Thursday, April 14, 2016


A new baby girl is the reason for sewing these pieces. She will join the human tribe sometime in June. Cousin's very first grandchild. What a wonderful time.

The pink cotton knit is as soft in real life as it looks. I purchased it from the Martha Pullen booth at Expo this year. So yummy. And such a sweet place for a little embroidery.

The patterns are from old, old Ottobre magazines. The sack is for a newborn and the onesie for 6-8 months. They look so small that I am beginning to question whether or not they will ever fit a tiny human. But then it is so easy to forget how tiny a new one is.

I am pretty proud of these simple snaps:

And icing on the cake is of course a little sashiko.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Open Wide Zippered Pouch

The Open-Wide Zippered Pouch is posted as a free tutorial by Noodlehead. The main feature for me was the clean finish on the zipper, allowing the bag to open completely without bulky zipper junk crowding either end. It also has boxed corners on the bottom.

My first try used a small piece I created in a Fiber Art Fusion. We had access to old out-of-date decorator books with smallish fabric samples. Our goal was to compose a collage of sorts. Because of its size, I only used the Noodlehead tutorial for the zipper portion. I did follow that portion of the tutorial very closely including the little tab on the zipper end.

Because the tab construction was a little fiddly, I made a change to it in my second version. Other than the tab, I followed the instructions for her small bag quite closely. Funny, I always learn something when I follow directions. I rather like the order of construction and the ease of construction when the front and back of the tote are two separate pieces, instead of one long piece folded over.

The red fabric is cotton canvas. The bottom is light weight denim that I quilted to wool batting. The lining is cotton batik. It turned out just a tad limp.

For the tab on this red one, I cut a denim square 1.25 x 2.5 inches so that one long edge included the selvage. Then I folded it right sides together to create a square 1.25 x 1.25.  Next I stitched along the edge opposite the fold, using a 1/4 inch SA. This created a tube that slides easily over a standard zipper

After sliding the tube on the zipper, with selvage closest to the bag. I stitched across the other end of the tube over the zipper. Lastly I cut the zipper off to about 1/2 inch and turned the tube right side out, covering the zipper end.

I applied a variation of tab construction to the next two bags. For these bags I used the dimensions for the large open-wide pouch. Since I found my red one to be a little limp, I tried some variations with structure.  On the pink one, I tried applying inexpensive fusible interfacing to both the exterior and the interior of the bag. The exterior is cotton seersucker and the interior is quilt cotton. The result was still too droopy, so I took it apart and added cotton flannel to the exterior layer. The band on it is a bias tube made from the interior quilt cotton.

For the green one, I used very heavy fusible interfacing on the exterior and light weight fusible on the interior. The face fabrics are quilt cottons and the band is ribbon. It is beefy enough but I much prefer the softer effect of the flannel.

As I added additional structure, I realized that I needed to change the way the zipper was installed. That is, I screwed it up and had to pick it out.

In Noodlehead's tutorial, she shows you how to place the zipper between the exterior and interior fabrics so that insertion takes a single pass on each side of the zipper. As the fabrics became thick, this was hard for me to manage. So, instead I sewed the zipper to the exterior first. Then I sewed the lining on, keeping the previous seam line visible so that I could simply retrace it. This allowed me to keep things even.

I love the manner in which Noodlehead manages the ends of the zipper and will use this again. It yields a pouch that really does open wide!

I had hoped that this bag might be a good one for Camp Sew N Sew this year, but I think the zipper application may be a little too challenging for brand new sewists.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just a Little Sashiko

Last June I made this white linen shirt from The Sewing Workshop Mix It pattern:

I was especially pleased with the cuffs. The design sprang from a severe shortage of fabric.

It was lovely to sew, all that wonderful linen. But I did not wear it. You know how it works - you put it on and then take it off again. And then it just stayed in the closet.

So I added a little sashiko at the high waist and at the shoulders. I also added a few rows around the collar. Again it was a delight to sew. I wore it yesterday but it remains to be seen if I'll wear it. I do think I will now.

Yeah, the sashiko is pretty subtle.

