Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Siblings

And I, have a long history of “swapping/sharing/using” each other's things..

My first car? (Mine not my Ex'es) was my sister Geraldine's car before it was mine. But Geraldine brought it from our sister Margaret.. (who bought it new)-We've done the same with furniture, and hand bags, and so many things over the years...

What a Print!

So Sunday, —her last full day here, on her almost annual trip, (from Japan) Geraldine brought out a beautiful piece of fabric for me. It had been a gift to her. I think it was intended to be a Sarong. But it had been sewn into a wrap skirt...and un worn. Both as a sarong, and later as a wrap skirt. She been following all my sewing posts, and decided I should do something with it.

A simple kaftan
First off, I undid the hems and elastic that formed the waist band.. Next I will give it a wash and press as I continue to mull over the best use of this hand batik print fabric. It is from Noor Arfa —the print is a few years old. I am thinking about using it to make a modified kaftan—something like this—Not a overly full kaftan, just not too much shaping to the dress either..(I might tuck in a dart)—but mostly I just want to show of the beautiful print.

I want to pick up (or first, sort through my scraps!) and find a bit of navy to make shoulder and a cap sleeve—and give the sleeve and shoulders a bit of shaping, without cutting the print. Small cap sleeves will be cut in place, (not cut separately and sewn in.) I'll add underarm gussets to improve the shape and fit—These will be done in the navy, too.. I might add a whole stripe down the side in navy, too. The navy scraps (on shoulders) are bit light,  but give you a idea of my thinking (PS Geraldine--I love this idea--and if you like it too,  want the fabric back--(after I have finished construction)-Speak up now! or I will make it in my size

The sketch is sort of the idea (and so is the print pinned to the maniquin) ). Most of the rest of the fabric is the golden color you see at the edges..but there is a blue band at top and hem all the way round.
Note the notch in hem
 (visible on right side) 
Visits from my DIL (and oldest granddaughter, Beatrice) and my sister are the 2 main reasons there hasn't been much Saturday sewing. Last week, in the heat, I got a little sewing down each day—So Saturday past I got most of the yellow/grey/white vest finished. There are still some small details left to do—pressing and a few inches of hand sewing (the lining) still to do. This vest is closer to the original pattern--but--Changes include a center front zipper (vs buttons) inset pockets, and small rounded notches in the hem.  This the first time I have used these specific details--making it a unique version of this tried and true vest pattern.  

 I have a full week to finish up the grey skirt (already cut) and maybe make a yellow one too—and so  finish up the last of the sewing for the season. I really have gotten a lot done—3 dresses, 4 skirts, and 3 toppers (vests and a small jacket) a real boost to my wardrobe (and I got a lot thrown out too!, to make room for all these additions.) Plus 2 dresses for the girls--a bonus!

I'll keep myself busy in August doing some hand embroidery—Pretty pillow cases, and an embroidered patch for a jumper style dress for the fall. Some will be iron on transfer designs, one is one of my own.

As always, my plans for future sewing have grown and grown—I think I could spent every weekend of the fall (13 weekends!) and not get all the sewing I plan to do done!

For me, there will be some winter skirts, (purple and plum and grey) with a co-ordinate vest, and some denim pieces—a whole wardrobe almost! A matching skirt and top (will it be a vest or will it be a jacket?) in a denim print. A denim shirt dress, a casual denim skirt (with a fly front, and patch pockets,) and a “dressier” denim skirt. Finally at least 1 (more likely 2!) denim jumpers I already have 3 denim vests, and a sleeved vest, too, as well as 2 denim jackets (store bought), to round out the collection.  A complete "line" of denim clothing!

That's 13 pieces on my to do list—a full seasons worth of sewing–and it presumes I will finish each piece in a week! Which is possible, but not always how things work.


Meanwhile, I am keeping a eye out for some emerald green pin stripe corduroy—my granddaughter, Ms C has fallen in love with “the Corduroy Bear” --who she calls Eddy Teddy. She also loves her OshKosh coveralls--which she is rapidly out growing.  . I think she will really love a pair of bright green corduroy coveralls—so she can match Eddy Teddy. Her sister might get a dress—since she prefers dresses to pants. And both will like it if I make some matching doll clothes... See what I mean? Endless plans on project to sew....Where will I find the time?   

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sew, What's Up?


This post is more than a week overdue...

