Archive for March, 2010

We finally went and got the long desk from my dad’s house to use as a sewing desk. This was a desk that we got from an office supply discounter’s warehouse for my daughter to use when she was going to college. My dad’s house was much closer to the college, so she lived there with him for some of the college years. I always thought it would be a good sewing desk, though I would love to paint it white to match the rest of the room. This desk is at least 6 feet long, but I was really impressed at how easily my husband loaded it into the pickup and got it into the house. No screen doors were damaged in the process either.  Well, not much.

I found that the big bottom drawer is a good size to hold my 6000 yd cone threads, which is good because I have never before found a good place to put them all. I also spent yesterday putting together an Anaboda chest from IKEA to hold more patterns. This was the most complicated IKEA build I have done, but as long as you get organized at the start, it goes together pretty easily, if not swiftly. It took me hours to put it together, but I only suffered one bruised palm, only hit my fingers with the hammer once, and only dropped the completed shell on my foot once.

I have heard that you can get over 600 patterns in this thing. To prevent the drawer bottoms from collapsing or shifting, I always use a little wood glue when installing the drawer floors which isn’t in the instructions, but helps. I have one more of these to put together to hold all my handknit sweaters, but that one will go in the closet out of sight.

This week is taken up with Easter preparations, not garments unfortunately, but I am making the Easter dinner, though other family members are bringing some of the dishes. I am making lots of pot roast in tons of gravy, because that is a favorite with the family and I can make it ahead, a potato casserole, and homemade rolls. I found some decorator fabric at the fabric store sale that has a white background and pastel Easter egg-looking ovals all over it, so I got three yards to make a table cloth. I will probably hem it this afternoon, so I guess you could say I am doing some Easter sewing.

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The dress was all white with exception of pink and green in the embroidered bands.  The lace sections were not too fancy, just an openweave grid fabric that was very pretty and not too ‘see-through’.  The sleeves, hem and bottom of yoke were trimmed with a cotton lace edging.

Manuela told me that some ladies in Mexico find cotton lace curtains that they use for the lacy sections of garments.  I was pleased to see that even ladies who are not in the first blush of youth can look really good in these dresses.  I think I am going to have to bring my camera to the women’s group meetings in case Manuela wears any more fabulous dresses.

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Another Lucky Find

I have wanted one of these little wooden gadgets for a long time, but they are out of production and very expensive on ebay.  Imagine my surprise at finding two of them at the same time in a thrift shop and having to pay only 25 cents each!  My idea was to make the squares in cotton crochet thread and decorate them with pulled thread embroidery or cross stitch and sew them together to make the yoke of a peasant top.

Speaking of Mexican Peasant tops, a nice lady from Mexico who is in the women’s group at church wore the most amazing Mexican dress today.  I unfortunately did not have my camera, but she let me sketch it so I could remember the design details.  I’ll try to draw up a better picture of  the dress and post it soon.

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Brocade Bag

Still haven’t hemmed that skirt, but I am thinking about it. Instead, I got out the cut-out brocade purse I started and got the pieces ready for sewing. I am using a variety of interfacings, and will be trying iron-on batting for the first time. I found that some of it irons on, and some sections, not so much. As long as it holds until I sew it in, then I will be happy.

Here’s a picture of the fabric, which had marinated a few years in my daughter’s stash. It is very drapey and not very thick, so it needs something to give it body. I am putting interfacing behind the lining fabrics and the batting behind the brocade. I am using a yellow denim for the lining. I like light-colored linings so you can see what’s in your bag.

The pattern is Simplicity 2685, View D. The top band of the bag will be plain without that pointy tab/button design feature. The pattern pieces are a little peculiar in that the bottom width of the outer bag is quite a bit bigger than the lining, but other people have made the bag and it seems to turn out OK. I’ll just sew it up and see what happens.

I saw one version of the bag online where the handles were changed to a wide strap sewn from side seam to side seam, and that would make the bag easy to carry over the shoulder. I’ll have to ask my daughter which style she wants me to make.

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My daughter tried on the black/white pencil skirt and it was great in some ways and not so good in others. I had needed to make the waist of the pattern just a little larger, so on the red pencil skirt I made the darts narrower, but on the black/white skirt I decided to add the additional width at the waist side seam. Somehow this didn’t work as well, but the skirt is still wearable. The back looks very good, though.

So I am thinking that I will add the extra width at the side seam in the back and go back to narrower darts in the front. One of these days when she is home I will be able to really fit the darts to her, and that should improve the look of the front. It doesn’t make much difference to her because she never wears a tuck-in blouse, so nothing shows anyway.

