Sewing Vloggers

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cushions #3, Welting

The past several days the focus has been on putting up more vegetables for the winter. The two previous days were spent roasting tomatoes and other goodies down to a sauce and bagging them up in the freezer. DH and I love "caponata" so today I roasted a couple trays of tomatoes with all the tasty goodies again but also the addition of cubed eggplant and capers, yum! I've been using fresh herbs from the garden as well and have to say these roasted sauces are incredible. DH and I sat and gobbled up the sauce with ritz crackers it was so good.

Back to sewing:
 At this point the two large cushions are all welted. To turn neat corners an inch short of the corner I would dial down the stitch length. Then, with a pencil, I would draw a line from the cord to the raw edge one half inch short of the corner as you can see above.
  That pencil line is then snipped to within 2 threads of its meager life. Once that one is snipped do two more snips, one  a half inch to the left and the other a half inch to the right of the first snip. It helps to have your needle down. Now, line your edges up and stitch around the corner. I don't do a sharp 45º corner, instead opting for a slight curve around the welting. It just sort of naturally happens so don't over think this too much. One inch past the corner dial back up to your normal stitch length which by the way, is longer for slipcovers than garments. I am sewing most of this at a recommended 9 stitches per inch. I dial the corners down to about 12-14 stitches per inch.

The next issue with welting is how to start/ finish the ends of the strip. You should start putting on the welting at the back of the cushion. Start sewing at least one inch from the actual end of the welt. Sew the welt on all around the cushion and one  inch short of the end stop, needle down, foot up. On the ending welt open up the welting and undo the stitching to reveal the cord. Cut the cord only so that it matches right up with the cord of the starting welt. Take the fabric of the ending welt and fold it under 3/8ths of an inch. Slip this under the starting welt so the two inside cords are butting heads with each other. Fold over and stitch the welt down using a smaller stitch and some back stitches. It should look like this:

I have purchased zipper coil and pulls and will be making the two very long zips needed for the cushions. I purchased shorter zips which will work for the bolsters fine as they are so thin. So that is the next part of the process.

Cissie, aka "Design Dreamer", asked if I could show the "ski type" zipper foot. You can see it in the pics. It has a screw in the back so the foot can be moved to any place you would like left or right of the needle. It is wonderful for zippers and welting and why new machines don't automatically come with one of these anymore, who knows!

Tomorrow I will be roasting and skinning peppers for preserving in a brine, at least I think I will use that method. We have quite a few peppers but I may supplement with some from our Amish neighbors. Their produce is all organic and so big and beautiful its amazing. I will leave you with a shot of one of the trays of roasted caponata:


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cushions Continue, #2

Yesterday I dealt with the foam. It is high density polyurethane foam. Because Audrey's window seat had little measurement idiosynchrosies each piece of foam is marked Left or Right and has arrows for Up and Front. By wrapping the foam with quilt batting the cushion should fill more nicely in the corners and crevices. Again, this is info gleaned from that great Sunset publication. You can get a crisper look without out it but I think it will work better with the batt.
I used Elmer's spray adhesive, OUTSIDE, to secure the batt to the foam as well as glue some foam to foam pieces for the bolsters. It worked very nicely, but the fumes, oh my. Outside is the only way to go here. particularly if you are asthmatic like myself.
Here you can see the fabric chosen for the cushion bodies. It is from and made by Richloom. She wanted something rather fun and whimsical because it is after all a glorified laundry/mud room. With leftovers from this and the striped welting we will fabricate some sort of window treatment. We will see how much fabric is left before any decision is made there.  

Today more cutting, spraying, and gluing continues. It is far too beautiful out to  not spend time outside, however, so cave time will be minimal. 

Cynthia asked how my sewing room redo was going. Well, I have purchased some more fabric and goodies and will work on these in between other projects. It will happen in time. One thing I am toying with is slip covering my office chair. I am thinking  a white matelasse with a  bias black and white check binding. I need to get to Home Goods in NH to get the bedspread  I  will use for this project. I also have some magazine boxes to recover and am saving up for a super wall unit I found on line for laces and trims. I will let you know when it is ready to go on Nate Berkus, LOL!...Bunny

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Cushions Begin

Twenty Two yards of welting completed and I've got a stiff neck! Now its time to suck up the fumes from the spray adhesive being used to attach the batting to the foam. Just kidding, as I will be going outside to the picnic table  for that chore.

