Thursday, September 27, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XV

Progress Update

I'm still working on the vines and hope to have them all appliqued by the end of the weekend. Progress at this point is both slow and fast. It's slow because this is all done by hand, but fast because it is progressing faster than I thought. Next week I am fully going to concentrate on Midnight Garden and not work on any other sewing projects. Even though I have a list a mile long of other projects, and the new BWOF arriving any day to tempt me, I really need to concentrate on MG.

Here are the vines so far. In the top photo you can see the I've got the back done and almost one of the fronts. The second photo shows a close up of the vines and how they are intertwined at the intersections.

After the vines are complete, the leaves will be attached and then I will work on the flowers, leaves and crickets. Watch next week for posts on how those components are made.

Tomorrow I should be able to give you an update on the coat - I hope to get the clasps by the weekend so I can finish up the coat!

Q/A: I had an anonymous request for the pattern envelope picture from the pattern details post from yesterday. Here are the pictures that I previously posted last Wednesday and yesterday. I probably should have included them with yesterday's post, too! I just got caught up in all the interesting details about the pattern. Sorry about that!

Parting Shot: My latest vintage pattern from eBay! This is not only the pattern, but old fabric samples and a magazine page featuring the pattern. Everything is in fabulous condition. This pattern and magazine ad says "design by Helen Rose for Jane Powell in MGM's "Nancy Goes to Rio", which was released in 1950. The skirt is gorgeous, and I'm thinking of making both the jacket and skirt. The jacket in red and the skirt in a Prince of Wales plaid, like this one from Fabric Mart (it's the 8th fabric on the page in black/white/red).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Midnight Garden - Skirt - Introduction

So far, all you've seen is the jacket, and really, just various pieces of the jacket. Today we'll take a quick peek at the skirt. By the end of next week, I hope to have the dupionni side quilted.

The skirt is a straight skirt with darts, a side zipper and a deep pleat at side back that runs the full length of the skirt (see photo below). It also has a waistband, but I didn't put it on the muslin yet, knowing there would be some changes.

Actually, it's a pretty simple skirt. It does need one design change and that is the closure. The fact is that zippers and reversible garments don't always play nice; sometimes, but not always. My plan is to use that back pleat area to make a wrap style skirt that crosses over in the back and closes with buttons and loops. This will preserve the purpose of the pleat and solve the closure problem all at once.

You can see above that I've removed the pleat, cut off all of the left half of back including most of the pleat and turned under the edge. I then cut a second back omitting the pleat - the new left back - to mirror image the right back. I removed the zipper and stitched the left back to the front at the side seam.

The only other major change is the length - it is way too long! I'll have to remove about 6 inches or so from the hem.

Q/A: Mimi commented, "Your closets must be stuffed to the brim!!!! What do you do when you fall out of love with something you've made? " Well, the truth is my closet isn't stuffed. I am pretty ruthless about what is kept is what isn't. I have a rule that if I didn't wear it the previous year, I probably won't this year and don't need to keep it. The other fact is that most of my work wardrobe was made four years ago, when I went back to teaching full time. Since then, my personal style has developed further and I know what works for me (pockets are a must!) and what doesn't regarding my job and personal taste. I did a major wardrobe clean out this summer and had to make some clothes! That explains why I've made myself quite a few things recently. That said, when an item isn't doing it for me anymore or just turns out to be wrong for me and I decide to get rid of it, I always give it away to someone I know will use it or donate it to charity. If the item is past it's prime, I salvage what I can (buttons, zippers, etc.) and then pitch it.

Parting Shot: I got my "free" Vogue pattern! I still had to pay shipping, but the $3 shipping is still cheaper than buying it on sale at Jo-ann's. You know I had to get the latest wedding dress, #2979! Not that I need a wedding dress, but in a shorter length with the right fabrics it could make a lovely dressy winter dress. I'm seeing the long sleeve version in a much shorter length made in satin and velvet!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XIII

Placing and Attaching the Vines

Placement of applique elements is critical to the final outcome of the project. The first layer of motifs is the most important, as the placement of all the other motifs will be either in place or out of place as a group due to those first motifs. For this project, the vines must line up properly with the center back, the side seams and the waistline. While rest of the flowers and leaves will be placed randomly except for the lilies, the vine must be equidistant from the final edge of the fabric.

