Sunday, January 30, 2011

Verona - (Hem + Buttons) = Done for Now

Sewing Workshop’s Verona Jacket:

Shell: Seaglass Green and Blue Silk Herringbone Suiting from FabricMart

Contrasting Collar and Pocket Bands: Latte Cotton Featherwale Corduroy from stash

Lining: Floral Poly “Silky” from JoAnn Fabrics

I am going to hold off on the buttons until I decide what I want to do for buttonholes. I'm leaving the hem open for the same reason, as I might need to get in between the shell and the lining, depending on what I end up doing. I feel like I want to do something “special”, but I don’t want to totally mess up what I’ve done so far.

This is also not something I can wear now with my recent weight gain. So it is part of the fall wardrobe I am sewing as I know I will be trimmed back to my preferred weight by then. As slowly as I sew, Fall is a good goal.

What I did:

Cut Size Medium of the long coat based on trying on samples at 2010 Puyallup Sew Expo prior to the weight gain. Subtracted 6 inches from the length.

I followed the pattern instructions exclusively until applying the facing to the lining. At the suggestion of Terry K, I visited and followed Martha’s process of clipping and joining the two pieces. I am not sure I would do this again with something as “free spirited” as the floral poly lining. While I could join and stitch the curves, there was enough distortion to the poly that I ended up with some bulges in the floral poly. I think with a more stable lining, it would be the way to go. If I were to do this over, I would starch the heck out of the poly first. And breathe slower.

I had a couple of firsts with this project. Sort of firsts, considering I’ve done them before, just not in the last 20+ years, so it may as well be the first time!

  • Sewing on a silky. I debated with entitling this post “I Hate Silkys” while initially working on the fabric. Laying it out wasn’t difficult as I was careful and the Swedish Tracing paper kind of “gripped” the fabric. The fraying, however, was terrible. It was not as bad as silk dupioni, but it was close. I found that the less I handled it, the better. I finished every seam by stitching parallel rows about 1/8” apart, then trimming and zig-zagging.
  • Using my Point Presser/Clapper. WOW! What a difference this made! I can’t believe how much better the collar came out with so much less fiddling!
  • I made my own shoulder pads using instructions from Gwen. Thanks to her for her generosity!
  • I hand basted everything but the long straight seams. It took time, but it saved time. I only had to unstitch one small area where I caught a layer that wasn’t part of the seam. No sleeves going in backwards, which is my trademark. 
Special thanks to the fly for holding the jacket open so I could get a good picture of the lining!

Off to plan jacket two.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shank that Button!

Not to be confused with "Stab that Button".

A recent thread on Stitcher's Guild reminded me of this techique.

Detachable Buttons

If you have a button that can’t be washed or dry cleaned, you can make it removable by using special safety pins. Dritz and Bohin both make styles that work for this purpose.

If the button already has a shank, it’s easy to just pin it to your garment. But what if it doesn’t? Creating a thread shank solves this problem.
To create a thread shank on a button, follow these simple steps.

Thread a needle with about 16” to 20 inches of thread, drawing the thread halfway through the needle so you have 2 equal length tails.

Leaving about a 2” to 3” tail, tie the thread around a toothpick or large needle. I’ve used a #18 chenille needle in the photos. If you use a toothpick, make sure it’s a smooth one that will be able to slide out of the thread loops. This will become clear in step 5.

Hold the pick or needle on the backside of the button, holding the tail out of the way and sew several times through the button holes, just as if you were attaching it to a garment. You will be looping the thread over the pick or needle on the backside.

When you have sewn an “attractive” number of stitches through the button holes, bring the thread through to the back. Slide the pick or need out from under the thread loops.

Take several stitches through the loops, creating a shank.

Make a square knot with the tail and needle thread. Clip. Dab a bit of sealant on the knot.

The picture is blurry, but I think you can see the shank.

Attach with a safety pin! I’m using the Bohin’s Quilters curved safety pins. Dritz makes a pin especially for this.

The front of the button gives the appearance of a traditionally sewn button but it’s quick and easy to remove for cleaning.

My jacket is coming along. Shell is complete, lining complete less sleeves and only about 2 hours of finishing work.

The bad news? The extra 15 lbs I've been ignoring? They are really there :(  So while it fit when I tried on a copy at Sew Expo last year, there is no way this will fit until I'm back to my fighting weight. I am finishing it any way. Maybe a pic or two tomorrow!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

In Praise of a Useful Husband

I told him I didn't have one of these and guess what came out of the shop 2 hours later:

The base is probably ash, he's not sure. Top is maple.He borrowed the neighbors (she has a homemade one) and studied pictures on the web.  He made the opening with 'ergonomic' flair. I can't wait to get to the collar on my jacket so I can use it!

It's a lovely piece of work and he's a lovely man. Lucky me :)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Verona Jacket Progress Report

 These are my fabric selections:

For the shell, a mossy/sage green silk herringbone suiting fabric from FabricMart.

