Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Adirondack Moments !

DH and I have been doing a great deal of hiking lately and I wanted to share some pics I took today. These are of Lake Meacham in upstate NY in the Adirondack Park. This is about 20 minutes from our home. We drive there, park, and get out and hike. This is one of our favorite places to go. We do about 5 miles around the edge of the lake. There is a wonderful campground there.

Despite us hitting 92ยบ yesterday, we still have snow lurking on the sides of the road. How depressing!

My favorite photo, and the one I brought the camera to capture is this one of a velvety bog under the trees that caught my eye the other day while we were walking. It was such an emerald green and even more beautiful in reality.

We play with textures, colors, and structure in our sewing endeavors. I believe those of us who have such an eye use it in all that we do, whether it is hiking, cooking, gardening, or sewing. A beautiful bog, a rushing river, an incredible view, it still is all about balance, color, texture, and proportion, as it would be in any beautiful recipe, perennial garden, or perfectly executed garment. Peace........................Bunny

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ombre Wedding Skirt and Then Some.....

Design Dreamer asked how I was going to treat the back zipper opening. Els suggested see through snaps which I thought was a great idea and part of my original plan. When I did my initial sampling I played with some some selvedge edge and came up with my eventual solution, therefore, when planning my cutting I set up a center back seam with the two selvedges meeting. I did my triple zigzag to close the seam like I had done the other. In the area that would be the bottom of the back pseudo placket I stitched off the edge at an angle. On my first attempt I realized I needed to stitch my seam right where the thicker selvedge turns to fashion fabric or I would have a thick looking stripe down the seam from the right side instead of the fine seam that needed to match the others.
The seam was trimmed up to the zipper opening, pressed to the right side (when looking at the wrong side of the overlay) and then pressed again on the right side. This made the unsewn selvedge opening stack up in a placket.

The lining had an invisible zipper installed. The unfolded right selvedge (from the right side) and lining were stitched into the waistband about an inch from the waistband short edge. This left and underlap for the waistband "hook".
The folded other edge was put in the waistband right up to the sewn short edge as you can see in the photo. When the skirt closed it stacked up perfectly so then I sewed on the hook and eye, the large, flat skirt type, also in the picture. This lined up so nicely and laid down well enough that I won't need any further snaps down the placket. I think the less fussing on this floaty fabric the better. You can still see the width of the placket changing to the narrow seam but I think this is the best solution. It floats and hangs well and stays shut.

The waistband required a bit of treatment as well. It is a layer of lining and chiffon with a layer of interfacing fused to the lining. To keep the layers from shifting I pressed the lining to get a fold on the upper waistband edge. I then put the chiffon on top and basted down this edge. I then pressed it all flat and basted all the edges together on the seamlines. I did not fold under the inside SA. I did not serge it either, all to eliminate bulk. Instead I did the same triple zigzag on the inside edge of the waistband and trimmed it back the same. Once the band was sewn to the skirt and folded to the back I catchstitched to the seam, all to keep the bulk down. The basting was removed from the folded edge of the waistband. I'm pleased with it all.


Who knew? I prefer Fray Bloc to Fray check as it goes thru the wash better in my opinion. I also like the much finer tip for application. It prevents waste and this stuff lasts a long time for me. I HAVE NEVER READ THE DIRECTIONS, just rip the package open and squirt. Did you know you were supposed to put it under hot water 3 minutes. Well, maybe you did. Sometimes my unbridled enthusiasm gets in the way of directions. I do know I felt like I had to knead the tube sometimes to get it out. So now, I will bring a hot cup of tea for me and a hot cup of water to the Fray Bloc down to the studio when I sew. Hmmm.........


