Monday, June 27, 2011

Two Dresses Complete

Pictures of the sundress for Elena and the dress for her daughter Hannah - these will be delivered in person next week when we pay them a visit in Ontario.

I was going to sew myself a pair of beige capris, but was at the mall this afternoon getting a gift for grandson Jacob and thought why not check out the Eddie Bauer store while I am here? And there were a pair of beige pants that fit - the new cropped style, although on me they are full length pants. I might shorten them 3" or just leave them as is.
With all the other things to do this week before leaving for a mini-vacation, I didn't need the extra pressure of having to make a pair of pants.

While out shopping, I ran into an old friend and her husband and we went for a cup of coffee and caught up on family news. It was great to see her, especially since the last time we talked she was facing a second round of cancer treatments. What a survivor!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dress for Hannah

There is something very satisfying about sewing children's clothes. They sew up quickly, fitting is minimal and the fabrics are just so adorable. Kids can wear things that we adults can't and how wonderful to sew such happy colours and prints for a little girl!

The pattern is Burda 9545, version A. This version features a neck facing that is done in reverse, i.e. sewn to the inside and flipped out and edge-stitched in place. This is actually a nice technique for finishing women's blouses and gives an opportunity for some kind of embellishment at the neckline.
The skirt is doubled, with one layer longer than the other. The underlayer will be sewn in the coral cotton with the top skirt in the printed seersucker. So cute!

And I will be delivering this in person to Hannah, as my husband is heading off to Ontario for some work and I am able to go with him for the time. We will be paying a short visit to Elena's family, where we will have a family reunion. All three daughters, Rebecca from Texas, Elena, and Martha (aka Sister Ilaria of the Franciscans of Halifax) will be spending a week together, the first time all three have been together since Elena got married in June 2002.

Elena and Dave will play host to four adults and seven children under the age of eight for a week (plus mom and dad for a day) - good thing the house is spacious and the yard is big too! Here's hoping for some great warm weather, anything must be better than the miserable cold wet weather we have been getting in Halifax for the past two months.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Advice wanted

Being the old hippie that I am, this skirt caught my attention and now I just want to re-create it. But I am puzzled. Obviously the skirt is made up of two or three prints, but I am wondering how best to make it.

I can see that the pieces are squares sewn together, much like a quilt. But there appears to be some bias going on. Would it be best to make the fabric first and then cut out a skirt? Or would it be better to piece the fabrics into skirt panels, then construct a bias skirt and cover the seams with binding as shown?

This pattern comes to mind - Kwik Sew 3108, the one on the far right.

Although the pieces are narrower, I could see making up these in a couple of fabrics, then trimming the seams with another print. Or is this just too much work and would the resulting skirt be too heavy?

When I look at the original photo, I see a soft skirt that has been washed a hundred times and feels like a second skin. Perhaps I am just being nostaglic?

I currently have a purple sweater on the go and I can see soft purple print cottons for a skirt.

Simplicity 2215

I am working on this dress by Cynthia Rowley

The bodice is self-lined, and I decided to line the skirt with rayon lining, as the fabric is shirt weight and the skirt would then be a little transparent. And who wants to put on a slip in the summertime?

A couple of interesting things in this pattern. There is an optional trim on the neckedge, which is made from self-fabric. Then they tell you to fringe it after turning the edge. But since the piece was cut on the bias, you cannot fringe it. I think this must be a mistake in the pattern and, if I had thought it through, I would have cut that piece on the straight of grain. Then it would have been easy to fringe it but it is next to impossible to fringe bias-cut fabric.

Also, the dress has a side zipper; it must be about 20 years since I inserted a zipper in the side of a dress. It is necessary since the dress is open to the waist only, and without the opening in the side, it would be impossible to get on. We used to see these side zippers years ago, and they are certainly used a lot in vintage dresses. They allow you to get a close fit on a garment, especially one with a waist seam. It is kind of nice to see these older techniques being used once again.

