Friday, November 25, 2016

Homestead Sampler Finish

Homestead Sampler is done!  I put the last stitch in it last night so it was finished on Thanksgiving Day.


Here is a look at the entire sampler.  It was stitched on 28ct. Antique White linen with DMC floss.  I have not yet pressed it or stretched it, so there are a few wrinkles and hoop marks.


The pattern is charted almost entirely in cross stitch with just a tiny bit of backstitching and a handful of Algerian Eyelets.  I don't much care for cross stitching all by itself, so I had to change up a few things along the way.  Here is a look at the pattern cover.  Apparently I bought this on clearance at a Michael's at some point many years ago.  I can't remember now, but it's been a long time since I have been to a Michael's store


I do like a few of the other designs in this book, especially the ones on the back cover:


 Who knows?  I may stitch up another one of these some day.  In any case, I chose the Homestead Sampler because it had a house on it and I like stitching little houses.  I also liked the color palette- teal, green, and gold.  It's a little bit different than what I normally work with, but I thought it was pretty.  I also thought that I could easily change some of the elements from cross stitch to something more exciting.


I changed the large flowers from cross stitches to satin stitches:


The date, 1989, is our wedding anniversary- when we established our "homestead."  The initials are mine and the husband's and use the letters from the alphabet at the top.


The row of brown Smyrna Crosses was originally charted as cross stitches.  I thought they looked dull and felt they would be dull to stitch, so I changed them.  Smyrna Crosses are one of my favorite stitches.  They are easy to make, but wonderfully dimensional.


I also changed the acorns and the leaves on the row below the initials to satin stitch.  Not only does it mix it up a bit and add interest, but the satin stitches have a nice sheen to them that adds a little something to the finished piece.

If I had to do this over again I would make a few more changes:

1.  Use a 32 ct. fabric, possibly with a touch of color to it.
2.  Eliminate the top row of cross stitches and just start with the alphabet- the green stitches aren't really needed.
3.  Use more satin stitches- on the roof of the house, the teal borders around the initials, and possibly the gold row below the house.  I actually tried satin stitch on the teal border, but couldn't get the coverage I like on the 28 ct. fabric.
4.  Sub in some hand dyed fibers- for the house, the bunny, the bird, and maybe some of the foliage.

But all that would be if I had to do it again.  Let's be honest, I won't.  There are too many other interesting projects to do.  In fact, I've already pulled out two Christmas themed UFOs and some fabric and fibers for one last fall themed piece.

Aaaand New Look 6469 is patiently waiting in the sewing room for a neckband and hems.  It will be the perfect dress to wear back to work after all this Thanksgiving food!

Happy Stitching and Sewing!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

More Stitching

I put the last stitch into Mini Pineapple Stitches last weekend.  It was a quick project, if a little bit fussy.  I love the colors- yellow and yellow green are not part of my normal palette so it was nice to stitch with something different.  The overall color palette of the project is unusual and very nice- lemon yellow and spring green with olive, rust, and dusky purple.


The linen, 32 ct Burmese Beige, is just a little darker than the model and has a subtle hand dyed effect to it.  I love the way it turned out.

As I mentioned, the project was a little fussy.  I made several mistakes and had to frog quite a bit.  The left pineapple in the row of three was off and had to be ripped out and re-done.  Because of that I also made a mistake in the green swirl right above it and had to rip that out.  All that was my own fault, of course.

Oh, and see those purple and rust flowers right above the smyrna crosses?  Those are stitched over 1.  They look great now that they are finished but they were a pain to stitch and I messed them up, too and had to rip and re-do.  Ugh.


I did not enjoy working with the Gloriana wool that came with the leaflet and which was used to stitch the pineapples.  It was thick and fuzzy, and the strands did not want to separate easily.  The Gloriana silk, however, was a dream to work with, as was the Thread Gatherer silk.

I made two small changes to the design.  I changed the "pineapple stitches" right above the row of 5 pineapples to smyrna crosses.  You can see the pineapple stitches as charted in the multicolored row right above the over 1 flowers.  Smyrna crosses are much easier and soothing to stitch and I like the look of them much better.  I also changed the diamond motif at the center bottom from a cocoa brown color to purple to echo the motif right below the center pineapple in the row of three.  The leaflet came with a small copper pineapple charm which I have not added yet.  It goes on top of the pale yellow/pale green stitches right above the purple diamond at the bottom.  The pale yellow and green stitches are silk and I like the way they shimmer.  The charm pretty much covers them up so I have not decided if I will add it yet.

