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.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Technicos: Cutting Bias Strips

I often buy packaged bias tape, but it's useful to be comfortable making our own. You never know when you're going to want a coordinated color on a sewing project, or maybe a really nifty contrasting color or pattern. When sewing samples for class we made our own bias strips. 

Here I folded a piece of fabric on the diagonal and then drew a set of nice straight lines. I was actually making bias strips of varying widths for different samples projects. If I were making strips for the same task, then I would cut them all the same width. For a garment I would want the strips as long as possible. So I'd take a pice of fabric as wide as it is long (such as a 44 by 44 piece of quilting cotton, since that fabric is typically 44 inches wide), then I would fold it into a big diamond and draw lines like those in this illustration.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quick Tutu Keeps a Girl Happy (Doll Sewing)

Kaity Rose (above) likes to imagine  herself
on stage at the San Francisco Ballet
Kaity Rose had been after me for a tutu of her own, ever since she heard me speak about my fascination with that garment in the final Pensamientos/Reflection part of the Enchanted by Sewing January Podcast. Of course I had made the mistake of mentioning that I had a piece of tulle and a bit of purple satin in my fabric bits inventory, not to mention a sparkly embellishment or two. Any doll would bug you once they knew that.

Did I use a pattern? No.

Is this costume going to hold up to the rigors of long-term play? No.

But I did make one doll happy. And if another little child ever comes along who wants to play with a ballerina doll, then I'll just get busy and sew up a sturdier version.

I may focus on sewing for my own wardrobe, but occasional sewing for dolls is another one one of the things that keeps me Enchanted by Sewing.

You may also enjoy Cracking Nuts at the Opera House

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Technicos: Ruffling those Scales

My beruffled sample
Looked nice, crisp and flat after a final seam allowance trim
I'm back from my unexpected family medical visit, though I will be making regular return trips for a bit. Good thing I put the Enchanted By Sewing podcast on hold until next month, so I can play catchup. During that visit I got behind in my samples for sewing class. It's tempting to hurry through the pile, but I found that careful work was a bit of a tonic after the stress of dealing with emotions and multi-tasking of the past week-plus.

I wasn't expecting the ruffles to be a big deal. Ruffling was the first sewing skill I ever learned. (I described my experiences in the 'cast as a little girl with a great big needle, a long thread and dolls that wanted dressing back in Episode 2: Romancing the Dress.) That's probably why I chose to get this sample done first, easiest first right?

The ruffles weren't a pain to sew, but I did focus on a few things I hadn't learned in my long unstudied sewing career. This ruffling experience reminded me of learning versus practicing piano scales. Every pianist learns to play her scales, she gets the idea of the relationship between one note and another just as I long ago learned the basic idea of sewing ruffles by pulling a thread. But it's aware practicing and  attention to details, that turns the pianists pressure on the keys into a thing of beauty.  I realized while working on this sample that it wasn't enough that I knew how to gather fabric on a thread. It's repeated practice with this basic skill, and attention to what makes them look crisp that improves my sewing performances.

While I was sewing, pressing and trimming, I found myself singing a little tune from one of my daughter's favorite Disney movies, the "Aristocrats"

Do mi do mi do so mi do
Every truly cultured music student knows
You must learn your scales and your arpeggios
Bring the music ringing from your chest
And not your nose
While you sing your scales and your arpeggios

If your faithful to your daily practicing
You will find you progress is encouraging
Do mi so mi do me so mi fa la so it goes
When you do your scales and your arpeggios

Do mi so do

The goal was to create two ruffles. The top one (shown on the far left) is a self-faced ruffle, pretty on both sides. The lower (rightmost ruffle) is a narrow-hemmed embellishment.

Narrow-Hemming Trick

In order to turn a very narrow hem I've learned to run a row of stitching along the hem before pressing it under, then under again and pressing. My narrow hems now come out a lot straighter.

The pen is pointing out the midway little clip spot I used to help me align the ruffle as evenly as possibly.

Getting those ruffles to fill more evenly

I laid the little clip in line with the midway point on my supposed garment (imagine the yellow material is an apron skirt that I'm going to embellish with a fuffle on the hem. Then I pressed the ruffles. This is a new-to-me trick. It sure helps get them in place so I don't get too much ruff in one spot and too little in another

Nearly there, But Kind of Thick Behind
Removing Ruffle Bulk 
The ruffles are sewn down and pressed, but they look kind of thick, don't they? I flipped them over and trimmed the seam allowance for a nice improved flatter look.

Flatter and Crisper

Do mi do mi do so mi do

Every truly cultured sewing student knows
You must learn to trim and press your ruffles-Oo
Keep those folds from bulking up the seam
And on thy clothes
While you trim 
and press those lovely ruffles-Oo

If your faithful to your steady practicing
You will find you progress is encouraging
Do mi so mi do me so mi fa la so it goes
you trim and press those lovely ruffles-Oo

Do mi so doi

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Temporary Blogging Hold (Family Medical)

I will not be blogging for a little while. My family needs me to support hospital and follow-up care for a close family member.

I am not going to attempt a podcast this month for February. Current plans are to create the March podcast around the interview with Laura, "Conversation with a Pirate Queen", followed by an April garment-themed podcast.

My sewing is going to be virtual for a little while, but I'm as enchanted with it as ever :-)

Hope you are all taking good care of yourselves, drinking lots of fluids and eating your leafy greens every day. I know I am.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Holly's New Vest (Doll Clothes)

A California Gal Can Always Use a Cute Vest Topper

I sewed this vest for Holly the Dolly when I was prepping for my January Enchanted By Sewing Podcast. The show theme was vests, and I was reviewing the steps I described in the Technicos/Techniques section of the podcast. I really like these minimal hand-sewing vest construction method I learned from my class at the CaƱada Community College, Fashion Sewing Program.

We're talking a little green sewing here. This fabric is one I saved from a dress I made myself way, way back in college. You're right that the style wasn't exactly up to date. But some prints continue their appeal, right? I didn't hold onto this material just to be environmentally correct. I simply never got over loving it. The rest of my one-time dress will either go into a vest or buttercup purse for me.

Holly is getting a lot of use out of these new-to-her threads. That's one doll who's as enchanted by sewing as I am.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Antique Threads:My Life in Costume Drama (Poldark)

Demelza Poldark, in one of her beautiful
Empire Style Day Gowns,
Shown here giving husband Ross a piece of her mind
in the BBC series "Poldark",
Inspired by the novels of Winston Graham
In college and high school I sewed a goodly number of frocks along the lines of Demelza's in the BBC television series Poldark. The high waistlines of Empire dresses spoke not only to the style of the English Regency era, they were how we imagined we would live our lives. Did you live your life as though you were part of some kind of drama when you were that age too?

Nowadays I look to Demelza's dresses more for sewing inspiration as to color, pattern and  details then as clothing I might wear for a walk in the park. As I mentioned in the Enchanted By Sewing December podcast (Ench-004: Good Night My Someone), this kind of gown still inspires my nightgown sewing. I've been mulling over creating a romantically styled spring/summer nightgown inspired by this sort of dress and the Folkwear "Beautiful Dreamer" nightgown pattern I've got tucked away.

It's the men's clothing from that era that inspire my daytime, for-public-view garment sewing. I love the buttons, lapels and fabrics of men's vests and they way they combined with what we might now call a poet shirt.

Imagine what a Buck like Demelza's husband Ross Poldark would have said if he had met a time traveller from today and learned that one day, women would wear trousers as tight as his own!