Thursday, December 30, 2010

Simplicity 4109

I finally finished quilting a little pinwheel quilt for the kids which I'd started last spring using a jelly roll of the Make Life fabric line. The pattern is from Jelly Roll Quilts. Not too tricky but I did have some problems with the squares stretching on the bias. Here it is on our sofa:

pinwheel quilt for the kids

The backing is a little cowkids fabric that I thought semi-matched the colors:
quilt back

And I've been working on a little jacket that I've had in my patterns-to-sew pile for a very long time. This is Simplicity 4109:

Despite the fact that it's an unlined coat I decided to fuse the body with hair canvas and underline my wool with flannel, since I was using a very, very soft and floppy wool.

I ran up to the garment district yesterday, to Pacific Trim, to pick up some fusible hair canvas, but it turns out that I should have purchased it from instead. At Pacific Trim I paid $12/yard, while the price was just under $9/yard. Well, now I know to plan ahead for it!

This is how I cut my hair canvas.... if you know anything at all about tailoring, you'll likely want to avert your eyes and run away screaming. ;)

I use a marker to trace the pattern piece onto the non-fusible side, and then pull out my rotary cutter. I use the guide arm, which usually is used to ADD seam allowances, to subtract the SA as I cut out.

hair canvas

You can see the rotary cutter arm here:

hair canvas

So when it's fused, you end up with:

I've got the body mostly complete. My topstitching went a bit wonky around the pockets - which are an AWESOME design feature, by the way! I love them. You topstich down a panel on the front and end up with both pockets to slide your hands into and a little flap top pocket at the top. So ingenious!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sewn with Love dress

Given that we've been rather snowed in the last few days, I had some time to make up a project from one of my sewing books. The sailor has been taking the subaru to work, since Jersey City has yet to see fit to plow our street yet (Seriously! Snow is still knee deep out there!) which leaves me at home with the choices of (a) walk places through uncleared sidewalks, (b) risk some highly non-functional public transportation options or (c) stay home and sew. What would you do? ;)

I've just about completed a dress from the Sewn With Love book, it's just lacking buttons and buttonholes. This dress had some really cute details like a back button band, but I had a few frustrations with it as well. First, they blithely tell you to gather and insert the fashion fabric skirt + a tulle skirt + the lining skirt, all of which have many many many many gathers, in one go. Um... yeah. I ended up zigzagging the tulle to the lining skirt (I wanted the scratchy tulle edging to be hidden away from sensitive kid skin, anyway). Then I stitched down some stay tape on the bodice and inserted the skirt and lining.


In addition, all the patterns are on CD so you have to print pages and tape them together. Which would be OK, but they make you do that for the fashion fabric skirt pattern piece, and another pattern piece for the lining skirt. Which, again, would be OK if they also just listed the dimensions somewhere for those of us who would rather cut two rectangles to size using rulers than tape together 35 sheets of paper just to cut out two different sized rectangles.


In all, it's kind of a cute dress in the end. The fabric is a cotton lawn from Mood which I bought a few months ago with the idea of a full skirted party dress for Kate. And you can see I sneaked in a decorative stitch at the bottom of the skirt lining!

And here's a little Christmas photo catch-up of three projects that I never took pictures of earlier. First up, a flannel nightgown that I made for my mom... she asked for a v-neckline, so I tweaked the yoke and finished the neck edge with a bias strip, otherwise it's the same ancient Butterick pattern that I always use.



A little quilted table runner I made for our tiny table
table runner

And some Christmas pillows for the bed :-)
Christmas pillows

Very comfy to lean against as I relax, do nothing, and watch the gorgeous sunsets we've been having!


Happy new years!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

kate & ana
Originally uploaded by wck

Happy Holidays!

Best of luck all those traveling today- we are apparently getting snow here this evening, which has the kids VERY excited! I wouldn't mind a bit of the white stuff as well. :-)

I received some fantastic sewing books this year, so I'll be happily tucked away under a quilt reading through them the rest of the day.

