Monday, April 29, 2013
I've been so very busy lately that I haven't had much time for much sewing, embroidery, or even blogging about what little I've done. The sewing room reorganization is coming along in fits and starts, and yesterday I uncovered a project I've neglected for quite some time. Once I sat down, plugged in an audiobook and set to work, I realized just how much I've missed this little guy.
I added some colors to his breast, blending the darker shades in with the light. It was very surprising to me how good I felt being able to sit down and concentrate on just stitching away.
The dark stripe is especially challenging to blend in with the russet tones. He's looking handsome, isn't he?
To make it even more difficult, light yellow goes on over the dark, almost black threads. These birds don't think about embroiderers when they evolve those colors, do they?
I'm not at all happy with the photography. One of my goals is to set up a little mini photo shoot area, in which I have consistent lighting so all the photos will look similar. It is hard to show you good photos of my work if the photography is of a rank amateur, which is what, of course, I am. I will have to put the Bee Eater aside for a while as I really have too much on my plate right now.
One of the many reasons that I have been so busy is that I am preparing for a bridal shower for my niece.
I made these pecan shortbread cookies yesterday. Substituting a bit of cornstarch for the flour makes them especially tender.
I also made a test batch of the main course, ham and gruyere quiche, which we had for lunch yesterday on the patio. I take the photos and then send them to my sister, the mother of the bride, who, I might add, is in full "mother of the bride" mode. I know because I've been there. The shower is this coming Saturday, then it's work on the flower girl dresses. So I'll have plenty to write about and will definitely try to do better about finding the time for it.
Have a great Stitching Week!
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Holy Cow have I ever been away! But here I am to report on buttonholes; hand made vs. machine. I have trouble with buttonholes at the best of times. But the Dainty Dotted Day Dress I've been working on (or not, as I haven't really made much progress) has a very small yoke with not much room for a machine worked buttonhole. So I decided to be very clever and would work a hand made buttonhole, at least on the yoke. After all, I've done this before, on the Handsewn Diaper Shirt, seen above, using the excellent instruction in the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches.
In this closeup view, you can see that the middle one is a bit skewed and uneven, but not too awful. I figure that it should be just like embroidery, right? But in most embroidery, the fabric is kept taut in a hoop, and any cutting usually comes after the embroidery is finished. With hand made buttonholes, the fabric is cut first, then the stitching is worked around the slit, making it much harder to keep the stitches nice and even.
Above you can see my trials on the dotted swiss fabric. They go in order, left to right and top to bottom, just like reading a printed page. I finally gave up on the fifth try as the thread got tangled on the back of the fabric. So I switched to the machine, but not using the automatic buttonholer. Instead I used the separate satin stitches in 2.0 and 4.0 widths, and practiced until I was reasonably happy with the finished buttonhole.
And here is the result. As you can see, the yoke is very tiny so the normal buttonhole wheel wouldn't have any fabric on which to ride. Notice the fabric raveling in the seam allowance? This fabric is a loose weave and kept raveling while I was practicing the buttonholes and completely drove me nuts. The fabric used in the Diaper Shirt is a much finer weave and very much easier to work with. I did think of using tape to keep the threads intact but gave up and went the machine made route instead. I do think that I will try dissolving some Sulky water soluble stabilizer and dabbing that on the fabric, then working the buttonhole. It just might work.
Now it's time to tell you what I've been doing lately. Obviously, not much sewing or embroidery is going on here, but that is changing as of this weekend. Last October I decided to lose some weight, and have managed to drop 29 pounds since then. To do that takes a lot of exercising, which also takes time! Do you remember how I've mentioned here and there that I would like to get into some garment sewing for myself? Now that I'm in normal, not plus sizes (barely), I'm a lot more motivated, and tomorrow I'm taking a pants fitting class at a local fabric store. So not only do I hope to end up with a well fitting pants pattern, I'll be able to take in some of the pants I already own and don't want to throw out.
Then Lyn Weeks, an Australian heirloom sewing teacher, is coming to Southern California at the start of her American teaching tour. I'm taking several classes from her in early April so will have lots to post about.
Now, as I said at the end of the last post, it's on to the sleeves.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Last weekend, I traveled to San Mateo, which is just south of San Francisco, to attend a fun class to make this yummy dress. The class was hosted by the Cable Car Cablers SAGA guild of the San Francisco Bay Area, with six of the 18 attendees making the trip from Southern California.
This dress was featured in the November/December 2000 issue of Creative Needle magazine, which unfortunately folded a few years ago.
Cindy Foose, our teacher, explained that she doesn't like pleating for smocking, so developed this dress which uses the dots in the dotted swiss fabric to guide the smocking. She also connected the skirts to the yokes by fagoting, also known as bridge stitching. What was unusual is that she had us smock with three strands of floche. Normally you smock with three strands of floss. Now floche is about 1 1/2 times the thickness of floss, so I was a bit concerned that this would overwhelm the delicate fabric. But as you can see in the photo above, it works! The dress even has smocking on the back.
Lace is attached to the collar and sleeves; here I have the collar basted to the template in preparation for the fagoting.
For the fagoting we used one strand of floche, as you can see in this photo. It goes pretty quickly and by the time I finally got around to writing this post (I started Saturday morning and it's now Sunday evening) I have finished all the fagoting except for the sleeves. Now on to the sleeves and construction of the actual dress!
