Archive for September, 2010


I often stop in at Joann Fabrics on the way home from church on Sunday.  There is that contrast between spiritual subjects and crass commercialism, but it is right on the way home so is very frugal from a gas-saving standpoint.  Or so I tell myself.  Anyway, this week I found the following stencils which will eventually be embroidery designs for the Mexican child dresses I plan to make with my leftover cotton fabrics.  Here’s the original dress:

Here are the really inexpensive stencils:

And a three-pack of stencils with lots of good foliage designs and more butterflies:

I have lots of stencils but never actually use them for stenciling, just for design ideas.  This will be the first time I use them for machine embroidery.


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Owl Purse

That Butterick 5367 black and white bag was a prototype for the real fabric, the owl corduroy shown above.  My daughter, M, saw this fabric at JoAnn and bought a yard of it for a tote bag.  I have a length of hot pink decorator fabric to use for the lining, so it should make a really cute bag.  I am going to have to work hard to fit the pieces on only 1 yard of fabric, though, since that is all there is, but I think it can be done.

I’m also working on a top using the pattern shown below.  I am still in the ‘trace the pattern and do the fitting changes’ stage, but I have read the instruction sheet and the construction looks quick and easy.Also in the works is this skirt for A.  I have some nice drapey grey fabric that I will use to try this pattern.  I first heard about this pattern on the A Dress A Day blog (http://www.dressaday.com/), so I decided to try it.  I like skirts with a yoke top because they don’t have a lot of dart sewing involved.  I find dart sewing tedious, I am sorry to say.
It’s way too hot today to go outside, so I am on my way back to the sewing room to finish tracing the top pattern.

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Little Mexican Dresses

My last picture of the San Diego Old Town market.  I love these little bitty dresses.  I should have turned them over to see if the smaller sizes (toddler) had a button placket in the back, because the head of a toddler is so much bigger in proportion to the body that it seems to be difficult to design the usual ‘over the head’ style of dress without the neckline being way too wide.  I’ll just put a placket in the back, because I can sew a placket with my eyes closed almost.

I used to make lots of dolls to sell at a Christmas boutique, and all the doll dresses had a back closure and placket.  Over the years I sewed hundreds of plackets, so I don’t even need a pattern or instructions anymore, just cut a slit in the fabric and a strip of bias and presto, a placket.

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Butterick 5367 Bag Finished

I like the size of this bag, it is ginormous.  Here are a few pictures to show the size, one with a ruler and my hand, and another of the bag draped over Betty:

I gave the bag heft with a layer of quilt batting, and the lining bottom is interfaced with Peltex, and the outer fabric bottom is interlined with more batting.  Here’s a view of the inside:

You can see how I made rows of stitching around the oval bottom piece on the lining, and I also stitched the outer fabric bottom.  I used the strap pattern piece unchanged as to length, and I think it is a very good length and fits well over the shoulder, which is how my daughter likes to carry her bags.  This pattern is a good one, and seems to be well drafted.  You can always tell that when you try to inset a piece like the bottom oval into the constructed bag -will it fit, or will it be a colossal hassle to sew?  In this pattern it fit very well and was relatively easy to sew.

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Black And White Purse

I am drawing up a diagram for a Mexican dress for a 3-year-old toddler, but got distracted by another project, a tote bag for M.

Here’s the pattern I’m using.  So far I have about half of the assembling done, and the bag seems to be a nice large size.  I am using the leftover decorator fabric from A’s pencil skirt, some black denim from the stash, and some tan denim also from the stash.  When I find nice heavy denim-type fabric on sale for $1-$3/yard, I will buy 5 or 10 yards of it to use for bag linings or bag outer fabrics.  It is nice to have it on hand.

When I return home from pattern sales, and we all know that if there is a pattern sale, I am there, I have the girls go through the new patterns and circle the views they like and put their initials on their choices.  This way I know without having to ask again if they like this view or that view, or if they don’t like the style at all.

I finished up the lining pockets and am working on the outer shell.  I am using solid black for the accent color.  I ran out of fabric for the whole outer shell, so the bottom oval piece is also black.

The pockets on the lining are finished with black bands, and I tried using a decorative stitch along the bottom of the binding:

I like the way it looks and besides, it holds down and disguishes the possibly crooked line of stitching on the underside.

Today I’m going to start putting the whole thing together which goes pretty quickly after all the finicky details are done.

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In San Diego they were also selling these fabulously cute little dresses.  I could see how easy these would be to make for anyone’s little princess, and being smaller would take lots less embroidery.  It is just a yoke piece, lined to encase the sleeve ruffle, two skirt pieces, and some pockets.  You could make the neckline big enough to fit over the head, or you could put a placket in the back skirt and buttons on the back yoke. If you had an embroidery machine, you would only need one motif and one border to produce a dress like the blue one above.

These dresses have a combination of hand and machine embroidery.  The motifs are hand embroidered, and the borders are machine stitched.

This weekend my FIL turns 88.  He is a lawyer and only retired from practice last year.  I have to go find a recipe for a birthday cake, his favorite being chocolate cake with whipped cream icing, a preference that pleases everybody.

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More Mexican Dresses

I am still sewing away on the batik top, so I will fill this post with some of the rest of the pictures I took in Old Town, San Diego.

I think it is helpful to see lots of pictures of these garments because it gives great ideas for color combinations.  When I was making the orange Mexican top for my daughter, I couldn’t decide on the blanket stitch color, so I looked at pictures to give me inspiration.  Here’s that top, which she still wears a lot:

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