From my best friend, who knows me FAR TOO WELL. I bought him some wood working books for his woodshop, and he bought me this.

All Dolled Up: Sewing Clothes and Accessories for Girls and Their 18-Inch Dolls

A great techniques reference book! At first glance, the diagrams don't seem quite as clear as other books, but it covers a lot of ground.

The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques

This one is my favorite- it has some absolutely gorgeous dresses inside! I'm really dying to make the silk chiffon dress and the pintuck dress.

Sewn With Love: Classic Patterns for Children's Clothes and Accessories

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Why yes, it is Christmas Eve and I am finishing quilts!

And you'll remember that I made my two nieces each a fancy winter coat from BWOF. They wore them recently to see the nutcracker. Here they are in their coats with their mother:

Kate & Ana

Well, their american girl dolls will be receiving matching coats for Christmas this year since I had enough scraps left over.

The sailor and I just got back from dropping off a big dinner for the guys standing watch on his ship and now I'm back to the sewing machine! Happy sewing and merry christmas to all the other last minute finishers here! ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


All I want for Christmas is to never see another roll of gold braid again!

My sailor realized last week that he had no jackets with his Lieutenant (LT) stripes on them, and asked me if I would please, please upgrade his Lieutenant Junior Grade (LT JG) jacket. Silly me, I said "How hard can it be?" Ha! A LT JG has one thick gold stripe on the sleeve, then one thin gold stripe. Above that is a gold crest. A LT has two thick gold stripes.

This picture is actually a cadet jacket sleeve (I think), which has just one tiny stripe on it. The LT jacket is in use today, but this one was in the closet here.


Well, if you are ever asked to do this work, this is what it entails:

1. remove the old thin stripe- the ends are secured in the under arm seam, so you have to open that
2. remove the gold shield
3. open the stitching holding the sleeve lining to the sleeve at the wrist
4. carefully measure one fourth of an inch above the bottom stripe and pin the new thick stripe in place
5. stitch it down
6. hand sew the shield back on
7. hand sew the under arm seam again, making sure to enclose the ends of the braid. This is actually my least favorite part, and showed me that I need to work on my couture hand stitching, specifically the nice even ladder stitching that's best for this.
8. hand sew the sleeve lining to the sleeve again

I did it all while watching Top Gun on the DVD player last night. Hey, if you're going to be sitting on a sofa surrounded by gold braid, you might as well revel in it! The one good thing that I see coming out of this is that for the first time ever I could look at the uniforms in the movie and tell from the striping on their uniforms what rank the actors were playing. ;) The Sailor & I have been together for ages, but coming from the communistic dot-com world, I tended not to pay a whole lot of attention to what ranks had what gold stripes on, until I was forcibly introduced to it via a few hours of hand sewing. ;) I can now spot a LT from across the room!

(this is my sailor on his bridge during a public affairs tour of the NYC harbor- wearing ODUs instead of fancy gold trimmed jackets (; )

dan on his bridge

You know what's coming this spring? That's right, he becomes a LT Commander (Lt Cmdr)... which is three gold stripes. Oh boy. I'm tempted to tell him to send the jackets to a military tailor, but that is really expensive. I have trouble justifying spending that much when I can do it, although now I rather see why it costs so much with all the hand sewing and precision.

In more exciting news, I'm still cranking away on Christmas present sewing, and there will be photos of those soon!

Happy Holidays, and good luck on the tail end of your holiday sewing!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A concert skirt

First off, I had a question about where I had gotten the fusible hair canvas for my sister's coat. It's from, Fusible Hair Canvas. I'm sure you could get some from the garment district, but this was handy and not too expensive.

burda world of fashion sept 2009 Next, Kate has her school's holiday concert coming up and needed a floor length black skirt for it. My sister couldn't find one in the stores so I whipped out BWOF Sept 2009 (the one that had Ana's coat pattern in it) because I remembered a long kids skirt in it. Indeed - and it has a really pretty flare shape to it. It's shaped with darts and has a center and back seam with a back invisible zip, so it's a very schmancy skirt for a little girl.