I have not stretched this piece yet, so that is why it looks a bit wavy and wrinkly.  I will probably have it framed and hang it in my kitchen.  It's small, finishing up at about 2.5 X 5.5 inches, so even framed it will be small and I know I can find a good spot for it.

In sewing news I actually went to the sewing room today and jumpstarted my mojo with a new project.  (The McCall's suit is on hold for the moment, but I hope to get back to it soon.)  I hope to have something new to blog later this week.  If the time doesn't totally mess me up- I hate that it gets dark so early now!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Goings On at the House of Frog

There hasn't been much sewing going on lately, but as it usually happens at this time of year, I have been stitching on a few things here and there.  Something about the cooler temperatures and shorter days makes me pull out my needlework stash and start a new fall themed piece and maybe even put a few stitches in an old WIP.

This year, the new piece is this, It's Fall Time, a free pattern offered by Les Grilles de Maryse.  Check out her blog- her stitching is beautiful and she has tons of gorgeous free patterns.


This little piece is stitched on 32 ct Lambswool (I think- it came from stash and I've long since lost the packaging.)  The pattern calls for DMC which is mostly what I used.  I substituted some Sampler Threads from stash for the bricks on the house and the grass just to give a little dimension.  I also substituted a slightly darker floss for the backstitched vine in the border.  The pattern called for the same light brown in the leaves but I thought that would be a little flat.  This finished up at 4 5/8" by 5 3/8". I'm not sure how I will finish it.  It's a little big for an ornament type finish so I may put it in a small frame.

I've also pulled out this WIP and put a few stitches in:


This is Homestead Sampler from American School of Needlework's Basic Guide to Band Samplers.  I started this back in 2012 when I was in the Philippines, but I haven't made any real progress until lately.  I am using the suggested DMC colors but I have made some small changes to the stitches, such as using satin stitch for the blue flowers rather than cross stitches:


This one is stitched on an antique white linen, something I bought pre-packaged from Hobby Lobby years ago.  The color is okay but I don't really like the fabric.  It's too "slubby."  Oh well, I've gone too far to change it now so I will finish it.

I made a visit to my "local" (60 miles away) needlework store yesterday and treated myself to a new project.  I'll be stitching "Mini Pineapple Stitches" by Jeanette Douglas (love her designs!)


This one will be stitched on this luscious Burmese Beige 32 ct linen in DMC and several specialty fibers that came with the leaflet.  I'm so excited to start stitching some pineapples- a welcome break from pumpkins, which I normally stitch at this time of year.

In sewing news, this project is in the works:


I have the skirt almost finished- it just needs a hem and a waistband hook.  The jacket is cut out and ready to be assembled.  I'm using a coral red twill.  It's probably more of a summer color, but I think it will work with a black top for the winter.  Progress stalled on this project a few weeks ago when I ran out of interfacing.  I've since replenished my supply, but my mojo went missing.  I also am not in love with the buttons I bought to go with it.  With Hancock's gone, Joanne's and Hobby Lobby are the only places to buy buttons and they are both lacking in their selection.  I will probably search online for something different so if anyone has a good suggestion for an online button source, please share!

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Butterick 5998 Dangerous Curves Ahead

This is Butterick 5998, a sheath dress with "dual princess seam detail."  That's what the Butterick website says.  I guess it really is the case.  These are some highly exaggerated princess seams, though.  But that's what drew me to the pattern in the first place.


This is what the pattern envelope looks like.  It's a sheath dress designed for woven fabric.  The envelope suggests crepe, linen, or brocade.  It's also meant to be underlined and lined.
 I knew when I first saw this pattern that it wanted to be a ponte knit dress.  I also knew I would be making a color blocked version.  Why sew those fabulous dual princess seams if you're not going to show them off?
 

My fabrics are two of the last purchases I made at Hancock Fabrics before they closed for good.  (Boy, do I miss Hancock's.)  Ponte is the perfect fabric for this pattern.  You don't have to line or underline and those curvy seams were a snap to sew since the fabric has plenty of give to it.


The back of the dress has simple shoulder princess seams.  I omitted the zipper that the pattern calls for since I used a knit.

