Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tatting Progress

I'm so sorry to say that I am in serious danger of becoming addicted to tatting. I like it better than crocheting, but of course, it is very different in its execution and its uses. You can make whole garments out of crocheting, but not so with tatting - too transparent. Although I have seen a photo of a pair of undies made from tatting which were pretty racy! At any rate, my first effort is shown above, just a little circle that I made and that took me three or four times to close properly.

Then I made this heart. It is out of DMC Cordonnet 10, which is pretty thick thread. I first tried it with DMC Perlè 8, which is really soft and to my inexperienced hands, difficult to use for tatting. I made the center of the heart, then it became hopelessly tangled so I cut it and threw it out. I should save all those disasters as there seem to be quite a few of them.  This heart has so many things wrong with it, mainly the picots, especially the joining picots, are just too large. I also miscounted the picots on the center large ring and really need to work on tension. But it's good to keep these early efforts just to see how I will improve with more work.

I decided to make a length of tatted lace for a nightgown using this pastel thread, the same as in the tiny doily above. Before I decided to do this, I gave a ball to a friend who is taking the tatting lessons with me for her to practice on. Then I started the length of lace. But it turns out that this particular thread, Flora HH 20, color 80, is discontinued and not available anywhere. So I had to ask for it back. Luckily, my friend understood completely and gave it back to me.

Early this week Mr. California Stitching and I drove to Berkeley to see the Smocking Exhibit at Lacis. I'll post about that trip separately, as I have several photos to show you. But I also shopped at the store where they had two balls of the pastel Flora HH 20, which I immediately purchased.

It turns out that Flora HH is being completely discontinued, so I also purchased all their inventory of a luscious light orange variegated thread which reminds me of the Dreamsicles we always bought from the ice cream truck as children. This was only three balls, and I'll have to make some lace with it.

It is Friday night and I can hear the fireworks at Disneyland, which is about a 45 minute drive from my house. I haven't been there in decades. One day I'll go, maybe with my lovely granddaughter. Speaking of lovely granddaughter, Mr. CS and I will be visiting her next week, so I will be out of town. Not that you would notice, as I haven't been posting each week as I should.

Happy Stitching!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Several New Projects

Hello Gentle Stitchers, I apologize for being away for so long. I have been busy piling up new projects, two smocked nightgowns, a baby dress and a beautiful silk ribbon project. On top of all that, I haven't finished my son's shirt and I'm learning to tat. I've wanted to learn this ever since I found the Baby Bonnet.  Above is one of my first miserable efforts. The left pair are supposed to be identical to each other (counting problem), and the right group should have the outer two rings identical (tension problem, but at least I got the counting right).

This effort is slightly better, but I had a joining problem (as in I forgot to join the ring), so I cut it out and will start over. This is supposed to be a tiny doily with 14 rings, both large and small, in a circle. The blue marks are supposed to mark the distance of the thread, but as you can see I'm not consistent. I think the earlier distances are 1/2 inch as opposed to the correct 1/4 inch.

We are learning to tat with DMC Cordonnet Special Size 10, the top thread in the photo above. Compare this to the actual DMC Tatting Thread, Size 80. That is really, really, tiny thread, and it will be a while before I get to it.  I am learning tatting by taking a class from the Los Alamitos Community Center, from a wonderfully fine teacher who is very experienced in various forms of needlework and is a member of the Long Beach Chapter of EGA. I've been practicing every day and am getting better, but still have a very long way to go. This is very addictive, and fun. It will be even more fun once I get a little something completed, more or less correctly.

Once I get all the other projects sorted out I'll start posting on them. I have way too many projects going on, and on top of that Mr. California Stitching finally retired for good. Having him around seems to take up more of my time, does anyone else see that happening in your lives? And on top of everything, we have another leak in my new hardwood floor in the living room. The dryers are going all day, the cat is jittery and so am I. I just need to keep telling myself that it's only money, it's not like someone is hurt or sick. Who knew that wood floors could be disposable?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shirtmaking, Part 2

As I mentioned several months ago in Shirtmaking Part 1, I had planned a shopping trip to the LA fabric district to buy some shirt fabric. My son wanted a dark blue, and here it is. As it turns out, this fabric is quite stretchy in the crosswise grain, so I added a strip of selvedge to stabilize the top of the pocket. I also added a strip to the bottom of the yoke where it joins with the back.

Warning: These pictures are very difficult to see due to the dark fabric. Don't try to stare too hard, I don't want you to get a headache from my blog! This fabric is navy blue, and notoriously hard to photograph, especially close ups by someone with no photographic skills whatsoever.

