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, July 30, 2013

Kit 4: Completed my Canada Tee S'hirt

I re-altered basic tee pattern B3383 
Nice to have my pre-cut kits to take out and put a little work in on at regular intervals. I sewed this tee in 30 minute to one hour increments over several days. It's a basic - a retesting of my alteration of B3383.  Think I'll probably cut another out of this pattern, I'm not totally sure I'm set on the current set of alterations, though I'm reasonably happy.

Learned this time, to watch out when using alternate fabric for the neckband. The black was super stretchy and even though I cut the neckband shorter, I could never get it to keep from being funny and wiggly.... How do you describe what happens to neckbands when they get all scrunched and gape horribly?

 I tried a couple of things to fix awful-neckline syndrome

- Multiple lines of topstitching -it got worse!
- A piece of clear elastic on the back side, about 3/4 the length of the front - it got even worse!
- Finally I went for the deconstructed look, a couple of strips of the stretchy black fabric, ruched/gathered up and hand tacked down. I knew that would work because I used the same idea for my rose pink dragonfly tee. It was the same leftover black fabric too.

My Duct Tape Dummy, Helen, was quite helpful
when it came to hand stitching the deconstructed neckband.
She helped me to figure out if the neckband was going to lay right
and I also did the actual hand stitching right on Helen.
I liked the red, satin covered buttons I used for embellishment as well. I've had those in my button box for awhile. I covered the buttons using a covered-button kit and some scraps from a long-gone project ( a shirt that never fit right!)

Friday, July 26, 2013

July Podcast V&A Fashion Gallery Tour (In the Moment) - London Victoria and Albert Museum- California Sewist seeks inspiration at the V&A

A modern Alexander McQueen dress
I nearly missed that duck feather tail!
Towards the end of Part 2

Come along and tour the Victoria and Albert Fashion Gallery with me- the two-part July 2013 "Enchanted By Sewing" Podcast is available in the pod-o-sphere!

California Sewist seeks inspiration at the Victoria and Albert

In the June Enchanted by Swing podcast I shared some of my favorite sewist sights in London: Tana Lawn fabric at Liberty, street fashion and a trip to a special exhibit at Buckingham Palace.

In July, before the show returns to a California August sewing scene,  I take you along with me on a tour of the Victoria and Albert fashion gallery. It's just like we're walking the floor together looking at all the details dear to a sewists heart.
And yes - we do take a tea break too ;-)
 Did you see that cuff? How did they make those roses? What is giving that bodice it's structure? 

Yes, the sights and sounds (even some of my camera clicks) of the gallery are all there. It's an in-the-moment show.

Co-Published with Enchanted by Sewing Podcast Show Notes at

Two Ways to Listen
i) Listen Right on the Web

You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on the following links
Part 1 http://traffic.libsyn.com/enchantedbysewing/VandAPART1EnchantedBySewingJuly_2013.mp3
From Miss Heather Firbank's
I chat about her clothes in the noisiest part of the
tour, towards the end of Part 1

ii) Download the show to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.)

 Or, 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. (note it's a two part podcast)

