Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Little Bit of Stitchin'

There has been stitching going on this week. Here you can see the almost finished bottom portion of the birth sampler. Notice the "in progress" hardanger band. I'm trying to get the outer borders completed before I go back to removing threads and weaving the bars.

This is a close-up of the corner. You can see the inner hardanger border, the Algerian Eyelet stitches between the satin stitched rows, and one of the funky hearts that are in all four corners.

And here you can see what the hardanger section looks like with the threads removed, but before the remaining threads are wrapped and woven. The Algerian eyelets on the right side are only half done. The first half of the stitches is worked in one pass and the second half is worked on a second pass.

And in between stitching sessions, I managed to make a muslin of this, Simplicity 2690. I'm making the short sleeve V-neck tunic. I hope to have a finished top to show you soon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cargo Pants

The Butterick 5022 cargo pants are done! Whew!

I used light pink (light weight) twill and I made a size 7 straight out of the envelope. I love them! The princess likes them, too.

Here is a closeup of the front pocket with the elastic casing. I love this little detail.

Here is the side cargo pocket, complete with rhinestone applique, double topstitching, and the grosgrain drawstring. The pattern called for making a self fabric drawstring, but yeah, I'm a little too lazy for that. Besides, the slightly darker pink ribbon with white running stitch just looks fancier.

Here's the back. It's pretty plain. I am definately going to make these again. The Princess also likes the little top included in the pattern so we're going to make that, too.
You can see the complete review for the cargo pants here on Pattern Review.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Band Done

The drawn thread/hemstitching band is done.

Here's a close up look. Or at least as close as I can get with my camera. Julia asked for a tutorial on this technique and I will see what I can do. That might be something to work on this weekend while I'm off. In the meantime, here's a little sampler I stitched back in 2000. This is Bee Keeper's Cottage by Shepherd's Bush:

This is an adorable little sampler (aprox. 2.5" by 11.25") stitched in shades of purple, green, and gold on an antique gold toned linen.

It features bees, of course, and includes two tiny brass bee charms and a little pewter moon. I love this little piece and I really need to get it framed and hang it up somewhere.
By the way, all of these unframed samplers are stored flat, loosely layered in a plastic storage box (the same kind I use for my fabric stash) dedicated to needlework. I don't know that that is the best way to store them, but it's worked for me so far. All of them are in perfect condition as of right now.
And now I am off to work on one of my many WIPs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pumpkins, Pockets, and Progress, Oh My!

The Pumpkins are finally done! I finished stitching this little baby up on Sunday evening- aren't they cute? Now, what to do with them? Should I frame it? Make it up into a little knick-knack, or a door hanger, etc? Suggestions? Sorry about the fold lines. I still need to press it and probably block it. But it's finished!

I also made progress on B5022:

These are the front pockets. I love the elasticized top edge. It's just a little bit different and looks so cute and feminine. I can't wait to get these sewn onto the front pieces so I can start to get an idea of how this is going to look.

And here is the blingy iron-on applied to the cargo pocket. Application went very well. I followed the directions on the package and all the rhinestones adhered perfectly. We'll see how this goes. I'm still not convinced this is going to stand up to everyday wearing and washing. I'll have to try to remember to at least wash the pants inside out, but I'll have to let you know how this holds up.
And finally, progress on the birth sampler:

I got the verse and several more bands of stitching added. Sorry the photo is so dark. It's so hard to get good shots in my house and believe it or not, when I used a flash, it was even worse. You can see at the top that I'm right in the middle of a band with drawn thread that will feature hemstitching. It will be very similar to the band at the bottom of the photo. I have already completed the left side, and you can see where I still need to finish preparing the right hand side. I carefully cut the specified horizontal fabric threads in the center, then I pulled every other thread completely out of the fabric. Then I pulled each remaining thread carefully toward the center of the piece, threaded it up on a tapestry needle and wove it back into the fabric in place of the removed thread. This leaves a nice, finished edge at each edge of the band and the border stitches will be worked right into the re-woven fabric as if no threads had even been removed. It's not my favorite part of the sampler, but it's relatively easy (once you get over the idea of cutting your fabric and pulling threads out!) and the results are striking.

I'm taking the next two days off from work so I am anticipating a nice, long, four day weekend. I hope to get some more progress made on the pink cargo pants and on the birth sampler. I also have another little UFO in progress that I plan to take with me if I end up out and about this weekend. I'll share that one next time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Long Lost Love

I've mentioned before, a long, long time ago, that I used to do quite a bit of needlework. There was a time when I had at least one, sometimes several pieces in progress at all times. In fact, my hands used to be dry and cracked to the point of pain because I was so scrupulous about washing my hands in order to work on my precious samplers.