My "Sunset" book suggest using a ski type zipper foot for the entire construction. Makes sense as all seams are either welted or zippered. For this I brought out my old Kenmore, a heavy duty workhorse with one of those wonderful ski type feet....Bunny

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bias Strips Tute, Method #3

I just made 22 yards of bias strips for the welting for Audrey's cushions. It went very quickly and I like this new technique I tried. I found it gave me more accuracy and was pretty easy. I call it Method Three or Bagged Bias because you sort of make a bag at the start. I used Method Three because I think we all know the fold it up and rotary cut method (#1), the method that looks like a pair of pants (#2) and this one. It is sort of like Method #2, but I think less hassle. 
I got this method from this really fabulous book on making slipcovers by Sunset. This book is so clear and I've yet to find a question unansered. Its all in there. (Sorry for the big white blob. It's better than the big white glare that was there originally.)

  • Square off your fabric. Mine is 36 by 52. Fold along the short end. You have a fold at the top. Pin the other three sides, matching as needed. At the machine stitch the three pinned edges, not the folded one, with a half inch seam. Don't bother making small stitches or fussing at the corners. 
Cut off all four corners about an inch and a quarter down. I didn't go that far on this one and should have. I had to compensate later instead.
You will need to be able to get a pair of scissors thru the corner. This is a knitting needle, just to make the point.
  • Mark each corner. With the fold at the top, top left is A, top right is C, bottom left is B, bottom right is D.
  • Fold it so it looks like this pic in the book, with A and B at the bottom and D andC folded and at the top. I found it helped to press in the crease from C to D. Then slip your scissors in the D hole/corner and cut across the crease to C. CUT ONE LAYER ONLY!!!  
ETA, 09/27/12: It appears a typo is in the book regarding A and B. Just ignore the letters A and B and make sure you have folded the "bag" so it looks like the picture, folding on the imaginary line between C and D. Make sure you cut ONE LAYER ONLY from D to C and it will all work well. 

This will give you a big bias tube. You will have to shake it out a bit to make the tube. Once you get the tube shape square it all off again. Press your seams open as well.

Six inches from the left side of the tube, from the fold, measure and mark a line. From that six inch line draw a line every 1 5/8ths inch or whatever is appropriate. This is for home dec welting, not piping so I am using 1 5/8ths. You may want narrower for piping. 

With your rotary cutter cut each long strip but only up to the long  vertical line. Now open up the solid section and rearrange the tube to  so the solid section  is all flat in front of you. Time to get out the pencil again!
I've emphasized this with a white line. Draw a line diagonally from the beginning of each cut on the left to each cut on the right, moving down one  section. Your lines will all be diagonal as above. Cut across those lines, the white ones here, and voila, you are done and now have miles of bias strips all in one continuous piece. I think this is the cleanest, neatest method I have tried and hope you give it a shot next time you need some bias stripping.

For those concerned that the stripes will now be "off" it is totally unnoticeable on the cushions as you can see in later posts and above. 

The last of my dehyrated tomatoes. You can see they are still quite fleshy. The insides are grey with the pepper/sugar/salt mix that was sprinkled on. DH says I put up about a hundred pounds. Dressed weight, not so much! These will be wonderful popped in a salad come the middle of winter when tomatoes are 3.99 a pound.

The bias stripping was my first step in the process of making the window seat cushions. Next will come glueing the batting to the foam. Tomorrow will be a sunny day so a good one to work outside. I don't like those fumes from the spray adhesives getting sprayed inside the house. Till then........Bunny

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smocking Q & A


I have started the smocking on Selena's bishop. I started on the wrong row and had to rip all that out and now its my second try. You can see, somewhat barely the threads that hold the pleats together. The rows are marked with white quilting thread and the half rows in between are a light brown. I always pleat half rows. I am not really good at judging distance, particularly when doing the wave stitches, so the half rows help my accuracy. 

We had some questions regarding this project and smocking in general so I will answer them now. Sewconsult asked, "Is it a batik?" Yes, it is. It is in pale pastel colors and has the slightest drawing of a butterfly. Her next question was "do you block before you smock?". I do. Some don't saying its not necessary but when it comes to hand needlework I like to stick to the tried and true. The pattern I am using, like most, provides a "blocking guide"  for each size dress in the envelope.

Debbie Cook asked, " why do you have to count the pleats?"  This is for placement of the smocking design. It must be lined up at absolute center of the garment to be visually pleasing and you need an equal amount of pleats to the left and right of center so that when you end up the smocking in the back of the garment the design will match on either side of the bodice. Smocking "plates" (the smocking design) always indicate where the center front is  and you can see this in the pic in yesterday's post.   

