Friday, September 30, 2011

Vogue 8674 Done and Jalie 2919 Giveaway Still Open

Vogue 8674
Yesterday was finally sunny enough to get some pictures....and cool enough to want to wear this jacket/capelet.  Vogue 8674 is an easy pattern with bust cup sizing and the potential to work nicely in a variety of fabrics.  My version is from a wool/nylon nubby weave with a thin wool gauze like back layer.  The vest portion is lined with Bermberg rayon lining.  The two layers of wool make for a warmer than expected capelet.  

I made two major deviations for this project.  I had these four vintage buttons and worked out how to add them with in seam buttonholes  Blog entry with in seam buttonhole details  I love how they look and how they work, just slipping into that inseam quckly and without any buttonhole stretching.  I've known about this technique for years and finally got to use it and am happy with the results.  I also don't miss that top fifth button since the collar has plenty of overlap and also doesn't rub against my neck.
Button sliding through that gap
This edge didn't do justice to this fabric.
The second alteration to the directions was my use of real grosgrain/petersham as a facing.  The directions say to just turn the edges twice and topstitch for the capelet part of the jacket.  That would be too bulky in this double weave fabric.  But the serge and stitch down a small hem looked a little too cheap, even with mitred corners, so I came up with this solution.  
Testing the petersham as a facing
Two years ago Fabric Mart bought out a millinery supply shop and I grabbed several rolls of hat band petersham for a song.  I"ve mostly used the petersham in skirt waistbands and love the crisp and stable finish it gives.  So I pulled out the roll of grey and it was a terrific color match. 
Pinning petersahm
 Yards and yards of pinning...
I mitred corners at the cape's six corners and placed it carefully over the serged and turned edge.  Since the two fabrics had a tendency to move a little, I used a very narrow zig zag when sewing the two edges and that kept them together with a small amount of ease.  I like the designer detail it gives to a very casual garment.
Outside edge with two rows of stitching

Petersham/ real grosgrain is generally made of rayon and you can tell the real thing because the edges have very definite loops.  You can steam it into curves, whch is why it is so nice for waistbands and hat insides.  The Sewing Place sells real petersham  Don't be confused by the polyester grosgrain that you can buy at chain stores.   Look at the edges and you will see that they are smooth and unribbed.  You will not be able to shape polyester grosgrain. 
One more reminder.  I'll be selecting a winner for the Jalie 2919 pattern on Monday, Oct. 3 so please leave a comment, if you haven't done so already.  I'll be away overnight celebrating my anniversary this wekend (24 years!) and will post a notice on Monday.  Hope you have a happy weekend in your part of the world.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Serger Scarf Class with Pamela Leggett

If you've been reading since May you'll know that I've become a huge fan of Pamela's Patterns by Pamela Leggett  Pamela's website  She teaches at a beautiful store 2 hours north of me, Steve's Sew and Vac in King of Prussia, PA.  When a special sewing BFF was ready for a road trip, we signed up for a class and got in the car.  Since we were already making the drive north to PA,  we couldn't miss making a stop first at Fabric Mart.  I had remarkable restraint and only bought two pieces.   
The highlight of the day was taking this class with Pamela.  The serger scarf class is based upon the instructions from her article in this month's issue of Threads.  
Serger ruched scarf
The basic directions are quite simple.  Cut a piece of silky fabric 2 yards long and 25" wide.  I used a silk chiffon from the Anna Sui collection at Fabric Mart a few summers ago.  Use your serger to make a rolled edge on all four sides.  
Rolled edge from front
Major tip from Pamela.  I usually use Sulky water soluble stailizer for my serger rolled edges.  But Pamela taught us to iron 1/2" or 3/4" of fabric to the wrong side, then serge just along that folded edge.  Afterwards, carefully trim off the remaining fabric.  Wow, very nice rolled edge with some weight.  
Rolled edge from the back with that overlap to be trimmed
Then draw a series of parallel (or random, if you prefer) lines with chalk and coverstitch across the width of the scarf.  I used 3" parallel lines.  By using the serger's highest stitch length and highest differential feed, you create ruching.  Bring the coverstitch threads to the back, knot all thre threads and dot with seam sealant. 
Ruching from the front

Ruching from the back

I like how my scarf turned out and think this would look especially nice in a wider version for a shawl with texture.  

