Monday, December 29, 2008

Sewing Retreat Planning & PR Stash Contest

I am so excited to be going to Orlando in January for the Sewing Retreat with The Sewing Workshop and Cutting Line Designs. I am trying to decide which machine to take and beginning to gather my supplies. My favorite machine is my Bernina 1130, but the bobbin winder is not always reliable. Several years ago, my dog got tangled in the cord and brought it crashing to the floor. It was repaired, but the bobbin winder motor quick working. My DS worked on the timing and got it to where I could use it, but I'm afraid to rely on it. I am convinced this is the best machine ever made. It is the one I go when I am stitching denim or curtains. It makes beautiful stitches, and I have a bunch of feet that go with it.

I also have a Bernina Virtuosa 153 that I bought when I thought my 1130 was "done for." It is not made nearly as well. I have several feet. I have just never been totally happy with the way it sews. No way will it sew through the hem on a pair of jeans across the thick seams.

The last machine I bought is a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 850. This one is pretty neat in that you can choose the type and weight of the fabric you are sewing, and the tension is automatically adjusted. In lightweight fabrics though, the bobbin thread does not lay straight and true. I also like that there is a whole slue of needle positions. It doesn't sew through thick denims seams either. It also tangles in the bobbin if you don't hold the thread in the back at the beginning of a seam. I started having problems a few months after I got it and took it in for adjustment. The bobbin thread is no better than it was. Sometimes, when you choose the needle down position, it does not always stay down, and the center needle position is a hair off, which really bugs me.

These are the patterns and some fabrics I am considering for the retreat. Some of the fabrics have been in my stash for over 20 years from when my mother owned a fabric store. I have had all of these pieces for over a year, hence the PR stash contest.

I'm itching to get a couple of things cut out, but the rules are that you can't begin until January 1st. The only piece that has not been pre-treated is the beautiful linen in the center on the right. This is one of those pieces that I have pulled out over and over through the years, but could never bring myself to cut it.

I'll let you know what I decide.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lined Baby Sling

This is the second Baby Sling I have made for my niece who is pregnant with my mother's first great grandchild. We know it is a girl.

I love this one. It is probably my favorite, and I plan to make more if mommy and baby love it as much. The tutorial for making this sling is found at this lovely blog:
The second picture gives you a peak inside the sling at the pretty brocade I chose. The long end can be used for privacy while nursing. Isn't this great?!

The sling rings were purchased at I chose the metal rings and bought a package of several different colors. This would make a great baby shower gift. My niece was thrilled.

Christmas Eve Vest

In my last post I showed off my son's new desire to learn to sew. Another project he made was a vest to wear to our Christmas Eve church services. He plays the bass guitar in our contemporary band called "Joyful Praise."

The vest was made from a black brocade purchased from Joann Fabrics. The back was a solid black polyester and posh lining that I had in my stash. We used Simplicity 2870, a Project Runway design, and chose the rounded neck view.

The charcoal gray pinstripe next to the brocade is a picture of his pants.

We pin-fit the pattern and pinched out almost half an inch in the back armscye. You can see in the final result that we should have added a couple of inches to the length. His back waist measurement was right on, but he has a long lower torso.

He cut out the vest and did most of the sewing. I helped with the welt pocket, however, neglected to sew in the flap at the right time. The welt did not turn out perfect, so we stitched the flap above the pocket. I also helped with the button holes. Because of the curved front, the buttons do not line up down the center front.

Here he is with his younger sister before the family service. I think he looks pretty sharp in his vest. He definitely wants to make the vest again in something a little more casual. We will lengthen it for a better look and probably do the V-neck front.

He wore a tie and his suit coat in the two traditional candlelight services. We were at church from 2:45 until midnight, going to my mother's long enough to have a quick dinner after the family service.

Her dress is RTW and altered to fit. She sang a beautiful solo in the family service. I will try to upload the video. My son is the techie in the family, so he will have to teach me how to do that. She also sang in the two traditional services with the adult choir. My middle daughter was there for the family service, but helped in the nursery in the traditional services.

It was a lovely night spent with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Son Sews for his Girlfriend

My son decided he wanted to try his hand at sewing. He is 22 and a licensed massage therapist and many of those establishments have closed down or down sized. I guess with the economy so down, people consider a massage a luxury. We all know that it's those luxuries that are the first to go. Anyway, with time on his hands, the first thing he made was a Christmas gift for his girlfriend . She is weathering the cold in Colorado with her family while we enjoy sunny Florida for the holidays.

