Sunday, January 13, 2019


Sew Serendipity, by Kay Whitt, is a unique book with full multi-size patterns of simple skirts, dresses, and jackets, in contemporary styles.  Because there is so much packed in one book, newbies may find markings and directions a little on the limited side.  But, it is a refreshing change of pace from single use patterns.

I made the skirt above and ended up with a nicely finished and well fitting skirt.  I used two fabrics and incorporated pleats on the pocket and hem done with the ruffler attachment to my machine (which acts much more like a pleater than a ruffler.  The materials guideline for the skirt is below, as is my skirt.  The wrinkling is simply a result of how I've placed it for taking the photo and is not there when the skirt is worn. I did add a lining, not included in the directions. This is where a newbie may run into trouble, but inserting a lining into an A-line skirt can be found easily enough.  Connie Long's book on linings is a fabulous resource for putting linings into anything!

The second skirt I made is shown below, along with the materials guideline.  I made this one with multiple home dec fabrics.  Because of the weight of the fabric I needed no lining on this one.  


All in all, fairly well drafted and a fun change of pace! Unfortunately I've yet to find something to match both of them.  It is amazing how difficult it can be to find the exact taupe and cream and how badly an unmatched one looks.  May have to go with something completely different for a color..


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bento Tee by Liesl & Co, My Woven Tee

I'm not generally a fan of instant download patterns.  I just find the effort to print, tape, and draw off on a more usable pattern paper to be more effort than I can get excited about.  The exception is very small patterns for my grandchildren which require very little paper.

But the Bento Tee by Liesl & Company was either a free download at one time, or it just caught my eye.  I honestly don't remember, but somehow it ended up on my sewing table!.  I don't find the picture on the pattern to be flattering (for me), but I had seen it in other versions and liked it a lot. So don't let the picture discourage you.

It is a Tee, so obviously is meant to be sewn with knits.  But I did my test piece as a woven, cutting a Medium, and flaring it a bit toward to bottom to give me a bit more room.  I made it in a cotton from my stash, purchased a long time a go at Delectable Mountain Cloth in Brattleboro, VT.  The shirt has a short sleeve with cuff option or long sleeve.  I chose the latter, but shortened them to my favorite three/quarter summer length.  It fit perfectly, going over my head easily, even though it was a woven.  The sleeve is dropped which made it comfortable and non-binding. 

I think it's an attractive pattern.  The bottom is constructed so it has two small pockets as a detail in the front.   I liked it on enough so that I think I will make it up in a lightweight sweater material, also from my stash.  I hope it is as successful!


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Laura Heine Fabric Collage

One of the mediums I experimented with when I was 'off the rail' was fabric collage.  Laura Heine has some absolutely stunning collage patterns.  Two of them are shown below.  Basically, the 'pattern' differs in each of the projects.  For the dress form below, you are given the outline of a basic dress form, including the base, and from there you let your imagination run rampant.  I knew that I wanted my dress to have a lot of structure and for the various dress parts to be distinct, rather than simply a lot of random flowers running together.

To that end, I chose two very large blooms and foliage for a well-defined bodice followed by a corset-like structure for the waist, accented by a 'flower' belt buckle.  All pieces are adhered to the base fabric with 'steam-a-seam 2.'

Moving on to the skirt, I again went back to the very showy flowers to create a peplum, and kept the skirt flowers pretty uniform but then set the skirt off with a very stylized 'hem' of violets.  The 'dress' lies on a base fabric and the next step will be to form a quilt sandwich with batting and a backing fabric and to decide how to go about quilting to show off the 'dress' to its best advantage. 

I'm not sure when I'll get back to completing the project, but will keep you posted.  

What I have finished is the Laura Heine "Chirp" pattern below.  For this pattern, she makes recommendations on how to cut and piece the various background fabrics.  She then provides drawings of the bird cages which you can copy onto your base fabric. A light board makes this part much easier.  Finally, she provides the bird drawings for you to cut out of fabric and place onto the background (again with steam-a-seam 2.  All fabric choices are yours as well as any embellishments.  I've done my 'cages' in a variety of ink, and stitching (some by machine and some by hand).  For my birds, I've used a variety of fabrics, buttons, and other embellishments.  I've added in other elements such as the butterflies for some variety and some machine quilting as well.

