Friday, February 29, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part XII

The Polymer Clay Buttons


Thank you all for the compliments on the closure for the vest. I am very happy with how everything turned out, and can now move on to finishing embellishing the peplum, assembling the vest and doing the final beadwork. My goal is to get the vest done by Monday.

I made the polymer clay buttons using the same metal template for the smallest size flowers. The clay is rolled through a pasta machine (used *only* for polymer clay) to the correct thickness:

The clay is then cut out using the template and the buttonholes are added with a toothpick. The metal templates are now proving how useful and versatile they can be.

Once the clay is baked according to package directions, it is sanded to remove any imperfections and to smooth out any roughness. After a quick wipe down, the buttons are ready for glazing. "Glaze" in this case happens to be Future floor polish. This is one type of glaze or finish used in the polymer clay world. I put a hook made of florist's wire through each button, dip it in the Future and let it hang to dry.

A few pasta boxes and a cake cooling rake make a good place to hang the buttons. After a few seconds of hanging, a q-tip will take care of any drips forming at the bottom of each piece. After the finish is dry, the buttons are ready to use!

Q/A: Designdreamer wanted to know, "What are the other flowers made of?" in reference to the other white flowers in the border that are not buttons. Those flowers are cut out of white synthetic satin using the smallest metal template and the wood burning tool.

Parting Shot: Fabric from Canada. Here's my official purchase from Timmel Fabrics for SWAP 2008. I'll be making a vintage blouse out of it. I guess I'm officially in, so now I need to finish! (I'll be showing you the jeans on Monday!)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part XI

The Vest Closure


The vest has border which runs down the center front, and must be closed. How would you make the closures?

Good question, isn't it? I had thought about this problem about a month ago, and it didn't strike me until Monday night while doing some beading (monotonous beading is good for thinking) that I had not made a decision about the vest closure. Hmmm . . . covered snaps, buttons, bound buttonholes, button loops, covered buttons . . . and so I thought about each option and started eliminating ones that wouldn't work. Snaps aren't going to work, the border is too wide and they'd have to be sewn in really weird places interrupting the artwork. Buttons and loops aren't quite right either, they wouldn't interrupt the border too much, but they still would be obtrusive, with a row of buttons just outside the border on the front of the vest. In the end, I opted for this:

What you're seeing is vertical bound buttonholes and handmade polymer clay buttons to match the other white flower embellishments complete with the same type of bead work.

Each of the buttonholes was made the same way I made the ones for the red trench. I did a post on that topic, complete with pictures. It didn't take me too long, either. It took me as long to do all the marking and make sure everything was accurate and exactly the same as it did to actually make the buttonholes.

The crepe isn't ideal for make the lips of the buttonholes, so I reinforced it with the fusible interfacing before cutting out the squares for the patches. To sew on the buttons, I also used an interfaced patch behind the button for security.

Tomorrow, I'll show you how I made the polymer clay buttons!

Parting Shot: Jackie O here I come. A new pattern for me, not sure when/if I'm going to make this one, but I liked it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part IX

Fun With Sequins


I use a lot sequins in my work, and matching them to the fabric can be quite interesting. For the most part, you aren't going to find sequins that *exactly* match. This can be frustrating if you're like me, and things that are not a contrast and must match, well, ought to be pretty close to matching. How do I get around this? There's a little trick you should know.

To start, sequins come in a variety of finishes, but what we're concerned with is the opacity. Some sequins are "opaque", meaning that you can not see through them. Other sequins are colored, but clear, usually with an iridescent finish. Both of these types are useful not only on their own, but also *together*.

Sequins can be layered together to get different colors and shades depending on which two are combined. I've used this little trick on many garments. Those pink sequins on Waiting for Spring? Clear iridescent and magenta. How about the navy ones on Midnight Garden? Dark peacock blue and black. The light blue ones on Midnight Garden are pale blue over silver. Take a look at a few samples:

This is one reason why I order so many colors at one time - to play around and see if I can get a combination that is very close to or exactly the color I need. The other reason is that C. Cartwright's has a $10 minimum for US customers!

As of today, I have the peplum completed, except for the rhinestones. I should have the next shipment of those tomorrow. I'll do another post on it so that you can see what I've done to it. I made the bound buttonholes today. I still have a little bead work to do to finish off the borders. Tomorrow, I'll show you the borders and the buttons.

