Monthly Archives: August 2017

Christmas and Crayons!

I have been stash diving lately, trying to decide on how to thin out the “stash”.  I have accumulated quite a large collection of fabrics due to many years of sewing for the public as well as selling outfits on Ebay back in the day.  LOL!  And then there is the obligation to purchase fabrics from all the various shops that have gone out of business in the last 25+ years or so because you never know when or where you’ll be able to purchase fabric again!!!  Needless to say, I can make most anything without setting foot in a store at this point since I have a collection of fabrics, laces, trims, buttons, etc.

As I was pulling out fabrics to let go of, I found this gem – some really fun fabric that was made by a company called Princess Fabric, Inc.:

I purchased this fabric 8+ years ago at a unique little shop that had everything you could imagine – current and vintage sewing supplies!  It was kind of like a “pickers” store – nothing was merchandised pretty and you had to dig through to find things.  I got several treasures there.  I had no particular plan other than that I thought it might make a great boutique outfit to sell on Ebay.  That never happened.  It was going to be sold for a bargain, but then I had a fabulous idea!!!

This fabric is meant to be colored, so I immediately ordered fabric crayons – 3 sets for 3 granddaughters.

Then I whipped up 3 pillowcases with different band colors for the different girls.  That way the pillowcases will match the bedroom and will also help with identification, should they have a sleepover and all use their Princess Pillowcases.

Crafting, princesses and new pillowcases!!!  What could be more fun than that!!!  I know that the little girls will be thrilled with this gift.  They are all about crafting and princesses.  I had just enough fabric for the 3 pillowcases and have a 6″ strip left, which I will include for them to practice on.  Coloring on fabric is a bit different than coloring on paper.  😜  I also thought that would help the moms practice with the “heat set” after the coloring is over.

They can color on both sides of the pillowcase – that should keep them busy for a minute!  Don’t you just love all the different “scenes”!!!

I’m thrilled to have a Christmas gift finished!!!  I know others that have already been sewing Christmas gifts and have quite a few put away.  Maybe this will inspire me to continue with the Christmas shopping – even though it’s in the 90’s here!!!

I’ve also done some other sewing this week – I made several more of the ready to smock nightgowns (finished with that for a bit) as well as some tiny diapers to go with the Wee Care gowns.  I’m not sure what will be next, but I have a feeling that it will be something unexpected as I continue the stash diving!  If anyone is interested, there are several groups on Facebook where you can buy/sell from each other.  I’m trying to stick to selling, though sometimes it’s hard to not buy something!  LOL!  If anyone is interested, place a comment and I’ll add you to the groups!!!

Another Dress + Zip Tutorial

Another day, another dress!  When I delivered the last dress to Ella, Eva was very downcast that she didn’t get a dress (in spite of the fact that she told me she didn’t like it and didn’t want it the day before!).  So, since she requested a purple and pink one just like Ella’s (the C’est Dimanche Roma remake), I had to make one for her as well.  It’s a fun dress, so I was happy to make something that she actually wanted!!!  She hasn’t been a fan of any of my creations lately – only the dolly dresses.

 

I drafted the dress in a size 5, did some stash diving to find a purple and pink floral for her – she wouldn’t want “dainty”, but rather something bold.  I found a suitable purple and orange.  I hope that will suffice – there’s some pink in there!

I chose a contrast center panel for this dress – just to break up the busy print.  I am happy with the choice as well as the bright orange piping.  With fall right around the corner, I decided to add sleeves to this dress.  Keeping with the lines of the dress, I chose to draft a straight sleeve and piped those and lined them with the contrast used on the front panel.

Because I wasn’t thrilled with the button back option of the first dress, I decided that this dress would get a zipper.  I find a zipper to be a much more practical option than buttons all the way down the back – especially since this will be a play dress.  Trying to minimize the opportunity for a wardrobe malfunction!  Eva is one busy and wild girl, so wardrobe function is important.

I had Livvy and Liam over yesterday afternoon, so I got Livvy to try on the dress.  I think that it is a bit big on her – I made a size 5, and it’s a perfect fit on my size 5 mannequin, but Livvy is still 4, as is Eva.  I may have to make a size 4 pattern and sew some 4’s for Livvy and Eva.  Isn’t she cute!!!  I think I’ll add a narrow sash to the back so that it can be snugged in and worn now.  Pardon the cell phone picture!  LOL!

