17 August 2015

Just What I Need?! Not!

FaceBook is all a-twitter with a new sew-along. It's hosted by Gnome Angel, The Fat Quarter Shop (one of my personal favorite places), and Marti Michell templates.the nexus is the new book by Laurie Hird called "The Farmer's Wife 1930's" (nb: there was an earlier book called The Farmer's Wife from th esame author...which I also happen to own).
This not a project I need of course, and I certainly had not planned to be involved in yet another project! Perhaps what called to me was an opportunity to use up some of my stash of 30's reproduction fabrics. The books comes with a CD that provides all of the necessary templates as well as all instructions and templates for paper piecing. Of course, as a confirmed acrylic template fan! I was happy to know that Marti Michell templates make the project even easier. They are, of course, an extra expense. Thus far I have just used the paper piecing templates and a combination of hand stitching (I found hand sewing easier for some of the tiny half square triangles). The paper piecing templates work very well.


I played with the paper piecing templates ... the block below required two tries ...and still the points are below standard. I will, most likely, use these two blocks on the back and will remake the block again using the templates and hand piecing instead. These are 6" finished blocks- so large in comparison to Dear Jane blocks, but not all that large.


I am eagerly waiting for my pattern called "Sweet Surrender" to arrive from the Land Down Under...it's supposed to ship at the end of August. That quilt will be a combination of hand appliqué and EPP. I figure that once I start on that project this one will fall by the wayside and go on a back burner for some time. I am still chaffing at the bit to make some more shirts, plus I have a knitting project going - so I will be prioritizing very soon. Retirement has made my extremely grateful that I enjoy sewing so much. I am never, ever lacking for something to do!

The block in the photo below was a bit like a jigsaw puzzle- but I had fun making it! I took my time and enjoyed the process.

The FaceBook group does not officially start the project until September 28... And there are already over 1500 folks involved...that a whole lotta quilts in the offing! The group will not be doing the blocks in order, but rather, as I understand the plans, blocks will be presented as skills are built- from more simple blocks to more complicated ones. There seems to be a wide diversity of skill levels and folks are joining in the fun world-wide. It will be fun to follow the group. I so enjoy seeing people discover new skills and building on their knowledge of sewing techniques.

If you want to have a peek at the FB group search for "the Farmer's Wife 1930's Quilt Sew-Along".

Enjoy your last bits of summer. Here in the Pacific Northwest hinterlands we have had the driest summer on record...as well as the hottest. I am astounded that it is the middle of August already. I blink and another month has gone by! Enjoy each day as much as you can....Fall is right around the corner!




09 August 2015

Long Sleeves Make A Comeback

I keep waiting for my shirt sewing fixation to abate, but rather than wane, my enthusiasm is continues to wax.

Making shirts is so much fun...they are small enough that they are not huge projects and attending to details is fun rather than frustrating. This one, another pattern from Brensan Studios, is extremely versatile. I make mine without the optional princess seams. This shirt is made from quilting cotton designed by Alison Glass. The fabric will wrinkle, but it's eminently useable. I prefer rayon, but suitable prints (unless you love abstract florals) are hard to come by. I am quite happy with the results and it will, go with a lot of my t-shirts when I use it as an overshirt rather than wearing it on its own as I will in warmer weather.


I have found another reason to,love my Janome 8900...their fool proof buttonholer! I love it. Another sewing room fear myth has been busted!


Next up? More shirts and a pair of flannel PJ's to welcome the cool Fall nights with.

The buttons come from a great on-line shop in Germany, Buttons Boutique. I ordered less from here than I wanted thinking that an order from Germany might take some time to arrive. Therefore I also ordered some buttons from a place in the USA, Pacific Trimmings (which is actually in NYC) at the same time (July 25). As it turns out, the German order arrived within a week and I am still waiting in the USA order ....how in the heck does that work? Erhhhhhh....or not work that is! You can guess where I will order my buttons from! Button Boutique offers an amazing selection of unique (as well as 'usual') buttons. I do recommend them! Selection and fast shipping! What a concept!