I hope all of you have a lovely week and manage to get some stitching time in!
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A quilted heart, that is! A result of going through the sewing room contents is finding all sorts of UFO's. Notice I didn't say it was a good result. I put together this very sorry specimen of a crazy quilted heart. It's hard to see in the photo, but many of the fabric edges are not sewn down. That's the first thing that needs to be corrected.
Then I tried to get fancy with my sewing machine's built in stitches and some metallic threads. You can see the result in the photo above. I have ripped most of the mess out, but I can't get all of it. Second thing that needs to be corrected.
I then had a brilliant idea of making some sort of border to go around the heart, covering up the messy metallic sewing, and dug through my "red fabric" box and came up with these three.
In the end, I selected this stripey batik, as it had the best color to go with the reds in the heart.
But look what I found while digging through the stash - Australia themed fabric! Funny, I don't remember buying this while Down Under a few years ago - but then I might have been too worried about being upside down while there. (I know, it doesn't make sense, but I did have this odd feeling of being upside down while in Australia)
I made a long strip - 84 inches, that is to say, two widths of fabric (WOF, in sewing terms), 2 1/2 inches wide. I turned it right side out and pressed the seam to the middle. I'm now making this shell smocked piece of trim and will appliqué it around the edge of the heart, covering up the metallic thread mess. I even bought some beads to go with it.
Tomorrow Mr. CS and I travel to San Mateo (just south of San Francisco) to take a Cindy Foose Smocked Dress class. (I'm taking the class, not Mr. CS - he'll go fishing) The class is Saturday and Sunday, but we are going a day early to see a Vermeer exhibit at the de Young Museum. Fun, fun!
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I needed a break from looking at notions, threads, tools and figuring out where to put them, so I picked up one of my many UFO's and decided to actually finish something. If you recall my previous post, this was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but obviously it will have to wait. The thread was pretty easy to keep the colors straight. It comes in precut lengths, so I just started a new length on each row. This used slightly less than half the length of thread, so I used some of the leftover pieces for the edging.
It's a kit that I bought when taking a class by Barbara Meger back in September during a ferocious heat wave.
It has a simple whipped edgestitch for trim. It looks easy, but it's a challenge to see. I had to use two Ott Lights and a magnifier to see the black thread on the black silk.
I hope you all have a lovely week ahead. Not to garner sympathy, but I came down with a miserable cough and sore throat. I'm completely sick of drinking tea, the roof of my mouth is sore from all the cough drops, and my chest hurts from coughing. With any luck it will clear up in a day or two as I've been at it since Thursday. Time for a nice, hot bath.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
The sewing room is filling up quite nicely. As you can see, I've made great progress in putting away the fabric. I have it organized, sort of, and I'll share that with you when I've finished. The mini bolts are on the shelves, with fat quarters and scraps in the bins. See the little three drawer shelves? They hold mostly sewing notions, and I hope to empty the contents into small bins and use the drawers for embroidery threads. I'm saving those for last as I think it will be my biggest headache.
This is today's project, sorting out the laces. I've come down with a slight cold, so this is the perfect tasks, picking through all the lovely laces while sitting on the floor drinking ginger tea. Some time ago I took all the laces, measured them, and wound them around the acid free cards for storage. As I took these out to put into smaller bins, I realized that I did all that winding six years ago, in 2007. I need to use this stuff up! For those of you who are horrified by the plastic containers, I don't seal them, just place the lid on to keep the dust out, and throw in a lavender sachet.
I'm not getting a bit of sewing or embroidery done, which is beginning to really annoy me. I may take some time out from organizing to sit and stitch. On my table, which you can't see in the photo, are at least three UFO's in danger of getting lost in the jumble. I just received a Needlework Nibble from Thistle Threads this past week, and have this kit from Needle in a Haystack on its way, so the pile isn't getting any smaller.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Or, how I spent my Christmas Vacation. Mr. California Stitching and I installed closet organizers from Home Depot in the closet in my sewing room (twelve feet nine inches wide!).
This is where I am at the moment. Only one of the large drawers on the right is filled, the rest are all empty. You should see all the fabric on the floor out of range of the camera. I'm trying to put only mini bolts on the shelves, fat quarters and scraps in bins on the floor, and really fine fabrics behind the closed doors. It's a fairly slow process to try to figure out where to put everything, as I don't have a good feel for how much of each category, that is, fabric mini bolts, fat quarters and scraps, laces, fine fabrics, etc., that I have.
I was very fortunate to receive these books for Christmas. I want to get into more garment sewing for me, and will tackle the Shirtmaking book first. In fact, the blue fabric hanging in the previous photo is for shirts. I took a class in Schwalm Embroidery at the 2011 SAGA Convention in Anaheim, California, and decided to explore it a little more on my own. And of course I couldn't resist the latest Country Bumpkin publication, Blissful Beginnings. This is a lovely book on embroidered blankets.
I received the box of threads on the right, all polyester, which I find is just great for most construction. The spools of cotton thread on the left are from me hitting the thread sale at Joann's.
One of my New Year's resolutions, from a few years ago, is to make a list of the projects I have ongoing and to start. Another is to be a better blogger as I've been quite a slacker lately. What are your stitching resolutions for 2013?