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.