He decided on Simplicity 5465. The description is : Loose-Fitting Pullowever Top. It is an OOP pattern I had in my stash, and I just happened to have a green fleece. Green is her favorite color. I don't know how I lucked into having just the right fabric.

He stitched it together on my serger. We did not use the facings, just turned in the seam allowance, easing to fit. He used "Steam A Seam" and then stitched the hems with a pretty decorative stitch. We added a tab at the stress point in the center front. It is plain in this photo, but we went back to the machine and stitched an "X" in the square like you see in RTW.

He gave the top to his girlfriend and did not get to see her open it. I'm not even sure if she took it with her to Colorado, but if she did, I suspect she is keeping cozy in it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Nutcracker - As Told in the 21st Century

Keeping up with a blog has not been as easy as I thought. Of course, this time of year is always a busy time for me. I made costumes again for a ballet/theatre group for young girls. They did a twist on the Nutcracker called "The Nutcracker in the 21st Century." I made six party dresses, which was part of the original production. I also made four costumes and consulted on two others that represented ornaments from around the world.

Prepare yourself, this is a long one.

The party dresses were made using McCalls 5731. I was disappointed with how the dresses fit the young girls. Their sizes ranged from child size 5-6 to 7-8. I used Panne Velvet for all. This is a pretty basic pattern. I barely looked at the instructions.

The bodice was way too low, and I had to rip all apart, cut new pieces for the bodice insert, and redo the dresses. The bodices are all lined with a cotton/poly broadcloth I had in my stash. I tried invisible zippers, but there was too much bulk at the CB seam where the skirt is attached, so I put in centered zippers. I attached lace at the neckline and the hem of the sleeves. I applied lace to the center bodice as well. All were the same, except for Clara's, which had a little gold sparkle in the lace and a gold trim around the bodice and neckline. They each wore a purchased petticoat and I had to wait for their order to arrive before I could hem. The petticoats came in on Friday, I did a final fitting on Sunday, hemmed all six for their preview performance on Friday. It would not have been a big deal, except that I also had to fit the other costumes, alter some that were purchased elsewhere, and I have a day job, my daughters school chorus performance, and my normal alterations that I do for a store in town. I was up every night until 2am or 3am. On Saturday morning I slept until 11am. I deserved it! I also made little capelets out of a curly fur fabric with ribbon ties at the front. Since time was of the essence, I hot glued the hems. The dresses turned out pretty enough that the girls could wear them to a Christmas Party or church service.

The stage picture is not great, but you get the idea.

Next up - Ornaments from around the world.

First is the Spanish Dancer. The skirt is a self drafted circle skirt with a ruffle around the bottom. I used sequin elastic around the waist, which is very pretty, but will not stay up on the waist. I blame that on a couple of things. Girls do not know where their waist is today, because the very thought of wearing something that cinches the waist is just horrifying. Then there is the fact that these young girls are built straight up and down with have no real waist definition to speak of. The other problem is that the top was made from an inexpensive polyester costume fabric, and the sequin elastic just slid down. I also added a tulle black ruffle under the sparkle red ruffle at the bottom of the skirt. The top is also self drafted and has a ruffle neckline with red lace. I made a comb for her hair out of the tulle and red lace.

The Arabian Dancer costume was fun to make. For the skirt I used Simplicity 4249, and for the little vest I used 5359. The top was self drafted. I used a purple polyester costume fabric for the skirt and vest, and white for the top. The vest was trimmed with a gold braid, and the skirt has a
gold trim with hanging circle thingies. She absolutely loved her costume. I also made a scarf for her to dance with. We had the same problem with this skirt staying up. This skirt has a CB lapped zipper. She kept pulling it down to sit more on her hip. Every time I walked by her I would help her pull it up and adjust her top, and she would pull it down as I walked away. LOL I made a pattern size 6 and then took up the waist to fit her. The length was perfect. It was time consuming with the ruffles, but worth it.

Next is the Panamanian Dancer. I did a little research and found a traditional dress called a Polero. I did not have a pattern so I self drafted this one. I used a Christmas print quilting cotton with Poinsettias from Joann Fabrics, (the only fabric store in the area) and a burgundy quilting solid, and added a gold lame' sash for a little sparkle. Again, it was time consuming with the tiers and inserts. This dress is not as full as the traditional Polero, but it worked for this dance.

