2015 – A Brand New Year!

Now that the holidays are behind me, hopefully I can get caught up on my postings!

Being the person I am, I of course make the majority of my gifts, especially for the grandkids. One of those projects was a smocked dress for my 8-year-old granddaughter. I found a darling print with deep reds (almost burgundy), greens and blues over a light beige background. I found a beige solid (with just a hint of green) perfect for the smocking. I modified a simple to-the-waist, gathered skirt dress pattern, incorporating the smocked inset into the bodice. The embroidery thread was matched to colors in the print and used in the geometric smocking pattern.

smocked insert

smocked insert

After pleating and smocking the bodice insert, it was steamed and blocked. I accented the collar, sleeves and bodice with burgundy piping.

Smocked dress

Smocked dress

A simple dress but ~ I love the final result, and best of all, so does my granddaughter!

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” II Corinthians 5: 20

Heirloom and Hunstville

As many others know, traveling to one of Martha Pullen Company’s events is well worth it! I attended the Heirloom I Licensing in September ~ this was my third licensing (+ one School of Art Fashion) in Huntsville, AL and, as always, I loved every minute.

Side note: There will be a change in the way Licensings are presented, beginning in 2015. Licensings will now be at other locations than Huntsville, AL. They have two Licensing Events planned to take place in the Southeast in the summer, plus two more planned for Orange County, California, the first part of November. For more information, visit http://www.marthapullen.com/licensing/?et_mid=708107&rid=237592293.

Connie Palmer

Connie Palmer

kathy

Kathy McMakin

Kathy, Connie, Alicia and all the staff are fantastic! We got (notice I said “got”) to *play* with wonderful fabric, glorious trims and learn new techniques. The “icing on the cake”, for me at least, is all the new friendships formed during the week.

classrom

classroom

40+ ladies filled that room with the lovely sounds of sewing machines, delightful conversation, “that looks great!”, “can’t wait to do that myself”, “look what I did!”, and prayer (of course!).

finished projects

Pillow, Thread catcher & Roll Pillow cover

Included in the 20+ projects were everything needed to produce 2 christening gowns, bibs, bonnets, place mats, laptop cases, nightgowns, and more! I focused on the techniques, not the finishing, which I did once home. Techniques included lace shaping, incorporating embroidery, lace, and ribbon with batiste, gingham or knits to create a “fabric”, pinstitching, shark’s teeth, pin tucks ~ and lots more. I love to do Heirloom!

martha and sue

Martha and Sue

We had a surprise visitor as well! Sue Hausmann came through town and Martha asked her to stick around for a few days. She gave a very entertaining presentation on the history of the bra!

martha_dr joe

Martha and Dr. Joe

Martha Pullen visited with us at lunch, presenting a session on business acumen. Dr. Joe Pullen accompanied her to two of our dinners as well. They are such a sweet couple!

martha and me

Martha and Me

I will always have fond memories of my trips to Huntsville. We really did sew “from can until can’t” as Martha once said, and I came home exhausted, exhilarated, energized and eager for more.

“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.” Proverbs 31:13

Silk Christening Gown & Slip

A few weeks ago, my fingers got to itching to do one of my Christening Gown projects. I came across a length of ivory Silk Dupioni and just KNEW it would make a wonderful gown!

bodice

bodice

The bodice features lace insertion, puffing and gathered lace.

skirt closeup

skirt closeup

I modified the original design a bit, leaving the puffing strips off the skirt panels. The center three panels of the skirt are embroidered with ivory and 34″ long.

Swiss Batiste slip

Swiss Batiste slip

The slip, of quality Swiss Batiste, is gathered at the waist with a full, gathered ruffle, embellished with 12+ yeards of matching lace.

Silk gown

Silk Dupioni Christening Gown

Overall the gown has almost 20 yards of lace accenting the front panels and along the bottom edge. This ensemble may be purchased on my Etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/Old2NewHeirlooms?ref=hdr_shop_menu).  You may contact me for this gown or other orders.