Bit and pieces! The nile green skirt—done--but it's a bit snug—I have been losing weight (oh so slowly! --about a 1 lb a month)--It might be a year at that rate before this skirt fits comfortably--(but spring comes round every year!)

Meanwhile I took a break and got some mending done... took up the sleeves of a jacket for my DD, and some other mending—lots of little things done. 

I also made 4 pairs of pillow cases, too—A bit fancy with french seams, next they will embroidered. I like to sleep with NO air conditioning. So cotton sheets and pillow cases are a must. Extra pillow cases are useful, too since I sometimes change them more often than sheets. 2 pairs of natural white cotton, 1 pair each of blue and pure white. I also got some hand knit lace trim added 2 pairs of pillow cases. Very simple projects.. but nice to have them done.  More about these (and photos) later this week.

So now that mending is done, it is time to get to work on the yellow and grey vest, and matching grey skirt. I don't think there will be much else machine sewing in August—But I will be playing with this: (image of circle maker foot)  (Work has been started on the vest..in fact, it is almost done!)

This foot has been advertised all over Face Book—and yes, it does work. I can't see it working for a full quilt; the whole piece of fabric must be rotated. Fine for a square, (that was later pieced into a quilt) or for decorating some fabric for a bodice or even a hem of a skirt. The circular flower like embroider on the hem of child’s dress, or on the lapel of casual jacket. Well lots of places. Note that is a quarter--the circles even at their largest are still pretty small.

It take some practice to get a nice result. This scrap that I practiced on shows some potential.
But—to get a really professional result, takes some practice and fine adjustments.

First: There is a need to change/adjust: pressure foot tension (increase), thread tension (decrease), stitch length, (shorter), stitch width, (wider, sometimes) needle position, (to the left--for the largest circles) Getting the adjustments just right will require some fine tuning.

2nd Depending on the fabric, some interfacing (and a hoop)wouldn't amiss,  either

3rd There are adjustment to the foot, too—to make larger and smaller circles.. and some skill to starting and ending neatly—I can see how better (embroidery) thread will help too.

Finally: There is just learning which zigzag stitch pattern created the best effect.. Some seem self evident—others are surprisingly interesting,

I can see myself using this for flower like decorations for my granddaughters dresses—in time.. my first efforts aren't bad—but I expect I will do better as I get more practiced.

Finally—a splurge! I have passed on getting a rice cooker (half the members my family has one!) since I don't cook rice often, (but I do like whole grains, and rice cookers are great for all grains, not just rice) And the same goes for slow cooker—I have managed to live with out, though at times I thought I might want on. I have owned pressure cookers—but I blew my last one up (some 20 years go!) Well just the safety button.. but-- I have considered replacing the pressure cook for years, especially once the electronic ones appeared. (It is almost impossible to blow up the electronic ones)


Now I have an Instant Pot—that serves as a rice/grain cooker, slower cooker, and pressure cooker, steamer, and more. I won't use it much in the heat of the NYC summer.. but come the fall, I am looking forward for soups and stews and other hearty meals Maybe even some old fashioned Boston brown bread—Does anyone remember that? I think its time for a revival. The Instant Pot is also a steamer, and Brown Bread is steamed.     


Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Eyes Have It

No, not a typo—A couple of things came together—1) I found grommets that I liked, 2)—I reviewed the instructions for my Crop-O-Dile grommet tool, 3)—I finished the blue top by added 10 eyelet grommets on the center front-- I have found it such a hard time to find eyelet grommets (they are sold (allegedly!) in both the fabric/craft section and the scrap booking section (the Crop-O-Dile tool is sold as a scrap booking tool) –but finding them? Forgetaboutit! I don't know if they are so popular they are hard to keep in stock, or so unpopular, they just forget to re-order when they are sold out.

So, when I did finally find some, I bought a few packs!. I have meaning to add some eyelets to a pair of sneakers, (will do!) and to a few other things (I often make small “gift bags” out of scrap cloth—they can be used and recycled (as gift bags to wrap gifts for others, or for little storage pouches—which are great for travel).  Eyelets, vs button holes, or even finished edges in seam allowances are the easiest way to add drawstrings.

While I was out looking for the grommets, I splurged and bought some machine embroidery “cotton” --a nice shiny rayon thread—just two colors, for the back pockets of the green skirt—Which is minutes away from being started. The blue print skirt is finished but for 2 things: 1) sewing down the inside waist band (this will be done stitch in the ditch style), and sewing on the flat (skirt) hook and eyes for closures.(this will be done while watching TV)

I like the skirt—but I am not sure I am sold on the front ruffle—Time will tell.  It is a pretty outfit, and the pieces are good separates--I will be able to wear each piece with other things I already own. 

