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.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Vintage Threads: I want Bobbie Joe's Sleeve

Bobbie Joe was my favorite sister at the Shady Rest
And that girl knew how to dress too!

 You can still find the show "Petticoat Junction" on the golden oldies t.v. channels. Bea's three beautiful daughters - Betty Joe, Billie Joe and Bobbie Joe were shown at the beginning of the show, modestly peeping over the top of the local water tower where they had clearly been bathing, divested of their big fluffy petticoats, which hung over the side of the big water-holding container.

The gals, who lived a nice quiet life with their mother and uncle at their home and hotel"The Shady Rest",  represented the last of their kind. Back in the 'midst of the wild sixties, they still wore bouffant skirts and held out for marriage while young women in the rest of the country was going to H-E-Double HockeySticks in a hand basket, as a number of our elderly neighbors and relations were only too glad to explain to us. 

Well it's not really hard to know the rules when you live in a town called "Hooterville".

OK, I still like the sisters. They aren't over-done or saccharine sweet. And, watching the old shows again, I find they've held up pretty well over the decades. Bobbie Joe was always my favorite of the three. She also went to college, at a time when that was still in question for a lot of young American women.

Their clothing style has held up well too. This is just one example I've caught. I've seen similar bubble edged sleeves over the past couple of years in modern times, but I'm not sure if I've seen this kind of join on the side. It certainly inspires me when I'm planning to sew a sleeve in a  future blouse or jacket.

Shake out your petticoat and I'll meet you at the water tower for a quick swim, OK sister?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Done! No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency Shirt (B5526)

Butterick 5526
With Alterations
Click on the Illustration above for more detail
Are you a fan of the No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency books? Heroine M'ma Ramotswe often reflects on fine animals, like the ones on this lovely print, that we over on the other side of the world, associate with Africa. I've had this animal material in my fabric inventory for years, never feeling quite sure what to do with it. And I'm glad I saved it, because it's going to see a lot of use. Precious Ramotswe would like it too, I know.

I'm not sure I've ever spent so much time sewing one garment. But the time put in was worth it. Here's what makes me proud and happy, when it comes to this project.

1) Thank you Susan for all your work! The pattern fits really well. It's comfortable and flattering.  I'm looking forward to making many more shirts with it. And after all Susan's work, I still managed to finish off the sleeves on my own, using my favorite front-of-the-bathroom-mirror technique! You know that one right? Yep, I use lots of pins, and try not to spill too many all over the counter, or worse yet in the bathroom, the floor.

That mirror is where I got that final fitting on the sleeve to work, when it was time to get on with the project - my first of three for my intermediate sewing class. There's a time to be fitting and a time to just use the mirror, figure it out, and start sewing.

BTW I'm not the first person to need a lot of alterations when it comes to this pattern. Good thing my buddy Susan worked so hard creating that muslin before I sewed this garment, unlike Sarah Sew who loved  the results but can’t wear the shirt she labored over! Here's an excerpt from Sarah Sew’s review at Pattern Review "I would check your fit before finishing the shirt completely. Most patterns seem to run large, this one, however, seems to run small. Also the armhole is rather high. "

No kidding on the fit challenges, especially those armhole comments, Sara.

Cute buttons, huh?
You can see here, how the topstitching adds oomph!
2) I've also focused on learning to be a crisper sewer in the beginning and intermediate sewing construction classes at Cañada. I'm particularly proud of my crisp, neat hem and the sharp edged cuffs on my 3/4 length sleeves for this shirt. For the hem (as well a the inside edge of my front facing) I cut double wide packaged bias tape down the middle (lengthwise) then sewed one edge to my raw edge and the other edge behind/under/sandwiched between the bias fold and the back side of the garment - then hand (for the facing) or machine (for the hem) stitched down.  It looks neat if it's exposed when I'm wearing the shirt open over a tee and it gives the kind of definition I was looking for.

I've also learned that multiple rows of topstitching add crispness/definition/body. I just can't decide on the best word for this, so I guess I'll go with oomph!  My hem has two rows of stitching (stitch lengthof 3.0 or 3.5 is nice I think), and the front edge of the shirt has 3 rows.

See I told you I do a lot of checking
in the bathroom mirror!
There's my little red tray of pins,
 the ones that like to scatter.
Here you can just see I'm checking the
positioning of the buttonholes I'm
planning to sew. They're drawn straight on the
stabalizer, and on the hanger. But
will they be straight when I wear the shirt?
3) My buttons march down in a nice straight line. I used a technique I've blogged about before, using stabalizer I normally use for machine embroidery to layout my buttonholes. When I have just a few buttons, I can use the scrap leftover from embroidery, but in this case, where I was sewing 8 buttonholes in a strip, I did use a brand new length.

