Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Little Gift, A Little Crewelty, and A Surprise

I have been so overwhelmed with all the lovely responses to my blog posts as well as the new followers. So as a little thank you, I thought I would give all of you a pattern to this napkin ring. Now you would think this would have been easy, but not as easy as I thought. My nephew came over last night and showed me how to make a PDF file. I'd never made one. The good news about that was that we were successful and I learned something new. The bad news was that I found out that a PDF file cannot be attached to this blog. So, since there's always more than one way to do anything, we had to think of another way to get the file to any of you who might like to have it. We came up with the "old fashioned" way, email. If you would like the pattern to this napkin ring, email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com and I will be happy to send out a copy.
The napkin ring adds a nice touch to a place setting. They're quick and inexpensive to make and they also make a great little hostess gift.

There are just 3 pieces to the pattern, the ring portion, the leaves, and the petals.

The ring portion looks like a dog bone. The rounded pieces at each end are also a part of the flower section.
To put everything together, fold the napkin ring portion in half. Pinch together the rounded ends and slide the leaf portion over the pinched portion.

Then slide the petal piece over the pinched portion.

Arrange the petals as you would like.

When you have a pretty holiday table, you need a pretty holiday outfit. I could wear the jacket at other times during the year, but it just seems a little more special to save it for the holidays.

This jacket is made from a wool double knit.
The entire jacket is embroidered in crewel work. The yarn is wool.

The buttons are glass, a little heavy, but I love the way they look and I also like how they lay agaist the wool.

A view of the sleeve.

The jacket is not lined. I rather like that you can see that it was actually done by hand.

And now for my little surprise. I am finally just about ready to put my patterns on the market. In the beginning they will be sold through either me directly or through Etsy. The jacket that I have just shared with you will also be in my pattern line. I plan to have the first patterns out right after the first of the year. I'm so excited. The first pattern will be a great little jacket. I will be showing that to you soon.
So from my little family to yours, have a lovely holiday season.

Carl, Rhonda, Gracie and Little Bit!
Check out the collars on the dogs. Not only are they red and white, they have bells attached. I call them the Jingle Jangle Girls. I'm so cruel.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Green Seamstress

There's an old country song that says, "I was country when country wasn't cool." If you're a seamstress, you were "green" when green wasn't cool. Generations of women have saved their scraps because something could surely be done with them.
The scarf that I am posting tonight was made from scraps that I had left over from a wedding gown that I made. The fabric is a burnout velvet, a bear to work with. I find that if I hand baste, everything will go smoothly. It's definantly not a fabric that should be used if you want to quickly put a garment together.
After I finished the dress, I found that I had pieces that would work well into 4 rectangular pieces. I came across a Threads magazine article that is probably 10 years old. The article was all about beading and doing the fringe that you see below. But I had pieces that somehow had to be pieced together. I came across another Threads article on hand stitches which gave me the idea to connect the pieces with a fagoting stitch, but do it in beads and make the fagoting larger.
I was given a necklace and a strand of the pearls had broken. There were so many strands that one less didn't matter so rather than fix the necklace I saved the beads. They worked well with this project.
Everything about the scarf is delicate from the velvet to the bead work. The scarf is lined with a matching chiffon so the scarf continues to have a very light and airy feel.
Now who knew that being green could be so beautiful?

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Desperate At Midnight

I love vintage patterns and I have quite a collection. They provide a great source of inspiration, beautiful lines and great fit.
The sewing group that I belong to here in Chicago, The Haute Couture Club, had a group project a couple of years ago using the plaid wool fabric below. We could do anything that we wished, a garment, an accessory, it didn't matter. I had bought a yard and a half, so I was a little limited. I came across this pattern and knew that it would work. I left off the pockets as I felt that they would be just too much. The plaid is quite strong, so to give it a little interest, I used some velvet piping that I had to trim the neckline, front opening seams and the edge of the sleeves. The sleeves seemed to just end, so to give them some interest, I added the ruffle.

