Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Alterations, yuk!

I abhor alterations. They are something I do for only the closest of family. I don't even like to do them for myself. I just as soon buy or make something new to take the alteration needing garment's place. At Christmas DD asked me to hem some pants she got on sale for her hubby. Of course I acquiesced. But that is as far as it goes, children and children of my children and no one else. I have had family, as in the out-laws, suggest I should be doing this for those who can't Oh, yeah? I don't think so. I have no problem saying no to these requests. Life is too short and I am not about to spend time helping the world get it's hems out of the gutter. Just my selfish way and that's all there is too it.

I mention all of this because right now I am faced with two projects. One is hemming DSIL's CUFFED pants and the other is getting back to my furballs. What's a women to do? Well, how about procrastinate? So rather than face more fluff to vaccuum or doing the math to figure cuffed hems, I decided to clean the basement. It was desperately needed as you can see. We have woodpiles, two freezers, business acquisitions, etc... Well, I got this room clean and then went to the next basement room.
I attacked another room, worse than this one, and then from there went into my 3x12 foot fabric closet. I decided to refold all my fabric. I like to do this once a year. It gives me great inspiration and reminds me of some of the neat things hiding in the stash. I have about half folded and put away right now. Here are just a few of the bottomweights. I am using the folding technique in Happy Zhombie's link highlighted above.

So all of this was to avoid doing the hems, which I have since faced and are almost done, and to avoid dealing with fuzzballmania from the fur vest. Here is where we are with that project. the lining is done, serged, and taped and ready to go into the vest. The vest needs the collar sewn on. It's just basted at the moment, and it needs the sleeved flanges put on as well. This has to happen before putting in the lining. So we are slowly getting there. I cannot wait to be done with this project and back to some real eye candy.

That brings me to some New Years's sewing goals. I have chosen not to look back and count or judge what I have done in 08. Instead I will move forward to 09. That is basically my life's philosophy, move on! So I will. And with that I am thinking of what I have planned for 09. I would like to accomplish the following:

* Master picture smocking. I mean really do an elaborate few pieces well. This is one of those skills that eludes many so I am not alone here. But that is one of my top goals.

* Make more little heirloom outfits for all the tiny young girls I know. It is just such delectable fun.

* Make friends with BWOF and sew a few patterns from the magazine. You have all inspired me. I can't wait to get my subscription and give it a go. Rest assured, I will be asking for imput on this endeavor.

* Meet some of my sewing friends. I have made some wonderful friends via the internet, friends who share the passion and love of sewing. I have even met a few. But I would love to meet more. Even better than that, I would love to meet someone up here who sews actual clothing, not quilts. Are you out there? I did sign up on but so far no response. But I won't give up. Part of the problem is I am just not into the quilting at this stage. I did that bigtime when my girls were little, but that was because it was easier to hand piece than machine sew a garment. My true love is garment sewing and I got back into it as soon as I could. Dropped the quilts, period!

* I would like to make another winter coat. I have even picked out the pattern. I would love a black cashmere or melton and will probably keep my eye out for that at Fabric Fix. I am in no rush at the moment.

So those are the goals for 2009. I have seen your accomplishments, now what are your goals? Please share and lets inspire each other. ..........Bunny

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pthewy.......Spitting and Sewing Faux Fur

Well, this sewing of faux fur is quite, well,,,,spittable! In the two hours I worked on this project yesterday I vacuumed all my clothes and the entire sewing room twice! When I started to cough it up I went into my painting gear and found a mask to wear. That really helped and I highly advise if you give this fabric a try.

