them because the pads were perfect but I can see where these levelers would be great to achieve the  perfect height all around. They will go back to the store. 


The glue I used for my screw covers and rulers is E6ooo. I learned about this amazing glue when I started jewelry making. It can glue the moon to the earth. The stuff is awesome and I highly recommend. Because I was using a wood surface and did some research, other DIYers suggested a finish of a couple layers of paste wax. I experimented on the cutout scrap and it came out beautifully. 

Other things we used :

Painter's tape 
220 sand paper
Pieces of oaktag/manila folder
Clamps
Jigsaw
Table saw
1 1/2 inch dowel, 48 inch is plenty, for legs
Kam snaps and they were brilliant!
Extra large thumb tacks if you don't have Kam snaps
Acrylic paint for touch ups on edges. I used a blend of Vintage white and a pale beige.



 Veneer edge banding. At Lowe's this is hanging right next to the 24x24 boards.
     The veneer banding cost 6.48 so that took our total expenses up to 42.73, still   
     
great. There was plenty left over after using as you can see. 

A brayer or smooth roller. 
Parchment paper
Weights with flat bottoms to weigh down the banding
Scissors


Construction:

 

* Our first step was to mark the cut out for my machine with masking tape or painters tape and then draw the actual line to be cut on top of the tape. This helps keep the wood from splintering. Make sure you make your cut out WITH THE GRAIN. This is a thin veneer of birch on top of the plywood and it will splinter. The board was clamped to my work table in my studio so it would be stable while he cut. That was the only cutting of the board involved. The tape is removed and you will probably have some rough edges. We will get to those later. 

* Next, cut your rulers to fit across the front and side edges. You could run them all around but they won't really show so I didn't bother. I did just the front and left side. Glue and clamp your rulers to the front and left side of the board with your clamps  and the E6000 glue and leave overnight to dry. 

* Next day undo your clamps and with your sand paper carefully sand the top of the rulers removing any excess glue and smoothing the edges a tiny bit. It doesn't take much sanding. Be careful not to sand the birch board. You could tape off next to the ruler so you don't sand the board. Sand all the ply wood edges until they are smooth concentrating on the corners. You can end up with a pretty smooth board. 

* Around the cut out you will see you have some splinters. Sand lightly AWAY from the board only. Sanding toward the board will lift the splinters and make them worse. 

*  You have a couple of options now for dealing with the splinters on the cut out. One is to get a little saucer and mix a bit of white and beige paint , go lighter than you think, and with a tiny paint brush, fill in those splinters. With your finger, wipe the paint lightly off the board away from the board. It will leave just enough paint to cover up the underlayer and match better. It's not half bad. 



The next option is the banding and it really was easy to apply. The banding cuts perfectly with a pair of scissors. I have scissors in my sewing room that are just for cutting junk and they worked great on the banding. I cut the strips longer than I needed. Have some weights with smooth bottoms handy. Heat your iron up to a cotton setting and get all of the water out. No Steam! You will need a brayer or smooth roller of some type. These directions are for the mitered cutout.

* Cut the longer side strips about 3 inches longer than needed. Do the same for the center top strip of banding. 

* Overlap one side strip with the left side of the top band on top,  just like you would for sewing bias strips. Mark the top band diagonally.  Cut the left side of the top band on this line with your scissors. See the picture above.


 

* Lay that diagonally cut top strip on top of the left side band strip and mark that corner. This will give you the line for diagonally cutting the left side of the top band. The corners will be mitered and should match nicely. The band cuts very easily. Do the same with the right side of the top band. You don't have to do mitered corners but it is a nice touch. 





* With all the bands cut, iron your top band  in place first. Place it exactly where you want it on the top part of your cut out. Test the side pieces to make sure it all lines up right then remove them. Put the parchment on top of your top band and place the oaktag next to the band. Top the band with the parchment.  Iron with the hot iron. All of these directions are on the package the veneer banding came in.  Right after your top band is ironed on, roll the brayer on it back and forth to give it a tight press and then put some weight on top. Go to your sides now. Use this same process. Place, iron, roll, weight.