I dehydrated another batch of tomatoes today and will do one final batch tomorrow. We are expecting frost tonight and the trees have started to turn. This chill has made me realize I need a jacket, not a big wintry one, but a light jacket, maybe a Chanel type jacket, hmmmm,,,,,,,,Bunny

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Selena's Bishop


The dress is all pleated, pleats are now counted and I am ready to smock.  I will be using the Dimity plate from the The Best of Australian Smocking and Embroidery, my go to book for smocking designs. 
Bishop dresses require that a "wave" design or some other very elastic design be used at the bottom of the smocked area. This allows the pleats to spread open as it falls over the child's upper chest and shoulders. 
Today is dehydrating tomatoes day and I am off to do that now. Hopefully I can get my half bushel into the dehydrator in one fell swoop. You can also dehydrate tomatoes in your oven at a very low temp like 150º. I only dry mine till they are dry but not leathery. 

     Mix 2 tablespoons each of freshly ground pepper, kosher salt, and sugar. Cut roma tomatoes in half on the length. Over a bowl and with a spoon scrape out all the seedy wet stuff. Lay on your tray skin side down. Sprinkle with the spice mixture. You can be heavy handed here. Dehydrate for anwhere from 4-8 hours. This is very dependent on weather conditions and can vary a lot. Shoot for a slightly leathery tomato but not one any way near like what you have in the stores. Because they still hold moisture, bag em up in freezer ziplocs and freeze till the depths of February. Pull out a bag, throw into a fresh salad and dream of summers past. 
ETA: Just wanted to add, take that big bowl of juice and pulp that you scooped out and cook it down into a wonderful sauce. I added a garlic, a bit of grated onion, S&P, and two big tablespoons of freshly made pesto and cooked it all down until thick and sticking on the bottom. It was sooooo good.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Selena's Bishop

The musical interlude is over and we are back to sewing! Those guys were great, weren't they?

My BFF just had her second grandchild and she is a little girl so this is where best friend Bunny jumps in and says, "Hurray!" I get to do a frilly little project. You've seen me make this dress many times. It is my go to Bishop dress. I use a Bishop as a gift garment because the size is so forgiving and the length of the wear time is long. It's my habit to give a one year old dress so she will be in this next summer. I find babies have loads of newborn fitting clothes and a year later the supply dwindles down. Besides, I want this little sweetie to wear my efforts for a while, not just a few weeks. 

This classic bishop is not too full, not too complicated, and comes with two smocking plates. I am not sure yet if I will use those. I'll also may make the back so it buttons all the way down and may add some pockets as well. It will evolve. 

I have started designing Sophie's Christmas dress. I have the fabric, hopefully enough, and the ideas worked out in my head. I can't go any further at this point. I've put together a sloper for her but the design requires many changes. I will wait until I can actually drape it on her and start cutting, moving, and adding. So that project is on hold until Columbus weekend. 

All peeled and ready for the next step! I put up 15 quarts two days ago, 15 quarts today, and will do fifteen more tomorrow. I am turning into a tomato. Tomorrows batch will be dehydrated instead of stewed. I use Romas for those. Are  you  canning, freezing, or "putting food by"? ....Bunny

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wakeup Lovelies!

I just couldn't resist! This gets hotter exploding at the end.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beaded Valance is Complete!

These are complete and I am pleased. I sure hope Audrey is as well. Today I mounted them on the board. I used the same board as the original designer but his returns went beyond the width of the  board. I will velcro those to the window molding so nothing will be swinging out. I'm also thinking of adding some weights at the hem of the returns to help them not wing out like the original valance. So I think with these tweaks, once installed, they will look great in the "copper" bath. Here is what the wrong side looks like:
This wasn't the only thing I finished today. I covered my new sleeve board with a couple of layers of wool blanket and some black and white toile. Kinda cute?
So the room is coming along, bit by bit. I did some retail shopping today but saw nothing that I wanted in the room. I will wait till my next visit south and hit Home Goods, one of my favorite places on the planet.

