Archive for July, 2010


Most people have no trouble growing morning glories, but mine never really grew much until this year. I’m finally getting some blooms.

I just loved the colors in this zinnia.

Since I have spent the last week or so putting up pantry items like jam and applesauce and pickle relish, I haven’t sewn much.  I did find another defunct shirt with a worn-out collar so I cut out another shirt for A to try out another sleeve cap design. I will get started on this yellow shirt when I finish up the buttonholes on the navy blue unfinished project I found in the sewing room. Yesterday I hemmed the sleeves and bottom edge so all that is left are the buttonholes, and I will have a new, years-in-the-making, camp shirt.

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Shirt Makeover

Here’s the experimental shirt for A made from her father’s discarded shirt.  I lowered the neckline and faced the end of the sleeves, putting in a new buttonhole:

This was also a muslin of sorts for one of the sleeves I am trying out.  This is the sleeve with 1 1/2″ of cap ease.  I decided that that is a little too much, so the next time I will try one of the other sleeves. Aside from needing a good pressing, I thought it turned out rather well.  Here’s how it looks on Betty:

After some time spent ripping out the first hem, I discovered that hand basting the shirt hem on thin fabric improves the look of the hem by about 1000%.

Not much sewing went on this weekend, even though I had the house to myself as the spouse was off hiking with daughter #1.  Instead, I ended up making jam and putting up the last of the peaches.

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I’ve got to get the frozen plums out of the freezer and into jars so there will be room for the applesauce.  So I am working over a hot stove on a hot day making jam.  First I made a batch with mixed red and gold plums and about 1/3 apricots.  This was the batch made up of leftovers from the other batches.  Next were the red Santa Rosa plums, and now I am cooking a double batch of the golden plums.

While waiting for various things to boil, I run into the other room and sew a little on the blue shirt for A.  It is turning out nicely .  I decided to cut a lower neckline which turned out well, and now all that is left is hemming.

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Experimental Shirt

I took one of my husband’s discarded shirts (worn out collar points) and decided to use the fabric to make a shirt for A. I wanted to try keeping the front bands and buttonholes/buttons intact to see how that would work. Here’s how I cut out the shirt:

I had to incorporate the sleeve placket, and there wasn’t enough room to cut a cuff long enough for a 3/4 sleeve, so I had to think about how to finish the sleeves. I am going to put a button and buttonhole on the placket and finish the edge with a facing and maybe a small tuck and see how that looks.

The other problem I will have is that when I cut out the fronts, I positioned the pattern so that a button would fall at the level of the bust point, so there would be no gapping during movement. This worked out OK, but there will be part of a buttonhole showing right below the collar band. I am going to have to invent a little motif of embroidery to disguise it.

I hope this works out because it is great to avoid making the front bands and the placket, and not having that good shirt fabric go to waste.

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My daughter was home yesterday and tried on the completed shirt and the new blue skirt. Both fit very well indeed, so we are on the track for mass production of the shirt, at least. I have made three of the yoke-topped skirts for her so I am ready to go on to another style. I found a piece of khaki denim so I will make an A-line skirt, the kind with a facing at the top and no waistband. So many ideas for sewing, so little time! And I still have to peel all those hundreds and hundreds of apples.

The Year Of A is officially over and we are now back to the regular routine. Here’s the list of things I made for A this last year:

Yellow Tunic

White Tunic

Cordoroy Hobo Bag

Blue Camisole Top

Red Camisole Top

White Tricot Camisole

Champagne Tricot Camisole

Blue Pajamas

Yellow Pajamas

Dishtowel Mexican Top With Machine Embroidery

Dark Red Mexican Top

IKEA Sheet Mexican Top With Machine Embroidery

Brown Denim Skirt

Red Pencil Skirt

Blk/White Pencil Skirt

Red/White Hawaiian Print Skirt

Dark Blue/Black Yoke-Top Skirt

Blue Dotty Bag

Green Dotty Purse

White Mexican Top With Hand Crochet

A Few Pairs Of Socks

M is very glad to see the end of Year of A, and she has some suggestions for things I could sew for her.

