Archive for December, 2009

Pajama Redesign

The yellow pajamas are finished and gone off to their new home, and it is time to start the blue pajamas. My daughter also wants some skirts, so a skirt muslin is first on the list. Before I start on the skirt, however, I wanted to finish the alterations to the pajama pattern before I forgot what she wanted. We decided to do away with the whole collar/lapel design and change it to a curved V-neck like on a baseball uniform. I found this old pattern:

This is Kwik Sew 2141. We are going to use the pajama pattern, but change the neckline. This pattern has just the sort of neckline that my daughter wanted, since she didn’t want the V to be too low. I just put the pajama pattern over the KS pattern and traced off the neckline, making allowances for the differences in seam allowances. The KS pattern has 1/4″ seam allowances and the PJ pattern has 5/8″.

Here’s how the new front looks with no lapels and the new neckline. We also had to craft new facings. The commercial pajamas I have seen have facings that are stitched down all along the edge which would make them much more comfortable with no facings flying up to hit you in the face while you are trying to sleep. I like the look of the stitched-down facings, too.

I cut the facing patterns 2 7/8″ wide which, after a 5/8″ seam allowance and a 1/4″ turnunder edge finish, leaves a 2″ stitched-down facing. I measured the facing on a commercial pajama top and 2″ was the commercial width of the facing.

For Christmas, my daughter gave me this handy gadget:

Electric scissors! I haven’t had a pair of those since I killed my favorite scissors cutting out a beanbag chair during the late, lamented seventies.

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The Workwoman’s Guide

In a previous post, I told how I used to look at an old volume from the 1830’s in the library at Cal. Well, I discovered the other day that the old, long-lost volume is online for everyone to see and download! You can find The Workwoman’s Guide on Google Books.

Here’s one of the plates showing the cutting instructions for shirts for men and boys. The measurements are in nails which is an old unit of measure equal to 1/16 of a yard, or 2.25 inches.

The book is almost 400 pages long with instructions for garments, household linens, and even furniture and decorations. How fabulous it is to find this publication again after all these years!

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Thinking of the Next Project

Now that I have finished the yellow pajamas, I am trying to decide what to sew next.  I still have lots of fabric from the dishtowels and IKEA sheets, so I want to make a few more tops, and I need to make some more aprons.  Not that I need more aprons, I just want to try out some different patterns.  I do have a backlog of unfinished objects that should be sewn up too.  And I have to put the binding on that quilt and make more handbags when I feel like it.  It is fun being a person who sews what she wants when she wants, not what she thinks she has to sew.  Sewing for fun, and not for duty.

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Yellow Pajamas

I finished the top and have started sewing on the bottoms. I left the interfacing out of the collar and lapels to see if the flannel is thick enough to be fine without it, and the answer is no, it’s not. Next time I make PJs with a collar, I’ll add a soft interfacing. But really, I’m not really liking PJs with collars anymore, since they are fussy to sew and who needs them while you are sleeping? I think I am going to redraft the front to be collarless with a neckline sort of like a baseball uniform top, a curved V-neckline. Here’s the pattern I’m using for the top:

I shortened the top a lot. The pajama pants pattern I’m using is a TNT pattern whose origin is lost in the mists of time.

This print is really cute and colorful, but notice how I accidentally cut it out with the cupcakes upside down. I figure that they will be rightside up when the wearer is looking down at herself. I have the pants all cut out and semi-sewed:

I should be finished with these tonight, unless I get bogged down in cookie baking.

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Champagne Camisole Finished

Sewing on tricot is really easy, but it still surprises me how fast it is to sew up lingerie in a tricot fabric.The armholes and neckline are finished with a double turnunder and a shell stitch:

You would think that a double turnunder would be hard to do on a V-neckline, but it is surprisingly easy in this fabric. The V turns out more curved, but that looks fine. It works better for me if I baste the turnunders down by hand before stitching on the machine. I could use a long zigzag baste to turn the edges under, but the added thickness of the stitching prevents such a pronounced “shell” from developing .

I got the measurements I needed yesterday, so, since it is gloomy and rainy today, I might get one pair of pajamas cut out.

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Champagne Camisole

I am waiting for a measurement from the younger daughter before I can get started on the pajamas.  The last time I made a commercial pattern in her size, I ended up having to take about 4″ total off the sides because it was cut so big.  No need to reinvent the wheel, so I have asked her to measure the bottom width of those PJ tops and tell me what it is.  This is why it is important to make notes on the pattern as you sew, or at least transfer the alterations to the paper pattern before you forget what you did.  I forgot to do either one of those things.