Parting Shot: School Work. Even when I'm on vacation I still have papers and tests to grade. Among the lot are some Physics tests, which are always a lot of fun because I have to figure out someone else's problem solving logic (or lack thereof!). There are also some Biology papers to finish reading; these are what I call the "Careers In Science" papers. Basically each student gets a career in science (like zoologist or hospital lab technician) and writes about what the job is, how much training is involved, etc., bonus points if they actually interviewed someone currently in that career.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part IX

The Coolest Thing Ever! (And a Sneak Peek)


I might as well give you the sneak peek first, you'll probably scroll down there first anyway. Definitely no where near completion with all components just pinned in place, but I think you'll get the idea of where I'm going with this ensemble:

Now for the coolest thing ever, or at least in my life recently. Below you can see a photo of the bead/sequin/rhinestone selection process. Bascially, I pull out everything I think will match and once I have everything I've ordered (usually sequins from Cartwright's Sequins) I try it to see if I like it.
This is the first project that I've used hot-fix rhinestones on, and after some searching around, I found the Rhinestone Guy. He's got good prices and great service (I ordered on Monday and had my rhinestones on Thursday from California), and a great selection. He of course, recommends that you buy a color chart for better matching of colors to your project. This goes of course for all sorts of things you mail order, if you can get a color chart. The color chart cost me $20, but includes real samples of all the colors made by Swarovski and Preciosa, and samples of all the sizes. So here's the cool thing: the rhinestones are glued to a transparency and the color names are printed on a piece of cardstock and the two are taped together at the top. In order to match the colors, lift up the clear sheet and place it right on the fabric - you'll see exactly what matches and what doesn't and what size is right!

Isn't that cool? Once you know what matches you can find the color name and order the rhinestones. This is the best $20 I've spent in a long time. The bonus is that I'll also know what color of Swarovski beads will match my projects, too.

Tomorrow, I'll show you a neat trick for matching sequin colors. Now I must get back into the studio and work on FMK!

Q/A: Nancy asked if I could elaborate about the waist stay. There are actually two slightly different applications in sewing involving the term waist stay. One means a strip of stabilizing fabric or grosgrain ribbon sewn into the waist seam of a dress, usually with a very full and/or heavy skirt to help stabilize the seam and support the weight of the skirt. This is what I did for the red linen shirt dress with the silk organza selvedge to help prevent stress on the waist seam, which could lead to thread breakage or fabric shredding. The other type of waist stay is used in formal gowns, especially strapless ones. It is usually a piece of twill tape or grosgrain ribbon attached at the waist line by tacking the ribbon to the major bodice seams of gown and then is passed through slits in the lining and finished with hooks and eyes. The wearer would close the waist stay and then zip up or fasten the gown. This stay helps to keep the dress anchored in the right place on the body, so it doesn't shift, twist or ride up or down. It also does help to support the skirt (again, possibly full and heavy) of the gown. All the gowns I make include a waist stay of second variety. I haven't made a huge full skirted ball gown in years (yes, one is in the plans for 2009!), but would include both on that type of garment.

Parting Shot: Cat Nap. Pix finds the most unusual places to nap. I removed the laundry bag to do the laundry and came back to find her curled up in the square!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Dress - Part I

The Bodice Muslin


The vest has a matching dress, so in order to get working on it I needed to make a muslin of the bodice. This is particularly important because the pattern I am working from is a bust size 30. I was a little concerned at first that it might be too small, and I was right, but it wasn't so small that I couldn't get it zipped up. I just needed some breathing room. In the end I let out the bodice a total of 3/4" and it fits exactly how I want it to.

Here's the muslin, part way through the process of fitting:

I did the muslin and fitting a little differently than I normally do. To start with, I made the muslin of two layers of sturdy cotton. This is to imitate all the layers that will eventually be in the bodice: fashion fabric, underlining and lining. All that adds to the final circumference, and too many unaccounted for layers and you'll end up with a bodice that is too small. I did, of course, put in the boning as I always do, as that will make a difference in fit, too.

The other thing I did differently was to really take my time with the fitting. This was fitted over a four to five day period. I didn't spend more than 20 to 30 minutes per day working on it. I would make one small change in the evening, and then try the muslin on in the morning while getting ready for work and note any changes. I also kept a pretty detailed log as to what I did each time. I think this helped from getting tunnel vision - which sometimes leads to over fitting. Working with fresh eyes every morning really helped. (I'm doing this now with some jeans/trouser muslins - wait till you see that!)