This project definitely has its challenges. On my vertical seams I cut off one half inch of the seam allowance. Then I shaved the fur off with my pelican billed scissors an additional 1/8th inch. I got the best results then sewing two pieces of fur together with a straight stitch on a 1/8 inch SA. I then zigzagged to enclose all the edges. I guess this amounts to the same as serging but this needed a lot of control and I really don't think I could have pulled it off in the serger.
You can see in this pic that the left side is a clean cut. On the right side of the pencil is the 1/8th inch shaved back area. Before sewing a seam I used 1/4 inch masking tape to tape down and hold back the fur. This kept it out of the way while sewing. I left long tails on the tape and if you pull in the direction of the nap it is a clean pull. You can see also how my seams looked when done.I am definitely not an expert on this stuff and it is a definite learn as you go project. But given the amount of fluff around the studio, I am not sure when I will try this again! If anyone has a better way of doing things please let me know. I am a newbie on this one. Thanks.

I aslo did some trial runs on snap installation on the faux tooled leather. I hit Joanns today and found just what I needed. I had also been toying with the idea of bronze-y snaps on the placket. Then Summerset mentioned it on a comment and I decided to try a sample. I am really pleased with this look and it is more in the casual vein I was going for. Thanks for the inspiration, Summerset. I also played with topstitching and have decided to use a buttonhole twist and larger stitch to look more "authentic." I think I will try a few more samples of that tomorrow. This fur business is not one I will try often. It is just a real PITA and who needs to cough up furballs in the middle of the night? .......Bunny

Thursday, December 25, 2008


With just hours to spare, DH and I have returned home from our holiday travels. And it is still Christmas and still time to wish you all the best of the holiday season. I hope you have been able to spend it with loved ones close by and that Santa gifted you generously in the sewing department!

In the spirit of the season I share with you some pics of our gorgeous grandchildren as they enjoy their day.

The twins just loved this "walking" toy. It just couldn't do enough and they played with it for the longest time.
Here our Graham is trying on his new high tech back pack for hiking with Mom and Dad. He is so happy because it was filled with loads of Bak-U-Gons. If you have been anywhere near a young boy in the last two months, you know what Bak-U-Gons are and yes, this grandma was able to find them in a lucky moment shopping.

And our beautiful Jack and Sophie investigating part of their stash as Dad puts a toy together.

Whatever holiday celebration you partake in, I wish you the best of times with those you love......Bunny

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Faux Fur Vest Begins

Over the past couple of weeks, amidst traveling, shopping, cooking, and cleaning, I have managed to get my fur vest cut out. This fur is a different look from the hat I just made. I am guessing it is a faux beaver. It has nice guard hairs, natural color variation, and a soft knit backing. The pattern is Simplicity 2780, a Daisy Kingdom pattern that has outfits for a child as well as a vest for Mom. It is the mommy thing I am going after. This pattern has flanges added to the armscye which kind of amplify the fur effect. I have since seen this design technique in RTW fur vests. There is a band around the CF and bottom edge but I have eliminated that, choosing to use the lining pattern for my actual pattern. Vests fit me notoriously badly and hopefully this will be the exception. I did a muslin. I removed about an inch from the upper back. I usually remove a similar amount from the upper chest, but in this case rotated it down to a dart on the side. The muslin worked with these adjustments so hopefully the fur will too. Because of the dart, length was added to the front bodice as well.
A lot of attention was paid to nap, and "pelts". You can see from the reverse of the fabric here that the fabric is "pelted" with a slight color variation. This needed to be matched on all pieces. Once the muslin was fitted the adjustments were made to the pattern pieces. They were then laid on the back side of the fur and traced with a Sharpie (!). The fur was cut with tiny, tedious, tedious snips of the points of my shears. Of the various techniques tried this was the least messy. I have asthma and did not want to be coughing up furballs in the night and this worked quite well. I did use a mask when cutting most of it.
So now the fur sits. I probably won't get to this till after Christmas. In the meantime, tonight I made samples of buttonholes. I am still toying with the idea of a faux tooled leather placket. I would really like this but am not sure of the button situation. I don't want this to look homemade. Tonight I made a faux placket and did lots of buttonhole samples with my Pfaff. The arrowed, corded one is the best. I am going to do some more buttonhole samples with my mechanical Kenmore, a real buttonhole queen, before making up my mind. If you click on the photo it will enlarge and you can get a better idea of the results. Not stellar!