I loved having time with creative, talented women who love fabric, color and design.  Those are the things that make a class like this so wonderful and energizing.  We didn't get back to my house until 11pm but we talked and laughed the whole way home.  Great sewing karma day.

Friday, September 23, 2011

In Seam Buttonholes in Progress

Hope there's sunshine where you live because all week long it's been grey and humid and rainy here.  Not enough light to take good pictures of the dark grey jacket/capelet so I'll just share some of the in seam buttonhole details.
Earlier in the week I cleaned out my enormous button stash.  Three of the Walmart Matchbox car storage bins were filled with buttons as well as another overflowing basket....and still I had to usually go out and buy just the right button for a project.  I have stopped stashing buttons and have now organized the ones I think I might use in the future and am selling the bundles of remaining buttons as a group on craigslist.  I'm down to just two of those storage bins, hooray.

This Vogue pattern 8674 calls for five 1" buttons for view B.  I only have four of these vintage 1 1/4" buttons but I can make it work.  The mother of pearl gleam looks lovely against the dull, nubby grey wool.  I don't like collars too close to my neck  (I seldom ever wear a turtleneck) so the four buttons will work just fine for the body of the jacket.  But they are big, bigger than I like to use with a standard machine made buttonhole.  Maybe four bound buttonholes.... and I seriously considered doing that....for a while at least.  But this fabric is thick and I'm not that good at bound buttonholes yet and I wanted to get this project done and....and.... and.  You get the picture, I didn't want to make those bound buttonholes.  Snaps, yes, that's always a good answer especially since they are on RTW everywhere.  I have two sets of beautiful large decorative snaps from M&J Trim in NYC....but only purchased three and I really want the four closures.

Then you wonderful  bloggers came to my rescue.  Carolyn's post  Diary of a Sewing Fanatic referenced Barbara's post Cat Fur Studio post  about the CJ jacket.  I had already read it and liked the double collar but this time the "in seam buttonholes" just jumped off the page.

Now I had to re-engineer the front and lining patterns.  It took me a day to figure out how to 
a) widen the front for the larger button 
b) eliminate the "lined to the edge" front seam and make a turned back self-facing 
Seam added and 1" opening marked for buttons.  Red marker means "Add SA when cutting pieces from fashion fabric"

c) mark the pattern for the in seam buttonholes 
d) adjust the lining with the accompanying in seam buttonholes on the back.  
Seam sewn with thin fabric selvedge for stabilizing the seam....repeat four times
As I've mentioned before, this is where a low grade in HS Geometry comes back to haunt me.  I'm slow at figuring out these details correctly but patience is ultimately a virtue.  
front edge of jacket with buttonhole
from the jacket back, buttonhole 

two seam allowances anchored together for stability
I also consulted my sewing reference library for some assistance.  Claire Shaeffer's 1994 "Fabric Sewing Guide" has a very short segment on in seam buttonholes on pg. 308.  After figuring this procedure out on my own, my third Google search found this very helpful explanation.  In seam buttonhole instructions at Power Sewing by Sandra Betzina  
But what did I do incorrectly?  After figuring out all of these new details, I ended up reversing the button and buttonholes sides to the jacket. Hmmmmm.... Those four buttons are looking good but they will feel a little awkward each time I button them.  Luckily, no major issue for me....but easy to see why I'm not a fashion designer.
Next pics, the finished jacket.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blogaversary and Jalie 2919 Giveaway

To quote The Little River Band,  "Happy Anniversary, baby, I've got you on my mind."  I'd love to have some other wise, pithy or humorously insightful remarks about my first year of blogging but that's the song that keeps running in my mind today.  This little blog has been a delightfully creative and social outlet and much more fun that I anticipated a year ago.  Back then I felt some trepidation about the commitment and my blogging skills.  It's still unfamiliar technology but it's becoming more comfortable and that keeps my mind feeling a bit younger.  (I think I even surprised my friends' 22 year old son when I mentioned "my blog."  He would generally see someone my age as still dialing a rotary phone.)  And blogging makes me more accountable for my sewing time and a generally unfocused dilettante like me can always use more focus in her life.  

