Friday, January 30, 2009

Sample Time Again!

On to a new project, Simplicity 3789. It is one of the BCD Cup collection blouses. I have been anxious to try one of these patterns as I have so many adjustments for tops, FBA, petiting, sleeve lengths, hip width, and sometimes more. I didn't do a muslin for this blouse. Instead I flat pattern measured and it sure seemed like there was enough ease there so I dove right in. Once I completed all the tucks on the front I pinbasted the princess , shoulder, and side seams and gave it a try on. It actually fit. So now I am at the point of putting it together and I will probably do that tomorrow. Enough for tonight.

The fabric is a really yummy handkerchief linen, very nice quality, in a dark olive green, not brown like it looks on the computer. It is a perfect match for a couple of Liz Claiborne pieces I got last summer.

I am doing View C, the one with the tucks. The pattern has the tucks just basted in and then stitched on the horizontal at the waist and high bust. Then the basting comes out and the fullness of the pleats is available for more ease. I did mine a little differently. I stitched the tucks down permanently and have no plans of any horizontal stitching across the tucks. The blouse fit fine without the additional ease of the tucks popping open. Then it was sample time. If you have been reading here for any time you know I am a big sample maker. With the help of ideas from "Fine Machine Sewing" by Carol Ahles, I decided to do some hemstitching on the tucks, cuffs, and collar. After a few trials, the right stitch length, tension, etc were worked out . (More samples for the sample box!) Then I stitched down the six tucks. You can see in the pic a white strip to the right of the presser foot, what I call my "stitch dam". I used a box cutter to hack out of a roll of 1/4 inch masking tape a strip about 3 inches long and a little over an 1/8th of an inch deep. I put it on the machine where I need the seam width to be. It is movable and stays sticky but if need be, you can just pull of one of the stips of masking tape and you are all ready to re stick again. The height holds the fold of the fabric in beautifully for these tucks.
Each side of the blouse has three of these hemstitched tucks. I used what's called a "Parisian stitch" to do these. It looks like a blanket stitch but goes in and out of the same hole several times, leaving much more thread behind. Normally, I would do this on a child's garment with fine size 60 or 80 embroidery thread which would leave larger holes, normally the goal here. But on this adult blouse I used regular thread due to color issues and I like the heaviness of it all. The stitching was also done with a wing needle. I interviewed a size 120 universal but the wing needle gave better results. I almost always use the universal needle for hemstitching so this was interesting. I think the thickness of the thread needed the wing needle to work best.

Tomorrow will be more actual construction and some button hunting. I am thinking french seams but am not 100% on board yet so we will see......................


Thanks for all the nice comments on the wedding picture. I actually had a portrait that showed the dress detail much better, but I just love that photo.
Summerset asked what year was the wedding. 1970! Yes, we were married as babes, high school sweethearts, and have been married happily for almost 39 years. We are truly blessed.

Summerset, I had the typical for the day, parted in the middle, down to my butt , long straight hair. The curls were special!

Design dreamer, that gown did cover a lot, my convent upbringing!

Amy, thank you for the info on Flashback Fridays, greatly appreciated.

Also, thanks to all for the feedback on the pants. I now realize that my dipped waist is the way I am built, and not a fitting mistake. The pants hang properly so she scores. I can't wait to whip out another pair of these. I would love some in a heavy black linen and will be on the prowl for that.........Bunny

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big Three Down to Big Two?

These are the Big Three when it comes to heirloom sewing magazines. Rumblings allude to it soon being the Big Two.

Australian Smocking and Embroidery sets the standard. They are expensive but worth every penny. Each issue comes with a pullout of patterns for everything shown in the issue. There is no going out and buying a pattern once you are inspired by this magazine! Their instructions are utterly clear. Their designers are contemporary. The photography is often breathtaking, peopled with the most beautiful children you have ever seen. They are published by Country Bumpkin in Australia, but often available at B&N or Borders. Oh, they are also addictive!

Next is Sew Beautiful magazine. This is published in the deep South and the connection is always evident. There is a folksy sermon with Bible book and verse from its editor, Martha Pullen, in every issue. It is laden with children in frothy, batiste and lace encrusted creations. This is not sewing for the real world of child play. The garments in this magazine are milestone garments. You make them for a first grandchild, a Christening, a graduation. There are attempts at being contemporary but they never quite pull it off as well as their competition. But that is not who they are. They are eye candy with a Victorian sensibility. Most heirloom sewists so not have enough milestones in their lives to use up even one issue of these confections. But it is fun to look at, in a quiet cup of tea moment way.