Important Note. This is a two-part podcastYes, technical difficulties are tedious:-( You'll want to make sure you download them both.
Did I miss any links? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me at,  EnchantedBySewing AT gmail

~~~ Show Notes Links ~~~

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) http://www.vam.ac.uk
Visiting London? This wonderful museum is free to visit. It's just across the block from two other free to visit museums I never miss. The Natural History Museum (gorgeous architecture and ornamentation) and the Science Museum.

Hard to decide which was my favorite
post-War retro look
In the second part of the cast, you'll
hear me chatting away with a local
mother and daughter about this dress,
and other fifties styles,
and accompanying undergarment
Search the V&A Collections (yes - it's freehttp://www.vam.ac.uk/page/t/the-collections/ from your own home, or when you're abroad. If you have an iPad or similar mobile device with you on a trip, you may enjoy searching on site using the in-museum wifi.

Looking for a quintessential pot of tea and a scone, or slice of British cake? Don't miss the Cafe at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (And since museum admission is free, you could pop in any day for refreshment alone!) Wander through all the rooms, because you won't want to miss any of the decor, and find a spot in the Morris, Gamble or Poynter Rooms - Go ahead and ask people with a spare chair (it's a popular place, you're not likely to find a table to yourself)  if you can join their table, many people just plunk themselves down and don't even ask - but we visitors should! You may even end up having a lovely chat with locals or people visiting from other lands, if you and your table mates are so inclined.

Here are some conversational gambits I've used - if the people look like they might want to chat -

* May I ask what the beautiful language you are speaking is?
* I just love those blue and white Arts and Crafts tiles! I wish I could have just one to hang on my own wall/Don't I just wish I had a whole room tiled like this!
* These scones are so much tastier than what I had at Starbucks yesterday!
* This is the perfect break from looking at all those beautiful things in the museum. If this continues into chat I can then ask -
    * What are your favorite galleries?
     * Oh you come often? What would you suggest I not miss? What other museums and places would you not miss in London if you were me?
* If you and the other person have children with you, you might ask about parks and other areas and attractions where their children like to play

Edwardian styles and the modern woman of the 30's jersey bathing suit, reminded me of Agatha Christie's Autobiography. A wonderful read! Dame Agatha makes many references to clothing, style and culture from the Edwardian Era of her childhood as well as the major changes in fashion and women's lives after WWI. There's also wonderful detail for the traveller, as she describes her own trip on the Orient Express and wanderings in exotic lands to the area where she met her second husband, Max Mallowan, on an archeological dig at Ur (I always stop in at the Ur exhibit at the British Museum in London and wonder if one of the pots on display is one that Agatha helped to reconstruct, as she often did.)

Heather Firbank's clothing, especially her Gibson Girl blouse and beautiful linen suit, reminded me of the movie "Room with a View". That's a favorite movie of mine. Helena Bonham Carter, as Lucy Honeychurch, is such an enchanting and funny ingenue. I often wonder if she and Maggie Smith chatted over old times in this Merchant Ivory film when they worked together again in the Harry Potter films.

Coco Channel's Pantsuit  evoked images of the movie "Witness for the Prosecution"  with Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Powers. This movie is based on a popular Agatha Christie play. It's very dramatic and has, for many people, a quite surprising conclusion - as do other of Dame Agatha's plays, like the Mousetrap - I'll never give that ending away either! The Mousetrap, as you may know, is the longest running show of any kind and is still a kick to go and see on a visit to London.

Mrs. Minniver and Mrs. Tim Christie
would have carried their gas masks too, when they
went to the market in their tailored-to-fit
tweed suits during the war
(WWII that is)
But they wouldn't have made the mistake
this designer did, since regulations
required no more than three buttons on
the jacket.
The "Tailored to Fit" - World War II and post war clothing-rationing section of the gallery, reminds me of one of my favorite movies, "Mrs. Minniver" with that wonderful perfect model of a well brought up English woman, Greer Garson

D.E. Stevenson's set of four "Mrs. Tim Christie" novels harken back to a time in England when a gas mask was a fashion accessory you might not be able to live without.

A link to the Balenciaga exhibit I saw at the DeYoung in San Francisco. Books for exhibits like this can often be found at discounted prices once the show finishes touring the country. Abe Books is a great source for used books.

Designer Alexander McQueen (see the duck-tailed dress, the first photo in this posting) has some stunning garments in the last, and most modern, section of the fashion gallery. This wonderful designer passed away in 2010.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kits 1 and 2: Refitting B5526, with help from Helen - my DTD