Let's celebrate with a giveaway.  You saw how much I've been enjoying the Draped Cardigan Pattern from Pamela's Patterns.  No, I'm not giving that one up but how would you like the Jalie 2919 cardigan?   Postage is on me anywhere in the world.

Please leave me a comment (with your email addy) and I'll put you in the drawing to be held in two weeks on my real wedding anniversary, Oct. 3.

What else is new in my corner of the sewing universe?  I feel physically lighter this week, for one thing.  Last week my Craigslist fabric sold to a sweet young woman starting the Fashion and Design program at the local college.  Hooray for her getting quality fabrics for a terrific price and hooray for me seeing them go to a creative home.  Other fabric remnants and leftovers as well as patterns went to our ASG sewing group on Saturday.  I brought about 10 pieces and only came home with one new one for my collection.  Anything that our group did not want is donated by a member to Iraqi women so another hooray for all of us.  

Of course, as I am making the final decisions about which fabrics to sell or give away, I'm always handling those fabrics once again.  This double sided wool was just too nice to see leave.  It's a nubby wool and nylon on one side and a thin lightweight woven wool bonded to the back.  I'm using it to make a lightweight cape/jacket from this Vogue pattern#8674.  It's one of their bust cup size patterns 

Yesterday I cut out a quick muslin to check the sizing and today I've cut out the jacket itself.   
Normally I don't examine layout instructions too much anymore.  We can call that experience or perhaps complacency, depending on a good outcome or not.  Thankfully I did check them out because they reminded me to cut the two cape pieces with the nap going in the same direction. Whoops, would have missed that so thanks, Vogue, for starring the layout.  

Ok, gotta get sewing that project.  Thanks to your sweet comments, commiserations and conversations all year long.   I'm more excited than ever to sew more and blog more this year.  Cheers!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cool Weather Cardigans

I needed some fun, easy sewing to do this week.  Fortunately I had cut out three of the Draped Front Cardigan from Pamela's Patterns more than a month ago.  The middle of the week brought us delightfully cool weather and I was ready to handle the sweater knits for these cardigans.  It was simple to sew one a day and now I have several new outfits for this lovely fall weather.

First up, leopard sweater knit version.  It's soft and so cozy to wear.  I didn't snap a shot but this cardigan also looks wonderful when it is belted closed....even on my rectangular body.  I'll catch a shot of that styling one of these days and post it for you.

The next version is a navy and green sweater knit, again from Fabric Mart years ago.  It's terrific with jeans and must be mostly wool since it is quite warm but still lightweight.  
Blue and green herrigbone patterned wool knit

The last one is sewn from wool jersey that I washed once...and discovered that the moths had gotten to that piece of fabric.  I was able to cut it out single layer.  I had one Swiss cheese-y piece of fabric at the end...and I might use it to make some embellishments. This last cardigan is a little bland without "something" which is why I posted it with a scarf.  Any other styling suggestions?

Pamela recommends using lightweight Heat and Bond to bond the turned in facing before doing the topstitching on these cardigans....unless the fabric is too lightweight to support it.  I did not add the Heat and Bond to any of these cardigans.  But that last one needed some support for the 1" turned in facing.  I looked over my decorative stitches on my Viking 770 machine and used stitch 1-14 as a tone on tone decorative stitch.  I like the weight and stability it added without any extra bulk.
Nearly invisible decorative stitching

After three sweater knits in a week,  time to swiffer the sewing room floor and also clean out this bobbin case.  Dust bunnies anyone?

Since I love having this blog as a way to do some personal recordkeeping, I also wanted I'd share the books I've been reading in the last month.

Was anyone else as crazy about "The Little House..." books as I was?  I received a copy of "The Little House in the Big Woods"for Christmas when I was nine and became a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan for life.  This book is sort of a "project memoir."  Wendy McClure isn't attempting to write a biography but is exploring her fascination with the novels by researching the author, her family and her various homes.  It was funny (buying an Ebay butter churn and making butter at home) and sweet (describing her childhood desire to explain her modern world to the real Laura.)  I enjoyed reading some things I did not know about the books and the people.  But I wanted to enjoy it tremendously and that didn't happen.  Actually, that's the theme of the book in some way.  Our imaginations and love for Laura Ingalls Wilder are so great that inevitably the real, messy details of a genuine life are disappointing.  So I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from reading it, but to perhaps lower your expectations and you'll feel satisfied.