And then there is Creative Needle. The clothes in this magazine are wearable, to school , to play, to the beach, to church too. There are milestone garments in this magazine but best of all is that the designs work in this modern world and are an excellent showcase for fine needlework. The designers are top notch as is the instruction in each magazine. Here's the rub, or should I say facts: Their website has not been updated since November. Their copyright has not been renewed. Subscriptions are late. And there are grumblings from vendors. It appears the writing is on the wall. According to some the hand has written and Chapter 7 has been filed. I have yet to find that in any official publication or site but signs do point there. I truly wish their owners some sort of reprive and the best of the future whatever the outcome.

I will really miss Creative Needle if it goes. It certainly will leave a deep hole to be filled in the heirloom world but in our current economy there are deep holes everywhere. My real concern is that this could be a portent of things to come. Heirloom sewing uses the finest fabrics and expensive imported laces. It is high end kid sewing for sure. On line purveyors and small shoppes must be pacing thru the floor boards . This is such a wonderful form of sewing and I would hate to see it enter a dark age. It is so important to keep these skills alive .

If the demise of Creative Needle is not just a re organization, I would pray Sew Beautiful would take a serious look at its editorial content and start publishing some more realistic, wearable, and beautiful children's garments. Otherwise I think it could go the way of the dinosaur as this economy continues spiraling.....Bunny



A few weeks back I came across a blogger, who I apologize for not remembering, who evidently does a Friday Flashback to garments she has made in the past. I just couldn't get that bug out of my head. So we will have here, while they last, Throwback Thursdays. I have kept so much of what I have made over the years that it might be fun to have a review. I did some digging today and this is a pic of the oldest garment I will show you, then it will be on to more contemporary efforts. This is my wedding gown I made. I copied the gown from an artist's rendition in the Boston Globe in an ad for Filene's. The veil was a copy of one that was in Vogue and designed by Dior. It was peau de soie and guipure lace. I did make a muslin first for this one. And yes, I am 21 in the picture! I love this picture because everyone in it is so doggone happy. Next Thursday's garment will be more recent and more artsy, a hand painted affair. More coming,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Simp 2860 "amazing fit" Pants Pattern

These pants are made from 100% linen and just from running up and down the stairs a few times they were wrinkled before DH took the pics. That's OK. That's what linen does. Not the most exciting color but it works great with my new green blouse and a few other things in the closet. Here are a question or two on the fit. Do you see how the front waist dips down at CF? That happens to me on all pants, including RTW. There was a huge amount of fabric between the crotch line and the waist and I folded that out. Whether I add or subtract, my CF waist always dips down, though. I have a pretty flat tummy and am short from waist to crotch. Any observations for improvement? Is this swayback? In the back you can see my right rear leg has some folds. I know my hips are shaped differently from side to side. One, the left, has a little more high hip than the other. I am thinking I need to drop the right side waist seam down a little bit? Whatch think? I don't think I would have caught this without the camera. These pants are meant to fit one half inch below the waist. Other than the observations just stated, I am pretty happy with them. Now am I happy with the angle DH got of my ass picture? Oh, My! This is a great pattern.

They walk you thru the entire measuring process and give you the option of a slim, average, or curvy cut. I knew I'd be a curvy. The pattern instructions are VERY clear, even having you stitch directionally for the stay stitching. They walk you thru the entire prefit, basting process, and then help you examine the fit wrinkles. The adjustments are laid right out for you.

I made my muslin out of some drapery blackout lining, a good choice to replicate a bottomweight. Once I tried that on it was clear a fish eye dart was needed to subtract bagginess under my bum. That is the greatest alteration and you can see it on Debbie's blog, here. Thank you Debbie.

These pants are really full, which normally I don't like, but I think for summer pants that will be a comfy plus. I did not want to line these pants. I make a lot of linen for the summer and really love the loose one layer feel of it. Because of that I usually serge or Honk Kong my seams. I could have serged here, but I have learned that HK seams add weight to an otherwise light garment. So I chose the HK seams to make this hang better and I think it did.

I used bias strips of a poly georgette from the stash, a leopardy type print. A word about the zipper first. The process in the pattern does not match up to the pictures, in my opinion, and it makes it a lot more complicated than it should be. I usually use the Sandra Betzina fly method and should have this time. Next time I will by pass the pattern and pull her book out. Her method is sooooooo easy and is done in less than 5 minutes. Only way to go.
The zipper has a an underlap, or what I call a "fly cover". I bound that as well but was in a real quandary as to which side I wanted to put to the outside (?) world. I decided to keep the binding toward my tumtum. But, then I didn't want to cut back the other side and it was already stitched up for the second time (another story)! So I left it wide and finished it off with some catch stitching done with a buttonhole twist. This is probably not the textbook way to do this, but I like it and that's all that matters.