Fold and refold, and cut the sleeve out twice
on two different pices of fabric
(Yes, I remembered to cut out one left and one right!)
 to squeeze out a front, back and two sleeves from
1 1/2 meters. Luckily it's a wider fabric
In my most recent posting, I described several personal sewing kits I've been creating - the first two were for B5526 shirts.

Somehow I did something funny with my back pattern piece from B5526, but I managed to recreate it ...using muslin, pattern tissue, a lot of comparing to my No. 1 Lady's Detective Shirt
My fantasy version of
my Duct Tape Dummy
and a lot of help from Helen - my Duct Tape Dummy. It took me 4 hours... I started at 10 p.m. one night and went to bed at 2 a.m. No, I'm not actually a night owl, but that was the best time to get it done.

Yes, I do wish I hadn't been so casual when it came to storing away or properly marking that original pattern piece!

After refitting B5526  I cut out most of two shirts using a lilac Robert Kaufman gingham for one and a green print LIberty Tana Lawn for the other. For both I used half meters (19.5 inches) of specialty Liberty Tana Lawn fabric for the cuffs and front facing. I had to do a lot of fooling around to  squeeeeezzze the front, back and sleeve out of the 1 and 1/2 meters (a little over a yard and a half) of green Tana Lawn I got the first time I visited this wonderful London store. I've normally been counting on having about 3 yards when I cut out these shirts.

I'd been holding onto the Liberty fabrics since my previous trip to London's wonderful Liberty (* See my blog and podcast links below for more on this London trip and the fabric I bought there at Liberty), but since I got two full shirt lengths on my more recent trip, it was time to use up these originals.

I love this classic William Morris Strawberry Thief print
As a matter of fact, one of the new shirt lengths
from my more recent Liberty trip, is
the green version of Strawberry Thief
I talk about this in the podcast (*link below)
I didn't cut out the collars and collar stands yet, because I didn't recheck the collar fit, and I had some issues with that collar being a shade bigger than I'd hoped when I made this shirt in the pink mille fleur print, just before our trip to the U.K. I'll probably have to use bits of the alternate fabric for these, probably on the under side of the collar. I'm sure I'll have to piece the green print, but hopefully it won't show.

Feeling confident I've got a shirt pattern like B5526 working so well, helps keep me enchanted by sewing!

Have you gotten a chance to see my post - Lovin' London's Liberty and listen to the June "Enchanted By Sewing" podcast show, Laurel Loves London)?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Squeezing in the Sewing - Personal Project Kits (Organizing)

Kit 3 - My Duct Tape Dummy, Helen, has
been such a help as I learn about fitting.
Here, she's hanging out on her chair as
I fit  the
Hot Patterns Weekend Sunshine Top 
to her physique.
I'm taking a dress-form making class in
summer school, which is why I haven't concerned
myself with improving Helen's filling or
figured out some kind of stand for her.
I've been making myself the gift that keeps giving- several sewing kits.

Our household has been going back and forth when it comes to time for favorite activities, mostly on the negative side for sewing. Yet, by dint of staying up  really late a couple of different nights, I managed to get a couple of different pattern fitting projects in along with putting in a little more time on jeans techniques sample sewing.

It was tempting to simply cut one thing out from my fitting work, and sew it, for sheer satisfaction, but instead I made myself a bunch of ready-to-go sewing kits, because I know I've just got a short lull  before things get super busy in the house. Bet you know the difference it makes to have a project all ready to sew and go when you have twenty or thirty minutes to squeeze in some precious sewing time.

I made four kits so far, and am hoping to squeeze in one more before I put away all the fabric and patterns I dug out. That' something I have to do, since I share my sewing zones with other folks. The other residents of the household have needs too, and none of them involve stiching!

My kits are just zip lock bags - the gallon size (I think). There the same ones that hold a pattern and all it's pieces so handily. Do you have a big tote bag of those that you recycle from sewing project to sewing project like I do?

Kit # 1: B5526 Shirt - a.k.a. my No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency Shirt cut out in lavender Robert Kaufman gingham with a half meter of Liberty of London Tana Lawn for cuffs, collar and other contrast/highlight areas.

Kit # 2:  B5526 Shirt - a.k.a. my No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency Shirt cut out of 1 and 1/2 meters (Woof! how did I squeeze that one out!) of a green and cream Liberty of London Tana Lawn print with a half meter of Tana Lawn in purple background Strawberry Thief print for cuffs, collar and other contrast/highlight areas.

