Sewing Vloggers

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Felted Vest, Part ll

What wrinkles you see here are postural, a result DH taking the pic when he wants, not when I am ready....I am really happy with this vest fit. I want to make a very big point here...I have made no adustments to the last muslin you saw. You may remember I said I would do the final tweaking on the fashion fabric. This is a perfect example of different fabrics fitting differently. My muslin was actual muslin. The vest is a felted Irish wool tweed. I guess the moral of the story here is be aware that every type of fabric will drape on your body differently. Just wanted to make that big point here. I will answer a few questions, show you some process  and then hopefully tomorrow will be able to show you the completed vest.

 Gwen wanted to know about handling felted wool in general. The tweed you see here has been put thru the washing machine on hot water, with shampoo, and then into a hot dryer, twice. You determine how much you want your fabric felted and pull them out of the machine accordingly. Different fabrics can change in different ways. I did a Pendleton wool this week that felted up so much so fast I had to pull it from the machine.When you are felting you need to check your fabric so you get it to the stage that you want and no more. This tweed is not overly felted. If I cut it, it does not ravel. It also became quite "lofty" in the process, rather spongy, something I really like. If feels like a cozy wool sweater now. Above you can see how I have done the cutting with a rotary cutter. It does not ravel even if I pull at it. That's what I wanted. Because it does not ravel you need no seam finishing and can get fairly creative with your seams. What I decided to do with my seams was use a double needle. I interviewed several different thread colors as I wanted the stitching to pop a bit. The vest needed interest. I ended up using a deep maroon color thread for all of the double needle topstitching. First I marked all the seams with my chalko liner of the right sides. Then every seam was overlapped and pinned with the marked lines being the pin lines.

 So the entire vest was pinned this way, tried on, then pin fitted to myself.  I liked the fit.  I went back to the machine and using the double needle and the maroon thread stitched on the marked seamlines on the right side of the garment. I made sure all the seams pointed to center front. I decided this vest needed a little more interest so I pinked the seam on the right side leaving a 1/4 inch before the stitching. The seams on the wrong side were cut back to the stitching, like the original.  I did the whole vest up like that. It went very quickly. Then I did some more samples and decided I would do the same double needle stitching on all of the outside seams, armscyes, hem, and neckline. In the first picture I have not cut off these areas yet. I will stitch them on the to be marked line, then cut them back to the stitching with the pinkers. To finish it off I hope to have a killer button from Ima. We will see what turns up.

Joan asked about the fish eye dart. I will show you that in the next post. It's my unofficial way of dealing with swayback. It works for me. There are so many ways to treat this issue and many question whether the swayback is an issue. Could be a shelf butt? Could. It could be a lot of other things too so this is a rather controversial fit area. I am just showing what works for me and works easily.

Cissie asked about "translating the adjustment to a pattern or did I just use the muslin". I may do either. In this case I transferred all the adjustments to the actual pattern. Sometimes I use the muslin. But I do like having the feel of the paper to use my pencil on. I just seem to see my changes better in the paper pattern. Often I will trace the muslin to Pattern Ease, not the original pattern. Here I went to the original pattern.

I hope to finish this up tomorrow. The techniques evolved as design decisions were made along the way. Sometimes I really enjoy the spontaneity of doing it that way and that was certainly the case here....Bunny

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Felted Vest

When I had my last visit to No. Andover, MA, I spent one fun day just hitting a lot of the pricey little shops there. My fashion viewpoint really needed updating and this was a great help. My favorite place is called Clay's and there I saw lots of great easy to copy possibilities. One thing I fell in love with was a felted one lapel wool vest. It had raw edges, ok when using felted fabric, and all of the seams were lapped at the seamline with the inside SA cut back to almost an 1/8th of an inch and the outer SA a healthy raw 3/8ths of an inch just hangin' out there. It had shoulder princess seams front and back, a shirtail  hemline (no hem) and one lapel. It was fabricated in a heathery green felted wool. What it cost, can't remember but definitely out of my budget. I really wanted to make this and have started.

