Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Portrait in Innocence

Asia....French Braids

by Monica Roberts

used with permission

Is this not gorgeous? For me is just exemplifies this wonderful age of innocence that children have. I can't tell what she is studying in her hands, but her concentration is to the exclusion of all around her. Looking at this I can hear her soft breathing and see those tiny baby hairs glistening on her neck; all in her beautifully smocked dress. Doesn't it make you want to smock the back of the next dress as well as the front? I pray for a lifetime of blessed moments like this for every child. If we could only keep them this little.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Your heart will sing!

Originally uploaded by Corset Laced Mannequins

Is this not just gorgeous? I can hear angels sing. I wonder if I could make new threads for the old Ann Taylor mannequin that lives in my sewing room.

She has a dress on her right now that my youngest daughter made, but normally she's nekkid. I bet she would be gorgeous in some really pretty vintage type floral like the mannequin from Corset Laced.

Who am I kidding? I have baby clothes to make, I don't have time to be playing with no mannequin!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Alleluia, how the people cheer
And palm leaves rustle as the king draws near.
John Beavis

As we enter this most holy of weeks, I pray that the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ resound within us all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just a sweet stitch

 First posted on photobucket

No I didn't smock this, I found the picture on photobucket. I think it was made for a doll, but it is just so sweet. Since I have nothing to show for my time, I thought I would show someone else's time.

And you can't imagine the things that come up when you Google "smocking."

I found a smocked vest for a dog. I just couldn't show it though. My sensibilities wouldn't allow it. Everyone uses their talents differently.

You get lots of hits for smoking, as if Google thinks you can't spell.

Google also found this little number. My husband only WISHES smocking looked like this at our house!

If a project goes wrong, you can have desert! Years ago there used to be a book that came up on ebay frequently about smocking on cakes.

And if you really want to add a creative flair to your smocking, combine it with this little jewel. Just think of the color combinations you would come up with. If I hadn't graduated from high school in the mid 70's, I might not know what this was. But Google thought this was smocking too.

It does amaze me at some of the beautiful things that are out there, I am equally amazed at some of the "unfortunate" samples of the art as well. As I said earlier, everyone has a different take on what is beautiful to them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stitch like a duck

Originally uploaded by sewclever

Isn't she cute. I wonder what she is making. That is some technique she has with that bill there. I could try that next time I guess.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming

To talk about blue wash out markers! I had several emails before 10 am this morning about blue wash out markers. I talked about blue wash out markers here, but we will revisit the topic.

I use the Clover Water Soluble Marker-Fine Point. I am able to find them at my local Hancock's Fabrics, in the QUILTING section. I have also found them online at createforless.com I am not affiliated with either, yadda yadda.

Yes I DO press over it, often multiple times with a hot iron and steam. I have not had any problem with the blue marker not coming out. This has been MY experience. A few things to keep in mind.
  • You can't leave the blue markings on a project for multiple YEARS, and expect it not to have reacted with the fabric. If you are putting a project away to return to after your grandchildren are grown, wash out the marks first. If you are going to work on it in the coming weeks/months, you should be fine.
  • I rinse my project THOROUGHLY before any soap touches it. The way I describe this to people is; rinse, rinse, rinse it thoroughly under cold running water. When you are sure it is rinsed well......rinse it again. 

  • Then I wash the project. I often use Delicare to wash my projects in the bathroom sink. Smells great and I like the fact that it is pink. I have simple needs. It is available at my local grocery store or online.
  • NEVER use Oxi-Clean, per Gail Doane's instructions. Her experience has been that Oxi-Clean will set the marker and turn it brown.
Why don't I use pencil? Pencil is evil. Pure and simple. I used pencil on this christening gown, shown in this post.  After I spent over 100 hours embroidering this gown, I spent a WEEK trying to get the pencil out. I was sick over it.

Did I prepare my fabric you ask? Yes I did. I pressed and starched my fabric multiple times to lay down a protective layer of starch over the fabric. I used a very light touch when tracing my complex design. That has been the conventional wisdom in the past. It did not work. When you stitch a MULTI-layered, padded satin stitch monogram over pencil, it is NEVER coming out! Thankfully, the baby's mother didn't notice it. Of course, I can see it a mile away. And let it get wet! It might as well be a billboard.

So blue marker it is. The only glitch I have had using a blue marker is tracing an embroidery design through the printed pattern paper. I was too heavy handed with the tracing and allowed too much ink from the blue pen to saturate the pattern. It transferred the ink from the pattern to my fabric underneath. Luckily, I was able to cover it with the embroidery and no one was the wiser. My advice is to trace your design either onto tracing paper or lightweight interfacing first or to place your pattern UNDER your fabric to trace directly onto the fabric from the pattern.

And as always, you do not need to take my word for gospel. This is what works for me. If in doubt, test the product in your own home, with your own tap water and your own iron. That is the only way to know for sure and put your mind at ease.

So that is my take on using a blue wash out marker. I love getting questions because it means you are reading and wanting to learn and try for yourself. So keep those questions coming.

We now return to thinking of spring.

