Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Machine Embroidery—Tools and notions.


The tutorial will be a mix of text documents, still images, and videos(to come). It is intended for a beginner. I personally own a Brother PE 700 machine, and it is what I will be using in all the videos, but much of the information in this tutorial is generic and will apply to any single needle embroidery machine.

There is a lot to learn about machine embroidery—so it will be a while before we get to the actual sewing.

Clearly, you should do your research before you make your purchase... One general rule is the embroidery hoop size—bigger is always better. My machine is designed for a 5 X 7 hoop/frame as the largest size, (some brands have a 10 X 10 hoop as largest size!) The larger the frame size, the easier it is to do large design. While 5 X 7 is the largest basic size, I also have a 5 X 12 frame.. I can only sew 5 X 7 images at one time, but , by repositioning the frame, I can make larger designs without re-hooping—which makes larger designs easier—but doing this requires a lot of knowledge and skill with positioning—something I don't yet have, and have not done yet! Most machines will also work with smaller frames, which can be handy for small projects (less waste of stabilizer)

What do you need besides the embroidery machine? Several things, many of them come in with the machine, but there are other things that you must provide your self. List of the things I think are useful.
  1. An Embroidery Sewing machine.
  2. A sewing table. I like the idea of a table devoted to your machine. You are more likely to practice a little every day if your machine is always set up and ready to go.
  3. Bobbins.. Some might come with your machine, but extras are always useful. I like pre-filled ones-- but I also have a spool of embroider machine bobbin thread. I tend to use white bobbin thread (and black) more often that matching colors.. but matching colors are a nice touch for lace like embroideries.
  4. A sharp small scissor. (one came as part of the usual accessories with my machine)
  5. A screw driver. I like a small (but not a stubby!) one-- Useful for tightening the screws on the hoop. You can just use the stubby one that comes with your machine.. but I like a larger one, too. It is much more comfortable in my hand.
  6. A good light. I always liked good light for sewing, but as I have gotten older, it has become a nessessity. I have 2 lights—one Ott type, (but not Ott brand) flex arm light, and one white light LED desk lamp. A goose neck lamp is another option.
  7. Extra embroidery needles A new sharp needle will often solve a host of small problems!
  8. Stabilizers.. There are several dozen different kinds of stablizers-Try a few different kinds, and weight-At first, just buy a selection—as you go on, you'll learn which ones are your favorites.
  9. Spray fabric adhesive... Tacky is a must, permenent is good to have, too.
  10. A tweezer.. is great for pulling up loose threads.. I started using tweezers with my standard sewing machine, and now it is just second nature.
  11. Threads. While you can embroider with standard thread, Specialized embroidery thread is so much better. It is finer gauge, glossier, with richer colors.. I suggest buying an assortment. I have found that on line suppliers often provide a a better value.
  12. A case for the threads, or a spool rack (or 2!) (I quickly went from 3 spools of thread, to almost 100 as I learned) I bought 1 set of 63 colors (about 55 cent per spool!) and other single spools of colors I use a lot. I had some spools from doing simple pattern/fancy stitches on my standard sewing machine.
  13. Blanks---that is, something to embroider! Blanks don't have to be new stuff—you can practice embroidering towels you own—be it hand towels, tea towels, pool towels. Same goes for sheets and pillow cases—you'll want to have a bit of practice before you start working on expensive, specially bought blanks. Fat quarters are good blanks, too. I use them for samplers.
  14. Extra Hoops—Especially if you are interested in doing applique.
  15. Avery “dots” these are a real help in centering a design.
  16. A ruler—6 inch? 12 inch? Maybe both!
  17. Erasable/disappearing fabric marker pens.. a permenent markers too is useful.
  18. A note book. Useful for keeping track of what you have learned, and details and changes you've made to a project... Also good for planning projects and keeping track of ideas.My next post is  about some project ideas I have collected. Your idea list might be totally different—but it is still good to have a list!
This list is a good start—You don't need everything at once, but chances are you will find you'll enjoy yourself and sewing more with these tools.

Other handy tools include a cutting matt, and quilting grids. I already had these, and I find them helpful.

