Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Recently I had three young women (in their twenties) ask me if I would help them learn to sew. Of course I said yes! It is so exciting to me that a generation that didn’t have the same exposure to sewing as I did now wants to learn to sew.
I grew up in a time when most mothers and grandmothers sewed and passed along that knowledge to their daughters. Well neither my mother nor my grandmother sewed. They both owned sewing machines but I don’t recall either of them using them except when necessary (i.e. mending).
But let me tell you – they did teach me to embroider! For some reason it was a skill that was thought to be valuable and I spent many evenings embroidering kitchen tea towels. (It was important that the back of the item was as attractive as the front.) I learned to do a cross stitch, and a running stitch, and a French knots, and a multitude of other stitches that I can no longer recall.
Anyway, I digress. I was introduced to sewing at the age of eight and discovered that I really liked it. Thank goodness someone was willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to show a child how to sew; otherwise I may never have discovered that I enjoy it.
What I'm getting at is that I never learned the “proper” way to sew. I learned from the instruction sheets that are included in the sewing patterns. It never occurred to me to find a book on sewing from the library or bookstore.
Because I had no one to guide me, I was free to learn to do things the way that worked for me, which wasn’t necessarily the “right” way. I used to think that was a negative, but maybe it wasn’t. I was fearless in what I attempted to sew and never had anyone tell me to rip out stitches and redo them until they were perfect.
Perhaps one of the reasons I am so eager to teach others to sew is because I did not have a sewing mentor when I was learning. I want to pass along the joy in sewing that I discovered so many years ago. I want to encourage others that it’s okay to make mistakes. That it’s okay to not have perfect seam finishes. That it’s okay to not follow the rules. That it’s okay to enjoy sewing.
By now I realize that I’ll never be the best sewer in the world. But I don’t have to be to still enjoy the experience of sewing.
And I am privileged to have the opportunity to pass along a skill to the next generation! Pin It
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Me? I've been busy finishing up the Vintage Vogue jacket that I began November 5. I just need to add the frog closings and take a photo. It's a great jacket and has been a fun project to work on.
I've also been working on the Vogue 8315 faux wrap dress. Unfortunately, I'm having problems with the fit so I put it aside to think on it for a bit. The dress looks awesome when Gigi (my dress dummy) wears it, but not so great when I put it on. The vee is way too deep and the sleeves are tight when I reach forward. I'm not 100 percent sure what I need to do to fix it, but obviously I need to do some tweaking in the upper bodice. The dress itself is adorable so I hope that I can salvage it.
Oh, and the 50's style apron (Butterick 4945) is completed. I'm taking Zazzu's advice and will give it to my sister as a hostess gift. Like Zazzu said, "Anyone who volunteers to host TWO holiday dinners w/in a month is practically a living saint!" The full review of the pattern can be read on Patternreview. Pin It
Saturday, November 25, 2006
When I picked up a copy of the latest Threads issue (January 2007 #128) the pins on the front cover caught my attention. The vintage-fabric flower pins were the perfect way to use the nine 7" x 14" pieces of vintage kimono I had purchased years ago from Ah Kimono.
The flower pins are made from wool felt, scraps of fabric, and HeatnBond . Each one took me about 45 minutes to complete, however if you set up an assembly line production they could be completed much quicker. I did find that I needed to trim the felt pieces after fusing on the fabric pieces as I wasn't always accurate with my cutting and fusing.
- Enlarge the pattern in the magazine by 200 percent. I didn't have a copier handy so I scanned the page at 200 percent and printed out the pattern pieces.
- Trace the wool flower piece onto the wool felt and cut out. I didn't have 100 percent wool felt so I purchased a 30 percent wool blend felt from Joann's. I found it easier to trace the shape and cut it out versus pinning the pattern piece to the felt and cutting it out.
- Iron HeatnBond to the back of the kimono fabric. Trace the flower onto the back of the fused fabric and cut out. Peel the backing off of the kimono flower, place onto the wool pieces and fuse together.
- Fold each flower in half and stitch about 1" to 1-1/2" to form a slight fold. This adds dimension to the flower. I found it easier to stitch this on my machine than by hand.
- Place all three pieces together - bottom flower, top flower, and circle - until you find the combination that is most pleasing to you.
- Sew the center circle to the flower shapes, stitching through all three layers to secure them in place. This time I hand sewed rather than used my sewing machine.