A thought

The day the Lord created hope was probably 
the same day he created Spring.  
~Bern Williams

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coming along

Just another peek. I love this fabric. It seems to get softer the more you handle it.

The dress is constructed, save the sleeves. I will do that today. A commenter asked the other day when discussing French seams about setting in sleeves. Yes, you can do the French seams with gathered fabric to set a sleeve in "in the round." I set in almost all sleeves in the round. That is what is most comfortable I think.

After I set in the sleeves, it is trim the neck with entredeux and lace, attach the lace edging to the hem and sleeves, then buttons and buttonholes. Almost there. It needs a slip too.

I have a couple of quick things I want to do, then it is onto the christening gown.

Can I even tell you how crazy those few granitos on the right are driving me? It has been everything in me so far not to pick them out and redo them. It will depend on how "glaring" they are to me when the dress is finished.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Springtime in ribbon

Originally uploaded by Sophie Michel

Isn't this sampler beautiful? I think the peach irises and apple tree are my favorite parts. Just a hint of pretty for your Tuesday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

French Seams with gathers

Here is the follow up to the straight French seams. This seam is handling gathered fabric such as used in setting in a puff sleeve, ruffle or skirt. The main principles are the same. Use a 3/8" seam allowance. It is a two part seam with the first pass being stitched with wrong sides together, second pass right sides together. The first pass uses a zig-zag stitch with a 2.1 width and .9 length. Second pass a straight stitch run right along the edge that is formed by the first pass. To see these basic principles in pictures go here. And as always, in any post, click on the pictures to enlarge them.

The set up on the fabric is the same, right sides of the fabric marked with an R. The 3/8" and 1/4" seam allowances are marked with a water soluble blue marking pen and a C Thru ruler.

To gather my fabric, I run three rows of gathering stitches. Since this is a fine batiste, I don't use the "basting stitch" button on my machine, I use a stitch length of 3. This is much smaller stitch than some are used to using. This is a fine fabric, this will give small fine gathers instead of honkering gathers. If I was gathering velvet I would use a longer stitch. Everything in proportion.

I use three rows of gathering stitches for more control. You will have nicer, more even gathers this way. I stitched these rows at a scant 3/8", a scant 1/4" and 1/8" in my seam allowances. If I am lucky I won't run over the gathering stitches too badly when I sew the seam and I will be able to remove them later.

Here I have pulled up my gathers so that my fabric fits the shorter piece. See how nice and straight my gathers are? Three rows of gathering stitches does that. Again, my fabric is wrong sides together.

My first pass (green thread) using my zig zag stitch. No this is not an Irish flag, I am using different color threads so you can see which stitch is which.

Set your stitches by pressing the seam as it was sewn. I am only pressing the seam allowance. I don't want to press the gathers down. Why re iron the wrinkles out of the fabric when I am done?

Take a deep breath, its time to trim that seam allowance. This is from the back. It is easier to see my zig-zag stitches on the flat side. No they aren't green because I was too lazy to change the bobbin as well as the top. Shoot me!

Trim right up to those zig zag stitches.

Trimmed seam from the gathered side.

Turn your pieces right sides together and press. Being careful to make sure your seam is at the top of this fold and I pressed it with the nose of my iron to save myself those set in wrinkles.

This is an extra step I don't do when I make a flat French seam. I hand baste (the red thread) the seam instead of pinning it. Why? More control! It takes all of 30 seconds and I can make sure that my gathers are straight and out of the way. Nothing ticks me off more, than to turn it right side out and see all of the "caught" gathers. Grr. So try this, it works great.

This is where my bamboo skewer is priceless. It is hard to see that first pass of the seam through those gathers. So I really depend on the gulley made by the skewer this time. Again refer to the first post about French seams to see this more clearly.

Another trick to help control this second seam, or any seam, is I use my left hand to act as a tiny "hoop" by applying opposing pressure on the fabric to hold it taught. I am not pulling  as much as keeping it straight with that steady opposing pressure. Imagine as you are pressing the fabric flat to the machine bed that you are also spreading your thumb and forefinger gently apart. I hope that makes sense. Hard to show the action in a still picture.

While doing this action I use my right hand to use my bamboo skewer. Take my word for it, I couldn't hold the camera, the fabric AND the skewer. There is a limit to even my talents! :)

Second pass of the French seam. Snugged right up next to that first zig zag that in now encased in the seam on the 3/8" seam allowance.

This is how it looks from the flat side. Remove the hand basting and the gathering threads. Sometimes we have a tendency to want to leave the gathering threads in there. Especially if we have used a matching thread, thinking it won't show. No it won't, but removing them will give you a softer seam. You don't need all of that extra thread inside the seam allowance.

Again press the seam as it was sewn, then open the seam, press to one side from the wrong side and then from the right side. 

Finished seam to gathered fabric. Doesn't that look great? Now this is more gathered than a sleeve head would be simply because I cut two scraps with one being twice as long as the other.

French seams with gathered fabric are not limited to just fine batiste either. This is a sleeve set into a garment with a French seam that has been made from line pique. The yoke is also lined. So that is three layers of pique fabric in that French seam to gathered fabric.