* Iron on your side bands starting at the top. Use weights as needed to keep everything in place. Once the bands are ironed on they don't slip around and are stuck. You can then cut the bottom edges of the band off with the scissors and then give them a light sanding on the edge, away from the board only, just right on the edge. Doesn't it look fabulous? Great product. I'd let this all dry with some weight on it overnight before proceeding further. I then glued more banding on my left side. You can put more banding wherever you want. Awesome product!


Time for the legs! This is where marital contention  set in.

This table has to sit perfectly level with your machine bed or it will drive you insane and totally defeat it purpose of allowing you to smoothly move your fabric under the needle in any direction. We figured we had a bit of fudge factor with the leveling legs or the pads on the bottom of the legs. The pads worked out beautifully and their rubbery surface also kept the table from moving at all. They upped the table to the perfect height. The table also has to be perfectly smooth to function as it should. 

* Determine within a quarter inch or so the length leg you need. In other words, cut a quarter inch short of the exact length you need for the perfect height. Cut your dowel pieces to that length. We discovered that we only needed 4 legs and in each corner but set back about 3 inches in from the corners, that is except for the leg that went on the narrow piece of the board on the right front. That got set in the middle of that section about and inch and a half in from the end. This table, being plywood, is quite heavy and doesn't move at all.

* Put a bit of painter's tape down where the screws will go for the legs on the top of the board. Drill your holes for the legs through the board. Remove the tape.

* Drill holes in your dowels for the depth of the screws. They are Phillips head screws. My husband remarked that the dowels were very hard to cut and drill through but we got it done. 

*


*  Not a good picture but attach your legs to your table. This is where divorce papers were nearly filed. My idea of smooth and my husbands idea surely differed by micrometers but they differed. Finally I just let him "screw" (absolutely no pun ever ever intended) and I achieved a perfect surface over the screws in a different manner.  Marriage saved, smiling partners resurfacing once again.

* Check the table now against your machine. More than likely it is and should be a bit short of perfect. This is where we tried the rubber pads and they brought everything to perfect height as well as kept the table from shifting. Use what works for you. 




But what about those Kam Snaps, you say? Here you can see the screw in the board and it's bit of raised edge. The Kam snap provides a bit of a very smooth dome but it is a flat sort of dome and not very high. Underneath is the "male" part. If I put it in the screw it was too high. I cut it off about half way and it sunk into the hole perfectly. It had enough length left to sink in the screw and grab onto the glue. Perfect solution, Marriage saved!  Just put a blob of E6000 in the screw, press on the Kam snap after snipping the tail down half way  and let dry overnight. Next day, solid as a rock and totally smooth and low.  It occurred to me today you could also use one of those fancy big thumb tacks they sell in Staples or the book store. You'll need some good wire cutters for those. So there are options for smooth, low profile covers for the screws. Wear some glasses or goggles when you cut these as those little tips fly. Be careful.


Now it's getting pretty! Back to that wax! You can use Carnuba, Varathane "Finishing Wax", Butcher's Wax. They will all work great and are probably the same thing anyway. Two coats are suggested. It really comes out beautifully. Rub on a good coat of the wax to your table with a clean soft cloth, no lint and leave to dry at least 20 minutes. I left mine overnight at first because I had other things to do. It's OK to walk away. Go back and with a soft cloth buff the heck out of it. It really didn't take much. Now do this again, one more time. Buff, buff, buff. Voila!


All polished up and pretty! Here she is in her new home. 


Here you can see how level the table is to the machine.  Perfectly even. 


This has been a really fun project. Would love to hear your comments or if you have any questions. I have been making a blouse on it for most of yesterday and it has felt totally comfortable to work at. I assume that is because I am actually still working at the same level I always am which causes me no pain as it is. For some reason I thought I might need to raise my chair but I didn't. If you build one of these let me know how it turns out. Happy sewing!..................Bunny

I've Got A Notion

I have been working away on the portrait project. I believe I've remade the eyes twice and the mouth at least 3 times but it does look l...