- The next to last step is to sew the felt backing piece onto the back of the pin covering up all of the stitches. Finally a pin is sewn to the back and you're done!
- Only a few hours of work and I have three gifts completed (and one for myself!)
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
A friend gave me this fabric when she moved (more than five years ago - yikes!) I've always liked the colors and the pattern of fruit mixed with flowers. She had purchased it to make a kitchen window valance but I envisioned it made into an apron. With the arrival of Butterick 4945, a fabric and apron pattern match has been made.
The only decision left to make is whether or not I keep it or give it away as a hostess gift (to one my wonderful younger sisters who has volunteered to host not only Thanksgiving dinner but Christmas as well!!!) Pin It
Monday, November 20, 2006
I found a Hello Kitty remnant in my stash and pulled out a New Look pattern I had been wanting to try - New Look 6574. View A was quick to sew and turned out rather cute! But, I made a few errors along the way, so let me share them with you so you don't make the same mistakes.
First of all, there are only three pattern pieces for this purse. The body piece is cut from fabric, lining and interfacing. I choose a very heavy weight sew-in interfacing.
That was a mistake! Don't do it! I was thinking it would add more body to the purse, which in fact it did, but it made turning the purse right side out very, very, very difficult.
As you can see, the body is sewn together at the top of the handles then sewn to the lining along the outer (curved) edges. This is after the interfacing has been sewn on. After trimming and clipping the curved seam, you need to turn the purse right side out by pushing/pulling one side through that skinny little handle!At one point I almost gave up trying to turn this right side out as the body of the bag was practically stuck in that narrow shoulder strap area.
However, I was determined to make it work so I tried forcing the fabric through with the help of a thick chop stick - no luck. I then resorted to using a pliers. I grabbed a tiny bit of the lining and bit by bit was able to pull this right side out. Whew - what an ordeal!
Yet, I continued on. I just needed to sew up the side seams, sew on the bottom of purse, and figure out a way to get the grease off and the holes fixed.
I ended up using a Shout wipe on the grease and fused little Hello Kitties and bees inside the purse handle.
If you're not familar with Operation Christmas Child, you fill a shoebox with a variety of small toys, school supplies, candy, personal care product and clothing. You choose the age of the child and whether the box is for a boy or a girl. The shoeboxes are collected in central locations and shipped overseas.
The Hello Kitty bag proved the inspiration piece for a number of other items that were put into the shoebox, including Hello Kitty toothpaste, mirror, comb, notepad, pencils, and stickers. We have so much fun filling our shoeboxes and wondering who will receive our gifts. I hope the girl who receives this gift knows that it sent to her with a lot of love. Pin It
Sunday, November 19, 2006
So let me introduce the latest addition to my sewing room. Doesn't she look modern? She's all computerized and I need to use a stylus to choose the stitch options. I'm almost afraid to use her because she was so expensive. I have the manual and an instructive CD to guide me until my first class (scheduled for early December). I did forget to have the dealer show me how to wind the bobbin so I think I need to spend some time with the manual before I get down to the fun part - sewing.
And speaking of dealers. Oh my gosh! I am so happy with the dealer I purchased this from. Its the same lady I spoke to at the expo and I spent a few hours with her at the shop getting my questions answered and just talking about this and that. I get free classes on how to use the machine and she reinterated that if there were any problems to call her right away because sometimes the machines need a wee bit of tweaking. Nice, nice lady. I do want to share this as its been weighing on my heart ever since she shared with me. We were chatting about all kinds of things and I had asked about her family. Well turns out her husband was killed in an accident last February. The whole situation has turned into quite a mess and she has needed to get a lawyer involved. In addition, this will be her first Thanksgiving and Christmas without her husband. I just want to ask any of you who feel led to pray for her. Pray that she'll be okay over the holidays and that the whole messy situation will be resolved quickly.
Okay, off the sewing room! Pin It
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Yesterday I had one of "those" days. I woke up a bit later than normal, so of course my morning routine was off. Fortunately, the Friday morning traffic was lighter than normal (all those smart workers taking Friday off) and I arrived at work on time.
Whew, okay maybe the day won't be so bad after all. Except when I looked at my calendar I remember that a late afternoon meeting had been scheduled. Oh joy, something to look forward to on a Friday afternoon
alright, that's not so bad. So I go about my day only to discover a few hours later that I had on two different earrings. Hmmm, now when were my co-workers going to say something?