Last is the Austrian Dancer. I was given a picture of a traditional little girls dress that had been purchased in Austria. I drafted a similar dress using a couple of different patterns I had, and added design elements such as the ribbon criss-crossed across the bodice. I can not remember the pattern I saw or the pattern company that gave me that idea, as well as the rickrack and ribbon around the bottom of the skirt. I used a red and white cotton printed with holly for the sleeves and center front and a green cotton for the skirt, side fronts and back. I also added lace around the neckline. The apron is made from a white polyester that was left over from the other costumes.

The last picture includes an Oriental and St. Lucia who already had costumes.

These girls each learned a short dance representing each of their countries.

I really enjoyed the process (not the late, late nights.) I met with the set designer, and we coordinated on colors. The Director sat with us and gave us her ideas and let us do our thing. She did not see the full costumes until dress rehearsal. We have worked together on several shows, and she trusts me to interpret what she envisions. It was not only gratifying to have that kind of creative freedom, but also to have the girls love their costumes, and to see their excitement when they put them on for dress rehearsal.

In the spring, we are planning on doing "The Secret Garden." I am already planning out costumes in my head.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Homecoming 2008

I have been sewing. I've been sewing a lot. But, I have not had time to get to the computer to blog. Besides, I've mostly been doing alterations, so not very interesting stuff for most in the sewing blog world.

Even more important than that - I have a little bragging to do. My oldest DD was voted to Homecoming Court. I did not have time to make her dress(es) this year, but I have made them the past three years. We found lovely RTW dresses that she was very happy with. I was informed that she had to have three. One for the parade, one for the football game, and one for the dance. My favorite was one she wore for the Homecoming football game, however, I sew very well - I do NOT take very good photos. I hope to get a good picture of her in that dress soon, because it was the perfect dress for her. Since she is senior yearbook editor, I'm sure she will be getting lots of pictures from several sources.

It was my youngest DD's first homecoming. She said she looks like Christmas in her red dress. I love that it will do double duty. She is singing a solo during our Christmas Eve service, and this is a beautiful dress for her.

Homecoming Dance Tickets for two daughters - $50
Shoes and accessories - $75
Dresses for parade, ballgame, and dance - $215
The excitement and smiles on their faces, plus memories to last a lifetime - PRICELESS!!!

One more thing today - Happy Birthday to my son. He was recently in a wedding, so the reason for the tux. This picture is with his girlfriend. They look good together, don't they?

My next big project - costumes for a local dance and acting group. I have the pattern and fabric, and I have the girl's measurements for six little Medieval princesses. This week, I will get with the director and measure for the "Ornaments From Around the World." These costumes will represent Christmas customs and dress from around the world. I am hoping that the girls in this dance will learn a little their heritage by wearing costumes that reflect their family's heritage. I know one is of oriental heritage, so I would love to make a Kimono for her. I also know one will wear a St. Lucia costume. Obviously, this will be a Christmas program.
I'll try my best to keep up my blog as I work on the costumes. I'm sure I will be burning the midnight oil several nights. The first program is December 5th.
More to come.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Simplicity 2917 - A Simple Black & Red Dress

Black and red are great colors for me. This fabric is 100% cotton that I purchased at A Stitch Connection aka Carol V's Sewing Room in Port Charlotte, FL. They carry mostly cotton fabric for quilting. I could not resist this piece when I was there just a few weeks ago.

I'm not sure I am crazy about the finished results. The patterns seems a little short waisted on me. I plan to take in the sides a little to improve that, but I'm moving on to something else right now. I cut View A with the cap sleeves, but made the shorter version. I like my skirts/dresses to be just below the knee, but even with only 1/2" hem, the length was just above mid knee. I think it looks a little awkward. I did get compliments at church and at the grocery on the way home. I guess I am very critical of my own work.

You can really see how the flare begins a little too high in this photo. The cap sleeves stand out a little more than I expected, but if they were more snug I'm afraid I would not be able to lift my arms.

I tried it with a belt, as in one of the pictures on the pattern envelope. That did not work for me.

I fully lined the dress. I line almost everything. It makes
the inside prettier and helps cut down on wrinkles. I also
avoid wearing slips. Who likes to wear slips anyway?
I hand stitched the lining to the zipper. This was the only
change I made in construction.

My mother knits beautiful shawls.
I can wear this into the fall here in
Southwest Florida. It will be perfect
for those slightly chilly nights or out
to dinner where they keep the dining rooms so cold.