I cut a size 14 through the shoulders and a 16 from the bust down.  I added 2" of length at the waist and an additional 2" to the length of the skirt.  I also shortened the sleeves by 2".  These are my standard size and adjustments.  I really could have started with the next smallest size since I used a knit, but I was afraid.  I didn't want the dress to end up too snug.  This could easily go "Kardashian" if it was too tight.  (And that's not a good thing.)  But I did end up taking the dress in approximately 3/8" at each back princess seam from the shoulder blades down to the hip, and I took the CB seam in another 3/8'" all the way down.  The waist is still loose, but it's okay.  I wanted body skimming, not body con.

The neckline as drafted seamed very wide and didn't look like it would cover my bra straps so I added 1" to it all the way around to bring it in.  I drafted a facing to finish it off by taping the adjusted pattern pieces together and tracing the new neckline.  When I attached the facing I only used a 3/8" seam allowance so essentially I added 1 1/4" to the neckline all the way around.  It still just barely covers my bra straps.  It looks fine, but it's definitely something to look at if you plan to make this.


My favorite part of this project was the curvy princess seams.  I really enjoyed sewing them.  They were challenging enough to make them interesting, but easy enough to do in the ponte that they didn't frustrate me at all.  I stay stitched and clipped just like I would have done with a woven fabric and then pressed well.  I think they turned out pretty awesome.  I'm also pretty tickled that I was able to maintain the curves at the waist even though I added 2".  I slashed and spread the pattern like I normally do, but I pretty much had to free-hand the new cutting lines to keep the integrity of the curves.


Since I used a knit and didn't line the dress, I serged all the seams to finish them off nicely inside.  The facing worked out well for the neckline.  I interfaced it because I've found that really helps to keep it nice and flat once it's pressed to the inside.  I also hand tacked it down at all the section seams.

Even with all the length I added to the pattern I still had barely 3/4" to turn up at the hem to get it to hit at the knee.  If I make this again I will add another 1" to 1.5" to make a deeper hem.  In any case, I finished the sleeves and the hem by hand.


I love this dress.  It's already been worn to work and passed the road test.  It's very comfortable and the ponte fabric, as well as the long sleeves, are perfect for my chilly office.  I can totally see myself making this again, although not right away.  I might try it again for spring in the short sleeve version, maybe with a print and a solid.  In the meantime this is the perfect dress for fall.  Now if we could just get some fall weather...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Burda Style 07-2016-105 Short Sleeve Cutout Dress

This is dress #105A from the July issue of Burda Style.


This is how it appeared in the magazine.  There is a 105B in the issue too, but it appears to be the exact same dress just in solid white instead of a print.


I knew as soon as I saw this dress that I would be making it.  It's a relatively simple style and work appropriate.  But that cool little cutout detail (which really isn't a cutout, but the illusion of a cutout created with an overlay) makes it just interesting enough to be different.


Here is a little bit better picture.  The main dress has a deeper, faced neckline and the overlay is caught into the right shoulder seam.  The neck band is attached to the right back, the overlay and then forms a bridge over the left shoulder and attaches to the left back about an inch or so past the left shoulder seam.


In the photo above, you can just see where the band attaches to the left back.  I wish it laid more flat, but oh, well.

So this is a 3 dot pattern.  It's a little bit challenging because of the neckline construction.  I read and re-read the instructions and I finally just had to take a leap of faith and do what I thought was going to work.  You cut the back pieces together and then you have to trim a little bit off of the left back bodice piece to create the "cutout."  The line for trimming is clearly marked on the pattern sheet.  What wasn't clear were the instructions, which said to trim off the seam allowance.  What?  What on earth for?  I went back and forth over that and finally figured it out.  DO NOT TRIM OFF THE SEAM ALLOWANCE.  If you do, you will have nothing to attach your neckband to!

What the instructions really mean, is to sew the left back facing to the left back bodice as far as the marking and stop.  Then you clip the seam allowance at the marking (I put in some stay stitching before sewing the facing to the bodice) and turn the facing to the inside leaving a nice seam allowance to attach the neckband to:


This is the right side of the left back.  The shoulder is on the left and the CB is on the right.  My facing is neatly turned to the inside and my seam allowances are basted together.

And this is what it looks like from the inside once the neckband is on:


The sides are reversed since this is the inside, but you get the picture.

And here is the inside of the front for good measure:


The facing goes from the right shoulder, around the front, over the left shoulder to the center back.  The right back side has no facing, just the neckband.

