Sewing Vloggers

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Comfy Christmas Dress, Simplicity 2377

I think I accomplished my goal here, a comfy, soft feeling dress that says "Christmas" for my little clothing fuss budget, Carly. Here is the low down:

Pattern:  It is Simplicity 2377, a classic little look, what my grandmother used to call a "gypsy dress". There is no zip, buttons, or placket. The neckline opening stretches quite large and it will fit over her head with no little aggravations to her skin. The pattern comes with a tiered or plain skirt. I found the skirt pieces just not full enough but was also constrained by the amount of fabric I had as well as Miss Carly. I knew if I used all the fabric I usually do in an heirloom dress she would find it too heavy and not wear it. Been there, done that, saw the dress on the floor.

Fabric:  I took Carly with me to the big Joanns in Middleton, Mass, not far from her home. "We" decided, with great discussion, to use a cream stretch velvet for the bodice, an embossed stretch velvet for the overskirt, and a poly tafffeta  for the underskirt. My last post showed how I texturized the poly tafffeta to mimic the original texture off the knockoff. I like it better than the knockoff.

The dress is fully lined using "Posh" from Joanns, something you would never want to line a summer garment with. But, here I knew she would be wearing this in winter and probably coming and going in the cold weather. She also liked the way it felt compared to the other linings we put on our cheeks.

Construction: I basically constructed two dresses. One was of the posh lining fabric, full length. The poly taff underskirt was gathered and triple zigzagged to the lining skirt. It sits between the lining and the public dress. From the inside you can't feel  or see the taffeta, only the "posh" lining. All seams except gathering were French seams on the lining.

Then I constructed the public dress. This consisted of the cream bodice and just the overlay. To get the proper size of the overlay I just sort of measured what I thought was right and cut. I didn't want a "ridgey" hem on the embossed velvet. I did various samples and found the best looking and very solid technique was simply applying Steam A Seam Lite and folding up and pressing  over a terry towel, just on the 1/4 inch hem area. I really like how that came out and am glad I tried it. The taffeta skirt has a traditional hand worked hem.

I differed from the original inspiration also with the sash. I felt the white bodice was not balanced with the rest of the dress. You can see the inspiration dress here. I liked how the red velvet sash added length to the overlay skirt when just simply tied in the back. I decided not to put any embellishment on the sash, as in the original, and just move my embellishment up to the neckline which I think balances the design much better. I made a flower and leaves out of scraps, attached it to a covered piece of peltex, and put a brooch pin on the back. If she doesn't like the way it feels we can just take it off and maybe move it somewhere else but I really like it at the neckline.

Oddly enough, Miss Carly loves to wear hats and will often put one on and still have it on at the end of the day. So I made her a headband to wear with her dress. This I know she will love. Can't wait to see my little platinum blonde in these colors. One more in the holiday queue done, yippee!

My next post will show a tute on how I made the sash keepers for this dress. Stay tuned.....Bunny


While at DD#1" home over the hodiday, Sophie and I did a lot of beading. Because of aging eyes as well as tiny hands of hers, we weren't using beading needles. I forget what I used but they worked fine other than maybe 20% of the beads wouldn't let the needle go through. I complained to my daughter about how I needed to buy a bead reamer, what it was, and that a decent one was stupidly expensive, at least IMO.
The next day she came home from work and handed me the above and said, "Mom, I think you can use these for a bead reamer". Well, I certainly can! Ever have a root canal done and the roots get filed by progressively larger teeny files by the dentist? Tah-Dah! I now have root canal files to use a bead reamers on those tiny delica beads. Thanks, darlin'.....

