Archive for May, 2012

Not too much sewing has been going on around here, because we have been digging and planting and weeding.  The picture shows the garden about two weeks ago, and more things have been planted since then.  The weather has been weird – hot for a stretch, then cold and windy.  Today it is hot again, but I think the plants like it.

When I am worn out from garden work, I sit down and sew in some of the hundreds of ends on the afghan that is nearing completion.  After the ends are done, I just have to crochet the border.  I also got a shock when I found out that the wedding my daughter will be taking part in is in a few days, and I didn’t have the three weeks I thought I had to do alterations on her bridesmaid dress.  All I have to say about that dress is that the people who sewed it really were serious about it, because it was seriously sewn to stay sewn.  It took forever to deconstruct so that I could shorten the straps on the bodice.  But it is done now and on its way.

Next up is the last of the sleeveless tops, if I ever get around to cutting it out.  The real reason that my sewing has lagged lately, though, is that I am rereading the Sue Barton Student Nurse series that I loved as a girl.  Copies had disappeared from the local libraries, and apparently they are in demand because they had gotten so expensive to buy on used-book sites.  However, some company has reissued them and I now own them all.  Wonderful books,  I’ll never get tired of them.

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Sunbonnet #2

Well, I had just finished the batik top and had some leftover fabric so hey, presto, a batik sunbonnet.  The back drape has been lengthened to about 9 1/2″ from the base of the brim.  That seems to give good back coverage, and the front ties were cut a little longer and are now 22″ long before sewing.  I really like this one – wearing the bonnets is a lot cooler (temperature-wise) than the straw garden hat, and the ties keep it from blowing or falling off.  The sewing on this one went a lot faster.

The picture above shows the buttonhole in the center back at the bottom of the hood portion (top of the drape) with the adjusting ties .

When I was looking up prairie bonnets online, I found some utilitarian ones which I might try to duplicate.  On these bonnets, the drape comes around to the front and shields the neck and chin:

A bonnet like this should be easy to sew, since I can use the  measurements from the other bonnets.  I would love to have a pink bonnet with ruffles, too.

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Usually, when I work in the garden, I wear a large garden hat.  It falls off sometimes, blows off in the wind, and doesn’t really cover the back of my neck.  I’ve always wanted a sunbonnet and have been acquiring patterns for that future project.  Yesterday I finally decided to go for it.  There are some pretty sunbonnets pictured on the internet, though some places call them prairie bonnets.  I found a few pictures I liked and altered a pattern I had to fit me.  The out-of-print pattern is for a child, so I made it a little bigger.  The pattern is Size Large, so I added 1 1/4″ at center back and to the center of the front brim piece.

The front brim needs interfacing, so I used Peltex Ultra-Firm Sew-In which is sometimes on sale at JoAnns when they have 50% off the notions wall.  Such a firm interfacing is difficult to sew, so next time I’m going to cut the brim interfacing piece without seam allowances and slide the interfacing into place after I partially sew the brim.  I topstitch the brim so the interfacing will be held in place.

Some of the old bonnets I looked at had a casing in the back with ties to adjust the width of the back.  The pattern calls for elastic in the casing, but I went with the ties.  I just put in a buttonhole in the center back of the bonnet back before I sewed the casing, then I put the ties in.  Both the ties for the back and the front ties are sewn into the brim seam.

Next time I’m going to make the front ties a little longer and make the back neck drape longer.  Otherwise, a success, and I’m going to use it for the first time today.

Note on my model:  This funny papier mache head was a craft I did with my girls one day when they were little.  You blow up a balloon and cover it with newspaper strips soaked in a flour/water paste.  I think I remember taping the balloon to an empty toilet paper tube for the neck before the papier mache was applied.  It’s really interesting and funny to see the way kids paint the faces.

I gave the batik blouse to my daughter when it was finished and forgot to get a picture of it.  Maybe I can get her to give it back for a few minutes to be photographed some day.

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Indian Gauze

There are still two pieces of Indian gauze in the stash, and though I don’t know what happened to the pink one, I did find the black one.  Today it will be cut into another New Look 6027.  A random scrap of red fabric turned up that is just big enough for the lining of the yoke/insets.  This is discouraging for the destasher, because the stash keeps on being useful, tempting you to keep it all.

I wish we could get more of this lovely gauze fabric, since it is so easy to sew and wear, but alas, it has been marinating in the stash for about 15 years.  Well, maybe only 10.

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When the library has a book sale fundraiser, I am always there.  It is amazing how I eventually find most of the books I have been looking for.  For example, when we were first married and living in Sacramento, I got a Batsford embroidery book, Practical Embroidery,  from a downtown bookshop.  The book was great but didn’t have the basic information about how to start and end your threads, etc.  The book said that all that information was in their first volume,  Let’s Embroider.  I couldn’t find that book anywhere in that pre-internet age, but 30 years later I got a great copy from the booksale.  Nowadays, I am always on the lookout for vintage sewing and knitting books and pamphlets.  Here’s what I found yesterday:

On the left and right are two books by Adele P. Margolis, the wonderful sewing writer who lived to be 100 and was writing another volume in her 90’s about fitting the aging body.   In the center is Clothing Construction by Evelyn A. Mansfield.  This is a 1953 college textbook, a wonderful book full of great pictures and technique how-tos.  Here’s a sample page showing how to make Chinese knot closures and buttons:

If you ever get a chance to get this book, it is well worth the investment.  Especially if you can get it at the library book sale for $1.  I also found some assorted vintage and more modern books on sewing.  The Bishop Method book,  which my mom had a copy of, dates from 1966, and the McCalls book is from 1957:

The McCall’s pamphlet is from 1967, and the other books are from the 90’s.

I finished up the batik blouse but still haven’t photographed it.  Now M wants me to make the same top out of some Indian gauze from the stash, so I hope to cut that out soon.  In the meantime, I am working on fitting some patterns for A.

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Batik Blouse

Today I’m making a start on the batik blouse made from New Look 6027.  I tried a new method for sewing in the yoke/inset, and I won’t be using that method again because it was a little iffy.  I was trying to get away with doing a little less hand sewing, but that didn’t happen and was too finicky.  Well, I’ll just have to think of something else.

Now that the embroidery machine is working again, I tried out two new designs.  The first one is from Oregon Patch Works and is called Floral Dreams.

This design is light and airy without the extremely dense embroidery the robots had and that my machine doesn’t seem to like.  My daughter said she loves the robot curtains and will send me a picture when she gets around to it.  Anyway, I really like Floral Dreams and think it would look great on garments without distorting the fabric too much.

The following CD of mini designs has been very useful:

I have used the heart on a girl’s dress, and you can see that the size and variety is great for many applications.  Today I tried out the butterfly:

After a busy week, it is nice to spend all day today sewing, though I may take a break and make a cake for the spouse.

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I’m really getting better at the bias binding!  I didn’t have to do any hand stitching on this top’s binding at all, just a little basting.  No uncaught edges were lurking underneath for me to find.  This made the whole thing go much faster, so now it is on to the batik version.

Those buttons are just for decoration, since there is no opening in the front, or in the back for that matter.  The top just slips over the head.  I know I’ve said it before, but this pattern has excellent shaping with a slightly curved center-back seam, curved side seams, and dart shaping incorporated into the yoke-inset side seams.  For a looser-fitting top, it gives attractive definition to the figure.  This particular version will look good on M worn alone and also when worn with one of her several gray cardigans.

I had to lighten the picture a little and Madame Merp has taken on a gold hue, like an Oscar.  Which makes me wonder why there is no gold duct tape?

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