Saturday, October 27, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XXII

What I Said Yesterday . . .

Forget it. I don't like the flowers. They're not quite right. It's not the flower I'm seeing in my head. They're hard to manipulate to get pinned down just right. The edges are shredding so the pieces don't fit together right. So now what? Well, that means it's back to the drawing board, because, obviously, this approach isn't working. Duh. How long did it take you to figure that out?

What I needed to do was to start over in terms of thinking about the flower petal shape. It occurred to me that I needed one simple shape that could be used for all five petals. This new shape would have all the edges turned under, thus preventing shredding while handling. With all the edges turned under and the petals uniform, I could overlap them easily to make the right flower shape. Below you can see the new universal petal shape, from which all the petals are formed:

Now, this is the flower I envisioned:

I promise. This is it. This is exactly what I saw in my mind! All it needs is some embroidery and beads/sequins and it will be complete! One down, 67 to go. This navy one is next, it just needs to be pinned and stitched down:

You cannot believe how relieved I am to finally be getting these flowers right. It has been plaguing me for the last few days and I'm glad the solution finally came to me. Never give up on your vision; work at it until it is reality.

Parting Shot: We got the pumpkins carved! Here they are, my son's on the left and my daughter's on the right. The picture is a bit blurry, the poor camera had to expose the frame for quite some time as I took it in the dark.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XXI

I like them!

Finally! It's about time!

Last night I started working with the petals trying to figure out how to get them all lined up properly and on the jacket so that they looked like a flower. This was sort of a frustrating process. Actually these flowers all together have been pretty frustrating!

I've finally settled on a method to get the flower petals grouped to look like flowers. How hard can it be? Well, when you're working with 5 nickel-sized slippery little pieces it can be a challenge. My solution is a common one in my world: a template. I just use the template to check the position of the petals and make sure the flowers are fairly uniform in size.

Below you can see a flower pinned and ready stitch.

After a final pressing, the flower is ready for the rest of the embellishments. I'll probably refine the whole process a bit as I go along, but I'm happy just to get the process started!

Now, about 60 more or so to go!

Parting Shot: I go the vintage jumper pattern today! Tomorrow I'll get the re-issue. Look for a comparison post next week.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XX

The Flowers, Again.

Yes, the flowers again! So, I got the silk, cut out some flowers, formed the flowers around the templates, took a good look at them and guess what?

You didn't like them?

How'd you guess? No surprise there. It's not that the silk didn't perform nicely and give me crisp edges. The flowers just didn't look like flowers. They looked like weird misshapen blobs.

Back to the drawing board! This time, I've divided the flower into petals and am planning on making the flowers out of 5 petals. I say planning on because I won't know until I go to stitch the first one whether I'll like them or not. The petals have formed nicely and quickly, and I don't need to gather the round shapes like I did with the leaves. This is good because I need enough petals for 68 flowers. If you do the math, that's 340 petals.

Below you can see part of the petal forming process. Each flower has 5 petals, labeled A through E. The petals below are "D" petals. Today, I'll be making enough "E" petals for one side of the back.

Once the petals are formed, they go into the plastic bag with the appropriate label:

I'm hoping that this will fix all the issues I've had with these flowers.! I have a vision of what I want this to look like, and I'm going to figure out how to make it happen!

Meanwhile, the vines are done (for the second time!). Tonight in addition to thread tracing the skirt darts, I plan to start leaf/flower placement and work on them on the bus tomorrow.

It's about time!

Yes, I know!

Parting Shot: Mail Call! Look what I got from Tany in Portugal today! I'm a very excited about this! There is enough red fabric and matching covered buttons to make a trench coat, plus she traced me off a trench coat pattern and sent some really nice covered hooks and eyes. I have been wanting a red trench for a long time, and if I do a SWAP it will included as the coat or as a bonus piece. Thank you, Tany!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part /XIX

Cutting the Velvet

I've finally got around to cutting out the velvet out for the suit. I've been meaning to get it cut out for quite some time, but haven't had the time to. I'm not sure why, but I've actually been procrastinating a bit on this step. I think it has to do with the finality of it all. Once the fabric is cut, there is no turning back, I have to finish the job. It's not that I mind the work or the finishing, it just seems like there is some transition in the project at that point. It's like a line that's been crossed and now I must move forward. I think it has to do with the fact that I know the planning is pretty much over, and a new phase of the project must begin.