A trip thru the pattern resource center came up with this circa 80's Nancy Zieman Creative Vest pattern. I could work with this. It had the shoulder princess seams but only in the front. I didn't like the hemline but that was going to change anyway. I did a muslin this morning. Here was the muslin out of the envelope:
I'm not showing the front because it was just fine except for the shoulders and underarms which you can see from the back. I am VERY NARROW in the back and have a smallish waist and full hips. The first thing I did was let out the side seam from waist on down. I pinned out a little on the shoulder seams, an issue I only ever seem to have on vests. I guess its lack of some shoulder pads. I pinned out a lot under the arms. Then I did a fish eyr dart at the waistline. My mother always told me I was swayback. I guess I am. Here is the next solution pinned out:

Getting better!There is still too much width in the back. Next I took it all apart and did a shoulder princess seam in the back. Here is that one:

So we are close. I will do the final tweaking when I sew the actual vest. Any comments are GREATLY appreciated so don't hold back. This last muslin looks like I need to increase the fish eye dart at the waist and maybe a little of the hipline too. One thing that concerns me is that I will wear this over maybe a couple of turtlenecks. I have one on here. I am also wondering if I should take out that sloping shoulder in order to have room for other garments underneat. Whatcha think?  Now it was on to adjusting the pattern and doing a few style alterations as well. (ETA: the neckline and armscye seams HAVE NOT been cut off yet. I am going to wait on that till construction is near complete. I don't want the armscye too low. I have already adde an inch and a quarter and will wait too all is complete before cutting off what I want.)

On the back I split the pattern down the dart and up to the shoulder seam where it  would match with the PS on the front. On the front I added my lapel after playing with it for a while on my muslin and also rounded the hemline. I am not sure I will round the back hemline. I am afraid it will sit on my swayback rump. So tomorrow I will be ready to start sewing.

Here is a closeup of the fabric. It is an Irish Tweed that I felted. It is really nice and soft. One of the internet sewing angels out there sent me this after finding it at a thrift shop for less than a dollar. Thanks, Ms. M. ! It came with the label you see which I think is so cool. My plan is to use one of Ima's fabulous buttons on the lapel or some felted roses, not sure yet.

So now you have seen my two current projects. I may cheat and pleat up some fabric just to have more handwork when I get home from the hospital. Hate to break my rules but that v. rarely happens and I think I have good reason this time.


I have been itching to make a Chanel jacket and doing all the research. It seems every boucle I find that I like is sold out. Well, today I found some in the clearance section at Joanns and also some sweet trim. It is acrylic which in my book is a major yuk. But, I have decided that this will be my introduction to the concept and I will keep searching for the perfect wool  boucle on line. When I find that I will start a couture version, which is what I really want to do. In the meantime I have my Threads magazine at the ready with its lesson on making the faster and easier Chanel jacket.More lata'....Bunny

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Little Red Coat, Part 1

First, thanks to all for the wonderful, encouraging comments on Carly's Bishop. They are greatly appreciated and really do egg me on. Thanks again.

Yesterday was spent tracing off, cutting out, and interfacing The Little Red Coat. For this jacket, I am using the Swing Jacket from Gail Doane's book, Sew Cute Couture. Two of her versions are on the front cover above. Here is the line drawing:
Sorry for the dark image but with the flash it the image just glared and disappeared off of the glossy paper. You can see the back pleat and the sweet curved yoke. There are so many design possibilities and I am still not firmed up on the embellishment.

A few words on the cashmere - it has a strong nap and you need to sew it like velvet. Be careful when cutting that all pieces follow the nap, which should be going down the garment. Basting seams helps hugely. Cashmere is more like hair than wool so great care needs to be taken with the ironing. Put a big fluffy towel doubled up underneath. Always use a press cloth and iron as little and as gently as possible. To press your seams use a dauber. This is a must have for anyone doing any sort of tailoring. Take a strip of wool. Fold in half. With the fold up, wrap tightly and tie up with a tight rubber band. Instead of using steam on this fabric I dip the dauber in water, run it down the seam, (you can see the water beads in the photo) put the press cloth on top, and press with the edge of a dry iron till the press cloth is dry. I put the edge of the iron right into the seam holding the iron at an angle. Remove the press cloth and finger press. If you get seam ridges use some paper bag strips under the seam allowances as you press. Cashmere scorches very easily so all this care must be taken.

