Monday, December 27, 2010

Playing With Scissors

Ever have a day when you just don't think you're competent enough to handle a pair of scissors?? Today is one of those days. My first project (after being starved for sewing the whole time I was in school) was Katherine Tilton's Vogue jacket pattern. Definitely a 'me' jacket. I like odd shapes, interesting structure, Asian influences.

And, I wanted to have fun with the facings since they would show through at the neckline. Lastly, I wanted to construct the facings the way I was taught in school this past semester -- no folding or serging the unfinished edge. Rather, sew the edges of your facing and interfacing together and turn to the inside for a beautiful finish.

Well, several things. The right side and the left side of the jacket are different pattern pieces, so that's your first clue you have to be careful. Second, they are so oddly shaped that twice (not once, mind you, but twice!) I finished off the edge that is sewn to the jacket, rather than the unfinished edge on the inside. Third, in school we were using non fusible interfacing, in fact silk organza. So, when I made either mistake I could have taken
it apart and started again. But, no-0-0.

So, my first facing was going to be this lovely shade of green.


My second was this beautiful turquise.

We are now on silver!

I think I may actually have done it right this time. (By the way, your iron will thank you if you remember that in order to do this technique, the fusible side of the interfacing is facing out when you sew it to the facing so that it will face in after you turn it!) I have sworn off fusible interfacing for the time being. I just ordered many yards of different interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply -- none of them fusible:)

Pictures to follow if I ever finish though I'm beginning to think I shouldn't be allowed to play with scissors.

On a serious note, in this issue of Threads, there is a lovely article by Patricia Keay titled Slow Sewing. She talks about taking each project as an opportunity to strive for perfection, to learn a new skill, to add an unexpected detail -- to enjoy the process and not rush through for the result. I really enjoyed it and think you will too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another Chapter

I miss sewing! It's been quite an adventure these last three months. I signed up for 3 classes at the School of Fashion Design in Boston -- Clothing Construction I, Pattern Drafting I and Fashion Sketching I. In addition to 6 hours of class two days a week, my commute adds an another 6 hours into my week. And, did I mention the homework! I can honestly say I've done no sewing except my home work since September. Two more weeks and I'm out. I will definitely drop down to no more than one class next semester. I'm skittish of the commute in the winter -- it's bad enough the rest of the year. And, our son and his fiance are getting married Labor Day weekend, and I'd like to work on staying sane, and maybe even making a dress!

But it has been a wonderful ride -- so many things I didn't know, or didn't know as well as I should - basic skirt slopers and their endless variations, basic bodice slopers, underlining, hand stitching, how to render fabrics in a sketch, hand pricked lapped zippers, hong kong finishes that somehow always intimidated me, but that I now love. And, the inspiration of being in an edgy fashion environment every week -- it has definitely opened my eyes and expanded my horizons. I'm grateful for it all and will continue with it.

But, for the winter, I will be very happy to be back to my sewing and to reading all of your wonderful blogs!

Happy First Candle!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What I've Been Doing

Well, tomorrow is the big day -- first day of school! Wish me luck!

I am missing sewing clothes, but have been busy with accessories. I've committed to our Temple Craft Fair in December so am trying to build up a stash of silk accessories. I've finished about 15 eye glass cases to add to the jewelry rolls shown in previous posts. I've been experimenting with lots of different color combinations and stitches -- I especially like the candlewick stitches.

I'm now concentrating on handbags -- large and small -- example one is below. I didn't use a pattern, but rather let the fabric dictate what I did. It's a pale sea-foam moire with a black dupioni lining. I ended up doing a machine candlewick day lily in black thread on the front with a glass button center. The outside has an open pocket in the back and the inside has a 9 " wide zipped pocket. Handles are webbing.

I also found a wonderful, wonderful new place to spend my money! I love buttons and couldn't leave the ones below in the store. Sigh. Even with all of these, I cannot wait to go back and buy more. I'll use some on clothes, but many will go onto embroidered handbags as flower centers or abstract designs. The pictures really don't do them justice. They are vintage and they are well documented as to decade and material.