4) I made some alterations I really like, both on the muslin and the actual shirt as I sewed it. Those include:
a) The cuff's were supposed to button in a traditional way - but I never really button longer sleeves shirts. First thing I do is to fold up my sleeves to just below the elbow. So why not start out that way, especially with such a casual style?  I permenently turned these cuffs back, and sewed them down with unbuttonable buttons. The little sleeve placket gap I like to wear in a regular sleeve, is a feature of the shirt now.
b) The front placket was just a turn-under-twice deal. Maybe that's OK for those who button their shirts high, but I won't be wearing this shirt like that. When I tried turning under the placket and put the shirt on, the back of the fabric (a vague shadow of the print) showed at the open neckline. Ugh! So I created my own facing pattern from the bodice front.
c) I fooled around with how far the buttoning part of the front should extend beyond the buttons. Because I used these large, printed-pattern buttons I left it kind of wide. Then I did three rows of topstitching to give it a nice heavy edge. Ancha in my intermediate construction class has suggested I add another three rows of stitching on the other side of the buttonholes, and I'm planning to take her advice.

Yep, it was indeed worth putting my energy into sewing a practical and versatile garment. However since I finished it I have been inspired to do some breakaway, rule-busting sewing! You'll hear more about that soon 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hats Off (Part 1): Sampling of Millinery Books

I just finished a 3 day millinery class at Cañada. There's so much to say and so much to learn!

For starters my county library system has a wonderful collection of books on millinery (a good subject search in your own public library) . Here's just a a sampling.

The hat book : creating hats for every occasion / Juliet Bawden

Classic millinery techniques : a complete guide to making & designing today's hats / Ann Albrizio ; coauthored & illustrated by Osnat Lustig ; photographs by Ted Morrison.

Hats! : make classic hats and headpieces in fabric, felt, and straw / Sarah Cant.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ench By Sew-006 Conversation with a Pirate Queen

Hot Dog, the latest "Enchanted By Sewing Podcast" is available in the pod-o-sphere! 

You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on this linkOr, download this podcast free from iTunes, to play on your favorite mobile device/mp3 player (like an iPhone or an Android), by clicking on this link to iTunes.
This conversation is about more than sewing, it's about a Californian who admits to having fun with her two teenage sons, drawn together by their shared joy in living history. How many boys this age have so much fun hanging out with their mom in social situations? I think Laura's found a secret that others might add to their parent-skills database!

What first drew me to Laura is that, in addition to costume sewing, she has a flair for  integrating elements of costume sewing into her daily wardrobe. Though she she sews for well-known living history events, such as the Renaisance Faire and Civil War Reenactment Days, it was our chat  about her experiences creating unique garments for  local San Francisco Bay Area personal theater - the Nor Cal Pirate Expo that had us both laughing, and me reaching for the edit button when it came time to clean up this interview to keep this podcast rated 'clean'!

Laura's enthusiasm and creativity in costume creation and sewing, is the kind of passion that keeps me enchanted by sewing!
Please post other links and other pertinent information that you would like me to include in these show notes.

Oh, Put a Sock in It! (Shirt, B5526)

I'm risking using a dated expression here.  

Does anybody still say, "Oh put a sock in it!"?  It used to be a way to say "Shut up" and it wasn't actually something a nice ladylike person would say. But it usually got a laugh.

I don't yet own a pressing ham. In sewing class at Cañada Community College (where I do quite a bit of pressing with hams),  I found out that I can substitute a rolled up ball of socks to add that 3-D effect to a garment, that comes in so very handy when pressing parts of it that aren't going to be hanging flat on my body.

So if you're wondering where all the clean socks went in my house, just check the ironing board.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Technicos: Simple doesn't mean Easy (Zippers)

It is a gift to be simple, isn't it? Here's a youtube video I created a couple of years back, singing about that very thing ('Tis a Gift to Be Simple', is an old Amish tune you may have sung yourself).

The thing is that simple and easy aren't really the same thing, though we often assume they are. Maybe that's the meaning behind the song - really understanding that.

These two zippers, center and lapped, are regarded as the most simple zipper techniques. Sewists have been putting them in since zippers first came into vogue, though nowadays you'll see a lot of invisible zippers and fly front as well.

But simple definitely doesn't mean easy. Frankly these two samples took me quite a lot of time and unstitching, and I've sewn this style off and on for a long time. Now I remember why I avoid them.

I used a glue stick to position the centered zipper and, yes, I used the seam-basted approach as well. I also hand basted both zippers into place more than once before I machine-stitched.

A Lapped Zipper

A Centered Zipper

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

En Curso/In Progress Fit to Face (Shirt, B5526)

By the time I'd finished altering this pattern to the cuff and collar point, ( You may recall that much of the big alteration work was done by my friend Susan), I thought I'd be pretty much done. But there was still something not quite me about this pattern.

Yeh, look'y here.