That neckband is the worst part of the whole thing.  It's only about 1/2" wide and curved, so attaching it and then trimming and clipping and pressing and finally hand stitching it together are a pain.  But well worth it in the end.


The pattern is offered in sizes 36 through 44.  I cut a 42 through the shoulders and a 44 from the bust down.  I made my usual petite adjustment above the bust and added 1.5" of length to to the bodice just above the waist.  (I could go for another 1/4 to 3/8" of length.)  I also shaved 3/8" off the bottom of the back bodice between the darts, tapering to nothing at the sides- a sway back adjustment.

My fabric is a fabulous floral print cotton shirting from Joann's.  It was the color combination that caught my eye.  I love pink, orange, and yellow together.  And did you see the snakeskin?  It's very "tropical" and yet I think the colors will take me right into fall.  Check out my mad pattern matching skills on the front of the dress.

I didn't do quite so hot on the back:


Other than the neckline, the dress is really simple.  It's an A-line with bust and waist darts, a waist seam, and side seam pockets.  The sleeves are finished with a narrow hem and the dress closes with an invisible zip and a hook and eye.


I did make one little mistake.  The overlay is supposed to be sewn to the bodice front from the side seam to just before the dart.  I didn't catch the placement line when I traced the pattern and didn't see it in the instructions until I already had the darts sewn.  I considered topstitching it down once the dress was finished, but when I pinned it in place it formed an odd flap right at the bust, so I just left it loose.  No one will know but us!

I love this dress!  I am going to have a blast wearing it.  Although this is a great pattern, and I highly recommend it, I doubt I will make it again any time soon.  I don't think...  even though I have several ideas for making a contrast overlay, binding the edge of the overlay, lining the overlay...  Did I mention it's a great pattern?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Burda Style 08-2016-128A Panel Pencil Skirt


I am in love with this skirt.  This is one of my favorite patterns I've ever made from Burda and it's likely to end up a TNT pattern.  This is skirt 128 from the August issue.

I knew the moment I saw this picture that I would be making this.  I love those section seams!  And even though they are a little unusual, the skirt itself is very basic and versatile.


Now granted, mine looks a little different.  For one thing, it's orange, and my fabric isn't quite so nice- it wrinkled a bit (the photos were taken at the end of an almost 12 hour workday.)  But the fit and the lines are great and I intend to make this again.  And again.


My fabric is some sort of jacquard weave suiting with a tiny bit of stretch, and most likely a fair amount of polyester.  I'm surprised it wrinkled as much as it did, but then again, it's not the worst I've encountered and I did wear the skirt all day, sitting at a desk for most of it, so some lap wrinkles are to be expected.


My favorite thing about this pattern is, of course, the curved section seams in the front.  Burda calls them "wandering panel seams."  They weren't too hard to sew, but added just enough of a challenge to make it interesting.  Okay, I wouldn't even call them a challenge, just a detail that you need to take your time on.  I stay stitched all of the convex curves then clipped and pinned carefully.  I like to sew with my clipped edge on top so I sewed part of the seam, cut the thread and then flipped it over to finish the seam.  I think they turned out pretty good.

I love the princess seams in the back too.  They are flattering and make fitting so easy...


The pattern is offered in sizes 34 to 42.  I traced a 42 and "graded up" to a 44 by just adding extra to the side seam allowances.  That took care of the hip circumference but I ended up having to take in the waist at the side seams and at the back section seams so it's now approximately a 40.5 at the waist.

This skirt is drafted long.  I added 1 3/4" for a hem allowance and then ended up taking 2.5" to get it to hit just below the knee.  I should have made my walking slit a little longer, something I will probably go back and correct.

The waistband for this view is a straight strip that you cut to measurements.  It finishes narrow and is added before the zip (I used an invisible one) so that it goes all the way to the top and you don't need a button or hook.  The band sits at the natural waist which is my preference both for comfort and for looks.

I would really like to make the second view offered in the magazine with the wider, shaped waistband and the curved hem:


I will be on the lookout for some nicer fabric because I'd love to have a couple more of these.

I'm really pleased with the Burda August issue.  There are so many things in it that I want to make.  I don't know what to choose next!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Burda Style 03-2016-104 Asymmetric Blouse

This top rolled out of the sewing room today.  It's the "Asymmetric Blouse" from the March issue of Burda Style, and I love it.


