Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Problem Solving

I blogged over the weekend about this light blue dress smocked on Imperial batiste:

For me, making decisons after smocking is the hardest.  I don't want my dresses to look just like everyone else's dresses, but that also creates the dilemma of what to do to make it look different.  I also find that my creativity is at a low after smocking and I've moved into the "let's get this thing done and outta here!" mode.  Hence, I frequently don't do a lot of embellishment to the rest of the dress...and very rarely do I make a slip! 

I've been trying to work on enjoying the process more as opposed to the get it done mode.  It's also been inspiring to see what others have done with their smocking at sewing guild meetings.  They make me feel lazy!  Anyway, moving along!

The embroidery floss colors for this dress were chosen not because I liked them, but because the store seemed to be out of every shade of blue but the one I used:(  Trying to find a chance to get to the store and make a selection is limited, so I settled.  I would've liked something in the more pastel range since this dd likes things more girly and feminine.  This blue is strong and almost teal so I chose a stronger flower color, mauve, to hold its own and not be overpowered.  But now it's time to sew the smocked dress front and add some extra touches to collar, sleeves, and hem.  sigh.  Blank--what to do?  White seemed too dainty for anything on this dress because of those dark embroidery floss colors.  I thought about just using the light blue fabric for everything--collar w/ light blue piping and some embroidery(??), sleeves again bound and piped in the light blue fabric, and zero ideas on the hem.  That style of dress looks more tailored and less feminine, which is okay but not really what I wanted to do.

So!  Today I finally had some inspiration!  Yes!  In looking through my lace drawer, I noticed a sample of entredeux (the stuff w/ holes in the picture) attached to a narrow 1/2" white lace.  It still seemed too light, but I thought I'd try weaving the blue embroidery floss through the holes and then adding some embroidered flowers.  I think it works!  Keep in mind this is merely a quickie sample, so not very neat at all!

I think the flower on the left looks better.  It is a French knot.  Quick and easy.  I thought I'd try a bullion, which is on the right, but I think it is too bulky (and definitely sloppy since I had the wrong needle!)  Anyway, I think I will trim the collar and sleeves with the entredeux and lace combo with the addition of the embroidery.  That just leaves a decision about the hem....

And, in order to accomplish a slip this time, I cut one out when I was cutting the bodice.  Maybe there's hope that it will be sewn up, too!

In case you might think all my bullions are sloppy, here's a sample I did a few years ago.  I used silk floss on that--wow.  Wish I was brave enough to use it all the time since it feels wonderful!

A small plug for wonderful husbands--mine went to the craft store for me when I was under the weather to match beads to the blue, mauve and green embroidery flosses.  That was my first though on embellishing the dress--add some beaded flowers and leaves.  I think I will save it for a future dress idea though since the bead selection was poor and the floss difficult to match. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Simplicity Knit Top

I finished, more or less, the muslin for the Simplicity knit top.  The front crossover really stretched out of shape and drooped rather strikingly in the front--not pretty at all.  I think part of that is operator error--not used to sewing on knits plus I should've recognized that it needed stabilizing.  The top seems to be big, too, at least in the front.  The neckline is way too low, although it would look good w/ a cami or tank underneath.  I may actually try and salvage the muslin by taking in the side seams and tightening up the crossover to give me a chance to wear it a little.  The back fit pretty well and the sleeves were fine.  All in all, a good practice piece!  I learned to be less afraid of sewing knits (thank you serger!) and that they are forgiving.  It would be really easy to take a favorite knit top and trace it to make another one (I think). 

We'll see where that goes...I think it is time to resume sewing for youngest dd.  The blue dress and Dalmatians await!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Dalmatians

Here's another completed smocked insert:

With buttons on the side.  Please don't think I'm that prolific with either my sewing or my smocking, because I'm not!  I started this insert years ago for oldest dd and a smaller one for ds, but never finished them.  I think I already mentioned how much I love to picture smock!  Not!  Not wanting to rush things, I finally finished the smocking on this one last summer during baseball season.  It was agony, too.  I hate doing all those fidgety details on picture smocking.  I don't really know why either since I like to embroidery and that can certainly be full of fidgety details. 

