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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vintage Threads: Let's Hear it for Vibrant Color in Betty Joe's Checked Sleeve

Betty Joe's vibrantly sleeved
dress shows up in more than one episode
In the 1960's a few new dresses
a year was typical for the middle class
Take a look at Petticoat Junction (P.J) 's red headed Betty Joe's three tiered sleeve. I'd create this sleeve by cutting a very wide peasant-blouse type sleeve, pieced together from increasingly wide strips of the different checks, then separating the checks with a piece of elastic in interior casings. This style of sleeve was typical of mid-sixties sewing patterns, especially with a simple straight cut, no-waistline, dress. I adore this combination of four sizes of brilliant checks. Women were less afraid of brilliant contrasting color during this era than they are today.

What might surprise modern folks, even more than the bright shots of color, is that Betty Joe wears this dress in more than one episode! Can you imagine that? I don't know that I've ever noticed that in a modern t. v. show. (though with more dull colors and less distinctive styles, they probably are reused and I just don't notice). During the sixties era, most women simply had less clothes than many modern day females. Of course the fabric for their garments and the majority of their ready made clothing was produced in the United States, so individual clothing costs were a higher percent of a household budget. A few new dresses a year was pretty exciting for a middle class woman, and that was what the young ladies on P.J. represented.

I just started DVR'ing a few episodes of this retro 1960's t.v. show to catch retro clothing styles. ( Here's another of my Vintage Threads post inspired by P.J. http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2013/03/vintage-threads-i-want-bobbie-joes.html)  Now, I must admit, I've started watching the episodes. I like the style of the jokes and they way punch lines are delivered, more so than much of current t.v. humor. I'm also a fan of "Dog", who I believe went on to become the dog "Benjie" in later movies.

While laughing at many of the situations in the shows, those interested in learning about cultural attitudes of the sixties would benefit from watching these shows.  In one episode I recorded recently, one of the three beautiful sisters, Bobby Joe, indicated that the new county water project was important because of it's use in agriculture. Old, lazy Uncle Joe (the main guy to poke fun at, because he's always 'a-movin kinda slow') complained that, as a fisherman, his catch would be affected. At this point the laugh track cut in. Golly, can you imagine worrying about the health of a bunch of trout? Well, nowadays the laugh track would probably be repositioned after Bobby Joe's foolishly innocent remark and Uncle Joe would be a political go-getter determined to preserve native fishing rights. I'd also guess that Uncle Joe would be the leader of a vibrant seniors group determined to keep real estate developers out of the county instead of sleeping away his life on the front porch and swiping pickles in Sam Drucker's store. And of course there would be more cultural diversity on display. Even in the sixties everybody in the U.S. wasn't a gringo, though you might think so from what you saw on t.v.

I'm imagining recreating Betty Joe's vintage sleeve in a blouse, and wearing it when I meander over to Sam Drucker's store  for a game of checkers, and a pickle.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Duct Tape Dummy Stands Up (fitting/duct tape dress form)

My Duct Tape Dummy (DTD) isn't exciting
But she Stands Up to Sample Sewing
This is fleece scrap I used to test some of the
 basic concepts I'm altering

I've been working on a fleece jacket, with sleeves that button off and on. I haven't had the heart to blog about the project, though I've been spending an awful lot of my recreation time muslining and altering a fleece jacket pattern I've made successfully in the past. I'm using a combination of home dec fabric for the button'y parts and fleece for the majority of the jacket.  I'm still at the just-don't-know stage. I would not recommend doing button on/off with fleece at this stage!

This project has given me an opportunity to use my Duct Tape Dummy (DTD) that Susan and I made over spring break. Actually, Susan did all the work on me. The one I attempted to make on her, was not a success. Yes, I do owe her, and plan to drive back over the hill one day very soon to strap her up. I didn't do the tape tight enough on her. Watch out for that if you are planning a similar project.

Though my actual DTD isn't nearly as elegant as my lovely tree-maiden vision (Did you see that posting? http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2013/03/dtd-planning-duct-tape-dummy-fitting.html) she does her duty. 

Yes, that is Hello Kitty duct tape. I also learned that you don't get nearly as much duct tape when you buy decorative duct tape, as when you get the basic macho version. That's what's underneath the kitties. Also I think we went through at least 2 rolls of the macho-duct tape, just in the bottom two layers (3 layers of duct taping in the whole thing). To be safe, I'd recommend 3 rolls of the macho duct tape (the kind you might actually use for duct work) and 2 rolls of decorative for the top layer. 