Kit # 3: New (to me) tee shirt, the Hot Patterns Weekend Sunshine Top . I've had this half-muslined since last fall (!). It's now fitted (thanks to my Duct Tape Dummy Helen) and cut out in a pink jersey knit (rayon/poly from Fabric.com) with white pin dots. I sure hope I see that note in the zip lock bag reminding me to use a streeetttcccchhh needle when I go to sew. If I don't use one of those needles with jersey knits I definitely get holes.

Kit # 4: A test garment tee from my standard most-basic tee shirt pattern (B3383). This is the kind of thing I'll get some use out of (assuming I'm happy with the actual fit) but not a long-term commitment garment. I cut out the shirt from two commercial tees that I bought on a trip to Vancouver Canada last summer. Inexpensive tees are my favorite way to get a test garment going on a tee shirt pattern, and I can always use another basic tee.

Kit # 5: Butcher's Apron-  In progress. About a yard of very appealing "Dick and Jane" fabric I've been holding onto for too long (I don't want to see my fabric inventory get stale!) , in combination with another remnant - a kind of stiff black cotton with white dots - and some red bias binding is going to form an addition to my wardrobe of much-used household aprons.

Organizing personal project sewing kits is a gift to myself. 
It keeps me enchanted by sewing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jeans Technicos/Techniques - Further Disasters in Flat-Felled Seaming!

Jeans techniques are challenging my sewing skills, however I've also get just a few other...  sewing projects going. I refit B5526, got another shirt partially cut out of it, and began working on fitting a new (to me) tee shirt, the Hot Patterns Weekend Sunshine Top .

It's multi-tasking like this, that keeps me enchanted by sewing!
~ ~ ~ 
Oh dear, my journey into the land of the flat-felled is not following a smooth - or straight - road
Woof! Look at that topstitching line!!!! You can practically hear the sound effects 
as the needle moves back and forth, right?
Believe it or not, I was focusing
on the toe of my presser foot lining up as I sewed,
but it looks like I need to find better visual  guidelines.
This light-weight denim moves around
Did I actually trim one edge too close?
A few posts back I shared my challenges when it came to sample sewing flat felled seams in a light/medium weight denim . I gave it another shot tonight, this time using both a heavy levi-type weight (the pale/washed out blue sample above) and some of the light/medium weight (that indigo blue with the scrolly rose design over on the right). I thought if I skipped the glue stick I used last time, to hold the tucked under seam in place, I might avoid the needle-jamming problem I had before. I also thought that if I simply sewed a wider gap between the original seam and the topstitched one, I could get a nice straight seam line and avoid the problem of the raw edge not being caught in the top stitching and peeking out.


1) It does appear that the glue stick was the culprit in the jamming. I have certainly used glue sticks successfully in the past for a variety of projects, as have many other sewists, but perhaps when working with heavy weight fabric, or maybe it's the heavy denim needle, that may not be a good idea. So, one problem solved, it didn't jam.

2) I'm not, however, making progress on the straight-line front. My topstiching was, if anything, even more crooked!

3) In addition I continued to have problems with a raw edge of fabric poking out from under my flat felled topstitching. I can't seem to get the longer edge to fit in underneath the trimmed seam. Am I trimming it too close to the seam? I wonder if that is causing this problem.


a) I'm going to focus on this flat-felled seam tutorial from Oliver + S, and see if I get any new ideas about what is proving to be surprisingly challenging for me.
b) I wonder if I should go for a wider seam allowance. I've been sewing a 5/8 " seam, typical for wovens, and trimming one seam down to about 1/8". Should I cut a 1" allowance and then trim the one seam down to.... maybe something closer to 1/4"? I might try the 1" seam on two different samples - one with a 1/4" trimmed seam and the other with the 1/8 - or at least very closely trimmed seam edge.

But first I'm going to read more about what others have to say about this type of seaming. In addition to the Oliver + S article, I'm going to look through the Pattern Review article "Make your own Jeans, You Can Do It"  and also in my all-purpose Readers Digest sewing book.

Can you imagine how much more enchanted I'm going to be with sewing, on the day when I've resolved these challenges?

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Sewing Zone - Carving out Room for Sewing

I used to dream over those photos in sewing and craft magazines where the happy sewist has a lovely room dedicated to the enchanting pursuit of sewing. 

She (yeah, I know you sewing fellas are out there - but in this case "she" is an imaginary me) has racks on the wall full of neatly arranged spools of thread, full length mirrors on either side of the room, shelves and cabinets stocked with neatly organized and folded fabrics, interfacing and lining, file drawers stocked with patterns that look like they did the day she brought them home from Fabulous Fabrics and two permanently situated dress forms in some idealized size, onto which her patterns fit without the need for any kind of adjustments. Naturally her sewing machine occupies the place of honor, right next to a huge perfect-height cutting out counter.