In a recent post I was asked what interfacings I used in the cashmere coat. I chose to interface the flannel interlining for starters and not fusing anything to the cashmere. The entire front underlining and facings were fused with a weft interfacing. I get it from Fabric Fix and they get it from somewhere in the garment district. It is great stuff and 60 inches wide. I also used sew in Acro as well for upper back, collar, cuff hems, jacket hem, and welts. I got out my Claire Schaeffer "Designer Secrets" and interfaced per her instructions. That is a great book set up in a really organized way. I like that.


Here is a picture I took last week of our darling grand twins. They are such great fun and cute as the dickens! Enjoy...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cashmere Coat Done!

This baby is put to bed! Over all I am pleased with the results. So here are some pics and comments. I used Simplicity 2812.
This pattern has great princess seams, the better for fit adjustments, several collar options, and a raised defined waistline, one of my better looks. I chose to do the view with the stand up collar and shorter length. I used a size 6 pattern. I "petited" it by folding out a good inch on the upper chest, back, and sleeve cap. I do this with all my patterns right out of the envelope. I did a full bust adjustment and also widened the waist and hips a tad. Upon flat pattern measuring the upper sleeve and comparing to my upper arm, I realized there was NO ease. I proceeded to widen the upper arm to accommodate mine. I have to tell you though, I am not a big person with big fleshy arms. So I didn't quite get this but the numbers didn't lie. This brings me to one of the things I don't like about this pattern and that is the sleeves. They are puffy. So I am thinking the top of the sleeve is over fitted and the bottom just too puffy. If you look at the full length coats on the pattern envelope you will see they are definitely puffy, something that I did not pick up on till my coat was cut and sewn. When I did my muslin I just did the bodice and upper hip. Shame on me. If I ever re do this pattern I will search out a two piece sleeve to use instead of the puffy version. To deal with the width I darted the lower sleeve and prickstitched it. The pattern offers a similar option as well as a tab option. I will say that the big sleeve is very comfortable, especially with a sweater underneath, the way I wore it shopping the other day.

One thing I do really like about the pattern is the collar. It is a wide stand away mandarin collar. Is there another name for this? It is easy to sneak a scarf in there, something very necessary in our climate and the way the collar stands away is very flattering to the neck and face. So that I like.
Another like is the lining. It is a silk crepe de chine. I was back and forth over whether to add a back neck facing or not. Then one night I stumbled on to Ann Rowley's pearls of wisdom from Stitcher's guild. In answer to the same question, she said that back neck facings were rarely seen in couture and the lining was always brought up to the neckline. Talk about a lucky lurk!.

Another thing I did not like about this pattern that did not become evident until construction was completed were the pocket flaps. They set way too low for my short body. I faced the hem to add additional length below the flaps and I think this saved the day. If I did this pattern again I would set the pockets and flaps much higher. Its a "short" thing. I know you petites understand.

My details included hand picking all the princess seams and flap and collar edges for additional definition. This detail really went quickly and I would not hesitate to do it again. If you try this do some samples first, trying different threads. Measure out your stitches for accuracy. The coat also has bound buttonholes which I hadn't done in a few years. I did LOTS of samples before I started on the actual coat and am glad I did. I actually put one of my samples in backwards and perish what that would have looked like on the coat! Irretrievable!

The buttons are JHB and I love them. Let's face it. The coat is pretty plain. The buttons jazzed it up just enough.

All in all, I am very happy with my new winter coat. It feels just scrumptious with its lighter than air cashmere shell, heavy flannel interlining, and silk crepe de chine lining. The other day we had a high of 12º and I tooled about town in my new coat and hat. I was warm as a brown marshmallow on a summer's night. This coat is really quite light to carry.