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I was looking over the broken Professional Buttonholer I picked up at the Legacy Thrift store when M and I went there last week, and though I only bought it for the slant-machine cover plate, I still regretted that it wouldn’t work any more. It had all of the templates and one extra, and somehow, twenty templates just makes you want to try them all out. Most of the older buttonholers had 5 templates, so 20 is very luxurious. It made regular buttonholes, eyelet-ended buttonholes, and the retangular stitching part of bound buttonholes. Anyway, on Saturday I went to Martinez to walk around in the morning because the spouse was helping out at the opening of the new Nut Creek library, and I stopped in at my favorite antique store. I was looking through the sewing items, and there on the floor I spotted the boxed Professional Buttonholer set! I have never seen a buttonholer in that store before, so I guess it was just my lucky day.It works fine, and now I have another 20 templates:
Most importantly, it had the manual so that I could see how you are supposed to install the cover plate on the machine.

After this happy find, I went to the shop next door and found this:

It’s a little blue tin with sewing accessories in it. When I got home, I looked over the sewing machine feet included, and found that most of them will fit my low-shank machines.

I can figure out what most of them are, but the big one on the left is a little puzzling. Is it a zipper foot and if so, why the arm like the ones seen on quilting feet? It adjusts so that you can sew on either side of the foot.

A buttonhole cutter! I have seen pictures of those in books but have never seen one before in real life. These feet are not Singer parts because the part number is not on them, and some say ‘Swiss Made’.

When I was not out spending the last of my birthday money, I was cutting out another skirt for A, this time in a light blue denim that was in the stash cupboard. I also found two shirts I was making for myself years ago, and set aside for reasons that had to do more with procrastination than anything else. One camp shirt just needs buttons and hems, so I will finish that off. The other is a nice white blouse that has been waiting for its buttonholes for years. Now that I have all these new-to-me vintage buttonholers from the thrift shop, I have no excuses not to finish it up.

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Hot Weather #1

We are definitely into the hot part of the summer, but so far it hasn’t been too bad. I was just out looking at the garden and I think we will be picking the first cucumbers today. Behind me are six huge boxes of apples that need to be made into sauce, so I think that’s what I will be doing next week.

I read on a sewing blog ( http://theslapdashsewist.blogspot.com/) that the Knoppa sheets at IKEA are good for lining fabric for summer dresses since they are light weight, hold their shape, and cheap. I picked up a few from our IKEA on my last trip there, and they measure 66″ x 98″. Doing a little math, that means you get the equivalent of 4 square yards of fabric for $1.99. I like the idea of alternate fabric sources. I also like the Dvala sheets, which are 100% cotton, for aprons and totebag linings, though they are three times as expensive, though still cheap.

Yesterday I worked on the shirt pattern a little more, adding a collar and stand and a sleeve with a placket and cuff. This is where I appreciate my huge pattern stash because I just hunt around until I find a pattern with the feature I am looking for and then graft that onto the pattern I am working on. I needed to add some width to the sleeve at the bicep, so I tried several different ways of doing the alteration on the paper pattern: pivot and slide, just adding width at the center of the sleeve, and the cut-the-length-and- width-and-spread-the-pattern method. I’m going to make up the shirt in the fashion fabric except for the sleeves and then muslin the three sleeves and try them out to see which one works best. One of the methods preserves the cap height but adds to the cap ease, and the others decrease cap height but preserve the cap ease. I may actually need a little more cap ease, so it will be interesting to see what the sleeves look like sewn in.

Before I get to that though, I have a more mundane task to complete – my brother got my dad three pairs of summer slacks that need to be hemmed up, so that is what gets worked on first.

