Sunday, August 31, 2014

Actually, I miscounted

. . . and it is actually 160 curved darts, not 80.

I am not making very good progress, though. 
48 darts is the tally so far. 
Not that my counting is very reliable, as we've established. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I Am At It Again

. . . mass-producing, I mean.

Is any one else mourning the end of the summer hols.? And missing the children already? And going nuts preparing school supplies and backpacks and things? And realizing, ironically, that they are actually getting less sleep during the supposedly-relaxed summer than during the supposedly-busy school season? And that, really, all of life is mania, except it manifests differently in the *hols. than term time?

*hols. = short for holidays, which is what we call "school break/vacation" in Singapore.

P.S. The photo above is a toy. Or, at least it will be a toy when it's actually made. All I will say now is that there are 80 curved darts involved.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Heavens Are Smiling

My favorite neighborhood fabric store, Mill End Textiles, closed down earlier this year. I was devastated. Decided I'd have to make more pilgrimages to SR Harris, for the kind of good apparel fabric and discount designer cotton that I loved Mill End for. But SR Harris is an hour's drive away, which is decidedly inconvenient for squeezing in trips to when one is watching the clock between school bus drop offs and pick ups.

Then today, this arrived in my email inbox:

Burnsville is about 10 minutes away. 
I tried not to froth at the mouth too much.

Now, that's even closer than the nearest JoAnn. 

But not as close as the new Twin Cities Outlet Mall that's just opened 5 minutes away. 
Where I can go shopping for clothes and stuff so that I don't have to buy fabric to sew them!

Which would leave me all sorts of time to sew stuff I really like!
For which I can go shopping at the new SR Harris!
Dressed in the RTW clothes I bought at the Outlet Mall!
That I didn't have to sew!

I'll stop gloating now.

And get back to the point of this post:
South-of-the-River Minnesotan sewing comrades, start saving your money - 
there is fabric to buy and a brand new store to conquer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Heirloom(ish) Sewing - Skirt

Third project made from Grandma Ruby's pillowcase hems!

When I was interviewing* my girls to find out what they'd like made out of these hem panels, a skirt was one of the ideas that surfaced. Everyone ultimately preferred the dress idea, so we went with that in the end. However, I couldn't shake the image of a white linen skirt showcasing this pretty embroidery. I mean, picture this: tissue-weight linen, with gathered tiers, cute pockets and this incredible hem, on a 6-year-old girl with pigtails. Sigh.

Decided I would have to make the skirt, regardless.
And if none of the young 'uns would wear it, well then, I would. 

Although since it was for me, it couldn't have gathers or flouncy tiers or that "little girl "look, in general.

So classic A-line, then.

Fitted, with a back zipper,

and a wide on-the-hip waistband, with in-seam pockets like in men's tailored trousers. 

I sewed some bias trim into the seam for color and definition.

And repeated the same trim where the embroidered panel joins the main skirt,

but in two colors.

Some more random shots of the skirt on me.

* Interviewing children = running after them, hollering, "Oi! Will you wear a dress if I sew it? What about a skirt? A bag? A blanket? Hello? Dress? Dress? Okay, dress it is!"

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Heirloom(ish) Sewing - Bins

What do you sew for an older daughter who has long since left the Pretty Dresses And Twirly Skirts Phase behind her?

And if you have these pillowcase hems inherited from her great-grandmother that you want to turn into something she can enjoy and treasure (but not necessarily wear on her body)?

You make book bins. 

Ours have zippered bases, inspired by a clever organizing receptacle I bought from IKEA years ago,

which unzip

to split the base and collapse the entire bin

into flat storage.


Here's our tutorial. I'm not supplying dimensions or templates - our bins were a particular size to fit the circumference of the pillowcase hems. 

Step 1: Make the double-layered zippered base.

  • Find a zipper that's much longer than the diagonal of the base. Ours was a square base, split into two equal triangles. And our zipper was vintage, meaning that it's older than my mother and came from her stash - check out the age stains. 
  • So lay the zipper RS up on the RS of the BOTTOM layer of the base. This is the layer that the bin will rest on, not the lining layer. Attach one side of the zipper tape as shown.