The first step in getting the placement correct is to baste the center back line, cutting lines, stitching lines and the waist line on the front - these are important points where the vines cross. I've basted in yellow in order to be able to see the lines.

The next step is to get the vines into the proper curves. I use the artwork, tracing paper and a tracing wheel to trace the vines onto the garment.

After pinning the bias tubes to the garment, I double check their position from the edge with ruler.

Once the vines are in the proper place, they are stitched into place using a fell stitch. I've done a post before with pictorial on fell stitches and slip stitches. This is probably the last you'll see of this stage until I get all the vines in place. We'll then take a look at the making of the leaves and flowers and their placement. Meanwhile, we might take a peek at the skirt and what's going on with that portion of the ensemble.

Q/A: This one is about little Kiwi from Carolyndh: "Did this cat find the Banks' home somehow? You indicated that this is a feral cat. Did someone else previously own it but it spent some time in the wild?" We got the kitten from a coworker of my husband's. My husband mentioned we were going to get a new cat, and his friend and wife were in the process of trying to rescue a feral cat family and get them into good homes. Kiwi was one of those kittens. She still has feral tendencies but is coming around!

Parting Shot: I got flowers today at school! The occasion? My birthday. My husband sent me the flowers. Our coordinator was very confused, because he bought me flowers today, too. They were for destined for dissection in Biology class, though!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XII

Making the Vines

First, thank you sewing fashionistas for all the compliments on the bright blue top! I was feeling a bit odd about the color choice, since it's one I haven't worn since the late 80's/early 90's, but you've made me feel better about it!

I'm almost ready to begin the hand appliquéing, with just a few more seam's worth of threads to pull through and tie off. Right now I'm concentrating on getting all the components ready for the hand appliqué: vines, leaves and flowers. The appliqué must be done in layers, with the motifs on the bottom being done first. In the artwork that I'm working with for this project, that bottom layers is the vines. Let's look at how the vines are made.

I start by cutting bias strips. I use bias strips because they are easily molded around curves with a little bit of heat and steam. I cut them with a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. I cut the strips twice the finished width of the strip, plus and additional 1/4" for the 1/8" seam allowances.

In the photo below, you can see a little trick I use when cutting bias strips. If I want to cut more strips at a later time, I pin all the cut edges together. I can then come back to cutting out strips at any time - it could be weeks later - and I won't have to realign all the cut edges. This is especially useful for really slippery fabrics.

Once the strips are cut, they are stitched to form a tube. For this application, the strips are stitched *wrong* sides together. Since both sides of the strips are sewn down when appliquéing, the seam allowance is hidden.

After stitching, the strips must be pressed so that the seam allowances are on the back. Pressing bars are ideal for this sort of thing. They come in sets of 4 or 5 in varying widths and are usually found with the quilting notions. The set I have, shown below, can be used to press strips from 1/8" to 5/8".

The press bar is inserted into the tube, with the seam on one of the flat sides and then the tube is pressed.

You can see how the tubes look once pressed in the photo below. The back with the seam allowance is at the top of the picture and the front is at the bottom of the photo.

Once the bias strips are ready, they are then pre-shaped in the proper curved shaped. I use the artwork as a guideline along with some heat and steam from the iron to prepare the strips for pinning and permanent stitching on the garment.

Q/A: After seeing me in the burgundy vintage shirt dress, Marty asked, "Are you a winter color on the color wheel?". Yes, I am. While I can wear a wide range of colors, I generally stick to smaller palette that I feel comfortable with (including red, of course!). The blue top is a good example of this - it's a good color for me, but not one I'd immediately chose to wear.