After I got three rows done on my smocking I decided I just did not like it. It did not have enough texture and there was too much negative space. I ripped it all out and started over with a different plate, one that is much more dense. I have been stitching away and like it much better than the previous attempt. As ye sew, so shall you rip....................Bunny

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Throwback

My plate for the Halter Dress is from AS&E #74 and called Market Day. However, I am going for texture here only and will not be doing any of the embroidery. Also because of the shape of my bodice I will utilize on the lower half of the plate, not the upper V area. This is not the mindless trellising that I was looking for but didn't realize that until after starting. I find I really have to focus with this one. Today I hope to work on my trench tracing and then the muslin as a respite. This is why I like having these two different types of projects going at the same time. It lets me focus my SADD (sewing attention deficit disorder) brain on two different projects and no UFOs. So back and forth it will be.

Got a Thursday Throwback here for you today. This jacket was entered and won an Honorable Mention in the annual Hoffman Fabrics contest Maybe in 92-93. In this contest, each year Hoffman Fabrics would pick a fabric, usually a nightmare one, that had to be in 2/3rds of the garment or quilt submitted. For whatever reason, I tried to put in so many techniques in this one. I started by quilting the fabric with metallic thread.

The edge has a braid of another Hoffman fabric that abuts piping of the same fabric. I like how that came out. My pockets, real ones, are faced shapes with the edge deliberately left showing. They back of the opening is fabric I made with bits and pieces of silky fabrics and assorted sparklies underneath a tulle layer and then stitched thru. The bottom of the pockets are a piped piece of silk. Overkill? Why I used fell stitches to attach the piping to the outer pocket gets me. Looking back on these things really makes you see where you have gone wrong.

I do like the shoulder treatment here: It is a bias strip applied to the shoulder seam and really quite easy to do.

I think when my kids find this one day it will be "what was she thinking?" But then again, they have learned long ago not to even bother asking that question.....Bunny

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Simplicity 2912

Turns out I had the perfect halter pattern right under my nose. I wanted one with the banding around the bodice and this is right on. I will not be doing the cumberbund in the front. Instead the smocking will go to the waistline. Then I think I will do a sash connecting at the sides. I don't believe I will do the hem band either. I am trying to keep this simple but you all know how lousy I am at doing that. Things just get amplified in my sewing universe sometimes.

I traced off the bodice, doubling it so I could use it to block my smocking. This way I can just pin the pattern piece down on my smocking board and block away. I spent the last hour or so getting the fabric pleated and I am anxious to start stitching. I am looking for something really simple, like a trellis. Those plates that are all trellis seem to work up really quickly and I like that idea. I will get my trench muslin going soon so will be working on both at the same time, my modus operandi, two projects, one with hand work, one mostly machine work..........Bunny

Monday, April 20, 2009

In the Queue

The ombre wedding skirt is hanging out for a while and now it is time to plan my next two projects. The red and white fabric is a cotton/lycra sateen that I plan to make into Burda #119-March-09, a trench. I have a collection of bakelite buckles and am hoping I can pull out the right buckle for the belt. This fabric is quite vivid and the bakelite has a bit of patina at this point so I am not sure I can make that idea work yet. Tomorrow will be time to play with the Bakelite. I am going to underline the trench only and do Hong Kong seams. Tomorrow I will head to town to get the lining. I can't seem to stop making those lining trips!
Next in the queue for my handwork project is a dress for Sophie. I have this darling summer bright cotton floral. What I would like to do is a halter dress with a fully smocked front bodice. BUT, I have an insert I made a while back that you can see on the left. It is way too small for a full bodice but it could still end up being part of the action if I don't find the right pattern. If I find a cute halter pattern I will use the orange fabric on the right for the smocked bodice. I think this will be a really fun dress to make. It is just such fun to work on these bright prints. They are seductive.

My sewing time has cut down the past few days as DH and I have been doing some serious hiking. Today we did ten miles. We are trying to rid ourselves of the winter excesses and this is such an enjoyable way to do it. Isn't there anything we can do to make sewing burn a few more calories?......Bunny

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grey Gardens

I know there is quite a resemblance, but no, that is not me in my latest "ouvre". Tonight DH and I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Grey Gardens on HBO with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange . Drew is wearing the fur coat. It was wonderful. The acting was as incredible as you can imaginefrom these two. The makeup was truly the best I have ever seen in a movie. To see these two women decline physically and financially was near spellbinding. Barrymore's 50 year old arms truly looked like 50 year old unshaved arms. I read she was coated with cheese to get the look. And yes, that is Jessica Lange sitting behind her. The stuff of Academy awards.