Now as fate would have it, I didn't start on the jacket until the day before I was to wear it. We were having our Christmas party the following day and we were to wear our plaid garments. Since I was president, I felt that I should lead by example, so I needed to get the jacket finished. Everything went smoothly until it came to the buttons. Even with my large collection of buttons, nothing was just right. By this time, it was well into the evening, stores were closed. What to do, what to do? I came across some piping that I had braided together, an epiphany! The colors were perfect, red, black and white. I decided to tie the braids into chinese knots to make my buttons. Now chinese knots take quite a bit of length, more than I realized as I began to tie the braid into buttons. At this point I had four buttons, but I needed six. The reason I had the braided piping was I had used it as straps on a summer dress. So what do you do at midnight when you're desperate? You go and cut the straps off the summer dress. I just love how the buttons look on the jacket. I couldn't have planned it better. Besides, I wouldn't be wearing the summer dress for quite a while and I could always make more straps.

Now the final part of the story. I had a beautiful piece of black embroidered chiffon that would look great as a skirt with this jacket. All I had to do was cut the piece in half, sew the two halves together, put in an elastic waistband and finish the edge for the hem. Very easy, very fast. In fact I didn't even have to finish the seam edges as the selvage was so nice that when I sewed the seams together, it actually looked like a french seam. The next morning I threw the skirt in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet in order to get out some of the static. I had not had a lot of sleep the night before and was in a bit of a hurry as I dressed. It wasn't until that evening when I got back home that I realized that I had worn my skirt wrong side out the entire day!
Moral of the story; make sure your garments look as good on the inside as they do on the outside.

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Fairy Godmothers Do Exist

Only two days ago I promised myself that I would post a blog everyday this week. I'm only two days into the week and I'm already behind. But, I am going to make up for it today and do two posts.
As I opened the blog this morning, I saw that I have a new follower. I feel so honored. Welcome!! I hope that you will enjoy my posts.

In October of 2009, I had the honor of meeting Judith Neukam of Threads magazine. She is such a lovely person. I helped judge a contest that was sponsored by Threads for the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. The garments that we chose as the finalists were spectacular. You can see the garments in the April/May 2010 issue of Threads. We were supposed to have a dress form to put the garments on. We didn't have one so I ended up being the model as well as a judge (how lucky does one get!). I think that because we were able to see the garments on a real body, we were able to see how they moved as well as how they fit. There was one garment that didn't look like anything on the hanger, but when I put it on, I didn't want to give it back. At the end of the day, Judy noticed the top that I was wearing and asked if I would be interested in doing an article for Threads. I was shocked, but so happy. Of course, of course I would love the opportunity!!!!! Months went by and then last June I received an email message from Judy. She said that they would like to put my top in the Dec./Jan. issue. I just couldn't believe what I was reading, she really wanted me. How exciting. So then the work began. It's a rather difficult task to explain how to do something that is very technical. Since I've never done anything like this before, I wasn't sure what they would need. I decided to send one top that was finished and another that was in progress along with my pattern. The instructions I emailed along with my own pictures of the top on my fitting form.

During the process, I received a message from Judy that they would also like to include me on the Contributor's Page. I sent in a few pictures. I had a difficult time getting a picture that would fit the format that they needed. For any of you who have read my blog, you know that I am not a photograper. If I do take a good picture, it is purely by accident.

The question they asked was, "What was the best sewing gift you ever received?" That was easy for me. When I was 15, my mother gave me a pattern along with fabric to make the outfit. When I opened the present and saw the fabric, I couldn't believe my eyes, the fabric was exactly the same fabric that was on the pattern envelope. I am working on writing a piece about this experience. Once I've finished, I'll post it, so stay tuned.

The dog that is pictured with me is not my dog. She is a rescue dog that I had the opportunity to initially rescue. Once she was in Chicago, the Illinois Birddog Rescue found out that she tested positive for Lyme Disease. She was put on medication. This was one story that I got to see from beginning to end. I took her to her new adopted family in Columbus, Ohio. Her name is Libbie and she owns a piece of my heart. I always say a prayer over each dog I rescue. They've been given a chance and I pray that they will change a life the way my dogs have changed mine.