While the silk velvet is absolutely beautiful to look at and touch, it is another beast as far as cutting, pressing and stitching. Because I had a 5 yard continuous cut to work with, I had to steam and cut in sections rather than laying out the whole thing. It was a bit slippery to cut, but not too terrible. I'm guessing the stitching will be worse.

You can see from the pictures below that everything is just stacked or hung up and waiting. I will have to thread trace all the darts and hand baste all the seams together before they are sewn. From previous experience with velvet, this is the best way to handle it. Even though the basting will take time, I will not waste time and velvet (stitching leaves marks) by having to rip out slipped seams.

If I have time tonight, I'll started the thread tracing, if not it can wait until tomorrow. I think I'm over the procrastination bit and will be able to move on and possibly get the skirt finished in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you all for the compliments on my daughter's new church wardrobe! It has been fun to sew and even more fun to see how happy she is with the styles and fabrics she chose.

Q/A: I have a question for you today! What part of sewing do you procrastinate over and how do you conquer it and move on?

Parting Shot: Pumpkins! We took a school field trip today to Sherman Farm that has a really interesting corn maze cut into one of their cornfields. Below the pumpkins you can see a picture of the corn maze from an aerial photo - it took us about an hour to get through it! It was custom designed with our state logo and motto, the link will give you more information. Part of the field trip was a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin to bring home. We'll carve our pumpkins this weekend, so be looking for those photos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XVIII

All's Right With The World

That's how I feel about this whole project right now! Although things are a bit behind schedule, they seem to be just humming along nicely now. Last was a rough week all around for sewing, and that included Midnight Garden. So why are things back on track all of a sudden? Well, there are a few reasons:

One, I now have the silk and it is working out nicely for making leaves and flowers. Not that there's not problems - if the seam allowances are cut too small, the silk shreds, but that's a lesson learned. I have 30 leaves done and will get another 10 done today (I need 68, I think). Here are some of the leaves, ready to applique:

Two, I've made progress on getting the vines redone. I'm replacing the old ones with new ones as I remove them. The bias silk strips are so much easier to work with, too! Tonight I hope to sit down and work on it some more. Here's some of the work in progress, you can see the strip on the left being removed:

Three, I finished quilting the silk side of the skirt last night! I thought it was going to take two evenings, but I finished it up last night. Today I'll try to get the waistband ready for quilting. Once that is done, I'll be done quilting diamonds!

Q/A and other matters: Regarding the blue BWOF blouse I posted a final picture of yesterday, Andrea wanted to know, "Is the pulling across the upper chest a consequence of the asymmetrical placket? I only ask because your things are always so beautifully fitted." Thank you for the compliment. Yes, I noticed the same thing once I saw the pictures! The pulling isn't so much a consequence of the placket, but of the extra button/buttonhole I added above the last one the pattern had. I added an extra one for modesty. In retrospect, that probably wasn't a great idea. I think a better solution would be to wear a camisole and have that top button unbuttoned. It would accomplish the same purpose without the unsightly pulling!

Shannon G had this to say about the petticoat rejuventation, in case you missed it: "Regarding the petticoat; I've had to do just such a pressing job in the past, and more than once. If you do plan to touch the netting with an iron, use a press melts very easily. A better option is to hang the dress inside out and use a steamer to remove the wrinkles. Then let the petticoat hang in this position overnight. When you turn it right side out, the fluffiness is usually back in place. You'll have to then press the outer dress, but that should be simple by comparison:)."

Parting Shot: It's finally autumn here in New England and the leaves are changing! These are on a tree that overhangs our back deck.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Midnight Garden - Skirt - Part II

A Major "Duh" Moment

I realize you haven't seen much of the skirt, but I am working on it. While I'm waiting for the silk to arrive (won't be today as it's Columbus Day, but maybe tomorrow!), I've been quilting the skirt. Since the skirt is fairly straight with little shaping it's not too bad. I've been lining everything up with my usual method - see this post and things seemed to be going well.

Once I had completed the front and one of the backs, I did a quick try on, but just wrapping the skirt around my body, like it will be actually worn. The skirt seemed really big, especially the back. I didn't think too much about it since I did add to the circumference in the hip area.

