Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Bit of Fabric Manipulation

 Scarves made from Japanese obi silk and silk dupioni.  For the dark grey dupioni, I wanted to recreate the lovely organic lines of the branches so I randomly pleated the fabric in multiple directions, crossing each other on occasion and then crushing them a bit with iron.  I've always loved the look and feel of fabric manipulation so I am pleased with the result.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hanukkah!

For Molly and Hannah, two of my little sewing muses!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vintage Duster

I recently had the good fortune to purchase a vintage duster from an antique shop in Concord, Massachusetts.  The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion lists one of its definitions of a duster as a "tan or brown light-weight full-length coat worn when riding in an automobile in early 20th c. to protect clothing from dust."  The material in my coat is a very well preserved linen.  These coats were typically worn with an automobile veil.  Alas, my coat did not have an accompanying veil, and I am pretty certain that, although I look forward to wearing the coat, I lack the courage to wear the veil.

 The coat is a perfect fit with the exception of the sleeve length and the overall length.  Shortening the sleeve will be both interesting and easy since it was constructed with the cuff hand-sewn to the sleeve.  So, it came off very easily and I will turn up the appropriate length on the sleeve and then re-attach the cuff.
As you can see, when the cuff is off, the pocket faces up, which won't work at all.  But, when you slide the cuff back on, it's done in such a way as to resemble a turned up cuff, so it is slid over the bottom of the sleeve and attached there (shown with the very tiny red arrow). 

 One of the many things I found interesting was that when you lift up the flap of this cuff pocket, it is not finished at all.  The fabric had simply been slashed and some hand stitches done to keep the fabric from raveling.  I have no idea what the purpose of this pocket would have been and would be very interested in any thoughts any of you may have. 
I can't wait to finish my alterations and wear my coat.  I'll post pictures!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Embellished Elegance

My sister loves all things Victorian and does enchanting pillows that reflect it!  These pillows are holiday pillows, but she also does beautiful custom work, incorporating special family pictures into works of art.  They are enchanting.  If you want to see more, visit here.  

Vintage Holiday Pillows
Vintage Holiday Pillows 
Vintage Holiday Pillows
Vintage Holiday Pillows

Monday, September 24, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Another Birthday Present Finished!

One more project down!  This is for my 20something niece -- hope she likes it!  It's self-drafted.  Top band is from a suede skin purchased from Fabric Mart.  Inside is silk dupioni and has zippered pocket and key fob.  I experimented with more hardware this time than I usually use and I think it adds a lot to the bag.  On the handle, when I folded the fabric over the ring, I closed it with bronze rivets rather than stitching.  Fun project!

Stay safe this last summer weekend!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Special Presents!

I have a long 'to do' list before I work on something for myself, but I am making progress!  I am seeing my great nieces and nephew on Wednesday, and I don't get to see the girls very often as they live in Pittsburgh, so, of course, it was time to come up with something special.  And, I couldn't have something for the girls without including Dan.

The bags are small wrist purses with pleated fronts and their initials on the bands (Molly and Hannah).  The flowers are two yo-yo's sewn on top of each other and joined with a vintage black button.  They're attached to pin backs so they can take them off the purse if they want.

I have a new favorite construction for zippers and lining.  The zippers are done using a zipper 'sandwich' - lay the lining down right side up, place the zipper down next also right side up and place the outer fabric down last, wrong side up.  Stitch.  You then fold the lining down and you have a complete side.  Most instructions will call for you to topstitch, but I am not always a fan of top stitching, especially on a dressier bag.  So, in order to keep the fabric from catching in the zipper, I press well away from the zipper and I understitch the lining side only.

Do the same with the other side.  Then open it all out and stitch the bag pieces together and the lining pieces together, leaving an opening in the lining to turn.  (Make sure you open the zipper before you start stitching!)

Dan has a special pencil case (lining is plastic).  The embroidery design is from Embroidery Library and I thought their digitizing was beautiful, right down to the faded paper look of the crayon wrappers.

I have about 4 more things to plow through and then I get to sew for me!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Preparing To Sew......