You can figure on spending $100 to $150 for supplies in the first 6 months Double that if you need to buy a table.  . In my area, (Queens NY) there are several large sewing machine centers that provide lessons. Classes (depending on the subject) cost between $55 to $150—many note that the cost of supplies are not included. Whether you deside on a course of self teaching, or plan to take classes, you'll need materials to practice with—Buying on sale, or on-line or with coupons is a good policy.

You can take lessons, and buy materials for the lessons in the store, (at a full mark-up). Or you can begin to buy and stock up on the needed supplies when you find them on sale. One of my local sewing centers provides a good discount on machine threads when you buy in bulk, (15 or more spools) but On-line sources are cheaper still. 

 Jo Anne's  isn't generally cheaper than my sewing center, but it does offer coupons—and it has better sales. It is always a case of Time and money. It is cheaper to buy one or two items here or there with coupons or sales, but it is easier and quicker(if more expensive) to make a list and do some one stop shopping. For me, I almost always go the cheaper way. Cutting and copying the list and adding to the memo app in your phone is a good way to keep track of what you need, and what you have.

You might want to do the same (that is make a list of colors you have, and colors you want)  for threads (colors) if you decide to buy them individually (verses buying a set of 50 or more colors.) If you are a particular  fan of some holiday (Christmas, Easter, or Halloween) you might want to use sales and coupons to stock up on commonly used colors (christmas red, dark green, gold, pastels pinks and blues, black and orange,) for example. For me, shades of blue are always useful--(the first spools of embroidery thread I bought were blues and turquoise!)


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Saturday Sewing: Machine Embroidery 101


Introduction and Part 1

I have had my Single needle embroidery for several months now, and I am still in learning mode—and finally, I have gotten serious about learning the details of using the machine

At first glance, using the machine is easy, and I started doing embroideries with in minutes of unpacking the machine—You can too, PROVIDE you are familiar with any standard sewing machine.

The simple basics of threading the top thread, filling and loading the bobbin are so similar to a standard sewing machine, learning these skills are a snap.

Selecting a pattern to embroider, is pretty easy, too. Hooping some fabric, is not dissimilar to hooping fabric for hand embroidery. The biggest difference is the use of stabilizer. But if you have done home sewing, (clothing) and used a Pellon stabilizer for collars, cuffs, waist bands or facing—you are well on your way to using a stabilizer with embroidery. Machine embroidery has a greater selection of stabilizers –but there are a lot of similarities.

If you have no experience, (or limited) with a standard sewing machine, and with making clothes, It will take you a bit longer to become familiar with the machine basics.  But things are easier than they were on my first machine.  The thread path is outlined, and numbered, so it is easier to follow.

One of the biggest changes, is that an embroidery machine uses a touch button-- not a foot ped
le . But with just a single read through of the manual, I was able to make a practice design (One now uses as my ativar on FB,)and to make a patch , (sewn on a dress) by embroidering a patch on a scrap, and then turning the embroidered patch into a pocket that got sewn on a dress.

I wonder what percentage of sewers never do anything more than simple uses like this?

One short tutorial I watched, (6 lessons in less than 60 minutes) mentioned making a sampler. Samplers are pretty common for hand embroidery. There are also a good way to learn about machine embroidery.

BUT--Being me, I rushed in to working on a sampler. I made lots of mistakes, But I learned a lot!
If you are new to machine embroidery, I do recommend a sample. An organized, methodical sampler is likely best.. My sampler, (I see my myself making a second one, and perhaps even a third!) is not methodical... It is not yet complete, but already I have learned a lot (and made a lot of mistakes along the way.)  But if you are like me, you can still learn a lot by just rushing in.

When I purchased my machine, it came with some extras—extra bobbins, a Sampler booklet of over 30 different kinds of stabilizers, a pack of 10 sheets (8.5 X11) of mid weight tear away stabilizer, 4 spools of embroidery threads (white, blue. red, and yellow) and a number of additional stitch patters –My machine, like most, allows me to transfer stitch patterns onto a USB drive, and then to my machine. I already had some spools of embroidery thread--I used it with my standard machine to do some simple decorative stitch designs. (More on threads in next post0 

The claim was a $300 + Value. (I would say about half of the designa are things I will never use—but...and the files all had to opened to be previewed.