On a sad note, daughter Sarah's wonderful little hedgehog, Mrs. Tiggywinkle, left this world on Sunday. She had been sick for several months and Sarah took such good care of her. I saw her on Friday and fed her lots and lots of freeze dried mealy worms, so her last days were happy....

Saw the Richard Avedon exhibit at the MFA on Friday as well -- gorgeous fashion pictures!

I wish you all a New Year of Peace, Health, and Contentment.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Well, I did it! I mailed off a tuition check this morning to the School of Fashion Design in Boston! I'm not enrolling full time -- just taking Clothing Construction I and Pattern Drafting I so I will be in town two mornings a week and will continue to work/teach on one other day a week.

It's a bit intimidating. If I had signed up for nights or Saturdays I may have had a shot at being with people like me. But weekdays! I will definitely be old enough to be everyone's mother -- possibly grandmother!

The anniversary of my father's death was yesterday and I did a lot of thinking about him as I wrote that check. Whenever we shared with him some wild scheme about what we wanted to do in life, he never pointed out the pitfalls. He always said that in five years we would still be five years older, whether we did the thing we wanted or not. With that sage advice, I bit the bullet and mailed the check. I am sure I'll be the only 57 year old in the class. But, I am so excited to begin learning from the beginning -- sewing, drafting , draping, sketching -- can't wait!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rainy Day Cheer

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted! I've been busy with lots of different things. I think I mentioned in my last post that a friend of mine had opened her own shop, The Victorian Cupboard, in Salem, NH. It's lovely shop with lots of fabric, notions, patterns, and talented people! I've been busy there -- we did one children's camp the week before last and another one starts tomorrow.

We're trying to hit a nerve with garment sewers in addition to quilters and other crafters. I just finished the Amy Butler Little Splashes hooded raincoat to display in the store.

Hopefully there will be enough interest to offer it as a class in the early fall. It's a darling coat. As you can tell from how shiny it is -- it is laminated! It's also lined in a very soft cotton. It's my first time working with laminate, which requires a teflon coated, plastic, or roller foot to keep the fabric from slipping. Even so, I did end up with a couple of looped stitches (I did use a microtex needle in my machine). You are also not supposed to pin it, so when you are holding your fabric together to sew you need to use clips. I've experimented with large paper clips, hair clips, etc. and haven't yet come up with a favorite. You also cannot iron it, at least not on the exterior, so it is difficult to get crisp lines. And, of course, it has absolutely no give so it does require a bit of manipulating to do curves nicely. As you can tell if you look closely at the curve on my patch pockets, they are definitely not 100%. On the positive side -- it does not fray at all.

It calls for buttonholes and covered buttons, but I haven't made up my mind yet whether to do those or snaps. It seems as if laminate buttons may be a bit slippery for tiny hands. I also haven't decided whether to make the thread loops for the belt or if I prefer it unbelted.

It has some cute features, like to loop on the inside to hang up your coat by. Definitely a sweet little coat, well drafted and the directions are good.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

It seems like forever since I've posted. I've been busy -- just sort of all over the place. My friend, Carolyn, has opened a shop (Victorian Cupboard Sewing Studio) in Salem, New Hampshire. I am so excited for her and will write more about her shop once the website is complete. But that is where I've been spending some of my time.

I've also been experimenting more with my jewelry rolls....

and small purses...
I love working with silks, and searching for unusual trims and buttons. If anyone has some good sources for very nice buttons in New England, please, please let me know. I'm making a trip up to Delectable Mountain Cloth in Brattleboro, Vermont next week to look around.

I am also very excited because Pattern Review is hosting two on-line classes with Kenneth King on making purses. The first one, which begins a bit later in July is on soft handbag construction and the next one, which is in August, is on structured handbag construction. I'm hoping to get lots of ideas from both of these!

I've been doing a bit of garment sewing -- but nothing yet to post. If only there were more hours in a day...

