Friday, May 8, 2015

New Red Dress, Simplicity 1357

I have a wedding to attend in Tennessee soon, so here goes for a new dress. I'm using Simplicity 1357, part of their AmazingFit series. And sadly, I have recently gone back into the plus sizes, called Women's by Simplicity, probably to make us feel better. The fabric is a medium weight polyester from Joann's. It has a lovely drape but is quite slippery and difficult to sew, much like silk.

I didn't make a muslin on this, instead choosing to fit it on me with the help of the pattern instructions. I ended up widening the waist, but taking it in at the bustling and shoulders. This last little alteration gave me a slightly puffed sleeve, which I rather like.

I found an old Threads article on inserting a simple lining with the facings attached to the lining fabric, so I thought I would try it. According to the article, no interfacing is needed with this technique. You sew the facings together, then attach to the lining at the neckline. Fold under the long edge and edge stitch the facing right to the lining.

I did decide to insert the zipper by hand, first by pinning to the fabric, then pick stitching, as shown above. It does take about two hours start to finish, but it is strong, secure, almost invisible and absolutely beautiful. It is a wonderful couture touch to give to your garments.

Practically perfect zipper! Now on to the lining.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fun with SAGA Sandcastle Chapter

Our local SAGA chapter got together to make this sweet dress in a class taught by Kathy Awender. (Click on the link to go to her home page). It just so happened that my trip to California coincided with this class. I had already registered for the class and had planned on making the dress by myself, but it was much more fun to attend the class in person. The dress is a size 3 modified bishop, with a neckband above the smocking. It's a nice change from the classic bishop.

And it has a cute smocked pocket.

The Dimity Dreams Dress kit contains light blue batiste for the neckband and trim, floss for the smocking, thread, cording, mother of pearl buttons and white windowpane dimity fabric for the dress.

First we had to make piping out of the blue batiste for the neckband. Kathy recommends using a 5 groove pin tuck foot as the tiny piping will just fit into one of the grooves and hold it steady while stitching the seam. However, I didn't bring it with me, leaving it in Colorado. I have an old Husqvarna Viking Designer 1 that is still in the California house, but it only has the feet that came with the machine, minus the zipper foot, which would have worked as well. So I used the buttonhole C foot, which has a groove on the bottom right, and held the cording fairly well.

Here we are, hard at work. Kathy is in the light blue on the right of the lower photo. I'm not in the photo, as I was having a seriously bad hair day.

The semi completed neckband, which needs a good ironing.

And this is where I ended up after six hours of class. I have the sleeves attached to the bodice, and the French seams partially sewn and trimmed. All it needs it to have the final seams sewn, then I can progress on to the pleating and smocking.

I don't think any of us have a size 3 little girl who needs a fancy dress, but that never stopped us from sewing a new one!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Bit of Baby Sewing

My new grandson is now five weeks old and is growing fast. In fact, I made this swaddle blanket for him and he outgrew it at three weeks. It didn't help that he was a big baby, born at 8 lb 13 oz (4 kilos).    If you are not familiar with the concept, you put the baby in the little pocket in the center.

Then wrap the right side over the baby, then the left side, which fastens with velcro tabs, much like the diaper covers available for cloth diapers. Baby is then nice and snug, almost like it was in the womb. From what I've heard, swaddling is only really beneficial to babies under a month old, so he has now outgrown it both by age and size. Please realize that I am no authority on the subject of swaddling, so don't fault me for saying this. I will send this on to my niece, who is expecting a boy in October. 

For some reason, I had purchased several yards of this flannel, so I made two receiving blankets that are 44 inches (1.125 m) square that still fit him. I'm so glad I did, as he has outgrown all the newborn sized blankets. 

About ten years ago, when I was commuting from South Orange County (California) to North San Diego County (also California) for work, I passed by a lovely quilt/heirloom sewing shop called Sew Special. The shop is no longer in existence as the owner retired to spend more time with her own grandchildren. At the time I was hoping my daughter (and sons) would eventually get married and have babies, so I bought two quilt kits, one each in pink and blue. I assembled the pink quilt in 2004 when my granddaughter was born. 

Then just two months ago I assembled the blue version for the newest grandson. These are really simple, with squares of Minky, flannel, brushed cotton, and another fabrics. They are most certainly not heirloom quilts, but are the drag-in-the-mud type quilts that I hope will be loved. They are nice and sturdy and can withstand many washings.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pink Robe is Finished!

Look at the eyelet tucks in the yoke seam, don't you just want to kick yourself when this happens?

But it was easily solved, I just folded the tuck down and sewed the snap over it. These snaps are huge, and bright, but it is all that was available at Joann's. The white snaps were just too tiny, and I didn't care for the ribbon option.

With the robe snapped shut, you can't even see the tuck underneath. Not the best solution, but it will serve.

The completed robe! She hasn't seen it yet, so I hope she likes it. Well, it is pink, so by definition she will like it. I had just enough lace for the sleeves, nice little bonus.

