Archive for September, 2009

IMG_5010I like the yoke treatment on this blouse because the yoke edges are all finished before the sleeves or body are attached with hand stitches. Here’s how I think it was done:

IMG_5000You can see in this photo that it looks as if the yoke pieces were seamed to the lining (which is a slightly different fabric, a little coarser) right sides together, and then the piece was turned right side out. The pleated body and sleeve tops are whipstitched to the finished edges of the yoke.



In the above picture, the long top edges of the front or back yoke piece is turned under and pressed, then, right sides together, the piece is seamed on the sides and bottom. This piece is then turned right sides out and pressed.

Another possibility, shown below, is that the yoke piece, right sides together, is seamed on four sides with spaces left free from stitching on each side of the top for the straps to be inserted, then turned right side out.


The straps, shown below, are seamed, right sides together, on both sides, then the tube is turned right side out.


The ends of the straps are inserted into the front and back pieces until the straps are the correct length, then the top of the front and back pieces are topstitched close to the edge catching both sides in the stitching. Now the yoke has all finished edges.



Above you can see the topstitching on the wrong side where the strap is inserted into the front piece.

Tomorrow I’ll show the gusset, sleeves, and side seam.

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This blouse used to belong to one of my sisters. It looks like a size Small since the shoulder-to-shoulder measure is less than 14″ and it only measures 42″ around at the bustline. It is different from the other two Mexican blouses I have shown in the way the yoke is constructed and the way the sleeve is attached.


The fabric is cotton, and is quite similar to the IKEA sheet I recently made an apron from. The blouse is machine sewn on the seams and hand embroidered in areas. The yoke is attached to the body with hand stitches. The gusset does not reach to the bottom of the sleeve so it retains its square shape.



The yoke is decorated with cross stitch, which is also used to decorate the sleeves and to provide a casing of sorts for the sleeve ties.



The bottom doesn’t have a hem and you can see in the photo above that the selvedge of the fabric is used for the bottom edge.

Tomorrow I will show more photos of the construction, especially of the interesting yoke assembly.

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Bound Buttonholes

IMG_4986Yesterday, when I was looking through The New  Encyclopedia Of Modern Sewing, a clipping stuck in there by the previous owner of the book fell out. The clipping is very old, at least 50 years old, I would say, and shows a method of making bound buttonholes:



When I am buying old books, I like it very much when there is writing in the book or clippings left inside by the previous owner.

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Hardtimes Sewing

An office life is often hard for a mere shirt to survive, and my husband’s shirts are constant casualties. In addition to the worn-out collar and/or cuffs, the dreaded ink stain happens more often than it should. Sometimes the ink just will not come out in the wash no matter what I try. So I am left with an otherwise perfect shirt that has the equivalent of at least 2 yards of fine fabric doomed to be donated or trashed. I have been saving the defunct shirts in hopes of using them for something else. I remembered the wartime sewing book I bought years ago which had a chapter on repurposing clothes. Fabric was in short supply during the war, so people were forced to ‘make do’ or use what was on hand.IMG_4986

This book was first published in 1943 and has lots of great instructions for household and garment sewing. I particularly like the line-drawing illustrations.

The two pages below show how smaller garments can be cut from wool garments, making use of the great fabric. I once made a gray wool gored skirt from my grandfather’s old wool coat. The fabric was wonderful, thick and ageless, and I still have the skirt today. I used the rest of that great fabric to make a pillow for lacemaking since wool never goes to waste.



Now we come to the instructions for reusing a man’s shirt. The layouts show how to get some little girl undies, dresses and pinafores from a shirt, and other children’s clothing and a woman’s blouse.



I am interested in the boy’s shirt, since the fabrics in my husbands shirts are the more manly sort of color and pattern, and I do have a young nephew. I notice in the woman’s blouse that there wasn’t enough room to have a collar, so they have a tie at the neck, producing a lovely blouse.



Now that a man’s shirt represents an investment of between $20 to $50 (or even more, much more), the poor shirt shouldn’t go to waste just because it met with an accident.

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The husband often wears out a shirt collar making the shirt unwearable even though the rest of the shirt is in great condition. To make the shirt last longer, sometimes even years of additional wear, I flip the collar. This frugal sewing was done a lot in times past, and works just as well today.IMG_4968

First, I remove the old collar from the shirt. This means ripping out the topstitching, then carefully inserting the ripper into the top-of-the-band seam and ripping that out as well:


Carefully remove all the bits of thread, flip the collar over, and reinsert it into the band. I try to match up both sides of the band so the topstitching will catch both sides, then I baste it.


I keep on hand many shades of white thread from nearly tan to purest white and try to match the thread used in the shirt originally. I topstitch through all layers, hopefully catching the band on both sides. If there is a small area on the underside that doesn’t catch, I use very small hand overcasting to secure it.


Done. Now to press it and hang it back up in the closet.