I am not sure what is next. I am going to do a bit of reading before starting the next project. I want something to work on before starting the next phase for Audrey - the mudroom cushions and window treatment. I am tossing between starting a slip cover for my office/sewing chair and Sophie's Christmas dress. I have to do a bit of inspirational reading before I start so I am off to dig out the SBs and AS&Es. (Sew Beautiful and Australian Smocking and Embroidery for the non heirloom of you) . In the meantime its time to pick and put up tomatoes!....Bunny

Friday, September 9, 2011

Audrey's Guest Bath Window

This is DD Audrey's guest bath. It is an oddly shaped room as the house sort of rambles at an angle but it is still pretty. You can see the custom window treatment the previous owner had installed about 2 years ago. It is falling apart with the returns winging out. It looks a little short here too but doesn't seem to IRL.  I took this home with me to help with making the new window treatment.
 Custom window treatments, particularly small valances, are often mounted on a board covered with muslin as you see here on the original WT. The edges are covered with bias and stapled to the board. That's right, you can't throw CWT in the wash usually, so to maintain them you want to dust with the vacuum brush maybe once a month to keep them clean. You can also have someone come in the home and steam clean them while they are hanging, something usually held out for big drapes and cornices. Back to our little guy here - The mounting boards are often attached to the wall with L brackets but in Audrey's home the moldings are different and heavier. They are wide enough to just sit the board on top of the window but I think I may attach it with some velcro or something. I couldn't believe when I just lifted the original WT and walked away with it.
Here's what Audrey has chosen. The colors you see in the sample dots are accurate. All other pics are not. It is more coppery and creamy which compliments the hammered copper look of the glass vessel sink. You can also see the beads which I think will work well with the sink also. Those dots of color are the inks used to print the fabric and are on almost all "real" home dec fabrics. Keep this strip to shop for other items, like towels.
My first step was measuring the board and figuring out what size pieces of fabric to cut. This is a simple flat valance with a center pleat and a pleat at each corner. This is where my notebook comes in really handy. You can see here my calculations. When I designed and sold CWTs, we would submit worksheets on this idea to the workroom to make the WT. The pleats made it necessary to use more than the width of fabric so an extra 5 inches was inserted/hidden  in the center pleat. You have to be real careful about the match when you use more than a width of fabric. With small pieces like this you can just put the first cut on top of the yardage to match up the second cut.
To sew the beads on it was necessary to tape them down and also use a "ski" type zipper foot. That foot let me swim right along compared to the new type zipper foot.
When the WT was complete I added the bias to the top edge and triple zigzagged it on the fold. The WT is complete other than mounting it to the board and that I will do tomorrow.

When I attached the lining to the top fabric I did it just like the Nancy Zieman collar, stitching just the bottom edge and understitching with the triple zigzag. That kept the beads from pulling out the lining. Then I just stitched up the sides like a pillow case. More tomorrow...Bunny

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sewing Room Window Finished!

These took me most of today and a bit of yesterday to stitch up.  They are lined and banded. I put the sheer underneath to soften the view. I love looking out at the garden and the wildlife but don't like the framework of the porch encroaching on the view. I thought the softness of the sheer could hide that a bit.  I used eyelet to make the tiebacks but I am not sure I will stick with these the way they are. I may shape them or use a different fabric. DH has suggested new lights. I have not been happy with these lights as it is very  difficult to find the correct bulb for them. So we may trade them for something with bulbs easier to replace.

This is just the first step of the journey. Coming up will be covers for other pressing tools, painting some accessories white, looking for more milk glass. I use to have loads. I will hang some artwork, cover some boxes for magazine holders, slipcover my desk chair and more. I am going to pick at all of this as I have a deadline to meet for DD's projects. Tomorrow I will start on her powder room window which should be quick and fun. This will be mounted on a board and beaded so a fun little project. Then I will move on to the upholstery. In the meantime I also hope to get moving on the smocking for Sophie's Christmas dress. I think I am going to smock "sideways" being inspired by a couple of items made by my smocking friend Kathy Dykstra. She is currently published in Sew Beautiful and has many accolades and articles in SB and AS&E to her credit. She does amazing work. ...Bunny

Thoughts Between Home Dec

I saw this notebook at Staples and just knew it would be perfect in the new room. Last year I decided to track my work in a notebook and am glad I've started that practice. This notebook refines it up a bit. My notebook keeps me from marking up patterns and gives me notes on fit adjustments. I have found this really helpful. The drawback with my previous notebook was that it was chronological and if I wanted to look up what I did to adjust that princess blouse or whatever it took digging. When I changed over to this notebook I decided to get more categorized. I did the sections you see plus added one today for Home Dec. The first page of each section is an index listing date started, pattern number or name of design, and date completed. Then in each section each project gets a page or more if needed for all the details of the construction. I have numbered each project in each section as well. This contains all those little things like what needle I used for what stitching, fit adjustments, comments on the pattern, etc. I think I will be happier with these refinements, plus, its a cute notebook to go with the new "look" of the room. 