I think after looking at the pictures, that I definitely need a little something around my neck. Maybe a black beaded necklace with an oriental black or red piece in the center.

Sorry about the crooked kitty picture. It really is not crooked on my wall.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Daisy loves to sew too!

Meet Daisy. She's a great Kitty. Her favorite place is my sewing room, and her favorite spot in her favorite place is my sewing chair. She loves to sit on the back of it, right behind me, while I sew. This is where I found her today, and look at what she left behind. Lots of cat hair, which is why I have a lint roller in my sewing room, my bedroom, and my car. I know better than to leave my needle cushion out. I'm happy she did not notice it sitting right behind her.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In my last blog, I had cut out several things to work on. I have been sewing, but doing more alterations than sewing for me. I did manage to finish Butterick 4812. I had said that I might not pretreat the fabric, but my better sense took over and I did wash and dry. I was concerned with how the embroidery would take the washer and drier, but boldly went ahead. It washed beautifully.

I barely had enough to make this dress as this was the end of the bolt. I cut the dress out so the border was along the hem. I love how I was able to center the embroidery perfectly across the center front. This is a cute pattern with a casing and drawstring front. The casing is sewn to the back with the ends caught in the darts. I had considered sewing the slits on the sides, but decided that they were necessary for walking ease. This was a simple, basic pattern. My full review is on the Pattern Review website.

I wore the dress to work yesterday and this picture was taken after sitting at my desk all day. I chose not to line it. Even so, I think it still looked very nice at the end of the day.

My beautiful girls started school a couple of weeks ago. The oldest is a senior and the youngest is a freshman. For the first time since early elementary school, they are attending the same school. I sew for them for special occasions, but they wear the typical teenage RTW for every day. I am looking ahead to Homecoming for some ideas.

My oldest DD is an artist and loves photography. We have the most beautiful sunsets here. These pics were taken outside our back door in the last two weeks. The rainy season, especially with the tropical storms, brings some truly awesome skies. Just take a look at these.

Absolutely Breathtaking.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Planning and Cutting

I picked up my SM after some much needed servicing. While I was there, I browsed some really pretty, good quality cottons. I wish I could remember who the manufacturer is, but this cotton washes beautifully! It needs very little ironing right out of the drier. I plan to make this simple dress, and should have it cut out today. I will fully line it with a polyester lining and will not put facings in the neck. I will make View C, which is the one pictured in black/white, but will add the little cap sleeves and put an invisible zipper in the back.

I also love this black linen blend with the embroidery that I already had in my stash. I was looking through my "ginormous" pattern stash and found this one I have had for a while. After I happened on Sharon M's post at Pattern Review, I knew this would be a great pattern for this piece. I was happy to find out I have just enough fabric. I may not add the side slits, but that depends on walking ease.

I also picked up Kwik Sew # 6807 while I was out. There are five really cute knit tops on this pattern. I recently got this jersey knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. I plan to make View B, the one pictured on the model, and will have almost a yard left over. I may make a cami out of the rest to wear under a jacket - maybe. I love the feel of this fabric.

Finally, I have already cut the following out. Both are from Burda World of Fashion Magazine. The pants are in the July, 2008, issue, and the top is in the May. I have finally overcome the dread of tracing the patterns and then adding the seam allowances. It takes a little more time, but I have kind of figured out what works and I really like the designs. Having said that, the top is probably going to be hilarious with the bright colors and flowers. It is not really something I would typically pick out. My DD even said she wouldn't wear it. LOL If nothing else, I will get the fit down and decide whether or not I want to make it again in something more reasonable. This is all cotton. The pants are a light weight stretch polyester from Joann Fabrics in the bottom weight section. It was on sale and I like the color, so if the top looks really stupid and juvenile, I can always wear a white top instead. :)

So that's my plan, and will finish getting everything cut out today. Hopefully even get the interfacing ironed on, threads pulled, zippers for the dresses and pants, and buttons for the top.

Of course, I have a couple of alterations to do before I can sew for me. Just a quick hem on a pair of pants. Shorten the sleeves on a jacket and repair a little seam that was not lined up properly, to help pay for this addiction hobby.

Edited 7:35pm Eastern
I'm back and ready to sew. Here is everything cut out. All I have to do is find the time this week to sew. But for now, oh my aching back. I'm going to watch the final ceremony of the Olympics with my youngest DD.

Don't you love it - I used Chico's tissue paper to trace my patterns. LOL