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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Technicos: Sharpening Flannel Buttonholes (Green Sewing)

Green Sewing with Leftover Stabalizer Scrap
The irregular hole on the left hand side remains from the fabric's
previous life supporting machine embroidery.
Plenty of area remains to help out my buttonholes.

When I made my first test buttonholes on my birdie vest, the first thing I learned was that two layers of flannel, even though they were interfaced on the inside, did that gummy thing under the needle. I bet you know how that gummy thing works, the fabric just doesn't move through right. Two layers of flannel will do that to you. They just want to stick together.

I've used different kinds of stabalizer in various ways when it comes to buttonholes. Having recently been working on sewing area cleanup, it occurred to me this time to try out some of the scrap pieces I've saved from machine embroidery. There's such a lot of stabalizer leftover around the design. (Yes, I can't help but keep it. Occasionally I use it to write project directions on for myself.)

In this case I was able to pencil my buttonhole measurements and guidelines onto the sheet and sew through onto the buttonhole. Not only did the fabric slide really well, My buttonholes came out nice and straight!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vintage Threads: Downton Abbey Inspiration (Embroidery on Black)

If it's British it Must Be Good!

I'm a big fan of British Costume Dramas. I'm also a big fan of Cora's black embroidered dress from Downton Abbey. Does this inspire anybody else to think about creating some machine embroidery using a similar layout? Though it would be gorgeous on a wool crepe dress, it would see a lot more use in my closet if I did something like this on a nice dark knit tee shirt.

Get behind me Satan! Don't give me another excuse to put aside less-than-exciting plain sewing projects aside. 

But it's certainly given me some ideas for a not-too-distant future project.
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Plain Sewing: Trousers Done!

I used McCalls 6403 to sew 2 pair of shorts
over the summer
This time - trousers
I finally finished this pair of light weight denim trousers I've been working on, on and off. They include a couture waistband inspired by the pants construction class I took with Lynda Maynard. There are instructions in her Dressmaker's Handbook to Couture Sewing for this style of waistband. I was working to learn to make a waistband that didn't have the tendency slide down after an hour or so of wear. This waistband seems sturdier, however I think a lot of my challenge may be that I tend to weight down my pockets with keys, lip gloss, etc. I plan to keep working with this style of waistband, stabalized with polyester horsehair braid (Lynda uses real horsehair) cable stitched to a backing of silk organza.

Looking forward to getting rid of another pair of very similar worn read-to-wear trousers, that have fit me OK, but not as well as these that I sewed for myself. Isn't it great feeling to be able to create our own basic garments?

They weren't exciting or colorful sewing, but these trousers will form an important , useful part of my wardrobe.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vintage Threads: Plaids in Doctor Takes a Wife

Loretta Young in
The Doctor Takes a Wife
Like most other American women at the time, Loretta Young didn't have a extensive wardrobe in the 1940 movie "The Doctor Takes a Wife". Her film clothes were, however, well cut and well sewn.

I'm partial to this beautifully styled jacket and skirt that make such great use of this large plaid. What might I substitute for Miss Young's bias cut skirt? Or, how might I include contrasting plaids into something I would get regular use out of like a coat, shirt or shirt jacket?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Uniform Sewing: Orange Tee Combats the January Blues

I made another basic orange tee this month using the basic Ann Pearson/Stretch and Sew 333 tee shirt pattern I picked up for my fall sewing class at Cañada. It's been seeing a lot of use. The bright color is a great way to combat my January blues.

I cut the neckline a little lower than the one on the pattern
And make a self-fabric neckband

Monday, January 21, 2013

Enchanted by Sewing Podcast: Vests and Tutus (Ench-005)

This is my new
 double flannel Birdie Vest
More about fabric and stitching

Hey, have you heard the big news in the sewing world? The latest and greatest Enchanted By Sewing podcast   has hit the streets with it's fifth episode, the January Show: Vests and Tutus! 
Listen to the podcast online by clicking here, or.... do what the Cool Cats do and Drop By the iTunes store to Download

Show Notes for January and previous Podcast Episodes at EnchantedBySewing.blogspot.com

Below are some web links related to 
this episode.

A Nod to Vests in History
In The Scarlet Pimpernel, one of my favorite classic romance stories, Sir Percy Blakney wore vests (He called them waistcoats and it sounded like weskits). You can download a free text or audio book version of this public domain work from Librivox.

McCalls Vest 2260

Connie Crawford for Butterick 5473
Folkwear Tibetan Panel Coat/Vest

Tutus versus Tofu
The Nureyev Exhibit at
the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park
Runs through mid February 2013

I sew to create my own look, so I don't want to recreate the picture on the front of the pattern envelope. As a sewist, I also don't want to be inspired, by overly affected by, other people's designs. So, it's a good thing I didn't see this video, which focuses on the Lilac Fairies costume before Larissa encountered that exact garment in my e-book novella My Heart Beats Faster in Past Times. If I had, I wouldn't have been able to get caught up imagining my own version. But now, I can just get a kick out of seeing what somebody who created the real deal came up with.