The reason I share all this here is because the fashions, from their youth and wealthier times, were just fabulous, as this cute little striped number shows. There were lots of great hats and designer clothing. I really enjoyed this visually. It was one fashion feast after another as they went thru their primes.

If you get the chance to see it on a repeat, please do. I am glad we DVR'd it for posterity. You will love the clothes. You will be enamored of Big Edie and Little Edie. In the mean time check out this link to a great interview with the movie's costume designer.There are more fashion photos we well. ......Bunny

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ombre Wedding Skirt, Style 2327

I've started my skirt for the wedding. It is made with a chiffon which is not acting like a poly but I think is one. The fabric is shaded in an ombre fashion from off white to a soft green on the length of the yardage. I am using as my start the 4 panel skirt you see in the orange. I wanted more fullness for the sheer. There was also an issue with the panel not fitting onto the 45 inch width despite the pattern layout. Add to that the fact that I wanted the ombre stripes to fall in a certain fashion. I decided to split the panel to end up with a seven panel skirt, 4 in the back to give me a CB for my zip installation and 3 in the front giving me no CF seam. I also enlarged the width of the panels to give me more fullness. I remember when I did custom window treatments. We always cut sheers quadruple width for a beautiful window. You just need more fabric with sheers, at least that has been my training. Knowing I wanted the additional width is why I chose this style. There would be less up near the hip/waist and lots at the hem. Hopefully this design will work.

Before seaming the sheer, I did all sorts of sample seams. I wanted the sheer free falling from the waist but needed a zip at CB. I seriously toyed with doing the sheer and lining together in an invisible zip but decided it really would affect the floaty effect. With the layout I was able to have the CB seam of the sheer on the selvedge. With sampling I decided to do the two layers separately. The finish I decided upon was a triple zigzag with a 1.o width and a .7 length. Once sewn the seams are then trimmed back to the stitching. Why this finish? My preference would have been a fine french seam but I am dealing here with on grain to on grain, bias to on grain, and bias to bias seams. I just know that the french seam would give a pulled finish in this sheer fabric once the hem hung out, so that was out. Next I tried a straight stitch which I planned to do double and trim back but this did not hang out as well as the zigzag. The triple zigzag gave me strength as well as stretch for the seam as it hung out. This was trimmed back with a rotary cutter to the stitching line. A note here about the thread - I had some decisions to make. I needed a lightweight thread for the chiffon. I did samples with matching thread but made the eventual decision to sew the stitch with a size 80 embroidery thread( very lightweight) in a color that was not a perfect match. This is because lightweight threads come in a limited color range. The lightweight thread gave a better stitch than the regular thread I tried. I also used a size 8 needle. So it was not a perfect color match but a great stitchout with the lightweight thread. Now for the ACKKKK....
I got the skirt put together so now it was on to the lining. I had some nice poly rayon shirtweight for this. I needed something a little heftier to prevent show thru. I didn't want to wear another slip under this. I got the CB seam sewn as per El's intructions in her fabulous tute on invisible zips. Then I moved to the serger to finish the seams. I stitched away, hit the ironing board, and when I went to iron the seams from the right side it was nasty time. I caught the smallest doggone pleat under the knife and ended up with a nasty hole. Ok, so at first I decided to repair this thing. Fugetabotit! I put the sheer over it and you can clearly see the repair. I went digging in the stash and found a silk taffeta that would work beautifully but really don't want to use that. So tomorrow it is off to shop for a lining that is dense enough for modesty but light enough for a floaty skirt. Cross those fingers..............Bunny

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Organizing Hint

My copy of New Look 6421 has been well used. You can see I have traced off several different sizes of this pattern. My latest effort, the camo jammies, was the largest size so did not require tracing off. Now, how to store these patterns? You may have seen my tute on pattern folding. But this pattern is beyond that. There are three different sizes traced off. I fold them up laying the pieces in the largest piece of the bodice. Then it is pinned together as shown in the pic. I know I will be using this pattern again in the not too distant future for my little twin Zackie.

