Friday, September 25, 2009

The Traditionalist (and a tutorial!)

So, last week I was walking in the woods, and was thinking about flannel and tartan. And here is the result!

I love the traditional look of this jumper. It has a simple design that I enhanced with a little piping and some well placed buttons. I chose black watch plaid on the cream flannel so that it would pop. This dress has growth pleats to which I added tartan ribbon. Growth pleats are just horizontal pleats that are usually about an 1" to 1 1/2" inches in width. It will be in my etsy shop soon.

Anyway, I liked it so much that I decided to make it in red as well, using some European brushed twill that I've had for awhile. Not only that, but I thought it would be nice to share my technique of piping insertion in the yoke, so here goes.

A disclaimer: I am not a sewing expert, so if anyone can offer some more advice, it is much appreciated. These are simply my techniques for working with piping.

So, the first thing you want to do is to choose a simple jumper pattern with a separate yoke. I chose to make the design 'Louise' from Children's Corner. This jumper features buttons down the back, a full skirt, and growth pleats.

Decide which size you will be using. For the red dress I used a size 2. Roughly cut out your pattern piece for the front yoke and then cut a piece of the yoke fabric that is slightly wider than double the yoke width. You want to leave enough extra fabric to compensate for the seam allowances when you stitch down the piping.

The next step is to prepare your piping. I use the Darr ruler and cut off the excess piping allowance. My seams are 1/4", so if yours are wider, you would want to plan accordingly.

Put wondertape on one side. This allows you to place the piping exactly where you want it, without the hassle of using pins. It will wash away when you wash the garment.

Try to place the piping to the slight left or right of center. This doesn't matter all that much because you will select the center front line after the piping is inserted. Stitch straight down the piping directly over the thread used to make the piping itself.

When you have completed that, you simply fold the fabric over the seam allowance of the piping, right sides together. Make sure there is no gap between the piping seam allowance and the fabric itself. In order to keep the grain correct, you have to make sure it's pretty tight. Then stitch just barely to the left of your original stitch line, "squeezing" the piping, and making sure that none of the other threads are showing.

Open the fabric piece up again and press lightly.

Now for the second line of piping. You want the seam allowances to face the other direction. So if your piping seam allowance lay to the right previously, this time you want it to lay to the left, and vice versa. I want my piping to be about two inches apart, so I carefully measure all the way down as I put it into place. Stitch as before.

It will look like this as you stitch the second side.

Press again, making sure the seam allowances lay out from the center.

Now you want to fold your fabric piece so that the two lines of piping match up, so I put right sides together. You want to make sure that the two lines are directly over each other. If it's easier to pin them together, then do so. The fold of the fabric becomes the center front, and then lay your pattern piece as indicated on the fold line.

This pattern requires a lining, so I cut them out at the same time.

When you are done, your piece should look like this. Two lines of piping centered on the center of the yoke. Now just use this piece like you would have used a normal piece of fabric. Just be sure to keep the seam allowances flattened the way they were pressed.

I'm quite pleased with the cute, traditional look, and this is the finished project.

Happy sewing!

From New Hampshire,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Woods

Today I just needed a break. I finished up an order this morning, and instead of sewing until pick-up time, I just had to get the dog out for a hike on a glorious late summer day.

I'm inspired by lots of different things. The covers of vintage children's patterns, other seamstresses, and the actual fabrics themselves. But nothing quite gets my juices flowing like a walk in the woods.

There must be something about repetitive motion that frees the brain for creativity. It happens to me when I am knitting too. Your hands or feet get so involved in the activity that your mind gets to rove. Today I was looking at the rocks on the ground and thinking about how a customer of mine was wondering about using the color gray. I don't happen to have anything in gray, but I started thinking about gray flannel and how an interesting combination might be to add a little tartan plaid.

But then I decided that rather than use gray which I don't have, I should use what I already have, which happens to be a cream flannel. I designed the entire thing in my head as I looked at the leaves just starting to turn.

So, my question to you is this: in what unexpected ways are you inspired? Tell me about them and maybe I'll try them out myself.

Now, where is that cream flannel?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Brain Implosion and Other Assorted Goings-On

Brain implosion?? Yes, yes, it's true. I have so much going on in my head these last few weeks that I thought this might actually happen to me. My daughter's first day of pre-K, a craft show, a camping trip, orders at little girl Pearl, extra training for the Delta merger, and more.

Can someone please, please sell me some extra hours of the day? Because the insomnia is great, but it's not quite cutting it. I will pay big bucks, I swear.

All right, let me back up a bit. There is a little something going on for "little girl Pearl", but I cannot jinx it, so suffice it to say that my house needed a major cleaning this week. And I mean MAJOR! If you follow my blog you know that I travel every week, I sew when my daughter is at school, and cook when dinner rolls around in the evening. This does not leave much time for the day-to-day upkeep, let alone the top to bottom sweep that houses require when you have a kid, a black dog, and two adults who have other priorities that don't require picking up a mop.

Luckily for us Augie is not a lab. But he still sheds, I assure you, and those little black hairs along with the dust do create a bit of a mess. So my wonderful "whirlwind cleaner" Mom came over last week to help me focus on the task without being overwhelmed by the monstrosity of our job. I'm seriously not joking. The clutter was everywhere, and it took us the entire day to just finish the upstairs bedrooms and get a start on the living area downstairs. But it gleams, so I thank you Mom because I wouldn't have even known where to start.

My husband finally finished the cubbies in our mudroom storage area so that we could get all the shoes and gear off the floor. This project has been 3 years in the making, and I am so, so relieved it's finished. A place for the mail, car keys, and the detritus of daily life finally have a designated space so they don't wind up on the island in the kitchen. You know what I'm talking about don't you?? The junk mail, bills, etc. always seem to wind up in the kitchen, and I am so hoping this doesn't happen anymore.

And we went camping. Yep, perfect timing. Actually weather-wise it was phenomenal. We went Down East Maine, past Acadia National Park through Machias, Lubec, and Cutler. We saw seals, porpoises, eagles, sea birds, beautiful scenery, and lots of Maine coast. What a great time, and we are looking forward to going again.

This was taken as the moon was rising over our campground spot, right on the headland in Milbridge.

Seal in Reversing Falls in Cobscook Bay

View from Boot Cove trail

A black dog on a black beach

View from Hamilton Cove

West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine
The Easternmost point in the U.S.

Lobster traps in Jonesport, Maine

A gear laden girl

All tuckered out

So yes, we had a great trip, but I had 300 emails waiting for me upon my return to the world of high speed. And all the camping gear added to our clutter-filled mudroom. But as everything was out it was a great chance for us to get organized, and now our house is clean. For at least 5 minutes.

Sorry to be so cryptic in this post, but just keep your fingers crossed for me, and as soon as I can I'll let you know what's happening.

From Detroit,