I've always been fascinated by the plackets on tailored shirts, but as it turns out, they aren't as difficult as they would seem. You just need to take it slowly, mark, cut and sew very carefully. This is the cut out and marked placket,

Made from this pattern, from Shirtmaking, by David Page Cotton. In it he has this placket and several collar variations which you can copy and use. The tower on this placket is taller than the one from the original pattern, Simplicity 1544, and I like it a bit better.

Here the placket is pinned to the shirt.

Both plackets sewn and topstitched in place. Not perfect, but not bad either. The bar tack on the right placket certainly could be a bit straighter.

This photo was taken with a flash, so while the color is washed out, you can see the detail much better. Sewing shirts is certainly an exercise in precision sewing, and I figure the more I make, the better I'll get. That's the plan, anyway.

Now on to sleeves.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Forgot the Pockets!

It's the day after Memorial Day and I have finally wandered into the sewing room. I never once set foot in it over the weekend as I've been busy with gardening. But as you 50 or 60 somethings know you can't garden several days in a row and still be able to walk. So I'm taking a break today.

I've been wearing my new robe now for the past two weeks and it's been driving me crazy! Why? Because as the title of the post says, I forgot to add pockets to it. So I dug up the scraps of facing, some interfacing and lace, and made two pockets. They are 8 inches (20 cm) wide by 7 inches (18 cm) tall, with facings of 8 inches (20 cm) by 4 inches (10 cm) tall. I interfaced half the facing, so it won't wrinkle so much. My current winter robe does this as it also has patch pockets and I find it really annoying.

So there it is! Perfect for my Kindle. I kept trying to put the Kindle in the pocket when there wasn't one there and catching myself just in time to keep it from dropping to the floor. Now I'm all set.

OK, no more robe posts. This thing is done! Now on to my son's shirt, which has its own challenges.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blue Gingham Robe is Finished!

When we last left the Blue Gingham Robe project, I was contemplating smocking the skirt where it meets the bodice. Unfortunately, the skirt just isn't full enough to be able to pull the smocking stitches even moderately tightly. This is how it looks, UGH! So out it went.

The completed robe! To make the bodice look just a bit more finished, I added some of the Swiss embroidery to it, by cutting off the batiste and topstitching right through the entredeux.

Love those buttons! They really aren't sewn on that wonky, they just twisted a bit when I buttoned the robe. I'm so glad this is finished with summer on the way.

Next up: a shirt for my son, and guess which color! Right you are, it will be blue. We are also starting a nightgown project in our SAGA chapter, and I want to figure out how to incorporate some of the blue gingham into it. I would also like to get the Celtic Hearts Blanket out, but the temps are in the high 90s all week and just the thought of handling wool makes me reach for the iced tea. This is our second heat wave already in May. I hope the rest of the summer won't be like this.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Progress on the Blue Robe

I have made a bit of progress on the robe. Here you can see the bodice attached to the skirt. I pleated the skirt with five half space rows and will add a bit of smocking to the top two or three rows. I haven't decided what kind, or even what color, but will get to that eventually. I think white might be best as it will go nicely with the embroidered edge. The pleating is very loose as the skirt only has a moderate fullness. Even if I was not intending on smocking, pleating is a very good way to gather fabric, especially if you are good at pleating, which I am not. But I do need to improve my pleating skills so this helps. It took me three times before I got it right.

I added the embroidery on the sleeves, that button above the sleeve is just visiting from another project.

Close up in which you can see the finish on the edging. I trimmed the edges to a scant 3/8 inch (1.5 cm) and rolled and whipped the edge. Then I topstitched the bit of the seam allowance down so it won't wiggle around and fold over on the embroidery edge.

I'm afraid that's all for now. I should be able to get the sleeves in today and start thinking about smocking.

Note: For those of you who follow Bunny of La Sewista! she will be taking attending a Claire Shaeffer workshop in Palm Springs (only a two hour drive from here) on the Chanel Jacket. I had no idea she was so close, and am tentatively planning on attending the January session.  I can't make it the May session as I am taking a class at our local community college and the final is the week after the Jacket class. I don't want to jeopardize my good grade so late in the semester. At any rate, I am really looking forward to Bunny's posts of her class and the jacket she will be making.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Project - Summer Robe

Last time I mentioned an emergency sewing project, well here it is. This is my summer robe, a lovely pink seersucker with Swiss embroidery edging the collar and sleeves.

Some time ago, I had a run in with this. No problem, just a quick mend and you can barely see it.

Now that it's spring I've started wearing the robe, the evil door handle struck again, and I have this. It's way too hard to patch very well, plus there are some stains on the robe that I just can't get out. I have to stop cooking in my robe, or at least wear an apron.

Quite a few years ago I bought this blue gingham seersucker fabric, which is perfect for a lightweight summer robe. Out of my stash of lace I found this Swiss embroidery (it's actually white, not ivory).