There are 3 different zipper choices that could be made – invisible, lapped zipper or centered zipper.  I didn’t have an invisible zipper, so opted for a lapped zipper back.  I think it’s a nice, clean finish and almost invisible.

When I learned to sew, we were taught that the centered zipper looked “cheap” as it was used on the mass-produced garments seen in less expensive stores, while lapped zippers were seen in better clothing.  I don’t even know if these distinctions are even made anymore, but in my mind, a lapped zipper looks better.  I’m happy with the results and it will make dressing quick and easy.

I know that so many seamstresses (both new seamstresses as well as seasoned ones) have a fear of zippers, so I thought I’d share my easy application that I’ve used for many years. (I had to use cell phone pictures, but I think they are clear enough)  When I learned to do zippers this way 20+ years ago, it was such a game changer for me.  I hated the basting, etc. that was taught in home ec classes and was never happy with the end results prior to this method.  I have chosen contrast fabric/zipper/thread so that it will be easy to see.

Choose your zipper, place it next to the seam area and with the top of the zipper even with the upper edge of the fabric, mark along the seam where the bottom stop of the zipper is (the metal part at the bottom).  Sew the seam below the mark with a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance open.  Then press open the 5/8″ seam allowance on both sides above the stitched seam.  A seam guide works really well for this task, giving the fabric a nice crisp crease while measuring at the same time.

With the zipper foot on the machine, place the top edge of the zipper even with the top edge of the fabric and place the zipper seam allowance underneath the fold, placing the raised edge of the zipper right against the folded edge of the dress fabric.  Stitch very close to the folded edge (1/8″ or slightly less).

After taking the first couple stitches, leave the needle in the fabric and raise the zipper foot and carefully open the zipper past the zipper foot area.  Continue stitching along the folded edge.  After a couple of inches have been stitched, leave the needle in the fabric, raise the zipper foot and close the zipper.  Put the zipper foot back down and continue stitching until you reach the bottom of the zipper, where you placed the mark.

At the bottom of the zipper (make sure that you are just PAST the metal stop), leave the needle in the fabric, raise the zipper foot and pivot the fabric/zipper 90º.  Take the other side of the seam allowance and place the folded edge right on top of the stitching line and lower the zipper foot.  Hand crank the wheel of the sewing machine for 4 – 5 stitches.  You want to be just on the other side of the zipper.

Then raise the zipper foot, pivot the fabric 90º, lower the zipper foot and begin stitching back up towards the top of the fabric, keeping the stitching line evenly spaced from the folded edge (use masking tape to aide with stitching straight if needed) and with the folded edge staying exactly on top of the previously stitched line (you want to JUST cover that line of stitching).

When you approach the pull tab of the zipper, put the needle down into the fabric, raise the zipper foot and open the zipper.  Place the seam allowance of the fabric so that it is aligned with the seam allowance of the zipper.

Continue stitching keeping the foot the same distance from the folded edge and stitch to the end of the fabric.

With my contrast thread, you can see that I got a little jag over when I opened the zipper foot – I was hurrying rather than being careful.  Of course, with matching thread this wouldn’t be visible.  However, the goal is to keep everything perfectly even.  😛  It took me less than 2 minutes to put this zipper in – it took longer to stop and take the pictures during the process than it did to stitch the zipper!

As you can see, the lapped zipper is even, the stitching line is covered by the fold of the lap.  When a waistband or facing is sewn to the top edge, it leaves a beautiful finish.

If you’ve been afraid of zippers, give this a practice try – you’ll be amazed at how easy zipper installation is using this technique.

What’s next in the sewing room?  Maybe another pattern draft, though I have pulled out and washed some knits that I may give a try sewing.  😃

French Pattern Review and Remake

If you read my last post about the knit nightgowns, you know that my friend sent me home with a French pattern that she was anxious for me to make.  So, that was my project for the day yesterday.