Monday, June 7, 2010

That Time Of Year

May and June bring so many things, especially Graduations. I really wanted this year to come up with something special for friends' daughters. I finally came up with these jewelry rolls. Those of you who read my blog know that I love to pick up dupioni remnants and have a wonderful source for them at Artee's in Hudson, MA. These are a wonderful use for these remnants and the rolls are fun to make. They have an upper and lower zippered pocket and a band for holding rings or for stringing chains so they don't tangle. I've embroidered names in contrasting thread and tied with grograin.

They make a nice and personal gift for a special girl, especially with a pretty pair of earrings slipped inside!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Window Dressing

Literally, window dressing......

I was perfectly happy with no window treatments other than my fabric shades until I was just browsing for fabric in general and came across this Waverly fabric for $3 a yard. Needless to say, it couldn't stay there! It's a beautiful cotton, that has a sheen and slubs that make it look like silk. And the background sage/grey color was a perfect match for my bedroom. They only had 5+ yards, so I bought it all.

So, what to make? There were two things that I have been wanting to learn so this was a great opportunity. First up, I wanted to learn how to make a simple rod pocket lined drape with a header. And, second, I wanted to experiment with a banner treatment, done by covering a valance board and then attaching fabric with a staple gun and decorating.

I couldn't find everything I was looking for by way of instruction for the lined drape in one place so I compiled it from several. I'll caution that this is far from the only way to do it, and that my method has some short cuts in terms of machine vs hand sewing that would be a no-no to many. But, it made the job easier and in this particular case, didn't affect the final product.

First, I put up my rod, in this case a small metal circular rod with finials at either end. Measuring from the bottom of the rod to where I wanted the drape to end, I then added 6 inches for a 3 inch hem to be turned up twice. When measuring, consider that the tie backs will pull the fabric up so be generous. Additionally, I wanted a header over the rod pocket so I added another 10 1/2 inches and then cut my drapery fabric. My lining fabric was cut 4 inches narrower and 3 inches shorter than my drapery fabric. I turned up a 2 inch hem once and then again on the lining fabric and machine stitched. I then turned up a 3 inch hem twice on my drapery fabric and pinned. This would be hand stitched at the end. You can miter the corners on this -- it will be an uneven miter. I chose not to do that. I bound the small piece of fabric at the side edge with fabric.

I then put my drapery fabric down, right side up and my lining on top of it, right side down, lining up the top of the the lining hem with the top of the drape hem and matching the center of each. Pin the sides. Since the lining is 3 inches narrower, you will need to lift the drape fabric slightly to pin. Stitch at 1/2 inch and then turn right side out. Because of the narrow cut, the drapery fabric will pull to the inside in a nice edge on each side. Don't press, but just finger press to make the turn-in even on each side. Measure from the bottom of the drape and draw a pencil line on the lining where you want the rod to fall. Then, treating the lining and drapery fabric as one, fold over 1/2 inch for a clean edge and then fold over to meet the pencil line you just drew. Stitch very close to that line and then stitch again above it to accommodate the size rod you have chosen. Be generous when you do this so it will fall nicely and not be too tight.

Hand stitch your hem, hang and there you have it. You can make tie backs or use something else. I used a braiding that had all of the colors of the drapery fabric in it. An easy afternoon's work.

I only had 2 yards left for the window in the bath, but I had some beautiful silk that matched and I've been wanting to try a treatment affixed to a valance board. I wish I had taken pictures along the way, but it was quite simple. First, I had a 1 x 4 board cut to the width of window. I needed the 4" clearance but 3" may be fine in many cases. I then covered the board with my lining fabric as if I were wrapping a present, stapling it as I went along. For my banners I cut 1 triangle from my print fabric and 2 from my silk fabric, all cut on the fold. I then cut 3 more out of my lining fabric. Sew each of these right sides together, turn, and finger press. Machine baste lining and fabric together at the top edge. Position the triangles up on your valance board until they look good and staple gun neatly so nothing shows. Install with L brackets either into your wall or window.