 

 

Back to School Shirt

Three of my 7 grandkids are 7 years old and entering 2nd grade this year, two granddaughters and one grandson!   I decided to make back-to-school outfits for them. For the grandson, I wanted a button-down shirt, one for warm weather and one for cooler days. I found a nice homespun cotton fabric for the long-sleeve shirt but nothing really “spoke” to me for the short-sleeve shirt.

I went to the local thrift shop and looked at the XL men’s shirts. I found a couple with suitable plaids and got them for under $5 each. Long-sleeved is best – more fabric!

When using a ready-made shirt as a fabric source, you have a couple advantages but also need to be aware of a couple adjustments. As the hem and front placket are already done for you, you can skip the front facing and hemming options. If matching a curved hem, as I did, the back is cut as two pieces. Be sure to add a seam allowance in the center back (I added 1/2″) – along the fold line. With a small plaid this seam will not be visible. Be sure to reverse the pattern for the second 1/2 back piece.

cutting back

cutting back

Side Note: As an offshoot of my heirloom sewing, where all seams are finished in some fashion, I try to enclose ALL seams of my projects. Especially on children clothes. I believe this is a modified French seam as it is done on the inside. I trim one seam allowance down to a scant 1/4″. I then turn the other seam allowance over and under, enclosing the raw edge. This is then top-stitched.  FYI This is the long-sleeved shirt I made with the homespun cotton.

seam closeup

covered seam closeup

When placing the front pattern piece, slide the pattern out the width of the seam allowance along the center front edge. Since the front placket is done already, you won’t be stitching that seam. There are also no buttonholes to make or buttons to sew on!

cutting front

cutting front

Cut both sleeves off at the armhole seam and lay wrong sides together.

cutting sleeve

cutting sleeve

Once the pieces are cut out, this is all that remains of the original shirt! The larger pieces went into my scrap box. I also cut off the remaining buttons for my ‘button box’.

remains

remains of original shirt

The last adjustment is to make sure the collar goes ALL the way to the edge of the front placket. Without a front facing, you need to make sure the collar seam is covered. Either select a pattern with this feature or adjust the collar to fit.

finished shirt

finished shirt

Not bad for around $5 and a few hours of sewing!

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  Isaiah 41:10

 

My Navy Flag (Guidon)

In 2010 my son-in-law achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. His group of Selectees was required to have a flag and my daughter asked me to help her make one on behalf of the selectees. This flag, actually called a GUIDON (a heraldic flag or military standard), had requirements: a certain size and specific wording. As I understand it, flags usually were made of felt or craft paper. Those who know me, know I just HAD to take it up a few notches!!! The following describes that journey!

The original discussion was on a  Sunday morning and the carrier was sailing on Tuesday afternoon. My daughter drew a rough drawing of both sides of the flag, indicating what HAD to be on it and what additions they (the selectees) wanted. I then digitized all the embroidery – over 144,000 stitches!

drawing side 2

drawing, side 2

As my current (ie: older) embroidery machine was not reliable nor large enough, we went to the local Bernina dealer – nothing but a Bernina for me! I bought a BRAND NEW Bernina 830 (got a really good trade-in price!) and the Jumbo hoop. We decided on “duck” cloth – a heavy weight broadcloth, white and dark blue, and I started stitching!

embroidery

embroidery

The large blue circle is ALL stitching – if I ever make another one it will be applique! The figures in the middle represent Chief, Senior Chief, and Master Chief.

design closeup

design closeup

All members of the Selectees group were listed along with their motto: Unity, Service, Navigation. The four gold stars on the white side were the hardest to digitize. I was very pleased with the final results.

navy flag_side 1

navy flag, side 1

My daughter purchased the pole and standard and I found a gold trim resembling rope for the other three edges.

flag on pole

flag on pole

 

I worked MANY, MANY hours between Sunday morning and Tuesday. We had to get the flag to him at the ship by noon – 2 hours away from my location!  Every minute was worth it, though. I am very proud of this flag because it represents a lot of hard work on the part of the Selectees, particularly my son-in-law! He is now just a few years from 20 years of service and I am SUPER proud of him!

