Monday, January 31, 2011

My heart skips a beat


Even with the craziness of last week, I had a few minutes each evening to flop in the chair and work on my jacket from Gail Doane's class. I have 8 more hearts to add the running stitch to, then I can bind the jacket. If you have never done one of Gail's jackets I highly recommend it. The jackets are featured in both Australian Smocking and Embroidery and in her jacket book:


Gail's book is available from Country Bumpkin, most heirloom retailers as well as book retailers nationwide. The best way to learn is from Gail herself. If a class comes to your area, jump at the chance.


Since the embroidery is a larger format with more strands, it goes pretty quickly. And it so stinkin cute! The fabric is Dakota pique from Spechler-Vogel. Again available from most heirloom retailers. Very nice weight for a spring jacket and easy to work with.

February is National Smocking Month. What do you have planned? For one, I have the bishop that matches this little jacket as well as some spring and summer ideas swirling in my head.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Here! Here! Yes, I'm here!


This has been the topic line of more than one email in the past few days. Yes I am here. Right here. No where but here. Here has just been craaaazy the past two weeks. So excuse my absence faithful reader. Besides the impending winter weather coming our way, this week promises to be normal and boring. I welcome boring. Crave it actually.

Where have I been? Well first off our SAGA chapter hosted a workshop with Gail Doane last weekend. That was wonderful.


And you know me, I had table favors to get ready. Here is one. Made from heavy cotton duck with a contrast band. Isn't that band cute? It is our chapter logo. How fun is that? I had fabric printed with our chapter logo. What a blast that was. You too can create your own fabric at Spoonflower. It is very easy, I ordered a swatch first to see if it would work. What is this little guy?


Its a little snip bag to keep next to your machine or your chair to hold all those little thread snips. I often end up with a gnarly little pile that I either track all over the house, the cat gets into and spreads around or gets mixed up with my working floss and causes general havoc. So now I have a tidy little "trash can" next to my seat that I can gather them into. This can also save you money and anxiety.

Recently I was working on a project and had precious little floss left in one color I was working with. I had JUST ENOUGH to finish with. I lost it. I think I scooped it up with my snips pile and tossed it. Imagine my panic. I needed to get this finished pronto and on its way! I was short about 30" of floss. Agghhh. Not next time, now I won't be throwing away needed floss because it has become snarled up with the leavings.

These little bags certainly would not warrant having my own fabric printed, but


these were! A matching pincushion. The pincushion is made using a free pattern at Heather Bailey's blog. Just search the right hand column for "Free Patterns." It is called Square Deal™ Pincushion.

Very easy and cute. This one is a bit wonky so it went into the reject pile. I made 20 snip bags and 23 (including this wonky one) pincushions for our workshop. I will admit my fingers were sore after pulling ribbon through 23 pincushions.

NOTE: One change I made to the pincushion was to stitch a tiny buttonhole in the center of each square. It made pulling that ribbon through much easier and quicker. I saved 5x as much time stitching out the buttonholes than trying to tug that 3/8" ribbon through the fabric with just a needle.

So again thank you faithful readers for checking up on me. You are the best.

Parting shot: Luncheon tables for our workshop.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mind blowing

by Dalton Ghetti

Is this not unbelievable? The tiniest key, scuplted from pencil lead. Reportedly it takes Ghetti up to a year to do each of his sculptures. Amazing patience.

Carry on!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just a quick cutie


Did everyone say, "awwwwww"? Adorable.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A thought...


Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not count the cost;
to fight and not heed the wounds;
to toil and not seek for rest;
to labor and not ask for reward, except to know
that I am doing your will.

Amen. 
St . Ignatius of Loyola

Saturday, January 15, 2011

There something about...


a cute pincushion that makes me melt! Are these not too stinkin' cute? Love 'em. I seem to have a growing collection of pincushions anyway. I never tire of new ideas.

First posted by Piccalilli Days

This little cutie just makes me smile.

 First posted here

A wonderful artist! I love each one more than the last.

Have to run, I am back to getting ready for our workshop. Later, faithful reader.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Life of a Daygown


Lest you had the mistaken impression that a daygown is just for a newborn. Jeannie B. asked how big the baby was now, since she is still wearing her Sweet and Simple daygown in the picture I posted yesterday. In my reply I mentioned how her feet used to be way up inside the gown and now they peek out the bottom in her pink tights. I decided to go back and see if I had full length pictures of her wearing the gown more than once.

See there are advantages of taking 47,000 pictures of one small baby! Here she is at 11 days, her lowest weight, 6 weeks and 6 months at her current weight. It still works. It makes me want to go upstairs right now and see if I can size it up a teeny bit and she can wear one for another 6 months.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Reminder


On the news it is reported that every state but Florida has snow/ice on the ground somewhere. Over 70% of the country is covered in snow and ice. Winter has us in its grip.


This sweet little red work bird in her prettily decked out cage is a reminder that spring will come again. This cute design is free to download here.


