Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Little Gift, A Little Crewelty, and A Surprise

I have been so overwhelmed with all the lovely responses to my blog posts as well as the new followers. So as a little thank you, I thought I would give all of you a pattern to this napkin ring. Now you would think this would have been easy, but not as easy as I thought. My nephew came over last night and showed me how to make a PDF file. I'd never made one. The good news about that was that we were successful and I learned something new. The bad news was that I found out that a PDF file cannot be attached to this blog. So, since there's always more than one way to do anything, we had to think of another way to get the file to any of you who might like to have it. We came up with the "old fashioned" way, email. If you would like the pattern to this napkin ring, email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com and I will be happy to send out a copy.
The napkin ring adds a nice touch to a place setting. They're quick and inexpensive to make and they also make a great little hostess gift.

There are just 3 pieces to the pattern, the ring portion, the leaves, and the petals.

The ring portion looks like a dog bone. The rounded pieces at each end are also a part of the flower section.
To put everything together, fold the napkin ring portion in half. Pinch together the rounded ends and slide the leaf portion over the pinched portion.

Then slide the petal piece over the pinched portion.

Arrange the petals as you would like.

When you have a pretty holiday table, you need a pretty holiday outfit. I could wear the jacket at other times during the year, but it just seems a little more special to save it for the holidays.

This jacket is made from a wool double knit.
The entire jacket is embroidered in crewel work. The yarn is wool.

The buttons are glass, a little heavy, but I love the way they look and I also like how they lay agaist the wool.

A view of the sleeve.

The jacket is not lined. I rather like that you can see that it was actually done by hand.

And now for my little surprise. I am finally just about ready to put my patterns on the market. In the beginning they will be sold through either me directly or through Etsy. The jacket that I have just shared with you will also be in my pattern line. I plan to have the first patterns out right after the first of the year. I'm so excited. The first pattern will be a great little jacket. I will be showing that to you soon.
So from my little family to yours, have a lovely holiday season.

Carl, Rhonda, Gracie and Little Bit!
Check out the collars on the dogs. Not only are they red and white, they have bells attached. I call them the Jingle Jangle Girls. I'm so cruel.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Green Seamstress

There's an old country song that says, "I was country when country wasn't cool." If you're a seamstress, you were "green" when green wasn't cool. Generations of women have saved their scraps because something could surely be done with them.
The scarf that I am posting tonight was made from scraps that I had left over from a wedding gown that I made. The fabric is a burnout velvet, a bear to work with. I find that if I hand baste, everything will go smoothly. It's definantly not a fabric that should be used if you want to quickly put a garment together.
After I finished the dress, I found that I had pieces that would work well into 4 rectangular pieces. I came across a Threads magazine article that is probably 10 years old. The article was all about beading and doing the fringe that you see below. But I had pieces that somehow had to be pieced together. I came across another Threads article on hand stitches which gave me the idea to connect the pieces with a fagoting stitch, but do it in beads and make the fagoting larger.
I was given a necklace and a strand of the pearls had broken. There were so many strands that one less didn't matter so rather than fix the necklace I saved the beads. They worked well with this project.
Everything about the scarf is delicate from the velvet to the bead work. The scarf is lined with a matching chiffon so the scarf continues to have a very light and airy feel.
Now who knew that being green could be so beautiful?

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Desperate At Midnight

I love vintage patterns and I have quite a collection. They provide a great source of inspiration, beautiful lines and great fit.
The sewing group that I belong to here in Chicago, The Haute Couture Club, had a group project a couple of years ago using the plaid wool fabric below. We could do anything that we wished, a garment, an accessory, it didn't matter. I had bought a yard and a half, so I was a little limited. I came across this pattern and knew that it would work. I left off the pockets as I felt that they would be just too much. The plaid is quite strong, so to give it a little interest, I used some velvet piping that I had to trim the neckline, front opening seams and the edge of the sleeves. The sleeves seemed to just end, so to give them some interest, I added the ruffle.