This is another shot of the same sleeve using the pique. The gathers are there.

And right side out. So get to French seaming with confidence. Hope this has helped.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

French Seams-A Tutorial

French seams are something I get several emails about. For some reason a French seam is something that is intimidating for some sewists. They don't need to be. Like many techniques from sword swallowing to basting, everything is better with practice. If you are not happy with a technique, then try to be more careful each time you try it until you get the results you want. Let me know how that sword swallowing goes.

Here is a French seam in 13 pictures or less. (As always, click on the pictures to enlarge.) To begin with I will demonstrate this on a scrap of batiste found languishing on my sewing machine table and glaring orange thread. The fugly thread is so you can see what I am doing. This is the technique I learned from Lyn Weeks and is demonstrated in her book "Precise and Professional."

This French seam is a flat seam, so I have starched my fabric. (If stitching a French seam using a gathered fabric, I do not starch the fabric that will be gathered.) I have marked the right side of the batiste with a blue marker and will mark my seam allowance using this C-Thru ruler. I buy these rulers almost by the gross. (Okay that is an exaggeration, but I do buy them 3 and 4 at a time. I can never find one when I need it. When I die, my girls are going to wonder if I was dealing C-Thru rulers on the black market.)

I use a 3/8" seam allowance for almost all of my French seams. I find I have more control both in hand and on the machine.

NOTE: If your pattern does not call for a 3/8" seam allowance, alter your pattern before cutting.

I mark both the 3/8" and the 1/4" seam allowances. Make it a habit to mark both seams until you are familiar with your machine. I still mark mine most times. I find it quicker to mark than rip out.

I will stitch the first pass on the 1/4" mark with a zig zag stitch. My machine settings are 2.1width and 0.9 length.

With wrong sides of the fabric together, using a zig zag foot on my machine, I begin stitching making sure that the left hand swing of the zig-zag hits right on that 1/4" mark. Stitch the seam.

This is my first pass. Again this is wrong sides together.

Set your zig zag seam with the iron, or as Lyn calls it, meld your stitches. This helps your stitches sink down into the fabric.

The next step is scary, I trim right up to those zig zag stitches. I use these black Dovo scissors (featured in this post) to do this trimming. They have a serrated blade and have very good control when trying to trim a narrow seam allowance on wispy fabric. If you will carefully cut with a light, steady pressure, it feels like you are cutting perforated paper as your scissors snip into the holes made by the right swing of the zig-zag stitch.

First pass of a French seam, trimmed. Close!

Next press this seam to one side from both the wrong side and the right side.

Now fold your seam, right sides together. This is the folded edge. You want to make sure the edge of that first seam is at the top of your fold. Otherwise you get a pleat in your finished seam allowance. That is not the look you are going for, and it will also take up more fabric into your seam allowance. Resulting in a seam that could be more than 3/8". Do this enough times and you can alter the fit of your finished garment.

I have changed to my edge joining foot and picked up my trusty bamboo skewer. If you enlarge the picture you can see that my skewer is marking a little gulley in my fabric right on that blue 3/8" line and is skimming right along side the left edge of those previous zig-zag stitches. This allows my blade on the edge joining foot to sew right in that little gulley. Thus making a tiny neat seam.

Second pass of the French seam. As you can see the first run of stitches are encased inside the finished seam. Making a strong, neat seam. Press this seam flat as it was sewn to set your stitches.

Open the fabric, press to one side on the wrong side first.

Then press on the right side. Tidy, tiny seam every time and not a fuzzie to be seen!

Don't let a French seam scare you off!   

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring is here!

At least on the calendar. Gorgeous day yesterday, mild, blue skies, sunny. Today? Grey, drippy and cold. The promise is there though. Time to begin thinking about flower beds and uncovering the yard from winter debris. There is such promise in spring time. Almost more so than New Year's. I think New Year's should be in the spring. It would make more sense to me.  As the ground gives way to rebirth, so would the calendar. Like many things in life, I was not consulted.

Back to the sewing room......

more burpcloths! I think I may have the applique thing down. Again the fabrics are from stash and the ribbons are little prizes. I often order fabrics and they will often come wrapped as a gift almost. Tied with ribbon. I save the ribbon and have found good uses for some of them here.

A friendly ladybug trimmed with gingham ribbon and a polka dot fabric left over from a redwork quilt. She looks friendly don't you think?

Triple appliques!! Watch me run with something. Pretend like you don't notice that the bird fabric for the undermost applique is sideways. Trimmed with some more of that poka dot grosgrain and a fat quarter of cute bird fabric.

Every princess needs a crown. This one represents her momma's sorority. Trimmed with plaid ribbon and a lined pique fabric.

A faithful reader asked for the source of the baby carriage design in a previous post. It is from an OESD disk. I can't find it online anywhere to point you in the right direction. I bought it several months ago from a local vendor. You go into the store and can choose a variety of designs for them to load onto a CD. That is all the info I have on it.  Sorry.

Hope spring is arriving in your world even if in little ways. Take notice of the tiny leaf buds on the trees or the hint of green struggling to break free under the leaves of last fall. 
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