Okay, no big deal, I'll just remove the earrings. Except something was bothering my shoulders inside of my jacket. Turns out I had never removed two straight pins that I had placed inside of my jacket (my 40s retro jacket from Simplicity I might add) when I was deciding if I needed to tack the lining in place at the shoulder seam.
Fine, I'll remove the pins poking me in the shoulder. And vow to tell no one. Well now we all know that trouble arrives in multiples of threes (and why is that?) so I was wondering what was going to happen next.
Well, the day appeared to be progressing just fine with no more problems. I arrived at my afternoon meeting, sat down and promptly discovered that the zipper in my pants had busted and the fly front was gaping open. Good thing I had on a top with a scalloped and beaded hemline. Meaning the top was not tucked into the pants, which meant the broken zipper wasn't too obvious.
I'm so glad I know how to sew as I can fix the zipper in one of my favorite pair of pants.
Now a couple of happier notes!
I went to Joann's last night with my daughter as she wanted to purchase fleece to make tie blankets for some of her friends. Now I know there is an anti-fleece sentiment on some of the sewing boards, but I gotta tell you. I don't care if its fleece she wants to buy. She is in a fabric store purchasing fabric to bring home where she can experience the joy of creating something herself!
And I am on my way to the Pfaff dealer to test drive the Pfaff 2056 that I looked at when I was at the sewing expo. Its a lot of money, but if can sew some of the fabrics I've had trouble sewing with my Elna 8000, well they just got themselves a new customer.
Verdict to follow... Pin It
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Anyway, I needed a break. I needed something fun to do. So of course I headed to the sewing room. I suppose I could have finished my Vintage Vogue jacket but I would have had to remove the black thread and rethread the machine with thread to match the lining. I know, I know, that's pretty lazy, but I will admit that rather than rethread the machine I choose to sew something that could be done with black thread.
I settled on McCall's 4716 . I really like the deep exaggerated cowls on many of this tops I saw in the stores recently and that's what drew me to this pattern. I'm not sure how I missed the pattern when it was first released as the copyright on it is 2004. It's not as deep as Butterick 4920 but I wasn't sure how a large cowl neck would look on a full bust so I decided to start with the shorter cowl version. Oh, by the way, if you haven't seen Butterick 4920 on a real person yet - check out Stacy Sews - she looks fantastic in the one she whipped up!
The fabric I used is one of the fabrics I picked up from Vogue Fabrics at the sewing expo last week...less than $10 invested so I wasn't too concerned if I didn't like it when it was completed.
I did a very small FBA and then sewed this together in an hour. The back neck edge, the sleeve hems, and the bottom hem still need to be completed but I was curious as to whether or not I would like this style on me. Turns out that I like it! I really like it! The print is a bit wild, but I would wear this with straight-legged black pants for gatherings during the holiday season. This is a top that I think I wear better than GiGi (my dress form) as she doesn't look very curvy wearing it.
I'll be digging in my stash for some more knits and will be adding at least one more of this style to my fall/winter wardrobe. Pin It
Sunday, November 12, 2006
This black and white rayon challis print was purchased to make a dress using Vogue 8315. I originally thought I would add the underlayer with the wide lace trim, but I'm not sure I want to wear two layers of skirt. Although I wear a slip with everything so I guess there isn't much of a difference.
I found this bold print in their "precut/premarked" section. It must be their remnants as the prices were less than the bolt prices. This piece, while very bold, caught my eye. It is vivid red flowers outlined in black on a silver background. It is a woven, with a touch of lycra, 2-3/4 yard and 60" wide. I purchased it to make another jean style jacket but decided to make a long sleeve version of this Thread's pattern - Simplicity 4171. I made a muslin this past summer so I know that I like the fit of the dress. Maybe by making a dress, I'll break away from the black pant/black tee/colorful jacket uniform I seem to have given myself as a work wardrobe. This variegated blue lightweight sweater knit will become this Burda knit top.
I really like the lines of this McCall's jacket (5242). The fabric I purchased is a chocolate brown with slight black woven through it. This also has some lycra in it.
This remnant will be a fun cowl-neck tee that I will probably wear during the holiday season. I plan on using McCalls 4716.