The booklet of sample of the different stabilizers, I first wrote off as useless—but.. I was wrong about that it just took a few weeks for me to realize that it is a valuable tool—and remember, I was familiar with stabilizers for home sewing!

So more about my sampler--(it will become samplers as I grow my skills!)

The machine manual starts with 6 pre-loaded alphabets—Each alphabet set has: Capitals and lower case, numbers, symbols, (pretty much what you find on a standard keyboard. Some include a bunch of accented letters, as found in spanish, french, and other foreign languages. Not all the alphabets have all of the same selections, but the selection of characters is extensive. (and I have since learned, the set come in a default size (shown) but can be enlarged and compacted. Being able to change the size is a useful feature.  
A side note  some patterns seem pricey, but they are often flexible and can be enlarged and shrunk .  Cheaper patterns often come in a single size...

Next, there are “frames” circles, square, diamond, heart, rectangle, oval and some others (I don't have the manual in front of me as I am writing. )--Correction--4 more frames—2 shield shapes, a stop sign (octagon) and a column. (the rectangle is sort of horizontal, the column is vertical) . The frames can be expanded (to about 4 X 4 inches) and shrunk to about 1 X1 inch.

The next group (over 160) are “ornimentals” some are small, some medium and others large. There are florals, and themes, (holidays & such) lacey elements, some that mimic cross stitch-- a nice general selection. Plus, of course, I have the 3000 designs that came as a bonus with my machine, and some free designs, I have down loaded, and a small selection of alphabets and a few other designs...

It is really easy to be seduced by all the designs avail –I think I have too many! So be a miser when it comes to buying designs until you have mastered your machine.

Finally there is a simple alphabet of lovely cursive script—this alphabet is capitals only—and good for simple monograms.

Image of 3 alphabet, showing just A B C in uppercase and lower case
To start my first sampler, I used a scrap (about the size of a fat quarter) and the mid wight tear away, stabilizer that came as a bonus with the machine. The scrap fabric was a light weight denim. I started in one corner of the fabric, hooped it and selected ABC, (and abc) and started working.

First off, I broke a thread. I had used the wrong size thread cap (used to secure the spool of thread on the machine spool holder.) Lesson learned

I had read the manual, but—I was more interested in seeing the size of the letters, so I just plowed on. (so font1 features a leg less letter A.) and I didn't check my selection—so I got a ABD not an ABC.
image of A B C in upper and lower case, for alphabets 4 & 5

So 2 things I learned—1) double check your work before you start, and 2) I needed to learn how to deal with errors as they occurred.

A third thing I sort of knew but hadn't thought about:placement. My machine, (all machines?) will place the design (by default) in the center of the hoop.

Another mistake—I didn't take notes as I changed the placement. For Font 2, I maxed out the placement to the top, (but what number was I north of center? I dunno. Mistake!)

When it came to making the lower case abc of font 2, I again just guessed... and the accender of the b overlapped the B. Still before this, I really had no idea what size the default alphabets were. So, while not perfect—I was learning.

At this point, I realized the alphabets were not going to be done in the same order as the manual—and went back to add 1 and 2—but 2 didn't fit. I wold have if I had planned ahead, but...

I plowed on. I was learning things—1) what the alphabets generally looked like, and the size, and 2) I needed to add a note book to my sewing room to keep track of the changes I was making, Guessing is OK for this sampler, which is a learning tool, but I would learn more if I kept notes!

Next I went to work on the Frames. I have a favorite denim jumper dress, that features 4 framed embroideries, that is getting old (20+year old!) I would like to replicate the design on a new dress, so frames are something I really want to learn.

I started with a pretty scrap of fabric, (left over from a dress lining) and pretty butterfly pattern. The next mistake was my insistence on using the mid weight stabilizer. It was too stiff for me to really get the fabric smooth with the stabilizer.

Between the alphabets work and the frame work, I re-read the instructions for “backing up” when a thread breaks.. but I still didn't master it, and the butterfly has a few errors.