Now let's get real. I live in a small two-bedroom house with two other people, a pooch and a marvelous marmalade cat. We do other things here besides sewing, including cooking, eating, watching movies, reading newspapers, magazines and books, and gardening. Out here in California many folks have smaller houses and most of us don't have basements or the kind of attic you can walk in (we can slide a few things along under the eves by standing on a ladder, but that's not where I want to cache my sewing inventory - though I have done it!). There is no hardly-used room or covered space that I can discover. Our garage does not house our cars, but it does serve to store bikes, tools,  and numerous metal racks that hold products from the big box store and other household necessities.

There's no little-used room or commodious closet (our bedroom closets were built in the late 30's when, apparently, people were happy to be able to hang up 5 or 6 garments and call that their wardrobe) that I can claim as a sewing room. But over time I have carved out what I call my sewing zones. There are two sewing machines setup on different parts of our family room, and I'm happy I can keep them setup all the time. My sewing zones also includes room in some cupboards and on shelves in that same room. I share those storage areas with other members of the household. In a pinch, I've been known to hang fabric folded over a hanger in the front hall closet, or one of our tightly packed 1939 closets. And, yes, I do have a few stacks of plastic bins on the big box shelves in the garage, that hold another portion of my fabric inventory. My duct tape dress form, Helen, lives out there in a plastic bag as well. My new dress form, Colette, (I'm making her in a class at summer school) will live there as well, when she's not in use.

When I need to do some cutting out I clear off somebody else's work or study project from the family room or dining room table, get my project done and then shift their stuff back. When my daughter was younger I used her twin bed with one of those grided accordion folded up cardboard things you buy at the fabric store. I have to keep my ironing board put away when I'm not actually using it, so that people can get out the back door.

My sewing zones are kind of fluid. If we have a party, I may need to carry my machines out to the garage (don't open the door and try to walk, please!), and when my daughter graduated and moved back home (good fortune on the post-college job hunt Darling) I cleaned out the whole front hall closet for her and managed to stuff the fabric inventory I kept there into another corner of the antique wardrobe that compensates for our lack of closet space.

I don't fret about moving things around. I don't mind if you want to watch "Myth Busters" while I sew, in fact I kind of like it. I often put on an old movie in the background for company when I'm sewing on my own anyway. When I do my hand sewing I watch t.v. with my family, or curl up with it in my bedroom, or take it out in the living room to hang out with others while they read or play a game. Because sewing can be a pretty social activity, and I don't need to be isolated to have a lot of fun doing it. I'm very happy for you if you are able to dedicate an entire room to sewing, but I'm not envious. 

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't turn down a present of a special just-for-me room if the great goddess of sewing suddenly showed up on my stoop and handed me the golden key to an invisible door I'd never seen before. (Yes, that does sound like a children's novel waiting to be written, doesn't it?) However, no matter how limited my space, you're always going to find that I'm still.... enchanted by sewing.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jeans Technicos/Techniques - Flat-Felled Seams Fall Flat, when it comes to Sewing Denim

In my last post, Summer of Jeans Sewing, I described my plan for learning to sew and fit jeans. I began by working on my flat-felled seam techniques.

How hard could that be? I've sewn these seams in light weight cotton a few times.
Hummmm, guess who needs to keep working on her flat-felled denim sample sewing? 

I started out with a review of flat-felled seams, In which Russell Conte of Sewing Arts Center shows us how to complete a Flat Felled Seam to give your garments a fresh clean professional look.
Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klyJYE4OcM0''

Another Resource to study http://oliverands.com/blog/2011/01/flat-felled-seams.html

Frankly, I figured i'd spend longer listening to Russell's well-done youtube video than I would sewing my first sample.

Har de har har!

~ ~ ~

Entonces, I got out my bits and pieces and got the sewing going.

Whoops! You sew WRONG Sides together when sewing a flat-felled seam.
Time for a visit with Auntie Seamah Rippah.

That's right
Wrong Sides together, and ready to seam
Remember to use
Jeans Needles
Press to embed stitches on both sides of sewn seam
Butterfly open and press on both sides
Study worn-out Ready to Wear Jeans
Oh, I see I want the topstitching on the back edge
Actually - in my sample below - I did it the other way with the
topstiching on the front edge.
But that was the least of my challenges

I'm going to trim away here,
As close to the seam as I can get
But just on one side