Last night I celebrated 7-year-old grandsons birthday and came home with a few stains. White linen is like a food magnet for me.

PS - He liked the PJs I made him. He is not so sure about the dress shirt. I expected that. DD and DSIL were so thoughtful and ooohhhed and awwed over it. And if he wears it, my heart will sing.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Summer Dress

This is another sweet pattern from Ottobre, summer 2008. The dress in the magazine is actually quite different. I used the basic bones as a starting place.

Granddaughter will turn 7 in a few weeks. She selected the fabric with a little input from me and her mother. I was able to steer her to some cotton lawn selections for the skirt, sleeves and binding. The bodice is quilt weight, but it works just fine for this portion of the dress. The cotton lawn was lovely to cut and sew. I think it will be great to wear too.

Gathering is easy, right? I've been doing it since I first began sewing as a pre-teen. But in the back of my mind, I could picture some pretty sloppy gathering in past projects, so I decided to aim a bit higher. I consulted a great resource on my sewing room shelf, Couture: The Fine Art of Sewing by Roberta Carr. I purchased this from Marla Kozell when she taught a class locally. It is a gold-mine of for great sewing techniques.

Indeed there was terrific instruction on how to get even gathers. I was surprised to learn that the suggested stitch length for gathering was 2.5 mm, just 0.1 mm larger than my normal stitch length. The first row is stitched just inside the seam line; the second one is 1/8 inch further inside the seam allowance. I pulled the bobbin threads and it worked just great!

As with so much sewing, careful pressing is key to success. I had not thought about pressing the even gathers before attaching to the bodice. I am really quite pleased with the result.

Even though the skirt is cotton lawn, it is not at all transparent so I chose to omit lining from that and from the bodice. It gets hot here is the southeast and this will be a light weight dress for the fast approaching summer months.

The original inspiration my granddaughter spotted had a bubble skirt. I had intended to bubble it, but decided that the flow of this skirt is just too sweet as is. And it's so hard to properly iron a bubble skirt. I did add a bias strip from the bodice fabric to give the hem a little weight.

Now I am anxious to make myself something new!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What's your favorite color?

"Brown," he said.

And so to celebrate his 7th birthday, I made a PJ set and a classic shirt for him in chocolatey browns .

He selected this forest (no, it is NOT camouflage) scene in cotton knit.

And I selected this check. Had to add a little zing to it and so lined the collar band and cuffs in a print.

When making gifts for the grands, I often go back to my stash of Ottobre magazines. I subscribed about 3 years running and now I have more patterns for children than I'll ever be able to try. Some issues were better than others. All three of these came from patterns in this issue:

Here is how the patterns are included in the issues, in case you are unfamiliar:

You do have be in the mood for messing with this kind of pattern. 

One thing I especially like about the Ottobre patterns is that they are sized by height. I keep a running record of the grands' growth on my pantry door so, even though they are not with me constantly, I can make an educated guess as to the right size. These do run a bit wide for my grands but that's typically OK with children's clothes.

The instructions are sparse and not always crystal clear to me. Measurements are in metric. I do wish we in the US had made that switch back when it was a hot topic.

The instructions for the dress shirt were the most detailed, still lacking in important details, IMO. I relied heavily on The Blouse Perfected (TBP) from Cutting Line Designs. This little shirt is a classic style, complete with collar band, double yoke, and tower plackets on the sleeves. TBP contains great instructions for all of these details, as well as nice looking pockets. I redrafted the sleeve plackets using the piece in TBP as a starting place.

I reshaped the hemline so that it is closer to a traditional shirt tail. In the pattern it is straight across which may be more practical for young boy.  I also split the cuff into two pieces so that I could use a print for the facing. I also used that print for one side of the collar band.

Making a classic man's shirt is something I really enjoy from time to time. This was especially satisfying because I visualized DGS wearing these as I sewed.

After completing the shirt, I was totally ready to make the simple knit PJ set: super easy t-shirt and slightly more complex shorts. The shorts include pockets and a waistband like that found in sweat pants. 

All in all, this little gift project has been wonderfully satisfying to me. I am hoping grandson enjoys wearing these.

I may be ready to make another shirt for myself now.