While I wait, I am making another lingerie camisole, this time in the ‘champagne’ color.  I actually had some lingerie lace that might work.  It sometimes pays to be a packrat, since I have had that lace for about 35 years.

Here’s the camisole all cut out and ready to sew.  I am going to finish the armhole and neckline edges with shell stitching and use the lace to mask the empire seam and to hold the seam allowance down.

We are having a string of winter storms which is very good for our drought situation.  My husband and I turned out to be very good at being water misers and even produced a good summer garden in spite of the restrictions.  We are also finding that our utility bills are substantially lower after we got the window replacement and got a new fridge.  I guess that 30-yr-old fridge was not very energy efficient.

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Pretty Fabric Pictures

Not much sewing, or much of anything else, going on today so I am just going to post some pictures of the fabrics in Stonemountain and Daughter so my daughter can see them.  She loves the Amy Butler fabrics and others like them.

Tomorrow I may be able to get a little sewing done.  I would like to start cutting out the pajamas for the younger daughter.

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Field Trip

Yesterday I drove into Berkeley to visit Stonemountain and Daughters Fabrics. Here’s the location info:

Stonemountain and Daughters Fabrics

2518 Shattuck Avenue at Dwight Way in downtown Berkeley, CA 94704
OPEN 7 DAYS — Mon – Fri 10-6:30 —Sat 10-6 —Sun 11-5:30

I have, of course, heard of this store but had never visited it before. I was just stopping in on my way to Lacis, which doesn’t open until 12:00. I was so pleasantly surprised by this store. It carried a much better class of fabrics than I am used to from shopping at our local chain fabric store including a large variety of Amy Butler-type fabrics (which my daughter likes). The best thing of all, though, was that they carry many of the independent pattern lines and have the patterns in stock. I was able to buy an Islander classic shirt pattern and a gorgeous apron pattern from Decades of Style.

The apron can be cut on the bias from one yard of fabric like the mailorder patterns from the thirties and forties. I am very interested in trying out the shirt pattern which comes with a comprehensive, well-illustrated instruction sheet that shows commercial construction techniques. The illustration on the envelope is funny, though, since the men look like zombies (or vampires) wearing dress shirts:

I will definitely be back to shop more at Stonemountain and Daughters. After I left that store, I went over to Lacis where I picked up a few vintage patterns and a European embroidery transfer pattern:

These stores are only a short drive apart and are really worth visiting. Lacis is located at 2982 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703, but you can also shop online at http://lacis.com/catalog/.

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When I was at UC Berkeley, I had a library stack pass. Usually a student had to fill out a request form and hand it over the counter, and a library employee would find the book and deliver it to the waiting customer. There was no walking around the aisles, pulling books from shelves and looking them over in those days. Students with a certain grade point average were awarded the coveted stack pass, or the right to go mingle with the books. I used to go up into the stacks and look at old, rare books just for the fun of it. I would glance at the checkout card on the inside of the cover and see when the last person checked the book out (this was pre-computer). The books I was interested in were not very popular, and it was usually about 30 years since the book had been let out of the stacks. Two of the books I liked the best were a huge volume on architectural rendering (wish I owned that) and a lovely old book from 1830 full of diagrams on how to draft the garments of the day. It was a large book with page after page of plates full of diagrams for shirts, bonnets, dresses, undergarments, etc. There was no xerox then either, hard to imagine, isn’t it? I would really really love to have that book now. Anyhow, I copied out the diagrams for a shirt and a bonnet, both of which I eventually sewed. I have always been interested in historical garments sewn from rectangular or square pieces of fabric in the old way to use the available narrow widths of fabric in an economical manner.

Years later, my husband wanted to take part in the craft fair being held in the park in our small town on the Fourth of July. He is a photographer and wanted to sell some of his photos, so he requested that I make him an “old-timey” shirt with a late-1700’s or early 1800’s look to it. I found my old diagram and made this shirt:

I used a homespun-looking fabric. I think that for some reason I was unable to make the buttonholes (buttonholer lost or broken?), so I just sewed on the buttons and closed the cuffs with a hook and eye. All the pieces are rectangular or square except the yoke pieces. I seem to recall that they started out as a rectangle and had the slant for the shoulders cut in afterward. There are gussets under the arms, and the sleeves are pleated to the shoulders. There are also pleats or gathers in the center front and center back.

Similar shirt designs are shown in the wonderful little book, Cut My Cote:

This book is a terrific resource, is worth adding to your library, and is still being sold on Amazon.

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