I want to send a big Thank You shout out to Rett of The Gazebo House who kindly walked me through screen shots and how to deal with the  zooming right click on the Simplicity and Macy's sites. Thanks so much, Rett. Please check out her gorgeous blog. She is a Tablscaping Diva who hoards dishes like I do fabric....Bunny

Monday, November 28, 2011

Texturizing Fabric

If you recall my inspiration garment, which you can see here, the green underskirt is textured. I have seen this kind of textured sheer at Joanns and it just reads cheap to me. Maybe in a different fabrication I would feel differently. I didn't want anything like this sheer but I did like the idea of some texture in the green underskirt.  My goal here was not a lot of depth to the texture but simply random lines in the taffeta. This is how I achieved that.
Here you can see the washed poly taff. Poly is good for this technique because the heat of the dryer will permanently texture poly. Natural fibers would lose any texture the minute they got wet.
The first step is to wet the fabric thoroughly.

Take the wet fabric and twist and wring, wring and twist until the coil actually turns back on itself.

Take your wet twisted coil and secure it tightly with elastics, string or whatever works. I don't like to use rubber elastics as I think the heat might losen them, not sure. Take this tied up coil and throw it in the dryer with 2-3  loads of laundry. Yes, it will sound like sneakers bouncing around. My small skirt piece was done after two loads. Pull your coil out and gently untie.

Carefully spread it just a bit. It should still feel a tad damp deep inside. Let it lay like this until completely dry.
When it is totally dry spread it out and it should look like this. Let dry more if necessary. Once completely dry, take the fabric and bring it to the ironing board.  This where it will be steam pressed into a "lined" flat textile. Depending on your project, you could use the fabric as you see it above or you could choose to press it flatter like I did. This is my end result, just what I wanted. I just hope it works in the finished dress. Fingers crossed....Bunny
Now I will gather it at the top and apply it to the lining. More tomorrow. This is going pretty quickly. The lining is complete. All that remains is stitching up the red skirt and the cream velvet bodice. MaƱana......Bunny

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First in the Holiday Queue

These are the fabrics I have chosen for Carly's Christmas dress. I got them at the huge Joann's in Middleton, Mass. The off white and the embossed velvet are both stretch velvets, very important to our little miss who likes all things knit. The green taffeta will be the underskirt. All will be lined with "Posh" that poly lining from Joann's that you couldn't pay me to wear but as this dress will only be worn for short periods in cold weather its OK. Carly was involved with picking everything out and it all got rubbed on her cheeks waiting for opinion. Tha taffeta passed the test and was even softer after washing. This is not a garment with heirloom sewing or extensive hand techniques. Comfort is the big issue here and the Posh was the softest option for the lining and she approved. 

For the pattern I will use Simplicity 2377, a pretty close knockoff. The sleeves are longer and fuller than the original which is what I wanted. I really do think the original dress pic is probably an infant's size as it just sits so small on the hanger. The bodice will be the creamy velvet. The taffeta underskirt will be attached and hanging freely from the bodice lining. The embossed velvet will be attached to the velvet bodice on top. The sash will be a bit different than the original dress and hopefully cuter. I hope to get cutting today. I think this will go fairly quickly and the sash will probably take the most time. 

I am also hoping to make a headband with a big silk flower matching the sash or somesuch. Carly LOVES to wear hats and would definitely wear the band all day. Her Momma got her a pink wool beret with a flower on the side in Paris and she wore it to school and most of the day there. This girl's got a piece of my heart with her hat lovin'. 

I am finding with many of the "zoomable" photos out there on the web it is not possible to get the url info by right clicking. It just "zooms." Does anyone know a way to do this? ...Bunny

Friday, November 25, 2011

On Thanksgiving, From the Other Side of the Ironing Board

We are back home in our little cottage on the Deer River and had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our children and families further south in New England. While nursing a wicked cold/asthma, and helping iron ten panels of silk dupioni draperies for DD#2, some serious meditation/pondering set in. Here are a few of my Ironing Board Musings from the day before Thanksgiving:

