Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Silken Rose

We are off to Colorado this weekend to visit my daughter and her family as our only granddaughter will turn two. So I will share a photo of a dress I made for her long before her mother was even married. Several years ago, I realized that all of our kids were pretty much grown and I actually had time to work on a hobby or two. So I took up quilting, and learned quite a bit and made several quilts.  But then a few years after that, my daughter became engaged and I immediately became enthralled with heirloom sewing. This is a rather old fashioned sewing technique, generally involving lots of lace, entredeux, fine cotton batiste, handkerchief linens and a whole host of rather expensive materials. I made a few baby daygowns, which I will post upon eventually, but on a visit to a quilt shop that specialized (it's now gone) in heirloom sewing, I found a lovely rose silk dupioni. 

I made it into a this dress, using Chery William's Wedding Ring Dress, Size 1. The sewing room is pretty cluttered, isn't it? One of my aims for this blog is to improve my photography, and maybe even set up a small studio area. Some of my experiences in making this dress: This was really time consuming! I spent hours and hours gathering lace, sewing it to the entredeux (strips of fabric with "ladders" stitched onto it), then sewing the lace to the fabric. Using a pin stitch on the machine, it takes three times as long as a straight stitch.  Then ironing, trimming the fabric, and ironing again. Silk dupioni really ravels a lot, so I had to be very careful in handling it to keep the ravel factor down, and was forever picking up tiny pieces of threads that had worked loose from the fabric. It was a mess. Since the fabric was fairly expensive (don't ask how much, I really don't remember), I took everything very, very slowly, pinning each seam and checking carefully before sewing. But it did come out pretty well, and looked lovely on my granddaughter.

There are several sources for heirloom sewing techniques, both by hand and machine. Sew Beautiful Magazine is available at fabric stores, while more specialized books can be ordered online through many of the advertisers in the magazine. Chadwick Heirlooms and Old Fashioned Baby are a few of my favorites. Please note, I don't accept any commissions or gifts from any company or retailer that I may mention, I have just used them and like them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Buttonhole Stitch

I am making some progress on the Shirley Temple Dress. I have managed to finish the outline of the scallop on one armhole, and started on the buttonhole stitch.

I am working buttonhole stitch over the split stitch of the scallops, using the DMC cotton floche, #799. You probably cannot see it, but I removed the swiss dots from the scallops, so as not to interfere with the stitching. This is going to take quite a while, and I don't think it will be finished by the time we visit my daughter and granddaughter on Thursday. Luckily, I have already made a dress for her second birthday, and once I have photos, will post them for you. I am using a #7 between needle, which is a bit wider than a #10 sharp and accomodates the floche a little better than the sharp. Wendy recommends either one, and I find that the #7 between widens the hole in the fabric a bit better than the #10 sharp, so it is not so hard on the floche. Since I am using split stitch for the outline, I have had to dip into my store of floche as the kit contained enough only if I had used the running stitch for the outline. Luckily, I have every color of floche that exists, probably enough to last my lifetime.