Now as fate would have it, I didn't start on the jacket until the day before I was to wear it. We were having our Christmas party the following day and we were to wear our plaid garments. Since I was president, I felt that I should lead by example, so I needed to get the jacket finished. Everything went smoothly until it came to the buttons. Even with my large collection of buttons, nothing was just right. By this time, it was well into the evening, stores were closed. What to do, what to do? I came across some piping that I had braided together, an epiphany! The colors were perfect, red, black and white. I decided to tie the braids into chinese knots to make my buttons. Now chinese knots take quite a bit of length, more than I realized as I began to tie the braid into buttons. At this point I had four buttons, but I needed six. The reason I had the braided piping was I had used it as straps on a summer dress. So what do you do at midnight when you're desperate? You go and cut the straps off the summer dress. I just love how the buttons look on the jacket. I couldn't have planned it better. Besides, I wouldn't be wearing the summer dress for quite a while and I could always make more straps.

Now the final part of the story. I had a beautiful piece of black embroidered chiffon that would look great as a skirt with this jacket. All I had to do was cut the piece in half, sew the two halves together, put in an elastic waistband and finish the edge for the hem. Very easy, very fast. In fact I didn't even have to finish the seam edges as the selvage was so nice that when I sewed the seams together, it actually looked like a french seam. The next morning I threw the skirt in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet in order to get out some of the static. I had not had a lot of sleep the night before and was in a bit of a hurry as I dressed. It wasn't until that evening when I got back home that I realized that I had worn my skirt wrong side out the entire day!
Moral of the story; make sure your garments look as good on the inside as they do on the outside.

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Fairy Godmothers Do Exist

Only two days ago I promised myself that I would post a blog everyday this week. I'm only two days into the week and I'm already behind. But, I am going to make up for it today and do two posts.
As I opened the blog this morning, I saw that I have a new follower. I feel so honored. Welcome!! I hope that you will enjoy my posts.

In October of 2009, I had the honor of meeting Judith Neukam of Threads magazine. She is such a lovely person. I helped judge a contest that was sponsored by Threads for the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. The garments that we chose as the finalists were spectacular. You can see the garments in the April/May 2010 issue of Threads. We were supposed to have a dress form to put the garments on. We didn't have one so I ended up being the model as well as a judge (how lucky does one get!). I think that because we were able to see the garments on a real body, we were able to see how they moved as well as how they fit. There was one garment that didn't look like anything on the hanger, but when I put it on, I didn't want to give it back. At the end of the day, Judy noticed the top that I was wearing and asked if I would be interested in doing an article for Threads. I was shocked, but so happy. Of course, of course I would love the opportunity!!!!! Months went by and then last June I received an email message from Judy. She said that they would like to put my top in the Dec./Jan. issue. I just couldn't believe what I was reading, she really wanted me. How exciting. So then the work began. It's a rather difficult task to explain how to do something that is very technical. Since I've never done anything like this before, I wasn't sure what they would need. I decided to send one top that was finished and another that was in progress along with my pattern. The instructions I emailed along with my own pictures of the top on my fitting form.

During the process, I received a message from Judy that they would also like to include me on the Contributor's Page. I sent in a few pictures. I had a difficult time getting a picture that would fit the format that they needed. For any of you who have read my blog, you know that I am not a photograper. If I do take a good picture, it is purely by accident.

The question they asked was, "What was the best sewing gift you ever received?" That was easy for me. When I was 15, my mother gave me a pattern along with fabric to make the outfit. When I opened the present and saw the fabric, I couldn't believe my eyes, the fabric was exactly the same fabric that was on the pattern envelope. I am working on writing a piece about this experience. Once I've finished, I'll post it, so stay tuned.

The dog that is pictured with me is not my dog. She is a rescue dog that I had the opportunity to initially rescue. Once she was in Chicago, the Illinois Birddog Rescue found out that she tested positive for Lyme Disease. She was put on medication. This was one story that I got to see from beginning to end. I took her to her new adopted family in Columbus, Ohio. Her name is Libbie and she owns a piece of my heart. I always say a prayer over each dog I rescue. They've been given a chance and I pray that they will change a life the way my dogs have changed mine.