A very talented and creative friend posted this on my wall yesterday.
I just had to share it with my sewing friends!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Finished Jacket

My first Cynthia Guffey jacket is finished.  I have to say, I did enjoy working on it.  It was not a quick project, but it  was not difficult either.  It involved a lot of steps and a lot of handsewing, but I enjoyed the process and I like the result.

A couple of things I may do differently.  I think it would look lovely in a material with a better drape.  I don't mind a boxy shape, so this doesn't bother me a lot, but I do think it would look better with a softer fabric.  This is a one size fits most and I made it up exactly as is.  There are multiple lines for alteration and I think that next time I may shorten the distance between the shoulder and the dropped shoulder seam.  I think the seam is a bit low in the back.  I also think that I could have eliminated some fabric in the back by taking it in about an inch or so.

I love the detail in the band.  It closes easily and looks nice both open and closed.  

 The lining is put in entirely by hand with small whipstitches.  I've shown some detail below.

I will definitely make this again for the fall in a wool or knit.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Jacket In Progress

This is a jacket pattern I picked up at the Worcester Expo.  It's by Cynthia Guffey, and what you see here is a work in progress.  It still has a lower section that needs to be added.  Additionally, there is an inset band with slots that a fabric belt is worked through.  The instructions look complete, but intimidating, so as you can see, I chose to do this instead!

I've had the fabric for a long time and it seems to be a linen/cotton mix.  It is also a cross weave as it is predominantly light pink/mauve, but with taupe fibers in it.  Cynthia makes most of her jackets in hand woven raw silk and she interfaces each piece in addition to lining them.  I followed her example and am interfacing my pieces with wonderful Pro Sheer Elegance from Pam at Off The Cuff.  I'm going to hold off judgement until I'm finished, but I am thinking that I would like this better in a softer fabric -- maybe a boucle that will drape better.  I do like the way the pattern is drafted so that, even though it is a drop sleeve, there is a definitely a little bit of shaping built in at the shoulder so it falls nicely.

The pattern is a 'one size can be altered for most' and alteration lines are clearly marked.  Next time, I think that I may shorten the distance from the shoulder to the dropped shoulder seam by just a bit, but again I'll wait until it's all finished to see.  I'm top-stitching most seams as I go along in a light brown thread.  I'm putting two strands of thread through the needle and stitching at 4.0. 

I don't have a lot of free time this weekend and am trying to take this one slow, but I hope to finish it within the week.  By the way, the scarf is an unexpected match -- it's a piece of obi silk that I purchased on e-bay.  I have simply done a zig zag stitch on the grain and pulled fibers to create a short fringe.  Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Do You Iron With

I am beginning to get tired of constantly refilling my iron during a sewing project.  Not too long ago, I did change over to an iron that has a feature which allows it to stay heated, rather than automatically shutting off after a number of minutes which is very frustrating.  But, the water thing is getting to me.  I've been looking more and more into a boiler iron, something like the Reliable i300 or i500 but it's a lot of money, with no guarantee I'll love it.

I'm wondering what all of you are sewing with.  Have you moved to a boiler iron?  a gravity feed iron?  a special board? 

I'd love to hear from you!


Monday, April 23, 2012

No Cutting Corners

This is the first project I've started since getting back from the Worcester Expo.  At that time, I really made a commitment that, if I am going to sew, I am going to do it deliberately and treat each piece as if it would be judged.  I would like to develop a few perfect fit patterns for my daughter and new daughter in law so I can sew for them.  I've made, and then altered a muslin for DIL and am finally getting around to putting the finished skirt together.  