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My daughter, M, and I decided to drive up to the Petaluma area, mostly because there is a Super Walmart near Mare Island that M loves, since it is right next to a Sonic, which she has missed since she moved back from Texas. We decided to save our Sonic visit until we were on the way home, and went to visit our favorite thrift shop and the yarn shop nearby. I took along a bag of craft stuff to donate to the thrift shop, and since we were without the spouse, who, of course, is bored in crafty stores, I had time to look through all the old sewing machine attachments. Here’s what I found that fits my machines:

The nicknamed ‘Jetsons’ buttonholer for slant shank machines! Here’s the actual buttonholer:

What I really wanted to find was the cover plate for the slant shank machines to cover the feed dogs so you can use the buttonholers. Before we went up there, I looked at different sites on the internet and printed off a list of part numbers for my machines so I would know what I was looking at. This helped a lot.

I ended up also buying a boxed Professional Buttonholer even though it was obviously not working, because the box contained the cover plate I was looking for. Of course, this was a thrift store, so the whole box was only a few dollars, so it was a win all around. I also found the AK3 plate for straight stitching. I love the control you get with the tiny opening for the needle, and this prevents delicate fabrics from being pulled down into the machine. Also in the box with the AK3 were several feet, including the specialty foot for satin stitch and the seam guide.

Here’s a buttonhole worked with one of my old buttonholers so that you can see how much better looking they are than a bartack buttonhole. They have an elongated oval shape instead of thick wide zigzag bartacks at the ends.

My favorite find, though, was in a box marked ‘Kenmore’. It had the same zigzag and straight stitch feet that I have on my old machine, except that mine are all pocked and scratched from several decades of use, and these were in brand new condition. There were several other low shank feet in the box that fit several of my machines.

I was really pleased at how I managed to find just what I was looking for, and so cheap, too. I also got an old Simplicity sewing booklet from 1950 or thereabouts and a lovely old French embroidery pamphlet. My total bill was around $20. My husband was pleased that I donated more stuff than I came home with, so it was a net loss for the stash. Always a plus.

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Having at long last finished the pattern alterations, I finally have a finished shirt. This is made from a New Look pattern I got at the thrift store:

I made the following changes: I drafted new sleeves using the cap from a commercial shirt that fit A well, I changed the armhole curves, shortened the shoulder seam, eliminated the back neck facing, and changed the side bust dart. The fabric I used for the shirt is a striped oxford cloth I had in the stash. I am experimenting with new interfacings to see how they work out since my favorite, So Sheer, is no longer carried by my fabric store.

Below you can see how I always replace the back neck facing with a strip of bias, since I hate the way a facing flaps around.

Now that I finally have a pattern that fits her, I can change the design details to whatever I want. First up will be a collar with a stand which will be a little more professional looking for work, and I also want to change the sleeve cuff to a regular cuff with a placket which I think will wear better.

In sewing machine news, I have decided to make my Singer 401A the machine I use for machine free motion embroidery, and have ordered a free motion foot. This weekend I tried out an old Kenmore buttonholer ($3 at the thrift store) on my old Kenmore and it made really lovely buttonholes. My only problem is that the feed dogs do not go down anymore on that machine, and it is running so well at the moment that I don’t want to tamper with it, so I need a cover for the feed dogs. I used the cover plate from the old Singer buttonholer, but I had to tape it in place, which worked, but is less than ideal. I just love gadgets, and want to try out all the different feet that came with the machines.

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I finally got the muslin to fit A, though we have decided to add a little more to the bicep area on the next shirt.  I am trying a new style of cuff  on the 3/4-length sleeves:

While this style looks fine, I am not sure how well it will wear because the inner point, though topstitched, is very fragile and will probably rip out in the future.  I have interfacing on the lining and some in the stitching area on the back side of the outer fabric, but I have a feeling that a regular cuff with a placket would be much sturdier.  Today I plan to put on the collar and hem the body, then all that will be left to do is buttons/buttonholes.

It is cool this morning since the fog is in, so I think it will be my chance to make some chocolate chip cookies for the spouse.

UPDATE:  Well, A has been wearing this shirt for over 5 years and the cuffs have held up fine, so I worried about it for nothing.

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