I love to use Pinterest as my virtual bulletin board. As you might guess many of my pins are sewing related. Click here to see what fun stuff I've found and pinned to different sewing boards.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What the Fashion Forward Mermaids are Wearing This Year

Another Project Completed from 
I adore this 95%polyester/5% Lycra ruffled, mint-colored fabric I scored at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkley. That store has a ton of great knits and it's worth making the trip. It helps that there's a BART station nearby (The Ashby Station). I take BART from Millbrae.

I was a little concerned that I might feel like a green marshmallow once the top was done, but it turned out great and made me really happy. And how many tees go with pearls? I feel just like a fashionable mermaid when I wear this ensemble.

The pattern is a many-times altered pattern. It started out with no darts, a higher neckline and a boxier shape. I just keep changing it.

Techniques: Had to take the darts out because the ruffles got caught up and flipped funny. Decided it was much quicker to pin the ruffles in place, when redoing the darts, and sew them by hand. It doesn't take that all long to sew a dart by hand, and is much less frustrating.

I was unsure how to finish the neckband, hems and sleeves until I realized this was the perfect no-edge-sew garment. I stabilized the neckline slightly with tiny hand stitches in silk thread which just happened to match - a spool someone had given me probably twenty years ago! It looks just fine and not at all unfinished.

I put off doing this posting because the photo isn't really very good. Honestly, the shirt looks a lot better than this! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Lady Wears Shorts Part 2

Knocking another project off my September Sewing Plan!
I focused a lot on the importance of shorts in my life this summer. Summer might be over, but the warm weather in the San Francisco Bay Area is still with us. With luck, I'll be wearing shorts off and on for another couple of months. We're expecting a few hot days and getting these shorts done seemed like a great idea. Otherwise, I was a little suspicious I might just have them cut out and then not get them sewn until next year. Old cutouts never look as appealing as the freshly prepped piles of fabric, pins and tissue. Sometimes they end up getting recut as tote bags and purses - four or five years later!

I'm pretty darn happy with this sage green shorts and cap set. Yup, another home dec fabric. And why not? It seems to wash OK, especially since I don't machine dry stuff I've sewn. And I like the weight of the material. I'm going to track these and see if they fade any faster than the blue denim I made earlier in the summer. Those are actually starting to fade a little and they are just regular denim. Shorts are a hard wearing garment, and I probably can't expect them to last more than one or two seasons, given the number of times I'll probably wear them, and the fact they'll get relatively sturdy-demanding use hiking, biking and walking.

Once more I used McCalls 6403. That's the third time this summer for that pattern. I still have to fool around getting the fitting just right, because each different type of fabric seems to react differently around the waist and hip area, but I'm starting to get a feel for the pattern. I need to retissue/trace the pattern and file a full set of tracings away. I'm still relying on the altered tissue pieces combined with a few original pattern pieces and that's asking for trouble when it comes to losing a piece. Better to keep one master set of pieces and a complete altered set. 

 I'm looking forward to wearing my new outfit to my Sunday afternoon sewing class and then for a hike on Monday after class.

Times have changed since I was a little girl when it comes to shorts wearing. I've lived through some cultural changes when it comes to the social acceptance of pants wearing. Those pensamientos are in an article I wrote a few weeks back, The Lady Wears Shorts: Part 1.


* I made a lot of trips back and forth to the mirror, pinching, pinning and marking. A machine basting stitch and several safety pins sped the process up. I never had to resort to the seam ripper, because I basted nearly everything and quick checked. A nice fit at the waist and hips is crucial and no pattern piece really does it for me when it comes to getting the garment smoothed over right. Probably the variety of materials I've used for the three different pairs of shorts I've sewn using the same altered pattern tissue affects the need to work slowly through the hips and waist fit.

I even basted the cuff seams before doing the official seams. And I was glad I had.

* I meant to interface with regular fusible interfacing, but by mistake I used two sided fusible. Well, why not? I'm giving it a try. Note to self - start labeling the interfacing! The plastic wrap directions sheet doesn't always indicate what I bought.