Bottom line, there is still some tweaking to do and I hope to get some more fabric soon to make some more of these pants. But I think this is a great pattern. Other than the fish eye dart, it was pretty good right out of the envelope. That NEVER happens.


Thank you, Paco, for further recognition. He has been lovely to award me the Kreative Blogger award and it is really appreciated. If you have not checked out Paco's blog, please do. It is an absolute inspirational treat. Gracias, de nuevo.


I have a pet peeve. This ripped little paper has been sitting on my desk for a while now and today is the day I deal with it. Call me a pill, or pain, but can we get the words right? Here are some words I find over and over again on blogs and posts and even in conversation. First, the worst:
  • Muslim....Ok, this is a belief system, a religion, some would even say a race. IT IS NOT a fabric. It is not a trial garment. M U S L I N is a cotton fabric, usually white or beige, used in sewing, quilting, and pattern making. It can also refer to a trial garment, not necessarily made out of that fabric, that is used to test fit. I find it offensive to all our Muslim brethren every time I hear or see this. N, N, N, not M!
The next has all sorts of spellings.
  • It is ARMSCYE. Adele Margolis says it is the same as the armhole. She provides a drawing that she says illustrates it as the Eye of the Arm in "Fashion Sewing". I bow to Adele. In the past couple of weeks I have seen it as ARM SCYTHE, ARMS EYE, and other spellings now and then. These can give you some really strange visualations. Yikes!
All of this is offered in the spirit of congeniality and friendliness and with no ill will. I am just one of those people who had her mom constantly correcting her grammar and pronunciation. Does that mean my mom or myself are/were always right? Heck no! But I just had to get this off my chest and thanks for letting me vent. Off the spelling soapbox!......Bunny

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Belt Knockoff

Over the holidays we visited my sister in Maine. Staying with her were several young people, two of whom were just the sweetest, most talented young ladies. One is a junior at Berkely and the other is a graduate of Berkley and tours internationally as a vocalist and Celtic harpist. They regalled us nightly with the most awesome living room concerts. These two concert musicians, as well as serious fashionistas, were from Scotland. They told me they bought all their clothing in either NY or back in Europe. One of them wore the most awesome belt the whole time we were there and kindly took it off and let me inspect. It hung on the hips and was very soft leather. I have been wanting to knock it off ever since and this is my attempt.
I started by pulling a TNT pattern for a skirt with no waistband. I used the stay part of the pattern. I traced it onto blackout drapery lining I had, which makes a great heavier muslin by the way!. I decided I wanted the finished belt 4 1/2 inches wide and hung on the hips. I cut off the top 3/4 of an inch from my muslin. Then I measured down 5 1/2 inches to include the 1/2 inch seams. The darts and one side seam were then stitched up. The fiddling would come with the size of the opening and length of the straps.

In the end I decided I would add to the open side seam an inch and a half to bring the belt over my side hip and to the front. . Then the front section was cut back about 4 inches. This involved taking the belt off time and again and redoing the position of the straps with the hardware. Did you notice I used key holders? I went looking for buckles and decided I like the chunkiness of these instead and brought 4 home. Once the opening was established I added SAs and proceeded to cut the faux leather.

Several things made working with the faux leather easier. First was WonderTape for initial placement of the straps. Pins could only be used in the SAs. I also used 1/4 inch masking tape to hold down the straps and mark the lines for the topstitching. Next big helper was my Fasturn to turn the vinyl straps, which does sound like a sticky impossibility. But that brings me to another helper, Sewers Aid, a silicone product which I rubbed up and down the Fasturn tube before inserting it into the vinyl. Made all the difference in the world. Also used a lot was my edge stitching foot for most of the topstitching.

Once the straps were installed on the interfaced front I was ready to sew the two sides together. Sarah's belt was leather on the front and back, no lining, so that is how I did mine. I was aiming for the same feel that her belt had. Formflex was the interfacing used. I made sure that it was not in the corners.

To turn the belt, a fairly large opening at the lower back waist was left. The belt was graded, turned, and pressed. The open area was shut with paper clips. That worked beautifully to hold things tight for the topstitching. A size 18 topstitching needle, buttonhole twist , and an edge stitching foot were used for the topstitching. And voila! My new funky belt! I was too lazy to get out of my snowed in attire so just put the belt on the form for pics. Hope you like it. I really do. I am seeing this heavy leather thing, in browns, everywhere. Liana had a great post on a knit coat with heavy leather embellishment that you can see here if you do a scroll down.


Thank you so much to Liana, Cindy, and Sherrill for awarding me with the Kreativ Blogger award. I so respect the work all of you do and you inspire me all the time. Here is how this works:

1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate.