Parting Shot: My MIL left me this hat box yesterday with a note saying it was destined for the trash and I could have it if I wanted it. It doesn't have a hat, but it will be cool to take to a show with a hat, gloves and other accessories in it!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XI

Still Quilting!

It's been a while since I've given you an update on Midnight Garden. That doesn't mean I haven't been working on it. It just means that I'm doing the same stuff I've already showed you, just more of it. Here's the progress on quilting the jacket so far:

The front you see above only has the lines in one direction completed and I haven't started the other front. The back of course, is all complete. You'll notice that I have not cut the opening for the back peplum yet. I will do that closer to the time I intend to sew it in. I should have all of the body done by tomorrow afternoon, which leaves just the sleeves. They will be quilted this week, but not attached until later in the construction process.

The next thing I need to do is to prepare all the components for the hand applique: the vines, leaves, little flowers and lily parts. Next week I'll show you how I make all those pieces, starting with the vines. I need to start with the vines since they're "on the bottom" or for the most part underneath all the other flowers.

Q/A: This one was from a while ago, but I wanted to post the answer on a MG post rather than on another random post. Vicki wanted to know: "When I made Ellen's bustier, I quilted the whole fabric and then cut out. Wouldn't that be easier? Maybe not with more fabric to quilt." (BTW, Ellen's dress was beautiful, take a look!) Well, Vicki, I think you're on to me - you've pretty much answered your own question! It would be easier with only a small amount of yardage to quilt, such as the yard or so you'd need for a strapless bodice. For this project, we're talking 5 yards of one fabric alone, and I haven't decided about the other 5 yards! It would be absolutely nuts to do that on a domestic machine. I'm not *that* nuts. Yet.

Parting Shot: Kitty hammock! We've moved Kiwi into a temporary condo (read: two level cage) from our bathroom and we thought it would be a good idea to make her a hammock. The purpose of the cage is to allow her and the other kitties to get used to each other without anyone getting hurt. With an upholstery fabric remnant of less than $1.00 and a little machine time, I think it's going to work.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part X

Matching Quilting Lines

Thank you all for the congratulations on Waiting For Spring! Many of you have been so encouraging while I was making it, so I owe you all a big thank you!

Many people ask me how I get my quilting to match perfectly at seam lines. Today, I'll show you how. It is important to realize before you begin that not every seam in every garment will match. You can match up most of them, but there comes a time when it's not going to happen. Be open to that idea and match up as many as possible and let the rest go. (This same principle applies to stripes and plaids, which you know I'm very fond of.) For instance, you might be able to match side seams, but not shoulder seams. Princess seams are another story. You'll probably be able to match the bottom portion below the shaping curve, but that's it. This garment happens to have princess seams, so it's a good example.

Just so you know, I had to take apart the jacket center back/side backs unit that I had posted a picture of a few days ago. This is a good example of a project in which constructing the entire back (or front) unit doesn't work. I should have known better, but tried it anyway. I didn't like the result, so I went back and used my tried and true method, which you'll see below. If pieces do not have a lot of shaping, then constructing whole units will work. If they do have a lot of shaping, such as princess seams, it definitely pays in the look of the final piece to use the following method.

While we're talking about major goofs, this post almost didn't happen today. I went to attach the other side back to the back and noticed that the neck darts on the center back were misaligned with the quilting diamonds. The right dart was off by 1/4". The darts were stitched in before the quilting and were slashed so that they'd open up flat on the wrong side. So, you know what that means. I had to start the back over from scratch. Ugh. Next time I'll pay better attention to the quilting lines and placement of previous stitched seams. I hope to be able to use some of that already quilted fabric for the hat or purse.

Here's what I do to get those seams matched up:

First, I quilt the largest piece, usually this is the back or center back piece, lining up the diamonds or lines with the center back:

I then place the pattern piece back onto the quilted piece and trace around the edges. This is to make sure the piece hasn't shrunk from the quilting. The entire line is then stay stitched and all the extra beyond the stay stitching is trimmed off. This locks down all the quilting lines and gets rid of all the threads ends, etc. that look messy. The piece above has already been stay stitched and trimmed.

