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.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Notions: I Don't Give a Pin!

Pincushion Gal Helps Keep Me
Enchanted By Sewing
But Darling, we can't have your mother to stay. We're going to the country this weekend.

Oh fiddledeedee, I don't give a pin about going to the country!

You don't hear people complaining that they .... don't give a pin! for something anymore. Usually a more vehement expression is used to express disinterest in a companion's speech or interests. I suppose it's because pins aren't worth much anymore, though you can still find references to people paying for things using pins in the delicious Betsy and Tacy books. And how many people do you know who refer to their pin money these days?

I love my new friend, Pincushion Gal. Mostly she's content hanging out behind my sewing machine, but she has been known to go visiting as far as the ironing board. At first I kept knocking her over, because her heavier torso was supported by a rather frail little base. After a confab with my husband we came up with a solution to that little challenge. I stitched up a little sack of dried beans, using the end of a piece of flannel from the night shirt I'd just made him (another good reason to hold onto scraps!), filled the little case with dried beans, then attached the resulting bean bag around the base of the form with - you guessed it- pins! My gal doesn't get knocked off her feet anymore, despite all the work she does for me.

As you can see, it's quite tempting to add more than pins to the newest member of Sewing Corner. So handy to tack down bits of silk organza scrap (good spots to stick my threaded needles), spare bits of trim, beading, and the pretty little brooch I picked up from the flea market. And of course a lady like this needs a fan for flirting with her many admirers.

Hanging out with the new girl at my machine, keeps me, as always, absolutely enchanted by sewing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Good Night My Someone: Sewing Flannel Nightgowns

My favorite nightgown pattern
is missing in action

This plain sewing nightgown pattern, whether made up in flannel for our brief cold season, or in light weight cottons and eyelets for warmer weather, has been a long-time tried and true pattern for me. Machine embroidery and decorative stitching make this long time favorite even more of a pleasure to wear.

I sure do wish I could find where I've put this gol durned pattern! Luckily, I have one more of these gowns cut out in red flannel. Maybe I'll try to trace the cut pieces and assemble a close-to-it paper pattern, because I can't find any current nightgown patterns in this style, with this style of deep yoke.

I talked about sewing nightgowns, and robes, in the December Enchanted by Sewing Podcast. The show is freely available in the iTunes store for download to a mobile device, or you can listen on the web without downloading by clicking on this link.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A New Nightgown for the Winter Holidays

Kaity Rose seems happy with her newly sewn nightie
You may enjoy the technical illustrated how-to's in my previous posting about tucks.

When practicing tucks sewing for a future nightgown of my own, I sewed a new nightgown for a favorite little friend, Kaity Rose. (KRose will share her new nightie with her comrade, Holly the Dolly.)

I used this *free pattern download* of the nightgown for the American Girl Samantha  doll for this charmer.

I talked about this project, created a descriptive audio tutorial about making tucks and shared a number of ideas for avoiding tucks sewing pinfalls in the December Enchanted by Sewing Podcast. The show is freely available in the iTunes store for download to a mobile device, or you can listen on the web without downloading by clicking on this link.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Calling All Vests!

Manufacturer is Timeless Treasures
Collection:Cabin Fever Flannel
Source: Fabric.Com

I see I'm not the only sewist who found this Bird print on a creamy background of 100% flannel appealing. There are just seven yards left at fabric.com. This fabric feels great. I have it cut out for a comfortable warm, lined fitted vest I hope to get sewn up soon. The theme for my January Enchanted By Sewing Podcast will be vests. If you have a favorite vest pattern you'd like to see featured in the January podcast, let me know by emailing me at Enchanted By Sewing AT Gmail.Com (or post a response here). I'm also hoping listeners and readers will send in photos of vests they've made and would like to see featured in the show notes.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fabric Choices: Quality Versus Price in a Holiday Sewing Project

About a month ago I got feed up with shopping at my local always-a-discount fabric store and decided to try to avoid shopping there, coupons or no. They get me in with 40% off, then I over buy on other things. I also buy stuff I don't like because it's a good deal. That's a waste of money, inventory space at home, and not really a great treat for the planet either - eventually more junk in the waste stream when a garment I don't like gets donated and somebody on the receiving end doesn't like it any better than I do. Yes, I may end up paying more for thread and notions but I want to put my money where my mouth is and buy from vendors who want to provide quality products for fashion sewers.

100% Cotton Flannel
MFG: Henry Glass & Co. Inc.
Collection: Yarn Dyed Fun Flannel
Source: Fabric.Com
I bought two pieces of flannel online at Fabric.com (I've liked every piece of fabric I've purchased there).  Are these flannels more durable than the discount flannels from the local discount fabric store? I'll be best able to estimate that by keeping an eye on the nightshirt I just finished for my husband out of this flannel. He wears a nightshirt out after a year or two, so I'll see if this one holds up better. I certainly liked the hand of this  fabric, a soft, yarn-dyed taupe check.