I am nominating the following bloggers, all of whose work I so admire:

  • Sharon B of Pintangle who has some very inspirational embroideries, lots of eye candy
  • Kristine of Just Keep Sewing, whose work I love to follow. Kristine's sewing talents go in all sorts of different directions and her love for the sport shows.
  • Martha, of Southern Matriarch. Her current "bikini" post will have you rolling off the chair! She does exquisite heirloom confections and has some great tutes on her blog.
  • Nela, of NelaPX. Nela gives me a chance to practice my Spanish without complaining and also does exquisite needlework. She is a real cheerleader, getting others to join round robbins, sew alongs, and more.
  • Noile Dot Net, I like to follow the varied sewing universe Noile lives in. You never quite know what you will see with her sewing adventures but it is always a fun read.
I didn't get my seven, but that is because so many of you have already received the award. Believe me, you are all stars!
Thank you to all of you who have left such lovely comments concerning Miss Lily's outfit. I really appreciate all of your imput. Lily is a very special little girl adopted by parents who will love her unconditionally and forever. She definitely deserves this outfit!.........Bunny

Friday, January 23, 2009

Miss Lily's Ensemble Completed!

I finished the handwork on everything today and got it beautifully pressed with my new Rowenta! First we have the bishop which is a pattern from AS&E called "Beginnings." The pattern includes the plate and as always for AS&E, has incredible instructions. The fabric is a fine handkerchief linen. The thread is DMC in a soft yellow and soft pink and green. The dress buttons up the full length of the back with a cut on facing. My old Kenmore did a lovely job of making really fine buttonholes. I like how I can adjust the width and length of the actual stitch so easily on that machine.

Next we have the slip which is also of the same hanky linen and finished with a shell stitched edge. The hem is scalloped as well.
The closure is a small piece of velcro "fusions" on one of the shoulders. I really like this product for childrens clothing. It is soft and very durable. And you just iron it on! I always make sure I clip all corners so there are not sharp edges to snag baby's soft skin.

And last but not least is the little summer jacket to go over the bishop. It is made from cotton matelasse. The collar and seams are bound with 100% cotton seersucker in the same shade. Bullion roses are embroidered on the back and the front of the collar. In a nod to Ralph Rucci, yellow bullions were embroidered on the top of the back pleat as well. The button on the front has been stitched on with a bullion too!


My next project is a funky belt for which I made the muslin today. I hope to get it together tomorrow and pics right after. It is really cool......Bunny

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shell Stitch Edging Tute

I am on the last leg of Miss Lily's outfit. All bullion roses are done. The jacket is hemmed. The dress got its Biz soak and is drying as we speak. Now we needed to make a slip. I don't always make a slip to go with my outfits but this hankerchief linen is quite fine and sheer. I still have loads on hand so cut out a small slip for under Miss Lily's dress. I do this very simply. I drafted a slip bodice using a tried and true dress pattern some time back and I find I get so much use out of this little sloper. Sometimes I make the slip with a gathered skirt as I did on Rhianon's Christening gown, but in this case, I chose to do an A line, simply extending out from the bottom of the armscye. I then true up the skirt giving it a slight curve on the sides. This up curve is usually seen on heirloom garments for babies as the baby is usually seen in the garment seated or held and a straight across hem would actually dip at the side seams. The rise in curve is about 3/4s of an inch. I make this slip by extending one side of the front shoulder about 2 1/2 inches. Velcro is then used on that shoulder as a closure. I use a very soft iron on velcro recommended for doll clothes. It is very soft. All edges of the slip are shell stitched for finishing and I thought I would share my technique. There are a couple of ways of going about this, but this is my preferred. I choose not to use the rolled hem foot. I am working with such short lengths and v. ravelly fabric that I find this technique works best :

  • Fold and press the edge to the wrong side a little over an eight of an inch. Press well. I use a clapper to get it as flat as I can.
  • Fold the edge again a little over an eighth of an inch and press well again.
  • Go to the machine and baste down the center of the fold with a stitch length of 4.5 or hand baste. Press again. I use fine size 60 100% cotton for all of this sewing as well as a size 10 sharp neeedle.
  • I then set the machine with a high tension setting. I used a 6 1/2. My machine is set for a blind hem stitch and on my machine I reverse it to get it stitching correctly. (Pfaff) The stitch width if 5.0 and the stitch length is 1.0. The right swing of the needle goes into "air" on the right side of the edge. The left swing goes to the other side of the fold. If the tension is set high enough, this should cause the fabric to pull in and make the "shell". This is s l o w sewing.
  • If you have to cross heavy seams, french seams here, clip them at an angle for the 1/4 inch of the folded area to eliminate bulk.
  • Remove the basting carefully.
  • Press well, but don't kill it. I put the right side against a fluffy towel.


