Monday, August 30, 2010

Fabric Miser

I am a fabric miser.  Yes, I admit it.  What is a fabric miser?  Someone who is loathe to throw out any scrap of fabric that could be used to make something, however small.  But sometimes it pays off with something I really like.    Recognize this fabric?

floral skirt front on hanger

I seem to save too much lately.  Limiting myself to 3 grocery bags stuffed with scraps and squished in the closet.  Bits of lining,  pieces of interfacing, dress fabrics, trims, ribbons.  What do I do with them all?  Sometimes I find just the right piece of lining for a couple of pockets.  Interfacing pieces are perfect for reinforcing corners.  But a lot is just scrap.

S2656 skirt

So when I made the Tulle Time dress earlier 

in the year I had  about 30 inches of fabric plus 
a triangular section leftover.   Enough for a skirt maybe?  
Looking through my patterns I thought this one might work.  

Here are the pattern pieces laid out on the fabric.   Luckily this pattern takes advantage of the weirdly shaped remnant.

floral skirt layout

Close up of the skirt front with the interesting yoke.   I am crazy about it.  Love a skirt with pockets.

floral skirt close up yoke

Today's SunnyGal Garden photo, not really a garden,  but me at my sister's on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
yes, I will be vacation sewing for a bit.  Meaning . . . tropical fabrics and whatever inspires me.

skirt on balcony

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Make it Work Moment

Back in April I donated some sewing lessons as a silent auction item for the nearby school’s fundraiser and I had
forgotten all about it.  Then last month I heard from Amy who purchased the item, and happens to live around the corner.  She was ready to start her lessons and had already bought some fabric and a simple dress pattern.  She was interested in help with pattern fitting, layout and some other tips.  I can say she is not a beginning sewist by any means since she made her living room curtains in blue silk with striped Roman style shades and they are beautiful.

Amy Fabric

But I did freak out a little bit when I saw her choice of
fabric.  A cotton mosaic-style print, the stripes are about
2" wide.

But stripes,   Yikes.

I am realizing she has a thing for stripes, more on that later.

The pattern was fine, a simple crossover V-neck dress with bias cut skirt.  We made the version in the center.  
Butterick 5461.  I was picturing something much less complicated for a first project - maybe a small floral or abstract that is very forgiving, no matching at all.

So we did some preliminary pattern fitting and started to cut. Seeing as the skirt pieces were cut on the bias - we decided to make the stripes part of the design  (that’s my story and I am sticking to it)  Thus the stripes created a chevron effect in the front and back.  The bodice pieces have the diagonal effect as well.
To cut out the skirt pieces, I place one front skirt piece on the fabric, cut it out, flip it over and then using that cut out piece, place it across the fabric, matching at all stripes and cut away.  this way you have the 2 fronts, right sides together.  Same process for the skirt back.   At this point I always sew the center seams, while the pieces are together.  I just like to get it over with, then there is no opportunity to do something fun like sew the side seams together thinking they are the center front.  (not that I have ever done that, but it could happen)  
So here is the finished dress, with our very intentional interesting diagonal stripe effect.

Amy dress

Amy dress back
I think Amy is really pleased, she has a new dress, and I am really happy with the way the stripes turned out.   We are both big fans of Project Runway, so as Tim would say - we made it work.  

Now that we have finished that project, for her next lesson she chose a skirt, in what else, stripes !      Up next, a little something for me,  in a floral.  
and today’s SunnyGal Garden photo.  A potato bush, lives next to the big hydrangea in the front yard.
a purple paradise in that part of the garden.  

potato bush flower

Monday, August 16, 2010

More pincushions please

Once upon a time I got a magnetic pincushion, and it changed my sewing life.  I think it is the single best sewing accessory or tool I have.   Because I am all about speed.  Impatience is my middle name.   Recently while teaching I realized I may be a bit obsessed with this.  But sewing is a long distance sport,  so anything that saves a few minutes is great.  

Once I had my little red magnetic pincushion (ok, it is not really a cushion, but that is what I call it)  I moved it to and fro,  from the sewing machine, to the table, to the ironing board.  And then the little light bulb went on.  After all, in the kitchen you don't have one solitary spoon, one orphaned pan, or just one lonely bowl.  You probably have multiple of all the cooking tools, and so should you for your sewing as well.

So now, here is an assortment of my favorite tools which have multiplied and are happily living together in my sewing space.     I would love to hear from any readers what sewing tools you can't live without.
mag pincushions
the beautiful magnetic pincushions
Rulers, tape measures, seam gauges, there is always something to measure.  The cardboard
strip is cut from a manila folder, and marked with various widths,  useful for turning over
edges quickly, and can be ironed over.


My second favorite item is the snippy scissors.  They are like a small garden shears, with a spring action.  Just squeeze and snip.  So I have several.    And an assortment of other scissors.  
Plus a nifty little sharpening thing, 
the small orange circle, from Fiskars, 
scissorshard to find, I ordered from Amazon.  It has 2 ceramic bars in it and you draw the 2 scissor blades across them.  Not like a new scissors but works quite well for my many old scissors dulled by cutting interfacing, etc.
I cannot resist marking chalks, but the Chalkoner is the best. 
the black heart shaped marker - makes a crisp line, and it is refillable !


I did have plenty of bobbins, but when I got my Singer Rocketeer, along with that came 2 more bobbin boxes, and they were arranged so nicely I am trying very hard to keep it going.


Lastly,  I thrill to find old sewing supplies at garage and estate sales.  This summer I struck lucky with elastics, thread and zippers, so here is a sampling of some of the great vintage elastics that were included in my haul.    I especially enjoy when they have the vintage price tags, 20 cents and packaged with that nice foil wrapping which allowed you to cut a piece and then re-wrap it.  Now packaged items are kind of annoying with too much packaging but it is completely non-utilitarian.   So the vintage items are really more eco-packaged than anyone knew.  

And today's SunnyGal Garden photo,  one of my favorite plants in my garden.

Gardenia, which lives in a big (4ft x 6 ft) planter by my front door.  From May to September it is covered with these beautifully perfumed white flowers.