Monday, July 29, 2013

A purple ruffle bag

Guess who made a ruffle bag?  She has a little friend who reached some personal goals recently and Sarah wanted to celebrate that achievement.  The girl loves zebra print and purple so this was perfect.   Her friend was ecstatic to get this purse.  It was a great sewing challenge for my dd.  She did a great job and learned some new skills.  
 I really love how she put the two matching ruffles on top and bottom sandwiching the other two ruffles between.  Since it was for a little girl, she left out the pockets on the inside of the purse.  

She has a couple of other sewing projects to get through this summer, including a ruffle bag for herself.  I have some other sewing projects of my own to do.  We'll see how quickly I get through them.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gathering Fabric the Easy Way

I know I just posted yesterday and here I am with another post.  Crazy, huh?  I just wanted to share the absolute easiest method ever for gathering fabric.  Remember yesterday's dress?  There is four yards of fabric in the ruffle.   It's way too much to handle with the traditional basting stitch.   That's where the couching method comes in.

Instead of sewing a basting stitch (or a pair of basting stitches) you adjust your machine to a wide zig zag stitch.   Grab a roll of lightweight fishing line and tie a big honking knot in the end.  I mean big knot.  If that pulls out, you basically have to start over. Lay your fabric out on the machine getting ready to sew.  Now slip the fishing line under the machine foot, lining it up along the seam line and letting the knot lay several inches off the back of the fabric.    Now keep the fishing line centered in the foot so the line is centered under the zig zag stitch.   (As shown in the above photo.) Sew the full length of the fabric.   Cut the fishing line so you have about 6-12" of excess line at the end.

Here's what it looks like sewn.    Now pull the knot end out a few inches, just a few though.   Go back to the other end and pull on the fishing line while sliding the fabric the opposite way.   Your fabric will gather faster and easier than it ever has before.   It's awesome and you will always keep fishing line around your sewing machine from here on out.  

If you are planning on making the ruffle bag or the  fat quarter ruffle bag couching over fishing line will save your sanity.  If you are sewing tulle skirts for little girl dresses, this will save you from swearing like a sailor (also, when sewing tulle use a round nose needle intended for knits.  I swear it makes a huge difference.)

And now you can actually have fun gathering fabric.  Good luck with your sewing.   

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Perfect Pink Dress Redo

Two years ago I found an absolutely gorgeous raspberry eyelet in the clearance section of the fabric store.  So dramatic, so perfect for my girls.  I bought what I thought would be enough for one dress.  When I came home I decided that I could make two with the amount I had.   This is what I ended up with:

The bodice is great.  I love how the border design covers nearly the whole bodice front.  I also love the bound sleeve.  It's cute and perfect.  What wasn't perfect was that skimpy skirt.  It just isn't big enough.  The girls didn't like the skirt either and told me the dresses were hard to walk in.  Naturally, since they didn't like the skirt, they didn't wear the dress.  So I had two dresses made from expensive eyelet just sitting around never getting used.  

Well, my cousin is getting married and she asked my two youngest girls if they would like to help out at the reception.  Since one of the colors is raspberry pink, I thought it was time to get those dresses out and put them through a redo.  

 I took the skirts off both dresses and opened them up.  I cut the longer skirt  to the length of the shorter.   I sewed the two linings together so the skirt was double the fullness of the original dress.  Then I took the lining and sewed a really full ruffle to the bottom.  It's 5 1/2" wide.  Luckily the lining is basic bleached muslin so it was easy to match the fabric.
 Look at that ruffle!  It's perfect.

Next I cut one skirt half up the center so I had a seam to put the zipper in up the back.    Then I sewed all the skirt pieces together.   I layered the the lining to the skirt and basted them together.  I used a couching stitch over lightweight fishing line to gather the skirt.   I sewed the skirt to the bodice and then sewed the zipper back in.
 It's done!  And I'm very, very happy with this redo.  This is the dress I should have sewn the first time!

She's very happy with it.  She's been super picky about her dresses lately and won't wear anything with tulle in it because "it's itchy."  This dress gives her another option.  It's comfy cotton and there are no itchy spots anywhere.   Of course, now I only have one dress when I used to have two, but it was worth it.  Now I just need to figure out what to do with the other bodice.  ;)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Sitting Room

Well it's as done as it's going to get for awhile.   The furniture is done and I have stuff on the walls.   It could use a little tablescape on the table between the chairs, but that will have to wait.  I haven't really been inspired and I think that will have to wait until I find the right pot for our pathetic plant.   But here it is:

Here's the fabulous handkerchiefs.  We found three perfectly sized double glass frames at Gordman's.  I painted the frames to match.   Obviously I'm still waiting for my mother to get the story written for the antique hankie.  The double glass works great with the hankies.  The glass is not perfectly sandwiching the hankies.   I took the thin wood piece that usually sits behind the second sheet of glass and put it between the glass sheets.   This gives the fabric of the handkerchiefs room to breathe so they don't fox or mildew.   This meant I had to find a way to hang them since I didn't have the pressure of the glass to hold them in place.  I used full strength liquid starch.  the starch will not harm the fabric or lace but does stick the fabric to the glass perfectly.  The large poly-cotton hankie is only stuck at the corners.  The other two were fully starched and then laid on the glass.  I put my large cutting mat behind the glass so I could get them perfectly placed.