A quick search on line and I found this robe/nightgown pattern Butterick 5544. View C has a quilted bodice, sleeves, front and hem band. I'll make this using the sleeves and bodice from B, eliminating the bands.  The skirt is gathered, so I think I'll try to add some smocking to it. Also, I think I'll use German interfacing for the bodice, front band and maybe the sleeve facings at the wrist. On the old robe the front facings always got very wrinkled and I really disliked that.

The original robe is from Eileen West, with her monogram on the back facing. I love the idea, and if you remember by granddaughter's pjs, you'll see her monogram on the back facing.

The pattern calls for a self lined bodice, but I'll use a white voile to keep it from being too heavy. Here is my monogram, obviously machine made. I did use Mettler No. 60 embroidery thread for the embroidery and water soluble stabilizer. I don't like the shine from rayon threads on a cotton garment and I don't want any bits of paper stabilizer sticking to the embroidery and not washing out for a couple of years.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Break in the Piecework

I've finally finished sewing all the extra triangles I had cut for my Blue and Cream Quilt, and I'm left with this pile of blocks and pieces. For specific inventory, I have

Two each of this block, which I will call the large blue star and is 12 inches (30.5 cm) square.

Eight each of this block, the large cream star, also 12 inches (30.5 cm).

Twenty of this block, my wrongly sewn Rising Star. If it slipped your mind, you can see that the innermost triangles are opposite of what they should be. It is also 12 inches (30.5 cm) square.

Forty each of the small blue star and the small cream star, both 6 inches (15 cm) square.

Eighty-six of the flying geese for the small blue star, this amount will make 21 6 inch (15 cm) blocks.

And finally, 94 of the flying geese for the small cream star, which is enough for 23 6 inch (15 cm) blocks.

Now, what to make with all this? Twenty 12 inch (30.5 cm) blocks will make a nice lap quilt, especially if I add a small border. So that takes care of the wrongly sewn Rising Star blocks. Then I could take enough of the small blue and cream stars and make them into large blue and cream stars so that I have ten each, and that will make another lap quilt. Then I could sew enough of the flying geese blocks into 6 in (15 cm) star blocks to total 40 of each color, and make yet another lap quilt. Actually I would need 80 blocks each, but I could intersperse the stars with squares of blue or cream. That would still leave quite a few of the flying geese left over, but I think they would be perfect for pillowcase hems. I might even have enough for some pillow shams, but I think that's getting a bit busy. Plain cream pillowcases with the flying geese hems might be enough. Still, that's three lap quilts which are quite a few. Maybe I should make one lap quilt and a full? I do need to play around with layouts to see what would work.

At any rate, they are all trimmed, sorted and bagged, just waiting to be sewn. It's time to put them away for a bit, as I have an emergency project to do right now. Also, I have gone too long without embroidery, and I'm feeling the itch to get back to it. The large quilt from this post has been sent to the quilter, and I won't see it again for about a month.

Next time, emergency sewing project, or maybe back to embroidery.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Some Really Tedious Sewing

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a lot of leftover cut fabric to sew into blocks so the fabric wouldn't be wasted. One would think that by now I would have learned to count.  But, I guess I never did too well in math (tongue in cheek, I actually have had two years of college calculus, but then, that isn't the same as counting, is it?) and so now have lots of little triangles to sew into something useful. I haven't counted all these little flying geese blocks, but I'm estimating that there are about 150 or so.

They are now being sewn into six pointed star blocks. I'll make all the blocks, then see what quilts I can make with them. I think I can get another full size quilt and maybe a lap quilt.

I have eight of these, and two of the reverse color combination. Since they are 12 inches square, 20 blocks will make a nice lap quilt if I put a small border around it. I hope I have enough in my stash to make these from the smaller stars. I really don't want to buy any more fabric.

In the last post I mentioned that there was a mistake in the finished quilt. This is a Rising Star block, and it is sewn correctly.

This one isn't! In the photo of the quilt top hanging over the banister, the Rising Star in the lower left hand corner is the one that's off.  As it turned out I had an extra block that was sewn correctly, so I changed them out. There are also four six inch star blocks in a row, when they are supposed to alternate by two's. But they are staying right where they are.

As you can imagine, this sewing isn't too exciting. In fact, it's really, really, boring. But I'm listening to books or music while sewing and trying not to do too much at once.

I hope to bring the finished quilt top to the quilter sometime this week. One of our local quilt shops, the Orange Quilt Bee in Orange (of course!) has a "B&B" day on the 25th of each month. If you bring in your quilt to be measured you get 25% off backing and batting. That saved quite a bit!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Piecing the Quilt Top

As you know, this Blue and Cream quilt top is pretty big, about 100 inches (254 cm) square, and to make piecing it really hard, it's put together on the diagonal. I mentioned in an earlier post that I bought a set of square rulers which have turned out to be extremely useful. Notice above that the six inch (15 cm) block is just a bit larger than the ruler. To make matters worse, it's not quite even all around the block.