* I sewed Petersham ribbon over the inside of the waistband. I did the same thing on my last pair of shorts I sewed with this pattern. I've been pretty happy with that pair, though the waistband still loosens up between washings.

*I'll probably add belt loops, but they are absolutely wearable now. I tried to fit them a little tighter at the waist to avoid the loosening up over time challenge, belt loops or no.

Fly Front Zipper

* I'm still fighting the fly front zipper. Next month I'm taking a pants construction 4 session class, hoping to get more comfortable with the techniques, particularly the area right around the top and the transition between the front and the waistband. Trudy's fly front zipper Hot Patterns tutorial gave me the confidence to take on fly fronts, but I"m not really there yet.

Friday, September 28, 2012

When Zippers Fly - September Sewing Basket

My September Sewing Basket is Singing Out To Me
Haloooooo, we're still full over here!

I'm still working away on completing the items in my September sewing basket.

Finally getting on with those sage-y green shorts. Yes, we can still hope to wear shorts here in the San Francisco Bay Area for another month or more. What is it about getting those fly front zipper techniques down? I'm going to review Trudy's fly-front zipper tutorial on youtube. Thanks again to Hot Patterns.

Why do they call it a "fly" on the front of the zipper?

From past experience, I don't think this zip will be flying off my machine that all quickly.

Buena suerte para mí!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pensamientos: The ubiquitos tee shirt, today's calico dress

The ubiquitos tee shirt plays much the same role in my closet, as the  calico dress did in my great-great grandmother's wardrobe.

Can't you just see those pioneer gals, my anglo-saxon foremothers,  donning their fresh new frocks and hopping into the buckboard with their husbands? They were headed off to the recently opened lands across the Alleghanies, to drive out my native-american foremothers and their husbands from the western territories. When the cultural clash was over, they settled into planting, sowing and reaping, clad in the latest fabrics. Those calico yard goods, so recently imported from India, were much more affordable and comfortable than the heavy-weight serges, woolens and linsey woolsey fabrics their mothers had worn. Why at this price, a girl could maybe have two or three dresses whereas Mama had needed to be content with one. The soft fabric was practical, but also moved in graceful, fluid folds that made it a pleasure to wear. They were so charming too! The bright colors and pretty designs of the frontier woman's favored dress, beat the old plain, severely colored fabrics all hollow.

I have a vision of my great-great-grandmother Lily with her brightly colored, patterned calico-er skirts tucked up in the waistband of her apron. She's out digging up the sod to plant 200 rows of vegetables she hopes to grow for winter canning, after which little task, she maybe has time to start in on the ironing, see to making dinner, and whitewash the hen coop. That's all before midday, of course. Her calico dresses are getting quite a workout.

Nowadays I don a tee shirt before I head out for my own work writing code and studying in class. My tees are practical too. They take me from school to a hike at Edgewood Nature Preserve, or on a bike ride to the grocery store. And I love to sew them up in pretty colors and fabric, and embellish them with unique designs, so that they're more than just a plain workday garment. Tees are affordable to sew too. For the cost + sewing labor of one buttoned shirt, I can create three tees.

All this thought about my favorite garment is setting my heart yearning to sew. Shore do hope I 'git to that sewing machine o'mine afore nightfall.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pensamientos: Sewing vs. Soccer

Last weekend, as I headed off to my weekend lingerie sewing class at Cañada, I suddenly noticed the dummy light, indicating I hadn't shut the back of the car properly, was on. I pulled over a few doors down from my own house. When I  hopped out to slam down the errant hatch, I saw that my young neighbor Gregoire was playing in his front yard.

"Hi Laurel. " he greeted me. "I've got a soccer game!"

I acknowledged the importance of this event in his young life properly.

"Where are you going?"

Gregoire has recently turned seven. Erasmus wasn't kidding with that age-of-awareness stuff. Greg has suddenly become conscious that the world doesn't actually revolve around his doings, and he's curious about it.

"I've driving to a sewing class."

Gregoire was silent for a long moment. I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head, at the thought that I was heading cheerily, perhaps voluntarily, off to a class on a Sunday afternoon.

"Do you like that?", he finally asked.

"Greg," I answered, "I feel about sewing classes like you feel about playing soccer."