Now I need to decide which pattern to use--Elsa by Maja's Heirlooms or the Basic Square Yoke by Chery Williams.  I'll use it with the red micro checked gingham that is pictured in the background.  I wish I had more of the solid red--I think it is Imperial broadcloth--but since I don't, I'll just need to work on using up the micro check!  Oh, and the smocking plate was in Sew Beautiful, either Spring or Summer 1995.  I told you this was an old project!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Top for Me

Since I don't have enough sewing to do, I thought I'd take a little detour and sew for myself.  Perhaps I should rephrase that and say try to sew for myself!  It has been a very, very long time since I made anything at all for myself.  Anyone else that way?  And, of course, I thought I'd try something I'm not used to doing since so many people have success sewing knits.  I'm doing a muslin of Simplicity 4076:

It's gotten lots of good reviews on Pattern Review which helped me decide to try it.  We'll see how it goes!  I'll have to say that all the wiggles the fabric does is driving me nuts, but I guess that is just me since I'm not used to knits.  I hope it gets better as I work through my test top!  I opted for View A, that lime green one in the picture.  I guess coping with wiggling fabric is better than going shopping for clothes?  I think.  Maybe.  Wish me luck!

Pants Hemmed

Not the most exciting sewing stuff in the world, but it was a nice sense of accomplishment to come home after church and hem 3 pairs of dh's pants!  Two pairs were jeans, but were thankfully not too bad.  Gotta have the mundane w/ the rest of our sewing, right?  Besides, he was happy to have jeans minus the holes!  Poor guy!  Gotta love him for not complaining about how long it took me to get around to them!

My apologies for having a separate post about hemming, but I promised myself I'd keep a journal on here of what I've done during the year.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Mermaid for a Mermaid

I have completed preparations for the Little Mermaid project.  It's nice to have some handwork to do while waiting on the kids or relaxing in the evenings.  It will take me awhile to get this done since I really hate picture smocking...but this was so cute and the youngest dd likes it a lot.  I'll try not to whine and complain too much while working on it!  Here's all the stuff:

I'm not entirely committed to the pattern yet.  It would be nice to sew up something different in a girl's smocked dress.  Plus this pattern is more modern than the classic smocked dresses and variety is good!

Here's a more classic smocked dress.  You can never go wrong with these, that's for sure!

That's the Basic Square Yoke Dress pattern by Chery Williams and the dress front all completed.  It was smocked using "Karen" by Ellen McCarn.  I need to decide dress details--embroidery on the collar, no collar, sleeves, lace or not, etc.  Lots of decisions after the smocking!

Friday, March 19, 2010

And now for something completely different...

I thought I'd post about something a little different today to add variety.  We were working on making salad dressings today--a creamy blue cheese, ranch and Italian.  They take a little extra time and effort but we like them so much better than store bought!  Sometimes we do a tossed salad, just drizzling vinaigrette ingredients over the salad greens and tossing to coat.  The warmer weather feels more like lighter foods.  Spring!

I finished prepping an insert for smocking a dress for youngest dd.  I found some Little Mermaid fabric at walmart--not the nicest stuff in the world, but she will love the dress.  I even have a mermaid smocking plate that I got from a friend, so it should look really cute!  I'll see about posting pics next week.  The smocking part will take me awhile since I detest picture smocking and am slow about doing it. 

A great weekend to all!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The Cupcake Pincushion pattern by Cindy Taylor Oates of Taylor Made Designs won as the next project.  I guess it goes along with dd's latest cooking endeavors--cupcakes.  Hard to guess on that one, right?  Yes, she's gone wild making cupcakes of late--chocolate chip mocha with chocolate sour cream frosting, spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and just plain ol' chocolate cupcakes w/ fudgy frosting a couple of times.  Likes chocolate...and cupcakes!

Here's the pattern I used:

Looks almost good enough to eat, doesn't it?

Here's mine:

I think it lacks the tasty look for some reason.  sigh.  Well, I should get plenty of practice since I ought to make more for an upcoming class that I'm doing using this pattern. 

Anyway, a little info on it--I added some polyester quilt batting to the bottom to make sure the filling didn't fall out since that's where the opening is.  Maybe a little less next time.  The pattern suggests filling either with sand or crushed walnut shells--that last one was a surprise to me.  Never heard of such a thing, but they do indeed have bags of crushed walnut shells at the pet store in the bird section (thankfully!  The pattern said the reptile section--yuck.).  I used walnut shells as a filling for this one.  I'd like to fill another with sand and a third with emery, the traditional filling for the little strawberries on classic pincushions.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Two Projects Completed!

My two major projects are finally completed and worn today!  I hope I can get this typed and the pictures loaded before the creme brulee is done--it's in the water bath in the oven now.  A special treat!

The teens looked very nice in their new clothes.  Here are the pics:

This was taken after they'd been worn awhile and both are linen, although the dress has some silk, too.  I guess it's the rumpled look.  haha  My dd beaded her pin plus some earrings as accessories.  Here are some close ups of those:

No matter how hard I try to enjoy the process of sewing, for some projects, I just cannot wait to be done with them!  This dress was one of them--made worse when I got the zipper stuck in the lining and had to undo and redo all the handsewing to the zipper since I'd sewn it too close.  arrggh!