Deciding that I wanted to have topstitching
on the right of the Front seam - opposite of the Ready to Wear pair above!-,
 I trimmed the front
Seam Allowance, so that the Back Seam Allowance
Would wrap around, over, and encase the front
which would mean I'd topstitch on the front Seam Allowance edge

Here, I folded the back seam allowance
over and around the front
Then glued it down so the seam wouldn't move
while I topstitched

How close to the seam allowance did the
Ready to Wear folks do their topstitching?
An eighth of an inch.
No - it didn't occur to me until I made my graph paper model (below)
that they probably didn't sew a 5/8 inch seam allowance like I did!

OK, that means I sew here

I'll position my left presser foot toe on top of the
seam, to keep my line of topstitching straight

Hope this orange topstiching thread is the right stuff
It's Gutterman, heavy weight topstitching, but it doesn't
specifically say it's for jeans....

Hummmm No matter what I did when I started (and re-started)
The fabric didn't move well when I began sewing
But, as you see on the scrap piece, it sews fine on a single layer
And I've sewn this same fabric into shorts, so I know it should sew up
Is it the glue?

Uh oh.... That eighth of an inch topstitching ddn't really catch the seam

I added a second line of topstitching to fell the rest of the seam
And golly, my topstitching wasn't straight, though I thought I was
watching the presser foot toe carefully on both stitching passes

Time to get out the graph paper and think this thing through!

Gee, it sure sounded easy before I actually tried it!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer of Jeans Sewing: The Plan

Pockets like the ones on these
L.A. Idol jeans are inspiration for learning to
sew my own denim threads.
No, I don't know yet how they get that bling,
And I also wonder what kind of thread they
use for topstitching. Learning about stuff like
that is a ways down the road for me. I've got a lot
of basic skills and fit lessons to learn first.

I've been promising myself since last fall, that I would begin to work on learning to sew jeans this summer. Isn't it important to keep those promises we make to ourselves? Part of that promise was that I'd take the beginning and intermediate construction sewing classes, as well as the pants construction class, at Cañada Community College, in order to improve my overall sewing skills and begin learning techniques that had always seemed more advanced.

OK, I did that.

Now, the plan is to:

1) Sew samples to work on learning and improving jeans sewing techniques : flat felled seams, fly front zippers, special pockets, decorative pocket stitching, attaching rivets and special jeans buttons, jeans hemming, belt loops, dealing with those thick seam crossovers (I know people use hammers and little shim's and stuff)  and probably some other things I haven't thought of yet. And what about embellishment? How do manufacturers, like L.A. Idol create the cool bling on their pockets? I don't know yet.

2) Work on jeans ft for me. Improve knowledge of general pants fitting. Use instructions from various jeans patterns to assist with fit. Take the pants fitting class in the fall to produce a muslin/toile/sloper.

3) Collect information from others - books, magazine articles, web links. Pattern Review has good resources I've been reading and Threads Magazine did a series of three articles a couple of years back, that I have set aside (even though I broke down and bought the full archive of Threads, I held onto those particular paper issues in my "Jeans" drawer).

4) Collect resources to help get started: needles, topstitching thread, budget denim, sample (worn out) jeans from others I can analyze, study and maybe even cut up for sample sewing

5) Collect inspiration. Photograph cool jeans - especially pockets - I see people wearing and I use pinterest (http://pinterest.com/lrshimer/boards/ )  to save references to beautiful jeans features - yes more pockets!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fitting the Tee - Every Knit is Different - Duct Tape Dress Form

What do I love most?
 The embroidered hummingbirds?
The under-bust tucks?
The fringy bits I created from knit scraps?
The deconstructed neckline?
I've been squeezing in a little time here and a little time there on this simple rose pink tee with the embroidered hummingbirds. It's been one of those life-is-sometimes-like-that times. Bet you know how that goes :-)

It's a funny thing, I'm using a tee pattern I've altered in the past and sewn several times, but this time through the tee just didn't hang right on me. I'm so glad Lori addressed the variable character of knits so many times in different Sew Forth Now podcasts. Now I know it's not just me who has these challenges. You just never know with knits, they each have their own drape and stretch.

In this case, I admit that I was working with a very flimsy knit. I cut this shirt out of two rose pink commercial tee shirts. I keep them around more as muslins then for my regular wardrobe. But.... they were a pretty color and I just wanted a quick tee fix.

That's where the front detail came from. After doing the machine embroidery (I posted about those dragonflies last time) I just didn't love the way the shirt hung, so I added a little hang of my own.
Don't you love that elegant view of the
old newspapers coming out of the neckline of
