Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flower Power

The 60’s style, not what is coming up in my garden.   I just finished a dress to be worn to a 60’s theme party, for someone who wanted to be able to wear it again.  When I bought this fabric I had no idea what I would use it for but I always have liked cotton pique.  I bought it at Hawaii Fabric Mart in Honolulu. It is a great store for all kinds of Hawaiian fabrics, but they also have a 2nd floor at their main store filled with remnants, discounts, and some incredibly priced non-Hawaiian print cottons.  Whenever I am there I check out the offerings.  

I have to give a nod to those flat rate postal boxes, which I can fill with about 20 yards of fabric and ship home for $ 12, so I figure I am coming out ahead as compared to mail-order plus freight.  No way I am going to stuff 30 yards of fabric in my suitcase, I never have the space and it would weigh too much to carry!  I learned long ago,  when traveling to Hawaii
you don’t need much,  shorts, t-shirts, a couple of cute dresses, swimsuits and that is it.
So if you are in Hawaii take a look at Fabric Mart,  they have stores on Oahu, Maui and the big island.  
Back to sewing.   We chose Simplicity 3833 which is a pattern I had in my stash. It says 1960’s retro on the pattern envelope and appears to be a pattern they have brought back from the era, but it works for today’s style very well.

The construction is very simple but as always I mark everything with tailor's tacks. Sewing goes so fast if everything is marked before you lift off any pattern piece.

It did call for facings on neck and sleeve but I just hate facings, they are always flippy-floppy on the inside of the garment and you have to finish the edges some way.  Much nicer to line the whole dress and do away with the facings entirely.  I use the dress pattern to cut out the lining,  and sew front and back together. 
I generally leave the shoulders open, and then sew the shoulder and side seams together, hand sewing the garment lining shut at the shoulder seam and around the top of the shoulder.  This construction method also allows for any adjustment at side seams or the shoulder seam, such as for a v-neck that needs pulling up a bit.  

Here is the finished dress.  Reminds me of Lilly Pulitzer styles of that era.


I made the flower following instructions from a book I read 

Kanzashi in Bloom

by Diane Gilleland.  

She has a website with info on making these Japanese fabric flowers.  

Here is today's SunnyGal Garden photo.
my own  blooms, to celebrate spring.   Meyer Lemon tree with lemons and flowers.
Meyer lemons are delicious, very sweet and the lemons stay on the tree for at least 6 months.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tulle Time - party dress for Lia

Lia is my fantastic hairstylist and one of my biggest fans.  She wanted a party dress and gave me a clipping out of a magazine with a dress that caught her eye.   After some on-line research, I found this photo to show you.  It is by designer Oscar de la Renta who I have always admired - gorgeous dresses and lots of color in his clothes.

We are using it for inspiration - the features she wanted are;  a bold print, very fitted bodice, and a full skirt with a petticoat underneath.  Lia is very petite yet curvy so she is just right for this style.

I started with making a muslin of the bodice.  The bodice in the photo is in pieces, it looks like about 6 or 8 pieces across the front.  That looked pretty difficult without a pattern, however I wanted something of that effect, so I took a standard princess seam bodice that I have used for other dresses and worked on modifying it.   (New Look 6587)   Cutting the center on the fold,  I added about 4 inches across the center front, and then took 1/4" and 1/8" tucks symmetrically across the front to create a very form fitting bodice.  I also lengthened the bodice by about 5 inches, as I want the skirt to attach just above the hipbones.  For the back I dropped the neckline about 4 inches, creating a square neckline similar to the front.

Here is the bodice, sewn up and on the dress form.  
It does not look like much yet.  I did a quick fit check 
on Lia and figured out where to put the zipper and 
attach the skirt.  Once the zipper is in then we are 
committed to the placement of the skirt, etc.  so I 
really wanted to get that right.  I had cut out skirt panels using 2 lengths of the fabric which is 50" 
wide, but that did not seem full enough, so I am 
adding another length and making the skirt a total of
150" circumference.

After the fitting, I took in the seams along the sides and under the bust, plus did an adjustment on the front tucks.  Not sure if you can see it in the photo, but each tuck is sewn deeper starting at about 2" from the top. 

This serves to tighten up the front bodice and keep it from standing away fromthe body across the bust.  Since this photo was taken I have added the bodice lining, so I am interested to see how it fits on her.