  • It takes nearly an hour to iron one lined, long silk dupioni panel.
  • Using a nebulizer is best kept for moments when the munchkins aren't around. 
  • Hugging and kissing much loved, snotty nosed, grandchildren inevitably results in a bad cold. Fair trade-off in my book.
  • My son in law with the Cajun roots makes the most incredible corn bread stuffing imaginable. You would kill for his recipe. 
  • Those stitchers in China for Pottery Barn are pretty dang good. Out of ten panels of silk dupioni, only one was a quarter inch off grain. I check those things, ya know. 
  • While babysitting three year old twins and big brother while Mom and Dad are in Europe, a couple of Benadryl are a great substitute for a glass of wine if the cupboard is empty. 
  • Hiking Weir Hill in No. Andover, Mass., in the throws of an ashtma attack really isn't that bad. Yes, we did find the birthday party boys when I couldn't go any further and we came down the trail. They hadn't begun to hike yet.Wheeze.
  • Even if you are sick, feverish, wheezing, the munchkins still have to get to school. It's very easy to drop them off, continue wheezing, and shop the pre Black Friday sale at Joann's. Sewing Grannies are like that.
  • Those drapery panels do not water spot, not at all. What did they treat them with? Can we get some?
  •  Ironing a lot of silk for someone else is just as good as fiddling with your own fabric fantasies at home. 
  • Watching your granddaughter use up the next hour and half stitching groups of three beads at a time on the tiny dolly pillow you just helped her make by hand is absolutely priceless.

I have always found ironing a wonderful opportunity for meditation, sort of a time when I think about how blessed I am and  back off and think how wonderful life is.  I have much, much to be grateful for. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving......Bunny

Friday, November 18, 2011

From the Field, achooo ooo !

This is my ninth night down in New England having already hit Cape Cod, NH, and now the North Shore of Massachusetts. All has gone well with babysitting duties but grandma has one heck of a non-departing cold. Hopefully it will be over with soon. I need it like a whole in the head!

Above is a dress I plan to knock off for Carly. It is from Zulilly who has some darling children's fashions. Carly is very very fussy about her clothes. She is a grandma way before her time choosing to live in non encumbering knits with leggings underneath. She detests any sort of label, seam or thread aggravating her prescious tender skin. She fell in love with this little dress before I even told her I had plans to make it. She picked it out as her favorite on my pinterest board. I promised to make it with soft fabrics so she would like it and she promised to wear it. Fingers crossed here. I engaged her in the washing and ironing as well as the cutting out of the pattern so she is buying into the project and is actually  quite excited. We actually cut out the bodice pattern and fit it on her. She cooperated and I adjusted. Its looking like a promising project.

While I brought my camera, I don't have my usb cord so can't upload on this strange computer. Fabric pics will wait till I get home. For the bodice I found an almost white stretch velvet, more of a velour, no "crushed" look. The red skirt will be a gorgeous deep deep red stretch velvet with paisley embossing. The underskirt and sash will be a lime-ish green taffeta, well maybe more Granny Smith apple green. It's not quite the traditional red and green and I like that. I can't wait to get home and start this project. I could start cutting it all out now and I even have the machine with me but keeping tabs on twins and big brother with no other "help" has got me booked full time. Add in a tiring case of the sniffles and you can see why it will wait till I am home.

Oh, the original Zulilly dress cost? Curently its on sale for 34.95 down from 80.95. Am I nuts? Should I just get out the plastic and spring? I don't think so. You don't make memories with plastic and appreciation can be even harder to come by. And the moments my grandaughter is enthralled with her grandma measuring her? Priceless! Besides, I think once you see the fabrics I have chosen you will agree it should have a "richer" look when complete, not 34.95. Can't wait to show you all...Bunny

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And the Winner is.....

I used Random Generator and number 49 came up. and the winner is:  Beth of  Salmon 53 !!! ( I did not count my personal comment.) Congratulations and thanks so much for leaving your comment and joining the fun. Please email me ASAP. I will be leaving tomorrow for 2 weeks down in New England. If I get your snail mail address quickly enough I will mail your package out tomorrow. If not, it will be mailed out when I return.  I am at bukuresep at gmail dot com.