The first thing I did was a carefully pick apart the final muslin in order to develop a pattern.  Because the seam allowances had been adjusted a couple of times, I did not want to use them.  So, I carefully pressed my pieces without the seam allowances and laid them on top of pattern paper.  For my patterns, I usually use Swedish Tracing Paper which you can easily find on line and it comes in a good size roll.  This time, I used paper I had purchased from Cynthia Guffey at the Expo.  As you can see, it is very transparent, but it is also very sturdy, not at all like commercial patterns which tear easily.  This is my first time using it and I liked it a lot.  I believe you can purchase it from her website.  I laid down my pieces and then established my seam lines, using 5/8 inch for my lengthwise pieces and 1/2 inch for my crosswise pieces (e.g. waist).  I put in my grain lines.  As you can see in the picture, my muslin piece had become distorted and was not the full 2 3/4 inches across the whole piece as it should be and so I drafted my lines to make certain it was drawn correctly.  When making a pattern, I never rely completely on the shape of my muslin.  I make a pencil mark every couple of inches around my muslin piece and then connect those marks with either a straight ruler or a curved ruler, as appropriate.  This is a must if you are to have perfect lines.  Hand drawing just isn't accurate enough.  In the picture below, I have made sure my pattern piece is the adequate width all the way around.  I have drawn in the side seam and the bottom seam.  The top seam is yet to be drawn.  You also want to add in notches so that the pieces match appropriately.

Before I cut my fabric, I pulled a thread on each cross grain to make sure my fabric was perfectly on grain.  I know most of you have done this, but for those who have not, you can see in the picture below with the tiny blue arrow and line, what I mean.  You make a cut in your fabric about an inch from the edge.  Grasp a thread or two and gently pull them the width of your fabric.  In all likelihood, it will break more than once, but you will be able to follow the line that the pulled thread makes and cut along that line.  In this case, my fabric was nice and straight, but often, you will find that the thread will go way off as you pull.  Taking the time to do this step will assure that your garment hangs nicely.  If your fabric is slightly off grain, you can sometimes gently stretch it back.  If it is way off, and cannot be straightened, it is not worth using. 
After I cut out my pieces and done my stay stitching, I took the time to finish my edges before I did any seaming.  I am lining the skirt, so I was not doing any special finishes such as french seams or hong kong seams.  But my fabric was linen and I didn't want any raveling.  Using an overcast foot and a zig zag stitch that was very close together and fairly wide, I stitched the individual fabric edges prior to seaming them.The overlock foot keeps a fabric even as thin as linen very flat.  The foot has a wire in it and you snug the edge of the fabric right up to the wire and the stitch forms over the wire and then back over the fabric.  Sample below.  It is not a very good picture of the foot, but if you look it up for your particular machine, you'll get a better image.  

I just want to show you one other thing in this post.  There is a front center seam in this skirt and I wanted to top stitch it.  An edge joining foot is very helpful in creating even top stitching.  As you can see in the picture below, the foot has a flange in it.  If you position the flange over you seam, you can then adjust your needle position to the right or left of the flange.  In this case, my needle is 3.5 mm to the left.  Once that top stitch is done, do the other side by moving your needle the same distance to the right of the flange.  My machine will no go any further than 3.5 mm so if I had wanted my stitching further away from the seamline, this foot wouldn't be as helpful.  But for this skirt, it worked very well. For my top stitching, I also like to increase my stitch length to at least 3.0 as I think it looks nicer.


I still have the lining to do, but here's a peak.  Sheryl wanted me to incorporate some silk I had from an obi, so that is what the front yoke is done in.  I didn't have enough to do more than the front, so the back yoke is the green linen.  Hopefully today, I'll get the lining in.

 Thank you Cynthia Guffey for prompting me to slow down, enjoy the ride, and put my all into it each piece.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Presser Foot Fun

Those of you who know me know that I am not a quilter and that I don't enjoy doing most crafts other than garment sewing.  I just don't have the patience.  But I did commit to doing some squares for work in order to show people the versatility of presser feet.  I thought I'd share a few of them since they can be worked into garment sewing.  The Spanish Hemstitch foot does beautiful delicate work attaching ribbons or edges of fabric for lingerie and the flat feel foot makes easy work of flat feel seams, though they can definitely be done without a specialty foot as well.  

If nothing else, this little exercise made me learn how to use those presser feet that I've bought on impulse over the years and put away only to wonder each time I came across them, just what it was I bought them for!

Stems use 3 hole foot with 2 strands of 12 weight thread in each
Pintuck Foot
Yarn Couching Foot with free motion sewing
3 Hole Foot With vintage crochet cotton
Ribbon Foot with bias strips of sheer fabric
Gimping Foot with vintage cotton
Edge Joining Foot
Candlewick Foot
Spanish Hemstitch Foot
Flat Fell Seam Foot