Here's a British novelist who I am crazy about and am always eager to read her latest release.  I think of these as elegant, thoroughly readable, modern family novels.  In her latest, Joanna Trolloppe tackles the shifting allegiences among families when sons marry.  Whether you are the daughter-in-law or the mother-in-law, you'll probably be examining your own relationships along the way.

I was influenced this summer by a lovely friend who is always listening to portable books.  I've never been too attracted to what I used to call "books on tape."  (doesn't that date me from another century?)  But I gave it a try this summer with two fabulous results.
Mr. Lucky and I listened to this book in the car over the course of several long road trips.  It is the story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic medalist at the 1936 Olympics and WWII B-24 flight navigator.  His plane crashes into the Pacific and he and his two companions spend 46 days adrift in a liferaft.  The descriptions in this section are frightening and also mysteriously beautiful at times.  Then they are "rescued" by the Japanese and suffer years in POW camps.  Laura Hillenbrand (who wrote the wonderful "Seabiscuit") does the most wonderful job of combining painstaking research with personal, drmatic narrative.  At times the scenes were so intense that they were hard for me to listen to...if I had been reading I believe I would have skimmed over them.  But the experience of listening to this book made me focus on all of it and I'm so very glad I did.  The subtitle, "A story of survival, resilience and redemption" is the perfct description.  

I heard about this book, "Let's Take the Long Way Home," on NPR one day and took it out of the library, this time in the "play and go" format.  These are small pre-recorded book players.  You insert your own battery and headphones and you have a very small portable book in your ear.  I listened to it while walking and in my sewing room and kitchen.  Very, very handy device.  The book itself is a lovely memoir and tribute to the deep friendship of two women and the pain of losing a very special friend to cancer.  I guess I'm at the age where I'm experiencing and seeing those losses which made this book so true but also so very sad.  Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp were writers, dog lovers and friends extradonaire.  The book is instrospective and unflinching as it tackles their deep love for one another and Knapp's harrowing experience of dying within weeks of stage four lung cancer.  It's a difficult story and I ached for Caldwell's loss but I was inspired to make sure the friends in my life know their meaning to me.

Well, after a week in which I had to draft and send an answer to a hurtful, unjust accusatory email, it's a delight to be blogging about good things and sending them out to you, kind and gentle readers.  Here's hoping everyone's week is a good one.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sewing on My Mind and Simplicity 3701

Wow, I go away for a week and now all I want to do is read blogs and catch up on what you are working out there in sewing blogland.  Mr. Lucky, the dogs and I have been visiting long time friends in Vermont....yes, right after Hurricane Irene had devastated so much of the state.  Their home on Lake Bomoseen was not harmed but we did see hundreds of utility trucks returning to the middle states after their hard work in New England.   Although we had rain for much of the visit, we also had wonderful walks, talks, lake boat ride and well as this magnificent sunset.

Right before leaving I did sit down and sew up two new aprons for moi.  I've been culling my fabric resource center (a never ending Sisyphean job), posting some woolens on Baltimore's Craigslist  
 and deciding what to sew in the next  month and a half that we'll be here in Maryland.   
2nd apron with Fabric Mart fabric

August was a heavy canning and cooking month and I noticed that I could use an apron of my own.  I made one for Mr. Lucky from Threads magazine instructions  a year  or so ago.  Patternreview with Mr. Lucky's apron While cleaning out patterns I noticed this Simplicity Daisy Kingdom pattern which fulfilled my needs for full coverage and some adjustability.  

