Wednesday Sewing - bits and bobs


I managed several little things today.

  1. I took in the waistband of the brown wool skirt so I might wear it tomorrow. This was a totally slapdash endeavor since I didn't remove any existing stitching. If it is still a tad big when I wear it, I can throw in some elastic.
  2. I added a bit of length to a mini skirt that I made a couple of weeks ago by chopping and hemming a long knit skirt from the thrift store. (It's a perfectly fine length with leggings under it, but I got to thinking that I might want to wear it when the weather is warm enough to not require leggings, but then it might be too short.)
  3. I cut out and stitched together a sample nightgown for Lucy. Of course it turned out that she couldn't try it on because the neck opening was too small. I actually made a lot of mistakes on the nightgown because I was rushing. I'll fix the neckline tomorrow morning.
  4. I caught up on my photocopying of the Burda magazine's All Styles At-A-Glance for my pattern notebook.
  5. I sketched out my ideas for a summer handbag/purse. Pattern Review is holding a contest this March and I hope to enter.
  6. Tonight I started drafting the bag. I already have the outer fabric, but I will still need the lining fabric, interfacing, zippers, thread, and hardware. Exposed zippers in a welt opening, here I come!

That's all. Sorry I have no photos from today.

It's Beginning to Look Like a Dress! BurdaMag 10-2009-119

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My sewing today was constant, but I still didn't get quite as far as I would have liked. BUT! I have something that actually resembles a dress!

Let's see if I can remember all that I accomplished today.

  1. Sewed the back bodices to the back skirts.
  2. Sewed the front to the back at the shoulders only.
  3. Cut out lining.
  4. Attached pockets to side seams using this tutorial.
  5. Trimmed the neckline of the lining bodice to match the new curve I made.
  6. Sewed the skirt front lining together.
  7. Sewed the bodice linings to the skirt linings
  8. Sewed the front and back linings together at the shoulders only.
  9. Pressed the pleated front of my dress very well.
  10. Topstitched the pleats on the bodice and below the empire seam enough to make the dress clearly not maternity wear.
  11. Removed all basting threads.
  12. Followed the tutorial in this pattern review to attach the lining to the fashion fabric.
Here are the topstitched pleats (step 10). You can also see that I didn't quite get all of my stripes to match up. In some cases it was impossible, but in others I went for close enough. The plaid is subtle and my current sewing area is dim. This is also my first time working with plaid.

Here I am turning the dress right side out by pulling it through the shoulder "tunnels" (step 12). If you look closely at the second photo, you can see how closely I was able to understitch the lining.

Here I am with the dress draped over my shoulders. It's looking a little Pilgrimy now, but that's because the side seams and center back seam aren't sewn. Nice clean finished neckline, eh? And no hand stitching!

I still need to sew the side seams of the lining and the dress. I might get that done tonight. The center back zipper and seam need to be finished as well as the hem on both the lining and the pleated dress. That might take another week.

All in all a productive day!


Last week my kids had their Valentine's Day parties at their schools. I am loathe to purchase valentines, because they almost all have licensed characters on them. Either that or they cost too much. (And I'm just not a card person, anyway.)

So this year, we decided to make cookies. I made my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe and spread it out into a jelly roll pan. I baked it about the same amount of time I would bake a pan of dropped cookies and let it cool several hours. I then cut out cookie hearts using a cookie cutter and put one cookie in a little cellophane bag for each recipient. My kids labeled them and we happily ate up the scraps.

Lost in Translation...

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Yesterday I stopped in for a bit at a local thrift store and picked up a "vintage" Nordstrom cotton velvet blazer. The only problem is that it is a caramel/camel brown (a very yellow brown). But it was inexpensive and it fit well so I figured I would try dyeing it.

Today I went to the fabric store downtown and purchased (among other things) a packet of dye. I opened the packet after lunch to read through the directions since this is a brand of dye I had never used before. SURPRISE! All of the instructions are written in Spanish! Now I did take Spanish in university, but that was a long time ago.

