Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some Garment Sewing

I've been threatening all of you for a while now that I would burden you with some garment sewing for myself, and here it is. I made this dress for various dressy occasions occurring this summer. It's a silk jacquard that I picked up years ago from M and L Fabrics in Anaheim.

I decided to try out this Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern, 1715. The instructions have you measure yourself very carefully and step you through the fitting process. It works reasonably well and now I have a dressy dress that fits well. One thing that I hate about shopping for ready to wear clothes is that right now all the dresses are knee length, and I like my dresses to be longer. But then, that's why we sew, isn't it? I was somewhat nervous with the whole process and made a muslin to check the fit. I only needed a few adjustments around the waist and I was off and running!

On thing about heirloom sewing is that it makes you very fussy. I underlined the entire dress with silk organza. Here I've catch stitched the princess seams to the underlining.

I hand picked the zipper with tiny backstitches. Note that this is not an invisible zipper. I need more practice with those! Hand picking a zipper is incredibly easy, although time consuming. You have to pin it, adjust, baste, then finish with the backstitches. It takes time, but the results are worth it.

The skirt of this dress is flared, which would mean there would be a lot of pleats in the hem. I hate those pleats as I never get them even and they sometimes show through to the front when ironed. So I turned under the hem 1/2 inch, and made a long 2 inch bias strip of cotton fabric for a hem facing. I ironed under 1/2 inch on each side and basted both sides to the hem and dress. Then I used tiny fell stitches first to stitch the bottom of the facing to the turned up hem, then the top of the facing to the silk underlining. Very, very time consuming, but now I have a perfect hem that doesn't pleat or show through the front of the dress.

I even made the top facings larger than normal, edged them with pretty lace from my huge stash. By the way, I used batiste for these facings, but quilt fabric for the hem facing.

And here it is, live at our son's graduation. He received his PhD in Physics from Yale University in May. We are so proud of him and glad that it's over. If you look closely at the diploma you'll see that it's in Latin.

My sister decided that the beige was too bland for me, so insisted on the orange bag. The earrings match and so do the shoes. I was supposed to wear this at our niece's wedding last month, but with 106 F forecast I opted for a simple silk sleeveless dress. But I will bring this with me to another wedding in Michigan this coming weekend.

Then I made this sweet little blouse. It's made from cotton dotted swiss and was pretty easy to make. I have a small stash of German Interfacing that I used for the collar and cuffs. It is so easy to use and much nicer than the ubiquitous Pellon. It's a woven cotton fusible made for the shirt making industry and pretty hard to find. You can mail order it from Love and Stitches and I guarantee you will love it if you try it out.

The pattern is Simplicity 1941, another of their Amazing Fit patterns.  I really like this blouse and will definitely make some of the other styles.

My next construction project will be pants! Yikes!! Fitting them well is the Holy Grail of sewing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hand Sewn Baby Slip

I belong to three different SAGA chapters, the largest of which has been running a program to make a baby slip by hand or machine. I chose to make it by hand as I was able to get most of the sewing done while riding to my niece's wedding last month. This photo is of the shell hem around the neckline and arms. This is quite easy to do by hand, although if you're afraid to do so, you can also follow the instructions in Fine Machine Sewing by Carol Ahles. In it, she gives very clear directions on how to do this by machine. To tell you the truth, the machine method scares me a bit. I've done it on scraps, but never on a real garment. To me, it's easier by hand. I just turn the edges under and go for it. One of the ladies in our group is doing a hybrid method. She sewed 1/8 inch from the edge and turned the fabric under and ironed it, then will sew the shell edge by hand.

The side seams are finished with a French seam, again all by hand.

This embroidery is worked in DMC Floche, blanc, from a pattern in Country Bumpkin's Embroidered Christening Gowns as I was much too lazy to design anything myself.  The link will take you to CB's site, but the book is also available at Amazon. The bottom edge is only partially finished with entredeux. First I rolled and whipped the edge, then trimmed off the fabric from one edge of the entredeux, then whipped it to the rolled edge. Then I trimmed the fabric from the other edge of the entredeux in preparation for attaching the lace.

The next step will be to gather the lace and whip it to the other side of the entredeux. But first I will wash and iron the slip, then mark the bottom edge's center fronts and backs. Since I believe almost every baby garment should have some feather stitching I will mark the design lines after washing.