Under this very full skirt Lia has requested an attached petticoat of tulle in various colors coordinating with the dress.  Sewing things on in even rows is tedious so I was trying to think how to make it as simple and foolproof as possible.  To that end I cut one width of lining fabric and drew chalk lines 3" apart so I could sew the tulle on evenly, choosing where to place it as I went along.  This worked really well and I can add more tulle/net between the rows once the dress is basted together and we see how it looks.

I have not worked with net or tulle in a really long time.  Recently I was playing with my sewing machine attachments, as I have this new book that is a great reference.

The Sewing Machine Attachment Book by Charlene Phillips
She has a website, The Sew Box,  for the book as well as a shop to order all these attachments for various machines and downloadable instructions on usage and lots of techniques.  I highly recommend, especially if you have an older machine and a box of mystery attachments.  Looking at her website and on Ebay, I know know I have quite a few valuable treasures on my shelf.  

Inspired by this book and my dread of gathering many inches of tulle, I pulled out the gathering foot and gave 
it a try.  Worked line a dream !
First I cut the tulle and net into strips about 10" wide.  

Then I gave it a try on the machine with the gathering foot.  Quite amazing.   I will definitely be using this one again.

There are other gems in my attachment kit, the foot hemmer seems to useful but I have not made a satisfactory hem yet.  The author says practice, practice, practice.
So when I finish this dress . . . 

And today's SunnyGal Garden photo.  
A little blurry on a rainy day - but the color of these camellias is so nice.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cotton Blouse with variations

This week's project was a pair of cotton blouses.  Last year I saw a segment on a sewing show on PBS that detailed how to sew a stand collar in a different way than is usually specified in the pattern instructions, and is one of the best construction tips I have ever seen.  (nerd alert :  I use my Tivo search feature to find sewing shows)  Below are a few photos that detail this method.  

Recently I saw a review of some sewing DVD's on a great sewing blog, Very Prarie.  Kristin reviews these DVD's she won in a contest.  Reading her blog I realized that the woman on the DVD, Louise Cutting, is the same person I saw on TV.  So if you are looking for some great sewing instruction and tailoring techniques I bet these are worthwhile.

This method eliminates bulk on the front of the collar where the blouse meets the collar stand and gives a nice smooth edge.

collar with pencilFirst I always use a pencil to mark the sewing 
lines on the collar.  Who cares if there are pencil marks 
on the interfacing, they will be on the inside when 
it is all finished and I like to save myself time and 
eyestrain by sewing along the lines.

Then you attach the two pieces of the collar stand on either side of the blouse neckline and sew them on.  

Next the finished collar is sewn onto one collar stand.

At this point the clever part happens. 
First step,  move the collar and blouse front out of the way, by rolling them away from the sewing area and pinning to hold in place.                   

Then pin the collar stand pieces together and sew just the end of the collar.  The beauty of this method is that you can trim the seam allowances very nicely and turn this section to get a really smooth finish.

At this point you have a finished collar edge and the last step is to finish any trimming needed, and then close up the colar stand by topstitching the collar stand closed.

If you make a lot of collared shirts - I suggest checking out those DVD's or maybe Thread's magazine has covered this method -  I had never seen it before but is really so much better than the directions always given by the pattern companies.  

Here are the finished blouses.  McCall's 5673 which I see today shows out of print but perhaps still available.  

First blouse, I added a self facing down the front instead of a front placket, and put a scallop on the sleeve hem.

Blouse # 2  in a Japanese cotton, teal blue with a dragonfly print.
I added a pleated trim on the sleeve hem, and put a box pleat back vent for ease of movement.

Here is a close up of the sleeve trim.  

Today's SunnyGal Garden photo:    blossoms from my apple tree.   if it were a video clip you would hear the buzz of hundreds of honeybees,  which is great for the tree and the bees.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Outdoor bench cushion and pillows

All sewing and no blogging for the past few days.  And some serious gardening going on around here.  After a few good storms things are very green - but the weeds are sprouting so I have been pruning and weeding.   But I did manage to make some new outdoor pillows and a bench cushion for my neighbor Krista.    She has a small wooden bench seat on her porch, with a shaped cushion, so I took off the old cover and used it to make a pattern for the new cover.  

Here are the sad old cushion and pillows.

old pillows

She had most of these fabrics in her stash so with some creative coordinating we came up with a new set of cushion and pillows.  I don’t have a photo of it on the bench, so these before and after shots are on my backyard picnic table.

Here are the finished cushion and pillows.

new pillows

Next up, some cotton blouses, curtains, a party dress.  I need to step away from the computer and focus!  It is supposed to rain tomorrow - so time for an all day sewing session.