The denim-look skirt which I expected to be too big at the waist fit very well, and she thought it was perfect and comfortable. We pinned up the hem, so I am ready to finish that project and can make more skirts using that pattern. For that skirt I used Simplicity 9825:

I made View F with the addition of the small tab in the back I showed before. I want to use this pattern to make some unlined summer skirts, especially one in the red/white decorator fabric shown on the right below.

She likes the Hawaiian print that is bolder, and the center fabric will become an apron, I think. Now that I am looking at the pattern envelope, I see that there are two skirt widths, the A-Line version that I made, and a narrower skirt. I could add the kick pleat to the back of that one, replacing the vent shown, and make this as a pencil skirt, eliminating any dart problems because there are no darts.

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I was wondering why the dark red peasant blouse was pulling from the armholes to the bottom of the yoke. The pull lines are represented by the red lines in the drawing:

It turns out that I started the gathers or tucks too far from the armhole edge and had them more bunched up in the center. Here’s the measurement I figured out for the distance from the armhole edge for the first tuck for a size medium (bust about 36″) .  The rest of the tucks are evenly spaced with a larger untucked area at center front.

I think this caused a problem because I have cut the top down a lot to be slimmer fitting as my daughter requested. This just goes to show that no matter how long you have been sewing, a creative person will always find new mistakes to make.

I ripped out the topstitching and yoke seam, resituated the tucks, stitched it back up, and now the problem is solved. Gee, I made that repair sound lots easier than it was.

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Thrift Store Find

An old Kenmore buttonholer for $3. I am going to have to try it out, because I have a fondness for cam-operated gadgets. I do have an old Kenmore sewing machine, and I love it, but somewhere along the way I lost the food pedal. I’m going to have to see if I can replace that and get the machine active again.

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I mentioned in a previous post about using freezer paper to help me with the stitching on the top of the kick pleat, but I forgot to show the pictures I took of this process.Here’s the brand of freezer paper I use. It is shiny on one side, and this shiny side will adhere to fabric when you press it  (plain side up, shiny side down). You can cut stencils out of it, too. I have never actually used the freezer paper for wrapping anything for the freezer.

I wanted a double row of stitching to hold the top of the kick pleat in position, so I traced the slanted top of the kick pleat and cut a little template out:

Here you can see the freezer paper template pressed down into position on the outside of the top of the kick pleat. I was then able to topstitch around the paper piece for nice straight, even topstitching. When you are finished stitching, the paper peels right off without damaging the fabric.

You can also use this same technique for other sewing jobs. Once I was making a blouse with curved collar points, and I just could not get the collar points to be the same size. I cut curved templates out of freezer paper, ironed it to both collar front edges, and got the identical curves I was trying for.

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16 Darts

I know I said that I would take a break from garments and sew a tote bag, but I got interested in making more skirts.  The denim-look skirt is waiting for its hem, so I cut a pencil skirt out of the black and white fabric.  It is cream on one side and printed with black swirls on the other:

It should look good with a black top.  The swirls are really quite small so from a distance the fabric reads as gray.

I spent the afternoon sewing 16 darts, 8 in the skirt fabric and 8 in the interlining.  Last time I made a pencil skirt, I put the two fabrics together and treated it as one fabric, sewing the darts through two thicknesses.  I wasn’t really pleased at how difficult that was to do well, so this time I am sewing the darts separately, pressing the outer fabric darts toward the center and pressing the lining darts in the opposite direction.  Then I will layer the fabrics wrong sides together and sew the skirt.

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Another Skirt

I am almost done with another skirt for A, except that I find the current fashion for lowered waistlines very confusing because you don’t know how wide the waist is suppposed to be for fitting purposes. This is no problem if the person is here to try it on, but my daughter lives an hour away. I decided to wait to hem it until she can try it on. I hope the waist is not too wide, but too bad if it is, because I’m not ripping out all that topstitching. We’ll just have to try a ‘There I Fixed It” sort of solution.

Anyway, here’s a little invention I have been putting on yoked skirts since the dark ages when they were in style when I was in high school.

When there is a centered back zipper, instead of trying to sew on a hook and eye or some other fussy closure, I sew a little tab and put a buttonhole in it so that it covers the top of the zipper. It is easier to fasten and looks neater.

This day is sunny and bright, the trees are blooming, and no rain is falling. I was going to try and watch all the Psych episodes I had stored up (I can never remember the new time slot, so I set the TV to record it), but apparently there is some basketball game on that requires the spouse to claim the TV. I think I will go listen to a book-on-tape and cut out another skirt.

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