A few words about the cashmere. This stuff is yummy. HOWEVER, and it is a big however, it has a wicked nap. You need to baste your brains out here. It just moves everywhere, worse than velvet. The other caveat is the ironing. I used a medium/low setting and my own moisture put on with a dauber for the most part. In the beginning, while making samples, I figured out the ironing challenges. Thank goodness that lesson was learned before I ruined the coat. I did scorch a sample for failure to use a press cloth. Remember this stuff is hair from a goat, not fur. So it scorches. If this happens, take an emery board and just rub the scorch off. I did this on the sample and you never would have know it had burned. So always a press cloth, gentle touch, and moisture in those seams. All the tools came in handy for this, my pressing mitt, seam roll, ham, etc.

I will be away holiday visiting down on the Cape and the North Shore for the next week. When I get back it will be full tilt on the fur vest. At this point the pattern is all drawn out on the backing and I have started the tedious step of cutting it out, using little nips with the points of the scissors. Every time I go downstairs I do a few more inches. I hope to make another hat to go with it. Till next week..........Bunny

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Can You Tell Me..........

What the heck this is?
It's not an Adirondack yamulka. It's not a hat for my laughing resistant model of a husband. Is it one of those fabric bowls that a drunk has put on their head before they hit the lamp shades? I don't know. All I know is it sure isn't what the picture looked like that I was working off of. Ok, part of the issue is me and I take responsibility for that. There is a blog that had a great fur hat tutorial on it. It gave great detail on the drafting and construction. But despite my errors, I think it still should have worked. I drafted the pattern and proceeded to cut out my six sections of fabric and six of lining. Right before I hit the machine it occurred to me that I didn't add the 1/4 inch seam allowances. There was not enough ease to make this work. So I did what any creative seamstress would do. I did some samples butting the edges of wool and using decorative stitching to sew them together. Not bad. I landed on a triple zig zag and started butting. It was working great until I realized my hat looked like the ass side of a pumpkin. Go get the handsome model.........

Then I remembered that Threads had an article on this exact hat as well and I hit their site, did a search on their index, and came up with the right issue. There are definite advantages to hording the magazine for many many years. This hat was very similar and upon comparing both sites the hat on the Threads model sat smoothly on her noggin. Proceed.

You can see the difference in the cut of the sections. The Threads section comes to a clear point. The original effort is more curved. My draft of the original pattern does look just like the one pictured on that site. The other great thing for Miss Moron is that the Threads pattern included the 1/4 inch seam allowances. Sometimes I need all the help I can get. So in the end I am please and am looking forward to making a couple more of these as gifts. They go together really quickly. Here you can really see the difference in the crown:

This afternoon we are getting slammed with lake effect snow and I ran out in the back yard to do the pictures during a brief respite. It was 12º at the time. Out front of our property we had other visitors strutting their stuff.
This is our local turkey flock. Guess they survived the holiday!

Yes that's the new coat and more on that later..........Bunny

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have been battling a nasty nasty head cold the past few days. Ever notice how these things get passed around at Thanksgiving and Christmas? I haven't had a cold in a few years so this is not something I am used to or want to deal with. Either way, I have not found the energy to put my hand to needle. Instead I will just post on a few things rambling thru my sinus filled, itchy, gland swollen head.
For those of you who have been completely disgusted and grossed out over the state of my ironing board cover, well, it's clean now! It shocked me to see it in the photos. While it doesn't look like new, it is clean in this picture and most of the yuk is gone, the better to iron my pretties. Next is the iron! Dang is that thing nasty!

I figured out what I wanted to do with my facing to lining area. I decided to simply to a "Made by Mary P---- November 2008". I wrote the words out with a sharpie (!) and used one strand of floss to do a tiny backstitch.

And last but not least, these are one of the favorite things in my studio, my pattern weights. They are beach rocks from the coast of Maine. My sister lives one block from the ocean and we have a tradition of a long ocean walk after Thanksgiving Day dinner. We always try to bring an old tote and bring back some of the gorgeous beach stones that inhabit her little cove. They are incredibly smooth and impeccably clean from eons of thrashing waves. There are millions of them in the cove, literally. I love them.

Till my head clears.................Bunny

The Periwinkle Linen Dress

The Dandelion Dress served as the muslin for the Periwinkle Linen Dress. I love them both and they  are really both quite different as...