Archive for the category “Sewing”

What do you give a 92 year old for her birthday?

My dear, beloved grandmother will celebrate her 92nd birthday in a couple of weeks.  My husband always tells me that I’m not my mother’s child but my grandmother’s child – which might be one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me!

I was the first grandchild born to both my maternal and paternal grandparents which set me up to be pretty dang special!  I freely and happily admit that I have reaped some tremendous perks as the first grandchild.  I was also fortunate to have known all four of my grandparents for many, many years.  It is a lovely relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild, in my opinion.

My grandmother who will be 92 was always so hands on with us.  She let us play beauty parlor with her as our loyal customer!  If there had been smart phones and Instagram back in the 70’s, I imagine the pictures of our ideas of gorgeous hairdos and pretty make up would not seem so gorgeous as much as garish now.  No matter, she gamely sat patiently while we put extremely generous amount of Dippity Do (remember that!) in her hair and rolled and teased her coif until I imagine her head ached!  Then on to the make up application – I wouldn’t be surprised if the final result was more kabuki than anything else.

She also let us play dress up in her closet.  In her REAL closet with her REAL dresses and shoes.  And boy, did she have some gorgeous clothes!  My grandfather would go to town (Memphis, TN) and buy her complete outfits to wear to the Rooftop Parties at the Peabody Hotel back in the 1940’s,  50’s, and 60’s.  He brought boxes home with dresses, slips, matching bras and underwear, stockings, hats, and shoes – from head to toe.  Everything matched!  An ivory brocade dress and jacket had ivory foundation garments and an ivory hat and matching shoes.  Same for a red chiffon dress – red foundation garments and a matching red had and shoes.  Oh, and matching jewelry, too!  She let us play in all those exquisite, expensive clothes!  What a trooper!  For our part, I don’t recall us ever damaging her pretty things.

Some years ago, it may have been on the occasion of her 80th birthday, I took her to town (Memphis is still the “town”) for High Tea at the Peabody Hotel.  True to form, she went to the beauty parlor and got her hair done and wore one of her best dresses.  She looked beautiful and we had a fantastic afternoon sitting in the luxurious lobby, eating petit fours and drinking tea while watching the Peabody’s ducks swimming in the marble fountain carved from a single enormous piece of travertine, an impressive piece of Italian workmanship in its own right.

As she gets older, her passions include shoes, fine china teacups, and handbags.  I am neither a cobbler nor a potter, so I decided to make her a handbag.  Here is the final result:

Mammaw's Birthday Present 2013 - exterior

The exterior of Mammaw’s birthday present

Mammaw's Birthday Present 2013 - interior
The interior of Mammaw’s birthday present
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Muslin FAIL – PEBCMAS

I put together a muslin yesterday for a really cute top that I hope will be flattering and comfortable while being very versatile.  I used Vogue 8815 and attempted view C.  This is a Very Easy Vogue pattern and it is very easy.  Just a few simple pieces and it sews up quickly.

The issue is not with Vogue.  If you know the acronym PEBKAC, you know what happened here.

Problem Exists Between Cutting Mat and Scissors

  • I did not do any re-measuring of myself.
  • I did not do any measuring of the pattern pieces to compare to similar finished garments I might own.
  • I did not put the pieces on Beulah Lou (my dressmaker’s form).

So, there you go.  I basted everything together in just a few minutes and attempted to put it on.

Muslin FAIL.  The arms are way too tight.  The front piece is so tight it looks like I’m trying to bind my chest.  The waist is a good 3 inches or more too high in the front.

I almost had to Hulk-out to get the thing off!

The postives:

  • I will remember that I am not a standard pattern size, therefore I must measure and make adjustments.
  • I will be happy that I created a muslin out of pattern paper that I can now adjust.
  • I will use my dressmaker’s form.
  • I will learn from my mistakes!

Cutting corners, being lazy or undisciplined, or just slacking doesn’t yield good results when sewing.

Preparation is Key

Today I cut out 3 patterns. One I cut out on my Swedish pattern paper because I expect to need to make some changes. The other two are both stretch fabrics – my first stretch fabric attempts. I will say that the serrated Gingher scissors I bought upon the advice of Susan Khalje were a great investment. They grip slippery fabrics so you can cut two layers easier.

I must decide how to get an appropriate cutting table. Bending over the dining room table does not make my arthritic back happy. I think I could put bed risers under the table legs which would make it pretty much perfect until we tried to sit down to dinner. I’ll have to think of a more practical solution.

It took several hours to prep, layout, pin, then cut out. I believe that prepping before sewing is the bulk of the “heavy lifting” in sewing. For me, it is the most physically uncomfortable part. However, once it is done, the rest of the process is cake!

So, next step is to sew up the pieces!

Sewing for the Modern Teen, pt 2

For a quick win and because we had enough fleece left-over, Skippy made a small envelope back pillow cover for a 12″ x 12″ pillow insert. This lesson involved more about placement of fabrics with defined patterns and also matching patterns or lines in a pattern to keep the finished product looking nice and neat.

Take a look!

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He used the Baby Lock Elizabeth for the envelope back seams and the Baby Lock Audrey serger to finish out the pillow cover. He says the serger is not his friend but since it was the better tool for the project, he bravely used it anyway. Since the pillow cover may be used quite a bit and spend plenty of time being washed and dried, he wanted the most stable seams possible.

Another excellent sewing project from Skippy!