Here are the fit notes, right from my spreadsheet:

bodice fit notes:
cut all widths to pattern widths
cut bodice back 1" higher
cut bodice side fronts 1" higher at side seam taper to normal height at seam
cut front with top edge even with points
top edge perfect; add additional 5/8" s.a. to existing changes

waist too tight
front bodice perfect with cups and boning not in
back too tight.

let out CB 1/4" both sides (3/4" s.a.)

not using cups
do not shorten between bustline/waist
increase back height by 1" taper up to side seams, and add 5/8" s.a.
split CF; add 1/4" at CF

CF fits perfect at bust/waist lines
make S-shaped seams at bust seam; take out oval shaped piece as marked

S-shaped seams (follow side with check); take out 1/4" extra per side (1/8" x2)
add boning to center front and back
change zipper to side

I also was very careful to note on the muslin the exact changes. I drew the old seam lines, the new seam lines and noted the difference between them. Now I have a record in two places of what I've done.


Here's the front bodice piece with the S-shaped curve that I added. I felt that those seams that run over the bust line just hung straight done from the bust point to the waist and didn't curve attractively around the bust and in at the waist on my figure. This is a case where I actually took out the seam, drew the seamline and seam allowances and used that as part of the patter piece. It will be packed up along with a copy of my notes if I use this bodice again. I'm planning on it, since it is very basic and fits well.

I will try to finish making the bodice this evening and if I have time, stitch more trim on the vest. If not, there's always tomorrow evening!

Q/A: Nina wanted to know if I knew anyone who was shipping Misty Fuse internationally. Yes, there is! There is a seller on eBay. If you go to eBay and search for Misty Fuse, there is a seller in Washington State that ships internationally. She's the only one selling it on eBay, too. I bought mine from her, and had no complaints with the transaction.

Parting Shot: Rhinestones! Monday, I ordered some hot fix rhinestones for FMK from the Rhinestone Guy. He's located in Santa Ana, CA and I got the order today! I also ordered a color chart, which has actual samples of all the colors of Czech Preciosa and Swarovski rhinestones. He sells only by the gross (144 pieces), but the prices are good and he's got all sorts of sparkly goodies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part VIII

The Braided Trim


On either side of the cables section on the vest border, there are some spaces for additional trim. I forgot about it when I originally drafted the artwork, so I had to go back and resize the artwork to include this trim. I've finally got to the point where I can make the trim and today I'll show you how it is made.

The trim consists of a braid of 3 strands of embellished soutache. I got this idea from Jane Conlon's book, Fine Embellishment Techniques. Bascially, I've added an line of stitching in decorative thread down the center of the soutache.

To do so, I used the cording foot to guide the soutche through the sewing machine and used the same thread I used for the quilting and satin stitching. The cording foot makes a big difference when trying to do this, as it keeps the soutache in just the right place to stitch.

Here is one package, all done and wound back onto the card. I ended up having to embellish three packages of soutache, which is 15 yards. It only took about 30 minutes to do, once I figured out the best way to get it stitched.

Once the soutache was embellished, I braided it. In order to braid it easily, I stitched the ends to a piece of tear away stabilizer.

I then put it into a binder clip and pinned the unit to my dress form and braided and braided and braided some more.

When I got to the end, I stitched the ends down to another piece of stabilizer and now it is ready to be hand stitched in place on the vest. I was also able to get the vest assembled last night, getting the darts and side seams stitched. When I get the trim stitched on, I'll show you what it looks like so far. I hope to get that done in the next few days.

Parting Shot: A Lot of Snow. There's so much snow at school, that the children can't use this part of the playground. Thankfully, there is a nice sized hill behind the gymnasium that the younger children can sled down during recess.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part VI

Making the Peplum


Now that I have a lot of flowers cut out of the synthetics, I can begin making the peplum out of them.

To start, I've traced the circular pattern piece onto parchment paper so that I know where to place the flowers

Next, I place flowers where I want them within the pattern lines, wrong side up. Notice that the flowers graduate from large at the bottom of the peplum to small at the top; I cut out four sizes of flowers to use.

To fuse them all together, I next layer a piece of Misty Fuse over the flowers. Misty Fuse is very thin and disappears once the bonding is complete, doesn't leave excess residue and leaves the piece softer and more flexible than other fusible webs. You can see how thin it is in the second photo.

Lastly, I place a layer of tulle over the flowers and Misty fuse (I promise it is there, white tulle is hard to photograph!):

I then fuse the flowers and tulle together by placing another piece of parchment paper over the top and ironing on the highest setting.