[Editor's Note: I had no idea how hard this color would be to photograph! I apologize for the varying quality of the photos. Please bear with me while I find the best lighting for photographing this fabric!]

Next, I trim only the joining seam of the adjacent piece to the exact pattern cutting line. Notice that the adjacent piece is not quilted yet. I then stitch the two pieces together and press.

I then mark all of the lines on the new piece, matching them up with the previous piece in mirror image fashion. This is where the law of reflection comes in for those science geeks among you. Simply put, the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection, or the incoming angle (60 degrees) must equal the outgoing angle (60 degrees). You can see this in the close up photo below; the red pencil indicates the incoming or previously stitched line and the white pencil marks indicate the new line to be stitched.

Because this is a princess seam, I know that I'll only be able to match the quilting lines from about the waist down. I mark all the lines that must line up at the seam line first, then I measure and add in all the remaining lines in the portion of the piece that's not going to match. I also have to be mindful of the grainline of the fabric on the new piece. It is sort of a mess, but I do know which lines are the ones to stitch!

Then, I quilt all the lines in one direction and all the lines in the other direction.

Lastly all the loose ends at the seam line will need to be pulled to the wrong side and tied off in preparation for the stay stitching/trimming process. This can be tedious, but is well worth the effort. This is the kind of stuff I do on the bus or on the rare occasion that I watch TV. This is what I probably do tonight while catching up on Dr. Who episodes and thinking of ways to protect my vintage Burda from whoever is planning on stealing it! BTW, that's not a stain in the first picture below, it's water to remove the quilting lines I penciled in.

Q/A: Vicki wanted to know if I cut the pieces to be quilted larger than the pattern tissue to accommodate the quilting. Yes, I do, about and 1" larger all around for this style of quilting. The principle here is that the more stitching you add to a piece the more it shrinks. For denser quilting, I'd add two or three extra inches all around.

Regarding that vintage Burda, Anne Frances mentioned that the advertisement with the woman ironing the petticoat might be for a starch or a stiffener of some sort. After taking a second look at it, it seems like is - there's a picture of a bottle of the product, and since the little girl obviously has a petticoat on under that dress, it makes perfect sense. She also said that UHU mostly manufactures adhesives and it's not too far of a stretch that they might have once made a product for stiffening petticoats.

Parting Shot: My design wall is coming in handy, even if not for the original purpose. I made it back when I made flat quilts (haven't made a bed style quilt in years!). It's just a wooden frame with a queen-sized batting stapled to it and then attached to the wall with L-brackets. It makes a good back drop for photo shoots, and more recently has become a bulletin board of sorts for Midnight Garden. I can pin large flat artwork or pattern pieces to it and not have to find a space to store them elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part IX

In which I actually begin stitching!

So it's been 8 posts for the jacket alone, plus the introductory posts and you've yet to see me do any sewing or stitching on this project. Well, today is the day. I actually got the quilting started on the dupioni side. I'll show you the preparation process and some of the progress today.

"Now wait a minute!" I hear you, those of you who know anything about quilting. "What about the applique?" In quilting, it is traditional to piece, applique, whatever and *then* do the quilting. Right. This is me, though, and you know that I might do things differently. In this case, I've decided to quilt first, applique later. Why? Well because of all of the threads that must be tied off at every start and stop of the quilting lines. With the intricate applique planned, that's a lot of stops and starts and hours of tying off threads. I could save a lot of time quilting first and appliqueing right over it.

For this project I am using Hobbs' Silk Batting and Superior Glitter thread in (what other color?) Midnight.

