Monday, April 30, 2007
But it helps to have friends all over!
Thank you all for the congratulations on my latest sewing adventure! Believe me when I say that I really appreciate your support!
Today was my first day back at the sewing machine since last Wednesday. It was very strange *not* to sew for four days! I'm not sure how you feel, and maybe you can just take or leave sewing, but I can't. It's such a part of me, that if I don't turn on the machine daily, it seems like something is wrong! Not that I did anything terribly exciting, but customer alterations need to be done, as people are counting on me to fix their stuff.
While I was gone, I didn't totally abandon sewing. I got to go fabric shopping in St. Louis courtesy of Marji! We met at one fabric store and she took me to another, plus we went out to get a bite to eat. I wasn't exactly sure where she'd be in the fabric store, so I just walked around a bit. I knew I had found her when I saw her fabulous Chanel-style jacket. Trust me when I say that the pictures on her blog do not do the garment justice (scroll down in her blog for pictures and look through the archives for the jacket details). The fabric is more vibrant and it fit her beautifully. Notice how she wore it casually with a purple top and jeans! I also got to see all the swatches from her SWAP, and again, pictures don't tell the whole story. She really did a great job of coordinating the turquoise and purple and many of the fabrics featured both colors.
I didn't realize that she was a bit taller than me - from pictures on blogs it's hard to tell relative size. It wasn't until we had pictures taken that it was really obvious. To be fair, though, she was wearing heels and I was wearing flats. Anyway, she's just super and even helped me get out of the city during rush hour which was also compounded by freeway construction!
Parting Shot: Even though I missed sewing, I wasn't the only one who was lonely. The cats missed me, too. Pix came up onto the worktable today looking for affection!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
What a trip! All the travel went smoothly, all the people I met and worked with were just fantastic! The show organizers of the American Quilt Society are a great bunch of ladies and really make it a special event whether it's your first show or tenth show. This picture was taken backstage right before the beginning of the show:
Why am I carrying all those roses and ribbons? I won Best of Show and Viewer's Choice! I was very surprised to actually win Best of Show. I am in (or was until the show Friday afternoon) the amateur division. To win Best of Show above all the amateurs and professionals is very shocking, and I'm still sort of surprised by it all.
Viewer's Choice was the first ribbon awarded, and then they awarded 1st through 3rd in amateur, 1st through 3rd in pro and the Design Excellence. Since I was the first was called up on stage, while I was standing there waiting I was looking at the pros left in our section, trying to figure out who was going to win Best of Show. I had the complete look of surprise when they called my name for Best of Show.
Here's a better look at the ribbons:
Thank you all for your support during the making of American Beauty! Although I know God has given me a small talent to use, it certainly helps to have the support and advice from all of you!
Parting Shot: My roses once I got them home. I had to carry them through the airports, which was interesting, as I got a lot of looks and compliments!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
I'm leaving this morning for the AQS show in Paducah, KY. I'll be flying into St. Louis and then getting car and driving to Paduch. Once I actually get to St. Louis, I'm going to get to meet Marji! Check out her blog - her work is just beautiful! I'll be back Saturday evening, so look for pictures early next week!
Parting Shot: Spring is truly here - we now have blooming daffodils!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
and American Beauty jewelryIn the comments, Anne had this to say about her memories of petticoats:
"I remember stiff petticcoats from the 1950s and early 60s . Here in the UK they were often in what we called "paper nylon" rather than netm mounted on a nylon tricot yoke with elasticated top. The nylon was a stiff rather crackly fabric with a distinctive rustle. You washed it as little as possible so that it stayed stiff, and I have a vague memory that you were supposed to restore the stiffness by rinsing it in a solution of sugar and water and letting it drip dry!"
Very interesting, thanks Anne!