I think it was in October that I received another email from Judy and attached was the article. I couldn't believe my eyes, so beautiful. The layout was so much more than I ever expected.
If you receive emails from Threads magazine, I'm sure you have seen that Judy has been working on a series called, Teach Yourself To Sew. I've been following along since the beginning. I have a passion for people learning to sew. For those who don't sew, they just don't know what they are missing. Sewing can open your world to so many new and incredible possibilities. The series is now a new magazine. Now, as if things weren't mind boggling enough for me, Judy asked if she could put my picture in the new magazine along with a short paragraph about myself. When I received the magazine, the picture was huge. WOW! Funny thing about this photo, this was the beginning of the worst flight I've ever had. I picked up 6 puppies in Branson, MO. The turbulance was the worst I've ever experienced. I bounced all over the sky for 3 1/2 hours on my way back to Chicago. The puppies did everything in the crates, but they didn't do anything that I didn't feel like doing. I felt so sorry for them. Hopefully they are now running happily in the fields of Wisconsin and living in loving homes.

So, fairy godmothers do exist. The entire experience has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Friends have been so happy for me. Friends who don't sew have sought out and purchased the magazine. Such a lovely way to end the year.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Judy Neukam and everyone at Threads.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celtic Dreams

In my last post I wrote about the fact that I post more blogs about my flying than I do the actual creative things I do. I am trying to do a better job of getting my pictures posted. This next week, I have a goal to post something each and every day. It's a goal, I'll do my best.
This past week I finished up a skirt I had started a couple of months ago. When I initially designed this skirt, I had something else in mind, but I made a mistake when I cut the fabric. Something I learned a long time ago is that most mistakes can be saved, somehow. In the end, my mistake created something I liked so much more. In fact, I like the skirt so much, I decided to recreate it in the red wool shown here. The yoke of the skirt is a normal yoke. Attached to it are eight panels. Each panel forms a box pleat at the yoke.

The hemline is where it gets interesting. I cut the hemline of each pleat on an angle. The angle is sewn and then turned up and tacked. By doing this, the skirt is instantly hemmed!
The top I have on in the first picture is a top I posted in a blog a while back. This top is also in this month's edition of Threads magazine. I will write more about this tomorrow. I bought the fabric for the top at the Needle Shop here in Chicago. It's a great piece of fabric. It has a two-way stretch so it works perfectly with the design. Typically you wouldn't have a plaid running all over the place, but I like how it works here. Once again, I realized that sometimes we should throw the rules out the window and just try it anyway.

I bought the fabric for the jacket at Joann's. Yes, Joann's. The fabric is quilted. On the front side is the plaid and on the reverse is a solid black fabric. To make the jacket I used Vogue 8483. The pattern is so simple to make. I really enjoyed putting it together.
It may be a little difficult to see, but the front of the jacket is cut on an angle. The drawing of the jacket shows the angle. I decided that I would like to have a zipper closing so I straightened out the angle.The zipper is sewn into the princessline seam on the left front and then into the opening edge on the right side. My plaids are not matched perfectly, but they aren't bad. It was a bit of a pain in the neck to get the plaids matched so that once it was zipped it would look passable. All in all I was happy with the outcome.

I like for everything to look as nice on the inside as it does on the outside. Just for fun I decided to bind all my seams in red seam binding. I have to give credit where credit is due. I didn't have enough to finish the jacket so my husband made the pilgrammage to Joann's for me. He is a saint, most of the time.

