Monday, December 28, 2009

Wallets and Pouches in Calliope - now in the shop

Some pictures of new wallets made just before Christmas.
This is Jessica Jones' bold Calliope in Spa fabric which I saw
recently and thought had to become a wallet. So far I have
been somewhat picky about what prints end up as wallets -
this lovely line and the magnificent Orla Kiely prints
earlier in the summer.

Decided I'd make coordinating pouches too.
Would've made bags and other receptacles but for the time.

Here's a set in Calliope Dirt:

These pouches make me happy to look at them.
You all know I'd be perfectly content in a world
without print fabric but every now and then one
comes along that I have to buy and experiment with.
Especially if they are on canvas.
Canvas = receptacles.

These are in the shop, so if you are needing a new wallet
for the coming year, head on over and take one home!

And because I liked this line so much, I went and stocked
up on some older Jessica Jones prints. And I bought them
online! Without even touching them! Ah, it is funny what a
year of sewing does to a person's fundamental principles -
I seem to now be cured of my online shopping aversion
and my Solids Are Superior mindset.

Speaking of aversions, I cut out three dresses for the girls
tonight. Plain batty. No drafting, though - they are just
regular old pinafores/jumpers. Fell back on the comfortable
old Trace Around An Old Dress method. I figure that
anything sleeveless without darts on small children =
can't really go wrong. I might eat my words later,
of course. I usually do. Wish me luck.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

This is Day#2 away from home (and the overworked sewing machine) - hurrah!

(hushed voice) Am writing to you from a darkened hotel room, where we stayed the night. Ooo, very exciting. Actually, not. One small child kept us up all night. And no, it wasn't the next-door kid. It was our own Kantankerous Katie. Had a cough, poor kid, and not happy with this Foreign Room and Weird Bed. It is now 9:08 am and the kids are finally sleeping the first long stretch of the "night". Shame to wake them up for breakfast, really. Or to get back in the car and drive through the blizzard (yes, we are having a very white Christmas) to the house where we usually spend Christmas day.

We opened some gifts last night and I got a gift card to Mill End Textiles! Nothing like fabric money, I say. Also pleased to report that the kids got only ONE handmade gift. I love handmade, but the fewer they get, the more time I will have spent with them playing and enjoying Christmas -lesson learnt from last year's crazy donut-and-dress-up-box making madness. That said, I still found myself sewing Christmas gifts on the 23rd, when I should have been packing for this trip. It was a plain miracle that we finally left the house without omitting anything vital, like the portable potty seat adapter, for instance. Claps on back for everyone!

Have a restful Christmas, everyone, and enjoy your family! No crafting now, people! Eat food! Play games! Sleep!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random Updates

Three things:

1 Found something else to put on my Wish List - this at least isn't a magical object. If anyone knows where to buy one, tell!

2 Found new blog that I like, thanks to a link on Angry Chicken. Loved this post. Wanted to share not only because it is so funny but for the very superior dresses the Selfish Seamstress sews. Please note how well her garments fit. It's what I've been saying. Not about the print/designer fabric - it is the fit. It doesn't hurt that her dresses are also gorgeous in and of themselves. She also recommends a drafting teacher! Blast - he is in Chicago. It will cost me less to fly home to take lessons from Auntie (plus I can stock up on wholesale bag hardware and eat myself silly on Mum's cooking).

3 Against all common sense, I went and finished the dress for Emily. It is a monstrosity, fit-wise. Oh, it looks like a dress, and is pretty enough, but it is clearly made for a different, non-Emily body. Emily screamed when I tried it on her today. So did I. This is what happens when I ignore the glaringly obvious signs to take a sabbatical from clothes-sewing. What signs, you ask? Hm, like
  • Cannot draw straight lines on paper
  • Cannot remember what an armscye looks like
  • Not sure how to read a tape measure
  • Blanking out on simple arithmetic (e.g. 24" divided by 4 = ????)
So anyway, I am hereby imposing a clothes-making sabbatical on myself. Apologies to all you folks who are waiting for sloper/drafting wisdom to turn up here sometime soon. Really, it is more merciful to children everywhere if I am stopped now. I'll be back eventually!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


And by "quilt", I mean batting sandwiched between printed
And distorted circles machine-stitched around
the Maisys to
hold the batting in place.
And a colorful border sewn all around.

This is as far as my quilting goes. I think I should refer
to this as a "blanket" from now on, though.

So this blanket is for Jenna, the one-person-Maisy-fan-club

in our house. Supposed to be a Christmas present, but I was
careless enough to let her see part of it. She said, "I like that
Maisy cloth!" so I know she'll like the finished product
when she finally unwraps it.

Also made her a Maisy pillowcase with the remnants - front:

and back:
I'm not exactly sure how children fall asleep with their eyes
so close to blindingly colorful print like this, but maybe
everything is bland in the dark.

So that's my sewing project for the week. Believe it or not,

I'm almost done with Christmas gifts. More specifically, I'm
not sewing a lot of Christmas gifts this year. Decided it was
a case of been-there-done-that-and-am-tired, and I want
to make better use of my advent season by actually enjoying
it instead of sewing myself blind late into the night. I have one
wallet to make, and I'm done. I started a dress for Emily,
planning to do one of those odd matching girl-and-18"-doll
outfits but I am not in a clothes-sewing mood now. So the
dress is half-done and sitting on my table. Maybe I'll finish it
for Christmas. And maybe I'll draft an 18"-Doll Sloper and
make the matching doll dress.
Or maybe I'll bake cookies and eat them instead.