Carolyn posted a good question in her comment on Monday's post about the make-up, and I thought answering it would be good idea since some of you might have the same question. Here it is:
"Summerset - your attention to detail is amazing! Is this what helps your garments win? That each element of the presentation is so carefully thought out? Do you have 50's jewelry too? . . ."Thanks for the compliment, Carolyn! Attention to detail is essential to a winning garment. Garments are judged privately by a panel, usually 2 to 3 judges. They go over the garment with a fine tooth comb, and the judges really know their stuff. The AQS show on Friday is being judged by Connie St. Clair, Lorraine Torrence and Kayla Kennington. They look for not only dramatic and artistic value, but also for excellence in workmanship. I got a comment from one show that I didn't finish the inside seams on a lined skirt with a free hanging lining! That's something I usually don't do - if it's lined, I don't worry about it. Well, I do now for competition or I make it so that they can't get under the lining! Anyway, sometimes at that point they determine winners, but other times, they wait until the fashion show to award the ribbons once they actually see the garment being worn.
That said, taking everything to completion can help in those shows. I do it because it's important to me to present an entire "look" from head to toe. If you look at the big name designers, they present a total look - hair, make-up, jewelry, shoes and accessories in addition to the clothes on the catwalk. Not everyone in my little world does that, but for me it's part of presenting yourself professionally, plus it's just plain fun! How else could you excuse going to the salon and having your nails, make-up and hair done? It's also fun working with my salon, because the girls get together and we trade ideas for hair/make-up/whatever for the particular outfit. I've received many compliments on how well put together I look at shows and have been asked if I was a model (yeah right - I'm about 8" too short and 20lbs. too heavy!). Most people are surprised to find out I am the "designer".
Now for the last piece of the American Beauty puzzle - the jewelry. I have the vintage red lizard shoes, a petticoat, liquid eyeliner, red lipstick, above the elbow white gloves, so all I need is jewelry. Someone might point out that I don't have a purse. I considered it, but on stage for this show, I'll need to show the inside of the coat (where all the hand applique is!) and take the coat off, so juggling a purse isn't a good idea. It's best to keep things simple.
I've studied many pictures of 50's jewelry online, but I wanted something simple - the show is about the garments, not necessarily the jewelry. The jewelry should compliment, not overwhelm. This is choker and earrings I made out of Swarovski pearls and crystals:
Parting Shot: I took my son to get his haircut today, and this is how he came out. For fun, our stylist gave him a faux-hawk and bright yellow temp color (it washes out with one shampoo).
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Before I get to the details and pictures, I'd like to share a comment I received from Patricia regarding petticoats. I'm not sure how many of you saw it, but I really appreciated her taking the time and sharing her memories with me!
"In the 50's, I was in Junior High and early High School. My sister and I had lots of "can-cans" to make our gathered skirts as full as possible. Penny would wear 3 or 4 at once. It is difficult to recall the details of those net petticoats, but I believe the seaming of one tier to the next was bound with something akin to ribbon. Some had a shorter gathered slip under the netting for comfort, other times we wore a full slip. We loved those "can-cans" and they were always hung on hangers, never folded which would have ruined the netting. I believe washing (as infrequently as possible) would require cold water, drip dry, and possible no fabric softener which would soften the netting. "
I'd also like to explain (to the best of my knowledge - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!) the difference between petticoats and crinolines. At this point in history, we use the words interchangeably. In the past, a petticoat was sort of what we think of as a half slip - an undergarment that is worn under clothing, that provides opacity or a bit of shaping. (A chemise would be more like our "full slip".) A petticoat could be made of many fabrics from cottons to silks to the famous red taffeta one in Gone With the Wind. A crinoline was what we now call "hoops", "hoopskirt" and/or "bustle". These garments really provide a distinct shape to clothing via boning and strapping. Crinoline is actually a fabric, too, a stiffened cotton that was part of these garment's structure to make the garment shape and provide channels for the bones/steels. I can actually purchase crinoline locally at my Jo-ann's, although I doubt that too many people know what it is or what it's used for. I found it by poking around in a bin (with buckram, too!) of odd rolls of stuff near the canvas, felt and burlap. Petticoats (and sometimes many petticoats) were worn over hoops and bustles to disguise the bands of boning or steel that gives them their distinct bell shape.
