Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sew Awesome!

Sew, I had the privalege of altering a beautiful 50- 60ish party dress for my wonderful friend RK.  It is a delight to do anything for her because she is so appreciative and because she looks amazing in anything she wears. 

Sew, she bought a JLF Original yellow striped Chiffon like dress off of Etsy.  It was a tad bit too tight, she has a 27-28 inch waist, the dress was 24inches barely and the chest was compressing the girls.  With tucking and pulling, the dress fit, but was not going to be comfortable enough to work for a wedding party.    It had an old metal zipper that was coming out but the dress was a fairly simple band top and circle skirt.  I took on the task of making it fit. 

I took off the zipper with the intent of replacing it with an invisible zipper.  Those of you who prefer keeping vintage original should stop reading now.  I am about making clothes work for a new generation.

I took all the boning off, and opened all the seems on the bodice.  I then made the decision to cut off the skirt.  There was shirring at the waist but it was fraying and I thought if I took an inch off the top and regathered it, it would be as good as new.  After taking the bodice apart, I resewed the seams a 1/4 smaller,  I removed two darts on the back panels.  By adding 1/4 inch to all six seams and a 1/2 at the zipper, I added about 2 1/2 inches to the waist.  I then regathered the skirt band using my awesome ruffler attachment and reattached.  It worked beautifully.  I then finished the seams at the waistband with edging and hand sewed the facings and boning back in place.  Zipper went in easily and looked awesome.  Checked to make sure all hems and seams were good and ironed. 

I held my breath when RK tried it on; I had only seen it when she could barely zip it but I had a send that the top needed to be a bit snug but the waist needed letting out.  It fit amazing. 

The dress was sheer and needs a slip, but it also needed a petticoat. After viewing a couple of blogs, I decided to make a slip top with attached tulle (similar to a modified drop waist).  I found some beautiful glittery tulle and using the ruffler, ruffled up about 4 yards layered and attached it to a short slip top that I made with elastic top.  I just cut the tulle at the bottom and fluffed it out to finish.  Beautiful.  Mission accomplished.  I am not keen on alterations except for things that I can learn new lessons or get to work with fabulous fabrics.

Now I can't wait to see the photos from the party!  I will post those later.  Here are some photos of the before and after.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sew Ready for Fall

Sew, it's fall and gets me wanting to make gifts.  I've spent most of the summer sewing for others, working, and going to school.  I got tempted to make the Bombshell bathing suit by Heather from http://closetcasefiles.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-bombshell-swimsuit-is-here.html So tempting to see all the gorgeous suits posted on line.  Sew, my friend RK volunteered to be my muse because she is a Bombshell and a sweet, sweet girl.  Here is RK looking majestic in the gorgeous suit.  I cut a straight size 8 and didn't have to do any adjustments.  I learned some things such as my old serger was not going to do this well, so my hubby bought me a new one for my August birthday.

I made a couple of skirts and blouses for me and I keep trying to make a decent pair of pants.  I will keep working on that.  I did make a particularly delicious fake suede skirt that I love.

 I've done a lot actually and I will post some of those projects later, but I'm dying to tell you about these wine coasters. 

For today, I have quick gift project.  WINE COASTERS
It is  great use of scraps, but you can also by some fat quarters.
These are wine coasters!  Since I am mad about wine, I have to make these. You could totally make them in different colors for parties so everyone knows which glass belongs to them. 

So here is what you do

Step 1:  Cut a circle with the diameter of 4 1/4 inches (if you make them for the larger wine glasses you will have to measure accordingly an add 1/4 to the diameter).  I  cut mine from cardboard so I could reuse it.
You will cut a total of five circles per wine coaster.

Step 2:  Select 2-4 fabric scraps. For this example I only used two.   I cut two circles from each fabric . And cut a 5th circle for the bottom.

I then folded each piece in half an ironed them. 
I then took each piece and placed them just like the picture shows.  It is similar to how you close the lid of a box.  Position the pieces so that edges line up and pin to hold in place.