This is the resulting piece, which is only one quarter of the whole peplum, but you get the idea:

Once I get all four quarters assembled, I will trim off the tulle beyond the bottom row of flowers and then it will be ready for stitching into place and futher embellishing. Tonight I'm going to try layering everything the other way, with the tulle on the bottom, Misty Fuse in the middle and the flowers right side up on the top. I'm thinking it might be easier to keep everything where I want it.

Parting Shot: Easter dress fabric. I got a fabulous deal on this Kona Bay 100% cotton fabric on eBay for my daughter's Easter dress, so I bought three yards. Essentially, I got three yards and shipping for the price of two yards at my not-so-local quilt shop. This is such a pretty shade of green and there's gold iridescent accents, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part VI

The Flowers for the Peplum


As part of the vest's embellishment, I've decided to modify the pattern to include a peplum. I cut the vest off at the waistline and added a 5/8" seam allowance. Then I drafted a pattern piece for the peplum. Since I wanted a flounced peplum, this was easy. All I had to do was draft a circle of the right diameter that once opened would provide the right amount of drape. Here's the general idea, in muslin and paper form:

For the peplum's fabric, I have come back to an idea that I had to abandon while making Midnight Garden. I am going to make a fabric by collaging small motifs (in this case, flowers) cut out of synthetic satin and organza. It is important that these fabric be synthetic because I am cutting them out with a wood burning tool. This doesn't work well with natural fabrics, they burn instead of cutting. This is why synthetics have been important to this project!

In order to be able to cut consistent motifs every time, I use metal templates that I cut out of a piece of aluminum roof flashing. I already had a template or two from Midnight Garden, so I made some more in other sizes.

To cut the fabric, I use a piece of metal underneath the fabric. This provides a smooth surface on which to cut and provides protection for the work surface.

So far, I have about 1oo flowers cut out in four sizes, and will be cutting more out tonight. This is definitely a bit quicker than making the flowers for Midnight Garden! Next week, I'll show you how I put them all together to make fabric for the peplum.

I do have to add a few words of caution, in case you're tempted to try this at home. First, the aluminum is metal and when you cut it, it will be sharp. You might want to wear gloves and take some coarse grit sand paper to the edges. Second, the woodburning tool is hot. It is made to burn designs in wood. Imagine what it can do to your fingers. Third, the fumes from cutting the synthetic fabrics aren't the most pleasant. Do work in a well ventilated area and wear a mask if you need to.

Q/A: Peggy L wanted know concerning the twin needle quilting, "Okay, how are you securing your threads? Are you leaving long tails and pulling them to the back? It looks like there is a lot of starting and stopping with the twin needle stitching." For this piece, I'm actually just crossing the lines at the knot intersections. Because of that, I was able to stitch all the way around the neck from one end to the other and back again without stopping. Two round trips and it was all done, well, except for fixing the mistakes. I did leave long tails, pulled them through and tied them off.

Parting Shot: Snow Slides. The snow banks are large enough now that the children can carve out slides, tunnels and caves! They, of course, think this is great fun.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part V

The Knots


Thank you all of you who have stopped by and commented recently. I feel like these posts aren't the most exciting, but they are a good portion of the artwork and lay the foundation for all the other embellishments to come. While this part is probably simplistic, it does play an important role in the artwork as a whole. It not only provides the foundation for all the other artwork, but also provides a balance to all the fancier embellishments - something fairly neutral to balance out the other things. That's part of the reason for the diamond quilting - it fills the space, yet is a regular, repeated design that gives the eye a break when looking at the whole piece. Anyway, today I'll show you the "knot" part of Forget Me Knot. I know it is a sad play on words, but I couldn't resist!

Lauralo commented on the post regarding the artwork that the knots looked medieval. She's right, they are. Once upon a time, I did quite a bit of studying and drawing of Celtic style knot work. It is very fascinating to do. Some of the monks actually used grids of dots to draw the knot work and resulting interlacings, while some pieces indicate some of the work was done free hand. I tend to use the grids to make sure everything is lined up right. The knotwork in this current is piece is just a simple four strand knot, the only hard part being the corners and adjusting each section to go around the curves.

Before I even start to stitch, I have a few steps to do to make sure I get the stitching just right. I first trace the design onto tissue paper and then use a temporary spray adhesive to position it on the fabric in the right place. I could trace the design directly onto the fabric, but for some reason for me, it is easier to stitch when I can see, literally, in black and white what I'm supposed to be stitching.

The piece is then taken to the machine and the lines stitched with a twin needle:

Once the whole thing is stitched, then all the paper has to be removed. This, I do have to admit, is not the most fun thing to do. It did, however, keep me occupied during two bus trips.