At Staples I found the envelopes that you see in the photo on the left. It is made of a product similar to page protectors. I had to buy it in a group of various colors. The envelopes are see thru and close, envelope style, with a piece of velcro. These envelopes are page size and clear. You can tuck in the traced off patterns as well as place the original pattern envelope in the front for viewing. I think this is a great solution for TNT heirloom patterns where you are tracing off various sizes over several years. I stumbled onto this solution yesterday while finishing up filing some tax information.

My next organization challenge are my magazines. I have a few ideas on that one.


Martha, of Southern Matriarch, has done an incredible tute on seaming bishops. She gives two methods, both of which she has used. This is the stuff of heirloom legend so check it out....Bunny

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Camo Jammo!

We have gone from frilly hats to macho jammies this week! My grandson wanted what he calls "army jammies" and of course Grandma acquiesced. This was made with a pretty heavy flannel from Joanns. It was washed twice and really held up well so props to Joanns for a decent flannel. I know sometimes they are not the greatest but what do you expect for 2.00 a yard? This one was a few dollars more. Anyhoo, this was made with my TNT jammie pattern, New Look 6421. I can't tell you how many times I have cut this pattern. I have traced off nearly every size at this point so need to do a little reorganizing to store it.

On these jammies I usually do piping on the sleeve cuffs, pants cuffs, CF, collar, and pocket. This time, I decided to pipe just the collar and pocket. I didn't want to add much more bulk to the fabric, just accent those two details. 99% of the time I do a mini piping, made with my pintuck foot. But because of the heft of the flannel, I decided to do a regular size piping and used my Creative Foot which worked very nicely. One thing unique about this pattern is that they have you slant back the piping as it reaches the bodice. You can see a picture here:
Normally, I just run my piping to the end of the fabric in a straight line, removing any cord that might be in the seam line. But again, I am nearly always using a tiny mini piping.
It is now time to move on to the next project.That may require some diddling with my small stash for inspiration. I also have to make the skirt for my wedding ensemble. I am still not solid on that one. The fabric is ombre, shading from an off white to a soft green so the challenge is there to best utilize that "ombre stripe"........Bunny

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vogue 8052 Hat

ETA: DH took some pics of the hat on his favorite hat model this morning, so I have done some delete, cut, and paste here.

My little retro hat is done. Today is a bad hair, no makeup day so I definitely would not do it justice. It does look cuter on but I find I also need to get a comb and stitch it in the hat so it will stay on a little better.

This was really fun to make. The fabric is an embroidered dupioni from the stash. Yesterday I did the stuffed, wired tubing. The pattern has you do the "double the cord needed and use the uncovered half to pull the fabric over the cord" method. Oh, did I say a 19 gauge wire goes in here at the same time as well? I fiddled and diddled way too long with this and decided to just do it "my way." That way was using a Fasturn tube turner. I had to cut more bias. I was able to stuff the cord and easily turn it at the same time. Then I folded the tip of the wire so it wouldn't be sharp and just easily pushed it up and thru the stuffed tube. Moral? Go for the Fasturn, forget the pattern. I also was a little paranoid before starting it "my way" and decided to stitch the tube a little wider. I didn't get tight firm tubing because of that but what I got worked just fine.
Next the pattern has you cover the wire form. It does suggest a "designer's tip" that to be authentic one might want to sew the cover to the frame. It doesn't offer any alternative so make sure you follow the "Designer Tip". The cover has to be on the bias with center front. That way it can be stretched easily where needed most. I pinned and pinned.
This looks pretty messy but it got much better. First I pinned the cover to the frame. Then I cut it back to about an inch. Then, very important, I basted the cover to the frame. Trimmed again. Then I was able to turn the hem and stitch it to the frame. I would release about 2 inches of basting, roll and whip, then release two more inches.......Next the pattern has you cut out a circle on the center of the attached cover and glue a fabric circle in its place. The reason being? Ya got me. What I decided to do, because I wanted a smooth finish to the top of the hat, was take a circle of fabric, fuse two layers of fusible fleece to the wrong side, and then gather up the edges, yo yo style.

