Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day and Some News

Today in the US it is Independence Day, celebrating the day when the American Colonies declared independence from Great Britain. We generally celebrate with a reading of the Declaration of Independence, outdoor fun, barbecues, and of course, fireworks. Our local community center is gearing up for rides, games, and bands, culminating in the fireworks at 9 pm. Luckily, we can see them from the front yard, so no need to go down to the crowds. We will be firing up the grill later for our ribs and a nice relaxing afternoon of grilling and eating. We have started watching the AMC Television series, Turn, which is about George Washington's spy network. We need to get through the first season on Netflix before watching the second season, which I recorded on our DVR.

I mentioned that we were selling our house and moving, so now I'll explain a bit more about it. Last summer my daughter, who lives in Colorado, called us to inform us that she would be expecting her baby in March of this year, so Mr CS and I looked at each other and said, well, we're retired, let's move to Colorado!

We decided to build a new house in Colorado, and have rented an apartment for the interim period. I wanted to be in Colorado to help my daughter with our granddaughter in the months immediately after the baby was born.

He showed up on March 20 and has been charming the pants off me and everyone else since then. Here he is in the swaddle cloth I made for him.

In the last post I mentioned that we were to move out of the house by June 30, but that deal fell through. So we put the house back on the market and got an even better offer! Now we need to move by July 29, and are anxiously waiting for all contingencies to be cleared so we can make some final arrangements.

A somewhat forlorn image of our lot back in March. We hope to break ground on the new house around August 1, and move in by the end of January. We'll see how that works out!

Our neighbors, a bald eagle and her chick. I'm sure that by the time we get back to Colorado the chick will have flown off. The nest is about a ten minute walk from our lot. I will have regular updates to the building progress, and may even start a separate blog for it.

Happy Independence Day to all my American readers!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jenna Leigh Dress

I just finished a new dress for my granddaughter, Jenna Leigh from Bonnie Blue Designs.

Farmhouse Fabrics carries quite a few kits, and I couldn't resist this color combination. The pindot exactly matches the flower centers, and the mint green ric rac and buttons match the tiny bits of green in the flowered fabric.

I have absolutely no color sense, so I really jump at the chance to find something cute, well matched and not too loud and gaudy, as so many children's clothes seem to be these days. That baby ric rac is rather difficult to attach, as you can see by some of the red fabric peeking out from under the bottom of the ric rac. So what to do? I rummaged through all of the feet to my Husqvarna Viking machine and found:

a braiding foot. Might just work!

And boy, did it ever! the opening in the foot is just the right size for baby ric rac, which is just about 10 cm wide from tip to tip.

Perfect application! And I was able to sew it on quite a bit faster than by using a normal sewing foot. 

Finished dress.

Close up of the back with those huge buttons. They are 1 3/8 inches wide (35 cm), and in my opinion, way too big for this size 7 dress. But I knew I probably wouldn't be able to find anything that matched locally.

Cute dress and great fabric selections. The fabrics are high quality quilt cottons, the pindot is a Michael Miller, the floral is from Art Gallery Fabrics. As I mentioned, the fabrics, buttons and ric rac all coordinate beautifully.

The pattern is not well written, containing omissions and outright mistakes. The most annoying are for this view there is no instruction for the yoke side seams but after searching the pattern instructions, I was able to find the yoke side seam instructions for View 1.  The yoke yardage is insufficient, but luckily the pindot has no nap, so I was able to squeeze the the fabric pieces in. If the fabric has a nap or a directional design this would not be possible.  There was no marking for a center back seam, which I've never seen before. There were a few other issues, but I'll save those for when I write a review on Pattern Review.  An experienced sewer can work through all these problems, but when I pay $14.00 for a pattern, I expect it to be error free!