Recreating a Tutu's Splendor | Theme and Variations

A great youtube video by the costume shop at the NYC Ballet. I first saw this at the Nureyev exhibit at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco

Wikipedia describes several different styles of tutus and explains more about how they are constructed.

Interview: Jewels - Behind the Costumes


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Uniform Sewing: The Birdie Vest

I'm very happy with my double sided flannel Birdie Vest, even though I didn't include the pseudo-welt pockets I usually make. I do miss those little front pockets. The tradeoff, of course, was that I got the project done more quickly. BTW The time spent adding decorative machine stitching for a sharper front edge didn't add much time to the project, as I wrote about previously.

The vest looks good with some black, light weight wool pants I made last winter, and a long sleeved black tee. The combination was just about right for a long walk I took today. The thermometer was in the high 40's. I had a pair of half done light weight blue denim trousers hanging up next to it as well (I'm having issues with the waistband) and it looks like that will be another good combination. Inspiration to finish my fight with the waistband!

I used McCalls 2260, a classic pattern from which, I've made maybe ten vests.
If the lining fabric looks familiar it's because I bought extra fabric for my husband's nightshirt to use for this.

Birdie Fabric Source Details .

I'll talk more about this project in my Enchanted By Sewing Podcast show for January. The theme for that episode will be vests.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Uniform Sewing: My New Rose Pink Tee

This is the same good old basic Stretch and Sew #832 Tee Shirt Pattern
I used in the Clothing Construction Class I took last semester at Cañada College

Both practical and attractive
For a trip to the museum!
( I made the wide-legged
light weight wool pants last year)

Triple bands of decorative machine feather stitching at the
neckline and sleeve edges
Love the heft it gives

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Uniform Sewing: My Style

This Sewist likes Uniform Sewing
I sewed five out of the six items,
 I wore on this trip to
the San Francisco Zoo
They exemplify my style
At the beginning of the holiday break,  I was stressing about getting that California Romance dress done.  I've had more than my usual share of issues with that frock project: fitting alterations and plaid matching being the main two, and I've already put enough time in on it to make two or three dresses. However, I was definitely, positively going to get on with it after I finished all the night wear sewing that's traditional, and necessary, for me in December. If you listen to my podcast, you know I talked about those projects I was making in my December Podcast: Good Night My Someone.

But then I took another good look at how I was spending my time over the vacation, and what I was enjoying wearing on those outings. It wasn't dresses. So, yes I'm glad I put aside that dress again. I'll be happy to get back to it in plenty of time for a graduation ceremony in June. In the meantime I've sewn another pretty bright tee shirt and a warm double sided flannel vest in a really pretty print. Also I sewed a vest for a doll. My January podcast will focus on vest sewing, and working on those vests gave my plenty of ideas for the show.

Don't you just  love that feeling of wearing pretty clothing that you made yourself, the kind of clothes that express your style? Here I am being photographed by my husband on one of my favorite recent expeditions, at the San Francisco Zoo (More about this outing in this posting I wrote for my Postcard From California blog).  My scarf, cap, tee shirt, plaid fleece jacket and peacock purse are all plain sewing items I made myself. The trousers are the only things I didn't make, and I'm working on sewing a pair of lightweight denim trousers.

This outfit is typical of the kind of outfit I like to be able to pull together quickly, made up from the kind of items I like to have on hand. The colors work for my skin tones and the garments are comfortable and absolutely practical for the way I live.

Pretty tees, comfortable trousers, scarves and fun purses express my style. I'm glad I've gotten on with  my kind of uniform sewing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Embellishment: Keeping it Simple with Decorative Stitching

My bird'y vest is flannel, lined with flannel
The decorative machine stitching adds weight that
helps the fabrics lay better, and gives the garment
a more definite edge.
There's always a sewing tradeoff between focusing on one garment, learning techniques and finishing up some of those unfinished objects (UFO's).

Not to mention artistic fever.

This month artistic fever hit big time. I imagined using all kinds of specialized embellishment techniques. Surely I was going to do all kinds of elegant work on the vest I was creating as fodder for my January podcast. How about quilting it? I thought about creating a motif of pieced flying geese blocks and turning them into diagonal pockets. Wouldn't that be darling? Of course the pocket-blocks would be machine quilted as well as the entire front and back. Then I read an article in an ancient Threads magazine about Sashiko. There's another technique I've always meant to spend time learning. I mean..... how long could it take to learn? (Yes that's a joke :-) Or, I could experiment with machine techniques for doing Shasiko. There's plenty of info on the web!

Yeah, let's get real!