I think it was in October that I received another email from Judy and attached was the article. I couldn't believe my eyes, so beautiful. The layout was so much more than I ever expected.
If you receive emails from Threads magazine, I'm sure you have seen that Judy has been working on a series called, Teach Yourself To Sew. I've been following along since the beginning. I have a passion for people learning to sew. For those who don't sew, they just don't know what they are missing. Sewing can open your world to so many new and incredible possibilities. The series is now a new magazine. Now, as if things weren't mind boggling enough for me, Judy asked if she could put my picture in the new magazine along with a short paragraph about myself. When I received the magazine, the picture was huge. WOW! Funny thing about this photo, this was the beginning of the worst flight I've ever had. I picked up 6 puppies in Branson, MO. The turbulance was the worst I've ever experienced. I bounced all over the sky for 3 1/2 hours on my way back to Chicago. The puppies did everything in the crates, but they didn't do anything that I didn't feel like doing. I felt so sorry for them. Hopefully they are now running happily in the fields of Wisconsin and living in loving homes.

So, fairy godmothers do exist. The entire experience has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Friends have been so happy for me. Friends who don't sew have sought out and purchased the magazine. Such a lovely way to end the year.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Judy Neukam and everyone at Threads.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celtic Dreams

In my last post I wrote about the fact that I post more blogs about my flying than I do the actual creative things I do. I am trying to do a better job of getting my pictures posted. This next week, I have a goal to post something each and every day. It's a goal, I'll do my best.
This past week I finished up a skirt I had started a couple of months ago. When I initially designed this skirt, I had something else in mind, but I made a mistake when I cut the fabric. Something I learned a long time ago is that most mistakes can be saved, somehow. In the end, my mistake created something I liked so much more. In fact, I like the skirt so much, I decided to recreate it in the red wool shown here. The yoke of the skirt is a normal yoke. Attached to it are eight panels. Each panel forms a box pleat at the yoke.

The hemline is where it gets interesting. I cut the hemline of each pleat on an angle. The angle is sewn and then turned up and tacked. By doing this, the skirt is instantly hemmed!
The top I have on in the first picture is a top I posted in a blog a while back. This top is also in this month's edition of Threads magazine. I will write more about this tomorrow. I bought the fabric for the top at the Needle Shop here in Chicago. It's a great piece of fabric. It has a two-way stretch so it works perfectly with the design. Typically you wouldn't have a plaid running all over the place, but I like how it works here. Once again, I realized that sometimes we should throw the rules out the window and just try it anyway.

I bought the fabric for the jacket at Joann's. Yes, Joann's. The fabric is quilted. On the front side is the plaid and on the reverse is a solid black fabric. To make the jacket I used Vogue 8483. The pattern is so simple to make. I really enjoyed putting it together.
It may be a little difficult to see, but the front of the jacket is cut on an angle. The drawing of the jacket shows the angle. I decided that I would like to have a zipper closing so I straightened out the angle.The zipper is sewn into the princessline seam on the left front and then into the opening edge on the right side. My plaids are not matched perfectly, but they aren't bad. It was a bit of a pain in the neck to get the plaids matched so that once it was zipped it would look passable. All in all I was happy with the outcome.

I like for everything to look as nice on the inside as it does on the outside. Just for fun I decided to bind all my seams in red seam binding. I have to give credit where credit is due. I didn't have enough to finish the jacket so my husband made the pilgrammage to Joann's for me. He is a saint, most of the time.

A little side note about the jacket pattern. The jacket is quite boxy. I did take it in a little at the waist, probably 3 inches in total and it could stand a little more. I also lengthened it about an inch and a half.
I have a very interesting heritage. I am Scot, Irish and American Indian. I would never claim one over the other. I am very proud of all of my ancestors who sacrificed so that now I can enjoy the life I have. A few years ago a friends' daughter got married in Ireland and asked us to attend. On our tour, we went to the town of Cove. It was from there that the immigrants left. I have joked in the past that my ancestors were in the rowboat behind the Mayflower. I learned that a rowboat would have been a step up from the vessel that brought them here. Many of the vessels broke apart at sea. I am so very thankful that my Celtic ancestors endured what they did. Now I can make pretty clothes just because I want to. I have a life that they would never have been able to imagine. My gratitude seems so small for all they did.

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