I had fun sewing this nightshirt for my husband while listening to my
December "Enchanted By Sewing Podcast" show
In my December "Enchanted By Sewing Podcast" show I talked about my sewing plans for nightwear, including the night shirt above, which I finished sewing about the same time I made it through the final audio check of the show! Pattern and more information about this nightshirt are in the Enchanted By Showing Show Notes. You might also enjoy downloading, or listening on line, to this month's, and other month's shows.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Anthony G. Sews Again! - Fourth Podcast Episode Almost There

You know the challenge... I've been working on my podcast about sewing for the past several days, therefore I haven't gotten on with my own sewing! And there's so much I want to get on with.

Here's Anthony G.. You'll be hearing him in an interview in my December podcast show (iTunes Enchanted By Sewing), wearing two vests he made himself. The underneath one is wool lined with linen. And isn't that long, loose outside one cool? He designed it as a comfy around the house piece, but it would be absolutely great for long chilly walks as well.

I can't believe I saw the results of Anthony's first-ever sewing project back in September (it was a very snarky long-sleeved black tee shirt). Since then he's also made three other tees and a pair of linen pants as well as these vests and a hoodie lined in linen. And did I mention he's taking two other really challenging classes with major outside commitments?

In this fourth episode of the "Enchanted By Sewing Podcast", Anthony has a lot to saw about natural textiles - a lot I didn't know.

I'm planning to have the show published this weekend. I need to make a couple more passes and make sure I didn't manage to cut anything out - or leave anything odd in!

Just search on "Enchanted By Sewing" in the iTunes store.

But you knew that!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sewing Basket Overload!

I was buried under my sewing basket.

• So many in-progress projects to finish.
Shall I list them? Would that make a difference?

• So many new and improving skills I'm working on. Another list?

• So many tee shirts, pants and purses that I could zip through quickly, if I didn't have a life: work, school, family, hiking, and reading novels.
All of them are equally important, eh?

Oh wait, it supposed to be fun. That's why I sew!

Guess I'll just wear that red plaid dress I made a few years back to that special event this week, and put the self-imposed deadlines on hold.

My only plan for the future, is to keep the enchantment in my sewing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Seasonal Sewing: Scarves O' Flannel

I try to always buy an extra yard and a half of flannel when I'm creating a nightshirt or nightgown. I like my scarves to give good cold season coverage, so a nice big 45" length, folded on the diagonal provides a good big width of warmth.

No sewing required, of course. I fringe a little along the edge if I'm in the mood. Mostly they just keep my neck snug with no itchiness. They're highly washable and compliment a lot of outfits. Indoors, tucked into a neckline, they often take the place of a light sweater. Outside, down inside a light weight jacket they are the finishing touch that keeps me cosy.

In a pinch, if I'm out walking a little later than normal or hit a sudden cold spot, I can tie one of these beauties over my head for an impromptu head cover. When I do that I feel a little bit like Maureen O'Hara in film "The Quiet Man".

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Technicos: Imperfect Tucks Are Not the End of the World

Some of my tucks were slightly off grain
Some were a little skewed
Hey, these were the first I'd made outside of
making tucks that came pre-printed on a pattern piece
And the doll whose nightgown will be incorporating this
charming detail, won't care!
I'm a Type B, so I don't usually stress about perfection and doing things in a totally standardized way. At least that's what I've always thought about myself. But I noticed that I was letting myself get kind of intimidated by my plaid and fitting crusade in regards to my CA Romance Dress project. So I decided a couple of things.

1) I still plan to finish it in time for a mid December performance I'm going to with my daughter. But a little break might not hurt
2) I'm going to quit worrying about alterations. I talked with Susan about the sleeve fitting we were planning to work on, and I decided to just pin my test sleeve to the dress once I get the bodice and skirt basted up, see if it looks OK, then cut the sleeve and run with it. We could spend way too much time fooling with every detail of this pattern. Enough is enough. Neither of us wants to get overly caught up in pattern alteration and drafting. We just want to sew stuff that makes us feel good and improve our sewing skills along the way!
3) I decided I needed a very brief break from the CA Romance Dress. Just a little time to play with tucks!

My December podcast theme will be night wear. I'm already sewing a flannel nightshirt for my husband (well it's cut out anyway) and I have a flannel nightgown cutout for myself. Actually I cut it out a couple of years ago(!). I found it and another of the same pattern and material in my inventory. I did machine embroidery on the yokes for each last year and got one sewed up. So nightie number two needs to get finished this month. Those two garments will give me some practical material for the 'cast, but..... as usual I'm distracted by a technique we worked on in class. I bet you can guess that's tucks!

It's so tempting to cut out another nightgown - a cool cotton one this time, with a tucked bodice or yoke. Hold on! When will I finish my dress, get back to my planned tee shirts and get on with jeans sewing? How about I just practice some technique sewing to polish up those fun tucks we practiced on paper in Fashion 110? Then, when I've gotten past a few other planned projects I'll be that much smarter.

BTW sample sewing is a blast when you sew for a doll. Have you ever noticed how non-picky a doll is? They'll wear anything! I saved only a few of my daughter's books and only two toys. One was an American Girl doll and the other an 18" Engelpuppen doll (a German model). And dolls wear nightgowns that would look lovely with tucks. I downloaded classic retired American Girl Doll Patterns for free! They're big files and you may want to avoid doing more than one at a time. Thanks to Pleasant Rowland and the rest of American Girl for sharing these patterns.