Our baby is six months old now. How did that happen? Mommy cleaned out her closet a couple of weeks ago. It was sad day, but she is still able to wear this daygown. Considering that the fabric is around $6 a yard, not bad for 6 months worth of wear. Mommy and I are busy planning spring and summer frocks for baby to wear.

My chapter is gearing up to have Gail Doane come visit next week. I am still chasing myself coming and going. I hope to ahve to some new pretties to share soon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Quick Inspiration

First posted at the garretts

Up to my neck here, faithful reader. Hope to catch my breath in a day or three. Our real tree is still up if that tells you anything. I have company coming to my house next week. I wonder if that tree will be down before then. It is not looking good. I took a moment to surf and ran across this precious picture of two sisters looking for the Easter bunny. Is that not adorable or what? Love it. Love those smocked dresses.


I did take a quick few minutes the other day to browse through some old issues of Creative Needle. The wish to-do list is now even longer than it was before. I think I have baby's Easter dress chosen.

Not my deck or my lakefront yard.

Blogland and facebook have blown up with pictures of snowy yards and decks. Snow has just started here. Not sure it will be blog or facebook worthy. I didn't make it to the grocery store today either, so no foul weather french toast here! I think I will survive. I am sure the larder has enough crumbs to keep me afloat until I can get back out again. Besides, who has time eat? "Not I!", said little red hen.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Madeira Appplique- A Tutorial


 

Madeira applique is a well loved technique in heirloom sewing. It is one of my personal favorites. I am all for frothy heirloom for special occasions such as First Communion, baptisms or flower girls; other than that my tastes run pretty tailored. Madeira is perfect for that. It is dressy without being fussy. With Easter on the horizon, it is a perfect time to think about Madeira applique.

Above it is shown on the collar of a doll dress;


This is a Wee Care gown I entered in the fair. This example of the applique is white on white. 


A sweet baby bonnet from a couple of years ago.


This is the collar of an Easter dress I did for my youngest daughter about seventeen years ago. It was from an issue of Creative Needle magazine. This was probably the last Easter dress I made for her.


Madeira applique doesn't have to be shaped. Here it is a straight hem on a little jacket posted here.

I was asked several weeks ago to do a tutorial on Madeira applique, I apologize for taking so long to get this posted. Life, what can I say?

Sewwww to get started. A few points to remember
  • Madeira applique can be shaped or straight.
  • It works best with natural fiber fabrics. It can be accomplished with poly/cotton but it can be a bit trickier.
  • Use a sharp needle
  • And as always, lots of pressing and starch!

A word about sharp needles: For some reason years ago, we got hoodwinked into thinking "Universal" needles were the thing, they are not. Universal needles are a modified ball point needle better suited for knits. With woven fabrics you will have better results with a sharp needle. It will pierce the fabric thus resulting in a straighter seam with less puckers.

Natural fiber fabrics; Madeira applique is best achieved when the fabric is able to make a crisp fold. Natural fibers will behave better for this than poly/cotton. Polyester has a memory like an elephant. It likes to return back to where it came from, so it always has a little "spring" to it, making it a challenge to get a crisp fold with it. That is why polyester requires little ironing.

So let's get started. There are lots and lots of pictures. As always, you can click on the picture to enlarge it.


I chose two scraps out of the closet, a white cotton and a printed cotton. I chose the print because you can see the right and wrong side are different.

Important note, it is very important that you cut your pieces and trace your design with the straight of the grain. If you just slap dash your pieces you will get puckers. Not what you are aiming for. Madeira is a crisp tailored application. Grain is important. Either tear your pieces or pull a thread and cut to make sure you are on the straight of grain.


I chose to demonstrate a curved applique because that is more challenging, if you can do a shaped applique, a straight one will be a breeze. Here I have traced with blue wash out marker both a 1/4" registration mark and my shaped FOLD line. The registration mark is simply so I have my design straight on the grain of the fabric. See note above about grain.

Many patterns will have you cut out the piece to be appliqued along a cutting line, I have traced it on the fold line and NOT cut it out. It is more stable and less likely to be stretched out of shape.

 

Next, I have stitched a cheater line along my fold line. I chose a contrasting color for demo purposes.  If your machine has a "needle down" feature this is a great time to use it. It will help you pivot along your design line. You can see that I missed my blue line for a teeny bit there. Since the line is still a nice curve, I left it. If I had jagged off the line, or wildly missed it, I would have taken it out and restitched.


NOW cut out 1/8" to 1/4" inch away from your cheater stitch. If you don't think you can cut an even seam allowance, run a second cheater stitch on your machine 1/8" to 1/4" away from the first, then cut just inside that stitch to get a nice even seam allowance to turn under. The reason an even seam allowance is important is often with this technique you are using more sheer fabrics. The seam allowance will shadow through to some extent. You will notice it less if it is small, even and tidy.


Now to the part that seems to be the trickiest for many people. Notice that I have written on the white base fabric in blue marker, "wrong" and "right", this is important.  You are going to stitch your applique piece onto the wrong side of your base fabric initially and then turn it to the right side. So lay your RIGHT side of your applique down to the WRONG side of your base fabric. Matching your raw edges.