Handling the interfacing needs a soft hand. Don't beat this stuff into the fabric. Always use a press cloth. You can see how I cut back the SAs to help eliminate the bulk, one of those great Roberta Carr tricks that has always stayed with me.

The LRC will be underlined with well washed flannel but first the embroidery has to be done. I may get as much done as I possibly can except for the embroidery. I am scheduled for some surgery next week that will put me down for a bit with bedrest so will hold the embroidery until then.

Props to Gail Doane who has graciously given permission to reprint her book cover and tech drawings. She advises to check the length on the sleeves for her jacket patterns. The models used were quite tall and on them the sleeves are shorter than she would like. So double check. Thanks, Gail, for the heads up. I did lengthen the jacket, but only because I wanted it to match one Carly already has in it's length. It was increased by 1 3/4 inches. ...Bunny

Monday, October 26, 2009

Toile Bishop for Carly is Complete!

This just seemed to take so long with interruptions of toothaches, out of state visits, etc... But now it is full speed ahead. In yesterday's post I gave a description of what a Bishop Dress actually is. This design by Gail Doane has a nice medium amount of fullness. Gail also designed the smocking plate. I customized it a bit. My Carly is very tiny in the shoulders, like her Grandma BunBun. I did not want the smocking design drifting down past her shoulder bone so I only did two repeats of Gail's design. I chose to embroider this with bold colors and four strands of floss, the better to stand up to the graphic nature of the black and white print. It almost gives it a Folkloric influence which I like. I did the button decoration but also chose to do the back opening with different buttons, plaid covered half balls. I fused the homespun plaid to a black tricot before making the buttons so the glare of the metal button would not show thru thin homespun.There is a fifth button that dropped somewhere never to be found so if you see a BH without a button, it will be sewn  on tonight.  On the neckline and cuffs I chose to do a double piping. The only drawback with this is some sections of the neckline piping sort of disappear (the print ones) and the whiter sections really jump forward. But all in all I am pleased. This really is a rather simple design that I will definitely make again. Without life's interruptions, it could be completed quite quickly. I highly recommend Gail's book, "Sew Cute Couture". It is full of great designs all with coordinating jackets. I will trace off the pattern for the jacket as soon as I am done posting here. I may further customize Gail's embroidery design for the coat but will do a few samples first that I will share with you all. I also have to hunt down a lining for the coat. I would love to do the homespun for the lining but think I would prefer something more slithery. Then again, I have often seen toddler's winter jackets lined with just flannel. I'll give that more thought.
        I would like to publicly thank Gail Doane for her encouragement on this project. It was greatly appreciated and her emails a welcome support. I hope I do her darling jacket pattern justice.
        Without further ado here are some pics:

The back:

Yoke detail: 
 ETA: Can you see the seams? I think not with Martha's wonderful tute on Seamless Smocking. The   seam is in there, just invisible. 


Growth tuck, also discussed in yesterday's post:

I can now put this one to bed and move on!


A word on UFOs, dear bloggers: Try not to let them happen. One of the bittersweet moments spent with dear Ima was encountering all the UFOs. We are talking 30-40 of them at least. Most pinned, interfaced, basted, and just never finished. Many were made with very expensive fabric, quite a few Pendletons and coatings. Since we wear the same size she thought I might want them. Then she double backed and said "you need to spend your time making new things with new ideas." She was right. However I told her I would make use of the fabric if that was OK. So I have been pulling out some rusty pins and basting stitches and felting a lot of gorgeous wools. I know she would be happy with that. To me a UFO is an idea, something from your brain that somehow didn't see fruition. Sorting them into boxes may temporarily assuage the guilt of moving on to more interesting possibilities, but they don't go away. Do you really want your kids to see all the things you never got around to finishing, things that may have even been for them? It just all pulls at my heartstrings. So I am more determined than ever to stick with my two at a time policy and no more. This editorial brought to you by........Bunny

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Now this is Scary!

Recognize what this is? I think it is a sight  that puts fear into any sewist. Other than one button and a good press, Carly's bishop is done. Finishing a garment always precipitates a thorough cleaning of the studio. Upon turning on the old Dyson, all I got was a high pitched whistle. Hose was clear. Dust holder emptied.Did I really have to look at the brush? Oy......miles of threads. It didn't take too long to get it all cut off and back to cleaning the floor. A word of advice here: the best tool for the job are those pricey pelican billed scissors you won't let anyone touch.