BWOF 2009-09-145

I cut a size 128, sewed the darts, and basted up all the seams, then tried it on the munchkin. Guess what? It fit perfectly! Dear BWOF, I love your fit. :-D

Here is the skirt on a hanger:

She was very excited to try it on, and pulled out her violin to show me how it will look when she plays in the school concert, since I won't be able to attend.

Kate playing violin

Kate playing violin

Concert practice

I'm glad I never throw out my old BWOFs, you never know when your sister will ask for something crazy like a floor length black skirt for a small kid! Of course, now I'm likely going to making concert wear for the kid for years, but that is a decent tradeoff for a private violin concert in front of the christmas tree on a December afternoon. :-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Burda 8292

We had a very Christmas-y day today, baking gluten-free christmas cookies and.... watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Twice. ;) Kate had never seen it before and I'm afraid that my sister is now going to shoot me because Kate LOVED it. She's seven, which is pretty much the target audience for that movie!

"Don't bother me, I'm busy watching the squirrel scene!!"

Gluten Free cookies!

I also did a whole bunch of work on my sister's coat. I'm using Burda envelope pattern 8292. The fusible hair canvas worked really nicely for interfacing the top- I block fused the entire top of the coat with it and gave the coat a nice heft. Then I interlined all the pieces with flannel. It took a couple hours to get to the point of constructing the body what with cutting each piece out of the wool flannel + hair canvas + flannel interlining + ambiance lining. This is what our entry way looked like all afternoon:


Here's the inside. You're looking at the flannel interlining, machine basted to the wool flannel fashion fabric.

coat innards

And here we have the outside constructed. My sister tried it on, and other than the pockets being a bit low, it looked pretty good on her.

burda 8292

And finally, my mom noticed that there was a bride in the NYT Wedding section this weekend with a short sleeved empire waist gown made by her grandmother. We were very excited because we rarely see this style in the real world- her dress looks beautiful & it made me think hard about using lace for mine.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BWOF Coat 09-2009-146

I've been a bit quiet around here recently because I just lost my grandma. We were very close when I was growing up since she only lived a few miles from my parents house on a huge farm, and my sister and I would go over there all day every day when I was growing up. I learned how to drive out in the apple orchard, went swimming, and played baseball out in the back field. And talked and talked to my grandma since she was a pretty cool lady. Here we are on the front steps a few years ago:

with my grandma

In happier news, Ana was very jealous of her sister's new wool coat and asked me if I couldn't make her one. My dad is taking all of us to see The Nutcracker ballet in two weeks so I promised her a new coat to wear to it. I picked BWOF 09-2009-149 because of the beautiful flare shape:

bwof 09-2009-146

The fabric is a stretch black wool flannel from which I seem to recall being from the Vera Wang Lavender collection. I interfaced with a light non-woven interfacing from Pacific Trims that was labeled as a shirt interfacing. To control the stretch and give it a bit of structure, I blockfused the pieces, which is very easy to do using BWOF patterns. I always trace the pattern and then add the seam allowances with a rotary cutter arm which means that it's easy to cut the interfacing without adding seam allowances and fuse them to the fabric without getting super bulky seams.

interfaced coat

So here we are so far- it needs trim and buttonholes.

bwof 09-2009-146

black wool coat for ana

The coat is lined in a tan ambiance lining which of course, as always, drove me NUTS. It slides, it wiggles, it refuses to sit properly to be cut, even doing a flat insertion of sleeves makes you pull your hair out, and it's all around a huge pain. ARGH! ;) The buttons are little silver ones from JoAnns, and I want to add some pink trim to it so that it's not quite so severe looking.

But there we go, a mostly finished coat for my teensy niece.

Up next - a coat for my sister in a really pretty pink wool. I ordered some fusible hair canvas from to interface this one, which could be interesting. (Yes, can you tell that coats are my favorite thing to sew these days?? (; )