Monday, January 21, 2008

Midnight Garden Postcard Winners!

Here I am picking the winners this morning:

The two winners are :

Kathleen C. and Vivian Love!

Congratulations! Thank you all for participating - I really wish I had a postcard for everyone, but that's just not possible right now! Kathleen and Vivian, please email me at: sbanks "at" metrocast "dot" net with your mailing address and I will get the postcards into the mail this week!

Q/A: Lisa wanted to know how the postcards are made. They are very easy to make and are the perfect size for trying out new techniques.

First, you'll need two rectangles of fabric, one for the front and one for the back and a rectangle of Timtex, Fast 2 Fuse or other stiff stabilizer. The postcard finished size is 4" x 6". If I am going to serge the edges, I cut the pieces 1/4" larger on all four sides (4 1/2" x 6 1/2"). If I am going to satin stitch around the edges, I cut the pieces the exact size.

Embellish the front anyway you'd like, remembering that embellishments too close to the edge may not be easy to manipulate through the sewing machine.

Bond the front and back to the stabilizer. Some stabilizers are fusible already, but you can also use any sort of bonding product to keep the layers together.

Finish the edges, either with a serger or with a satin stitch on the regular sewing machine. For these cards, I finished the edges with the serger because of the two different types of fabric and because I wanted to try it out. (You'll notice that the crickets aren't on the cards yet - they would have been in the way of the serger, so I stitched them on last.)

Lastly, sign or address the card. A purchased postcard back stamp can be used for the backs or you can print mailing labels for the cards. As long as the embellishments are not too delicate or too dimensional, the cards can be mailed right through the postal system as is, with proper postage, of course. These I will actually mail in envelopes to protect the fabrics, beads and crickets, so I only signed the backs.

Parting Shot: Hat Box. Here's a close-up of the hat box. It's not extremely old, but I like it. It was part of a gift from my husband's aunt.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Midnight Garden - Special Post

A Blog Give Away!


I mentioned earlier in the week that I'd have a special announcement regarding Midnight Garden at the end of the week. This is also where some of the original crickets went. Here it is:

There are two limited edition Midnight Garden postcards up for a give away!

I will be doing a drawing on Monday by picking two lucky winner's names out of a vintage hat box. If you want to be included in the drawing, please let me know in the comments. I realize that some of you post anonymously, so initials or aliases are fine. I'll post the winner's names Monday, along with my e-mail address and you can contact me with your addresses for shipping.

Parting Shot: Vintage Purse! The navy purse with silver hardware came today!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Midnight Garden - Photo Shoot and Final Thoughts

Here it is, front and back:

Does this make my butt look big?

Just kidding! I suppose it does, but it does make the waist look smaller! Hindsight, (no pun intended!) the inset could have been a *bit* smaller.

Here's the front close-up, and the cricket, too:

Blouse button detail:

I do feel a bit sorry for anyone else who models this and has to do all those buttons! I do like the way they look, though.

Here's the jewelry make of blue glass pearls and crystal silver-lined beads:

My first thought when putting on the necklace was, "Hmm. Looks like I'm wearing a string of blueberries. I hope I don't get hungry at a show." I might redo the necklace at some point, but I do want to keep it simple. The jewelry needs to compliment the ensemble, not steal the show.

Last, but not least, a few random shots from the photo shoot. These are my favorites of the day, and I did put a few in black and white for fun. My daughter took these, while most of the ones above were taken by my son.

You know, most of the time, I am *so glad* to finish an ensemble. It really can be a consuming, grueling process and there are times I'd just like to be rid of certain projects. I don't feel that way somehow with MG. I'm actually a bit sad to see it end. I can't figure out why, though. I am looking forward to Forget Me Knot!

What did I learn with this ensemble?
  • Keep working and reworking ideas until they become what you've envisioned.
  • Something is just right when it makes me smile.
  • Things that go wrong or get ruined are opportunities to make something better
  • Always pay attention to even the smallest of comments from friends. I never would have gone back and done the extra quilting had it not been for a comment from VickiW (bet you didn't know that, Vicki!) nor would the crickets have become what they are if not for Anne Stevens.
By the way, I do have one more special announcement regarding Midnight Garden, later in the week!

Q/A: Carolyn wanted to know, "How do you store your finished "show" pieces? Do you store the accessories with the piece? And how many of these have you made?" Well, I have a "few" of these, just like you have a "few" pieces of fabric (well, maybe not as many as your pieces of fabric, Carolyn!). I store them in one end of my closet at the end of my studio, usually in garment bags. Not all the garments are in all the time - there's almost always something out at a show. (In fact, American Beauty and Waiting for Spring will be showing in the Road to California Show next week, Jan. 17-20 If you're in the Ontario, CA area, go check out the show.) All the accessories are stored on the shelf above, with the proper jewelry and gloves stored in the corresponding shoe box with the shoes. I do have extra vintage hats and gloves stored up there, too in the hat box and large black box.