Use the fifth circle and place on top, finished side down.

Sew around the edge about 1/4 in and make sure you catch all the layers.   Turn it inside out, remove the pin and iron.  YOU have made a sweet little wine coaster!
To make them less slippery, glue  a piece of felt on the bottoms.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sew Simple Sew and Sews

Sew, we had our meeting of our sewing bee called The Sew and Sews. During this meeting, we learned about our sewing machines. Although everyone had different machines, they all have some basic features. We learned to thread our needles, how to wind a bobbin, and how to clean our machine. Some tips: use compressed air to clean the machines; clean inside the bobbin compartment, use a damp cloth to clean the outside. Use sewing machine oil to lightly oil the bobbin case. One drop. Cleaning out lint and oiling needs to be done regularly to prevent malfunctions of the machine. We also learned about stich tension. Tips regarding choosing needles: If thread keeps breaking, change the needle, it could be worn, the tip damaged, or bent slightly; enough to make a difference to the machine. I explained I preferred Schmetz needles and they have a wonderful site to explain about needles: http://www.schmetzneedles.com/learning/pdf/ABC-brochure.pdf. Choosing needles will depend on the fabric and the use. I also talked about specialty needles such as Jean needles for sewing jean fabric.  Sew, then we practiced sewing, adjusting stitch length, using our backstitch on our machines, and winding our bobbins. 

Sew, our next step was learning to hand sew.  I discussed the importance of using basting instead of needles.  While it takes longer, you have more control of your fabric and you won't sew over a pin, damaging your machine.  Sew, we practiced two important hand stitches, the running stitch (basting stitch) and the back stitch, to use when having to hand sew fabric.  Before we did the stitches, I demonstrated my preferred method of threading and knotting a needle.  I found a really good you-tube video to demonstrate the technique:

These two images show the running and back stitch.  For this class, I recommend we practice getting to know our machines, and practice running and back stitches. 
Back Stich  -  good for hand sewing, looks similar to sewing machine stiches, use small even stitches.

Good for basting.  Use even stitches.

I include a surprise project here.  Why don't you make a pillow and use the stitches with three strands of embroidery thread to make this?  I found a really good video. 

Why not make a pillow that says: I Love OK.  Use your basting or running stitches to stitch the letters.   Simple write them on the pillow and trace the letters with your embroiderly thread.  Use an embroiderly needle (it has a large eye) and three strands of embroidery thread in your favorite color.  Embroiderly floss comes in six strands, you simple pull cut a piece and divide it into two strands.  This is your challenge.  We meet again soon.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sew Busy Baby


Sew, this has been one heck of a week.  Two days of tornadoes (Sunday and Monday), rain, lightning, hail, and more rain.  Stressful, sad, and my only escape is sewing.  Sew, I sewed.  I made lots and lots of baby clothes for two friends who are having baby girls.  I used a combination of Simplicity 2264, an old McCall's Easy Stich 'n Save M5079, and a New Look (0156) 6970. 

The McCall's little dress which I called "Strawberry Shortcake", matching panty, and sun hat were fun to sew. 
 I had difficulty lining up the rick rack on the pockets, and I could have done a better job.  But overall, it is really sweet.  I used some fabric I've had for at least fourteen years.  I also made a matching sunhat using a red print that looked nice with the strawberry print.  I lined the dress with yellow gingham.  I'd have liked it to be reversible, but the yellow gingham was much to light and the pattern showed through. 

As I was on a roll, I then used the leftover yellow gingham to make another of the same pattern, but this time I omitted the pockets, and added some homemade crocheted lace down the front with some bug buttons. It is lightweight and sassy, and is perfect for an Oklahoma summer.

My next project involved making the New Look jumper and bloomers.  I had some amazing fishy fabric that just looked fun for this.  I used large matching yellow buttons.  I didn't quite follow the instructions, so when I attached the ruffles to the legs, I was not happy with the attachment.  If I had bothered to read the instructions I would have attached them differently. 