I also found some pale, pearly green buttons—This was all on my shopping trip to buy interfacing (3 yds. each of lightweight and medium weight, plus some tear away for machine embroidery.)  I never buy less than 3 yards of interfacing at a time—to me it is a sewing staple. I last bought interfacing about 3 years ago—so it was time.

I am thinking of doing some machine cut away embroider (which is why I bought tear away interfacing). I am also thinking of adding some more of the shiny embroidery thread to my stores. It's not cheap. ($6 a spool) but the spools are huge. and the finished effect is very nice.   I have a few store bought tops with some cut away embroidery—and I really like the look. Well--it can wait, it will still be there next time I go to the store.

But before I start experimenting, I have a queue of sewing to do: 1) sewing up the grey and yellow skirt and vest set, already cut (except for interfacing!),  2) A Jumper dress, (or 2!), One in a color (looks like it might be a yellow, (but dusty pink might win out over the yellow)); the other,  a denim) 3) another shirt dress (in black, trimmed with red). And then, I'll take a rest, I promise!

This should take me till the end of July, I will take August off, and start up again in September with some more skirts and vest, (and more old clothes discarded!)  And by then, I'll have developed a queue for things I want to knit!

If I want to be a very good sister, I will find some more of the blue print fabric, and make a simple dress for my sister... but the print was a remnant--so.  I haven't made anything for my sister Geraldine in years--(and she commented how much she liked the print.)





Thursday, June 29, 2017

That Was Quick!

mostly done top
Even with the added work of gathering and binding, this top came together in a snap! The last time I made this style top, I made a hem facing and used narrow elastic to gather the neck line, (and sleeves), but even with the added work of gathering and binding was quick to make!.

OK, so I still need to bind the arms, and add some grommets to the front for the lace up detail, but mostly done, already! I don't think I spend much more than a hour working on it..

As I did, I finished off a partial used spool-- My sewing waste can is filled with emptied spools! (and of course, I replaced the needle)--and, the most time consuming part of this was; I altered the pattern (as always!)

First, I lowered the neck—It is not low now, but it was way to high for a summer top! Secondly, the pattern featured long sleeves—again, not a great choice for summer top. So I made them shorter, and fuller-and gathered. The long sleeve version was gathered at the cuff—but most of the fullness was at the cuff, not in the upper arm area.

This top came in a short and long version—One wrist length, one a bit longer. I automatically decided on the longer version—and wow its long! I don't mind, but I will consider making the shorter version.--or maybe add another 12 inches, and make a house dress! It is really unusual for me to find a top that is almost too long. So often I lengthen things. I am not tall (5'5”) but I have a long torso (and short limbs) the classic body of a northern—built for the cold. I will make a winter version (slight higher neck, but not as high as the pattern calls for), with long sleeves—I like a long top for the winter (on that covers my butt!) for those days when I just wear a skirt and top (and no leggings)

The wrap skirt is labeled “1 Hour Skirt” but I planned on lining the front with a solid turquoise blue, I don't like the wrong side showing in the ruffle. I will put the pattern together in my own particular way (and eliminate hand stitching the curved waist band) The result will be a very neatly finished inside. It won't take too long to make, but it will take more than an hour.


I might get some work done today, and tomorrow—but one day will be partially used to go and buy some buttons and some interfacing. Of course, Saturday is for sewing—so that will be the day to finish up—and get started on the white/grey/yellow vest and grey skirt!   

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Real Cut Up

No sewing on Saturday, no sewing on Sunday. No sewing Monday either, but I have been pinning and cutting galore. The peasant top was cut last week.  Monday,  a matching skirt. In addition, I cut a grey skirt, with a matching print vest, (yellow/white/grey), and finally, another skirt. The last one in the nile green twill--so 3 skirts, one top, and one vest cut—I even got all the interfacing cut, too. The green skirt matches the print top—making a mix and match pair. It also matches a print T-shirt top that I have—and will go with many solid colored T's, too.

The grey skirt is the same pattern as the navy blue skirt, and the medium blue skirt (this same skirt has been made in a black poly twill, and chocolate brown, and several prints, as well) Do you get the idea that I really like this skirt? —The grey skirt isn't the last time i will use this pattern.  There will be several more skirts in this same pattern. Remember how I said I almost like uniforms? This skirt is one I make again and again. A basic piece of my uniform.