Trimming it to size (including the seam allowance) squares up the block, making it much easier to accurately piece the blocks together. It is so easy to stretch the fabric out of shape with all the bias seams, no matter how well starched the fabric is or how slowly you sew.

I found some little sandpaper dots to affix to the wrong side of the ruler. This keep the ruler from slipping over the fabric, which is particularly easy to do when you are holding the ruler down over a seam. The edges always seem to slip.

All of the smaller blocks were sewn together to make 12 inch (30.5 cm) blocks for each row.

This might seem pretty picky, but to sew the rows together, I pinned the blocks at the seams so they would match, them evenly spaced pins along each block. Then I steamed the pinned blocks to help shrink out any excess fabric. It seemed to take forever, but the results were worth it. All the blocks are pretty well matched. I only found one tiny pleat in the whole quilt, and I was able to rip out several inches and ease the seam back into place.  Also notice that the fabric is double pinned. This helps tremendously to keep the fabric together while transporting such large pieces to the machine. Once you train yourself to do it it really doesn't take much time, and it is so worth the effort.

Here is part of the finished quilt top. I don't have anywhere that I can hang this so you can see the whole thing. It's just too darn big. Over the next week or so I'll find some backing material and send it out for quilting. By the way, can you see the mistakes? They are staying in!

What to do next? I still have an awful lot of cut fabric left over! I have three of the large stars, one Rising Star (that's the swirly block), a few small stars, and hundreds of half square triangles for flying geese blocks. I also have enough of the Rising Star partial blocks (all sewn wrong, of course) to make a lap quilt. I'll be slowly sewing them together, as the goal is to rid myself of all cut fabric, then see what I can make with what I have. I'll definitely have enough for a couple of lap quilts or maybe a full size. It's a good thing I love the blue and cream combination.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Little Corner Finished

I've chosen to go with the third border option from the previous post, which I'm sure will give me fits as I try to swap out blue and cream pieces and keep it the pattern correct. But if you compare the piecing diagram in the previous post with the segment above, you might see a mistake.

See the two blocks the seam ripper is straddling? Well, they are reversed. The two star blocks shouldn't be next to each other, they should be on point to each other. So I ripped away and sewed them back correctly.

And here it is, correct this time. This section only measures about 44 inches (112 cm) on the right sides of the triangle. Since this will finish at about 100 inches (254 cm) on each side, you can see I have quite a long way to go. Right now this piece of a quilt is in our study, right behind where I'm sitting as I write this. I think I can squeeze in an extra row in the space I have available, but it will have to wait until Tuesday, which is my next completely free day. With the color changes that I'm making and the somewhat complex piecing diagram, I need to take this very slowly and carefully. So far, so good.

If you would like to see all of the posts on this quilt, just click here to view them.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Mistake and a Border Decision

In the last post I told you that I was finished with my blocks for the Blue and Cream Quilt. Well, not quite! I had made the decision to make the quilt square by adding two more columns, so this required more blocks. But after I made six of the above blocks I noticed the mistake. See it? The corner squares are supposed to be cream, not blue. The blue corner squares certainly take away the star shape, don't they? The above photo shows the deconstruction of the block, as I had ripped out the top and bottom end strips before remembering to take the photograph.

This is what it's supposed to look like, much better, don't you think? Now after getting these finished, I truly am finished with the blocks. Now, on to the Border Decision.

The quilt will now measure approximately 93 inches (236 cm) square. I'd like it to be a bit larger so it will hang nicely over my very high mattress. Also, the design of the border should look like it belongs in the quilt. So I played around with the triangles above. These would add about 3 1/2 inches (almost 9 cm) to each side, which is quite a bit. Also, the quilt seems too dark. Horrid photo as I took it at night with artificial light.

Daylight photography is so much better! I then swapped out the plain triangles and squares for their opposite colors, and added a strip border so the blue of the blocks would be floating in the cream background. It's definitely brighter, but that extra 2 inch (5 cm) strip throws the whole design off kilter.

I even fiddled around with some extra flying geese strips along the sides, but decided that would tax my piecing skills to the hilt. So after much swapping of triangles and squares, this is what I ended up with. The balance of blue to cream seems good, not too light or dark, and it will be pretty easy to do. The quilt will measure out to 100 inches (254 cm) square, which is almost a king sized quilt, but at least it will cover the mattress nicely on all sides.

Now my big problem will be how to lay this thing out so I can piece the rows, which are diagonal, without making too many mistakes. I used to lay them out on the living room floor, but right now it is still torn up from the pipe leak. Repairs will start tomorrow, so I may put much of this off until the new floor is in. That way I can lay it out on the floor, transfer each section to the dining room table and sew away.