The pattern is very easy, and also easy to modify.  It would make an adorable little dress by lengthening it a bit and making panties instead of bloomers.    I loved the pattern so much, I made it again with some adorable mouse fabric that I trimmed with grey and white polka dot.  I have to say that this one is my favorite.  Sweet and sassy and I do love little mousies very much.
I've added a few pictures so you can see the hat, the fabric, and the bloomers, which I modified a bit. I also used the pocket from the earlier pattern.  I added the ruffle and then used single fold bias tape to make an elastic track.  The bloomers were less ruffly than the others, but the tape covered the stitching nicely.  The grey looks really nice with the mouse fabric, don't you think? 

And finally, I made a little dress from Simplicity 2264 that I think could be an heirloom dress.  I used a fabric with bluebirds that made me keep humming, "somewhere, over the rainbow...".  I made the top in a plain white so that the dress looked just like a skirt and top.  I used fancy ribbon to trim the sleeves, pocket,  and the bottom of the skirt.  Matching panties complete the look.  This pattern appears to run a bit large despite cutting a small.  This might fit a 9-12 month old.  But no worries, babies will need clothes. 
Sew, my friends, I've got one more young lady at work having a baby (sex unknown), and my hairdresser having a boy in the fall.  So I will be making a few little boy things soon.  Sewing children's clothes are generally not difficult, but fiddly.  Fabrics are cute, but I like the challenge of sewing for adults.  But I would love to have this dress.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sew "So Zo"

I follow a blog called 'So Zo', http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com/, which has fabulous ideas regarding sustainability and refashioning.  I love her blog, not to mention, her dobbleganger works at the library system I work for.  She had one blog in which she refashioned a man's jean shirt into a blouse using pattern New Look 6808.  I loved the result so much, I thought I would do the same.

Alex had a cobalt blue shirt in a very light cordoroy that he never wore, and I had taken with the idea that I would refashion it.  I decided it was perfect for this project. 
Unfortunately, I couldn't remember where I put it.  After tearing my sewing room apart, searching all my drawers, closet, and fabric stash, I was folding some dark laundry, and there it was.  Apparently, it had somehow ended in the laundry bin.  What a waste of time. 

I made a collar from some leftover lace.  The only problem I had was not paying close attention to the tie, and sewing it a little too tight at the neck, giving it a little bunchy look.  But overall, I like the result and can't wait to wear it to work Mwhen it gets warmer.  I used some vintage shell buttons I got at a flea market. 
They were rust covered from the staple holding them to the card, but they came out pretty on the shirt. The hardest decision was picking the shell ones over the black glass buttons. 

"So Zo" also inspired me to not be afraid to change things.  I also refashioned a jumpsuit into a dress for a friend.  I made it as a jumpsuit (McCall's 6083) and found it incredibly difficult to get on and off unless you made it from stretchy fabric.  I had used a seersucker.  So my friend asked if I could refashion it into a short summer dress.  No problem, I just removed the added fabric in the legs,
and refit it.  The biggest problem was that I had used french seams to finish it and taking that all apart took some time.  But I think it came out really nice.  I sewed some fun buttons shaped like flowers and bugs, and added a macrame belt I picked up at a second hand shop.  I think it looks great.

I'll post a pic with my friend wearing it, because it really looks cute.

Sew until next time.

Sew Birthday!

Sew, I generally only sew for myself or children, who aren't generally fussy.  I never thought I was good enough to sew for other people.  Well, my husband kept asking me to make him some things, but I was convinced that he would laugh at what I made, or think they looked "homemade."  Years ago, I took a "flat cap" apart and remade a new one for him that he loved, but over the years, I just never thought about sewing for him.  He always shows an interest in the things I make and is a huge supporter, so I'm not sure why I felt that way.