Am I actually planning to get some work done this month? Sewing time is hobby time and it needs to be carefully budgeted. Besides that, I've got several projects cut out that I'd really like to finish up. I stopped in the middle of the flannel birds vest above to cutout and finish a rose pink tee I've really been enjoying wearing today. If I'd gone off focusing on major embellishment techniques there would have been no time to get a tee shirt done. And those half-done light weight denim trousers would be haunting my dreams. OK, they still are, but I have high hopes of getting the buttons done on the bird'y vest and getting on with them.

The tradeoff, of course, was to use decorative machine stitching. I love the look and the heft it adds to the edge of my vest, as well as the hem, sleeves and neckline of that rose pink tee. It doesn't even matter if others notice it. Every time I slip one of these garments on, I get pleasure from those stitches.

And it takes little more than extra thread and maybe an extra 30 minutes or so of sewing time.

Every time I slip on the sleeve of my new
rose tee, I enjoy the hefty band of
decorative machine stitching on the edges.
I used a lengthened feather stitch for this shirt.
Decorative machine stitching is an embellishment that gives me hobby time to cut down my stack of UFO's.  It's my budget sure-cure for artistic fever.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Vintage Threads: Lauren Bacall's Striped Blouse

So simple and so chic
OK, it helps when you look like Lauren Bacall, but...
What women isn't flattered by a classic striped blouse?
I wonder how many times I've watched the movie To Have and Have Not since I first saw it back in university days..... The story's still got it - the people seem as real to me as my neighbors. Despite Bacall's beauty and elegant wardrobe she's just another gal with a problem. Hemingway's tale isn't about celebrities, it's about regular folks with problems and this great film kept true to that message.

The checked suit Bacall wore when we first met her in this classic film, provides obvious inspiration for vintage sewing enthusiasts. Who doesn't admire that bias cut skirt swaying so alluringly against the roll of the starlet's hips, and the wonderful shaping and buttons on the jacket? We all want an outfit like that! But would it do much good for the job we'd imagine ourselves doing in a muggy hotel basement in wartime Martinique?

It's this blouse that I first spotted on Bacall in a scene with Hoagy Carmichael, that really takes me time traveling back to that hotel, and make me itch to recreate her vintage garment. Like the jeans and Oxford shirt that Humphrey Bogart wears in the movie, this chic, striped blouse is a classic any lady would still be glad to create and own. Wouldn't it look great on any woman?

Full-On View of Lauren Bacall in the Striped Outfit
It could be a blouse and skirt
Or a shirtwaist dress
But when I time travel back to Martinique, I'm
making my version up as a shirt tucked into jeans
Later on in the movie we see the full-on view of this beautifully striped garment. With a light belt wrapped around Lauren's waist it's hard to tell whether or not it's really a blouse worn tucked into a matching skirt, or a shirtwaist dress. Does it matter? In my mind I'm hanging out in the cellar of a Martinique hotel with the Resistance fighters, too. And of course I'm wearing an up to date version of  Bacall's outfit. Her skirt is history when it comes to roughing it, but this little striped beauty tucked into my favorite jeans is what I've got in mind for my role in the modern retake on this story. Classically as well as practically dressed, as I always like to be, I'm definitely gonna be ready to really help out  when the police come calling. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Good Night My Someone: Red Plaid Nightgown

The chicken illustrations are something I created for my
art journal a few years back.
This chicken lives with my neighbor Jen, and is named for me.
I'm proud to say that she (Laurel Chicken) and I appeared in Sunset Magazine's
The West's 100 Best Pets Contest:-)

Sunday morning, I finished the last of the night wear projects I talked about in my December Enchanted by Sewing podcast. 

I've been continuing to look for the missing pattern for this many-times used, Tried and True nightgown, while doing major cleaning and reorganizing holiday-time domestic projects -so far no luck.

Wonder how long this latest flannel addition will last..... I'd guess at least two years but would be surprised if it holds up for four. This was budget, on-sale flannel. I made my husband's nightshirt out of what could be higher quality, but maybe I was simply swayed by the description and the feel of the material. I wonder if better quality flannel fabric has a higher life expectancy, or merely feels better? Perhaps when I get to the textiles class in the fashion program at Cañada, I'll find out more about that.

I noticed while sewing this gown how very loose the weave can be in flannel. The plaid lines moved around no matter how many pins I put in. To give the bodice more oomph, I interlined/underlined the bodice with some blue flowered cotton, a remainder from another long-ago sewn spring nightgown. You can see it peaking out from the back bodice. The interlining was in addition to the interfacing I used down the front to support the buttons and buttonholes. I also used black decorative stitching to further support the button area. 

I did the machine embroidery on this bodice last winter. I think if I were embroidering similarly shaped bodice I'd probably do twice as much. My embroidery machine is older and I think this is the largest size motif I can create.

Working with flannel on this nightie is making me think about what I'll be doing with the flannel vest I'll be sewing soon. I'm wondering if interfacing the entire thing would be overdoing it?