A little side note about the jacket pattern. The jacket is quite boxy. I did take it in a little at the waist, probably 3 inches in total and it could stand a little more. I also lengthened it about an inch and a half.
I have a very interesting heritage. I am Scot, Irish and American Indian. I would never claim one over the other. I am very proud of all of my ancestors who sacrificed so that now I can enjoy the life I have. A few years ago a friends' daughter got married in Ireland and asked us to attend. On our tour, we went to the town of Cove. It was from there that the immigrants left. I have joked in the past that my ancestors were in the rowboat behind the Mayflower. I learned that a rowboat would have been a step up from the vessel that brought them here. Many of the vessels broke apart at sea. I am so very thankful that my Celtic ancestors endured what they did. Now I can make pretty clothes just because I want to. I have a life that they would never have been able to imagine. My gratitude seems so small for all they did.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Back On The Horse

A few weeks ago I noticed on Facebook that Sandra Betzina was sponsoring a contest, Spring Into Fall. You were supposed to create a coat that would be a great fall coat. I had this outfit made, so I thought, what the heck and sent in a picture of the coat. I won third place!! I'm surprised that I won at all. I had such a difficult time getting a picture to download. The picture I submitted was awful (seems to be a theme with me lately). I didn't realize that I could submit more than one picture.

The entire outfit is a three piece outfit. The over jacket is a Vogue Sandra Betzina pattern. Sadly the pattern has been discontinued. I did notice that on the Power Sewing website they do have some discontinued patterns for sale so you might be able to pick one up there. And then there's always Ebay. It's worth a try. It's really a great pattern.
I bought the wool I used a while back. It's actually double faced. My problem is that if I'm not cold, I get cold easily so I make my clothes with that in mind. Rather than make the coat reversibile, I lined it with a nice flannel back lining and used the opposite side of the fabric to face the collar. I was determined to get the entire outfit out of the fabric so I ended up with scrapes for the passementerie. But it worked.
The passementerie was cut on the bias. I did my design on one side, made a pattern and then copied it on to the opposite collar. This photograph shows how I ended the work.

A view of the center back.

A close up of the collar detail.

I top stitched all the seams in yellow.
After I finished the coat, I realized that I could hide a small button on the shoulder seam and put a small loop on the collar and have the collar up around my neck. Remember, I get cold easily so this was a very nice discovery!

The jacket that I made to wear under the top jacket is from a vintage DuBarry pattern from the early 1930's. I love this jacket. And now you will hate me. I didn't have to make one alteration. It was as if the pattern had been made for me.

A close up of the bound buttonholes. The buttons are vintage buttons I found at Soutache here in Chicago. The owner of Soutache carries the most wonderful buttons and she also has a great selection of vintage buttons as well. Worth checking out.

The fabric I used for the lining is vintage silk that was meant to be used for ties. It's really great. I think the cars are vintage Bentley's. Ah, we can always dream.

The pattern I used for the pants is a vintage McCall's pattern fron the 40's. I find that the pants patterns from the 40's have a very low crotch, so I did do a few alterations. I love the detail of the pocket.
I love this outfit. It's so versitile. The over coat works great with jeans as well as other slacks. One aspect of the pattern that I didn't like was the pocket. I ended up tacking it to the lining so that it would lay flat. That's a minor detail though.
I won one of Sandra's books, Fabric Savy. It's a great book. Something I think any sewer would like having. It gives great information on what type of thread and needles to use with different types of fabric as well as tips on how to work with the fabric. Christmas is coming. I'm sure you've been so good. You've sewn all the fabric you bought this last year so you deserve a little treat. I don't think there's a seamstress out there who doesn't have a pile of fabric waiting to be sewn. I know I do and it's more than a pile!!
Happy sewing.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Twists and Turns

My last blog was about my lovely experience as the only witness to a crime. The blog that I wrote the day before was written when my feelings were raw. At that point, I wasn't ready to share the pictures from the competition. I went into the competition feeling as though I had a good chance of at least placing in the top three, and as I said, I wasn't even in the top six. As the week wore on, and the more I thought about it, I began to feel a little angry, but, determined. Then the final blow came, the judges comments. They said that the garment that I had created fit the criteria of the contest and that the garment was impeccably crafted and fitted. You can see from the picture that this statement is a given. No one in their right mind could say anything negative about the construction or the fit of the garment. The leggings did not have a bump, a gather, nothing. They fit the model as if they had been poured over her body. I actually draped the pants over some pants that I wore that day. The model even said that she has never and will probably never again have a pair of pants that will fit her so well.