Once the paper is removed, I can then see if I need to go back and fix any of the stitching. Some of the stitching may be off a bit or crooked and it is hard to see when the tissue is still on the piece. This is what you see below. I'm removing and restitching a small section to make sure it is the proper distances from the satin stitched borders:

Fixing these sections isn't exciting, either, but it must be done to keep everything looking as it should! I've also been able to do the other two satin stitch borders, and finish and trim the edges, so here's what I have so far as of today:

Yes, those are water spots. I had to wash out some more of the water soluble marker!

Tomorrow I'll show you what I'm up to for the peplum! I guarantee it is much more interesting than this part of the project.

Parting Shot: Irises! My husband got me these irises for Valentine's Day. They arrived as buds and have started to open - the bouquet will be really full when they're all open.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part IV

Corded Satin Stitch Trim


Now that the interior diamond quilting is done and the pieces joined at the shoulder, I have continued to work toward the outside edges by working on the borders. The first thing I needed to do was the corded satin stitching. This is a satin stitch that is stitched over a cord or thread of some type to fill it out and give it some height.

Many different things can be used as filler, such as crochet thread, perle cotton, embroidery floss, knitting worsted, etc. For this project, I'm using good old Knit-Cro-Sheen which primarily is used for crochet. I had this ball among my collection of yarns. I think I used it last to crochet snowflakes for my Christmas tree.

After doing a test sample to check the stitch width necessary to cover the thread and the tension, I was able to start stitching. I used a cording foot to keep the thread in place while stitching. In the photo below of the second row of stitching, you can see how the thread feeds through the foot and is held in place by grooves under the foot while the stitching takes place.

This photo shows the first row of stitching, which covers the ends of the diamond quilted rows. This also helps to secure those rows so they don't come loose, even though I did tie them off by hand.

Tomorrow, I'll show you the stitching of the knot work. The quilting is one of the harder part of the project, and once it is done (hopefully tomorrow!), I can then work on the peplum and embellishing. I've also been working on fitting a bodice muslin for the dress, which I'll post about soon, too.

So far, this project seems to be moving along without too much drama or disaster. I hope that doesn't mean there is something looming in the future!

Q/A: Sigrid wanted to know, "Do you press with the water soluable marker still on?" Yes, I do. I haven't had any problems doing so, at least not yet. I do a test with any new product just to make sure. I remember some of the older wax tracing papers actually becoming permanent with ironing, though!

Parting Shot: Glittery Trees. These are so much better in real life, but the sun was just right this morning and after yesterday's winter storm, the trees now have a glaze of ice on them. If you click on the picture to see it at full size, you'll be able to see better what I'm talking about - the trees look like they have a coating of diamonds on them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Forget Me Knot - Vest - Part III

Finishing the Diamond Quilting


Once the diamond quilting is done, the pieces need to be prepared for the next step: the two inner satin stitch borders. Here is what I did to get these pieces ready:

First, I had to pull through and tie off all the thread ends at the neck edge, all the way around. In the photo below, you can see at the lower blue line there are no thread ends. The thread ends in the upper photo will be dealt with in a later step.

2. Using the pattern piece, I trace the shape of the pattern piece on the quilted piece. Any unquilted areas are hand basted together and then I stitch around the piece on the traced lines using a short stitch.

3. Once the stitching is complete, I cut out the piece. This finishes off the quilted edges preparing them to be seamed.

4. For this piece, where the quilting is not yet complete, I've only stitched and cut the edges already quilted and the shoulder seams. I need to be able to join the fronts and back at the shoulders in order to continuously satin stitch around the neckline. This photo shows a shoulder seam, with completed quilting, the space for all the neckline border quilting and the untrimmed edge. I will still need to smooth out the fabric, so that edge must be free, with the basting will being removed as necessary.

Now, about those blue lines. They are made with a water soluble marking pen. I did have a colleague wander into my classroom one day when I was marking the lines and was a bit horrified to see the blue lines on the pretty purple fabric. I told him not to worry, I had it all under control. He was curious as to how I was going to remove the lines and I had to explain that it was a water soluble marking pen.

Tomorrow I will show you the the satin stitching - it is actually a corded satin stitch.

Parting Shot: Easter Dress! I got this pattern along with my SWAP vintage wardrobe pattern in the mail recently. My daughter's dress will be sleeveless and made up in a pale green fabric printed with pink flowers and trimmed with pink ribbon. Easter is in March this year, so I need to plan early!