I still haven't fully stuffed my DTD. For the time being, she's partially filled with plastic newspaper bags, regular recycled newspaper and an old sheet. When I use her, she sits on the table, then goes to bed in a big plastic garbage bag (but well hidden so that nobody will toss her by mistake).

That DTD of mine is a kind of frowzy gal, but she knows her job.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pensamientos: Techno Phobia for Sewists

Have you ever read any references to the horror of depending on some terrible new technology, over the wholesome value of, say, a nice, neat hand stitch?  Bet you dollars to doughnuts people were up in arms over  the invasion of this new-fangled gizmo into domestic life.

Of course there were also those who complained when the printing press got going. The children won't learn to memorize anymore! Kids don't memorize things much and I wonder how much impact that has on our society of readers? I still like to memorize, and I enjoy hand work but the printing press and the sewing machine have had a pretty big impact on my life.

The Sewing Machine was once new technology, humming along and making a terrible racket. I'm shouting, Hurrah for the Hum! 

The following excerpt from the 1914 book, Letters of a Woman Homesteader (now in the public domain), by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, gives an excellent impression of the value of the sewing machine in frontier life. There are free versions of this book at Guttenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16623) and free audio versions at librivox.org. (BTW there is a racial label used in this section of the book, that we wouldn't dream of using today. So if you're sharing the store with a younger person, it's an excellent opportunity to discuss historical attitudes towards societal roles, as displayed by language.)

After we debated a bit we decided we could not enjoy Christmas with those people in want up there in the cold. Then we got busy. It is sixty miles to town,
although our nearest point to the railroad is but forty, so you see it
was impossible to get to town to get anything. You should have seen us!
Every old garment that had ever been left by men who have worked here
was hauled out, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's deft fingers soon had a pile
of garments cut. We kept the machine humming until far into the night,
as long as we could keep our eyes open.

All next day we sewed as hard as we could, and Gavotte cooked as hard
as he could. We had intended to have a tree for Jerrine, so we had a
box of candles and a box of Christmas snow. Gavotte asked for all the
bright paper we could find. We had lots of it, and I think you would be
surprised at the possibilities of a little waste paper. He made
gorgeous birds, butterflies, and flowers out of paper that once wrapped
parcels. Then he asked us for some silk thread, but I had none, so he
told us to comb our hair and give him the combings. We did, and with a
drop of mucilage he would fasten a hair to a bird's back and then hold
it up by the hair. At a few feet's distance it looked exactly as though
the bird was flying. .... I never had so much
fun in my life as I had preparing for that Christmas.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Podcast - Gettin' Shirty (Part 1 of Shirts and Blouses)

Hey, the April 2013 "Enchanted By Sewing" Podcast is available in the pod-o-sphere!

This month we're getting' Shirty!