This pattern is easy to sew, and would be quick if I weren't so fussy. Instead of pressing the seams open, I pressed them to one side, triple zig zagged them, and trimmed. Then I topstitched the seams down. This looks so much more professional that the open seams in the instructions. I don't know why the patterns always call for seams that are pressed open. They look so sloppy. Also, that pin stitching on the eyelet took quite a while. I had to stop and rest my eyes several times from looking at that needle!

I don't know if this is the fault of the pattern or the fabric, but I was short a few inches. I purchased the correct amount for size 8, 3 yards, and washed and dried the fabric on hot to maximize any possible shrinkage. Since I didn't measure before and after, I don't know if the shortage is caused from the pattern or the fabric shrinking. I called my daughter and asked for my granddaughter's height, and it turned out that she is 3 inches (7.6 cm) shorter than the assumed height for size 8. So I was able to shorten the body of the robe and had plenty of fabric. I made a note on the envelope for next time, as I will probably make a summer version.

All together this took about 16 hours to make. If I were to make it strictly according to the instructions, I could probably shave off two or three hours. The best thing is that she now has a lovely robe that is impossible to buy in a store.

I managed to get a picture of her in it, it's a bit blurry but it is difficult to get a seven year old to pose properly.

This afternoon I am flying to California to be with Mr. California Stitching for a couple of weeks, so posts may be sketchy for a while. Also, I seemed to have scratched my right eye, so not much embroidery until it heals.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Little Pink Robe

My granddaughter was so happy with her smocked nightgown that not only does she wear it practically every night, she asked for a robe to go with it. I chose Simplicity 1569, for several reasons. First of all, it is not a traditional wrap style robe, which I don't like at all. It is a pretty simple pattern, with no collar and only a simple tie at the front. And it has a nice PJ/Nightgown option which  I really like. I chose a nice pink flannel and eyelet edging, both from Joann's, and cut Version A in size 8.

As I usually do, I added a deep curve to the back facing. That white tape is paper tape from the medical supply section of the drugstore. It's much nicer to use than cellophane tape, as it doesn't shrivel when ironed and can be written upon. I always iron my paper patterns before laying out.

Then I embroidered her initials on the facing.

Although the flannel seems to be a fairly nice quality, the edgings, as usual, are not, as you can see by the somewhat rough appearance. The pattern called for flexible edging, but those available were pretty nasty synthetics, so I went with the cotton eyelet. Then I had to figure out how to apply it, especially around the curves. First, I folded and pressed the raw edge about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) from the top of the embroidered part.

Then I basted the edging along the fold line 1/8 inch (.3 cm) from the finished edge. To get around the curves, I basted the edging before attaching to the fabric and eased it as I sewed it around the curves.

This is a shot of the edged folded back from the fabric finished edge.

Then I stitched a zig zag just to the plain side of the edging,

And trimmed it away close to the zig zag. Those duckbilled appliqué scissors sure do the job!

After folding the edging back to the original position, I pin stitched the folded edge of the eyelet, to give it a bit of an heirloom look. On the top is a pocket, which I stitched with a size 100 jeans needle, but the sample on the bottom was stitched with a size 120 needle. I used the 120 needle for all of the eyelet applied to the entire edge of the robe, as you can see the holes quite a bit better.

Next up, the completed robe.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Working a Clematis Petal

The last time I posted on the Rambling Clematis, I mentioned that each petal takes a few hours to stitch. So that got me to thinking, just how long does each one take? Starting with attaching the wire to the fabric I carefully timed myself while watching TV on the computer.

The buttonhole stitch working up the right side of the petal.

And down the left back to the base.

Starting to fill in the petal with long and short stitch.

Almost completed with long and short stitch.

The completed petal is the one in the center with darker floss lines and gold at the base. This was shot this morning so you can see how far I've progressed. Two petals complete, seven just missing the dark purple and gold, and four in work. The one petal I timed took 140 minutes, or 2 hours and 20 minutes! The project calls for 24 petals, not to mention several leaves and other bits. And this doesn't include cutting them out and attaching to the black silk ground fabric.

This is going to take quite a long time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Smocked Nightgown II

Bridget's nightgown is finished, and now she just has to wait until the nights are a bit warmer to wear it. Here in Colorado, it still gets to 30℉ to 40℉ (-1℃ to 4℃) at night.

I made the smocking just a bit simpler than on the adult version, omitting two rows of trellis.

But here they are on the back.

The back facing with her initials so she'll easily know which is the back. I made up these initials a couple of years ago for her first set of pjs. This was a challenge, as I am temporarily living in an apartment in Loveland, Colorado. I brought my sewing machine and embroidery unit with me, but virtually all of my threads (including embroidery threads) are in a storage unit in Southern California, along with all of my hoops, interfacings, and fabric. Luckily, I entered all of my hoops in my sewing machine software, and have a complete list of all of the embroidery threads I own. So I was able to purchase a hoop that I didn't have (but still don't really need), and match the pink rayon thread to the DMC 602, the darker pink I used for smocking. As the pink rayon thread is one that I don't own, I was able to purchase it knowing that it will make a good addition to my thread inventory. I made sure to add it to my list of threads to make sure I don't buy it again.

Now on to another nursing nightgown for mama.