02 August 2015

When Vintage Is Better Than New

Most people know that I am a 'gadget gal". I love tools that work! What I love even more is finding an old tool that works better than new ones!
Voila! My favorite vintage sewing tool... The Florian Rotary Pinker.
One thing that I have never been very happy with (in any of its various iterations) are pinking shears or rotary pinking blades. They just have never cut well and they have all laid, unused and unwanted, in my sewing table's drawers. The Florian Pinker changed all that! It is is a marvel of usefulness! I believe that that it could well be the forerunner of what we now call the rotary cutter. The Florian Rotary Pinker came out in 1936 then, In more recent years, they were not in business, but a company in Oregon is now making them available again. I got mine from EBay. It is vintage, looks like it was just about unused, and it works like a charm. If a Florian Pinker ever need sharpening, which my does not, this company will happily service a vintage pair.
Another vintage marvel is this Simflex. I use mine for positioning button holes and button. I had considered buying a new one but the new wmodels look like they are cheaply made and I did not want to spend the money on cheap metal and flimsy construction. This vintage simflex (again found on Ebay) is another barely used find. It is beautifully constructed without being heavy. I think that the metal is of much better quality that the "new" version. It glides open and closed and I am delighted with it. New fangled versions are readily found on Amazon and most all "sewing" vendors online though I am not sure that I have ever seen them in stores...then again I can't say that I have evcer looked for one in a store.
Since I have been sewing shirts I found that, although I am well trained at judging a quarter inch (and my machine foot makes them perfectly) I was not used to either using or eye-balling 1/2" and 5/8" seams. I went on the hunt for a seam guide that would train my eye and make me more aware of the needle plate markings for these previoulsy, mostly un-used, seam widths. I had looked at this "Creative Notions" brand seam guide and it seemed to have promise. I even found a used one on Amazon that I decided to try since it saved me $5.00. Suffice it to say that I have returned to using a short stack of post-it notes and blue painter's tape.
This seam guide would be good for quarter inch seams, but it is fairly useless for what I wanted to use it for. It comes with a foot which I knew I would not want or need. The guide itself is made of sturdy plastic that is between1/8" to a 1/4" in thickness... the 1/8" being in the area that "houses" the double stick tape-- so it mostly a whopping 1/4" thick. The problem with using it for me is that it is too thick and the little screw-thing that is on the right side of my presser foot (as you look at the machine) gets in the way.
It's flexible in that there is a bend where the guide could fit over the front curve of your machine - if it is not in a cabinet. The 're-usable" tape is simply something like (if not actually is) Elmer's poster tape. The tape does 'revive' itself if you run it onder hot water --- making it re-positionable on your machine bed. This guide would work very well if your machine needs a short shank quarter inch foot...but it does not work well with the feet on my Janome 8900...maybe I will try using it on my Featherweight?
It isn't a bad tool - it just did not work well for and me and my current sewing set up. I have better, less expensive, options.
The picture below is of my sixth shirt...it's a long sleeved "basic" shirt pattern from Brensan Studios. I am using an Alison Glass cotton fabric. My only negative observation is that it wrinkles a lot - and easily. Note well: when shopiing for fabric (especially if using quilting cottons for clothes) grab a handful of the fabric and crush to see how much, and how easily, it will wrinkle. None-the-less this will be a nice looking shirt and it will go with a lot of my tee shirt colors when I wear it over another shirt. I cut it extra large so that it would could used as an overshirt too. During the construction I tried an unsuccessful way to bind the armhole seams. The stitching was too dense to rip out (I had overlocked the raw edges) and did not have enough fabric to cut outanother sleeve. I took a deep breath and tried a drastic measure...cutting out the sleeve from the body of the shirt, then redefining the pattern pieces and resewing with a smaller seam allowance to make up for the cut out! Thankfully my bet paid off and all is well. Phew! Also note well: most things can be fixed if you think through it calmly. I am having so much fun with shirts!
Now I am just waiting for a button order to arrive so that I can add the buttonholes and buttons. Thank goodness that I can order button online these days! I would never complete anything if I had to wait for an off-island jaunt to shop! I can wait finish this one off and start another - with a different pattern and more luscious rayon ...how I love rayon!
Food for thought:
Have you ever made a sewing mistake that you were not sure could be fixed? What did you do?
What are your favorite fabrics to make clothes with?
Favorite patterns???
Have you had good luck making clothes from quilting cottons? ("they" say that quilting cottons tend to be thicker than apparel cottons)
What are your favorite sewing tools - vintage or new??