A few comments on Carly's bishop: asked the question, "what is a bishop?" A bishop is a traditional dress worn by girls from birth to maybe 10 years of age, if you are lucky. It consists of a gathered neckline with the gathering going around the entire bodice and raglan sleeves. The gathering is usually controlled by English smocking but not necessarily. I have see them with counterchange, backsmocking, and just a simple gather into a bound neckline. If you go into Google Images and type in "smocked bishop"  you will pull up many lovely examples. There are advantages to bishops, chiefly the fit. Lots of fabric is released by the smocking or gathers and therefore fit around the body is not an issue. I often use a two full widths of fabric on a bishop for a toddler, one for the front and one for the back. Usually the only fit concerns are size of the neckline and cuffs and the finished length. Bishops often have "growth tucks" above the hemline. Carly's does and you will see it tomorrow. Between the growth tuck and the fullness a bishop can often be worn for three years, something nice to know when you consider all the handwork that can go into the embroidery. Bishops are very easy to sew up once the embellishment is complete, just side seams, hem, and bindings on the neck and sleeves, not hard sewing at all. Like many, a bishop was my first smocked garment. The bishop style is timeless and therefore a garment with great heirloom potential.

I would have posted the completed little dress today but I lost a button, the last one of a five pack. So it will be back to town tomorrow to get the last button. I did a covered button with the same plaid I used for the binding.

One drawback of the bishop is that due to the flaring nature of the garment it is difficult to line. You would have to use two layers and pleat and sew them as one. This toile fabric was heavier than normal so that would not work. So with most bishops you have all the ends of the smocking and embroidery threads visible, something Hermana Esperanza taught me would just never do. I have a stretch lace that I cut to the shape on my blocking guide and stitched into the bound neckline. It will stretch with the garment as needed and helps hide, as best possible, the thread ends and you can see that here. I could have used a thin solid but I liked the stretch of the lace and I am fine with its funcionality. Tomorrow I hope to have pics up of the completed garment. Then I believe I will be on to a bag for a barter and the coat to go with this dress...Bunny

Friday, October 23, 2009

I finally found tiny vibrantly colored buttons for Carly's Bishop. Last week there was no such thing at Joann's. This week they had them. Only one problema:

When steam from the iron hit them the color disappeared and they kind of melted. So I cut out all the damaged buttons and resewed the fresh ones on the dress with a pledge to dry clean this baby. Worse case I remove and reattach the buttons.

Gotta tell ya', the buttons make this design. It really popped once they were applied so I don't want to change the design direction by not doing them. There will also be buttons all over the coat to go with this. Oy..... I did get the cuffs done. They have the double piping and plaid cuffs. It is really coming out cute. I managed to get the growth tuck done on the hem as well. So, we are close, very close.

I will leave you with an apron Ima gave me, one her sister made for her. It has ONE snap at the waistline seam and a loop of fabric you can see that has both ends sewn into the waistline. Wonder what those were for. The dark grey area is a deep divided pocket and the front has large cross stitching in sewing motifs that her sister did. I just love it. My favorite part is the tape measure at the hemline.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sewing Chores

The last two days have been spent in more of a chore mode with my sewing. If you have been following me for a while you know I don't function well with disorder. My legacy from Ima has presented a large cleaning and organizational challenge. So each day I have been tackling a bit of it. I enjoy doing that. I love fabric. I love washing fabric, ironing fabric, folding fabric, and organizing fabric and sewing fabric so this is a process I am enjoying. Today's effort was two pronged. First I "stripped" down some pairs of 100% woolen pants  Ima gave me. That meant removing zippers, buttons, hook and eyes. Next was cutting them apart at the seams and felting them in the washer and dryer. Here is the result:
You see various shades of pink. I can't wait to play with these and look forward to using these wools for bags.
 Next was washing and pressing some suitings. These are really nice suitings. Two are hounds tooth checks and I guess the third is as well but has a lot more texture. Great stuff and enough to make a great suit or jacket.                                                                                                                       

After dealing with those two projects I moved on to the blouses. We are talking poly blouses with a good silk charmeuse print look. I washed them, stripped off the buttons and cut them apart so I had the sleeves and bodice to provide me with linings for bags. Well worth it as the prints were really nice.