And my lovely photo framed professionally.  I was going to go cheap with it but my husband had it done for me as a Christmas gift.  It came out lovely didn't it?  

Here's another angle of the room.  You can see my Chinese lanterns in the corner and my big pile of  pillows.  I'm actually kind of proud of the pillows.  I found four fabrics done by four different manufacturers that coordinate beautifully.  I love being able to do that.  It's so much more fun to put my own collection together than to just buy a pre-done set.

The curtains are inexpensive bedsheets.  They have a nice stiffness to them that works for windows but would be awful on a bed.  I trimmed the edges with a striped ribbon.
 There are still more things to do.  We need to replace the carpet some time soon.  I'm leaning toward a wood laminate.  We live in a neighborhood where that would be a standard choice, so I won't even feel like cheaping out.   We also need to replace the back door.   It's old, ugly and has never shut right.   We'll probably do a single full light door.    The window also needs framed out.  When this addition was built they didn't do wood framing on the windows.  There's only three windows so it shouldn't be hard to fix, I just need to get it done.

So there it is.  My sitting room.  It's not fancy and it's not perfect, but it's comfortable and it's the prettiest room in my house.  Not bad for under $500, huh?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sewing for Me

I really have a hard time sewing for myself.  Even though I've been sewing for over 25 years, I've never taken a class or really learned how to alter patterns.  Since I'm not shaped like a pattern model, that means that my stuff comes out not quite right most of the time.  This, of course, drives me crazy.  I find that skirts are the easiest to work with but I still have the issue with my bum being rounder than pattern companies design for so I have to make adjustments to get the length the same all the way around the skirt.  

Recently I sewed two projects for myself.  One was  a smashing success:
It would look better if I stood up straight, I'm sure.  Anyway, that's Simplicity 1716 View F with slightly shorter sleeves.  I wanted a true 3/4 and not the bracelet the pattern is designed for.  I also left off the silly ruching on the bottom sides.  That's what's giving the model in the picture the weird square hips.  It's not needed and it obviously doesn't lay right when it's done.   I love the shirt.  It came out great even though I made no FBA.  I used a super cheap cut of fabric I found at Walmart of all places.  It's lightweight with a great drape to it.  This was supposed to be my muslin.  I love it when the muslin ends up being good enough to wear for real.

My other project didn't turn out near so well.  This is Butterick B5849.   It looks great in the photo, but the fit on me is atrocious.  For your viewing horror:

So bad.  Obviously I should have done a FBA, but I didn't for many reasons that sound pretty stupid now.  1.  I've never done an FBA (which could explain why so many of the project I make for myself turn out like crap.) 2.  I have a high chest so my high bust measurement is only 2" larger than my full bust.  This result says I shouldn't have to do an FBA but obviously from this photo an FBA is beyond necessary.  (Especially since I in no way whatsoever even come close to wearing a B cup.  Really.  Not happening.)  So basically, what the crap do I do?  How much do I add and where do I add it?   My body is weird.  3.  This pattern does not easily lend itself to FBA for newbies.  

The back wasn't much better.  Because of the fit of the dress, I also should have done a sway back adjustment which I didn't do.  so the back looks like this:
This is after I already tried to fix that and it does look better, just not good enough.

My other issue with the dress is the neckline.  It's so close to the neck that it's uncomfortable.  I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be that close, but that's where it rides on me.  The shoulders don't want to stay where they belong and they ride up about 1/2" which doesn't help the neck line.   Also, it sticks out from the back of my neck like crazy.  It's way too big back there.  It's stupid looking and uncomfortable.  Obviously some change would have to be made, but I'm not sure what happened with it.
 I have worn this dress in public and actually got compliments on it but the fit is so off it's just uncomfortable to wear.  My husband says it's his favorite dress of mine, crazy man.   Luckily the fabrics were both super cheap.  This was my muslin, but the process was such a pain (tears on more than one occasion) that I doubt I will try again with this dress, which is sad, because the style is something that would usually be flattering on me.  The pattern is complicated and not something I would recommend to a beginner.

If anyone has any tips on pattern alternations, I'd be very thankful.  I need to do more to learn how to fit things to my figure.  I love sewing for my girls, but sewing for myself has not been fulfilling and that's just sad.