Parting Shot: Back to the Winter Wonderland. There's my son, helping to shovel out the driveway ridge after the 6 to 8" of snow we got today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XXXIV

Final Details!


As promised here are the final details of the jacket. First, front and back (sorry about that wrinkled sleeve!):

I realize it is not much different that the last time you saw it, but I'm not sure that I published a picture of the back when I published a sneak preview. Can you spot the cricket? As I was putting the finishing touches on one day after the cricket was in place, both my son and daughter came into the studio at separate times were delighted when they spotted him among the flowers.

Here's a close-up of the cricket:

The embossed velvet cuffs, collar and peplum inset all have beaded trim.

The jacket is held closed by covered snaps; this one is covered in silver silk to match the area where it is stitched on, the others are blue of course, to match where they are stitched on.

The cuffs are held in place by tiny thread tacks in three places per cuff:

The lining is all complete as well:

Tomorrow I am planning on going to Concord to the bead shop and getting the supplies for the custom jewelry. I've been studying 1950's jewelry online, so I have a few good ideas of what I'm going to make. Once I see what beads and findings are available, I'll make a final decision.

That means the photo shoot of me actually wearing the ensemble will be sometime this weekend and possibly posted on Monday, plus my final thoughts on this project. I only lack the purse for accessories, but will do the photo shoot without it. The auction for the one I want doesn't close for another couple of days, add to that shipping time and it could be another couple of weeks for final photos. I've been looking for a vintage navy purse with silver colored hardware. It seems that most of the purses were made with gold-toned hardware. That doesn't work so well with all the silver and blue of the ensemble for me, so I've been patient and looking.

Parting Shot: Vintage Shoes! They finally came today! These vintage Neiman Marcus shoes are classic mid to late 50's shoes: pointy toes and heels.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XXXIII

Those Pesky Crickets!


Thank you for for the encouraging and lovely comments on the blouse, leopard top and skirt! It is wonderful to know people who put the same amount of effort into their own projects and who understand the value of what others do.

When I finally got around to putting the original machine embroidered crickets onto the jacket, I took a good look at the ones I had pinned on and decided that they weren't quite right for this project. I even tried enhancing them with beads, but to no avail. I had to start over with them. Never fear though, the machine embroidered ones might appear in special edition of this project - to be announced later.

The question then was, "How do I make the crickets so that they fit into their surroundings but be as elegant as I've envisioned?" Making a cricket elegant isn't easy. Fortunately, I had two good inspirations. First, was part of the letter that was sent to me by Anne when she sent me the postcards from the V&A. She mentioned that during her visit, there was a demonstration of hand embroidery that used a stabilizer to show the embroidery lines and was removed later. The second inspiration was Kenneth King's book, Designer Bead Embroidery, which shows various beaded insects along with flowers and other embellishments.

I decided to take my original artwork and make a beaded applique and then stitch the appliqués into place on the garments. Kenneth King's book also gives instructions for this type of bead work. Here's what I did:

To prepare for the beading, I traced my artwork onto a piece of Sulky Solvy stabilizer. It is clear and can be easily seen under the silver crystal organza that I used. It also dissolves in water. This is basically the same first step that I did when I embroidered them by machine. I also put the work in a hoop.

Once I stitched the cricket in beads, it was removed from the hoop and rinsed under water to remove the stabilizer. The stitching was basically made up as I went. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, and once I worked everything out on a test cricket, I kept making the cricket

Once dry, it was placed back into the hoop and glue was applied all around the edges of the beading on the back. Due to the small size, most of the back of the cricket ended up with glue on it. I used Jewel-It by Aleene's, but any white glue will do, except for the newer varieties that wash out with water.

After the glue was dry, I used very sharp scissors to cut out the cricket. The appliqué is now ready to be stitched into place using small stitches and matching thread.

Here's a finished appliqué, along with a ruler in inches so that you can see the actually scale of this insect:


Parting Shots: January Thaw! So much for all the snow we had over Christmas. It's been very warm this week - in the 40's and our snow is leaving! We can actually *see* the mailbox.

Publish Post

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Midnight Garden - Skirt - Part VI

Done, with Final Details


When you last saw the skirt, it needed a new waistband, a lining and finishing details. I'm happy to say that it all done! Here's the skirt, front and back:

Not terribly exciting, huh? Well, the exciting part is all the little details. Check out the replacement waistband made of embossed velvet with bead detail and beaded trim:


The back wrap skirt closes with two large skirt hook and eyes on the waistband and four sets of silk duppioni covered snaps:

The skirt has a label exactly like the blouse, plus a few extra flowers (the label is not shown in the photo below):


These are not the best photos of the cricket, but tomorrow I will show you close-ups and how I made this version of the crickets. The machine embroidered crickets weren't quite right, but I'm really pleased with this new version!