Time to clean up my mess from this round and think about what's next--a smocked dress, a purse, a pincushion or a top for me?  Decisions, decisions!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tired of Cutting Out

Okay, enough already with cutting this Butterick pattern out!  I've done 3 muslins so far.  Very satisfying to know that it fits and all that.  Then I go to do the real stuff and realize that I get to cut it all out again 3 more times--the lining, the underlining, and the fashion fabric!  I guess it isn't all that bad (but it it when you think too hard about it and count the number of times!) since I know the dress will fit well.  I also made the decision to underline it--but that should pay off in the long run.  Here's a picture of the underlining and fashion fabric, both pinned and handstitched together:

I have all the lovely blue marking on the underlining (at least I don't have to mark all 3 layers!  Just the lining and fashion fabrics!) plus the pins and the basting stitches.  I am using silk thread for the basting.  Pretty enjoyable stuff, wish it were more readily available.  Should make pulling it out much easier, too.  I still have more hand basting to do, but am nearly finished and then on to the sewing!  And the clock is ticking...!  Nothing like a little pressure to get it done.

I got a little sidetracked today because my ds had asked me to learn to knit.  We picked out yarn at Michael's yesterday.  Really lovely and very, very soft organic cotton with a little lumpiness about it for texture.  Here he is practicing on some from my stash:

He's caught on very fast, I must say!

Here's a little teaser picture of dd with her work-in-progress beaded accessory for her finished dress (it's held up to her muslin).  I think it's going to look stunning!  The dress itself might have other "accessorizing", but we'll have to see!

Finally, to tell or not to tell?  Dd doesn't know what dd, ds, dh, etc.  So she and her db figured dd must be ditzy daughter, etc.  You know, in this day and age of texting thumbs, I think I'll let them figure it out themselves, what do you think? 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Butterick 5277 continued

It always amazes me at how busy the week becomes.  I went to the ASG's smocking neighborhood group yesterday and got the buttons sewn on my son's shirt.  Tonight was another sewing guild meeting.  Plus all the other things that life has to offer!  I have spent a good deal of time working on the muslin for my daughter's dress, Butterick 5277.  For some reason, it was giving me a lot of trouble--I think it is the raglan sleeve.  As I had originally pinned the dart in front I realized it would not work since it went off to the underarm/side seam/sleeve intersection.  Today I moved it up and it fits perfectly!    I'll need to work on cutting out the real goods either tonight or tomorrow.  That will be delightful--I have a silk/linen blend from  If you've never tried them before, please do!  Free generously sized swatches and super fast shipping.  Not to mention the great quality, too.  (And, no, I'm not affiliated w/ emmaonesock--this was my first order and I love the quality!)

Moving along, I'll post a final picture of my son in his new shirt as soon as I go buy more buttons--need one more! and remove the lovely blue marks which are truly so helpful but don't look great.  Also, I realized that I forgot to mention the idea for the cipher that I put into his shirt came from a post (think it was in January) by  My son had already done a cipher of his name ages and ages ago and had had it made into a stamper.  I just looked at what he'd done and transcribed it to his shirt.

In the very short time I've been blogging, I've realized that I always have more ideas than time and energy and like to hop around from one project to the next entirely too much!  No wonder I wind up w/ UFO's!  I've made a real effort to finish anything I start over the last couple of years and I have gotten better at it.  However!  I could be a lot better about bringing new things home before I've cleared more/some projects first!  It is hard to do--sew many ideas!  At the present, my son's shirt is still "out there", dd's dress, cupcake pincushions for a class later this spring, 2 kits from (another great resource I just found!  Wonderful fabric!  Can you tell I'm frustrated by the lack of local sources?) plus some silk dupioni gingham for an AS&E project and the 2 purse fabrics I bought last week.  Yeah, definitely need to slow down on the incoming!  That doesn't count the ideas percolating for youngest dd birthday and the urge to go buy lots of red paint for the living room!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Butterick 5277 Muslin

I'm working on Butterick 5277 View C with the collar for my teenaged daughter. 

I've made 2 muslins so far--the first was just way too big for me to see what needed to be adjusted, so I did another 2 sizes smaller.  Weird since I did actually measure her first!  Anyway, it looks like I need to add a small dart at the bust and adjust the armscye in the back.  Not too bad, but I am ready to get into the fashion fabric!

Here's the muslin with the bust dart pinned:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Linen Shirt Update

I've finally gotten a decent picture of the cipher and personalization that I did for my son's shirt.  Here it is:

Still need to put the buttons and buttonholes on, but that will be tomorrow's project!