Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bridal Fabric Flower - Instructions

I am beginning to think and plan the wedding dress... My daughter will be married in May in Jamaica, and our goal is to make a simple, elegant, tropical weight gown, with all the details that she loves.
Last week we took a trip to Ottawa Street in Hamilton (Ontario), the famous fabric district of Hamilton. There are several shops on one block that have bridal fabrics of great selection and amazing prices. We were looking for a medium weight, silk look, with a glow that is not as much as satin. There were a few that would have been fine, but one seemed just right and we brought it home.
With Christmas, I put it aside until today. One of the details she was wondering about is a large fabric flower with pearls and crystals as an attachment to her left hip, where the draped fabric appears gathered to the side. I thought I may have fun trying my hand at creating this piece as inspiration.
Requires: Fabric scraps, "wonder under" (iron on fusing interfacing), floral wire, beads and pearl accents. Hot glue gun.
I started with two scraps of fabric. On the wrong side of one, I lay 8 4-inch peices of floral wire, as in the photo. I then fused one side of wonder-under to the back of the second piece and peeled the paper off, then ironed it over the wire to the wrong side of the first (sandwiching the wire between the layers.).

Then I sketched petal shapes on the outside and topstitched with tight, satin zig zag stitch around the shapes, leaving the wire sticking out the narrow end of the petal.
Carefully cut close to the stitching to release each petal.

Gather the ends together and use hot glue to secure in a bunch (you can wrap a bit more wire there too).

String some crystals onto some wire and secure in a little loop with 5 or 6 beads in the loop. Twist the ends to secure the beads. I made three of these.

I also found some pearl strings already on nylon wire, but you could string your own pearls too.

Then glue the pearls strands under the petals and fasten the crystal loops under a small circle of fabric glued to the center of the flower. Bend and shape the petals to make even and pretty.
This flower is about 6 inches across, and may be further embelished (more petals, more beads, and maybe feathers) when we actually come to attach it to the dress (near the end of the dressmaking process). At least we have something pretty to look at for now.... :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

New Laptop - New Quilted Cover!

Look at the beauty that Santa brought me!

It is a ten inch notebook, for travelling... email and blogging on the road (I hope that the road trips increase in frequency to allow many, many uses of this cute thing!)
So off I went to make a quick quilted cover for the new baby. As previously posted, I had made a layer of pieced fabric, ready for placemats, but I knew I would have lots, and was suddenly willing to sacrifice a mat or two for my new laptop. I cut the rectangle twice as large as the computer, adding about 1.5 inches all around to allow for seams and shrinking due to quilting. Then I cut a double thick batting to match and backing about 1.5 inches bigger than that.

Next I quilted across the stripes in a spacing that produced squares. I used a fancy quilting stitch (Janome 6600, mode 2, #61) to make these parallel lines, but a plain straight stitch or hand quilting would work.

Then I used a straight stitch to quilt on the seam lines of the stripes.

Straight stitch around the outside of the whole piece, then fold the lining over to finish the edges and topstitch.


I attached a chunky separating zipper to the wide open side, using a decorative stitch, then used the same stitch to topstitch down both sides of the case. Nice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Two New Projects

I have had some time with the sewing machine, and have started two things....

First, pretty "jelly roll" of 2.5 inch quilt fabric I brought home from Lancaster, Pennsylvania this summer.
I have assembled the strips into a large, almost 2 yard long piece of fabric. The intention of this is to make new placemats. I will cut across the strips and reassemble into 2 inch squares.

The second is a really creative project. It starts with some fabric pieces given to me by a knitting friend. The fabric is a slightly shiny crinkle taupe fabric, that is a bit stiff. There is enough for a front and back of a coat, but not enough for sleeves. My friend and I discussed the option of making the coat with knitted sleeves and collar, so she went into her knitting stash and found some chunky chenille that matches.
I brought it all home and knit a swatch out of the yarn, and with some experiment, decided to quilt the crinkle fabric to make it as thick as the chunky yarn. I purchased this co-ordinating fabric that will be used to back the quilting.
Chenille knitted swatch, on 6mm needles, gauge 14 sts = 4 inches.

The crinkle fabric without quilting.
The different quilting stitches I was fooling around with.