Because I use the same pattern over and over again, I have learned to re-enforce ones I really like. How I do that depends on what's available—The skirt  pattern was re-enforced by ironing on light weight. iron on interfacing. But I also use brown craft paper--(recycled from Amazon packages!) 
that is what I used for the basic vest, and the alterations to the pattern. I like the kind that has a shiny coating--(looks like a lightweight plastic) What ever the coating is, it irons on to the pattern tissue paper like a champ! Too bad its not the most common packing paper. The fold and tear brown craft paper is more common—and I use that too!

No dresses, or jumpers pinned or cut—but there is a good chance that there will be at least one pinned and cut before the end of the week.

The plan, now is to sew up as storm! First the print top, then the print skirt, followed by the nile green skirt ( don't have buttons to match this yet, so it might be postponed)   Finally, the grey skirt and matching vest. The print top and skirt is sort of planned as a pool outfit—easy on and easy off. City pools open this weekend-I need to be ready!

Here is some swatches with  pattern covers, to help you make sense  of what is what-Not shown, the print top pattern, and the nile green skirt pattern (a button down the front A line) 

This vest pattern fit nicely in neck and bust--but was to short (to my taste) and too plain.
Vest and skirt combo
I have altered it to make it longer, (4 inches longer!) and made it with both a V neck as well as the round neck shown, and also changed the hem to add shaping (points).  And of course, I have added pockets!  I've made over a half dozen different (but the same) vests from this pattern.. with many more to come! I love the way a vest finishes an outfit.  I knit vests, too, for the same reason.

my favorite skirt pattern--
This pattern has 4 views--a 4 gore swing skirt, an 6 gore A-line and an 8 gore skirt with shaping--beyond A line.  The 6 gore version is the pattern used for the newest grey, last  months navy, and April's medium blue set of skirt and vest.  I have been making this skirt for 4 + years and I haven't tired of it.  I plan to use this pattern at the end of the summer, again, when I make up some more skirts in darker (wintery colors..)  Easy to make, great fit, and classic style!
the ruffled print for the wrap skirt 

I like the idea of wrap skirts--but I don't always like to wear them.. they blow open, and well... I keep trying, hoping the next one will be better.  I am sort of making view A, with the ruffled front--but not the tie.  To me, the tie is just too much--looks like an outfit for a child!   I have previously made the simpler (no ruffle version) of this skirt--a few years ago, with the same purpose in mind--a quick wrap skirt on my way to or from the pool.

The nile green skirt is a basic A-Line, with a button front.  The pattern is ancient--I no longer have the envelop!

But, as you can see, the colors  look good together--so I can wear the peasants print top with matching skirt, or with the nile green skirt, or with the medium blue skirt--I don't think the blue vest (a tailored style) will go well with the ruffled skirt, but I can clearly match it nile green skirt for a two toned look--(a solid T in a blue or green or maybe even a white or black one  to marry the two colors!)

One change I have made to the 6 gore skirt is to use Nancy Z's trick of adding side seam pockets, and using them as a way to open the waist band of the skirt--I always want to add pockets anyway, and this method eliminates the side zipper (saving $ and time!)





Saturday, June 24, 2017

Did I Say...

Purple, red and pink? More accurate is light violet, dark red violet, and light red violet—and now its done! Well it still needs to be washed (and hopefully the white transfer marks will wash out) and
blocked. Then it will be put aside till I get to work on the jumper.

Aside from finishing this embroidery, there was no sewing this Saturday. I might get the top cut tomorrow (in the AM) come the PM I will be baby sitting the girls. This coming week, I have two Dr's appointments--one is an eye exam. Which is, to my thinking, a bit of a priority—I need new eyeglasses! I tend to wear frame less or half frame less eyeglasses—and last month, I dropped my current pair—and while looking for them (a difficult task to see frame less glasses when you can see clearly unless wearing them) I managed to step on them. I didn't break the ear piece or the lenses, —but I did bent them at the hinge, and now they are too loose—and annoy me by slipping off, or sitting lopsided. My Rx doesn't change much, but, it is still a good policy to have my eyes checked before getting another pair—which will likely be the same Rx.

I still find myself removing my glasses for fine work (as I type this, they are perched on top of my head)--and I still don't have any problems threading needles (but I do need more light—threading the sewing machine is the easiest—the handy little light that focuses right on the task at hand means I get the task done in a single try—Threading 3 or 4 plies of floss is a little harder—but with my Ott light handy, no effort at all.