This is a fun little project that our VP in charge of programs cooked up for us this year. Thanks, Lisa, for all your hard work! Next week we'll tackle buttonholes by hand. Oh goody! You know I've been have difficulties with buttonholes on the Dainty Dotted Day Dress; but will take Bunny's suggestion of sewing in a rather sparse buttonhole by machine then sewing over it by hand. This fabric is much denser than the dotted swiss so it should be much easier.

My washing machine is in its death throes, so I'm off to buy a new one; not a purchase I'm willingly making. The old one is only about 9 years old.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Butterfly Needlework Nibble

Last month after I finished the Flower Girl Dresses, I decided I needed an "embroidery fix". So I rummaged through one drawer of several projects and picked out this Needlework Nibble from Thistle Threads. I've made a couple of these before, and if you click on this link us you can see them.

This is what the finished project will look like. The orangey tones are from the photo in the instructions. It's a little pin pad, made with cardboard top and bottom and a foam core. However, I can't imagine sticking pins into the silk fabric. The silk will be shredded in no time.

The kit came with an extremely small square of silk, only 3 inches, so I had to figure out a way to get it into a hoop. Also, I didn't want to trace the design right on the silk. The butterfly outline is worked with Thin Gilt by Benton and Johnson in a reverse chain stitch which gives it a light, airy feel. Any markings that I made would show right through. I didn't want to use a washable marker on the gold thread, and an air erase marker wouldn't last long enough. So what to do? I traced the design onto a square of Sticky +, a tear away stabilizer by Sulky.

As you can see, I didn't bother to reverse the design so my butterfly is facing in the other direction than the sample. Then I tacked on strips of muslin to make the whole piece of fabric large enough to fit into the hoop. This photo is held in front of a window and the design shows through quite well. I think I'll leave the stabilizer on the fabric during construction, as there is no real reason to remove it.

Almost completed. I decided to make the satin stitched abdomen, head and lower wings padded, so I worked straight stitches as a first layer, then covered them with satin stitching. The thread, by the way, is Au Ver a Soie Soie d'Alger, Light Green, color number 3713. Those French knots in the Thin Gilt are somewhat tricky, and at least one, in the lower left corner of the abdomen, is a bit loopy. Since this is a kit, with a limited amount of thread, I can't redo it.

The finished embroidery, with blanket stitched lower abdomen and wing tips, reverse chain in the large circles on the wing in the silk. All the gold is stitched in reverse chain or French knots.

Here is a somewhat side shot, so you can see the texture and padding. Again, I have some loopy chains and there, especially on the antennae, but without more thread I don't have the luxury of removing them and making them perfect. Now, on to assembling the pin pad, which will involve lots of glue.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Flower Girl Dresses in Action

Trying on the dress in the hotel. You can see my hands on the left trying to tie the sash. Luckily I made copies of "How to tie a sash" from Country Bumpkin's A-Z of Sewing for Smockers.

We were asked not to take pictures during the ceremony, and unfortunately Mr. California Stitching took it all to heart, not taking many either before or after. Luckily, he got a shot of them scattering rosebuds. You can barely see my great niece in the matching dress off to the right.  She wasn't too sure about the whole process, and spent the ceremony running around off to the side with her grandpa following.  Both dresses fit perfectly, which was a bit of a concern as I was working off measurements only.  The larger dress is a size 4 and the smaller is a Toddler Large (McCall's), which is roughly a 2T.

Much better photo of Bridget. The ceremony took place in Roseville, California, right in the middle of the heat wave. It was 106 °F in the shade. The minister had to cut the ceremony a bit short as everyone was practically melting in the sweltering heat. The highest temperature we saw was 109 °F on the way home through the Central Valley on Tuesday. Luckily we spent a couple of days in Pacific Grove, which is just south of Monterey, and much, much cooler.

Next up: I have the smaller of the two dresses at home. I'll be taking off all of the purple, thank goodness I only hand tacked it on! Then I will add a self fabric sash and maybe a white overskirt to get it ready for my great niece's Christening next month.

I also have a couple of other sewing projects to tell you about, and I hope to start a new embroidery project soon!