You can see the basic coat pattern (in red) I will use, adding a pair of pockets and a belt and loops (think trench coat)....
Stay tuned to see this step by step coat production.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quilting Progress

Just spent a few hours chugging away at the center panel of the quilt. It is a turtle motif, and I used a Hawaii quilt pattern, which is done by folding the fabric into eight triangles (think eight slice pizza) and cutting half a turtle (like the old paper doll chains or snowflakes from grade school!).

I then topstitched in zig zag around the shell pattern, and then cut the spaces in between.

Eventually quilting between the shell shapes will have the whole shell pop, and should look pretty cool.
Here it is lying on top of some of the squares that will surround the center panel.
I still am undecided as to which way to assemble all the pieces. So far I am just enjoying the small random square assembly. I love the black, tan, burgundy and beige colour way.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quick Sew Top

The slinky bronze colour fabric picked up in the remnant rack last month, has turned into this....

It is from an old Simplicity pattern, with three pieces, the front and back with slight dolman sleeves, and only top of arm seams and side seams. The sloppy turtleneck is single thickness, with topstitched hem. I used a narrow, close spaced zig zag stitch throughout so that the fabric remains stretchy even along the seams. Nice, non-fray knit, made it easy to start and finish in less than one hour!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Arizona Turquoise

I spent a half hour stringing this....

Love it!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Arizona Beads

Just got back from a week away in Phoenix, Arizona, and was captivated by the turquoise beaded necklaces. I love the multi-stranded ones, and after a few times seeing them, checked out the prices. Shock was the result, when I found them to be $200 for ONE strand. I thought turquoise was common stone, especially in Arizona. Luckily it is common in the craft shops and I snagged all these beads of real turquoise for a grand total of $21.
I will follow with a photo of the lovely finished necklace in a day to two.... :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quilt Squares

I have been working on some quilt squares, using a method called shuffle the deck. The book explains a simple technique where you have 8 squares, and using the rotary cutter, cut irregular lines and shuffle the top colour down one or two layers to mix the patterns. The squares are layered dark then light then dark then light.... so the patterns show contrasting tones.

I am enjoying the squares and the one of a kind results. Each square is 7 inches, and the colours I chose are tan, black and burgundy.

There is a photo of the basic cutting and assembly technique for the squares.
It seams a huge project if you look to do it all at once, but I have been able to sit down to the sewing machine for an hour or two and churn out a few blocks, then work on some other sewing project. Eventually I will get enough done to have to consider assembling and finishing the quiting part.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Knit Dress and Jacket

Burda 7580, turned out great in this abstract print. I used a stretch decorative topstitch to finish the necklines and hems quickly and still allowing stretching if needed. The facing for the jacket was lined with fusible interfacing, then the seam trimmed really close and ironed to back before the topstitching.

A very easy pattern, I will use it again. The two pieces took about 2 hours to complete. Nice.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coat Finished!

The hems and the buttons are now done, and the photos show the nice results...

Now I just have to wait for the weather to get a bit colder (no rush - really!). The big shawl collar is a bit wide and open, but a great scarf will work well, and of course I have LOTS of those!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fabric Shopping!

I was at Fabricland last evening, sourcing out my next projects... The coat is almost done, just hems and buttons and hand stitching left. The fabric I found is amazing. They had a great sale of buy one, get two free, and I snagged a lovely brown poly blend suiting, 3 meters for $17, and some knit fabric, 3 meters for $15! The knit is a funky abstract print in taupy brown and mauve, and the pants fabric is a similar taupy brown. I also found 2 meters of remnant in a shimmery stretch knit, also a brown to match.

The suit fabric will be Anne Klein Vogue 2987 pants. Not sure if there will be enough for the Jacket too, if there is I will do that, otherwise a vest pattern to match will be found.
The print will be a dress and jacket combo from Burda 7580.

The slinky knit will be a drapey top.

I just love the planning of the projects. The fabric is wonderful and everything is mix and match, so the pants should work well with the knit jacket!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chapter One - the Machine

The inspiration for this new blog is my new machine. It is a Janome 6600. A lovely sewing/quilting machine that is loaded with features and designed to make sewing quick and easy. The computerized stitches and the press button on and off, and the needle up or down, and the knee triggered presser foot, all intrigued me. I have never had a machine that did not need a foot peddle. It comes with one, but I have not opted to hook it up.