These fabric were purchased without anything specific in mind. I purchased the black/grey floral pattern (on the left) thinking that I'd make a jacket, but now I'm not sure. Its one of those fabrics that either side could be the "right" side, so I'd like to do something that plays on that. The tan/black large floral is a knit that I may save for Butterick 4914 - a Maggy London mock wrap dress. The pink floral knit - I have no idea. It was another remnant that I thought would look good with khaki pants or jeans. Maybe I'll try Vogue 8323, a tee pattern that has princess seams.
Back to the expo...I had been whining a bit in a previous post about my disappointment over the lack of sewing related vendors - specifically garment sewing. When I was reading the blog Snippets from Chaos , I read some of the same comments I heard from many of the women I spoke to while I was at the expo. Hopefully the event organizers will listen to us and try and woo some of the independent pattern companies back to the expo as well as the button/fabric/embellishment vendors. Not all of us quilt and sew in this part of the country. It could become a viscous cycle - sewers will not attend because the vendors they want are not there, and vendors will not attend because they don't get the sales they need to make the trip profitable. My fear is that if that happens, Minneapolis will be a city that this expo no longer makes an appearance at.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Cheryl had her free fashion show at 10:30 a.m. and while we were gathering clothing and accessories to bring to the stage we met Mary. Mary was one of the many customers browsing in the booth just minding her own business. However, she was wearing a beautiful pink embellished tee that just happened to match perfectly with the pink skirt that was headed for the fashion show! And just like that, we had a model named Mary. Okay, we may have been just a teensy tiny little bit too enthusiastic about asking her to join us, but hey, it was morning and we did have quite a bit of caffeine in us. Anyway, Mary was fantastic - she worked that runway like she'd been modeling her whole life. Thanks Mary!
Near the end of the day I had an opportunity to browse a few more vendor booths. Still not as many for garment sewers as I would have preferred, but the show wasn't put together only for me was it?
I did have a chance to test the Pfaff 2056 that I've been eyeing....the dealer has a special expo price of $2199 for the machine. Its quite a savings off of their retail price, which makes it look like a really good deal. The problem is that I don't know if the retail price is a competitive price to begin with, you what I mean?
I will say that I loved the IDT feature on the Pfaff and I especially like the buttonholes that baby can make. I'm bringing a variety of my own fabrics with me tomorrow to do more testing on the machine.
Oh, and look at this great vintage pattern I found in in one of the vendor booths. Its a Simplicity pattern, number 3509, from 1951. I love the striped version!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I do miss seeing all of the great independent pattern companies represented - especially Sewing Workshop. I always looked forward to seeing (and trying on) their sample garments. Then I would end up buying a pattern or two (or four as they usually had a show special when you bought four patterns.) Oh, another thing I miss is the button vendors. It can be so difficult to find great buttons!
To be fair, I am at the show as a booth helper so I didn't spend too much time browsing the sales floor and I haven't attended any classes.
As a booth helper I have a chance to talk to the people who stop in the booth (one of my favorite things about working at an expo.) From what they've told me, the free fashion shows have been great. I'm hoping to catch Jim Suzio's fashion show - he is so funny and his gowns are gorgeous!
One positive is that the local Pfaff dealer has a booth there. I've been wanting to test a Pfaff 2056 but have been too busy to drive to the store to test the machine.
It may surprise you to hear that I did manage to find time to purchase from Vogue Fabrics. Yes, I know that I don't need any more fabric (see my post about fabric hoarding). I even made a pledge to myself to only sew from my stash...but then I walked by all those bolts of fabric that were begging to be touched and...well, what can I say? I'm weak. I bought some knits and some rayons. I'll post my purchases after the expo ends because there's one more piece of fabric that I'm debating about purchasing. Pin It
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I remember vividly the first one I attended. The year was 1997. I stumbled onto an advertisement for a Sewing Expo and was intrigued. I had no sewing buddies to share sewing adventures with me. Nor was there an online sewing community to share ideas with. It didn't take too long to convince myself that I had to go!
Well, I wore myself out and came home overloaded with information and stuff. I mistakenly thought I needed to pack my three days at the expo with non-stop activities. Not only that, but I took every handout available only to toss it out months (or years) later when I could no longer remember why I needed it.
Since then, I've had the opportunity to attend quite a few sewing expos, not only as a customer, but as a booth helper. I've learned a bit how to get the most out of a sewing expo from both sides.
Here's a few pointers I've learned along the way.