Sewing for the Modern Teen

My 14 year old stepson asked if “we” could make his new (and first) niece a baby blanket. I said, “Sure, you can do that!” I showed him my stash of pink flannel and other girly fabrics. He was not inspired. We went to the local fabric store and he picked out University of Alabama fleece for the backing then a black/red/white flannel plaid, and a solid red flannel for the quilt top. This tiny little girl will have her first and very own ‘Bama Blanket – Roll Tide! (Apparently, his mom and her entire family are rabid ‘Bama fans.)

As you may know, determining how many squares and of what size requires – wait for it – MATH! Gasp! The horror! Now, Skippy is not a huge fan of the math. I feel his pain since it wasn’t my best subject, either. But we sat down and drew some pictures and used some graph paper and a calculator to come up with the correct numbers. He decided on a 24″ x 24″ quilt so he needed 9 squares that were 8″ x 8″. Of course, we had to discuss seam allowance, so he ended up cutting out 9 squares that were 9″ x 9″. I thought a generous seam allowance would be a safe decision for this first project.

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We pinned the squares together and he sewed the first 3 strips. Then we pinned the strips together and he sewed those together to get the quilt top.

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Although he had a general idea of how the top would look, the concept of how it would actually come together wasn’t there until he finished the last stitch and held up the finished top. I must say that he was pretty danged impressed with himself and for good reason! Take a look at this –

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He put the fleece on the back and we talked about placement of fabric with a design so it doesn’t look wonky. After pinning the front to the back, he learned how to “stitch in the ditch” and sewed two seams across his rows to add stability to the blanket when it is washed and used. I am going to finish the binding for him with a pretty black satin blanket binding ‘cuz I’m a nice Evil Stepmom like that.

The embroidery you see is the little girl’s name with her first inital “A” in a style that is similar to the University of Alabama “A”.

I think Skippy did a great job and his niece is a lucky little girl!

Sewing my Stitch Library

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I have a very nice Baby Lock sewing machine – the Elizabeth model. The machine comes loaded with all types of utility, quilting, and decorative stitches. I have only used about 5 of the 100+ options.

Craftsy.com offers many online, take-at-your-leisure crafting, sewing, knitting, etc classes. I have purchased four and gotten two at no charge. If you are interested in learning a new skill or technique, I highly recommend the Craftsy platform!

One of the classes I am currently working on is called Stupendous Stitching. This class teaches sewing, couching, and related techniques for creating fabric art. As part of the learning process, the students are asked to create a “Stitch Bible” of all the stitches on their personal sewing machines. By actually stitching out every option and assembling the “pages” in a “book” we will have the opportunity to learn more about our machines.

Our instructor, Carol Ann Waugh, advises to alter the stitch properties on each stitch to discover even more options than you see in the manual. A machine with 10 stitch options can have so many more options than just 10. By changing the stitch properties to make the stitch sorted, smaller, longer, taller the possibilities are amazing!  Ten stitches quickly becomes 20 and then 30 and so on.

My machine has 4 groups of stitches. The image above shows the first four “pages” of my stitch library. I have completed the first group, which is mostly utility stitches, and am little over half way through the second group of stitches. I have already learned a few things about my machine and discovered a few stitches that I will definitely want to use in the future! It feels really good to take the time to do this exercise because I paid a nice chunk of change for a good machine, so I really should learn all I can about what it will and won’t do, what it can and can’t do. Also, the more I use my machine, the better I become at using it.

Practice, practice, practice!

Boldly sewing,

MiMi

p.s. You can check out some of Carol Ann Waugh’s work on her Pinterest page!

Commission Project – Backgammon Pieces Bag

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My friend Andy bought an incredibly beautiful Backgammon board from somewhere in the Middle East. Damascus, I think. He asked if I could make a bag for the game pieces. I was a little surprised that the game didn’t come with something for the game pieces, honestly. But, it didn’t, so I said I would make a bag. I bought a quarter yard of black velvet and found a remnant of red taffeta. I bought the main embroidery design from Urban Threads!, my most favorite-est embroidery design site evah! I arranged the monogram using Sew What Pro. I chose red for the lining and thread colors because the Backgammon board is made with inlaid red and white colors on the brown. I chose the embroidery design and monogram font because they have an ancient feel to them and the game board has a very antique feel to me. After stitching out the embroidery designs, I stitched up the drawstring bags – velvet outer bag and taffeta lining bag. I sewed gussets in the bag bottoms, so the bag will “sit” prettier. My husband said, “Nice! A custom-made Crown Royal bag!” as memories of Dungeons and Dragons danced in his head. I rolled my eyes. I’m pretty pleased with the results! I hope Andy will like it, too.

"Bag with the Backgammon Board"

And here is the bag with the Backgammon board for which it was made.

Sock Hop Success!

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This darling girl wore the poodle skirt I made to her school’s annual sock hop. She looks so cute and her mom says the event was a huge success!  Whew!  I’m always nervous when doing things like this.
We left it longer and I put an adjustable placket in one side seam so (hopefully) she can wear it for another year or two.

Rock and Roll!

I made this felt poodle skirt for the.daughter of some friends. She is going to a sock hop after school tomorrow. It was pretty easy to make and has a separate petticoat, too.

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Boldly sewing,
MiMi

Whooo’s cute?

This guy!

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This is a darling little owl keychain with a pocket on the back for a credit card, gift card, your ID, or some cash.

The project was made “in the hoop” on my Baby Lock embroidery machine.  The design is from Embroidery Garden on Etsy.

My friend Judy received this little happy as a gift. She loves it! 

Boldly sewing,
MiMi

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