  • Next, lay a lining triangle (the lining will be the top fabric) on top of the zipper-and-bottom-fabric-triangle. Sew this lining triangle to that same edge of the zipper tape, so that you have the zipper sandwiched between two fabric layers.

  • Fold both fabric layers over to expose the other edge of the zipper tape, hiding all SA. 

  • Press this fold and topstitch.

  • Repeat the same process to attach the other pair of fabric triangles to the other edge of the zipper. Here is the lining side.

  • And here is the bottom side. Baste around all 4 edges, through both layers, to make a composite base. 

Step 2: Prepare the support.

This is going to be a very solid bin, so I used cardboard rather than interfacing. So there is zero interfacing. I'd have used corrugated plastic if I could find it, because it's water-resistant, but it's apparently a very "specialist" sort of material, and hard to buy in retail/non-bulk quantities. 
  • Determine the dimensions of the walls needed, and cut the corrugated plastic/cardboard with the flutes parallel to the ground. This orientation will allow the cardboard to resist crushing more effectively.

As a visual aid, here is how those cardboard walls will stand on the base.

We will next make the walls.

These are the two wall layers, each sewn along their short edges into a wide tube. Our outer layer has the embroidered pillowcase hem topstitched onto it. 

Step 3: Make the lining wall. 
  •  Fold the lining wall into four and mark the quarter distances (assuming your bin is also square). Lay the two pieces RS together, and match up the corners of the base to the quarter distance marks (red arrows), 

splitting the SA of the lower edge of the lining wall to allow the corners to lay flat as shown. Sew around the bottom edge of the lining wall to attach it to the base. 

Step 4: Make the strap panels.
  • Cut two equal rectangles for each strap panel. I used a much thinner fabric (regular cotton) for one of the rectangles - it acts as a lining of sorts and is easier to work with than if both rectangles were a heavy fabric. 
  • Sew the rectangles together, with their RS together, all around their perimeter, leaving a gap for turning out (see top rectangle in photo below). 
  • Turn the whole rectangle out through this gap, press the seams and topstitch all around the edge, closing the gap in the process (see bottom rectangle in the photo below). 

  • Lay the strap panel, lining side down, in position on the outer wall, making two channels to accommodate the straps, as shown. 

  • Stitch to attach the panel and define the channels. Repeat the process to make and attach a second strap panel to the opposite side of the outer wall.

Step 5: Attach the outer wall.
  • The process of attaching the outer wall is the same as that of attaching the lining wall (Step 3). Flip the base over so that its bottom side is facing up. Tuck the attached lining walls underneath and out of the way. Lay the outer wall on the base as shown, matching up its quarter distances with the corners of the base,

and splitting the SA in the corners as before. 
  • Sew to attach the outer wall to the base, using the same stitching line as (or a slightly deeper SA than) the one that attached the lining wall to the base.

This will produce sharp corners in both the outer layer

and lining.

Step 6: Join the wall layers.
  • Line up the quarter distances (which should correspond to the corner edges of the bin) of the lining and outer wall layers (red dashed line). Pin together, and stitch both layers together along these lines.

This will give four compartments between the walls to insert the cardboard pieces. Do this now. 

Step 7: Bind the opening of the bin. 
  • I used bias tape, sewn first to the lining side of the bin and folded over to the outer side and hand-stitched. This was the only sequence permitted by the rigidness of the cardboard. 

The finished bound opening.

Step 8: Insert straps.
  • Finally, insert the straps into the strap panel. I used a thick cord that I found in the hardware store, knotted the ends and sealed them with a candle flame.

These straps slide down and out of the way when not used for carrying.

Shot of the inside of the bin

and the outside.

I made a second bin, using a narrower cord, for Emily's same-age cousin,

because Emily thought she'd like it more than a sundress. Emily picked the pillowcase panels and fabric for both bins.

Here she is on our deck swing, enjoying her bin

filled with all the books she loves.