my Duct Tape Dummy (DTD)?
It's not glamorous, but it helps her keep her shape for now
I'm not worried about filling her up properly, 'cuz
I'm actually taking a Dress Form Making class !
So, no, my little DTD is never going to be properly filled.
Hey, you knew I was going to show off the value of my Duct Tape Dummy again, right?

I first got out my lovely Dummy after I tried on the shirt and found I didn't like the typical fabric neckband. I did the slight stretch and fold over fabric neckband thing and no matter how much or how little I stretched the neckband/trim, the shirt  reminded me of something Beaver Cleaver wore. So I unpinned and unabasted (never commit the stitches till I'm sure!) and created this deconstructed neckband instead. It's simply a strip of black knit I cut off the bottom of another tee and then twisted and pinned, twisted and pinned all the way around. It's actually still pinned (as is the decorative bit in the front) waiting for sometime soon when I get a chance to sit and do a little hand stitching. The under bust strip is the original unsuccessful  neckband (which was shorter than the new deconstructed one), pinned in place over some tucks (or would you call them darts?) I just pulled in place by hand and safety pinned. I twisted that strip in the same way that I did the deconstructed neckband. 

I created the fringed bits in the front  from
- The ends of that strip hanging down
- Additional strips I added in and braided a little bit at the top
- Scraps of the rose pink I bound around that 
- Cutting each strip in half or thirds to make more and thinner pieces
Entonces... Finally I hung onto the top of each strip and pulled on the opposite end to get a longer, narrower rolled , dangly, fringy piece

Filling in the time gaps with my rose and  black tee shirt , adorned with hummingbirds and creative scrap embellishment really keeps me enchanted by sewing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Technicos:Embellishing a Tee - Machine Embroidery and Stabalizer

Woven stabalizer below
Film stabalizer on top
Then the top part of the hoop nests in
The part that attaches to the machine is beneath the tee
As I've mentioned in a past Enchanted by Sewing podcast , my machine embroidery is not accomplished using the latest, snazziest machine model. I use a Husqvarna Iris, which I purchased as one of the lowest end embroidery models about nine years ago. I bought my machine in August, as I'd been told this was traditionally a time when sewing machines are discounted. True? Maybe! Well, I'd always wanted a machine with this kind of capability and the somewhere around one thousand dollar price tag on this machine was possible because I'd made a little extra money the previous year. Husqvarna may consider this a budget-oriented machine, but for us it was a big ticket item.

My machine uses cards - no digital downloads. Those cards are no longer available for purchase from the manufacturer (a nine year-old machine is practically an antique these days). I found that out when I finally decided to break down and buy an additional card (I had one that came with the machine, and one that I had purchased for $150 when I bought the machine.) Luckily I found a few cards on EBAY for $50. I bought three. Would even more designs be fun? Would I like to be able to download digital designs or maybe learn to digitize my own? You bet! 

But am I satisfied with what I have for the time being? Yes. I don't spend my life, or even most of my sewing time, embellishing. So I am satisfied with what I have, and enjoy doing a little machine embroidery. I've also found that I enjoy repetitively stitching out certain designs like this dragonfly.  I can turn it different directions and make a bigger or smaller version.

I've also learned how to do machine embroidery on my tee shirt projects without getting the knit fabric stuck and gummed up under the needle (though I seam to recall it makes a pretty neat noise when this happens!).  

Here's what I do....

1) I hoop the back of the project with traditional stabalizer. Sorry I don't known what kind that is. It's the regular somewhat stiff, heavy kind I use for a woven cotton or linen. 
2) I put my hoop bottom piece below that sheet of for-wovens stabilizer, 
3) then I add my tee shirt. 
4) On top of the tee - and before I fit the top of the hoop in- I lay a piece of film-type stabilizer. 
5) The smaller hoop piece (it nestles inside the back/bigger hoop part that fits onto the machine) goes on top of that. Then I screw it in place and away I stitch. No more stuck needles and gummed up projects.

I hope this will help me and others
Locate this film stabalizer that tops off my tee shirt/knits
machine embroidery projects
I found my stabalizers at a Sewing Expo, at a booth that specialized in only that kind of product. I've noticed that sometimes it's hard to locate stabilizers in fabric stores, and when I do the clerks, even those who are also sewists, may not know about these products. So I plan to start taking better notes about what I've purchased the next time I get a chance to talk to a knowledgable vendor. If you know of links that explain what to choose and when, please post them or email them to me EnchantedBySewing  AT gmail.com.

Taking a tee-shirt beyond the basics with embellishment like machine embroidery, is one of many things that keeps me....
Enchanted by Sewing!