The next morning, while prepping the second back piece (remember, this is a wrap style skirt in which the backs overlap), it hit me why the back and the skirt overall was too big. Take a look at the picture below with the muslin overlapping the actual skirt:

Yes, I cut the whole thing too big, quilted it and didn't even realize it. I converted what was a deep pleat to a wrap style and didn't fold on the correct line! As you can see from the photo below, I was 6" off, and I even allowed myself a 1" seam allowance on the opening edge. This is a simple, silly mistake, but I was happy to find it. It is making that other back piece easier to quilt knowing that it is smaller! Think about it, 40 or so lines of quilting times 6", let's see that approximately 240" less inches of stitching to do!

Needless to say, I did have smile while drawing in the quilting lines for the other back. You can see that process below. This back was a little more tricky to work with. The lines must match at the side seam, just below the hip where the seam doesn't curve and must match at the opening. Thankfully everything matched! I was thrilled, as I was apprehensive about getting everything to match just right. The jacket was particularly difficult, and is almost perfectly matched. I have to remind myself that not everything will match all the time!

Tonight, I'll be finishing all the rows in one direction, hopefully starting work on my new blouse and going to ensemble practice!

Q/A: Mary in AR, posted this question: "What great tables to be able to spread everything out! I am very interested in how and what you use to trace your patterns -- would you mind showing us that part too?" Sure, I usually use plain of gift tissue for tracing patterns. It suits my purposes as it is cheap and thin enough to see through. I rarely make the same pattern twice, so durability isn't a factor for me, but oddly enough the tissue is pretty tough. Just don't get it wet! Some people prefer to use Swedish tracing paper, which I have used in the past. It is easy to work with and can be sewn through to use as a fitting muslin. I then use a pencil and ruler to trace the outline of the pattern and any markings. I need to get a dressmaker's curve so that I can do curves precisely, but I have found I have had no trouble just going slowly while tracing the curves. I then label the piece with the piece name and number, style number, magazine issue and size.

She added: "Also visited Manchester in July for the Knit & Crochet show and just fell in love with the area. I told my husband I want to retire there!" I'm glad you like our state! You should visit every time of the year; each season is special!

Parting Shot: Kiwi! I was trying to get a close-up of her with her eyes open, but she shut them everytime due to the flash!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XVII

The Appliqué Flowers and Leaves (and Other Plans)

Earlier this week you saw both bad and good examples of the appliqué flowers. Remember these?

The silk is in the mail and I should have it by the middle of next week. Once I get it, I'll need to make it into the vines, leaves and flowers so that I can get going on the hand appliqué. How exactly do I prepare the pieces? I use a common appliqué method using freezer paper templates. Here's how:

First, I make templates for each motif; we had a whole series of posts on the various templates for this project. It is important to note that these templates are made of freezer paper (the kind you'd wrap meat, etc. in to put in the freezer).

Because freezer paper has both a dull and shiny side, it is ideal for this type of appliqué. The dull side is perfect for drawing motifs and the shiny side will adhere to fabric when ironed on. It also can be peeled off the fabric without leaving residue and can be reused many times. So, for the next step, I iron the template onto the wrong side of the fabric.

I then cut around each motif, leaving about 1/4" extra fabric around the template.

It is then time to prepare the edges to be turned under, along the edges of the template. All inward curves are clipped, as are points. At this point, I use a very tiny dot of Fray Check when I clip into points so that they don't fray. To deal with outward curves, I place running stitches around the curve so that it can be gathered into a curved shape. All the leaves have running stitches, as well as all the petals on all the flowers. This is why I was a little disappointed when I found out I'd have to remake all the leaves and the few flowers I had already made. This can be a lot of easy, but time consuming work!

The gathering stitches are then pulled up tight so that the piece curves properly.

Lastly, the piece is ironed smooth. I usually will use spray starch at this point so that the fabric will stay in place and be a little bit stiffer for the actual appliqué process. In the photo below, you can see that I'm using my mini-iron to iron the edges flat. It is easier to use since it is lightweight and has a smaller point than my regular iron.

This gathering/tightening/ironing process is repeated all around the flower until all the petals are done. I've only done three in the photo below, but you get the idea.

From the right side, the piece looks like this:

I got one section of the skirt back quilted last night! Correction, very, very early this morning. It was 12:30a.m. when I got done. For some strange reason I was really mentally "on" and just worked away at it until it was done. I also completely percolated two new projects for 2008. One is a new gown project that will be part of the MQX vest challenge for the Spring 2008 show. I know exactly what it will look like - colors, quilting, embellishment everything! I already have the motif template and one of the patterns too, and the other I'm watching on eBay. The other is a project for a specific fabric challenge. The object it to use a specific fabric in a creative way - I know exactly what that one will look like, too and I have the pattern for it too. You do know that these are all vintage, right? Right. No surprise there.