I really want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments. I haven't enjoyed reading so many comments in a long time. There were some great stories here. We all seem to have much  in common. There were wonderful accounts of Singer sewing classes, great Home Ec teachers, bad Home Ec teachers, wonderful relatives, and sheer self determination. I congratulate you all on having such opportunities come into your life that taught you this lifelong passion. And congrats to the more recent devotees of this wonderful craft. I really appreciate the stories you shared.


I will be leaving tomorrow for two weeks in New England. I am bringing my machine to do some more homedec sewing while at Audrey's. She has a wonderful craft room where I can set up. I also will be watching the twins and their big brother at Jen's for  a week while she and hubby "do Paris". And the beginning of our trip will start with visiting the Cape and DH's mom who had a heart attack and stent yesterday. She is not doing well, is to old for any further intervention and her time appears on the horizon. So this will be an important trip. I will miss you all and may get some free moments to check the blogroll but won't be posting until I get back.

I'll also be meeting with my wonderful sister and we may hit the new Fabric Place Basement. I can't wait! More when I get back.......

greytone  wanted to know if those that receive my "beautiful dresses" and "their Mothers" "appreciate them" and save them in heirloom boxes. Here is my answer:

My daughters definitely appreciate the "heirloom" value of the clothing I make for their children. I would not sew for them if they didn't. They love for their girls to wear their pretty dresses to family events and special occasions. Sophie's parents will have three holiday parties at their home over the season and Sophie will wear her dress to each, similar with Carly. Audrey (mom) and Sophie play "model" and she takes pictures of her in her dresses to keep for posterity. Every dress I have ever made Sophie and Carly is still hanging in their closets. Nothing has gotten packed or (horribly) given away. Audrey likes to go in the closet and see the "pretties". Jen has saved everything as well. It would be such a thrill to see the next generation wear these classic clothes as did my cousins with the dresses my grandmother made for their Moms.

Heirloom clothing is definitely worth the effort. It may take a bit of education to get the rest of the family to appreciate it but they can be educated.  Mine didn't take much education, having absorbed by osmosis the efforts their Mom went to to keep them well dressed over the years.

I learned many years ago, the hard way,  not to waste my efforts on those who don't appreciate them. You figure those things out over time and it  is an unfortunate learning curve sometimes. At this stage, I know who understands and appreciates all the time, effort and creativity that has gone into their gifts. My girls do. I am blessed....Bunny

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Thanks so much, everyone, for the lovely comments on the Butterfly Back Dress. I can't wait to see it on Sophie. Your comments are always appreciated. They are so appreciated, I have decided to have a GIVEAWAY! The following bunch of goodies will be shipped to someone in the U.S. who has left a comment on this blog. I'lll use Random Generator and will pick the winner Tuesday evening at nine o'clock.

ETA:   I forgot I will be at the polls past closing time tomorrow which will have me not home at nine o'clock. I will draw the winner on Wednesday morning probably around eight o'clock so keep the great stories coming. I have really, really enjoyed reading them. We have so much in common. Thanks for understanding and if it's voting day where you live, get out there and vote!
Our Give Away consists of a copy of Sew Beautiful Magazine, a copy of "Sewing Classic Clothes That Fit" by Rene Bergh,  two, yes two, Frixion pens ( I still love them to pieces) and a set of five pewter clasps.

All I ask is that you leave a comment and in that comment tell me how old you were when you first used a sewing machine to sew real clothes, not dolly clothes. If you want to add a little backstory that would be really fun, so thanks for that if you do.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The "Butterfly Back" Dress is complete!

While this dress has bullions and a big bow, it also has a "butterfly back", an additional layer attached to the back skirt. It is cut on an angle using a "wavy" acrylic ruler and rotary cutter. I have seen this back treatment on a few designer coats out this year and thought it would be a nice feature to translate to a child's dress. The two "butterfly" pieces are slightly gathered  then pleated with a couple of large pleats. They are then treated as one with the gathered back skirt. The end of the "tail" is embroidered with several bullion roses and a few are placed along the wavy edges as well.
The front of the dress is pretty traditional. It has a center panel of smocking done on the horizontal and princess seams. I draped little Sophie on my last visit and got this bodice all worked out. Once the smocking was done I wanted a bit more length in the panel so decided to add the ruffle at the top.