Over the weekend I spent time researching the dress pattern since I wasn’t at all familiar with the pattern line or this specific dress.  The pattern line is called C’est Dimanche and the pattern name is Roma.  Because my Norton security indicates that the website may not be “safe”, I have not gone there for any information or to see what else is available.  I’m notorious for getting viruses.  😳

Isn’t this the cutest dress!!!  The designer clearly has some fabulous design ideas.  Cuteness sells, and I think she’s sold quite a few!

Pinterest was my main source for research.  I like to see the fit of the dress on a real child since I know that sketches can be misleading.  The pictures on Pinterest weren’t encouraging – most looked to be ill-fitting and too long-waisted.  I also found a blog with a “tutorial”, which is obviously needed given the instructions it was really tragic, to say the least (bias cut on the straight, etc. – and it turned out as bad as you are imagining!!!).  I decided a muslin of the bodice was necessary before cutting into good fabric.

This pattern is so trendy and fun – I can certainly see the appeal.  The open neckline and the faux Peter pan collar are something that young moms really like!  True necklines and classic Peter pan collars are things that I continually hear young moms call “old-fashioned”, not to mention that they believe that the necklines are too tight.  Kids today aren’t used to the close fit of a true neckline, so I can see where they may be perceived as too tight.  Generational differences.  LOL!

Cutting out the muslin and then attempting to sew it proved to be more of a challenge than i anticipated!!!  The pattern was first offered only in French, but later an english version was offered, which is what my friend bought.  That said, the english version is most interesting.  LOL!   I have to wonder about the translation.  These are phrases that aren’t ones I’ve ever encountered in my many years of sewing.

The description leaves a lot to be desired and the diagram doesn’t really help.  LOL!  Thankfully, I don’t really need instructions.  Pity the seamstress that does need them!!!

There were several things about the muslin that I found to be strange.  After sewing the shoulder seams, I thought that they looked very oddly shaped.  What’s with that jut outwards at the shoulder seam?

Once I got the muslin going, I found other minor issues that were easily corrected.  The biggest problem that I found was the lack of directions regarding the seam at the back bodice – I couldn’t find any directions or diagrams for that.  I suspect that is the reason that there are no pictures on any fan blogs of the back of the dress.  The pattern markings are only in French.  You do cut the back lining shorter than the bodice lining at the back edge. I believe that the bodice is to wrap around to the back to make a facing, and then join to the lining.  However, I never found any instructions in the pattern that addressed the bodice back and I’m not sure how that happens after you stitch the entire neckline.  😳  Thankfully, it is only a muslin.  I marked the center back line and left the back unstitched.

Once the bodice was finished, I tried it on my victim.  The fit wasn’t stellar and the longer waistline just looked frumpy. I decided that rather than work with this pattern draft, I would take the idea and draft my own pattern from a bodice that I know fits.  I’m so glad that I did!

The pattern instructions leave out so many instructions – no interfacing is advised, no instructions to clip curves before turning, no under stitching, no stitching reinforcement at that sharp turn of the collar section (though a circle of iron-on interfacing is suggested as optional), etc.  I don’t know if the designer assumes that this is common knowledge, or if she’s  not familiar with these techniques.

My final assessment of the pattern is that the designer has a wonderful idea, but the pattern and instructions leave a LOT to be desired.  I wouldn’t recommend it, though she has a fan blog with many glowing reviews.

My dress is made from a lightweight print chambray.  I added piping to the armholes as well as the waistline.  I interfaced the faux collar to give it body and crispness and, of course, interfaced the facings in the back.

The original pattern has a gathered skirt and a waistline that is lower, more at the true waist. I don’t care for that look on little girls (most of the Pinterest pictures confirmed that), so I went with my usual raised waistline.  I thought that the style of the dress was very “Laverne and Shirley” (you have to be over 50 to be familiar with that reference), so I decided to put a circle skirt on the bodice.  I love the result!!!

I did choose to button all the way down the back, which isn’t my favorite for kids.  Next time I think I’ll do an invisible zipper, which I think will be a better choice.

I can’t wait to see this on Ella!  My mannequin is a professional fitting mannequin, but a size 5 and the dress is a size 7.  Not idea, but it’s the best I can do.  This dress is really for next spring/summer for Ella, but I’m sure that she will be able to wear it a little big for the remainder of the summer.  Now that I have the pattern drafted in Ella’s size, I may try another one with more of an heirloom twist.  We’ll see….