I went to the company's website hoping they would also have English instructions there, but no. So I copied the Spanish instructions from the website into Yahoo's Babel Fish and here is the result (there's a fair bit of Spanish remaining, but I think I get the gist):

DYEING WITH WASHING MACHINE (NEITHER WOOL CAN BE DYED NOR SOOTHES) It uses rubber gloves. Although some parts of the washing machine (rubbers of the door), can be stained with the dye, these will not fade in later washings.
1º) Weighs the dry weave in and lávelo even if he is new, to clear the spots or nonvisible dirt to the eyes and déjelo humid.
2º) Programs the washing machine in the longest cycle and warms up without using prewashing.
3º) Abra to the tin with a can opener either sharp object, in the middle dissolves to the dye liter of very hot water, remuévalo or and introdúzcalo in the drum of the washing machine.
4º) By each dye tin 30 gr. of hot water salt (of the faucet) and introdúzcalo in the drum of the washing machine.
5º) Puts the humid and unfolded weave in the washing machine, prepares the washing machine in the longest program and warms up WITHOUT PRELAVADO, póngala in march and leaves I carried out the complete cycle.
6º) Serve the weave of the washing machine and dries it in the shade and far from any source of heat, it does not use the dryer.
7º) Washing the washing machine putting it in the longest cycle and warms up with its habitual detergent and a lye cup.

Good times... wish me luck!

Pleating, Pleating. BWOF 10-2009-119

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Lucky me, Clara and her little friend decided to play happily for long enough today that I felt courageous enough to try pleating a piece of the plaid wool large enough for the center front piece.

I started out by marking each of the previously pinned pleats with chalk. Then I put in a little thread tracing. The orange thread is the outside of the pleat and the lavender thread is where the fold meets the flat fabric. (Clever of myself, I thought... colour coding!)

Then I took my new seam gauge and proceeded to carefeully iron in all of the pleats.

The result of all of this careful (but blind) ironing was this:

Look at that the light blue stripes are in the center of each pleat! HOORAY!! But wait. The pleat on the left looks bigger than the pleat on the right. Awwww maaaaan.

So I undid the smaller side and repressed the pleats using my handy seam gauge to make the pleat on the right match the pleat on the left...

Look at that! The light blue stripe is in the center of each pleat and the pleats are almost precisely the same size! HOORAY!!

Thanks for everyone's comments and encouragement on the last post. You all are fabulous!

Fabric Photos and Fretting about Pleats and Plaids and Zippers

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Hello Everyone!

Lucy had her 5th birthday on Wednesday, so I didn't get much sewing done. She requested a layer cake and I forgot (again) that I don't actually own any round cake pans. Last year I borrowed cake pans from the neighbours, but this year I decided to bite the bullet and buy two 8" round pans. (I do miss my baking-happy housemates of a few years ago...)

But! I have done a lot of thinking and reading about sewing, particularly around this dress. Last week I made a muslin of the bodice - raising the waistline to empire height. I think this will look far more flattering on me. I want to make two versions of the dress: one in a charcoal plaid wool suiting fabric and one in a lightweight dark denim/chambray (shirt weight). Here is a photo of the two wool fabrics I recently purchased:

The fabric for the dress is on the right. The wool on the left might be made into a vest, but then again, it might need to age in the stash a bit. Boy is it ever hard to get a good photo of dark fabric! In the photo above, the fabric looks like a medium gray, but in reality it is a dark charcoal gray. I couldn't manage a decent photo of the dark chambray.

Here is a photo of the dress fabric with roughly pinned in pleats along with the bemberg rayon lining. The blue is actually quite similar to the light blue stripes in the plaid. If you look at the darker blue shade in the far left of the photo, that is a more accurate color. There are also dark blue stripes in the wool, but they are crazy difficult to notice.

I think I like this arrangement for the pleated section on the center of the bodice. But it makes me nervous. I think - based on what I have read - that I should go ahead and iron in the pleats on the fabric, then take the pattern piece and tape the pleats shut, then pin it to the fabric and cut it out. Does that sound correct? I am so nervous that I am going to mess things up. I think I have enough fabric that I could even cut this piece wrong and still be able to cut another one, but then again, I don't know that I could do that and still get the plaid to match.

I may need one of you more experienced people to hold my hand through this.

I want to make the wool one first. Otherwise I might not ever make it. The chambray one will get far more wear through the coming Spring/Summer/Fall, but because I won't have to match plaids, I think it will be easier.

I am thinking of lining the chambray dress also. I am worried that all the pleats in the front will be uncomfortable on my skin. I am thinking about lining the dress with this fabric:

Now I bought this with the idea that I would make a loud and crazy version of McCall's 5860, but this is quilting cotton and I have since learned my lesson about making clothing out of quilting cotton. But what about lining a dress? Do you think cutting it on the bias would help?

I am also thinking of putting an exposed zipper into the back of the chambray dress. What do you think of exposed zippers? I know they are probably on the way out as trends go, but something about a sassy zipper in a sweet dress with a surprisingly loud lining rings true with me. My chief concerns around an exposed zipper are functional concerns. Will it be itchy/hot/cold/otherwise annoying? How would I prevent these potential problems?

So many questions...