Tomorrow morning I'm flying to California to help Mr CS finish packing for our move. We need to vacate the house by June 30. We will be driving fairly slowly back to Colorado, as we will have Oscar, the cat, who is 19 years old and not used to car drives. I hope to have a couple of projects to work on and post about while in California.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Making Linen Napkins

Recently I have decided to switch to cloth napkins instead of paper. I'm not entirely sure why, as it does entail quite a bit more work, washing and ironing them every week. But being retired, I have more time for that sort of thing, right?

I decided to make 12 large, linen napkins, finished at 20 inches (51 cm) square. I also wanted to hem them with a pin stitch, to make them look just a bit nicer than with a plain topstitched hem. This first piece is tested with several thread and a size 120 jeans needle. From left to right is Mettler 60 weight, YLI 70 weight, and Madiera 80 weight.

Then I tried a wing needle, with the same thread sequence. The wing needle makes just a tiny bit bigger hole, but I'm afraid of damaging the fabric, so I decided to stick with the jeans needle and the Madiera 80 thread. I know this is hard to tell from these photos, but I don't have a tripod with me to help stabilize the camera.

Notice the sample, how it is skinny on one end and fat on the other. This is due to sloppy cutting at the fabric store, which annoys me no end. I alway build in a bit more than I need to account for this. When I cut this fabric, I did so by pulling a thread, in both directions. I don't expect a store to do this, but I would appreciate better cutting.

I cut the fabric 22 1/2 inches (57 cm) in diameter, to allow for a 1 inch (2.5) hem with a 1/4 inch (0.6)  turn under. To make a nice mitered corner, I pressed the hem all around, then opened the pressed edges and pressed the corner in right at the edge to be hemmed.

Then I turned it right sides together, and marked the seam line. It was pressed, but I had trouble seeing it on the machine while I was stitching. Much easier with the line.

Sewn and trimmed,

then finger pressed open.

Perfect miter! Well, it needs to be pressed a bit better.

On the fourth napkin, not even an inch from the end, I ran out of thread. So until my order comes in sometime next week, this project is put on hold. Which is just as well, as I have other projects that are stacking up. I found that I needed to baste the hem as this linen seems to have a tiny bit of stretch to it. This is one project in which I'm ironing more than I'm sewing.

I used the pin stitch on my Husqvarna Viking Diamond Royale, D46, reversed to be able to use it with the D hemstitching foot. Also, I stitched wrong side up. I made a sample using black thread, and there is a difference between the right and wrong sides with this stitch.  When I tried to stitch from the right side, I kept missing the hem and had to secure the missed spots by hand. Since I can barely see the difference using ecru thread on this off white linen, I figured what the heck, I'll stitch from the wrong side and at least get all the stitches on the hem.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Red Dress Finished

While in California last week I finished the dress. I don't mind doing hand work, in fact, I rather enjoy it, so I hand picked the under stitching to the neck seam allowance. 

Not quite a perfect neckline, but I'm getting better at it.

Then I realized that I wanted bias strips for the hems but didn't have a ruler with markings on it, as it's packed away in the storage unit. So I thought and thought, looked at the fabric carefully, and realized that the white dots are perfectly aligned on the grain, which means that they are also perfectly aligned on the bias. You can see this in the photo of the scrap, just follow the 45º line on the mat. So I was able to align a clear piece of plastic (actually, the sewing machine extension), and cut along the dots at a 45º angle, to give the bias as shown in the top strip.

I sewed the bias to the hem, pressed it under so the seam was on the inside ever so slightly, and hand picked the hem.

This photo shows both the dress and the lining hems. I turned the lining hem so the right side showed against the right side of the lining, for just a bit of a fun touch.

Yes, the dress looks somewhat huge on the form, but that's because I haven't adjusted it for the 18 pounds I've gained. It's definitely diet and exercise time.

You can see the empty shelves in the background, almost everything is packed away. I feel somewhat lost without all my sewing things.

The photos of me in the dress were terrible! So I won't post any photos until I can get better ones taken.

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.