Next week I hope to get the quilted side of the skirt done and get the silk jacket and skirt cut out and started. I can also cut more synthetic flowers, too, I'm going to need a lot of those!

I have to say you all are very perceptive readers! I mention things in passing and it's amazing what you pick up on. Isabelle noticed that the blue top I was wearing yesterday was the BWOF I made a while back, and she picked up on the fact that I am doing the V & A dress. In fact, I just bought the fabric today - blue/black irridescent taffeta 60"wide, on clearance, $2.00 per yard plus a 10% discount off of that. Now, I just need to find about 20 yards of 4" wide white lace. I'm watching some on eBay, so I'll probably get that in house soon. Carolyn zeroed in on the word "SWAP", so I have to give you a teaser for that, too! This one is for me. It will a transitional wardrobe from winter to spring - with the weather we have around here, I could probably wear the pieces into June. It also has to do with one my latest vintage pattern treasures.

Parting Shot: Today was my quilt guild's annual show. I went to the show and volunteered in the cafe, helping serve lunches/snacks. I also got to see the show and check out the guild sale table. Look what I bought for $1.00 each - more Threads back issues! The one on top includes an article by Claire Schaeffer on making the Chanel skirt and an article on using a tambour needle (something I've been wanting to try!). The other issues have articles on Issaye Miyake and Jacques Fath (can't wait to read that one!) and all sorts of other interesting stuff.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Just Snippets Today!

I've been busy, but not much to show for it yet! Here are today's snippets from the studio:

  • Midnight Garden - I got the entire skirt front quilted. I then realized that one set of darts was off center by 3/8". Out came 8 rows or so of quilting and the darts. I repositioned and sewed the darts and requilted. I'm now working on getting one of the backs ready.
  • Midnight Garden - contemplating button ideas and shopped for hot fix rhinestones. Lots to think about here.
  • Timmel SWAP - I'm most likely going to enter; some of it's brewed, some is still percolating.
  • I've been trying to trace my next wardrobe project, Burda #111 6/07 all week. Maybe tomorrow I'll find the time.
  • I've got 6 alterations done and 3 to go for the week.
  • I got an email today from the founder of Machine Quilter's Exposition, a show that focuses on machine quilting held in Manchester, NH today. She wanted to my permission to use my daughter's photo on the website. I said yes and then checked the website. She's in the slide show on the front page! It's really neat - check out the MQX wesbsite and click on the large central box to activate the control.
For right now, it's back to the studio to see if I can get the one skirt back's quilting underway.

Parting Shot: In an effort to clean up my desk, I found the following birthday card. I meant to show this to earlier, but you probably know how things get buried and then you find them like little treasures later! It's from my husband's aunt - who knows where she found it, most likely a specialty gift/stationary store.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XVI

"What are you going to do with the synthetics?"

That is a good question, and today I'll give you a peek at what I've got planned. I have to stop at Jo-ann's today on the way to dentist and look for a synthetic in navy blue to round out the colors that I'm using.

Last night, because I really didn't want to start quilt the skirt yet (I'll do that tonight), I cut out a lot of flowers with the wood burning tool and then did some experiments. I want to take these flowers and make them into a pieces of fabric. I bought some Misty Fuse just for this purpose, but did not have a change to experiment as much as I wanted until last night.

Misty Fuse is very easy to use, and provides a very strong bond while being lightweight (as lightweight as a fusible can be!) and sheer when fused. This product is perfect for the fabrics I'm working with - some of them synthetic organza - and for the final product. I place one layer of flowers on a piece of parchment paper, a layer of Misty Fuse and then another layer of flowers. After the layering was complete, I placed another piece of parchment on top and fused the layers together with a hot iron. I flipped the piece over, added another layer each of Misty Fuse and flowers and fused those layers together. This is what I ended up with:

This "fabric" will then be used to make the collar, cuffs and peplum of the jacket. The "fabric" is still enough to hold it's shape for those jacket pieces without additional interfacing. Because of the jacket design, the cuffs, collar and peplum will be the same for both side, flipping to the other side when the jacket is turned inside out. The edges will be whatever the flower shapes happen to be at the edges. You can get an idea of what it will look like in the photos below.

I plan to embellish the flowers by using heat set Swarovski rhinestones in the center of each flower. I just need to buy the tool and order the rhinestones, but I'll make that stop after I go to the dentist!