A few years ago, my needlework mojo dried up quite suddenly and unexpectedly. I put all of my fancy fibers, beautiful pieces of linen, and tons of charts and patterns away. This happened to coincide with me learning to smock and finding a new "love" and with some devastating family disruptions. There suddenly just wasn't enough time, energy, or money, and something had to give.
Lately I have been feeling a stirring of renewed interest in needlework. I don't know yet if it will blossom into the full blown love and obsession it was before, but I am content to wait and see what happens. In the meantime I thought I would share a few pieces with you now and then. I have stitched up tons of things- mostly samplers- so many that I can't even remember all of them. Most of my finished pieces are hanging in my Mom's house in Georgia, but I do have a few things tucked away waiting for me to have them framed so they can hang in my home. I also have quite a few UFOs which need to be brought out into the light of day and finished. I may share some of those as well.
I was, at one time, an aspiring needlework designer myself, so I plan to share some of my original designs and offer some of them to you free of charge. It's a shame to let them languish away in a dark box- they should be shared. Maybe someone else will get some enjoyment out of them just like I got when I was designing them.
I'll leave you today with a few pieces that I stitched when I first became a linen/evenweave convert (no more Aida cloth for me) and when I first started branching out from cross stitch into other stitches. Unfortunately I cannot credit the designers of these first four pieces. I found these patterns in a magazine in the late 90's, and I no longer have the magazine.
The first pieces is a beautiful and quite large sampler

It's mostly cross stitch in rich colors, but it does have some satin stitching, herringbone, french knots, and bullion knots. It's stitched on 28ct Ivory Jobelin, I believe. (Sorry for the green tint to the picture. I assure you it's due to my camera and lighting conditions.) None of these pieces I'm sharing are blocked or stretched, so that is why they are a little bit crooked.

This one is also mostly cross stitch except for the verse and the border. It is stitched on 28ct ivory linen that I bought prepackaged at Walmart- back when they had a decent selection of needlework supplies.

This one was one of my early hardanger pieces. I LOVE hardanger. This is also one of my first pieces using Caron overdyed threads. I can't remember the name of the color combination, but I think I used heavier Watercolours cotton for the kloster blocks (the outline blocks) and satin stitching, and thinner Wildflowers thread for the weaving in the cut-out areas. These threads are wonderful because the colors change as you stitch. I still need to add a verse or something to the center of this one. This one was stitched on 28ct white evenweave fabric.

Here's a little sampler with a strawberry theme. This one is stitched all in DMC floss in red, green, blue, gold, and ecru on 28ct ivory linen. (Once again- sorry for the green tint.) This one was a lot of fun and quick to stitch with lots of specialty stitches.

And here is one of those UFOs I mentioned. This one is from Full Circle Designs and features pumpkins. I have lots of patterns with pumpkins. My son Bryan has a thing for them- we have a collection, and so I pick up pumpkin patterns here and there. This one should be quick to finish. It's stitched in Sampler Threads on 32ct linen. I'm not sure of the color but it's a rustic beige/tan.

And finally, this is a small piece of my main UFO, which I need to hurry up and finish. The picture from the beginning of the post is also a portion of this piece- Heirloom Anniversary Sampler from Victoria Sampler. I am modifying the design, however, to be a birth sampler for a special little family friend. The colors are soft rose, taupe, ecru, and sparkly platinum on 28ct Platinum Cashel linen (a warm pale grey). The sampler features all kinds of stitches, hardanger, silk ribbon embroidery, and is sprinkled with beads and metallic thread accents. I have already made it once for my parents as an anniversary sampler, and I thought it would adapt nicely to a birth sampler. I just need to get myself in gear and finish it!
The day is young, and as you can see, I have plenty to work on. I might even get a chance to clear off the kitchen table and cut out a sewing project. I'm off to stitch/sew.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Finished and Road Tested Too!

I finally got the hem stitched on S2588 and I wore the dress to work on Thursday. I was quite pleased!

I'm going to give this one an A. Not an A+, because I decided I don't love the fabric so much, but still, an A, because it was so comfortable and fun to wear. It reminded me again that I love a cotton dress on a warm day! This is a pattern that I just might make again- the full skirt and the sleeveless version intrigue me.