But back to the subject line - quilts.
Let me show you some real patchwork quilting.
Of course not done by me. These were made by
Auntie Laura when she was visiting in 2006.
She made these for Christmas for us
(on my sewing machine - whooo!):

I know essentially squat about patchwork and blocks and
that other quilting nomenclature, but I recognize
and good craftsmanship when I see it. And
these pillowcases
are beautifully made, and the undersides,
where all the threads
are manually knotted are incredibly
neat (I got a peek when
she was making them).
Manually knotted! Do people really
do this voluntarily?
That last design really boggles my mind.
All those curves and overlapping over-under things.
Fascinating in an MC Escher sort of way.

I was especially intrigued by her corners - I only ever
finish my corners at a diagonal. This was new to me:
and this was especially pretty:
There's a matching tree skirt, too, but I didn't take photos -
covered with pine needles and gifts right now.

More Christmas Trees

The girls made these little Christmas Tree gift boxes for
Emily's teachers this week. They were similar to the advent
Christmas trees but this craft was not meant to be a quick
one. I much prefer crafts that take time (preferably days),
because the results are always better, and the kids have
sufficient time to develop their ideas and appreciate
the sequence.

We started out with plain cardboard quadrants,
just like the advent trees. We cut up a cereal box for
these. A loop of red ribbon was glued to the tip of
each cone. Actually, I like this natural version a lot as
is, but that would be a project for just me.

Then the girls painted them green. This was something
even Kate could do, which I liked.

Then they were left to dry.

We collected various embellishments and began
decorating - which ranged from simple

and elegant (I would've stopped right
here and declared it finished!)

to a bit blingy

But with the little ones, more is always better

and make for more colorful trees anyway

Again, the glue was left to dry for another day.

Meanwhile, we started work on the contents of the trees.
I ironed freezer paper on the back of muslin scraps (to
make them easier to draw on) and Emily drew Baby Jesus
images on the front with fabric markers. Then these were
made into 2D softies with gingham backs and stuffed by Emily.

Jenna drew a person, and was very happy that I carefully
preserved her long left arm in the sewing process.

And Emily finished up with a fairy princess (of course).

The girls put a Baby Jesus in each tree, then filled it with
Hershey's kisses and we glued on a cardboard base

so they could be held by their little ribbon loops
and given away to teachers.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How to Sew a Hem Facing

Some time ago I made a fall skirt for Emily with a curved
hem facing. I didn't know at the time what it was called,
which is typical of how I sew (without knowing the names
of techniques, parts of sewing machine, type of fabric etc).
In that post, I briefly explained, sans photos, how it was
done, but I thought it might be worth another look at,
this time with photos.

I usually only sew this sort of gathered-waist rectangular
skirt in the summer. It is a very casual style (because of the
elastic) and is all breezy-carefree-light for the wearer. Also,
thin cotton summer fabrics gather well without bunching.
But both Emily and Jenna are oddly refusing to wear pants
in spite of the frigid temperatures here, and keep trying to
layer their summer skirts over unmatching leggings and tights.
Some days it is an assault on the eyes!

Since there is going to be skirt-wearing regardless of my
protests, we might as well have some in winter-type fabrics.
They may be bunchier but at least they have a nice weight
and thickness. This is a combination of a thicker off-white
16 wale corduroy for the main skirt and printed 21 wale
corduroy for the hem, waistband and pockets.

I will not be explaining how to sew this kind of skirt. I will
only be explaining how to do the straight hem and waistband.
For an explanation on how to turn a rectangle into a skirt, see here.

Step 1
Serge (or zig zag) only the short sides of the main skirt (and the pockets, if you are adding any). This is the only raw-edge finishing you will need to do.

Step 2 (optional)
Sew on the pockets.

Step 3
Measure the width of the rectangle used for the main skirt (shown folded in half) and cut a waistband (mine was 2.75" high) and hem facing (mine was about 4.5" high) of exactly the same width as the main skirt. See in the picture below how they match up.

Step 4
With right sides facing, sew up the side seams of all three pieces:
  • waistband
  • main skirt
  • hem facing

so that they form three tubes.
Iron open the seams if you want.

Step 5
With all three tubes wrong side out,
  • slip the waistband tube over the top of the main skirt and pin so that their top edges are flush.
  • slip the hem facing tube over the bottom of the main skirt and pin so that their bottom edges are flush.

Note: For completely idiosyncratic reasons, I like lining up the side seams for the bottom hem and main skirt but not the waistband. This is mainly to avoid having all the seams together when I thread the elastic through the waistband later - too crowded. Please feel free to put your seams wherever you like.

Step 6
Sew a seam all around the bottom edge of the skirt to attach the hem facing. Repeat for the top edge to attach the waistband piece. Iron open the seams which should look like this:

Now turn the skirt right side out and fold the hem facing up over the front of the skirt. Fold down the top of the hem facing (about a quarter inch), pin and top-stitch the hem facing onto the front of the skirt, all around.

Step 7
Fold the waistband down over the top, and onto the front, of the skirt to make an elastic casing. You could choose to fold the entire printed piece down to form a front facing

or fold down just half of it to meet the original seam line.

The way you choose will affect the final length of the skirt.

Step 8
Top stitch along the bottom and top of the waistband as shown, leaving an opening along the lower seam to insert the elastic. It doesn't matter if your waistband is a little wonky because everything will be scrunched up with the elastic.

This is what the hem facing looks like when completed.
The only raw edges (finished earlier by zig-zag stitch or
serging) visible will be the side seam of the main skirt fabric.

Insert elastic, sew ends together and close up
the opening in the waistband.