Is that garment you're sewing a shirt or a blouse? Is it the collar stand, or lack thereof that makes you decide one way or another? How about set-in sleeves versus dropped? Maybe it's your choice of fabric.... This month Laurel talks about her experiences creating her No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Shirt, with a Butterick pattern that sometimes says shirt and other times blouse. She also discusses sewing techniques that say shirt, and chats a little about the history of shirts and shirty language (with special attention to a scene from a Harry Potter book ).

 ~~~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.

Check out a free excerpt from
My Heart Beats Faster in Past Times
By clicking here
The show is created, produced, and brought to you by Laurel Shimer author of the Time Travel e-book My Heart Beats Faster in Past Times. This historical romance, ebook-novella is available exclusively on amazon.com for your iPad, nook or kindle ebook reader, for only 99 cents (Only 99 cents? That's less than a cup of coffee!) 



• Shirt or Blouse - Pattern Plays a Big Role

Friday, April 19, 2013

Shirt or Blouse? Pattern Plays a Big Role

I used Butterick 5226 for my No 1. Ladies Detective Agency Shirt I guess it's the more fitted character of the princess seams views that cry blouse! to me. The others strike me as shirts.  

Vogue 8747 is still in print
Vogue 8747 - much like the front-of-the-bust gathered shirts that Lexie in BBC's Monarch of the Glen wore, strike me as shirts. So I guess being more fitted doesn't always say blouse....

Simplicity 9857 is Out of Print
But several used pattern sellers on the web have it

*Simplicity 9857 (out of print). These garments, with their more romantic flowing lines, look blouse-like, don't they? Those front tucks are not at all crisp, so that must be it.

Vogue 2105 80's Blouse (out of print) Seems more blouse-like than shirt like. Why? Is it simply the way the pattern front styles the garment? Is it the deep open neckline? Perhaps it's the nearly hidden buttons and the somewhat formal, dressy look of these pieces.

Vogue 2105 is Out of Print
But several used pattern sellers on the web have it

McCalls 7360 is Out of Print
But several used pattern sellers on the web have it

I'd definitely call this a blouse....McCalls 7360 (out of print), says soft, both in it's romantic flowing lines, and it's traditionally feminine, historically inspired collar details.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Technicos: Blanket Stitch on Knits for a Scalloped Edge Finish

After focusing on doing as much as possible by the book while sewing my No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Shirt (B5526), I had fun breaking away and just experimenting with a couple of no-sleeve/no-pattern tee shirts.

One of them, a thin jersey-type knit, just cried out for up-to-the hips slits at the side seams. My machine's decorative blanket stitch did a great job of finishing that gap, as well as providing a scalloped look to the edge.

It seems as though I've read somewhere that this stitch gives a similar effect on woven fabric, but I haven't tried it yet.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Break:Disneyland Plain Sewing

Me in my my Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Shirt)
on a quick spring break at Disneyland
As regular followers of this blog may have noticed, I spent a lot of time focusing on improving my sewing techniques over the last couple of months. The green and golden jungle print shirt (previously blogged about as my Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Shirt) in this photo, was the product of that work. 

After so much effort when it came to crisp edges, pattern fitting and alteration I had fun making a couple of simple tank tops with no pattern at all and the simple joy of scissoring wherever I wanted. The results were perfect as layers under a travel wardrobe for a recent quick-hop Disneyland trip with my grownup daughter. With my new green shirt as a top layer, I managed to pack light - using just a very small rolling suitcase for the trip. My simple shirt and tees wardrobe,  made a second floor motel room and return-by-Amtrak trip really easy - no problem hefting that bag up steps, onto the top shelf of the luggage area, or pulling it up the gap between train and track.

I loved this opportunity to use machine embroidery
I almost forget to use a top layer of stabalizer between
the needle and knit fabric! You know what happens if you
forget, right? The fabric is sucked down and gummed up
 under the throat plate and it's awful.
I enjoyed using machine embroidery to create this lovely zebra, the only motif on the green shirt for which I had a match on my (now) old-fashioned embroidery machine, which uses cards instead of the more modern downloadable designs. I also made use of an inexpensive white tee - which I totally cutup and simply used as fabric. The binding (and headband - which you see simply tossed over the hanger here) was the remains of a tee that didn't work out. I loved the 100% cotton knit fabric when I found it - at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkley-, but it had an awful lot more stretch than I realized and the long sleeved tee I made  out of it is too broad and too short. It just didn't work out. But the remnants make great trim for this zebra shirt. Now that I've experimented with this tee, and another, I'm hoping to make a similar one out of better quality white cotton knit. I think I've still got enough of the black and white remainder for binding and enough black thread for another zebra too!

If you have machine embroidery capabilities and haven't done so on knits, make sure you use a top layer of stabalizer as well as a bottom layer. I use the kind that looks like saran wrap. You tear it away and any remainder washes away.
This is my kind of uniform
Something I can put on any day
and pretty too
As I've said before, I like making pretty clothes that I'll get a lot of wear from. Whether I'm in the land of Princesses and castles or back home on my bike, I'll get a lot of use out of this zebra tee. And I'll always enjoy pulling it out of my drawer.

Machine embroidered tees like this, keep me enchanted by sewing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Technicos PerPINdicular: New Ways With Pins:

Hey, perPINdicular is the way to go AND way to sew!
When it comes to the big stuff, I expect mystery. But it's the little things I don't know, that I find most amazing.

All my sewing life, I'd sewn with my pins parallel to the seam line. Am I the only sewist to whom it never occurred to change the placement so that the pins went in perpendicular (why isn't that spelled perPINdicular!) to my stitching line?

What a difference a pin direction makes! Sure, sometimes it still works better the other way.

Now quit laughing at me, OK? I knew you already knew all about this!

It's learning this little stuff, as well as the big, that keeps me enchanted by sewing.