Once I was happy with my 'collage', I made a quilt sandwich of top, batting, and backing and quilted with a walking foot and straight lines spaced about 1/2 inch apart.  When making my quilt sandwich I used a fusible batting which I fused onto my backing material.  I then used a 'spray baste' to attach my top saving me from having to do any pinning while I quilted.  I started quilting from the center and alternated left and right from that spot. 

The finished collage is hanging happily in my daughter's dining room!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Off The Rail

My, it has been such a long time since I have blogged about anything at all!   I'm not sure why or exactly when I stopped.  Life got busy and took many twists and turns.  We sold our long time home and moved to a condo (with truly wonderful sewing space!); our daughter got married; my mother was ill and passed away; we had our first grandchild; and we are now expecting our second!  So, life just got in the way.  I have recently left my part time job in a sewing studio and feel I can focus a little more on the kind of sewing I want to do, without being distracted by every new and exciting project or notion that comes into the shop! 

But, in the meantime, I have been doing some projects that are very out of my comfort zone.  The first was this sweet baby quilt for our expected grandson.  I remember being in a class with Cynthia Guffey once where she said that those of us who sew garments should not quilt.  She meant absolutely nothing bad about quilting, but simply that there are so many quilters out there who would be delighted to quilt for us but that garment sewers were fewer and further between.  I do agree, but I wanted to try my hand at it anyway!

The fabric is a Hushabye Hollow Jelly Roll by Lydia Nelson for Moda.  The pattern is a variation of an Off The Rail (which is sort of where I feel I've been, so how appropriate!!)  I quilted it myself using a walking foot and curved, organic lines very close together.  I actually liked this part of the project much better than the piecing.  There is a wonderful book called Walk by Jacquie Gering which goes into great detail on how to achieve beautiful designs with lines and a lot of practice. 

I definitely don't see myself becoming a quilter, but I enjoyed the experience which was truly a surprise to me!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Silk Weaving in Lyon

We were lucky enough to be in France and Switzerland this September, spending time in Paris, Provence, Lyon, Lausanne, and Geneva.  We spent only two days in Lyon which, in retrospect, is one of my regrets.  I did not properly do my research and did not fully appreciate the extent of Lyon's contribution to silk weaving.

 Photo of Soierie Saint Georges - Lyon, France

We spent a couple of hours at Soierie Saint-George, on 11 Rue Mourguet.  I don't think this is a location you would happen upon easily if you weren't looking for it.  It was on my to do list as a fabric store, but what it turned out to be is part museum and part storefront focusing on the silk industry in Lyon.  The front of the store features some very beautiful scarves, but in the back  is one of the last weaving workshops left in Lyons today.  Rather than try to reword, I've copied an excerpt from one of the Lyon websites.

Our workshop-store: an essential visit when discovering Lyon's heritage! Soierie Saint-Georges is where you can discover and become acquainted with Lyon's silk weaving history. During a guided tour, discover how silk and gold thread is woven on 19th century Jacquard looms. You'll be given a close up view of how fabrics designed for couturiers and ch√Ęteau furnishings are made. You'll be shown all the techniques that have shaped Lyon's history since the 16th century; all the different stages, from design drawings to weaving on traditional looms. Our store offers the widest range of silks produced in Lyon at attractive prices. You'll be charmed by our ties, headscarves, scarves, stoles, wraps, chiffon and velvet fabrics, and more, all created thanks to traditional know-how.