But here is the part that I just couldn't believe was said. "We wanted to see the runway or boutique version, not the department store version." First of all, this garment could not be bought at a department store. Anyone who shops at department stores knows that the clothing is a mass of cookie cutter garments, nothing exciting, nothing different, and very little of it has any real style.

The two pictures above were taken at my station. I finished the outfit by 10 o'clock on Saturday morning and then had nothing to do the rest of the day. So I took pictures and then did some shopping. The first picture is a front view of the top and the jacket. From these pictures, it is rather difficult to see the top and how it is made. The piece that you see that is draped across the front is actually attached to the shoulder and side seam of the garment and then wraps around where it is attached to the sleeve and then draped over the shoulder.

The jacket is, I think, very interesting. It's actually two rectangles that have been turned on the bias and then sewn together creating a chevron effect at the center back. To form the "sleeves," I made buttons holes in the back of the piece that a belt slipped through and then tabs were sewn underneath to the front which held everything in place.
As we say in Texas, the best thing to do when you are thrown from the horse, is get back on, so that is what I have done. It took a few day, but at least I got back on. I decided to make some tops for myself. The first is exactly the same top I did for the contest only it is out of a cotton and spandex plaid. I absolutely love this top for a number of reasons. I love the play of the plaid and all the movement. The way the plaid drapes across the back reminds me so much of my celtic heritage. I have a piece of quilted plaid coating that I am going to make to wear with this top. It's going to be a fantastic outfit. I am going to have to be careful as the top goes with so many things, I could wear it out before I get the coat made! Only a joke, with as many clothes as I have, I ratherly wear anything out. By the way, the fabric I used for this top was purchased at the Needle Shop here in Chicago. The store carries great cottons, but they also have a selection of knits and wools. It's not a large selection, but I love the shop so I always like to at least give them a try if I have time.
The top below is the same basic pattern as the top above, just minus the drape. I just wanted to try something out. I made it so that the top can be worn on either side. It's totally reversable. On the blue side is where I did my experient. I made slits all the way down the sleeve, exposing the peach fabric from underneathe. Then I tool a strip of the peach fabric and tied the slits forming little bowties. It's really rather fun when it's on. If you decide to give this a try, test your fabric first and make sure that once you cut it that it won't run. By the way, all three of the tops I am showing you are made from two-way stretch fabric. The blue fabric is a tencel and the peach is a bamboo. I love both of the fabrics and they handle well together. I can't wait for ski season. This top will be great for apres ski evenings.

My final top is the same as the contest top as well as the plaid. The fabric is a wool and spandex blend that I also found at the Needle Shop. The pants I made last year. When I saw the wool, I thought that it would match my pants and it's as if they were thrown in the dye bath together. How lucky can one get? The fabric for the pants was a gift. I originally made the pants to go with a sweater that I made from some wool that I bought on one of our trips to Germany.

The sweater is from a vintage Vogue pattern originally printed in the 40's. Lots and lots of cables. My favorite thing!!

Since I wanted the pants to have a bit of a Bavarian feel, I used pewter
accents. Rather than use a traditional hook at the waist, I found these pewter clasps that work really well.

The back pockets also have pewter buttons. In the center of the button is a stag.
At the hem, I added inverted pleats and then accented them with another pewter clasp. As I walk, the pants have a bit of movement and the pleat pulls the eye down giving the leg a longer feel.

So twists and turns. Life does an awful lot of twisting and turning and sometimes the twisting and turning is very difficult to deal with. When my husband and I married, there was nothing I wanted more than to have a family. But regardless of what we did or the avenues that we took, it just didn't work out. So we took those twists and turns, we felt the pain, we grieved, but then we picked ourselves up and continued down our life road which lead us to hosting 11 exchange students. Some of the experiences were good, some not so good, but in the end, I would do it all over again.

The recent experience has been good in the sense that it made me look at what I really want. I am now determined to get my pattern line out which makes quite a few people very happy. At least two of my patterns will be ready for sale by the first of the year. A great way to begin the new year, a new year and a new focus.

Take the twists and turns as they come. The road will continue on and it may be a better road in the end.

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