I have started on my window and should finish it today. Then it will be on to Audrey's guest bath window. I will also get started on some holiday smocking as my fingers are itching to get back to handsewing. Gotta have something for that TV time. 
This is my guilty pleasure, real pesto, made fresh from the garden. My basil's lifeline is limited now and I must squeeze in every last bit of pesto I can. Real fresh pesto is truly glorious. It starts with picking the leaves out in the garden from a beautifully green little bush that bursts fragrance every time I bend down to pinch a leaf. Part of this joy is the warm sun on my back. Then I go in and rinse the leaves and put them in the food processor, love that thing. In go the toasted almonds or pine nuts, real fresh Parmesan, a clove of garlic, all to succumb to the whirring blade. Golden olive oil is dripped down the sides as the mix works into its perfect consistency. Now comes the best part. A big spoon comes out only to be filled with the oily green-ness. I would eat the whole bowl if it didn't come along with such guilt but will  settle for a few magic spoonfuls of summer resting on my tongue. Need a spoon? I'll share......Bunny

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Home Dec Beginning

We had a wonderful vackay, spending quality time with family among 4 generations. I came home with a big Granny-do list and will try to start sewing today. Here you can see me cutting high density foam for the window seat cushions. 

This is Audrey's mudroom. There are two window seats that lift up for storage and a window to be dealt with. We started by cutting all of the foam pieces. The only good way I know of to cut this stuff is with an electric knife, the kind people use to slice a big ham or turkey. We, DD and I, marked all the pieces with their orientation so as not to get mixed up when I shlepped them all back to New York. I will do the covers here as well as some other home dec projects. She will pick them all up Columbus Day weekend so I have a deadline here as well. All marked, cut and ready to go:
We are not firmed up on the window treatment yet but DD has supplied plenty of fabric. The cushions will be a contemporary print of sunbrella fabric with a bias striped cording. Did I mention this is where the two weimeranas sleep? They are getting the decorating priority as they like sleeping in this area and looking out the window and DD has interior electric fences to keep them off the furniture, mostly new. So we are trying to provide Loky and Cally with a lovely new home as well. 
I will also be working on a sweet little treatment for the guest bath, a small mounted valance with some beading on the edge. More to come on that. So come along for the home dec ride and let's hope its not a bumpy one!
We did some hiking and canoing in the Audobon preserve in Ispwich, Mass. What a beautiful spot! Here is  what I think is a cormorant sunning in one of the little ponds...Bunny
Thanks everyone for your concern regarding our trip. We are all safe and sound with no home damage other than picking up a lot of debris. Amen.....Bunny

Friday, August 26, 2011

Home Dec Looming

After making that new ironing board cover I got the urge to re do my studio. I am yearning for a bit more sophisticated look and think black and white and the salmon pink walls will work. Above you some of the fabrics and textures I am considering. I will need to cover another small square ironing surface, make new window treatments, a new bulletin board, "upholster" my stand up lamp, hang up an incredible Dior poster that I have been saving for years, paint some small items, make fabric covered magazine boxes, and I am sure more will come. There are some fabulous strictly functional sewing rooms out there that some of you have but myself, well, I like a decorated look. I guess its a holdover from my years of doing interiors. Add to that years of sewing in dark basements with the clothes dryer thumping away next to me and the smell of grass and gasoline emanating from a nearby lawn mower and you can see why I just want things pretty. 

Some argue that this will all interrupt my design process, all this distraction of color and line. I say poo to you. I find being surrounded by color and contrast to be very invigorating and have never felt it squelched me in any way. If anything, it makes my space more of a refuge, a place that is all mine, all decorated by me. I waited many years for this and revel in the opportunity to work in such a space. Its a blessing, one I wish for all of you. 

I will be leaving early tomorrow for New Bedford, Mass, at the foot of Cape Cod. What? You say there is a hurricane coming? We know. It is the only time DH has off to go visit his ailing mom, something we have to do. We will be staying with DSIL, about a mile and a half from the waters edge but on higher ground than the waterfront. She lives alone so we will be there to help her if needed and I think that will be the case. We are bringing lots of food, containers of gasoline, and a chain saw. Lets hope we need none of this. One of the things also playing into this is that the New Bedford harbor, the busiest in the US, is protected by a massive hurricane dike made to protect the city from a category three hurricane. It has proven itself already in a couple of Cat Ones so we are confident. It is quite an amazing feat of engineering, goes 3 and half miles across the harbor and would never get built today. Its also a great place to sit and watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

I pray all our East Coasters come out of this safe and sound with minimal damage. Please heed all warnings and leave when you are told to leave. Is the PR shopping in NYC still happening? I tend to doubt it. 

I will leave you with good thoughts and a bouquet of hydrangeas from the garden...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...