Anyway, on to the details. I used the slim skirt, the flat sleeves, amd the wide yoke. I cut a 16 from the neckline down to the hip, where I morphed out to an 18. As I said in a previous post, the waist was way too tight. I should have used the size 18 cutting lines at the waist. For the finished dress, I cut it out the same as the muslin, but I used 1/4" seam allowances at the waist instead of 5/8". This gave me plenty of room and I can breathe in the finished dress.

I added 1" of length to the bodice pieces at the waist- a pretty standard adjustment for me. I did a 3/8" princess FBA, and I added 3/8" of width to the back skirt piece which was darted out at the waist. Now that the dress is finished, I think I could have gotten away with a little less extra circumference in the skirt and waist, but it turned out okay and I'm not going to sweat it.

To personalize the dress, I used mini piping in both the upper and lower yoke seams.

I also piped the waist tabs. The tabs are unique in that they are sewn into the back darts rather than the side seams.

I'm not crazy about these mother of pearl buttons, but they were the only ones in my stash that were remotely suitable. I figured I could change them later, but I probably won't bother since I fell out of love with the dress.

I used an invisible zipper and for once I managed to line up the piped yoke seam and the waist seam pretty well.

All in all I like the dress and I will wear it from time to time throughout the summer. It is not lined, but all the inside seams are serged. I will wear it with a slip. This is a cute dress pattern and I recommend it if you need an easy summer dress

Next up for me will be BWOF 05-2008-115, a princess seamed dress with an intriguing twist front:

I'll be skipping the turban. I plan to use a cool black rayon challis with a pink and green swirl print. Muslin is made, pattern is tweaked, and cutting will commence this weekend!

I also need to make a few things for my daughter who is growing like a weed. Summer Fields is still in progress (okay, languishing in the sewing room), but we are going to take time out this weekend to work on some casual play clothes. We'll start with Butterick 5022:

I have some pink twill picked out for the capri pants and a cute blingy applique to try out on one of the pockets. We'll pick out a print from stash to make the cute little sun top. Stay tuned for results.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Almost Done...

Here's a shot of the almost finished S2588:

All I need to do is hem it, and I'll do that in a little while when I get off of the computer. Hmmm.... I almost like the muslin better. I let the waist out 3/4" on both sides by taking a 1/4" seam allowance instead of 5/8". The fit is perfect now- I can breathe. But clearly this dress doesn't look as sleek as the muslin. Oh well, I guess it's better to breathe than to look a little slimmer. It could have something to do with the dark print of the muslin versus the crazy print of the dress, too. Now that it's done, I'm not loving this Kaffe Fassett print so much anymore. I'm still going to wear it, it just won't be a favorite.

Chris asked in the comments of the last post if I lined the dress, and if so, with what? Well, I didn't line the muslin, and I didn't line this either. The quilting cotton is opaque, so I don't need to worry about modesty, and I prefer to wear a separate slip under these cotton dresses. It gets really hot here in Oklahoma, but a slip doesn't bother me, and the cotton breathes beautifully. Especially with bare legs and sandals. You could line a dress like this (made out of quilting cotton) but I'd be careful to choose something "slippery"- at least for the skirt. Batiste wouldn't work, I don't think, because it would want to cling to the dress fabric and would get bunched up inside of the dress. It would be okay for the bodice, though, since it's fitted and the layers won't shift against each other. I have used broadcloth before in a similar dress, but only for the bodice. I've also used polysatin. It's slippery and not as easy to work with as cotton, but it feels really nice against the skin.

Christina in Canada asked about interfacing the bodice of a smocked dress, specifically if I have had problems with "rippling" after washing. Unfortunately, yes- I have. Not on every interfaced bodice, though. It seems to have more to do with the quality of the interfacing rather than technique. My suggestion is to get the best stuff you can find. I can't recommend a specific brand (because I'm lazy and disorganized and I don't always keep the plastic wrap that comes with the interfacing) but anything you get from an heirloom sewing shop should work. I've found good interfacing at Hancock's, too. It wouldn't hurt to make a test swatch and run it through the washer and dryer just to see. Of course, you could always just underline the bodice with a piece of batiste. That should add enough body to the bodice to hide the yoke seam allowance and you wouldn't get any rippling.

Alright, well I guess I'm off to hem. Hopefully I'll have some progress to report on Summer Fields soon. It's still lying in the sewing room, all smocked and lonely.