2 examples of frames.  small frame has inset embroidery, large frame has an a single letter H that is not centeredAfter the second butterfly was completed, I selected the frame option, an sewed a single stitch frame around my design. (This was to be a cutting line for the embroidered patch .)

Next, I did a single stitch frame on my sampler. (this will help me place the embroidered patch onto the background denim.)

Displeased with the first effort of the embroidered patch, I made a second, and used a ligher weight stabilizer. This resulted in a much better embroider. (lesson learned: the right stabilizer makes a difference!)The second patch is not perfect, but better.

A bit of spray adhesive on the cut out patch, and a wider frame stitch (a simple satin stitch) and the results are a near success. I wanted to see how big a frame I could make, and made an other empty frame at the 10 mm max—I know from knitting that 10mm =about 4 inches. I thought I move the position to start low enough.. but—working free hand—I realized almost immediately—not enough. There are tools to help position embroideries, I just need to put them at hand (and not stored away as I continue to learm.

I am not an expert of frames (yet) but I feel the little bit of work (less than 2 hours, spread over 2 sessions) I have done making my sampler has taught me a lot. It has also given me a chance to make many mistakes! Glad the mistakes are on the learning sample, and not on any thing I value.

I will continue working on the this sampler, and I know I will make more mistakes, but I also know I will learn a lot, and it is worth every minute.

ebroidered lace on tulle, about 4 inches round. sown on cream felt
I also experimented with dong some lace embroidery... The design is one included with my machine, I layered some tulle, between some wash away stabilizer.  The design took almost a half hour to complete (all stitch time)  The tulle was lime green, the thread, the same giant spool that came as a bonus, the stabilizer is one of the ones I bought.  The plan is to secure it to  a felt backing and making it into a coaster (a coffee cup cozy.)

I know I need to learn more about placement (ie, working on designs that are not dead center in the hoop,) and more about about resolving issues caused by broken threads (top and bobbin) and more about stabilizers, (and which to use with different fabrics.)

When I get better at this, I have lots of “blanks” to practice with—Aprons, napkins, pillow slips, amd plush terry towels.  But that will be a while yet.. 

As I learn, I will continue to do some simple embroideries, (embroideries on scraps, that will turn into embroidered pockets.--a process that makes centering easy, and makes mistakes easier to work around)

Another part of my learning is making a list of ideas of things to embroider—I don't want to just do the same things over and over.... I want to experiment with embroidery on hems, and on collars and cuffs, personalized details for appliques, and for framed embroideries, and tote bags.

Eventually, embroidered quilts, and detailed personalized bed linens... I have a lot to learn, but I feel I am making a good, methodical start.






Wednesday, October 03, 2018

It's About Time


I have been feeling so lethargic-for so long. I don't write posts, because I have nothing to post about. But it's not really true. All summer, I have been whittling away some yarns—and I have reached completion.
Image of Sea Lettuce Scarf

First—a lovely blue blend of cotton and acrylic—Lion Brand's Shawl in a Ball. I turned it into a prettly little scarf—a version of Lucy Neatby's Sea Lettuce. A version because it is not quite her pattern, (which I have knit before) I was too lazy to look up the pattern proper, I just make shifted and stumbled through.  But the idea, and the basic design is Her's, not mine!

I love this little scarf .  At its core, it is just 36 inches long, and about 15 inches wide. The ruffled drop adds another 15 inches or so to the length—making is about 45 inches long. It is soft and warm, and will go well with any number of demin things. Pretty, but not to fancy for every day wear.  The color name is Healing Teal--but to me, it is shades of denim.  
I like this yarn so much, I am planning on making a design of my ow--(but in the same family as sea silk--(that is a scarf/shawl with ruffled edges.  I already have 2 more balls of this yarn in a silvery grey--(Om Opal)  2 balls because the next version will be bigger--more shawl like. (and will have a more arced shape.

Speaking of arcs..
Image of arced T shawl frontSecond—a Tilted T shawl. This is a Red Heart yarn, Unforgetable. It's a lot warmer than the little blue lettuce, & its 100% acrylic—Making it easy care (machine washable) . First off, it is double knit, so there are 2 layers through out. Second, it is a less organized pattern. I tend to like large rectangular shawl. I wear shawls when I am cold, (and I feel cold so much more often these days!) I want a shawl that covers my upper back, and my shoulders, and my arms. There are hundreds of pattern for light lacy shawl.. but I want more of blanket shawl!