I wanted to try some complicated pattern, and some challenging fabric, so my first project is a lined winter coat. The fabric is thick melton in charcoal and the lining a batik in blue and grey and cream. The pattern is a Vogue coat, # 8307, the middle length. The adjustments I made (and I usually customize the patterns in some way) is to add side pockets with a placket to define the pocket, and add a back placket trim to define the waistline. Also I have added a pocket inside on the lining, for keys or wallet if I don't want to carry a purse. My theory is you can never have too many pockets!

The coat with lining installed and topstitched around big collar...
The side pocket, top-stitched placket and cool lining....

Still to finish: hems and final top-stitching and big buttons on front. This new machine can sew through four layers of thick melton with no hesitation! What a delight.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prologue: the early years.

Although many of you know me as a knitter (blogging here), my earliest creations were all sewing! I first held a needle and thread at age 6, at a neighbour's house. I was playing with a friend (forget her name!) and her mom was doing some hand sewing (remember that!). I asked what she was doing and she offered some fabric scraps, and a threaded needle for me to try. I remember asking her to re-thread the needle several times as I worked a hand stitched seam around three sides of a small square. It was messy and the stitches too far apart (I was in a rush to finish) but I finished a small pouch, that I put my best treasures in (pennies, marbles, etc).

From that age, I begged my mother for scraps of fabric, and confiscated any old clothing to cut into something else. I made clothes for dolls and bears and once had a camp of hammocks and sleeping bags for ALL my dolls and animals. Fabric was fantastic! It could be anything!

I wanted my Mother to let me use her sewing machine, but she insisted it was for adults only. I mastered a good sturdy straight stitch, and chain stitch and a few decorative stitches by hand, and by the age of 9 had finally worn Mom out. She bought me a kid's sewing machine for Christmas. It did a chain stitch that often did not catch fully, and unraveled. It was operated with a hand crank, and I had to hold back the speed I would have liked to crank it, because it slipped the chain too easily at a higher speed. With this I made lots of things, rag dolls and puppets and more accessories for the toys. I even took it on vacation, I could not bear to be away from it for three weeks!

I only had it for a year when I successfullly explained the limitations of such a toy, and convinced Mom that I could take lessons in sewing, and could use her machine like the mature 10 year old that I had become! The lessons were with a neighbour, Bonnie, and I worked through a simple mini-skirt pattern, with waistband and zipper! We did this over several evenings, learning to follow a pattern and all the different skills involved in completing the project! I then made a button up shirt and a pair of pants with her, before I graduated (with honours) from her course.

After that, I made a lot of my own clothes, and Mom did less sewing, opting for my expertise in alterations and hemming. She was more than supportive of my sewing habit.

Mom also tried to teach me knitting, and I got it just fine, but seriously, why would I want to knit a sweater for one month when I could sew a top in one day!??? I took up knitting again at University, when I had learned patience, and wanted to avoid doing Physics homework for hours (and days)!

When I was 13, I sewed puppets (very like the Sesame Street Muppets) and sold them door to door at Christmas time (I think I charged $2.00, but the fabrics were from recycled clothing! I was green before the trend was even invented!). The only item I have kept is a favourite rag doll , made from old clothes and weird colours, sewn with felt mouth and eyes and of course a big pink heart. This one was made when I was 12, and I am sure it was stuffed with bits of fabric and foam chips and maybe even ripped pantyhose (I am too afraid to disect him to find out!)

I learned to quilt at the age of 17, taking a class with the same neighbour, Bonnie. She was also a knitter, and in later years we got together to share knitting ideas and sources and to compare finished garments (early stitch and bitch tea parties). When I was home with my young children, I made wedding dresses and did other sewing for friends, then referrals, and had a nice little business going from my home. It allowed me to stay home with my little ones until they were ready for school, and I was ready to work outside the home.

Now, years later, when semi-retirement looms, I anticipate picking up the sewing business again. I really enjoyed that time and would love to get back to what I really love to do. Life comes full circle....