My 12 year old Rowenta died this afternoon. We are going out first thing tomorrow morning to get another one. I am crippled until then.


My next project is a really neat belt I saw over the holidays. I did get the pattern made up for this and will share as soon as I get a little further along in the process. An iron would help!.....Bunny

Monday, January 19, 2009

Whip Out, Simp 3790

This was a whip out, not that I am particularly proud of that. I was just in the mood to sew and didn't want to commit to a big project. I spent a bit of the morning practicing bullion roses and tired of that pretty quickly. So this is what a stash dive turned out. Its a nice cotton lycra from the Fix in Manchester, NH and will be good with jeans to bomb around in. I think it will be gorgeous in a charmeuse. The pattern is knit only but I think that could easily be dealt with. The sleeves have a lot of ease and I will cut down the caps next time. I did use the Steam a Seam hem trick, one of my favorites. I did not fret over this top and it shows, BUT I will make it again, be real fussy, and do it up in much nicer fabric. Is that what they call a "wearable muslin"? Yikes!


Design Dreamer commented on my use of a ruffler. I haven't really used it. It has been sitting in my drawer forever while I continue to do my own "ruffling.:" I am determined to master it. Last attempt provided me with lots of broken needles but I now know what I did wrong. I do like the tiny pleated effect it can do. Keep ya posted on my self lesson.


Does anyone out there have a Cricut? That is an intriguing little toy that I am considering getting. I can actually use it for DH's business and am trying to convince him of that. But I am not a scrapbooker. Let me know if you have one and how you like it. Also, it seems pretty pricey for the peripherals like cartridges, vinyl, etc. TIA.........Bunny

Saturday, January 17, 2009

This sewing behemoth was purchased about 32 years ago. It is a Kenmore. It weighs about 30 plus pounds. And it makes the most magnificent buttonholes. One of my sewing goals for the new year was to master my ruffler. Cybersewing friends told me that they work far better on mechanical machines than on computerized machines. So I spent a good part of the afternoon cleaning this puppy, pulling out gobs of matted lint, oiling her up, and basically getting her purring like a kitten in my lap. Then I pulled out my ruffler and realized it was for my Pfaff only. So sad, I tell ya. So it will be back to the Pfaff to practice with the ruffler and we will see where it goes. Now, my ancient, heavy Kenmore will be set up with it's buttonholer, ready to go at a moments notice. I love it's buttonholes. Just so no aggravation and perfection when done. Why can't computerized machines do this without all the major adjustments?


I have been working on my pants pattern. So far I have done two muslins. Now I must say, right out of the envelope, these were not too bad. I used the curvy option offered. But being the sewist that I am, I needed to tweak these pants further. So this simple pattern ended up with the following alterations: side seams reduced 1/2 inch. The CB seam was reduced 3/4 of an inch
In the front I pinched out one inch between the crotch and waistline. In the back I did a fish eye dart, thank you Debbie, and raised the back crotch point a half inch. I know they need further tweaking but are not too bad. I think the further tweaking will depend on the type of fabric used. I am going to make a twill pair and we know that cotton twill just does not drape. But that is OK and the pants will be great to tool around in for the summer. Now, a "finer" fabric, like a summer weight wool, or a wool crepe, will definitely need further tweaking. DH really liked the fit, me too, and suggested we got to a couple of my favorite spots for pants fabric when we go to New Hampshire. I can't wait! So for the moment it will be be some basic twill pants with the better fabrics to come.

This is my thermometer from yesterday morning. Yes that is a minus sign in the upper left hand corner. Wednesday and Thursday mornings were both 28 Below zero Fahrenheit up here in Dickinson Center. Today was a little warmer at 11 below when we woke up instead. I hope you are all warm and toasty and sewing away..........bunny

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Absolutely Love this Blouse!