Problem is, it is boring to knit large dense shawls!

I started with a simple scarf—about 14 inches wide. When it was long enough, it wasn't wide enough.
Image of back of Arced T shawl
So I picked up stitches, along the center of the length, and started down. Then I decided , I didn't pick up enough stitches, and added a stitch or two for a few rows.

The picked up stitches curved the scarf—and made the Top of the T into an arc. But it works for me.

It covers my neck and shoulders, and my upper back and wraps around my arms-- The back is not so long that I have to worry about sitting on it. It's simple and pretty and warm.. And while the days are still warm and sunny, evenings have become chilly-- So it is finished just in time.

Having finished those to projects, I am now once again working on my pretty pink cardigan--which will be a good match to both the bubble gum pink skirt and the claret skirts I made in the spring. But thinking about it, I can also wear it with black and grey, and other solids skirts.

Pink is not in the top ten list of favorite colors.. but I do like this yarn–It was bought (long ago!) on clearance, and several of the balls I got at below cost (they were tangled and a bit of mess. The store was discontinuing carrying the yarn (a fine kettle died alpaka!) So this will be a light weight, but warm sweater when it is done—All that is left are sleeves (and finishing!)

 I have not just been knitting. A little bit of hand sewing (more on that latter) and a little bit of cooking. Lots of reading too, (and still more books in the to be read pile!)

Image of a pink jar of Quince chutney
This weekend I made 1.5+ Qts of Chutney—Quince Chutney! Quince are not a common fruit, and even in my multi ethnic neighborhood, hard to find—Fresh date, fresh almonds (with their peach like fuzz), several varieties of figs can all be found locally (seasonally). Even several varieties of Persimmons, (not just Fuji's) but Quince? I got my quince (with permission!) as wind fall The Queens Botanical garden has a wild quince tree.

Quince are an odd fruit—Some compare their shape to a pear, but I think they are almost lemon shaped—or perhaps mango shaped. As for size, bigger than a big lemon, but not a big as a large mango (maybe about the size of small mango) Rounder than a mango, with a lovely gold tone, and sweet fruity smell.

The fruit is not edible raw. It is at once, rock hard (cutting the fruit was a real chore!) and yet spongy in texture. They turn pink (not brown) as they oxidize (and they did oxidize a bit.) It took longer to cut the fruit up than it did to cook them. (Well partly because I cooked the chutney in an Instant Pot)But seriously, it took over an hour to peal and dice about 2.5 pounds of fruit. By the end, by knife needed to be resharpened, too.  The pink color is re-enforced by the addition of cranberries--making the color a rosy red.  

I didn't properly can/preserve the chutney, so it needs to be keep in the refrigerator till its is used up. One small jar will be shared with the QBG employee to showed me the tree, and gave me permission to harvest the fruit.




Tuesday, July 24, 2018

More Fun with my Embroidery Machine


Still experiementing and learning. Embroidery with a machine is more like coloring than anything else—The design is a file (different machines use different formates) that you load into the embroidery machine, (in my case via a USB drive.)

My machine came with 160 pre-loaded designs— Plus it came with a (computer) CD with 3000 more designs. The internet is a source for more designs—there are some free designs, and some that cost a $1, and lots more that cost more... I want to buy hundreds—but..I am trying to limit myself to designs I want RIGHT now....

I have already bought a sampler of stablizers, there are several different kinds, and weights) and sampler (63 colors) of threads—I have a few more colors of thread--(almost 30)--some I bought to use with my standard machine (and decorative stitches) some that came as a bonus with purchase (primary colors and white and black) some that I have found in clearance bins...I plan to take a course (in the fall) but for now, I am just playing--and have more than enough thread and stablizer.  

One “issue” is: every company has a different numbering system..White and black tend to be simple numbers, (white-100 or 001) and the same goes with black (900 or 999) and all the other colors? Every company has its own numbering system—and the names vary too—one compnies light teal is another companies dr turquoise—There are chart showing the color names/color numbers across MOST of the brands...but I haven't printed them out..so I am often blind to what color to use. 