The dress looks rather plain since it is a simple blue linen/rayon blend; but it has a retro look to it, and I think it is a very nice pattern. I think it would be nice in a plaid fabric, with the skirt cut on the bias. This will be mailed off to Elena, once the postal strike is ended, and hopefully she will email some pictures of it on her.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jacket #5

Sweaters count as jackets in the Jacket sew-along on Stitchers' Guild. So with the buttons now sewn on, this is jacket #5.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maternity Patterns

Last night I attended the monthly meeting of our sewing guild. A fun meeting, with the announcement of a new president. For once, we have someone under 40 in charge! This is exciting, we have a couple of young women in the guild now. So nice to see their interest in sewing.

After the business part and a tea break, we had a "fashion show" of sorts. Anyone who had an item to "show and tell" was asked to come forward and present their garment(s) and talk about it. This is always the best part of any meeting, getting to see the stuff people have been making.

The garments ranged from Claire Shaeffer suits to Kwik Sew dresses to baby sleep sacks and even one quilt from a woman who said "I hate to quilt" but she has to make one for each of her married sons!

The final item was a hat presented by Anita. This was so funny, I am hoping that someone will post a picture and I will put it up here. And yes, Barbara Emodi did put a photo of Anita up on her blog so I have it here for you now.

Anita was at her cottage and she gets together with some friends and they spend a day doing something funny and then their husbands judge them at the end of the day. They decided to make hats this year. This followed one week upon the royal wedding and Anita was inspired.

She happened to notice a can of insulating foam that her husband had inadvertently hit with a stray bullet when skeet shooting and the foam had squirted out and formed a rather unusual shape. Anita knew exactly what she had to do. She took the foam sculpture and applied it to the top of her straw hat, adorned it with some flowers and voila - she had her own version of the famous hat worn by one of Fergie's daughters. We could not believe that her hat was given second place by the men later that evening; I want to see what won first place. Anita took the cake last night; we had a great belly laugh and she was a wonderful sport to don the hat and let people take photos of her foam antlers.

An aside: one woman showed the maternity wardrobe she had made for her daughter who is due in September. Hopefully daughter will learn to sew too, because Pat won't be able to keep up with mom and baby and herself at this rate. Pat lamented the fact that there are so few maternity patterns in the books; Kwik Sew had the most at three; I think she mentioned that Vogue had only one (not sure of those facts); Pat resorted to Burda World of Fashion for many of the garments she made. She was puzzled however by the lack of maternity patterns; I didn't feel it was the place to tell her the truth about that.

With birth rates plummeting in the western world, women simply are not having babies as they used to. Canada's birth rate is 1.6 children per woman, which falls well below replacement level. The US is holding at 2.1 which is replacement level, but it will probably drop soon just as all other countries in the developed world have. Most people have no idea that countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain have birth rates of 1.1 per woman, which means that in two generations, they will no longer be nations of those nationalities - they will be composed largely of immigrants.
That is the real reason behind the lack of patterns - there is simply no call for maternity clothes in countries where fewer and fewer women are having babies.

This is a great concern of mine and I don't like to mix that in with my sewing blog, which I keep pretty much to the topic of sewing (and knitting). However, sometimes the truth just needs to be said, regardless of where you are. When I do tell people these facts, they often respond by saying "I see lots of pregnant women and lots of babies" but the fact that their immediate circle of acquaintances may be reproducing does not mean that the overall picture is the same. Quite the opposite in fact. And it should be a matter of great concern for any country that depends for its survival upon having future citizens.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sweater sans boutons

I was sure I would have five buttons in my stash that would work for this sweater, but no it's not to be. You would think that a huge container of buttons would yield 5 usable blue buttons. Alas this necessitates a trip to Fabricville tomorrow to get five buttons; the question is can I get out of the store with just the buttons?

I am excited about this sweater. This is the first sweater that fits; I keep knitting sweaters but they all turn out too big. So this feels like a huge accomplishment. I used to be able to knit things that worked, but it has been years since I seriously knit anything. I guess you lose the sense or something. Anyway, this provides a great sense of accomplishment.

Close up of the collar, which is done in a patterned rib that I find really pretty. The cuffs are also done that way. I made some mistakes, but hey I am not a perfectionist and no one is going to look that close.

The pattern is this one, from the book Aran Tweed, published by Naturally Hand Knit Yarns of New Zealand.