Parting Shot: A Box! Not just any box, but a kit put together by my brother in-law (who has quite a gift for woodworking) for my son. My BIL made all the pieces and then sent the pieces along with instructions to make the box to my son as a Christmas gift, complete with glue and tools. The box has a sliding lid which is painted with chalkboard paint. Out of all the gifts this Christmas, this was my favorite - extremely well thought out and clever.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Midnight Garden - Blouse - Part III

Done, with Final Details!


Here's the blouse, all finished. It doesn't look much different, except that it now has all the buttons and I've done the first round of ironing on it.

What you haven't seen yet are the labels. Here's what I'm doing with the labels for this project:

Yes, more flowers! After the first 72, what's a few more?

Q/A: I wasn't clear on yesterday post about the blouse, and Designdreamer quickly figured it out. Here's the glitch: "You lost me on the: ' I then placed the lining and fashion fabric right sides together at the opening and machine stitched them together' Wasn't the lining already pretty much attached to the inside? How did you get it to the outside?" Right. What happened was that I actually installed the placket, installed the loops, stitched the lining and fashion fabrics right sides together on the loops side, pulled the blouse right side out through the opening on the placket side (since it was still open at that point) and *then* felled stitched the placket side shut as the very last step. When I blogged about it, I stuck the fell stitching in with placket stuff because that I wanted to keep all the info about the placket together.

Carolyn left an answer in the comments regarding yesterday's Q/A on the fitting books, here it is in case you didn't see it: "I have both books but haven't done a side by side comparison of the techniques. So why do I own both books? Because each author gives you a different perspective on fitting and I find both books useful in different situations. " Thanks Carolyn, yes, another perspective is always useful!

Parting Shot: Pizza Night! Here's my son, helping to make pizzas. The kids really like picking out their own toppings and putting them on.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Midnight Garden - Blouse - Part II

The Button Loops and Placket


Because I couldn't find a zipper color that I was happy with, I ended up having to find another closure for the blouse. I decided on buttons and loops, but then had to add them to the already constructed blouse. It is easier if done at the outset, before the side seams are sewn, but weren't terribly difficult to add later.

The placket was needed so that there wouldn't be a gap between the loops and the opposite side seam and to provide a place to sew on the buttons. Most of the time, these plackets are rectangles of fabric sewn into the appropriate seam. Because my side seam is curved to fit the body, I chose to cut my rectangles on the bias so that I could shape the placket to the shape of the garment and body.

In many cases, one rectangle, double width can be cut and folded in half before stitching the short ends. I chose to make one side out of the fashion fabric and one side out of the lining. I stitched the rectangles right sides together on both short sides and one long side and turned the unit to the right side before stitching into place to the fashion fabric. Below you can see the placket stitched in place. After the hems were put in, I fell stitched the lining to the placket on the inside to finish the blouse.


To make the loops, I first made bias tubing. After cutting 1" bias strips, folding them in half and stretching while stitching 1/8" from the fold, I trimmed the seam allowance and turned them to the right side with the tube turner shown below. The tube were then wet with water, stretched again and pinned to dry. These steps are important as they prevent the loops from stretching later after repeated use. I certainly wouldn't want gaping button loops on a blouse!

While they were drying, I made a template for the button loop position. I traced the size and shape of the opening, and then started to play around with button position. Every garment will be different depending on the size of button, size of opening and how close you need the buttons to be. Don't forget too, that for a decorative effect, buttons can be clustered in groups of 2 or 3 with a space in between clusters. For the space I had, I decided on 12 evenly spaced buttons and loops:

After determining placement and length of loops, I stitched the loops directly to the paper, one side at a time. It is easier and more precise to sew one side of all the loops and then pin and sew the other side rather than pinning and sewing everything at once. This is a great tip I picked up from Shannon; check out her post on her loops for her beautiful Go With the Flow dress.

The paper with the loops attached is then trimmed and stitched into placed to the fashion fabric on the side opposite of the placket. The paper is removed, leaving just the loops. I then placed the lining and fashion fabric right sides together at the opening and machine stitched them together - this gave me added insurance that the loops wouldn't pull out and was just as easy as finishing by hand with fell stitches.

The blouse is done by this point, of course. Tomorrow I'll show you the finished blouse, and next week I'll show the finishing details for the skirt and jacket. I'm still trying to catch up on posts for the ensemble, plus I'm waiting for the accessories. I'm watching an auction for the purse that won't be over until next week and I still have to make the jewelry (next weekend!), but it is all coming together! Finally!

Q/A: I had a few questions from both Nancy K and Vicki regarding the fitting book I got for Christmas. They wanted to know if they actually should buy Fabulous Fit since they already own Palmer Pletsch and other similar books. Does anyone have both the Palmer Pletsch and Fabulous Fit and know if they compliment each other or are redundant? If you know, please leave the answer in the comments, as I'd like to know, too!

Parting Shot: Fabric Mart! I got my Fabric Mart order today! Leopard and plaid - both exactly what I wanted! Maybe I'll make that wrap top from the new BWOF from the leopard.