For a perfect design, you should plan ahead and make sure you have the right color/shade—Or you can be like me, and 'wing it'---

I know that if I buy Brother Brand designs (a bit pricey at $6 (average price) and Brother threads, my machine with give a color name (white) and a color number (100) and I will be able to make a perfect duplicate of the design I see.

An other brand, (no name) costs $1 a pattern—and it just gives a color name (and these can vary with different brands of threads). These designs almost demand a scrap or sample embroidery to figure out what color is what--

So here is one of my experiments.. This design called for 18 colors... and I made the wrong choices for some of these colors.. (the blue in the cloth being sewn is way to dark--(even though the thread I uses was labeled Lt Blue— the color called for, what I really needed was Very Light Blue.

I made a mistake too, and missed one color (Do you see the mistake? No? —look again—there are no straight pins in the pin cushion) I plan to make this design again, (and I will correct the colors!) and make it into a framed embroidery for my sewing room I'll add a bit of text (My Sewing Room ) to the design.  Framed it will be about 5 X 7 the actual embroidery is about 4.5 x 5 and it took an hour to complete.  A good deal of time was just threading and re-threading the machine with the different colors. 

Meanwhile, here are some images of the dresses I made last month—I messed up the pocket placement on the red trimmed black dress.. and I added an embroirded patch on the pocket of the sailor dress.

Both dresses are the same pattern, just different collars and trim to make them appear different.  Simple changes make big differences.


Next week I will be teaching at the NYPL—a community quilting project. I will be teaching the actual quilting part—for the past month, other have been teaching piecing and applique techniques for the blocks-- This has inspired me to finish (all done but for binding!) a quilt I started 20 + years ago.

More on the quilt in my next post.

Saturday, April 07, 2018


Skirt? Done!

Even the hand sewing—that is the button and skirt hook and eye, and the final pressing.

As for the vest-- started, and about half way done. All the edges—and there are a lot of them, have been over sewn.And the pieces have been somewhat sewn together. All the pieces of the outside have been sewn, and ironed-so I have a shell (the out side) of the solid purple, and a “lining” of the print fabric sew together, too.

There is more to be done before I sew the out side to the inside. First, I want to add some pockets—for the solid purple, there will be two lower pockets on the outside, for the print, there is going to be a breast pocket The solid side will also have some ties—they will be partially sew down, and will have buttons and buttonholes, to make a flatter feature—all the better for a reversible garment.


The pockets are prepped, the pieces have been ironed, and the placement marked. All ready to be sewn.

The finlly sewing will be sewing the outside to the inside, and then hand finishing the side e seams. The design calls for the side seams to be left unsewn, (to turn the vest right side out). And then the side seam is partially sewn, (by machine) and then finished with hand sewing. Then there are the are buttonholes to sew too, and buttons-- Both sides of the vest front get buttonholes, and buttons. A few hour of work--but the vest should be done by mid week. 

Most often, I make the vest with the front facing done in the same fabric as the out side, but I didn't have enough fabric for that, so the whole of the vest is lined in the lining fabric. The only thing I need to do to have a reversible vest is to work on the front (button) closures. It makes sensee to make the effort. It will require some delicate hand sewing (at the side seam) —but I think it will be worth it. Especially since I am “ahead” of schedule.

a bright print.
the bright print paired with some blue
I checked the closest fabric store to see if they had any of the lining fabric (no) but fell into a hole—and found a beautiful bright multi color  print (@ 50% off!) The print, on a white background, has blue, pink and purple. I have enough, with careful planning, to make a dress and a vest. The dress, with likely have a front facing and collar cut from a matching solid, I'm thinking the dark olive green—I like this color, and it is one that is particularly becoming. I like the idea of a contrasting front facing and collar, partly for a bit of variety, and partly to tone down the print, A lot of my “uniform” pieces are, or could be considered somewhat conservative—but I have a wild and crazy streak—and this print reflects that.

print with matching solids
A vest of this fabric will be a good “go with” for last years blue skirt (and vest), and it will go with last months bright pink skirt, and with the newly completed purple skirt, and the prussian blue skirt I am planning on making. (Part of fabric I plan to cut in May.) So I can go monochrome with a few skirt and vest set, (blue, purple) or pair this crazy print with the bright pink skirt, (and later) with the prussian blue skirt. But that is not all--the dress? It can be toned down by even more popping on any of the solid vests—A real case of separated working together.  