What did surprise me was that I would need alterations even on an apron pattern.   I had to raise the bottom portion of the apron 2" to make the ties hit me at my waist in the back.  I know that I am short waisted and have high hip fluff but wow, that was a major torso alteration.  On the first apron, made with some crab themed quilting cotton that a friend had given me, I cut a seam right above my waist and took out those two inches to make the back ties more comfortable.  
Apron with crab applique

Back ties with that adjusted seam showing
The second apron was made with some quilting cotton that I picked up at Fabric Mart last year expressly to make myself an apron.   I like how both of them turned out and am now busy cooking up a few things for tonight's garden club meeting.  I'm a last minute hostess since one of the women fell and hurt her wrist and can't cope yet with baking and cleaning in time.  It's soggy in our yard so not much of a showing but here are a few things in bloom.  
Japanese anemones
Black-eyed Susans, the Maryland State Flower
One of the garden pots that did not burn out in the summer drought
I'm eager to see what everyone else has been sewing, especially since this is National Sewing Month.  Guess I'll have to get busy on some projects of my own to celebrate appropriately.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

One for You, One for Me, 100 for Everyone

Hello, lovely readers and friends I have yet to meet.  It's back to school time here in the US, a time I always consider the real "new year."  My enthusiasm for sewing perks up once the humidity drops and the kitchen canning work slows down.  That means it was a good time yesterday to sew a birthday present for a sweet little 3 year old girl, my cousin's daughter, who is named for our maternal grandmother.  Thanks to the inspiration of a creative sewing friend (I keep telling you to check out her blog and I hope you have by now Sew Inspirations blog ) I was able to sew up a very similar an exact copy of her adorable mermaid beach towel.  My cousin has a place on the beach in SC (at least I hope she still does after Hurricane Irene) so I hope this towel is something that her daughter can enjoy there.  She's at the age where Disney princesses and mermaids are part of her everyday life; let's not tell her yet about becoming a grown up, ok?
Mermaid towel

Here are the steps I took to make my version:
I used a beach towel from Target, currently on clearance so you can grab them before they disappear from the shelves.  For the tail I happened to have a small, 18" long piece of this orange fleece in my fabric resource center.  At one point I was going to make myself a Polarfleece vest for wearing to Orioles games....but their losing ways means that I'm unlikely to need a vest for any fall playoff games:-(   

I bought two fat quarters of this groovy cotton swirly orange and fuschia fabric from Joann's.

One half of the tail design
I stitched two tails together, trimmed the beach towel into curved sides and lower bottom, bound it with bias trim and zigzagged the bias trim along the edges.  Tucked the bottom of the towel into the tail shape and zig zagged it together with exposed seams since the fleece won't ravel.  
Side bias binding with zig zag stitching

Two layers zig zag stitched together then trimmed with pinking rotary cutter

Pieced the top ties from the second fat quarter and again zig zagged it to enclose the towel top.  To give the ties some body without stiffness I stitched them with a strip of silk organza inside. Trimmed the tail seam allowances with my fun pinking rotary cutter and in little more than an hour I was done.  

Oh, I also included this beautiful picture book in that birthday package.  If you are not familiar with them, there are two awards given to children's books each year, the Caldecott medal for picture books and the Newberry for children's literature .  The award and nominee lists are good sources of books if you don't frequently shop children's books. American Library Association Caldecott Awards list

One mermaid towel for someone else.  What about one for me?  My reward came yesterday afternoon when these two books arrived from Amazon.  

Another wonderfully creative friend (yes, she blogs as well  From These Hands ) has turned me on to the wonderful designs of Alabama Chanin.   These two books are rich with illustrations, ideas and instructions.  They are written with a spirit of bounteousness, sustainability and adventure.  I will keep them on my nightstand for those times when my head is overwhelmed with some aggravating responsibilities that I have these days and I can get lost in creative ideas instead. I am intrigued by her use of cotton knits, however.  I generally do not like wearing cotton knits so I'm going to give her projects a try in wool jersey and see if I can achieve a similar result.  These books include great instructions, design stencils, patterns and even recipes.  What's not to like and I bought them for only $14 each, less than some indie patterns that have greatly disappointed me in years past.  Amazon listing

I am always drawn to these swirls!

Patterns in the back of each book

And now I have just officially finished my 100th post.  I came late to blogging, I'm still rather slow and unsophisticated about so many design aspects here but I have enjoyed the entire process immensely.  If you take a few moments from your day to read my ramblings, I thank you.  If you make the effort to write a comment, ask a question or offer advice, I thank you since you add a spirit of camaraderie to my day.  If you have a blog and link to mine, I thank you for your courtesy and generosity in introducing this one to others.
Sew grateful,