First pass on my new facing uses muslin
I''ll be creating a jungle print facing for
this shirt once I'm sure of where the
center front lies these days.
The front self-facing doesn't cut it for me. It's the kind that you simply interface with fusible and then turn under twice. I think the pattern designer expects the wearer to button the shirt fairly high, but when I tried the garment on, I automatically pinned my top button position where I always do. It's not immodestly low, but it's lower than the pattern assumes. As a result, the self-facing strip looks just plain ugly showing off the back side of my print. Don't you think?

Here I tested my own creation of a new curved, more interior covering, facing pattern. I created it by tracing from the center front (CF) of my new front bodice pattern onto tissue. I determined how far back/in I wanted that facing to cover, by pencil marking on the turn back point of the stitched muslin (and then added another inch or more for no-show safety).

I made my test facing with a piece of muslin. I'll be creating a facing out of jungle print next. Good thing I tried this because I then found that the center front of the shirt wasn't quite spot on. Good thing I didn't cut away the extra width from the self-faced front. I'll be asking Susan to eyeball the true center front for me in sewing lab, and adapting my new facing pattern appropriately before I cut out a jungle print front facing.

Yes, I do really like the fit of this shirt. Good thing, eh?

I'm looking forward to using this pattern many times as a tried-and-true shirt. So the work will pay off.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

En Curso/ In Progress: The Placket Faced Monster ( Shirt B5526)

This  YouTube Video by "Fashion Sewing Blog TV" , does a very nice job of showing how to sew a sleeve placket.
I'm glad I had my original muslin to test with
That way, I won't be wasting the remnants of my
jungle print fashion fabric

 I wasn't expecting to need to alter anything about the cuff, since I'm not aware that we changed anything about the bottom of the sleeve, but it seemed to me that the placket strip, was too short for the placket opening. I followed along with the great placket video linked above, so I think I know what I'm doing. As a result of testing this, I'll be adding a little length to my placket strip before I cut one for the jungle print test garment.

Friday, March 8, 2013

DTD: Planning the Duct Tape Dummy (fitting)

Do you think my DTD could
possibly be as stunning as
this naturally woman-formed tree
I happened to see on a
neighborhood walk?
Since I wrote this posting...I've created both a duct tape dress form (aka my duct tape dummy - affectionately known as Helen)  and a Uniquely You Dress Form. My September "Enchanted by Sewing Podcast" will be devoted to what I've learned about making and using dress forms to date. Signup to be notified when this episode, and other monthly episodes, are published by visiting http://EnchantedBySewing.blogspot.com
I'm excited to begin planning to make a duct tape dress form over spring break, in early April. Just think I will be able to try things on my gal pal instead of ...

* Continuously pulling off my clothes in front of the sewing machine
* Running to the bathroom  mirror with a dish of pins
* Having the pins spill all over the bathroom counter. 

Well, yes that is how I currently do my a lot of my fitting, when I'm not in sewing lab begging somebody else for help. 

Of course I hope to work on this project with my sewing buddy, Susan. You remember Susan, she's the one who put her heart and soul into fitting my B5526 shirt pattern, which, (Hooray!), has indeed been altered to fit me because of all her hard work!!!!

 I don't know where I picked up the idea that this kind of project is also called a 'duct tape dummy' . I realize the Duct Tape Dummy(DTD) will be quite far down on the scale compared to the real deal, cool dress form that you can purchase or manufacture from specialty plastics, but I'm still jazzed about my DTD.

Wish me luck!

En Curso/ In Progress: Cuff and Collar Party (B5526 shirt)

These tucks were needed because
Susan took dart tucks in the back shoulder line
I fitted the pieces to my original muslin to test placement
Though I did the pieces only one sided, I drew on
a 5/8 inch imaginary seam line.
 I wrote in my first Camisa En Curso/Shirt In Progress post about Butterick 5526 that with the alterations completed to front, back and sleeves, it's now time to move on to fixing and checking smaller aspects of the patterns - cuffs and collar.

The collar needed alterations because Susan took a dart along the back shoulder line. This is an alteration that I will be considering for other similar patterns in the future, along with the adjustment that takes away from the front and adds to the back, thus eliminating the drag-back away from the front of the body look (so attractive - not :-)

Though I have my jungle print, fashion fabric, test garment in progress,
I'm testing these stages on the muslin version.
• The next posting (Placket Monster) will finish up this party with some work on cuffs. 
• In the Fit to Face posting that follows Placket Monster I'll talk more about my unexpected need to further alter this pattern.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Technicos: Slotted Seam, Cousin to the Channel Seam

Don't you love the look of this slotted seam? It's pretty straightforward to sew.