25 July 2015

So Many "Sew-Full" Things

As I have been enjoying my shirtmaking, other thiings have piled up on my "to get finished" pile.

My latest quilt, "Restricted" (for it's restricted palette challenge), has an appointment for quilting and is still lacking its backing.

The backing will feature Zebras! A find from a favorite fabric store in Anacortes, Washington called "Fabrics Plus". I can always find something perfect there. I will be adding more of the Marcia Derse's "Black and Whites", and some of the great Alexander Henry "Stockade Stripes" border fabric. I just need to stopmaking shirts!

I have to get my donation quilt, for the children in school at Seattle's Pike Place's market needs to be quilted....fast! The backing is flannel with frogs...not quite the right blue but it will be soft and look just fine with binding. Our Guild, Rainshadow Quilting Arts Guild, makes these quilts every year. The school caters to the children of the working poor and the ages range from infants to pre-school toddlers. It's a great oportunity for me to get into a more "juvenile" fabrics mode - something that I would otherwise have no need to do. if you have a hankering to - donating to them is always a good thing!

Any quilting suggestions?

I thought that either a grid pattern or circles might work. SITD would too, but it's not a favorite style and, for this quilt, it might take longer to do than an all-over design would.

I'm working on this wonderful applique block for a dear friend. I can't show much of it because it is a super secret project. Suffice it to say that her work is amazing and this project will make a lot of people happy! Those dang little points were a bear at first but now they are second nature. I am looking forward to finishing this up soon.

I am also esgerly awaiting a real splurge. Kathy Doughty and her shop in the Land Down Under, Material Obsession" offered a BOM last year that I was interested in, but they were sold out and, at thaat time it was not certain thaat it would be offered again. Luckily it was and I hemmed and hawwed until it was almost too late again. I don't usually do BOM's, but I thought that having some fabric choices that are so different than we can buy in the USA might be interesting to see and to have. The quilt is a mixture of EPP and hand applique (it could, I suppose, be done by machine as well). It's called Sweet Surrender (?!?) It will begin sometime in August...
This small pile of fabrics is for shirts. I just finished making one from the third from the left and am beginning to cut one from he Alison Glass Fabric on the left. Next up will be a long sleeved shirt from yhe second from the left ...a luscious Island Batik rayon. Hunting for rayon is not easy... and I had hoped it would be an "easy to find" item when I began this shirt-making fetish.

So my plate is filled with needle and thread projects....now I must need to sleep less and sew more ... ummmm---no - not sleep less. Sleep is my true luxury!

Many of my friends seem to not sew much in the Summer months. They have gardening to attend to and many visitors to entertain. There was a time when this might have been somewhat the case for me, but I have always sewn all year long...though quite a bit less when I working.

Do you either stop - or do much - sewing in the Summer?

What's on your "to finish" and your "to start" lists?


24 July 2015

Happiness is Another New Shirt Made By Me

I didn't think that I would enjoy making shirts as much as I am. I enjoy wearing shirts and it is fun to be able to make them from whatever fabrics I choose. I also think that finding a pattern you like is another key to enjoyment. I was lucky to find Brensan Studios patterns on Etsy. They are simple and just what I like, although the fashions show. On the envelope are not to my taste. I'll make one more short sleeved version and then turn my attention to long sleeves...and another pattern or two or three....

This shirt is made from a Rayon from Island Batik. It's called "Shark Tank" ... why it is called that eludes me! I found the buttons in one of my button stashes....they are "Streamline" brand and the card was marked 60 cents! It's a good thing that I had them too because this is most definitely not a color that wear often...and the alternative might have blah white buttons?

I was just a bit short on fabric and so I substituted a cotton batik with similar colors for the inside yoke. It worked out well. I have been playing with a few vintage sewing instruments and I am so looking forward to sharing them with you! Both are from the 1930's and I actually preferred the old one (just about new in it's lovely old box) to the modern, slightly more costly version that is widely available.

I'm off to go and cut out another top now. This next iteration will be made from some fun cotton from Alison Glass cloth.

Have you ever taken time out lately for a change of pace of project?

Did you enjoy it and come away refreshed?