Before any cutting takes places, I had to do an experiment to see how much batting I wanted to use. This type of batting can be peeled into two thinner layers if one is very careful, thus reducing bulk. I wasn't sure how this batting would behave as I've never used it, and didn't want the final product to be too drapey or too stiff. To make a long story short, I decided to use a half thickness of the batting instead of using it as packaged. I'm showing you the picture because this is the best picture I have so far of the navy color, and it still is a bit purple. You can also get an idea of what the quilting will look like with the glittery thread and the 60 degree diamonds.

Below you can see the batting being peeled apart into two layers. This also saves batting because I only have to cut each piece once, rather than twice.

Once the fashion fabric, batting and backing fabric is layered, then it's time to put in any darts and seams that need to be sewn before the quilting the entire section. There are no hard and fast rules as to how much construction should be done before the quilting begins. I prefer to at least work in units of fronts, backs and sleeves, matching the quilting on the major seams, such as side seams. I'll show you how I do that in a later post. At any rate, I had to thread trace the darts because from the wrong side you can't see any markings. Tulle and quilt batting don't mark too well anyway.

Once the piece is constructed, the beginning quilting lines are marked. I generally try to line up motifs with the center of the piece when beginning a project, so I marked the center back on the pieces below. I then mark the first three rows of stitching only, using a protractor to get the angle of the lines exact. After I stitch those rows, I'll use the quilting bar on my machine to keep the rows straight and equidistant from each other.

Once I get all the rows stitched in one direction, I'll go back and mark the first three rows in the other direction and stitch those, completing all the diamonds.

Here's a sneak peak at the first few rows:

Q/A: Vicki wanted know what happened to the crickets. She didn't see them in the latest version of the artwork, and asked about them. First, congrats to Vicki and her very sharp eye! I am still going to include them but I am going to place them randomly through both sides of the ensemble and in the accessories. I don't have a specific places for them at the moment unlike the flowers and leaves. You can see them below, reduced on the photocopier. I'm not sure what size is best, yet. Do keep an eye out for them in the future!

Parting Shot: Guess what we saw in the front yard this morning? I've seen the fawn before, but haven't seen the mother. Maybe something happened to the mother.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part VIII

Fabric and Artwork

I got the navy silk in the mail yesterday from the Silk Baron. It's a bit darker than the photo and does not have a purple cast to it.

I bought the tulle this morning for the quilting and some fabric for a skirt muslin. In the next fews days I'll get going on quilting the jacket. For this ensemble, I've chosen to quilt 60 degree diamonds with a twin needle. This is sort of a sneak peak at how it will look:

Meanwhile, I haven't started the applique work yet because I felt the artwork wasn't quite right. It was lacking something, and was feeling a bit too repetitious with just the one flower. I added a lily to the the main grouping of flowers. The front and back can be seen below, as they are now. These may change as I actually start the applique process. When I can see the flowers on the fabric and the true spacing, it might yet change again.

Q/A: There are two Q/A today, I don't want these to get lost in the inbox, so I decided it would be best to answer them today.

After seeing the post on the stamps, Vicki wanted to know, "What is embossing?"

It is a method of using rubber stamps to make a image on velvet. You know how velvet can be easily marred by the iron if you're not careful? This is the same thing, except that you're purposely putting images on the velvet by means of a rubber stamp and a hot iron. I will do a detailed post in the future, once I have the velvet.

Isabelle wanted to know, "Do you come up with such techniques by yourself, or do you read about them somewhere, or - both, perhaps?"

Mostly I read about them, do a test sample to see if I like it and then store the idea away until the right project comes along. Over the years, I've tried many things and now have quite a range of embellishment/fabric manipulations to chose from. I like Quilting Arts magazine a lot for surface technique ideas. The main focus of that magazine is art quilts, but there's no reason why a technique couldn't translate into the right wearable art project. I do work on my own techniques from time to time, but haven't posted anything about them. Maybe in the future I will.

Parting Shot: My daughter and her prize. She had the closest guess to the correct number of M&M's in the container, so she won the whole thing at a birthday party she went to today. There are 364 in the container - that means she can have one a day for the next year. Yeah, right.