I've been telling myself for a while now that I need to make more tops instead of dresses all the time.  And every Friday when I wear jeans to work I find myself wishing I had something to wear besides a company logo T-shirt.  Or my "Everything is Awesome" T-shirt.  Last weekend I decided to trace this pattern out and give it a go.  I'm so glad I did, because this is just what I needed in my wardrobe.


Here is what Burda had to say about this pattern:  This simple blouse features three quarter length sleeves, darts for a feminine fit and an asymmetric hem that is a bit longer in the back than in the front.


There is not a whole lot to it.  It's a very simple pattern to put together.  The sleeves are cut straight and finished by machine.  The hem is finished with a narrow machine hem also and the neckline is finished with a narrow bias binding.  I left off the front slit.  I really didn't want to bother with it, and I felt the neckline was already wide and didn't need to open any further.  There are no closures and the top fits easily over my head.


The main design feature is the deep pleat in the back which opens out to give the top some swing.  Here is a closeup:


My fabric is a rayon challis print from deep in my stash.  It originally came from Hancock's and was left over from a dress I made a few summers ago.  I love the colors and the print and the challis is breezy and comfortable.  It wasn't bad to work with for this simple design and it gave me a chance to experiment with the variable pressure of the presser foot on my new sewing machine.  I lightened the pressure just a bit and the challis sewed beautifully, even on the bias parts.


I cut a size 42 through the shoulders and a 44 from the bust down.  I made a 3/8" petite adjustment above the bust and removed about 3/8" of ease from the back of the sleeve cap.  I narrowed the shoulders by about 3/4" on each side in the front and by about 3/8" on each side in the back.  (A muslin showed me that the shoulders were a little wide for me and the neckline didn't cover my bra straps.)  I also added 2 inches of length at the waist to make sure the hem in front adequately covered my waistband.

I wore this out tonight and it was comfortable and made me feel sort of dressed up.  I can definitely see myself making this again.  The Princess likes the cropped version of this pattern and I'd love to make her one as well.  I'm thinking I need a slim black skirt to wear with this.  We'll see...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Burda Style 06-2016-109 A Summer Shift Dress

I love a shift dress.  And when I saw this one in the June issue of Burda Style I knew I would be making it.  It took a few weeks to find the right fabric and the time to put it together, but here it is.


Here is the magazine photo and the tech drawing.  It's funny, but I still get mildly irritated that these things don't look quite the same on me as they do on the tall, slim Burda models.


It's a simple enough design- just an A-line shift dress.  But it does have a few interesting features, such as the wrap over shoulders, the back shoulder darts, and the angled seams at the sides, set off by fabric "frames" caught into the seams.


You can see my "frame" in the photo above.  The strips are sewn together at the corner and then pressed to form the angled shape.  They are then basted to the CF of the dress and the side front pieces are sewn in.  Yes, there is an inset corner, so precision sewing is the key.


My favorite feature of the dress is the shoulders, or lack of a shoulder seam, rather.   The back prices wrap around and tuck under the front and everything is caught together in the neckband.  It's quite nifty, and perfectly placed to cover bra straps, which is a huge plus for me.


Here is a shot of the inside showing the back pieces attached to the neckband and showing off the pink gingham binding I used to finish the edges.  I chose to use a contrast binding for 2 reasons.  One- it's a nice little touch to have a contrast binding inside that no one knows is there but me.  And two- by using the gingham instead of my main fabric, I have enough of this linen left to make a little sleeveless top to wear with jeans.

My fabric, but the way, is a light weight linen hibiscus print from Joann's.  I love the print and the linen is cool and comfortable, even on hot, muggy days.  And we have had a lot of those lately.


The back of the dress is pretty plain.  It does have those shoulder darts which shape it nicely, and a center back seam which is drafted completely straight for a zipper.  I omitted the zip since this goes over my head easily and I did a small sway back adjustment which put a slight curve in my CB seam.


It also has pockets!  Nice, big generous ones!

I cut a 42 through the shoulders and a 44 from bust to hip.  The fit is loose and easy.  I added 1.25" of length at the waist.  Although the dress is pretty straight, I wanted to balance the proportion of the side inserts.  I also added 2 extra inches to the hem to bring the finished length to the knee.


This may not be the most flattering thing I've ever made, but it was a fun sew and the finished dress is comfortable and unique.  I probably won't make it again, even though now that I see the photos, I wonder if I should have used a contrast fabric for the "frames."  There are just too many other shift dress patterns out there calling my name.