Decorate with whatever you want. The fabric on these was so lush that I kept it simple -- covered buttons and tassles. If you were using cording or some other treatment, you would want to think ahead. Some may need to be incorporated prior to sewing the lining and fabric together. Instant gratification!

Since this was my first time, there were bound to be some errors. Next time, I will remember to keep in mind what is underneath my treatment. In this case, I should have made them a bit longer -- if you look to the right, you will see that part of the header on my shade is showing. Live and Learn!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Love Pocketbooks!

Okay, so handbags are one of my weaknesses and I've not fallen in love with one lately. So, I made up one that has been in my stash of patterns for a long time. I used the silk remnants that I talked about in my last post and Vogue 8590. I am pretty happy with the result. It's an interesting shape and was not too hard to make up.

I used the black silk for the sides, handles and lining. The inside has some nice features -- a two-sided pocket on one side, with one of them pleated for a cell phone. The other side has a nice zippered compartment and I used the plaid silk for the inside of that pocket.

The sides each have a pocket -- I love outside pockets for keys, glasses -- all the things that you can never find in your purse!

I used a woven interfacing and wasn't sure I was going to have enough structure, so I ended up interfacing all pieces, except for the ties. I'm happy I did that. It has structure, but not the stiffness of using something like craft interfacing. The bottom calls for a piece of cardboard or plastic canvas. I used the canvas, but used two pieces since I wanted the bottom to be a little firmer. If this still isn't firm enough to keep the bottom from sagging a bit when loaded with sundries, I may add timtex. I don't like when a fabric bag droops.

The ruching on the front and back ended up being easy to do. Below is a picture of it before ruching. You simply made a pocket by doing to rows of stitching, an inch apart. You insert the length of elastic and stitch in the ditch on each side of secure it and voila!

I haven't decided if the ruching is a bit too tight. I'll have to live with it for a while. If it is, I may make the elastic just slightly longer when I make it again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Various and Sundry

I've had a busy week and so have had no time to sew, but I did manage to squeeze in some reading and also some prep work so that I can sew next week. First, to the reading. I have been wanting this book for a while now. I have to tell you, it reads like a novel -- I love it! It is so well written. The first chapter is devoted to shirting fabrics -- what the various kinds are, where to buy them, how to prepare them for cutting and sewing, how to iron them. You can tell David Page Coffin loves his shirts and his fabric -- it just oozes through the pages. It is really a treat. He goes on to a chapter on tools, followed by construction, sewing and so on. He even goes into detail on how to cut with a rotary cutter, how to choose mats for cutting, his penchant for cotton embroidery thread for his shirts as well as plain bleached muslin for interfacing for collars and cuffs.

There is no detail too small and yet it is so readable that he makes even constructing the finest custom shirt seem doable. Have I said how much I love this book?? Definitely, a must have!

My next project is pocketbooks -- I've been wanting to make this for a while now. I'm making the small tote in the upper left hand corner and am going to make it in silk dupioni as shown in the picture.

I'm using the two fabrics in the first photo -- the plaid and solid black. All of the remnants are from a wonderful store in Hudson, MA called Artee Fabrics and Home. It is really custom home decorating fabric, but they have a large section that is remnants and they have a huge selection of silk remnants, both solid and striped. I am kicking myself for not picking up more. My camera isn't doing justice to the green stripe and the nutmeg is showing as more gray than brown. I will definitely be stopping back soon for more if these handbags make up nicely. I cut out my pattern pieces -- 34 pieces -- egad! Hope to sew next week.

And last amid my various and sundry. My kids have been out of the house for several years now and both of their bedrooms still looked as if they paid homage to them. I finally bit the bullet and made one of them my sewing room, with a futon for when my son stays over. I am so thrilled -- I have my ironing board, sewing machine, cutting table, bookcase, cubbies for notions,fabric closet, computer, place to sit and read and, of course, no sewing room is complete without G-d and two of his guards watching over you. My 30 year old son must be cringing that I have not only framed, but put on my blog his young art work!

The only thing that didn't fit into this room is my serger which lives in my daughter's room. No excuse not to sew!