Now, here it is:
Notice the back seam is ribbon covered, just like the hem. If you wear it with a slip or make a underlining of some sort, it won't matter, but it's nice to cover anything with a potential to scratch!
After sewing many fancy dresses for my daughter, I've come up with a few construction techniques as a way to cope with gathering and sewing large amounts of netting. I already mentioned in a previous post that thread tracing really is the only way to mark tulle/netting. To specifically mark certain points, such center fronts and backs, side seams, I use safety pins. Unlike pins, they stay in the fabric until you take them out and are very easy to see. I can match them up easily and tighten up the gathering stitches in between.
When I'm gathering large amounts of netting, I work on it one quadrant at a time. There's no way to gather anywhere from 150" to 400"+ of netting easily unless you divide it up and work on smaller sections. I break the stitching when putting in the original basting stitching according to the safety pins and work on the gathers accordingly.
Many patterns, like the Vogue, rather than having tiers of ruffles one larger than the next, have a large skirt with the ruffles attached directly to the skirt. The stitching line of the Vogue pattern is 10" from the bottom. Considering the difficulty in marking net - it has to be thread traced - it doesn't make sense to thread trace the seam line. You'd be stitching right over the top of it, trapping your tracing thread! What I do to avoid that and make it so much easier to align the ruffle correctly is to thread trace where the *top* edge of the ruffle should be in this case, 10 5/8"). You can then place the edge right at the line, and stitch whatever seam allowance suits you, knowing that the ruffle is where it should be. Here's an example of the thread tracing, and the ruffle stitched in place (note the red nails - I had them done for the fashion show on Friday):
Finally, note the difference in the Easter dress without and with the petticoat:
Volume will depend on three things - how big the petticoat is to begin with, how many you wear at one time, and how heavy the skirt is that the petticoat must support. Obviously, you're going to get more loft out of lighter fabrics than heavier ones. This skirt is fairly substantial, so it weighs the petticoat down a bit. It should be interesting to see how American Beauty looks with the petticoat on Friday - remember, it already has a net ruffle attached to the lining!
Parting Shot: Because it was a nice spring day, after homework and piano lessons were done, my children went out to play. I turned from the cutting table and looked out the window to see the following scene. She's actually on her way down, she was two branches higher to start with!
Monday, April 23, 2007
If I'm going to wear American Beauty in a show on Friday, I need to have the right make-up, too. A trip to my beauty salon to consult with the make-up artist took care of that. I basically took her some print outs of some typical faces of the 50's and we worked to create the right look. Here's what I provided her with:
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Not done yet . . . .
I'm not finished with it, but I do want to share with you the technique I'm using for some of the seams of the netting.
Before we get to that, Isabelle brought up a good question - is there a difference between netting and tulle? Actually, yes there is. Where I live, there are three basic types of this particular fabric available: netting, petticoat netting and tulle. You can see all three from left to right below [Note to Isabelle: I didn't plan those colors - it happened that way. I needed a tulle color that would photograph halfway decently, the white I originally had didn't.] The blue on the left is what is called "netting". It comes in a variety of colors and can be used for petticoats (or crinolines as some people call them, but that's another story!). The white in the middle is what is called "petticoat netting". This is what I'm using. Usually it's only available in black or white. Notice that the holes are smaller, it is also much stiffer and will give that "stand out" look to skirts. On right in red, is tulle, available in a rainbow of matte and well as glimmer and sparkly colors. The holes are much, much smaller, the nylon is much thinner and can be drapey. You could use it for making petticoats, but it won't give you the silhouette you're looking for.