 Pattern: Other than the sleeve, and I truly don't remember where I got it from, the design is original. I was inspired by this Kate Spade trench with its back bow and panel.
                                             and Kathy Dystra's gorgeous pinafore from AS&E. Some of the details were worked out as I went along as is often the case when working out your own design.

Fabric: The fabric is a quilting cotton from a new to me quilt shop I discovered this summer. There are two separate yardages, the allover print and the stripe. It was a pleasant challenge to figure out how to work out the print. The only thing I would redo on this is maybe cut the back butterfly panel on the bias to give it further emphasis. The piping and ruffle are from a dark red silk dupioni. I think it is the perfect foil for the gray. I used DMC floss for the embroidery and this time I am happy with the colors I chose.

Construction: The Butterfly Back panel has a baby hem and assorted bullions here and there. It is in two sections so that it could accommodate the placket which I showed how I did in yesterday's post. The bow is interfaced with bias cut hair canvas.

For buttons I used vintage mother of pearl buttons. The bow is attached on the left with some tacking stitched and on the right with fabric covered snaps. This way it can be opened to put the dress on.

One Christmas dress done. Audrey has several occasions where Sophie will wear this dress over the holidays.  I am on the hunt for fabric for one for Carly now. I will need some white velvet and hope to pick that up while in NH in a couple of weeks. I have lots of fabric shopping planned for that trip. Hopefully I will find all on my list.

Since I completed the dress yesterday I have been pleating away on strips of silk. I have also dyed quite a few. These will be used for more Christmas presents. More to come on this.

Next project is a window treatment for Audrey. Back with more soon....Bunny

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The BB Dress, near completion

The dress just needs a hem and a good press. I should have it up tomorrow. Today I will share a couple of construction details. Above its the wrong side of the bodice. On the left is the back side of the smocked insert. You can see I fused interfacing to the back of the insert fabric before pleating. This helps plump up the pleats. I was limited in the amount of fabric I had and while I thought I had enough the interfacing just helped with a little more insurance. So when you want your pleats thicker with less fabric, FUSE.  On the right side of the pic you will see the side bodice. That is also fused with interfacing. I find when you have an insert, particularly if you have used piping, the adjoining fabric needs to be interfaced to hold up to the weight and stiffness of the piped insert. It helps prevent ripply seams along the join of insert and bodice or yoke.
Here you can see how I understitched the neckline seam. The piping adds bulk.The seam is graded and then understitched with a triple zigzag, a Nancy Zieman trick.
Above the waistline the bodice closes with buttons. Below the waistline it has a placket. On the other skirt seams I used French seams. On the CB seam of the skirt I used serged seams. This is pressed open and a cut is made to the seam line where you want the bottom of the placket to be. I cut the serging off of the placket seam as I didn't want the bulk or show through when pressed.
I cut a piece of fabric one and a half inches wide by the length of the placket, nine inches. The placket piece and the placket seams were placed right sides together. I start by sewing a half inch either side and across the clip. Then I sew the rest of the seam. It was then trimmed and graded. You can see how smooth it is.  The placket piece was folded and pressed to make a finished edge and then hand stitched down.

Once it is hand stitched down and pressed in place it all smooths out as you will see on the next post.

I organized my interfacings. They are in a white trash bucket. I modpodged fabric to the top edge of the bucket. Each roll is labeled so all can be found quickly. I like the way it looks. Bit by bit I am getting things organized and changed in my little studio. On my next trip south I will hunt out some fabric to slip cover my office chair. I have figured out how to take the behemoth apart and it should be pretty easy to do......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...