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! 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Saturday Sewing—Party Dress(es)

Party dress 1 (pink) is done—well, maybe done. I still might add a ribbon sash.

Party dress 2 (blue) Joined it today. Done but for the possible addition of a ribbon sash, and a bit of hand sewing finishing detail.   The party isn't till June 17th—so I have time to continue my search of the right ribbon—and to make up a sash for the dresses.

Before I had started the dresses, I did a bit of clean up—and found a project from last year—75% done that was just sitting there... Why had I stopped working on it? I don't know! My guess is, is that it I needed buttons (3) and a spool of thread, and the local A.C. Moore had closed (there still is a Micheal’s—but it is slightly less convenient) But who knows? Not me.

I have a car now (and didn't then) so I have more options about where to buy buttons and ribbons (for bows) and other stuff..

So, with the party dresses are finished, (and while I am looking for some ribbon for the sash), I will get a spool of dark navy thread, and some buttons—and will finish up!

The project is skirt, a simple 6 gore A line(the same as the medium blue skirt and vest I finished a few weeks ago) and a very short sleeved cropped jacket. The skirt needs the waist band and button, and a hem. The jacket needs 3 (or more) buttons (and buttonholes) and the hem—So close to complete! It won't take much time at all to finish!

Very often, I plan my sewing to a need for my own party dresses. The Yellow/white/blue dress made its debut on mothers day (and, truthfully hasn't been worn since), the skirt of the same fabric debut at a day out with my DD, & grandchildren—a low key outing, but.... The grey dress with all of the top stitching and details? It will be my party dress on the 17th—A 1 year old birthday party, in basement party room is hardly a super special occasion, but then, the dress isn't really super special either. It is nice and detailed, but not at all fancy. Mostly it is NEW and new is always special in its own way.

This blue skirt and jacket? I don't remember if it was planned for a special occasion or not. But when finished will likely go into the wear immediately pile. The jacket has just a cap sleeve, and is loose fitting—so in spite of its dark color (It is a close to black navy blue) I will be wearing it this summer. It will be a cross seasonal outfit—and cross matching--The medium blue vest will look nice with the dark navy skirt—and the cropped jacket will also pair up well with the lighter blue skirt.
(The jacket looks much more faded in this photo than it is in real life (but it was hanging in place where it got exposed to sun light and it is a bit faded—all the more reason this outfit will immediately become every day wear!)

It will be fine to wear in the summer, and fall, and maybe paired with legging, the medium weight cotton will see some winter wear. Come next spring, it will one again be an every day outfit. I even have a dark navy cardigan sweater/jacket that will be a good go with..

I haven't spoken about the outfits that have been culled—and there have been many in the past few months!) Some clothing I purchased back in the year 2000—a set I LOVED. There was a local (I have moved since, so it would not be local now) K-mart closing—and I bought, on the store clearance sale, a set of 2 skirts (identical!) a camp shirt, a tee shirt and vest –all coordinating—I wore the pieces to death! I hated throwing them out.. but every where, the seams were coming apart—the side seams (and pocket seams and the hem, too) on the skirts, the collar and front button band on the camp shirt, the patchwork design seams on the vest...Every where, every pieces were thread bare. They were falling apart, and beyond repair. I also have 2 jumpers from the same clearance sale—that are close to being tossed—I have twice repaired the jumpers (One was a bit too big, and it got taken in and made smaller to salvage) and any day now, they will fail—and find them selves on the dust heap.

There are 2 other out fits, (even older!) that went from special occasion, to work outfits, to every day, and now about to be dumped— One skirt, shirt and vest outfit came with a matching cardigan, which has seen less wear—It will go well with the navy skirt – The cropped, super short sleeved jacket is fine for summer, but the cardigan will be better for the spring and fall. So the new additions I have been making are not going into an overstuffed closet, but into one that has been suffering loses.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It is Beginning to Look

Like a party dress—Right now it needs a major pressing, and it still needs details (a small bow at the front collar) and sleeves, and hem and.

And it is just the first of two--(the next one to be blue--) The blue has the same embroidered trim down the front—and will have a blue lining, too, of course.

A ribbon sash will make the dress very dressy and party like—but as is, the dress is just girly--and will be, after the party just another dress for them to wear. Depending on the fit, (and the reception) I might make another set of dresses—Simpler, and more casual—a nice red, white and blue set. Their dad's family has an annual 4th of July event—and something patriot will be fun for a picnic party.

One red dress, one blue, trimmed with red, white and blue ribbon(I already have the ribbon) White collars, and star buttons (another detail already in my stash) and Voila! Holiday dresses.

I know Miss C will love it—She is the most grateful child—For her birthday, she received a present—as she unwrapped the gift paper, she found newspaper (as padding) She was so excited with newspaper, it took a while to convince her to remove it (and find a slate board and chalk!) Newspaper—Oh thank you, I am so happy!