Now I could put the flowers on. I got a silk hydrangea from Joanns. The flowers were pulled off one by one and glue gunned to the hat. Thinking it looked just a little blah, I came up with some shaded organza ribbon. I made leaves out of the ribbon and tucked them here and there into the hat. I think the leaves really add to the finished product. What you see below is the view from above the hat.

DH gave me a wonderful camera a couple of years ago with all the bells and whistles. I only discovered a couple of weeks ago that I have a remote for it. Once I get cleaned up I am anxious to try the remote to take the pictures. I think a bit of manual reading is in order first..........Bunny

Monday, April 6, 2009

Some Q & A

All of the comments on Sophie's Easter dress have been lovely. I really want to thank you all for your encouragement and support. It amazes me how this community makes us all better at what we love to do and I thank you for that.

If anyone is contemplating some bullion work, I have a fabulous book to recommend. I pull it out whenever I start some bullion embroidery. A book on bullions? Yes! It has such explicit, beautifully photographed pictures of all you need to know and more. I dig it out and open it up next to me whenever the bullion bug calls. This book is invaluable, having more info than you could ever imagine. It's a great addition to the embroidery library.

I have had some questions since I have posted the sailor outfits for the twins and Sophie's Toile dress. Let's see if we can do some answers here. For those not familiar with AS&E, it stands for Australian Smocking and Embroidery and is published by Country Bumpkin in Australia.

Martha asked which plate I used for the smocking. It is "Pretty Poppet" from AS&E #81. I love this magazine. It really sets the bar.

Cissie asked about my email. It is Bunnypep at wildblue dot net. Remove the spaces and change the at to @ and the dot to . You may get caught in my spam catcher so that could explain the difficulties but I know a few posters have come through.

Julia asked how I learned to smock. I taught myself for the most part, as is the case with most of my sewing. DD announced the birth of their little girl and I decide it was sewing fantasy time. I bought and read every book and magazine I could find. I did take a class with a lovely teacher named Kitty in New Hampshire at Peggy Ann's. I also joined a SAGA group when I lived there. With all my sewing, I research, I study, I sample, I try and try again. It is a constant quest.
Julia also asked about back smocking. Back smocking is done on the back side of the bodice. It holds all of those little pleats in line. For a long time I did a cable stitch to back smock and this would "split" the pleats on the front. Now I do an outline stitch, repeating each row exactly as the previous. This helps the rows line right up like soldiers. It is really important, whether cable or outline, to repeat each row exactly. That is unless you are going for the split pleats.

Gwen asked if I did any heirloom sewing for myself. I do try to transfer the techniques of heirloom to clothing I can wear myself and yes, they are definitely wearable. I love linen and it works up beautifully with pinstitching. You can see some efforts on this post.

Julia mentioned purchased piping. I don't think I have ever used purchased piping. It is just too easy to make your own. I had some difficulty finding the proper color fabric for the piping on Sophie's dress. I had to settle for a poly cotton blend to get the right color for the piping. It rippled like crazy no matter what I tried. I threw out more piping than you can imagine. The moral here: Use natural fibers!

I have started on my next project and it should be a quicky. Today I did all the wired, corded tubing for the Vogue hat I am making for the wedding. More tomorrow.........Bunny

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sophie's Toile Easter Dress

Sophie will now be able to wear her Easter finery. This is "Pretty Poppet" from Australian Smocking & Embroidery #81 with a caveat. That pattern only goes up to size 3. I used the simple sleeveless bodice of McCalls 4357 to help draft this design up to a size 5. This is an OOP pattern with just a plain, simple bodice. I needed to turn the bodice into one with a yoke. The back needed major work as the pattern used a zipper for closure. Pretty Poppet had a scalloped, piped button closure. So it took some effort but I am really pleased with the results. DD told me she wants this to be a "short" dress and it will be worn with knee socks and Mary Janes, a la retro. I like that she is going for that look. Most heirloom patterns are near ankle length and at Sophie's age I think she will be darling with her knees showing.