For the lining, a floral poly 'charmuse' from JoAnns.

For contrast, latte colored featherwale cord from the stash.

A last minute addition of lightweight wool as an underlining that I'm attaching to the lining is not pictured.

Here's my progress so far:

Shell has been assembled less sleeves (which I'll work on as soon a I hit "publish post"). The undercollar and pockets are completed and attached to the outer shell.

This is delightful fabric to work with. It's crisp and soft at the same time.

This was the point, however, that I decided I wanted something heavier and pulled the wool underlining out of the closet. I finished cutting out those pieces tonight.

 Here's a detail I'd change...

The pocket band is longer on the back than the front. It really shows when you apply it. If you blow the picture up, you'll see what I mean.

I do like my top stitching though! I was taught to change colors when working with something like this so the band has brown top stitching, the pocket has the green. This is Gutterman silk thread and I LOVE it. The nice thing about the way I do it is that there are no back stitches and you don't even notice the transition.
Thought I'd insert a pic of where I'm doing all of this since I rearranged the room. You can just see the cover stitch machine in the lower right corner. The serger is to the left of that. It's all very convenient now.

Notice the little Singer sewing machine on the top of my desk shelves? That's what I learned to sew on. Not the same machine, as my mom thought it would be a good idea to give MINE away when I graduated to something bigger. I loved that little machine, so last year, I snagged one off of eBay. Husband worked it over and it sews like a top.

I had a fairly stressful day on Friday. Full moon? I don't know but I dealt with several meltdowns until I had to just leave and take a walk. Since the Son works second shift, I met him as he walked in. It was so nice to see him, it reminded me again how lucky I am to have the family I do. The Husband, Daughter, Son... they make this so much easier to bear. Had I not left for that walk, resetting my internal Stress-o-Meter, I'm pretty sure I would have jammed a pen in my neck if one more person had let go with me. It's good to have a nice place to come home to!

more tomorrow if things go well and I find time to assemble the lining.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Heirloom Sewing for Dolls

Back in 2007, DD and I took a class with Judith Adams called "Fit for a Princess". The dress was based on Love and Stitches #556 Smocked Frocks, made out of fine Italian organza and embroidered English netting and laces. DD and I had different lace kits, so we would leave the class with matching but different dresses. We pleated and smocked the skirt in class and did a minimum of work on the bodice, primarily cutting everything out, rolling and whipping the lace to the sleeves and making a piece of piping. Judith's goal was to have us try at least one of every technique we would need to do to finish the dresses at home. We left the class at the end of the day and the kits never came out of the zip lock bags again. Until this past week.
I didn't take any pictures of the "out of the bag" configuration, but here is what my bodice looked like after attaching the backs to the front at the shoulder, applying piping and inserting the sleeves. I also applied the bias neck facing, handworked the buttonholes and stitched the ribbon casings in the sleeve prior to taking this pic.

 The piping between the sleeves and bodice and at the waist later on were made by covering cording with a bias strip of organza topped by a bias strip of the netting. This was surprisingly easy to work with. Here is where 2 of my favorite notions made a difference: An adustable zipper foot and the Darr Piping Magic ruler shown below. If you click on the picture to enlarge, you can see the layer of organza, the cord and netting and a finshed piece of piping under the ruler. After stitching the piping, the handy DPM ruler made it a snap to trim the piping to 1/4". The ruler has grooves in the bottom that the piping fits into, allowing you to zip your rotary cutter along and trim off the excess. I love this thing!

 Here is a pic of the bodice turned inside out. The neckline was finished using a bias strip of the netting. The sleeve seams are encased in bias strips of the organza. Remember earlier that I said DD and I had different lace kits... This is her bodice. The picture taken on the carpet above is mine. These pictures were taken AFTER I mistakenly stitched one of her sleeves to my bodice. Of course, the mistake was not noticed until I had graded the seams and the organza strip applied. Correcting that mistake took some time and patience!

This is as far as I got on DD's dress. The bodice is completely assembled and back into the bag it will go with the skirt and waist piping. As delightful as this dress is in it's completed state, I am not in the mood to finish this one as well!

Another better than useful tool... Glue Baste It. I used this to place the piping on the skirt until it was stitched in place. This allowed for perfect placement with little fuss.

One of the great things about working with netting was the ease of working a handsewn buttonhole. The holes in the netting provide perfect structure and guidelines. These were a treat to work, all four came out perfectly even and the same size! The ribbon is encased between the layer of netting on the top and organza on the bottom.

And here is the completed dress. I am happy to have actually finished something. It only took me 3 1/2 years!!!


Sunday, January 2, 2011


... The future Mr. and Mrs. my daughter! Yep, the young man proposed at the stroke of midnight on New Years morning, so they are officially engaged. No date yet as they are both still working on their degrees (and he's a little behind her now thanks to the Big C). Husband and I are happy to welcome this great guy into the family :0