Now for the seam technique. Seaming netting or tulle can be an adventure. Some people prefer french seams or don't finish the seams at all. The fabric doesn't fray, so that's not the issue - neatness is the issue. While I love french seams, they can be bulky, especially when most items made from these fabrics need to gathered, and there's usually a lot of it! I've decided to try out a version of the lapped seam. This also works nicely on interfacing where you don't want bulk in the seams. First, I overlap the two pieces to be joined, aligning the seam lines. In this case, the seam allowance is 5/8", and I baste the two pieces together along the seam line:
(Note: there's no good way to mark this type of fabric, except to thread trace!)
I then stitch two lines of stitching, 1/8" to either side of the center line. Notice that I have not backtracked any stitching, but tied off the threads. Backtracking just doesn't look good on tulle, or any other sheer in my opinion.
Next, I trim off the excess seam allowance on either side, and the seam is complete. You will end up with only two layers of fabric at the join, rather than five with the conventional french seam.
I haven't finished the petticoat yet, as I'm not happy with the way it's turning out. The yoke is fine - it's all finished off except for the hook and eye at the waist. The ruffle around the bottom is the problem. According to the original directions, you're to make two bottom ruffles, gather them together and attach together. I don't like the way it looks. It's not full enough to me, nor does the gathering look good. I've got 3/4 of the ruffle on, but it's going to be coming off and redone. What I'm going to do is take the ruffles apart and join them into one big ruffle, so that there's twice as much fabric in the ruffle. It will be a bit more to manage, but I'll show you how I do that in the next post.
Parting Shot: I thought I'd show you my daughter in one of her new outfits. This is what she chose to wear to church today:
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Now that I have several full-skirted vintage dresses, I can't escape the fact that I need a petticoat, too. I'll be wearing American Beauty on Friday in the fashion show and competition at the American Quilter's Society national show in Paducah, KY, so I need to get the petticoat made! I'm not even sure if I'll need to wear it - it depends on if it looks ok with the red coat. It might make the skirt too big to fit under the coat. Regardless, it's neat to have one if I need one.
If I'm wearing it with vintage dresses, it might as well be vintage, too, right? I actually own two vintage petticoat patterns. One came with the Vogue pattern I'm using for Diamonds - that was a full skirted dress before I decided that I wanted a straight skirt. The Simplicity is a pattern just for petticoats and slips.
They're both similar in that they have a yoke. The yoke is nice because it reduces bulk around the abdomen area, which would occur if all that net were attached to a waistband. They're different in that the Vogue one is much fuller. I decided to use the Vogue with the reasoning that if I'm going to make one, it's going to be full!
The only problem with the Vogue is that it take a lot of fabric. More netting than what I bought for the project. Somewhere, deep in the back of my mind, I thought I had put some white petticoat net back into the stash from another project. Sure enough, I pulled out enough netting to finish cutting out the bottom ruffles!
Check out the pieces below:
The main portion of the skirt is piece #3, and that's only half of it - it's cut on a fold. It needs to be gathered onto those two yoke pieces you see in front of it. You can also see a little bit of piece #4, which is the same width, but two of those get sewn together to form the bottom ruffle for piece #3. That bottom ruffle has two layers gathered together and sewn on at the same time.
The pattern layout shows the yoke cut out of net. I don't know about you, but wearing petticoat net right next to my skin isn't terribly appealing. My solution was to get some of that white silk charmeuse and organza from my stash and cut the yokes out of that. I'll use the organza as an underlining and make an additional lining out of another layer of charmeuse. There's also a large portion of white ribbon in the picture above. That's to face the hem of the layer closest to my legs. Raw petticoat net on the legs doesn't sound like fun, either. This should go together quickly, so maybe by tomorrow I'll be able to post the final results!