I think my next project will be a quick and easy dress for Eva’s doll.  She doesn’t like anything I sew for her 😂, but she’s all about new clothes for her doll.

 

 

 

Smocked Knit Nightgowns!

As I was going through many of my older magazines, I came across a pattern for a smocked knit nightgown in an old AS&E magazine.  I decided that I had to try smocking on knits.  I think this would be so sweet as a coming home from the hospital gown for the young moms that are more casual and wouldn’t do a smocked day gown.  I pulled out a white knit from my “stash”, but was too lazy to dig deep into the stash.  Instead, I called my best friend and told her I needed some ribbing to make the nightgown.

What is it about shopping in someone else’s stash that is so much more fun than going through your own???  She had pulled out several knits and some ribbing.  I went home with 2 pieces of knit from her stash and a couple of options for ribbing.  Then I went to work.

Because we didn’t find a good match for the white fabric (you know how many shades of white there are!), I chose to use yellow.  This white fabric is really nice, but heavy!  It is the weight of those “beefy” T’s.  It was a real bear to get through the pleater – much like pleating corduroy or velveteen.  Once I got it pleated, it was a dream to sew and to smock.  I smocked my design rather than what was included in the magazine.

The next nightgown that I worked on was the lavender rosebud print from my friend.  I made 2 of those.  It was a nice, lightweight knit and easier to sew.  I’m in the process of smocking it, but include it in the pictures anyway.  The next gown that was made was the pink gown with long sleeves shown in the next picture.  After finishing it, I determined that those sleeves are much too long!

With 4 gowns finished, I went over to deliver hers and we proceeded to go through more of her stash.  She pulled out her harder to get to knits (you know how those stashes are squirreled away!) and I went home with a LOT more pieces of fabric.

With the new pieces of fabric in my sewing room, I cut and pleated up 9 gowns in one day and then stitched up one of them that evening.  I’m telling you, these are so quick to make!  Once cut, I think it takes about 40 minutes to completely sew the gown – and that includes counting the pleats to find the center.

These last 2 are “vintage” Carter’s knit fabric.  Does anyone else remember when you could shop at outlet shops and buy the fabrics and trims as well?  This was LONG before those yellow “sort of” outlets that are all over the place.  I think that the lavender may be from a children’s wear outlet as well.  These knits have aged well and are now ready to smock!

While I would always choose a beautiful daygown for a baby, so many young moms haven’t got a clue what a daygown is and they certainly don’t want to iron.  I think these nightgowns along with a burp pad and bib will make a lovely baby shower gift!  If you disagree, please don’t burst my bubble – I love believing that these will be enjoyed and used.  😛

The gown pattern was in AS&E #19 – an older magazine and probably difficult to find. It came ins a NB – 12 lb. size as well as a 12 – 18 lb.   It has 3 sleeve options so that is nice.  I love the little puffed sleeve!  So sweet and little girlish.  In the magazine it is longer and designed to smock.  I didn’t want to smock the sleeves and so I shortened them and added the cuff that was designed for the straight short sleeve instead.  I’m really happy with the results.  I have a few other suggestions if someone has that magazine and plans to make the nightgown.

  •  The long sleeves are way too long.  I made the sleeves on the pink gown according to the pattern.  For the other gowns, I trimmed 1″ off the sleeve length and I think another 1/2″ could easily be removed.
  • The shoulders at the back yokes don’t fit together properly – the back shoulder is 1/4″ wider than the front shoulder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I chose to smock a simple design on the dress and then graphed it out to share with my readers.  I also changed up the graph to be suitable for a Wee Care dress or a tiny bishop.  I hope that you will enjoy it!  This is suitable for any small space that you want to smock – including a bonnet!

I think that this little gown could easily be made by adapting a t-shirt pattern – maybe even one from Kwik Sew.  I’ll have to look into that.  It would be adorable as a tiny dress with matching panties as well.

So, after completing 8 ready to smock gowns, I put the other 5 that I have cut out away and brought my serger in for a spa treatment!  It is much-needed.  I’ll be working on a French pattern next.  Stay tuned for a report on that.

*** Please excuse the bad pictures, I was having a bad picture day today and seemed that nothing was in focus.  Ugh!***