I love this blouse and am really pleased with the outcome. The pattern, well that's another story. The fabric is "linen and linen blends" and looks and drapes like a rayon/linen blend. It washed well in the machine. Like all linens, it is very ravelly so the few inside seams that showed got the Hong Kong treatment. Most seams are covered by facings of some sort. We will be going to a wedding Memorial Day weekend and I think this top paired with either a great chiffon print skirt or a matching charmeuse skirt could be really nice for the occasion. This will also go great with my navy linen pants. I also think this pattern would work up beautifully in a sheer.
The pattern, Butterick 5186, shown a few posts previous, was a doozy. I have made a few Issey Miyake patterns in my day and never encountered the issues this one has. There are definite drafting issues here. Based on reviews in PR I knew there were problems with the neckline. I marked extremely carefully and folowed directions. It does not work. It took major fiddling to get that seam correct. It runs from a dart going up the arm, across the neckline, and down the other dart. Sounds easy and should be. The end of the darts and their dots are no where near the beginning of the neckline seam. With a lot of clipping and fiddling I got it to work. But then I ended up with an unavoidable blister at the junction of the dart and neckline, not leftover fabric to be eased in, but a weird blister. I was able to get it to lay flat, fell stitched it together, and the two blisters are now hidden inside the dart, just very weird. I love the sleeves. The top layer is on the bias due to the cut of the bodices. The next layer folds back into the sleeve and creates a facing covering the original seam. This is so poorly described as well as illogically sequenced in the pattern that it could very easily turn this into a wadder for a less than experienced sewist. This pattern looks so simple, but trust me, due to its poor instructions and awful drafting it is far from it. I thought I would be able to whip this out but spent major time fiddling. I think in the end it came out fine, though. I would definitely make this again and may in a white linen I just bought. But I will throw out the instructions and do my own thing with it and also rework that neckline dart configuration.

I also like the bias peplum on the bottom. It gives the blouse a nice lower shape without the sash making it look like a tied up potato sack. You have to be careful of that look with an hourglass figure. This shapes nicely with the sash tied and doesn't look overworked with the peplum. ......Bunny

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lace to Linen

It was time to get the lace attached to the edges of the sleeves, before pulling up the pleating threads and still flat. There are a few different ways to do this. I'm a big "sampler" and this case was not different. The usual edge to lace method with the edge stitching foot in between did not give me the accuracy needed for some reason. It also seemed to be a weak finish with the lace ready to pull off. So with a little experimentation I ended up doing it this way. First I folded back and pressed to the underside 1/4 inch of fabric at the edge. I then laid this on top of the lace header, which measures a 1/16th of an inch the most. My stitch was a basic zigzag, width 3.0, length .8. I used a regular clear foot to stitch. This made a PERFECT, not heavy "roll" next to the lace. I liked the look. This is not a tight satin stitch, but a really light zigzag. On the back the excess fabric was trimmed back to the stitching. I am very pleased with how this came out. There is a little body to the edge now and that will make it stand out a bit. That should look nice. A click on the picture will enlarge to get a better idea of this technique.

At the Joann's sale I picked up this pattern which got some great reviews on PR. Each size in the pattern has 3 options, slim, regular, and curvy. The pattern has you take measurements and provides a chart which will let you know which one to use. This is based on the full crotch and back crotch measurements. As suspected, mine was a curvy. However, if I use the pattern recommended the hem width at the bottom will be quite wide. So I will make these and see how that plays out. This is next in the cue after the linen blouse, which is coming along nicely, thank you. I have some twills hanging around to do my first pants in.


I would like to welcome the many new visitors to the blog. It really makes me glad that you are here enjoying the postings. Your comments are really appreciated as well so don't hesitate, positive or critical. They are welcome!

I have had a few questions lately and will try to answer them now.

Design Dreamer wondered about the stitching on the collar and the color. The jacket is a pale yellow, as is the binding. In between the two is a line of outline stitch in pale green. You are right, DD. The outline stitch is one half of the wheat stitch!

I agree with you Cissie. I always cut back my undercollar a sixteenth to an eight of an inch at the neckline to roll that seam edge to the bottom and prevent the cupping. Being one layer, this coat did not require it. It did roll beautifully so it was a nice draft. FWIW, I live by Roberta Carr's cardinal rule: reduce bulk wherever possible.

Cissie, Oh the dreaded tunnel neck. I must admit I have never had that happen on one of my bishops. I am sure you are right and its the blocking that helps.

Once again, thank you for all your visiting and I hope to see more of you posting. Your comments are always welcome. .............Bunny

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pleating Plus!

Many times I have posted my pleater in action. I started out my pleating on Miss Lily's dress today fully thinking you have seen it enough and need no more. Then I heard that awful crunch sound. It is the nasty noise of an expensive needle breaking and oo, how I hate that sound. So I thought I would post about how I fixed it. I removed the bar first. Then I pulled out the broken needle. I rethreaded a new pleater needle with the broken needle's thread. Sometimes I am able to rethread the needle back into the fabric but the fabric was not cooperating. Plan B is to replace the needle into its slot and bypass the skipped pleats. I had to do some jiggling to get the needle properly seated. Once there the bar went back on and I was able to finish pleating the dress. The skipped pleats fall right in line like soldiers to the pleats above and below so there is no problem with counting and accuracy. I did pleat VERY VERY slowly. Bishop dresses generally have french seams and the bulk of the seam can make the pleater balk. It did. The other three seams went OK thank goodness. I was seeing more broken needles as I came up to them but the made there way thru the pleater. Yippee!