Parting Shots: We actually had the windows open today! The weather was really lovely today, so it was a good opportunity to air out the house. Any open window attracts the cats, so here's Pix, fascinated by the smells and sights of outdoors:
Thursday, April 19, 2007
sewing for my daughter, I find out she needs summer church clothes. After going through her closet and removing a great deal of her summer church wardrobe, I decided I'd have to sew up a few more things for her. She has one dress from last year, her new Easter dress, and now she has these four pieces:
In the spirit of SWAP, these pieces can be worn interchangeably, to produce 4 different outfits. The two skirts and coral top are from Simplicity 5119 and the print top is from Simplicity 4568:
I found both fabrics at Joann's. The print was in clearance for $2 a yard, probably last summer's or the summer before's fabric. The solid is one of this year's fabrics, and embroidered cotton, which I got on sale. All told, I probably spent less than $20 for all four pieces.
While these are children's garments, I don't skimp on the insides. Children can be rough on clothes and a well finished garment stands a chance of surviving until it's outgrown. All the seams are either french seams or what I've decided to call "taped seams"; the hems are all finished with seam binding. There are no exposed edges. "Taped seams" are something Tany came up with and these garments provided me with a good opportunity to try them. The embroidered fabric, while lovely, has these bumpy areas where the flowers are. It's not too bad to sew, but a french seam was out of the question. The taped seam was a good solution for the seams - I could trim off a good portion of the seam allowance and use premade seam binding to finish off the seam allowances. Check Tany's blog post for clear instructions - it's actually pretty easy and looks good! The bottom picture is a close-up of a taped seam.
In order to do french seam where there's trim, I trim out the excess trim from the seam allowance to eliminate bulk. This trim I actually got as a "free gift" when I ordered some foldover elastic from Suzanne's. The color wasn't anything I was interest in at the time, but into the stash it went, well, at least until Tuesday. It matched perfectly and added a nice touch to the top.
All the elasticized pieces have a small piece of ribbon at the center back, so that my daughter can figure out which side is the front and which is the back. I always do this, as I find I can't figure it out on my own clothes sometimes!
The printed skirt's ruffle is actually attached to the lining, which is attached to the skirt at the top casing:
I realize that some you may be thinking, "that a lot of trouble for an 8 year old's clothes". Well, yes, actually it is. I don't mind though - her clothes look much nicer on the inside and it gives me practice using new techniques on a smaller scale than adult clothes. It also teaches her what details should go into well made clothing. I remember many details about the clothes my mother made me, but what sticks with me the most is the french seams and complete finishing on the insides.
Parting Shot: I think Spring has arrived! The snow crocuses are up and starting to bloom!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Not all the sewing I do is apparel . . .
About a week or two ago, the athletic director came to me to give me the updates for the school's athletic banners that hang in the gymnasium, which need to be done by Friday for the Awards Banquet. They're the old school felt kind with patches for each year a tournament has been won or with spaces for names of players who have exhibited excellence both on and off the court. Last year I made 5 new banners, and this year I we needed two more, plus new patches. I forgot to get a picture of the big eagle mascot I did for last year, but I'll try to get one on Friday.
Today I took the machine to school to make up another banner and get the patches sewn on two old ones during my "spare time"(yeah right, after sending my yearbook staff off to study hall or the gym!). Here's one of the banners that needs a patch. I cut out and apply all the numbers or letters to the patch and then apply the patches. For the small patches the numbers are stitched on, for name banners I use Heat n Bond. There's no way I'm sewing hundreds of 3" letters to banners!
I get my felt from The Felt People, and I always order the nice grade 100% wool felt. It's really nice to work with - never causing a problem with my machine or shifting in weird ways. Because it's felt, it doesn't fray, either!
Parting Shots: I don't care if winter isn't over here in New Hampshire, I'm wearing my spring dress anyway! Black tights, sweater and scarf help to make this a little more weather friendly. I brought the other camera home tonight, so my fashion photographer (the 6 year old) is back in business! I couldn't decide which one to post, so here they both are:
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Today is Tuesday!
That means it's Diamonds day! Today I'll show you the foundation/underlining complete with boning and bust cups.
I've already stitched the underlining together, so the next step is to put in the boning. I'm using polyester boning for this project. It is bought by the yard with the boning casing and boning together and ready to use. You don't always have to use the casing that comes with it - bias strips or twill tape can be used, too. At any rate, I measured and cut each piece and then attached them to the bodice.