Let’s not forget these young men and women who CHOSE to serve our country. They deserve our constant prayers and support.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Philippians 4:6

 

 

 

 

My favorite tools

As with any activity, the tools used become a critical part of the successful completion. I thought I would talk about a couple I use on a regular basis while sewing.

Over the past few years, I have become a HUGE fan of KAI scissors. As you can see from the picture, I have quite a few. Plus duplicates! They are balanced correctly, comfortable and a pleasure to use. AND the company (located in Seattle, WA) offers a sharpening service: you mail them the scissors (4″ and larger), and for $5 +tax each, they will sharpen and mail them back.

KAI scissors

KAI scissors

Another tool I love and use alot is the Marti Michell Corner Trimmer. She demonstrated this several years ago at Sewing Expo and I was hooked immediately! It is great for joining lengths of fabric for binding, piping, fabric tubes, etc.

corner tool

corner trimmer alignment

The MOST important step of using this tool is to lay both strips of binding right sides up. I sometimes layer several strips to speed up the process but I ALWAYS remember to have them right side up!

corner tool

trimmer with corner of fabric cut off

The “corner” on the tool lines up the fabric for a nice 1/4″ seam. Lay the two pieces at right angles along the bias cut edge, right sides together, and sew.

stitching angle

stitching angle

I press the seam open so there is less “bulk” at the join. On solid or small print fabric, the join is virtually unnoticeable.

joined binding

joined binding

When joining one-way fabric, turn one strip upside down but STILL right side up. Notice the direction of the fabrics that have been trimmed off.

cutting one-way binding

cutting one-way binding

After joining, the direction on the fabric will be correct. I am not ashamed to admit it took a few tries to get this right the first time I used one-way fabric!

joined one-way binding

joined one-way binding

Let your creativity begin! And have fun 🙂

 

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
Prov 2:6

 

Useful Accessories for Heirloom Sewing

Many times, after telling others about my passion for heirloom sewing, the response I get is “I don’t have a fancy machine”. Trust me, ANY machine that has a straight stitch and zig-zag can be used to create wonderful heirlooms!

Of course, having a top-of-the-line machine gives you a wider array of decorative stitches to choose from. Great to have but not required!

Another useful “tool” is the presser foot but, again, not absolutely necessary to have more than the standard to create elegant fancy bands and trims.

foot box

I am lucky to have a Bernina 830 and a wide array of feet. Each one was designed for a specific use but can be used for other purposes as well. I am going to talk about the ones I used in creating the Fancy Baby Dress (see related post).

feet

assorted feet (numbers refer to Bernina feet only)

Everyone has a ‘favorite’ foot for general sewing and I have two: #1 and #34. In the photo, #1 is mounted on the machine and #34 is just to the right. On the #1 foot the indentation in front of and behind the needle opening allows for easier forward and reverse stitching. #34 has a transparent sole which ensures a good view of the stitching and needle area. I use this one quite a bit for sewing laces and trims together.

Foot #37 is the Patchwork foot, developed for projects with 3mm (1⁄8”) or 6mm (1⁄4”) seam allowances. As the name implies, it is used mostly for quilting.

#32 (7 grooves) and #46C are the pintuck feet. I also used #46C for the corded piping. It has larger grooves which makes sewing the piping easier.

pintucks

pintucks with grooved foot

#54 is a zipper foot with a non-stick sole. I also used this foot to attach some of the piping.

#20C is called the open embroidery foot but I use it when combining laces, entredeux and trims. The open foot allows for greater control of the delicate fabrics and a clear view of your stitching.

lace to entredeux

lace to entredeux

I tend to switch feet often, trying for the best combination and ease of sewing.

beige dress

beige dress

Remember, you DO NOT HAVE to have all these feet to create heirloom garments or gifts. Just start stitching and enjoy the creative process!