I used an old cotton sheet, from that day last summer when I cleaned out the linen closet (there's room to fold the pillowcases now!) , to practice my tucks. If I called it vintage fabric, would it sound classier? It was pleasant working with that soft old fabric, and wondering how many times it had been slept on over the years.

I experimented with simple, easy to draw tucks
These are one inch apart
In retrospect, I think maybe more pins would keep the tucks straighter
I think this is about an 1/8 inch seam on the tucks
I think an expert sewer might like to pintuck a doll's nightgown,
but pin tucks would be more work to measure and might be more challenging to sew
There's enough to the basic experience without adding pin tucks
I had marked my tucks with air soluble marker
But you know that inch will often bond with the fabric when pressed
So I rinsed that marker out before pressing
Yeah, right those tucks aren't perfect.
But dolls wont' care, and I got some experience working with this technique

Also, sample sewing was good because it got me thinking about
how a pattern piece might lay on my completed tucked fabric.
If I were making a nightgown bodice for myself,
I might want to do extra tucking so that I could get a really symmetrical look

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Plain Sewing: Another Season's Nightshirt

December means nightshirt and nightgown sewing. In California, our cool weather has just come in and we're noticing seam and fabric deficiencies in last seasons nightwear.

Though Simplicity 9898 is out of print
There are many of this older pattern for sale on the web
And the big 4 pattern companies carry new versions
of this same pattern style
Wonder how many times I've made this flannel nightshirt for my husband? It's the ultimate, no-fashion item. I sew them and he wears them out. We turn the worn out nightshirts into cleaning and polishing rags, just as families have for generation after generation.

I'm getting down to brass tacks today, cutting another of these oh-so-practical garments.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Technicos: Don't be Mad - Be Plaid

Though Vogue 8810 is a relatively straightforward pattern I've made before (in a straight skirted version), The CA Romance Dress is challenging for several reasons:

1) Susan's helping me to alter the pattern for an improved fit. I wrote about that in "Further Adventures of the CA Romance Dress".  I liked this dress shape before, but I'm liking the new tissue shape I saw in the mirror even more. Could I have been happy making this dress without these changes, working on my own pinning in front of the bathroom mirror? You bet I could. But I'm taking classes and it's a great chance to learn more about fitting techniques. I'm going to feel majorly couture wearing this creation!

2) I'm making this version with a wide bias cut skirt.  I'm using plaid fabric. Oh boy - plaid.

3) I'm working with only 4 yards of fabric, the bare minimum for the full-skirted version. (I won't be able to squeak the full-length sleeve out, you betcha).And BTW did I mention I'm using plaid fabric?

What helped? Pattern weights combined with pins. The pattern and fabric on these great big skirt pieces tends to shift about. Just as soon as I'd have it pinned on one side, it shifted on the other. So I switched to  laying out a whole lot of pattern weights first, moving them around and around, shifting and moving the fabric as I went until all the lines all around the piece seemed to be lining up.

After all the pattern weights were in place, then I pinned. And I used lots and lots of pins.

Previously I thought pattern weights were just for people who used them instead of pins. Now I think they made it possible for me to do some challenging plaid matching. Thanks to Kathleen and her husband who made these pattern weights for our sewing lab at school!

A Couple of Other Things I learned:

* After I already started cutting another Sewing Lab inhabitant suggested next time I make bigger seam allowances (maybe an inch instead of 5/8 inch), so that I can tweak the plaid matchup a little if the fabric pulls slightly out of do-wacky when I'm cutting. Would have been a good idea, but too late.

* Richard suggested that I stay/reinforcement stitch my bias-cut seams (in this case, the skirt side seams) when I was fretting about the challenges of that newly stretchy cross-cut side moving around on my when matching up those seams where the plaids come together in a diagonal manner. He also told me not to stress it too much when it comes to plaids, and just to enjoy it!

He's right. It's not a contest. The point is to have fun.
My fabric isn't, of course, wide enough to cut both sides of
the full bias-cut skirt front or back
So I cut each skirt piece - front and back- out twice
A total of four skirt pieces to cut
That 'flip!" note reminds me that I want to
cut mirror images of each piece.
I'm sure you'd never make a mistake doing that, but I sure have!
When I pin the pattern to the plaids, I pin on the seam line
Not the cutting line
The fabric can shift between the cutting and seam line
I test to make sure that I've still got plaids matching over and over
as I lay out each piece
It's not enough just to get the  seam's matching
We try to get all the plaids matching around the entire piece
THEN we work to matchup the plaids on this piece with plaids on the
pieces this will be sewn to. That would be
skirt front to skirt back, skirt top to dress  bodice, in this case

Notice I used pattern weights not only around the edges, but in the middle too. It helped really get the pattern to lay flat. (The pattern is in the middle here, I've already cut one piece and now it's flipped over. I put pins through the grainline to make sure it's laying straight, though the plaid matching makes that pretty durn  likely as well.