The floral print isn't the only thing I found irriesistable--a phychedelic, paisley print jumped out and grabbed me too. —It, too, will be toned down by pairing it with a solid. It has a black background,  I have a few black skirts (besides the one that is planned for later this season)--the print will go with all of them-- But it would go with with a lot of different solid colors in the print-- (yellow, turquoise, blue, orange, and lime green.) All of these colors are already in my wardrobe except for the lime green, I own nothing in lime green—I don't even own a single piece of lime green fabric, or for that matter, a spool of thread in lime green—but things could change.. A lime green T shirt (when those summer sales of 4 for $10 T-shirts come round) could be added to a rainbow collection. But even if I don't get anything in lime green, this wild and crazy print will still be fun. I still haven't decided which color to pair with the print—I like all of them! I might use this print, and an assortment of the solids to trim out some T-shirts, too. Both prints are bright fun things to add to my collection of solids.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

At the 11th Hour,



Image of buttons on skirt
Of the last day of March, I sewed on the last button—and now the claret skirt is done, too. So March ends with a new shirt dress, and 2 new skirts. About half the things I cut in the beginning the month, sewn up! Well not really half the things, but the vests are so much less work than the dress, it really is about half the work.

I added a small coin pocket to the claret skirt—It's big enough to hold a charge card (or membership card, or drivers licence, or the like) Just a little detail/change to the basic pattern. As are the inset side seam pockets—but then I always add side seam pockets, and they hardly count.

waist band coin pocket
It has started off, the first 3 days, as an unseasonable April, and I have started to work on the deep purple—a matching skirt and vest. First thing I did was to cut the lining for the vest –Everything else had been cut—and I got a head start by ironing the interfacing onto the skirt waist band, and filling to bobbins, on Saturday.

Since then, all the edges have been finished, and the skirt assembled. Right now, all that remains to be done is the waist band and hem.

 The vest(s) , even though they are fully lined (or perhap, because they are fully lined) work up quickly. The neat little pockets will take the most time, and I have been adding them to so many vest, even they have gotten to be quick work.

print and color dots
I am sorry now that I didn't buy more of the lining fabric—the more I see and work with it, the more I like it. I might make a run to fabric store and see if there is any more. The print goes great with the purple—but there isn't any purple in the print. Its made of dark navy, bright pink, light blue (a sort of periwinkle blue) and medium turquoise. It would make a great top—to go with the purple skirt and vest set, and with the last month's pink skirt, and with all the different bits of turquoise in my wardrobe.  It would go well with my blue skirt and vest too (also from last year).

After the purple set is sewn up, next will be the grey vest, and finally the print vest. Then all the the things I cut back in the beginng of March will have been sewn up. I expect to have all 3 vests finished up before the end of April.
Print liner and 3 go with solids

The next “big cut up”, which (likely) won't be till sometimes in May, will include a triple set of black set. Starting with a black coat dress. The same basic uniform coat dress, this time trimmed with red piping--on the sleeves, on the front, on the yoke and collar. The inside of the yoke will be lined in red cotton, and there will be red lined kick pleats on the side seam, little flashes of red every where. The same basic coat dress, just a yards and yards of red piping to add a different detail--making it the same, but different.  I thought about cutting miles of bias, and making my own red piping—but in the end, I bought ready made piping.

The other 2 pieces of the set, just a simple remake of a skirt and vest set that are the other "uniform" pieces. . I think the skirt in this set will be a remake of the claret skirt (ie: a button down the front gored skirt)—just because, well because I have quite a number of the 6 gore version. Likely the vest will have a red lining-the same red used for the dress. I might even change the skirt to add a red facing to the front of the skirt (instead of the self facing the pattern calls for. Another use of the red lining. 