She is in someways like me—a bit picky—and these dresses have all the details I liked in dresses, as a child. Long zippers for easy on and easy off, a pocket, open (not elastic gathered) sleeves (still to come). I also loved ribbons and lace and other pretty details. I have a habit of doing this—Making things I like (since I was picky, and liked lots of specific detail) thinking others will like or enjoy the same details I LIKED.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Saturday Sewing? Not for Me!

Which means there was Saturday sewing--well almost. No actual sewing, but lots of prepping. 2 dresses cut for my granddaughters. Next month the youngest granddaughter, Miss K, will have her first birthday—and a party. Her older (3.5 years old) sisters will have new party dresses for the occasion.

Miss J loves pink, and Miss C loves blue—so the color palette was set. They are fraternal (should that be sororital?) twins, and rarely are dressed in matching outfits—and while the dresses I am making are identical, they are in different colors; more matching, than identical outfits. In colors that will please them.

The dresses are simple—a lined bodice, a flare skirt, puffed sleeved with a solid white peter pan collar. There will be some decorative additions—and some bows. My sewing machine has lots of decorative stitches—a few will add some nice touches to an otherwise simple dress. There might even be LaVerne like J's and C's embroidered on the skirts.

They needed less than a yard of fabric, each (60 inch wide) —and it won't take long to sew them up. I'll finish the edges of the skirts, but the lined bodice will make a neat finish all on it own--Seams bothered me as child--(my mother often finished my dresses with french seams) as did overly fussy clothing.  I might buy some ribbons for the dresses--but I am not going to make fancy ties that are sewn in place. 

Right now all the pieces are cut, including the bodice lining and interfacing—Putting the pieces together won't take long. What is fun, is I bought this fabric, 2 pieces, before they were born—long before they established their color preferences... (I bought 5 yards of each—and I will make myself skirts and tops from the remaining fabric—I want to make a bias cut skirts--(which is why I bought the yardage I did) I think the stripes will make a pretty chevron—Maybe this year, maybe next—but for now, the fabric is for party dresses. Miss K's birthday isn't until mid June—so I have plenty of time, but I'll have them done in snap.

















Sunday, May 21, 2017

That was Yesterday (and Yesterday is Gone)

finished grey dress
And, today it is DONE! Top stitched, hemmed, and all buttoned up! The same as half dozen other versions I have already made, and yet so different! I still think it needs a bit more—Not ribbons perhaps—but I could make myself a General—I do have silver start buttons—to add perhaps to the collar or on the epaulets? Or maybe not. I am not a member (nor have I ever been) a member of the Services—It bordering on wrong to make it look too much like a uniform. Besides it not really my style to overdo. I'll leave it be for now—I can always add more trim.

Not sure if I am ready to start the dresses for the Girls—I have been sewing and sewing and its time to sweep the floor with a magnet (and pick up all the pins) and to vacuum up all the thread, and fold up all the pattern pieces and put them away (before I pull out a new pattern).

The new pattern needs to be copied (since it is sized 4 (desired) to 8) and planned. I plan to line the bodice of the dress (not a feature included in the pattern)—and use the same lining fabric to make a pair of over pants—Times have changed—I remember the song “I see London, I see France, I see (someones) underpants” which often happened with rough and tumble playing—I wore slips under my dresses, (even when I was a pre-schooler!) but hanging from monkey bars, or other play often reveled my underpants—and that was acceptable (or not and I was sometimes admonished to not play that way but to be more ladylike) I don't want my granddaughters to feel they have to be ladylike—before they are ladies. I want them to be able to dress up and still be able to play as they chose.

My granddaughters (and most girls today) wear undershorts, or something under a dress (if they wear a dress!) to modestly cover their under pants. A small pair of shorts, with easy on and off Velcro closures are a required added accessory to the dresses. They will match the bodice lining, and make the outfits.

Childrens size 4 dress will be faster to sew—and since both will be sewn with the same thread (more grey!) making them in tandem will still be faster than this last shirt dress. I used 2 full spools of thread, and 5 bobbins! Top Stitching really eats up thread!


I have loaded a new needle—and have the 3rd spool of thread on the spindle..so after a bit of clean up I will be ready to go. (tomorrow!) 

Saturday is for Sewing--or Not

Saturday, I woke early, and did a little work on the Grey dress before breakfast. After breakfast, I was exhausted.  I had a headache and low fever. So, back to bed, for a little nap. After the nap, I put way some of the clothes,  ( I did 4 loads of wash Thursday)—and didn't get it all put away—partly because 1 load was winter clothes—and these didn't put back—put packed away, and secondly, a few pieces needed a bit of touch up ironing. I didn't get the touch up ironing done in the morning.

I did next to nothing, really, at all, but I was still felt tired, and fevered. It was a beautiful, warm (but not hot) day, but after all the effort involved in putting away laundry, I ended up taking another nap. 3 hours later, I woke, did a bit of ironing—from the laundry, and the dress, too. So now, the facing and collar are done. But not the top stitching, nor the buttonholes, or hem and buttons. It is still not finished. And absolutely nothing started on the dresses for the girls.