This has made me excited about knitting and the purple sweater to be knit on circular needles is up next. The nice thing about having knitting is that it gives me something to do while watching movies. I am not a TV watcher, but over the past couple of winters, my husband and I watch a movie or two on the weekends. We don't watch new movies (don't want to waste my time watching morally bankrupt junk) so we favour British detective series. The latest is A Touch of Frost, great entertainment centred around an eccentric rough widower with a keen sense of justice.
I also highly recommend the series Doc Martin, incredibly funny series of a surgeon who retires from heart surgery after developing a phobia of blood. He becomes the GP in a coastal town in England - if you like weird characters who don't fit regular holes, check it out.

And, if you are into knitting, check out this blog.
Kitty Couture
Isabelle just taught herself to knit a few months ago and she is incredible! Her work is beautiful. I credit her blog with inspiring me to keep at the knitting.

McCalls 6123 Complete

The band and ruffle have been added to the bottom and they give a nice bit of definition to the dress. I would really like to make the multi-fabric version (two different fabrics plus ruffles in a contrast print) but I will wait to see how this fits Elena.

It will be posted tomorrow morning and hopefully it will reach her this week, despite the rotating strikes of Canada Post.

And this afternoon, I will sew the buttons on my sweater, which is finally finished! I will post a photo as soon as it is done.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Continuing the Dress

Gingham checks don't photograph well, they kind of make your eyes go weird. But the dress is almost done. I think it needs some accent on it to make it pop. The small navy ruffle at the hem might do it, but perhaps a navy trim at the waist seam would be good too.

Monday, June 6, 2011

McCalls 6123

Interesting bodice on this dress.
I think I will call it the "wench dress". It reminds me of the bar maids in a downtown tavern here, white blouses gathered over the bust and worn with a tight vest over top and paired with a full skirt.

Not the choice for a full busted lady, but my daughter is not busty so this may suit her well. I hope so.

I also notice that I sew much faster when I am sewing for someone other than myself. It must be all those years of dress-making and then production sewing; I need deadlines to make me get things done.

If you try this pattern, don't be put off by the number of pattern pieces. 32 pattern pieces and 88 steps in the instructions. I was a little put off, but a closer look shows that many of these are optional pieces, such as extra bands and ruffles that you can leave off if you wish.

I am doing version F, but leaving off the ruffles in the waist seam and just adding the band and ruffle at the hemline.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What's done and what's in the works

Mundane sewing going on around here. I have finished two pairs of pants using this old Burda pattern 2659.
I have no idea how old this pattern is, but it is new to me. One thing I have learned is that it is worth making a pattern several times, in order to work out the kinks. So I resolved to use this pattern a couple of times, rather than just once and then begin all over again with another pant pattern - pants always necessitate so many alterations!
I am pleased with this pattern, just a few alterations were made. It has nice narrow legs (wide legs I can't wear given my being vertically challenged) and it has a contour waistband. Having some skirts and pants with this type of waistband, I no longer wish to wear any other kind. So comfortable, they curve around your waist and sit on your high hip, rather than cut you in the middle like those straight waistbands.

So now for some fun sewing: I gave in to the urge to visit Fabricville this afternoon just to pick up some patterns; of course I came away with fabric as well.

This lovely cotton plaid feels incredibly soft - it was intended to be a sundress for my daughter Elena, but just feeling it, I think I will return on Monday to pick up another length to make myself a shirt. I am debating between McCalls 5103 (another old pattern in the collection) and Simplicity 2447, a new pattern that looks very cute but might just be too much work with matching the plaid on all those seams.

And for the sundress version, Simplicity 2215 a dress by Cynthia Rowley. This looks so cute and it also looks quick to make.

Also I picked up Burda 9545 for a dress for Hannah, the fabrics are on the line drying as I type. Two green cottons for this dress.

And I also bought McCalls 6123, another dress for Elena to be made up in a navy and white seersucker gingham.

Not finished yet. I always love the patterns by Pati Palmer, so I bought McCalls 6355, a simple pattern for a sheath dress and top that looks like it will become a favourite tee pattern.

And one more pattern, Butterick 5617, a jacket pattern that was shown on Artisan's Square and it is just the style and length of jacket that I love.
Time to get busy sewing and no more forays to the fabric store. Enough damage was done in this trip!