- Register early for a class you must attend. Don't wait until the week before or the of day the expo begins. While not all classes sell out, many do. If you wait you may be disappointed.
- Plan your day before you arrive. And don't register for so many classes that you don't allow yourself time to shop.
- Wear comfortable shoes. This isn't the day to show off that killer pair of black leather spike heel boots that you know make you look soooo good. Believe me, your feet and back will thank you for choosing comfort over high fashion. You will be doing a lot of walking and standing.
- Be prepared to be touched and stroked. This is the only place I know of where people feel free to touch whatever fantastic textile creation you are wearing. They will want to feel the texture, and will question what fabric you used, where you bought it and what pattern you used. It sound odd but it is really fun! Join in! People are not shy about sharing their creations.
- Wear something you made. Why not? That way you will be stroked and touched like everone else! Everyone there will admire it and even if they don't say something directly to you, they will know the amount of time and effort that went into it. They understand and appreciate your talent! And what a great way to meet new friends!!!
- Bring a large canvas bag or backpack. This is to stash all of your treasures in during the day. That way you don't have to carry lots of small bags and risk leaving one sitting in a booth while you look at merchandise.
- Bring a notebook and pen or pencil. Especially if you are attending classes. You will be very glad you had paper to write down additional notes from the class. This also allows you to jot down anything that inspires you during your time there.
- Write down fabric yardage. Most of the expos have at least one or two vendors with fabric and some have many vendors with fabric to choose from. Save yourself money by bringing a list of yardage requirements with you. That way when you fall in love with a piece of fabric that cost $20 + per yard you won't need to overbuy.
- Bring self-stick return address labels. Sometimes vendors run out of merchandise before the show ends. They often will ship it to you without charging you shipping costs if you pay upfront. The self stick return address labels will save you time writing your address on order forms.
- Bring small bills (cash). Most vendors now accept credit cards, but for the smaller purchases it is greatly appreciated if you pay with exact change or small bills ($5 and $10s are great and if possible don't pay for small purchases with a bill greater than a $20)
- Bring snacks and bottled water with you. While you can't bring it into the expo area, you can keep it in your vehicle. It will save you a tremendous amount of money if you don't purchase the food that is sold there.
- Don't take photographs of vendors booths without their permission. Some don't care if you take photographs and others do. Respect their creativity and copyrights and ask first.
- Take advantage of the free fashions shows and lectures. I personally enjoy watching a fashion show. And sometimes people in the audience get asked to come onstage and model a garment! Fun, fun, fun!
- Only take the handouts you know you want. It is tempting to take everything that is offered to you, but be realistic. Otherwise you'll end up tossing it all when you get home.
- Shop when everyone else is attending classes. If you planned your time wisely, you will be in the vendor hall while many other attendees are in class. This is a great time for shopping and getting your questions answered.
- Don't assume that items will be marked down the last day of the expo. While some vendors do mark down items on the last day, many don't. Almost all of them do offer show specials throughout the expo. The specials are worth taking advantage of.
- Stop and visit with the vendors if they have some down time. They love meeting with their customers! I have found most of them to be very friendly and generous with their knowledge. They are there because they want to help you succeed in your sewing and quilting endeavors.
I hope my list of tips helps you the next time you attend a sewing expo. Can you think of any tips that I missed that you have found helpful? Pin It
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Because my time for sewing was so limited, I decided to work on something that would be easy and fairly quick to complete. Something that could be worked on in 15 to 20 minute increments. Something that I would quickly see the progress on.
I decided on Vogue 2934 - one of the new Vintage Vogue patterns - after falling in love with the fabric the jacket is made out of in the December 2006/January 2007 issue of Sewing Today's Vogue Patterns.
The 1950 design is described as a "lined jacket, slightly below waist, with a straight front and flared back, funnel neckline and three-quarter dolman sleeves with deep cuffs." Before spending a fair amount of money on a one-of-kind fabric such as the one pictured above, I wanted to make sure the pattern would work for me. I had a piece of textured black wool coating in my stash that was 60" wide, but less than 2 yards in length - perfect for this jacket!
So far, I've sewn the body of the jacket, added the sewn-in interfacing, the lining and hand sewn the hem of the jacket. I've got the lining laid out on my cutting table with plans on cutting it out tonight, sewing the lining together tomorrow, sewing the lining in the jacket the next, and adding the frog closures the day after that. Pin It