Bullion roses are the Holy Grail of heirloom sewing. I have been on a steep uphill climb with my efforts. These are the first bullion roses of the many I have made that I am really happy with. I tried not wrapping my "petals" so close to the two center bullions, instead letting them splay out a bit more. Result - better roses.

I absolutely love the back of this dress, the sash keeper at CB, the piped pseudo sash, the scalloped, piped closure, the MOP buttons. I just love it. The sash keeper is a big loop at CB. The sashes are piped and just simply passed thru the loop, not at all fussy like a big honkin' bow. I will definitely do this treatment again.
You can see how the sash has a little pleat stitched down and it is then inserted into the side seam. Luv it.

Then there is the "growth tuck". Really, most sewists of this type of clothing don't need a growth tuck. They are already on to the next dress as their little princess gets taller. But they look good. The big advantage of growth tucks, in my opinion, is that they make a killer speedy hem. You just tuck the raw edge of the hem inside the tuck and stitch away. Hem done in minutes! I also like the way it makes the skirt stand away. This may look a little wonky in the photo, but trust me, it's perfectly straight and even.
This fabric is "Tulip Toile" from Waverly. I picked it up in clearance at Joanns. Hey, sometimes you just hit them right. It has a linen texture but is actually 100% cotton. I used FusiKnit in the bodice for interfacing the yoke as well as the backclosure. The piping was made with a poly cotton blend, not something I will do again. I threw away more piping than I installed. I have made tons of piping and rarely use a synthetic. This time I did because of color matching. It gave me more ripples than you can imagine so there was a lot of chucking.

This will go out in the mail Monday morning along with Jack's "Magic Treehouse" books for Easter. He loves reading those books and Grandma loves to encourage reading. Am I being sexist here? Pretty dresses for Sophie, books for Jack? Let their mother worry about it..................Bunny

Friday, April 3, 2009

Side Wrapped Heirloom Lining

Finish all the peripheral details. In this case it meant the back skirt placket, the piped sashes, and the sash keeper.

Seam the dress at the shoulder seam only. Do the same for the lining. You can see how the front skirt is already attached but not the back. It has to be because the yoke attaches to the skirt mid armscye. This is standard procedure for smocked yoke dress.

Next the piping needs to be attached to the armscye. After that the piping is attached to the neckline and center back closure. The sides and bottom edge of the lining remain open and unstitched.

The lining is then stitched to the dress at the armscyes, neckline, and center back. Stitch again 18th inch from the original stitching line. Trim back to the last stitching line. You can see one trimmed armscye and one not trimmed in the pic.

Turn the lining by pulling the back bodice thru the shoulder seam area. Press.

Attach the skirt backs to the bodice back. Do not include the lining.

In the picture you can see the lining bottom edges turned back for clarity.

The sides of the dress are now placed together taking care to match the piping at the armscye edge. The front lining is now WRAPPED over the underarm seam. You now have four layers, skirt front face up, skirt back face down, back bodice lining right side up, front lining now wrapped around and and wrong side up.

Stitch the side seams of the dress. After stitching I serge the seam with a three thread as well. The seam is then turned at the lining. You will see the bodice side seam and lining ARE VERY SECURE, great for holding the sash. This technique secures all the side seams in one line of stitching that is then automatically finished when turned.

Why do it this way? For one, it enables you to do all piping, and other details as well, in the flat. It also makes for a very secure finish to the lining installation as well.

I hope this was clear. All that is left to do on the dress are the button holes and a good press. I am pleased, more than I thought I would be at the beginning of this project. It did kind of take on a life of its own. The good thing is I have it done in time for DGD to wear for Easter. In the mail tomorrow, that is, after all pictures are taken!.....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...