There was another lengthy pause.

"Have fun at your class," he responded in a decided manner.

I drove off down the road, feeling sure that Gregoire had greatly enlarged his view of the social complexities of the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tee Time Technique: Stayin’ Stable at the Shoulder

Having made a few tee shirts out of wiggly-jiggly-creeping-down-the-arm-over-time jersey-type knits, I was suspicious that I needed to learn more about stabilizing the shoulder seams. Here’s what I learned about that in class today.

Thanks Rhonda!

1)  Sew shoulder seams – front to back (maybe you like to sew them back to front, it’s your call :-)
2)  Cut a ¼ inch wide piece of fabric the length of the seam. IMPORTANT cut it the opposite direction from the stretch. If, say, the tee knit fabric stretches left to right (from selvedge to selvedge) then cut this piece top to bottom. As a matter of fact, the selvedge might be a great place, from which, to cut the strip.
3)  Sew this stabilizing strip right on top of the shoulder seam.
4)  Another good, supportive, idea is to topstitch on either side of the shoulder seam, either as the stole method of stabilizing or in addition to the stabilizing strip. 

Since knits don't ravel there's no need to finish the seam edges

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tit forTatting... Embellishing my Buttercup Purse

I love this way this bag looks
with my new yellow tee shirt
The combination inspires me to get a camisole sewn
for this tee sooner rather than later.
You may also enjoy 

In case English isn't your first language, or you just never encountered the expression before, tit for tat refers to payback. For example, if you used my new sewing scissors to cut out paper, I might borrow your hammer to pound the pavement and leave it out in the rain. I'd never do that of course, just saying....

I don't know of any actual connection between my piece of tatting and that idiomatic phrase.

Yes, hooray! I finished my new bluebird buttercup purse. In Do you Love Butter? In Praise of the Buttercup PurseI  had a lot of fun blogging about the buttercup game (as played by my mother when she was a little girl) that this pattern brings to mind. 

What do I especially like about my new bag?
1) Simple quilting, batting and crinoline interfacing gives it real substance and the potential to hold up to what I put in her.
2) An excuse to embellish a covered button with a bluebird's face. Isn't that a darling closure?
3) The opportunity to make use of eight inches of vintage tatting that I bought at last weeks De Anza Flea Market. I'm pretty sure that's a world's record for me when it comes to speed at which I used a newly acquired embellishment.

Closeup of bag, tatting
and covered button
I also love the way this bag goes with this sheer yellow tee shirt I finished a few weeks back. Unfortunately I can't wear them out together until I get a camisole sewn to go under the tee, as it's quite sheer. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

National Sewing Month ¿Estamos Listos? Are We Ready?

Septiembre es el mes para nuestra nación a coser!
September is, of course, National Sewing Month

¿Pero estamos listos?
But, are we ready? 

1) Los suministros / Supplies
I have a goodly sized fabric, trim and pattern stash. (You guessed that didn't you?)

2) El Plan / The Plan
I've got a basket full of things cut out that I plan to sew in September

          - One pair of green shorts, the same pattern as I used for "The Lady Wears Shorts" (see my earlier posting)
          - A cloche style cap, like the one I now wear almost everyday (It needs break and a bath!) . Refer back to "Chewing a Bun with Tuppence" (an earlier posting)
          - A beige lingerie type camisole to go under a very pretty sheer, burnt-knit, dressy yellow tee shirt I finished recently. (No, I can't take a photo of me in it because it would only look appropriate in the kind of establishment I don't patronize! You probably drive by them too.) Believe me, I need a camisole under that tee.
           - One test pair of unmentionable nether garments!
           - A mostly sewn buttercup purse (See my "Do You Like Butter?" posting)

There a few other projects in my basket that I'm not committing to for September, but they could fill in any extra sewing time .... another buttercup purse in home dec roses and stripes fabrics (leftover from aprons I sewed for myself and my daughter about six months ago), a reconstructed tee shirt I'll likely use for testing binding techniques - but it will still see use in the garden, a pretty partially sewn silk wallet I started with my daughter about 4 years ago that needs heavy duty snaps installed - a skill I need to work on.... You know the kind of stuff you resurrect and put in your to do basket, but don't actually commit to