To attach them, I basted the channels in place by hand first directly down the center of the channel. The channels are narrow and pinning them in place isn't sufficient and it's too awkward for the application I'm doing. For this project, I'm stitching the channels to the seam allowances only. At this point, you could just stitch right through all the layers, and end up with topstitching on the outside. This gives the finish product more of a corset look, nice, but not what I wanted to do. I extended the seam allowance with the boning channels already on them and then stitched them down. In the picture below, you can see the progression from pinned to basted to stitched:
In this photo, you can see the seam allowance extended so that the channel will be stitched only to the seam allowance:
After all the channels are in place, I inserted the boning and trimmed the pieces to the correct length and shape. Rounding off the top of the boning makes wearing the garment more comfortable, as there's not a pointy end to poke through the fabric. Compare the untrimmed on the left with the trimmed on the right:
Bodice with completed boning:
Once the boning is all in place, it's time for the bust cups. There are three basic styles of cups: soft cups, hard cups and cups with push-up pads built in. They come in cup sizes, usually A/B, B/C, and D/DD. The way the sizing is split up depends on manufacturer. For vintage clothes, I prefer the hard cups. The reason is that they're a bit more pointy, and give that definite "lift and separate" look to the bust line that the old "bullet bras" used to. Notice the difference between the two sets of cups below. The cups in the blue are the hard cups and the ones in the musline are the soft cups. (The muslin is for the wedding dress and I do have permission to post a few pictures of it. ) The hard cups basically stand up on their own, while the softer ones sag a bit.
The best way to insert the cups is to first mold the fabric over the cups. The bodice should have enough shaping to accomodate the 3D shape of the cups. If you are not a B cup, which is what most patterns are designed for, you will definitely need to do a small or full bust adjustment on your pattern first! Trying to fit a D cup into a B cup top is asking for trouble (and tears). Imagine trying to wear a bra that is 2 cup sizes to small. You get the picture. What I do is to place the cups on a hard surface and mold the fabric around them, pinning carefully, and smoothing the fabric out around the cup. Once I get one in, then I measure the location, mark for the second side and pin that one in.
The cups are then basted in and then catch-stitched in by hand, resulting in this:
Overall, it was some good progress. Well it was until I tried it on. This is a good point in garment construction to try on the bodice. This is the underlining and any changes will not show - or a new one can be cut out if things are really wrong. Ripping stitching out of satin or silk doesn't work well, you're almost guaranteed to be left with a mark. So, I basted in a fitting zipper and put it on. It was too tight. I could get it zipped, but you should have seen the horizontal ripples. I must have gotten over-zealous and folded out too much on the pattern pieces. It was the back and the waist area that was too small, so out came 4 boning channels and seams. I re-seamed and tried on twice and the problem is now fixed. I think one of the cups might be a bit off, too, so I'm going to do some very careful measuring and see if I can get that fixed. This whole refitting thing was not what I planned, but I'm glad I can fix it before I sew up the satin and have a mistake so bad that I have to recut the entire bodice.
Next week, I think I'll be able to construct the outer bodice and lining. I need to try on the foundation one more time in a few days and evaluate the fit before I do any stitching on the outer bodice or lining.
Parting Shot: New Patterns! I went fabric shopping Manchester today, and Martin's House of Cloth sells the discontinued patterns for 25 cent each. I usually pick up 4 or 5 everytime I go. You have to sort through what's available, but for the price it's worth it. I got a Vogue casual pants pattern, a Burda coat pattern that will make a nice dressy coat for my son next winter, another pattern for my daughter, and two of the larger envelope Vogue patterns, a Guy Laroche, I've liked the pattern for a while, but just never bought it, and I couldn't leave the Koos pattern behind. I couldn't leave the Koos behind not only because of the price, but also because I very curious as to the construction methods as it is a labeled as a "couture" pattern.