Once the bishop is pleated it needs to be blocked on a neckline blocking guide. These are usually provided with the pattern. This was and I traced it off and pinned it to the blocking board. Then the pleated bishop was arranged on the board with sleeve seams matching the lines on the board etc. Once on the board, my method is to spray the pleat area till wet with spray starch and leave it overnight to dry.
So here it sits. Blocking smocking is a rather controversial issue. There are many who don't do it at all. I like to do it. I like being able to "train" my pleats before I start smocking. It's akin to basting. For years you couldn't pay me to do it and I sewed pretty well. Now you can't pay me not to do it. It just gives more control and that is how I feel about the blocking. So tomorrow I will count my pleats and then begin stitching. I am excited.


I have a new project in the que and actually started. Since Lily''s jacket is all done except for more handwork, and all I have in the cue is handwork, it was time to start another "machine" project. I spent some time today going thru patterns and found this beauty that I have been aching to try for a while.
I am going to do View B. I really like this design. There will be no muslin. After measuring the pattern I know there will be plenty of room for moi. So I dove into the cutting and will be able to start maybe tomorrow. It will be made in the green linen I just bought. I may do some hem stitching, not sure yet. I had a Vogue blouse almost just like this some years back and I loved it. I wore it till I wore it out. Hopefully this reincarnation will make me just as happy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Faux Fur Vest

DH took this picture of the vest. Clearly he was going for the big landscape, not a closeup of the vest as instructed. Gotta love him! Any who, it's done and I am glad to put this one to bed. I am someone who loves the precision of tailoring and heirloom sewing. This was down and dirty sewing. I am not a fur expert. This was only the second thing I have made in faux fur, having avoided that type of Halloween costume back in the day. That being said, I certainly learned a few things:

  • If you are sewing faux fur with a knit backing tape EVERY seam as soon as the piece as cut. Do this on the knit side with either fell stitching on each side of the twill tape or the stitch that makes the x's. I can never remember what it is called, catch stitch? It's the one for hems. Measure the seam line on the pattern piece and cut your twill tape to that measurement. I mean it. Tape every seam or this will be so stretched by the time you sew it you won't believe it. I have seen some FFs (faux furs) that have sort of stiff nasty backings. Those are the cheapos. From what I have seen the nicer FFs have a knit base.
  • Ok, so you have now taped every seam on the back. Get the scissors out and start shaving the seam allowances back. On my vertical seams I cut back the seam allowance to 1/8th inch and did a zigzag stitch. Those seams were shaved back 1/8th inch before stitching. So, cut to 1/8th, shaved back 1/8th, and then stitch in a 1/8 ZZ SA. ( From Claire Schaeffer) On my horizontal and curved seams as in hem, neckline, armholes, the fur was shaved back 5/8ths and stitched conventionally and graded back as appropriate. This was because of the lining attachment.
    I tried all sorts of ways to do this, DH's electric razor, his electric mustache razor, and even hair clippors. Nothing worked better than plain old scissors held at a slant and nipping away. This is very tedious and takes a LLLLLOOOONG time.
  • While you sew, wear a mask and an old long sleeve shirt. Otherwise you will be spitting and breathing fur and will be covered with the fuzz all over. When done, walk outside and shake your shirt out. Ideally sewing fur should happen in the summer when you can do the work outside and eliminate a lot of problems, but it doesn't take much to see why that doesn't happen. The mask is critical if you have asthma like me. Keep your puffer handy too, if you use one.
  • Sew with the vacuum cleaner right next to you. You will be sucking up mounds of fur with every seam you shave. I found I could only work on this an hour or so a day. Again, not my type of sewing.
  • And when you are all done, reward yourself with the type of sewing you really like to do, whatever that is. You have earned it.
The lining is one of those poly brocades from Joanns. They actually feel rather luxe because of the weight but are a pisser to sew as well. I taped my shoulder and armhole seams on the lining as well. I added a pleat to the center back.

The placket was the most enjoyable part of this project. No fur! It got me back to some accuracy. I used a tooled faux leather. It is interfaced with Formflex. Rather than stitch and turn the leather, I cut four EXACT strips with the rotary cutter. I then sewed one strip to the lining and the other to the fur using topstitching thread and a 14 HS needle. The strip was layed on the fabrics and topstitched on, not seamed. My sequence for sewing this was rather whacked out as it was too bulky for the traditional vest turning tricks. I sewed the lining to the shell at the neckline and hem only. The vest was turned and the strips matched up. I used Wonder Tape to secure them together evenly with no edges peeking out. I then proceeded to top stitch again. Because of the exact same size of the strips, they matched perfectly and I was able to go over the original topstitching in the same holes and it looked great back and front. I was please with how this came out.