* Put right sides together, basted the seam
* Clipped bobbin thread about every fifth stitch
* Press seam open
* Cut my slot - the pretty under piece (the polka dots here)
* Centered the slot right under my seam line
* Topstitched the polka dotted slot on either side of the seam line - equidistant
* Pulled out my basting threads
* Press either to show the polka dots (butterfly style) or just a neat press with an occasional show throw of the slots due to body movement

A channel seam is similar except that you use a wider strip of show-through fabric and you lay the outer/either side fabric neatly on top of the channel show-through instead of basting.

A good source of directions for the slotted seam and other seam finishes is Reader's Digest, New Complete Guide to Sewing. You can find this book affordably used as well as new. Or maybe you have a public library that has it!

Monday, March 4, 2013

African Beads Embellish My Sewing (Suministros especializados/Special Supplies)

Reasons I like these speciality supplies?
       * They support Low-Income Women by buying their product (member of the Fair Trade Federation)
       * How much greener can you get? Recyling waste paper
       * Their colorful designs compliment my casual, arty, romantic style

* The Bead for Life web site says....

"BeadforLife's loose beads are the perfect way to make your next jewelry project more meaningful! Our beads are handmade from colorful recycled paper by women in Uganda who are working to lift themselves out of poverty and create a sustainable income. When you create jewelry using BeadforLife loose beads, you'll feel good knowing you're looking good and doing good!"

I received a bag of this beads for a holiday present. My sister-in-law bought them for me at a beading party, but I've since found that I can buy them directly on the web without going to such an event. Though I used to make beaded jewelry, I don't anymore. However I've sewn these lovely little recycled jems on a number of tee shirts and sweat shirts, in and around the neckline, and they add a nice touch. 

I sew them on with fishing line or heavy-duty clear thread. I go back and forth a couple of times through the hole to secure them. When I sew them onto lightweight tees, I stabilize the back side of the tee in the sewn on area, using scrap fabric or ribbon.

I usually wash my home sewn clothes in regular warm machine cycle, but I hang my homemade garments to dry. The beads haven't obviously faded after many warm/hot water machine washings, but I'm suspicious that they might do so over time if they ran through a hot dryer. I would recommend testing one or two of them in the dryer, if you like to dry your clothes that way.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Camisa en curso/ Shirt in progress B5526 (Buddy Sewing)

I'm using this jungle print from my
fabric inventory, to make a test garment
 ¡Ya es hora!
Ain't it about Time!

You don't want to hear all the challenges my buddy Susan and I had getting Butterick 5526 to this point. The experience reminded Susan of the old expression "A camel is a horse designed by committee." Enough said on that front. Although I would add that we're not alone in our fitting challenges. Look at what this Pattern Reviewer , Sarah Sew and Sew,  wrote. Yes Sarah, we can relate to those too-high sleeve challenges. And I'm glad we went through all those muslins before I got to this looks-like-it's-wearable stage.

At this point 
* No cuffs - It's going to be a 3/4 just below the elbow fastening sleeve. 
* No collar or collar stand. I'll do a standard set this time, but I'm thinking about trying out that idea from the current Threads magazine on the lilac version. More about that when I actually do it!
* It looks like I need to design my own curved front facing. The pattern simply has a turned over twice facing which means I need to keep it buttoned up higher than I normally do to avoid having the back side of the fabric show. I'll test that on the muslin to make sure it comes together right.

We are so gol durned happy that the front and back bodice pieces and the set in sleeves are finally working with me and each other, that we're ready for a party. OK, a sewing party for collars and cuffs maybe.

In celebration of getting to this stage I reviewed my button inventory and realized I don't have any that look good with either the test garment fabric, or the lilac one I'll be making next. I was sure I would, because I have tons of repurposed buttons and a goodly number of new cards as well. But no dice. So, I put in an order at LotsOfButtons.com. They have free shipping after $15.00. So I'll see how that order works out and get back to you.

I want to wear this shirt for awhile before I cut out the beautiful lilac checked material I have planned for this shirt. For the lilac one, I'd like to try out several of the seams I've been practicing in class. Flat felled with french underarm seams perhaps? Rereading this it sounds like I think that French people have different kinds of underarms than Americans, so I couldn't resist leaving it in. Sarah Sew and Sew mentioned she used those seam types on her non-fitting but beautiful one.

At this point I just want to get the basic pattern working and wearable for my body and wear it enough times to see how I might tweak it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Technicos: Joining Bias Strips

I sewed a number of samples using bias strips I cut myself,  for my sewing class.

1. Here's one way to join the strips
2. Then the strips will be joined on the bias

3. In these narrow sewing tasks, sometimes
backstitching to  lock the stitches,
causes the fabric to get trapped in the throat plate
 under my needle.

4. So, instead of back stitching at the beginning and end
of this small joining seam,
I use a super small stitch length of 0.5 at the beginning and end of
the seam instead. In between I use a regular 2.5 or 3.0
stitch length.