Once the chore part of my sewing day was done I moved on to Carly's bishop. I am pleased so far. On the neckline I did a double piping with the plaid and the toile. Above that I did a binding with the plaid. I am now thinking of possible plaid pockets on the dress. I think I will do a mock pocket and see how it looks. I don't want to show this dress till complete so bear with me.

So a lot was accomplished in my sewing world today but not anything really visually exciting. Oh, one more thing: I completed the bag for my friend. It came out great and is in the  box ready to go to the Post Office. This is the exact same bag you see in this older post. I mean exact. I bought tons of that fabric from the Fix so will be using it for a while. I do have another quick bag to do in another barter situation but it will be a simple felted tote.

The sewing room is clean. I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with my legacy. Carly's bishop is near done. The bag is done. Time to move on, possibly a Chanel jacket.  I need to go pattern shopping. I haven't done that in a while.....Bunny

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pendleton Woolens

There is a small town in New Hampshire called Guild. At one time there was a Pendleton Woolen Mill there. Last I knew, they still made wools there but not for Pendleton. You could go in and purchase yardage quite inexpensively at their "real" outlet. This was the kind of outlet like you used to have in New Bedford and Fall River before the decline of the textile industry, rather down and dirty and an unobtrusive door into the factory. I loved going there and shopping. It closed probably in the early nineties. They now have a regular retail store, quite nice, across the street. You can't miss it if your find you way to Guild.  But it won't have this fresh Pendleton yardage at cut rate prices.

I love Pendletons. They are timeless. The black wool you see just glows and that black watch plaid is to die for. I am overwhelmed by the possibilities here with another Ima legacy. I have spent the last couple of days freshening them up by hanging them outside in the sun. It did the trick nicely and they all smell fresh as a summer meadow, even in the cold here. Nothing like good air circulation. Then I proceeded to shrink them per Pam's (off the Cuff) method (scroll down) which is just so kewl. I shrank two pieces and while getting ready for the next few I found they had tags with the following:

What great labels, even the dry clean only! These tags were pinned to some of the yardage. You can see with a click to read that there was no need to preshrink and the wools were needle ready. Don't you wish all fabrics came with this sort of info and a tag?

When I think of style for these wools I have visions of little New Hampshire Yankee "elder" ladies with their white hair, pleated skirts, and boiled wool jackets going into the white spired Congregational Church on Sunday. Great image, but not quite what I would be going for here. Years back I made a beautifully black boyfriend blazer, back in fashion now, that gave me so much wear. Alas, it was actually stolen and I have missed it ever since. So that is one possibility. Others are the perfect Burda jacket for a plaid, so I am leaning there in more current style.  We shall see what develops. All I know is that this fabric tailors exquisitely and how I love that!

I am overwhelmed with all dear Ima has passed to me. Right now I continue to go thru, clean, and organize. The choices are mindboggling. It will all settle down and I will eventually utilize my gift. For now I will continue with my current children's Christmas gifts and such. Come January it should be delightful to pass that glowy black wool thru my hands.......Bunny

Friday, October 16, 2009

Carly's Bishop plus Some......

Carly's Bishop is all smocked and back on the smocking board. Martha's seamless smocking technique is fabulous and you cannot see the seams in this dress. It is very common and often accepted that the shoulder seams will show and/or be a lump underneath the smocking. This technique is easy and I doubt I will ever go back to the old way. Thanks, Martha.

Sorry for the darkness. Who knows why?! the large hearts that you see at the bottom edge of the smocking will have red buttons in them and the small spaces in between will have bullion rosebuds. The black row of cables at the neck will be butted up to a plaid piping and a toile piping and then a plaid binding if all goes well. Same treatment will be on the sleeves. Being with Carly this past week made me realize just how tiny she is. I used Gail Doane's pattern and plate for this dress in a size two. Once I measured Carly in the shoulders I knew the design need to be cut down, just like I do for my own petite frame. So I changed Gail's lovely design, using just two repeats and it should fit Carly just right.