The Jacquard system, also called the Jacquard attachment or Jacquard mechanism is a device incorporated in special looms to control individual warp yarns. It was in developed in France in 1804-05 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard.  and improved on the original punched-card design of Jacques de Vaucanson's loom of 1745. The punched cards controlled the actions of the loom, allowing automatic production of intricate woven patterns. It enabled looms to produce fabrics having intricate woven patterns such as tapestry, brocade, and damask. Jacquard’s loom utilized interchangeable punched cards that controlled the weaving of the cloth so that any desired pattern could be obtained automatically. 
It was such a lovely few hours and I truly wish I had done my homework a bit earlier so as to get more out of this very special visit.  I guess that will be a good reason to go back some day!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Back when my children were babies, we had bumper pads, blankets, and toys in their crib.  All those things are a no-no today as I'm sure you all know. Sleep Sacks have replaced blankets to keep babies warm over their pajamas.  Eva has a couple but I was intrigued with creating something prettier than the standard fleece sacks without the price tag of the boutique ones.  

I had a hard time finding just the right pattern.  I had seen some pictures on Pinterest that had a two piece front, with the bottom section pleated or gathered a bit and I fell in love with it and bought a similar pattern.  It allowed me to do machine embroidery on the top.  But, the pattern called for shoulders that overlapped with buttons and a bottom zipper which mom didn't see as ideal.  So, using some ideas from the pattern I purchased, I moved on to Butterick and Burda.  But neither were lined, and neither had the separating, upside-down zipper we were looking for.

I began with the top front, doing the machine embroidery I had wanted to include.  I backed the fabric with a lightweight interfacing, and I used cut away stabilizer in the hoop.  The outside fabric is a Kaffe Fasset cotton and the inside is a white flannel.
After joining the top and bottom fronts, I moved on to the zipper.  I chose a 22" lighter weight separating zipper.  I wanted a flap behind the zipper that would keep it away from baby.  I used the same fleece I used as the lining, cutting a 5" width, folded in half, and attached to one side of the zipper.  

 After interfacing the seam allowances where the zipper would be inserted, I attached the zipper to each side of center front.  I inserted the zipper upside-down, with the stop near the neck and the sipper tab at the bottom, both tor ease of changing and also to keep the large tab away from baby. 

I wanted the lining to be secure in the sack so I wanted to attach the lining to the zipper entirely by machine before attaching any other parts of the lining..  After that I topstitched the zipper.  I didn't like where the tab met the bottom, so I inserted a fabric tab to clean the area up.  

Finally, I wanted the lining to be completely finished on the inside, with no exposed seams so I stitched the lining the back and front at the neck and arms, leaving the shoulders free.  I then pulled the lining and outer fabric apart and stitched right side together (leaving some inches open to turn).  And lastly, after turning right side out, I closed the shoulders by stitching the shoulders of the outer fabric by machine and the lining by hand.

All told, I am pleased.  Hope Eva is too!


Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Special Doll - More From Tilda's World

In my last post, I told you that I had become a little enamored with Tilda's World and some of the lovely toys, dolls, and ephemera she creates.  After my two monkeys I decided to try my hand at a doll or my sister's birthday.

This pattern is from Tilda's Summer Ideas.   I think I mentioned in my last post that I find the directions a little skimpy so I watched one of the several videos on YouTube that was very helpful with the construction.  While Tilda does sell her own fabric, hair, make-up, etc., I improvised with materials that I already owned.  I used a coarser material for her skin so that the stuffing didn't show through at all.  Her hair is a very cool yarn and I unwound some of the strands to give it some fullness.  Tilda recommends painting the eyes but I used 5 mm half round eyes.  I also used stamping ink for her blush, but think I will use regular blush make up the next time around. 

I'm a firm believe that the filling makes a big difference and recommend using a very soft fluffy filling. I have found Fairfield to be very high quality.

Also a word about construction which I didn't catch onto immediately.  Being a garment sewer for he most part, I am used to cutting out a pattern piece, placing it on fabric and cutting out the fabric.  But for these dolls (and other Tilda creatures), you trace the pattern on your fabric, stitch your tracing lines, and then cut.  (Picture below)  This is important because it adds a quarter inch on each side.  I didn't realize this when making the monkeys and their arms and legs are thinner than intended.  

 All in all, I am happy with the first try and see lots of room to improve going forward.  I have another one on the burner for another sister at the end of this month and for two grand nieces in March.

Hope to get some real clothes sewing in between!