The snaps were installed next with one of those little jiggies. I stained the snaps so they would have a little richer color and that turned out ok too.

I now have a neat little vest to tool around our Adirondacks up here and I think I will get a lot of use out of it. With the proper turtleneck and long sleeve undies I think I will be quite warm. It was 12ยบ when DH took the pic and I was definitely comfortable.

Now I can at least say I have this under my sewing belt. I won't be sewing any more fur soon except for maybe a hat in the summertime. Back to other more pleasurable experiences.......Bunny

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Miss Lily's Summer Jacket.

I must say it has been an absolute delight to sew on this little project. I have been working on it solidly for the last two days and for the most part it is done. Two things remain. The sleeve and bottom hems are on hold until I see how it looks with the dress underneath. I want the dress sleeves hidden. The second bit of attention remaining is some additional embellishment. I am thinking maybe some bullion roses on the collar, top of the back pleat, and maybe on the button. I won't decide this either until the dress is done. We are going for a nice soft balance here. The pattern is Simplicity 4712 OOP. I had a dickens of a time finding a picture but PR to the rescue! I stole it from someone's review! I am making the short little jacket in a size "1/2" which usually translates to a 6 month. I don't think the whole jacket is any more than ten inches long. My fabric is 100% cotton matelasse. Because of the bulk and it's amazing ability to ravel I covered all seams/edges with a Hong Kong finish using a 100% cotton seersucker in a matching shade. Continuing with the effort to eliminate bulk, I decided to not use any facings. The center fronts were extended and inch, HK seam treated, and folded to the inside. The collar was the challenge. First I had to completely finish the collar. I used only one layer of the matelasse for the collar, NO UNDERCOLLAR. The wrong side of the collar is fused to Formflex. The outside seam allowance was removed and the edge was bound. Then I did an outline stitch between the matelasse and the bound edge. I really liked that. Next the collar, which fit beautifully by the way, was basted to the neckline edge. The neckline edge was then bound with the seersucker. Here you can see how the binding was folding back around the CFs and stitched. The neckline binding was completed with hand stitching.

This pattern has an inverted pleat in the back. Again, back to the bulk issue,,,,,I decided to stitch the pleat edges, inside and out to get some control over them. It worked well.

* I apologize for my picture quality. I have had a very difficult time photographing this little garment. Either the pics are too light with the camera to show any detail or they are in the shadows. I know it has to do with this being such a light colored garment but I am reading my photog book and hope to get this figured out. Thanks for your understanding. It will help if you click on the pic to see the details closer up.


We have been in falling snow for the past three days with no letup. I am hoping for a break in the action to get some pics of the vest taken and up. The good news is all that snow has me hunkered down in the cave sewing my brains out. May you all be as lucky!............Bunny

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fabrics and Fur!

Here are a few of the fabrics taking space in my mind right now, sewn or unsewn! The first is Miss Lily's ensemble, white hankerchief linen, soft yellow matelasse, and the floss for the smocking and bullions. There may be more floss colors as this develops. I am thinking of doing the jacket first and given the huge storm they are predicting for tomorrow, I may even finish it before it stops snowing. It will be just a simple little jacket, maybe a pocket. We'll see!

Next are the two pieces I bought for some summer sewing for myself, 3 yards of each. I have a wedding to go to Memorial Day weekend and would love to be able to use the chiffon plaid for that. I am searching patterns right now. Joann's has Simplicity, Vogue, and McCalls all on sale at some point during their next sale period. I believe it starts the 11th. I will be doing some review hopping tonight on PR to check things out.

I finished the handwork on the fur vest. This picture shows the lining being fell stitched to the shaved fur seam allowance. I am not 100% on the success of this garment but I don't think I am ever 100% on the success of any garment. I will try to get some outside pics of me wearing the vest out in our snowy terrain. I will post lots of my frustrations when I post those pics. For now, this one is what I did today, the fell stitching. It is now all done! You know, there really is a big fudge factor with fur. Thank goodness! I am not sure the fudge factor is equal to the frustration factor. I will say I have so much respect for those who tackle entire coats out of the fluffy stuff. Not sure I will be ready for that challenge for quite some time.

Last night I showed you all a picture looking down from the Olympic ski jump in Lake Placid. DH and I were midway and took the pictures from the judges stand. Tonite I will show you the view looking up. Put the two together and you can see where the expression "brass balls" comes from...............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...