You may remember that I mentioned the sizing of the neckline on this bishop. Well, props to Gail Doane. She immediately e-mailed me to say "it appears seam allowances have not been taken into account on the guide. If you take a 3/8'' seam allowance OFF the line of the guide you will end up with an 11" finished neckline. This is just about right in line with the 1/2" you had to remove from your neckline - perhaps you needed the extra 1/8" to accomodate a heavier weight fabric." Gail is having the correction made with Country Bumpkin as we speak. Thanks so much Gail for your prompt response to this issue. I imagine publishing is not an easy task and I really appreciate your prompt "stepping up to the plate." If any of you have not seen Gail's wonderful book "Sew Cute Couture" I did a review on it a few months back. It is just wonderful. Gail's expertise in design and embroidery is just fabulous. I highly recommend this inspiring book.


Thanks for all the comments on the cape. Yes, Ima had the personality to pull this off. Can't say that I could. Did you see how she lined up the print down the center of each panel?

To Gwen and others, we do live in a very beautiful area. Yes, where I took the pictures is in the back "yard" if you can call it that. The house, our "downsizer" after the dream house, is 100 feet from the water and affords us beautiful views. We live in a tiny "hamlet" as they call villages here and there are 350 people in our little hamlet. DH and I live 3/4 of a mile from the center of the village and it is a delight to walk to get your mail and talk to the neighbors. We are set way back from the road, almost invisible, but close to the river. We love watching nature here.

For those with a carpet of leaves in the yard, forget the raking and blowing. Try DH's fast excellent technique. He uses his power washer and rapidly sends the leaves packing into the woods. It will not damage your plants and does an incredible job. He can do all of our immediate yard in 30 minutes, removing all the leaves and leaving behind nice clean mulch and the shrubs and perennials.I know you think it will rip out everything in your yard but it doesn't even come close. Trust me on this one.

I will leave you with a pic taken from my ride on the Adirondack Trail yesterday. You can see Whiteface, where they have held the Olympics twice, and the other mountains are covered with snow. This is not the same Whiteface in the White Mountains of NH. It is supposed to be the coldest place to ski in the country. Forget the supposed, it is! .....Bunny

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vintage Opera Coat?

While I am not sure Ima wore this to the opera, she did make this cape circa 1961-62 and told me she "wore it a lot." She handed it over to me saying she knew I wouldn't wear it but wouldn't it be great to cut up the fabric and make some bags with? Youbetcha! We really think alike.

The cape is completely underlined and lined with a silk twill. It must weigh a good 15 pounds! The outer fabric can only be described as a cut velvet tapestry (?). The colors are phenomenal and so indicative of the time. Talk about flower power! She did use some lovely buttons and it is very nicely tailored. She is so tiny I just can't picture her in this. She was a beautiful blond haired blue eyed woman who certainly could light up a room without the moxie of this creation. But true to her vivacity, she made it and wore it with pride and "a lot". I thought you might enjoy a peek at it before the scissors hit.

DH played photographer and the clouds quickly came back to cast a shadow on our fun but here is a view of the front. I had to stand on the rock as the coat is too long for me. This way it hung free. You can see it better if you click on it.
 Today I had doctor's visit. The good news is to get there I have to drive about 20 miles on the Adirondack trail. There was snow here and there and definitely up in the mountains. This was taken in the "Eleven Mile Woods" in Santa Clara this morning: Tamarack Pines are probably my favorite tree. Unlike other evergreens they lose their needles every fall, changing color like any maple or oak. There needles are soft and furry looking, not sharp looking. They are so beautiful.


This is the little cemetary I pass everyday walking to pick up my mail in the village. That carpet of leaves just forced me to stop and take pictures. 


Tomorrow I will have been home a couple of days and ready to hit the sewing. My smocking on Carly's bishop is completed and I am happy. I will construct it and then finish the bullions. I am going to try something different with the piping. Keep those fingers crossed. My bag is completed except for the lining which just needs to be put in. So I am way ready to get going on some new projects. Anyone need a bag made from an opera coat????....Bunny

Petited and De-Volumized Picasso Pants , #3

  Pardon the weird shadows. I have just finished my third pair of Picasso pants. Yes, I do love them that much. I did a lot of messing aroun...