Q/A: Lydia wanted to know the hem circumference of my white petticoat. The bottom ruffle is approximately 286". I knew that's not what the pattern originally intended (the petticoat pattern came with the pattern I modified for Diamonds), but I couldn't quite remember what I had done. Thankfully, I have this blog, or else I'd never remember what I did to get it that size! I went back through the posts and found the one where I explained what happened. The short story is that the original pattern had two ruffles of the same size attached at the same place one on top of the other as one ruffle. This wasn't full enough for me, so I removed them, made one really big ruffle out of the two and attached it instead. Do consider your petticoat pattern as a jumping off point - add more netting sections to each layer or just the bottom layer to create more fullness.

Parting Shots: Kiwi is now playing with everything in the house, just look what she found in the studio. She's still a bit skittish and won't let us pet her too much, but she is getting more social overall.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Midnight Garden - Jacket - Part XIV

The Best Laid Plans . . .

are always subject to revision. This week I didn't plan any other sewing projects except to work on Midnight Garden (of course you do know that while I haven' t had any alterations for two weeks, I got 9 in on Sunday!). I had planned on getting a lot of work done on the applique. Today's post was going to be all about how to make the leaves and flowers for the applique. I had all the leaves done for the vines (30 leaves) and was working with on making the flowers. When I saw the results I decided I didn't like the flowers and leaves. [Insert rewind sound here] "What? You don't like the flowers and leaves? They're an integral part of the design. They are the design!" Exactly. The problem really isn't the flowers, but the fabric they're made of.

Normally, I work with silk and cottons for applique. They mold so well around the templates and really make a nice crisp crease. If you've ever worked with silk and cotton and then worked with a synthetic, you'll know exactly what I mean! They don't iron the same, feel the same, or look the same. In this case, the right fabric makes a big difference. The synthetic flowers frayed terribly, didn't iron up nicely or play nice with the templates. I sort of had an inkling this would happen a few weeks ago when I made a test flower and wasn't immediately thrilled. I thought I'd work it out when I actually when into production mode. I made four flowers this morning out of synthetics. I came home this afternoon and made a few out of the silk. I compared the two, and there is NO WAY the synthetic flowers/leaves/vines are going on that jacket. There is no comparison between the two.

Check out the photo below. The silver flower on the left is a synthetic, and the navy is the silk. The navy one isn't quite finished, but just look at the crispness of the edges and of the overall image. Both flowers are oriented the same way and are the exact same template. The details are much clearer and the petals look so much better.

This means that all the vines must be ripped off and redone, just when I was finishing the last section. Luckily for me, I'm going to trace the position of the current ones and at least have guidelines for the new ones. I went right up to the Silk Baron and ordered silk dupioni in a variety of silvers/blues to work with. This will put me a bit behind, but I just can't work with an inferior product and then put my name on the label for the whole world to see.

So, what am I going to do with the synthetics? Well, I am going to use them on the velvet side as I had originally intended: to cut out shapes with the wood burning tool and applique them with a fusible and then embellish them. This means that I am not at a dead end waiting for the silk to arrive. This week I've decided to work on the skirt and to carry out all the experiments for embellishing the velvet side. So, look for those posts this week! Tonight I'll get started on the quilted side of the skirt - I've taken a break from all the quilting, but now I'm ready to finish it up!

Q/A: Thank you all for the compliments on my son's new coat! My son is God's gift to me. He's very excited about the coat and can't wait for the weather to be cooler so that he can wear it. Today's Q/A has to do with the silk batting. A few of you mentioned that you were unfamiliar with it. It is a relatively new product from Hobbs Bonded Fibers that had come out within the last year or so. It is 90% silk and 10% fine polyester. It is soft and drapey, really nice. I can split it into two layers for my garments projects, which is nice. I have noticed a bit of bearding with it, but that may be due to the needle/thread I'm using. Bearding is when some of the batting is pulled through the surface of the quilt during stitching. It looks particularly bad when the batting is light colored and the quilt is dark colored. Here's the label from the batting:

Parting Shot: My husband gave me one last, late birthday present today: Blueprints of Fashion , 1950's. This book is incredible! I already own the Blueprints of Fashion of the 1940's, but this one is the real treasure. The patterns are fabulous, and although I haven't read the text in the front of the book, I'm sure it will be good. Mr. Laboissonniere does an excellent job on the history and influences on home sewing during each era for his books.