My other big project for the day was clearing a slow running drain (in my tub) –Done! How exciting!

Not as much fun as sewing but then, life isn't all fun and games. This week has been one of small tasks, mostly mundane—Laundry, and bills, shopping and cooking...cleaning and clearing—including cleaning out clothes—Some are going to be packed into bags for recycling... Others, got mended, and added back into rotation (a hem repaired, a button sewn on, small things—but needed repairs.

I didn't feel well for 36 hours this week. (Wednesday to mid day Thursday) –so I pigged out binged watched the newest episodes of House of Cards. Not very productive, but something accomplished! (there are also new episodes of Shameless to watch, and new stuff like the Keeper, and.. I have some free movie tickets—Beatrice at Dinner is one film on my list. Movies are a good respite on really hot days—there will be plenty this summer no doubt.

In a moment of impulse, I purchased yet another specialty sewing machine foot—One for sewing circles—It will be a useful tool, I think. with a zig zag stitch and rotation, little flowers will appear. I still need to purchase some non iron on interfacing and tear away interfacing for doing some machine embroidery—Maybe even a special hoop for machine embroidery—Oh What a splurge! But mostly, my sewing will be simple stuff.

So not much done—a quiet week of every day stuff—the basic things of everyday life, and everyday joy.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

So, What about Sewing?

Well, the birthday party was last Saturday, (the 17th) so there was no sewing that Saturday. On Thursday, (and Friday)before the party,  I got two little pairs of shorts sewn up. The girls always wear tights or legging or something under a dress—I always wore slips, but these days, to steal a line from a friend, Bonus Pants, are the order of the day. Except in this case, the bonus pants are outerwear.

I have pinned out a top—but haven't cut it yet. I want to make a few more pieces—A dress, (not to fancy) an other skirt or two (in some of the lighter, summer colors—nile green and pink) of twill. Not denim (blue)—but denim (twill),  all the same. And a jumper or two--At least one of denim.

One jumper that is about to bite the dust has a center front applique(s)—4 different fabrics, each embroidered (machine embroidery), with different colors fabrics, and threads--complex design. I really like the applique, and thought it would be nice to have one for one of the proposed jumpers. But I really wasn't interested in doing anything as elaborate. (I am thinking of cutting these and and re-using them.

So when I was out ribbon hunting, last week, I found this in a clearance bin, and grabbed it immediately! It is a nice size for an applique—that is a 6 inch hoop.   Just the thing! 

I started to work on in Saturday evening, after the  party. It is the hardest embroidery I have ever done!  Heavy weight denim is not a good choice for hand embroidery. Even though it is in a hoop, it is as difficult as working on the toes of canvas sneakers.

Still, it has inspired me to make another embroider for an applique  as soon as I  finish this one—I have a coloring book of mandalas, and other of Celtic designs—it won't take me long to find an other design suitable for a jumper patch. I'll use a scrap of fabric—not sure which, but I have a lot. Maybe something that matches the jumper, maybe something in a contrasting color. (I can measure my collection of floss in pounds--so finding the right colors for the embroidery  won't be hard!) 

I have also been playing with some machine embroidery techniques—A cute denim jumper in a local dress shop window inspired me. It had very simple design, in a single color, mostly leaves (a motif I always like) at the hem.  I will practice and work out a design. I am not skilled (yet) in machine embroidery—my previous sewing machine had some fancy stitches, but my new (5 years old to me, and bought second hand!) has the ability to do simple programs (it also has some ready made stitch patterns like the ones I used on the girls dresses.   There isn't a leaf design—but I can program in “elements” (quarter circles, that can be joint to make whole or half circles, wedges that become tear drops with the addition of half circle). Not hard, but at this point I need to check the manual every time I want to do something, so I need to  practice.

The final sewing (non-sewing) sewing project will be to trim a T-shirt or two to match some of the outfits I have made—I have lots of the medium blue scraps (skirt & vest) , and same for the yellow/blue/white print (skirt) . And as for T-shirts? Thousands! (well maybe not thousands, but plenty) I might embellish with some iron on designs, enhanced with some decorative embroidery—A little practice, but nothing to elaborate.

It's a lot of sewing! A lot already done, and a lot more to do—and then come the fall there will be more; dark twill skirts and the print vest, and well—at some point,  I will burn out, and then go back to knitting!