3) Estudio de costura/ Sewing Studio
I decided to get serious and  signed up for Cañada College Fashion 110 "Introduction to Sewing". I call myself a low intermediate level sewer (and I'm always willing to take a chance on an advanced pattern) but being primarily self-taught, there is so much I don't really know and so many things I can, and have been learning. For one thing I'm not naturally neat (something in the genes I think). I don't have a good sense of how closures and edge finishes should even look, much less how to do them in a standard way. Also I just do a lot of things the wrong way. In addition, I often find written instructions confusing. And don't get me started on youTube videos. Yes, I use and love them. But I've done some pretty odd things following them. (More on that another time)

             - Right now I'm working on the first tee shirt project for our Fashion 110 class. I hope to cut out a sample version of that tee this weekend before I cut into the good stuff in class next week. With the help of our wonderful teacher, Rhonda Cheney, I added a dart to the basic Stretch and Sew 333 pattern (Rhonda really did the dart. I traced over her work, but I wrote a lot of how-to notes while I watched her work). I'd like to test the basic front and back with dart on a couple of $2.50 tees -I use two of the same color for test garments-  before I cut into my good stuff in el estudio.

I also signed up for a 4 session Lingerie Sewing Class at Cañada. I'm looking forward to learning how to work with elastic better, for one thing.
National Sewing Month?
 ¡Soy muy listo! 
 I do feel ready!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do you Love Butter? In praise of the Buttercup Purse

My latest buttercup purse is
still in the construction stage.
I sew it as one long double sided bag,
then just stitch across the bottom of the lining
before tucking it down inside the bag.
The big bird image above is part of an inside pocket.
Some  favorite postings

* Tit for Tatting: Embellishing my Buttercup Purse

Back in the 1920's, when my mother was a little girl, there was  a game amongst her friends in regards to buttercups. They tickled each other under the chin with the bright yellow flowers and giggled "Do you love butter?", then checked to see if any pollen had stuck to their little chum's chin. My mother, not being a sentimentalist, recounts this activity with a curling lip. The fact that she still recalls it, tells it's own story.

I happen to love the buttercup purse pattern by Made by Rae. I first  discovered it on the purses/bags/wallets forum at Crafster.org. It's a free, easily downloadable purse pattern, with the caveat that it's not to be used to create items for sale. I've probably made close to ten of these winsome bags by now in a variety of sizes. Wonder what you'd find stuck on the bottom of my chin?

Eva's Cowgirl Purse was a Buttercup

The basic pattern produces a rather small pocket-sized purse (which also made it perfect for 4 year old Eva). But that's just the right size to hang across my chest to hold my iPod, keys and reading glasses and accompany me on a walk or when I'm attending to domestic activities. Essentially I use it to replace a pocket and it keeps my pants pockets from wearing out. I don't think the original pattern includes a long handle, but mine always do. I've started interfacing those handles with Peltex interfacing for a really sturdy strap.

I made this goodly sized Buttercup in purple velvet
cut from a never-made-but-cut velvet suit
I turned up in my own sewing stash
However quite often, as in the case of this bluebird buttercup above, I enlarge the pattern for a regular purse-sized bag.


After downloading the pattern (it's only a couple of pages) and stapling or taping them together, I photocopy them at a couple of different sizes. I think 129% is the biggest my local copy store goes, so sometimes I've enlarged an enlargement. I also like to simply extend the bottom of the little purse to make it deeper.

My in-progress buttercup purse is a recreation of one I made from the same quilting-cotton fabric last January. I loved the bird embellished fabric so much that I pretty much wore it out. I didn't line much more than the top pieces and it didn't stand up to the weight of the items I put in. So I started over with fresh fabric.

This time through I stabilized the buttercup's bird fabric not only with fusible quilt batting on both the outer and lining layers, but also with a layer of crinoline on the inside of the outside pieces. I also did some simple quilting on the outside layer.

This buttercup should really stand up to the service I expect of her. 

The completed buttercup purse I was working on when I first wrote this posting, is on display in