If you don't trust yourself, pin a seam into the pieces and flip them over to check that your right side of the applique ends up on the right side of the base fabric. Stitch your seam. I have used a 1/4" seam allowance.


Press that seam as it was sewn. 


Open it flat and press your seam allowance to one side. Press from both the wrong side and the right side. You want that seam pressed well so that when you turn it, your get a crisp edge.


Fold your applique to the front, finger press along the edge or roll it between your fingers to get that seam to the edge of your fold. If not, your applique will not be even and will ripple.


Press on the wrong side to push the base fabric away from the edge so that ONLY a thread or two of your applique fabric rolls to the back. This is a TEENY amount so that you don't see your base fabric from the front at the edge of your hem or collar. This is more important when your applique is a contrasting fabric as this one is.


Now you are ready to clip the seam allowance of your applique before you stitch it to your base fabric. Clip right up to but not into your cheater stitch.


I have clipped every 1/8" to 3/16". The more clips, the smoother your curves. If you are doing a straight applique hem, no clipping is necessary.


Press your applique seam allowance to the wrong side. Here is where that cheater stitch comes in so handy. You can put a tiny bit of tension on that cheater stitch and it will help roll that seam allowance to the wrong side right along that line, giving your a nice clean curved fold. This works best on the concave curves but it also is beneficial on the convex curves. (See girls, I told you geometry was important in high school.) Continue pressing along the cheater stitch across your applique piece.


Press again from the right side, this time using a mist of starch. I know I press a LOT, it helps just as much as I press, a LOT. The starch will help "glue" your applique in place. Smooth your applique piece with your hand, pin along the bottom at the fold. Pin again, evenly, closer to the turned under edge. Now comes the step everyone wants to skip. BASTING. You are going to baste along the edge to be stitched down pretty close to the edge. I hear you whining,"I have three, size 6, flower girl dresses to do; I don't have time to baste!" One question; do you have time to take it out and re-do it? I didn't think so. This step will give you better results and save you time in the long haul. By using pins along that fold line, you will be more likely to get pinches, puckers and peaks along that curve. Again, not the look you are after. So baste that edge.


Remove your pins along the bottom and below your edge. Yes, press it again.


My applique, attached at the edge, seam allowance turned under, basted and pressed. Ready to stitch it down. You can stitch it down in several ways, you can edge stitch it with a straight stitch or you can stitch it with a hand or machine pin stitch. You could also stitch it down with a blanket stitch by hand. Today I used a machine pin stitch.


On my machine, the pin stitch, #26 is the one that looks like a one legged ladder. I have mirror imaged the stitch so that the leg of the ladder will be outside of my applique and the rungs will swing over and catch my applique.


I have used an open toe foot so I can see better. Again if you have a needle down function on your machine it is helpful for this. Go slowly, making sure that the ladder leg stays just off the contrasting fabric. Pivot as you follow the curves, making sure to pivot while your needle is sunk into the base fabric, not the applique.


My completed applique. Normally for a dressy look, I would match the color of the thread to the applique fabric, for a more casual look you can use a contrasting thread. I have done so here so you could see. 

Like I said, if you can do a curved applique, a straight one will be easy peasy. 


An extra tip, I sometimes use Wash A Way thread for my cheater stitch and hand basting. When it is complete, I just spritz it with water and it is gone. 

Another hint, if you want the look of a hand pin stitch but the even nature of a machine pin stitch, use the Wash A Way thread for the machine pin stitch first. Come back and stitch it by hand with floss or floche, stitching right in the same holes. When you spritz away your Wash A Way thread, you have gorgeous, perfect pin stitching by hand. Boy will your sewing friends be impressed!

Practice Madeira applique a few times with regular thread before trying this alternative trick. And no, contrary to legend, I did not make a bathing suit for my daughter using wash a way thread!

I hope this helps and I can't wait to see what you do with it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year


Happy New Year, faithful reader. Do you have your black eye peas ready? We do. And ham. I have to admit, this once a year ham thing can go. Ham is not my favorite, but my family likes it and tradition says I have to cook it. Now black eye peas, I am all over that one! We put a dime in ours. Legend has it, that whoever gets the dime will have good luck in the coming year. When the kids were small I had to put 4 dimes in them and fish around until everyone had a dime. They are grown now, I am sure they can live with the disappointment of not being the one to get the dime.


To start the year off right, here is a stitch to share. My friend, Rachel, smocked this for the baby. It is a a Children's Corner Bishop with long sleeves. Made from Imperial batiste and smocked with "White Sands" from Wonderfully Made.


The length is shortened to wear with leggings. This is a size 6 months and fits her perfect. She weighs 18 pounds and is between 25 and 26" long now.

I have lots of things on my cutting table in my "wish pile". I am hoping more get sewn than not. I hope there are lots of stitches in your near future as well.

I offer you this prayer to start the new year. What better goal could any of us have to start fresh and new again

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

--St. Francis of Assisi