But what ever had me under the weather all day finally passed by 9PM. I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast—but now was hungry—a salad and small serving of pasta was more than enough, and the day was over.

It is not much of a day when all you ended up doing is putting away some clean laundry, and your biggest accomplishments are naps.

But tomorrow is another day—and the end is in sight for the dress.

Today
Woke this AM feeling refreshed—My goal is to get the rest of the dress done—early. The buttons for this dress are the hammer on rivet like kind—I need to get them done during daylight hours—or wait till tomorrow.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Transformation!

A half a dozen seams later, and a pile of pieces become a dress!  Well almost a dress.

The dress fronts sewn to the yoke, and the dress back, too. Then the side seams, with the narrow back belt in the seam, and a very dress like form begins to emerge. Followed by 2 set in sleeves. It is very clearly a dress! There are still the front facing, and the collar and all those final details (buttons and buttonholes and more) but the end is in sight.

It looks a little plain—Maybe some silver fringe for the epaulets? Just joking! Thought I did consider some ribbons—thing is these days ribbons are only sold on small (2 yard or so) spool, and finding interesting striped ones? Plus there is the this--buying several spools for just an inch or two of trim?  I think the silver buttons will enliven the look enough. I don't want to go overboard on the military/uniform look.

But it does look very different than the other dresses I have made with this pattern. (see my post of 4/22 for 3 different looks) None of these details (pockets, flaps, epaulets, top stitching (or even the shoulder yoke)) were part of the original pattern—which was very plain. This is the sixth version I have made of this shirt dress—and I haven't come close to exhausting the variations I could make.  It is part of my personal uniform--that most don't recognize as a uniform at all.

Most often, I buy fabric on sale, or mill end, or remnants—and I don't always have extra (and sometimes not even enough)—this dress features a yoke lining of broadcloth—(not the self same fabric).  To do major changes is iffy and requires extra fabric.  Often I am short on length—or if not short, close. This version, like several others, is just (slightly) below the knee length.  There was enough fabric--just. One store, that closed shop in my neighborhood,  had precut 3 yard lengths--in 100% cotton. Just enough for a dress--but cotton shrinks. and after shrinkage--a full quarter yard (9 inches!) was lost--making things...well short.When they closed a bought up several of these precuts (at bargain basement prices)--

Of course—when the price is right, I buy yards and yards--(as I did of the blue that became the skirt and vest, and trim on other skirt (and there is still enough to make another yoked skirt!)

Next time around, (and there will be, in the next few years, several NEXT times) I want to add a different bottom—and make the dress with the curved lower edges of a men's dress shirt. Another small change that will result in something that is the same –and different.  Not sure what color or fabric I will use...(maybe something I haven't found or bought yet!) 

And so it goes: a little bit of creativity, a little bit of practicality, a little bit of luxury(I'll show the lining details tomorrow) —all in one.

Today is my day with the girls (grandchildren) –so I won't get any more of the dress done today—but tomorrow is Saturday—and Saturday is for Sewing. (We'll just ignore all the hours I have work on it this week!) I'll finish up the machine sewing, and then work the hand details, and have a new dress done in a week and day. If I do so early enough, will pull out some striped fabric for dresses for the girls—and get the pieces cut—and start all over again with a new project.



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Now I Remember

Why I stopped making dresses and jackets that had a military look! The Details.

I still haven't started the DRESS—I am just working on the details! Sewed up the epaulets, trimmed the seams, turned the work, pressed, added the buttonhole, and the top stitching. Repeated for the second epaulet, repeated for pocket flap, (and the second pocket flap) Top stitched the collar. Re-enforced the pockets too, and the shoulder yoke. (Where the buttons will be placed—forgot them when I did most of the iron on interfacing. That is one disadvantage of making up different versions—No one has written out details for working them.)

Hemmed the sleeves and added top stitching, too. I still need to add the pockets and flaps, before I work the yoke and side seams. Making this dress feels endless!

I am on the second spool of thread, and the 4th bobbin—And I still just have pieces—not anything that looks like a dress! It will be significantly different looking than the other versions of this dress.  But, boy, oh boy, it is so much more work!

In the next session, I will sew on the pockets and flaps, and finally be ready to make up the dress—that is sew the front to the back at the yoke and side seam. Then there will still be the sleeves and collar (and facing) and then MORE top stitching on the front of the dress.

My machine has a “top stitch” option—a forward stitch, a back wards stitch and then forward again—three stitches in the same spot to make a decorative row of stitching—but it takes almost 3 times longer than a regular row of stitching, and to be honest, I work slower to keep the row of stitches nice and straight.

New seams sewn will mean more pressing, and there are final details, (adding the buttons) and some bits of hand sewing—So there will be 2 (or more)  sessions before the dress is finished...

All this work is a reminder—details, details, details are work, work work! I won't be doing this much work again for a long time.It is a nice option to have a detailed look--but not very often!