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Vintage Embroidery Designs

Yesterday I was digging through the sewing room cabinets trying to find the older daughter’s Renaissance Faire costume that used to be there. This costume has decided to go walkabout and is mysteriously missing after hanging on the sewing room door for years. I remember having a brief attack of neatness and putting all the parts of the costume together, but where it went after that is not known. During my search, I uncovered a box of old patterns from the 60’s and 70’s. I was interested in embroidered clothing even that long ago:


The pattern above is obviously useful for making Mexican peasant blouses.


IMG_4824Butterick 4165 would work on the type of peasant blouse the younger daughter prefers.

Making that clothespin apron and doing the free-motion embroidery on the machine was fun, and I am interested to try more of it.  In other sewing news, I have the camisole and the hobo bag mostly finished, but I have to wait for a visit from the younger daughter so she can try them on.  I need to check the armhole depth on the camisole and the strap length on the handbag.

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The clothespin apron is all finished.  My version is a little more squat than the illustration, but that was determined by the amount of fabric I had left from the curtains I had made.  I made the outer edge extra strong by stitching it twice and then zigzagging it, all of which is covered by the bias tape.  I think the ties need to be a little longer, but  I didn’t have enough fabric to do that, and it works fine.



IMG_4943I have never been very good at bias tape application, but I just might be getting much better at it.  This is the best I have ever done.  I didn’t even have to go back and stitch down by hand any areas the topstitching missed.  I decided yesterday that the center top pocket area needed to be narrower, so I made the pocket curve in about 1″ more on each side.  I placed the gathers only in the side areas and not across the top of the pocket.  I was pleased at the way the apron turned out, it will be very useful, and all the materials were from the stash.

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1925 Clothespin Apron


I went with the spouse and the inlaws to Sacramento on Saturday to go to the Antiquarian Book Fair at the Scottish Rite Temple. The husband bought this lovely catalog for me, and it is full of wonderful illustrations with ideas for embroidery, garments and aprons, and household linens.



I was very interested in the clothespin apron, because we have been using our clothesline a lot to reduce our gas bill (very successfully, too). I decided to try and draft one, and to use one of my vintage embroidery patterns to decorate it using free-motion machine embroidery. Below are the pieces I cut out. I have placed them on a 1″ grid so you can get an idea of the size of the pieces.


The waistband was cut 4 3/4″ x 22″ and the ties were cut 5″ x 20″ (but turned out to be a little short, and would be better at 30″ to 36″ long). To make this apron, I used the leftover strip of fabric from the IKEA sheet I used to make a curtain for the closet a few weeks ago. I was favorably impressed by the quality of the fabric in the IKEA sheet (100% cotton). I used a vintage Aunt Martha’s embroidery pattern and did the embroidery by machine. I am still not too good at the free-motion machine embroidery, but I am getting better. This design took one evening and an hour or so this morning to finish.


Today I am going to sew the apron together and apply yellow bias tape to the pocket and apron edges.

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Using Up Remnants


I made several handbags from this blue/brown decorator fabric a few Christmases ago, and there was just enough left to cut out the Lemon Meringue Apron from the book, A Is For Apron.  I didn’t have enough for the waistband and ties, so I used a dark brown cotton.  I cut the waistband a little wider, and it is interfaced and top-stitched.


Here’s the apron on Betty:

IMG_4924Those pockets are cute, but I am wondering how useful they will be in actual use, because they are a little shallow.  Now I guess I better stop stalling around and go finish the hobo bag.

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Late Summer Projects

Right now I am sewing another hobo bag, this time out of dark green corduroy with buff-colored denim lining with pockets, and zipper closure. I only work on it a little every day since wrestling the interfaced fabric through the machine loses its charm rapidly. I have the outer shell all done and only need to finish assembling the lining.

The daughters have asked for some camisoles and slips. M asked about slips in Penneys and the salesgirl didn’t even know what she was talking about – has lingerie changed so much so rapidly that you can’t get a slip at Penneys anymore? Somehow I doubt it, but anyway, I ordered some tricot from Sew Sassy Fabrics (http://www.sewsassy.com/) and it arrived safely. I am starting with a camisole for A. I couldn’t find a pattern in my stash for what I had in mind:IMG_4915The necklilne can be changed into a scoop or whatever I want, but I wanted more shaping than a simple tank. I had a tank pattern that A had worked out for herself that fits well, so I just used it to draft the above camisole. Here the top is on Betty for a fitting:

IMG_4912The straps will be thinner after the edges are turned under. I am thinking of a picot edging since I don’t have any lingerie lace at the moment.

One thing about sewing lingerie – it is easy and fast. The tricot was about $6/yard, but it is 104-108 inches wide, so really quite a bargain. It came in lots of pretty colors, but to start out with, I got white and ‘champagne’. I am going to hunt through the trimmings stash to see if I have any trims that are soft enough.

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