“For nothing is impossible with God.”
– Luke 1:37

 

 

 

 

Fancy Baby Dress

Last Sunday I attended a baby shower for a new member of our church. The baby was 1 month old and a little doll. I thought the suggested gift of children books, so the family could learn English, was great!

Anyway, needing a gift for the shower allowed me to do what I absolutely love – heirloom sewing 🙂

The fabric I chose was a bright white Satinella Batiste by Stylecrest; it has a slight sheen and a wonderful feel. I selected a simple square yoke pattern with a gathered sleeve and smocked skirt.

On the bodice, I created a verticle “fancy band” with lace and entredeux inserts alternated with pintucks.

fancy band bodice

fancy band bodice

The sleeves have one row of the lace and entredeux framed with pintucks down the middle.

sleeve band

sleeve band

After cutting the front skirt piece to length, I pleated 10 half-rows across the top. This was then blocked to match the bodice yoke, the pleats startched and steamed into place. I ran a row of back-smocking on the first and 8th rows of the pleating. {I will cover pleating in more detail in another post}

pleated skirt

pleated skirt

After the smocking was completed, it was time to assemble the dress. The bodice is lined and piping was added to the yoke (front and back) and neckline. Small pink pearls accent the bottom row of smocking.  I finished the sleeves with a simple band, trimmed by the piping.

yoke and skirt

yoke and skirt

The back placket is closed with clear plastic snaps and accented with white “pearl” buttons.

back of dress

back of dress

I cut the skirt long, to allow for a 3″ hem. I then added piping along the hem stitch line by creating a tuck. This enclosed the raw edge and gave the dress a finished look. As a side note, I believe in enclosing as much of the raw edge as possible. The side seams are a modified french seam and the yoke is stitched over the skirt gathers.

The fully-lined bonnet is very simple, with pintucks and piping accenting the front band. I finished it off with a satin ribbon bow and tie.

bonnet

bonnet

And here it is!

dress and bonnet

dress and bonnet

Love and prayers for a long life were included in every stitch. I thoroughly enjoyed this project!

Have Machine, Will Travel

I recently traveled by car from the Seattle area to central California for a family reunion. As usual, I took my sewing machine and supplies.  As I am usually in the middle of one or more projects, traveling can affect deadlines. Besides, I sew most every night anyway!

sewing supplies

sewing supplies

Depending on my travel schedule, I might not take the machine in for a single night. This trip I was in the hotel for three days. I have two travel machines; this one is my Bernina Aurora 440. My only setup option was a round table and I had to use pillows to make the chair high enough.  There was an ironing board however, so that was handy. As most of my supplies are still in boxes my travel iron was not handy, so my Oliso traveled with me too. I love that iron!

room

room setup

The projects and fabrics filled one suitcase. The red boxes held all my tools: scissors, bobbins, tweezers, etc.

lap quilt

lap quilt

This setup was at my cousin’s for one afternoon. We had a nice visit while I sewed! All that is left to do is the binding!

Teacher Appreciation Throw

This project is one of the reasons I have been so busy the last few weeks – don’t take me wrong, I have enjoyed working on all my projects! I finally got a whiteboard to list them all!!!!

As part of a teacher appreciation gift, my 11-year-old grand-daughter and her 5th grade classmates signed blocks of white fabric. I assembled them together with assorted school prints for the 2-1/2″ sashing and 3-1/2″ border. As there were only 21 blocks, I added 4 in baseball fabric to create 5 rows of 5 (7″) blocks. The Boston Red Sox fleece was chosen as the backing as it is the teacher’s favorite baseball team. I put my label in the lower left block and added “2013-2014” with permanent marker.

teacher throw

teacher throw

This was all done “long-distance” as my grand-daughter lives in New York state (I am on the West Coast)!

This project is quick and easy to put together. Feel free to create your own signature teacher throw. I am sure it will be greatly appreciated!