I also plan to cut the prussian blue fabric cut—another skirt—and a favorite color. And maybe a navy (in more ways than one!) version of the coat dress—That would be 2 more dresses, 2 more skirts, and a vest—for a total of 3 dresses, 5 skirts, and 4 vests, this spring. Lots of new pieces, and lots of new colors added to my wardrobe.  This is a bit more of counting my chickens before they are hatched, but....

All this will make a small dent in my fabric stash, and a big boost to wardrobe. It leaves a piece of yellow, for a skirt and matching vest in the same yellow (as this years shirt dress) There is also a coordinating piece of plaid (yellow/red/blue/white) to be worked on later(an other vest) - And mounds of denim, and piece of yellow twill for a jumper, and some pieces of linen/rayon (purple, blue and teal) and the striped fabric I used for the girls dresses last year, and a piece of putty twill, and, and, and....

And if I do find more of the pretty lining fabric, well a top to be made!



Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Days Go By


Tuesday:

Every last detail of both the pink skirt and yellow shirt dress have been completed Both are hanging up in my closet, awaiting there debuts.

The claret skirt got started on Tuesday—edges finished with an over-lock stitch, interfacing ironed on, and even some sewing done. By the time I was done with sewing for the day, the pieces (2 front, pieces, one back, and a waist) had been sewn, but not assembled. I went through 2 bobbins of thread!

I experimented with doing some machine embroider on the back patch pockets—and I didn't like the look—so there is only one back patch pocket—the experiment was discarded.

Wednesday morning, skirt fronts got sewn to the skirt back with all the little details for the set in pockets completed, too. All the seam were pressed, and threads were trimmed. I marked out the button holes for later. I plan to  added an extra buttonhole/button on the center front—the placement was just a little short of what I prefer. There will be an extra button on the waist band, too—for sure.

Later in the day came the hem. I decided to go with a narrow rolled hem—I want this skirt a bit longer. Most often, I like my skirts just below knee length—and rarely make a mid calf length—And rarer still, above the knee. The narrow rolled hem will make this skirt just an inch longer than average—Not much at all. This is a heavy weight fall/winter skirt—a little bit of extra length is nice on a cold weather skirt.

I will extended the waist band a little past center front, too, to fit two button/buttonholes. I am in the practice of cutting my waist bands 3 or 4 inches longer than required—when I am adding side seam pockets, and using the inside pocket as a placket (instead of adding a zipper) so my waist bands need some extra length--to accommadate. Habits (like cutting a few extra inches of waist band) die hard. I have some extra waist band length, extending the waist band an inch on both sides of the center front will be easy. The trimmed excess will become my scrap material for a practice buttonhole. Right now, the waist band is pinned, but not even basted

Saturdays work will start with the waist band, and then will be all the buttonholes and the hand finishing...

This skirt likely won't be worn this spring—it is a really heavy gros grain (yes, like the ribbon) fabric, and will only be worn if April like March, continues to be an extension of winter. Snow is not unknown in April (the last recorded day of frost isn't till April 17th!) I made it now, because, well it's turn was up. I have some more summery/spring things in my queue—a piece of sky blue, and some more yellow—but I wanted to get this made—when I run out of steam in the fall, I will have this skirt waiting for me.

Button holes marked with shoes.
I even have a pair of shoes (well slip on sneakers) that will go  with this skirt, and the pink skirt, and even with the dark purple skirts (next months first project). I actually bought these last year, about the same time that I bought the fabric-Another reason this fall/skirt is part of my springtime sewing. 

Not as good a match--but....
I am excited by my progress—When I upgraded to new hangers, I cleaned out some skirts that I really just didn't wear—leaving room for new stuff. One dress (thread bare, but I really liked it!) was more than 25 years old. The advantage of being a clothes horse, is: you have so many clothes, each piece only gets worn a few times a year—so pieces last for ever. I still have other pieces that date back the early 1990's--they too are beginning to look worn out, and will soon find their way into the trash bin.That old dress, that I really liked? It will be cut apart, and turned into a pattern—and be resurrected in a new color. Between this year and last, I have added (and plan to add more) my wardrobe—but less talked about is how many pieces have been culled.