To get to the point, I decided for his birthday this May, I would make him a summer shirt and shorts.  I viewed a shirt and shorts on a Burda men's pattern sight and even downloaded the patterns, but I'm too lazy to tape them all together to make anything.  Sew, when I found Simplicity 5581, I knew I found a pattern he would like.  I made the shirt and it realy was pretty simple.  I set in the sleeves, though because I liked the way they look when they are set in.   I chose a quilt fabric that had passport stamps all over in a nice coral and tan color.  I then found some white pique to make him a modified cargo short.  He had a pair of white tennis shorts that he loved, but he is not a fan of the longer baggy shorts Americans are fond of.  Being British, he likes his closes to be a bit more fitted.  He also has very slim legs, and most baggy shorts swallow him and look goofy.

Sew, while the shirt was very straightforward, I've never made men's shorts before.  The pattern overall was simple, but the waistband was more complicated than any woman's trouser.  I had to really play with the design to get it right.  Since I shorted the legs, I also couldn't add the side pleated pockets.  I'd kind of like to have done those personally. 
As I was fitting the shorts, my husband kept saying they were too loose, so I adjusted the waist.  I should have trusted my own instincts because they were a little snug.  He hopes to lose another inch or two, but still.  Next time, I will trust my own instincts.

Sew, there you have it, I took a day off from work and made my husband something special.  Sew hopefully, it won't be long before I do it again.  Now that I figured out the pattern, I will definitely make the shorts again, perhaps with a different fabric.  Pique is a little odd.

In between the shirt and shorts, I also whipped out another version of Simplicity 8523 out of some stretchy lace, perfect for summer.  It was easy to whip out with the serger.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sew Mama

This post is dedicated to my mother who gave me the love of sewing.  My first memory of my mother is her at her Singer early in the morning before we were awake, stitching away at something.  She didn't have a sewing area when we were little and because of space (five kids in a three bedroom house) she couldn't leave her things out, she would have to pack everything away.  But she sewed, or knitted, or crocheted, or embroidered constantly.  If she was sitting, she was doing. 

I'm the same way now.  I can't watch TV without doing something.  I never developed a passion for knitting, but I went through my crochet phase, embroidery, handwork, needlepoint, you name it, I've done it.  But I always go back to sewing.

As a teen, my mother made her "pin money" by sewing for people.  She made nurse uniforms, cheerleader costumes, whatever anyone needed.  She never charged enough, and some of the people who downright rude to my mother.  But she endured because it was a skill she had that could give her a little independence.

We would get something special twice a year, Easter and Christmas.  I loved the things my mother made.  Beautiful dresses, suits, even coats.  I don't remember anything I owned that was purchased with as much love as the clothes my mother made me. 

I don't have a photo of my mother with me.  Isn't that strange?  I guess with five kids, it wasn't a priority, but I am told I look like my mother.  I think I share her strength of character, stubbornness, and creativity. 

When we were very young (4-5) our family was in a horrific car accident, in which my mother suffered catastrophic injuries.  Nearly every bone in the left side of her face was broken, collar bone, ribs, etc..  Requiring months of recovery, surgery, and scars.  Years of further medical issues and procedures, in the days where recovery was extremely painful.  My mother was always self-conscious of this, and worried what people would say. 

I never saw the scars.  I saw a woman who survived the bombing of Berlin, the ravages of World War II, the hatred towards her nationality (German), the struggles of being a wife of a military man, and the challenges of raising five children. 

I saw my mother re-fashion clothing when it wasn't the "in" thing to do.  I saw my mother transform my desire for dark purple velvet knee breeches and vest into reality.  I watched my mother create clothing without patterns or by modifying patterns. 

I saw my mother keep us all clothed despite periods of time with little money and growing children.  She cared for clothes with so much regard; I guarantee she has clothes in her wardrobe she has had for many years and they still look new. 

Sew, on the Mother's Day (which is tomorrow I know but I have to work) I want to remember my mother for all that she has given me and I feel blessed that I had the privilege of knowing her.