Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Bustle ...

3 of the 6 grandkids along with 2 of the 3 sewing machines in the room ...
With so many victorian themed events popping up during Christmas & New Years , I thought I would share my bustle I make up for myself & others . It is based on antique hip-form bustle pads I have seen , and resembles in no way the couch-bolster pillows with ties that are seen being sold as bustle pads everywhere .
I start by cutting each one with the shape ( or lack there of ) of the person that will be wearing it . I free hand cut 3 elongated crescent shapes out of two layes of a fine cotton twill weave .
I make each layer by sandwiching high loft batting between fabric & serging the edge . Then I run a row of stitching aprox 1/2 inch from that edge to secure the batting.
I then pleat & secure the upper edge of each pad to get the contour I am needing for the dress & person wearing it .
 This lady is quite tall & thin with little curve at the hip or behind , so I bulked up the undermost layer :
I only attach the points to the waist tape , this makes for a cooler garment & less bulk where there tends to be layers of closings already .
Then I attach the 2nd layer in the same manner ;
and then the 3rd:
It is shown above on the front of my dress form to illustrate how the extra bulk underneith will help build up the rear .
Of course using one of the vintage machines makes for a better time sewing & is good for them to run & feel needed ; )
Plus the top-of-the-line Husqvarna Diamond beeps & stops & sends me hate mail on it's screen if I sew over pleated layers of tighly woven twill . "Main motor overload" , really ? Computers ...
Have a great time sewing this holiday season & ask for a vintage machine from Santa !

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vintage ( sort of ) Restyle for the front room ...

this is sort of sewing room and sort of repurposing vintage fabric , so what the heck here it is !

I had to relocate temporarily my sewing room to accomidate one of our son's growing family , so I had made these portieres for the doorway between the once formal dining - now sewing room & the living room . I lined the bold plaid silk with a crazy brilliant green embroidered taffeta so I could have something fun on my side of the curtains , so there is a decent amount of time & work in the darn things , too good to rip up . I am no longer use them as the kid's families have all settled in their own homes now ( knock on wood ) so I got the idea to use them to cover that awful futon you also see in the pic .

Here it is in all it's loveliness . Since I didn't want to tear up the original door curtains , I left them intact & then sewed them like a giant pillow case , using the antique chainstitch treadle you can see in the photo . That way I still have the option of taking it apart & still having the door curtains if we have need for a makeshift bedroom etc... downstairs . The chainstitch is such a great thing to have , just pick out the last stitch made & zzzziiiiiiippp - out the entire seam comes with one pull ! I had to use some scraps pieced together to get it big enough to fit the cushion , but I was able to get just enough .

here it is , needs more accessories than dog toys & the grandkid's toy pile though ...

yes that works , futons are so akward to sit in to me , too deep & at an angle , so pillows are a must .

So there it is , today's sewing project , as green as anyone could be . Reused the curtains & even stitched on a people powered machine !

Friday, June 22, 2012

The joy of vintage sewing machines ...

                                                                            * love *

Do you own one or have a collection of vintage and/or antique sewing machines ? Most people that sew frequently seem to attract interesting sewing machines magneticly , like this W&W that sews left to right rather than front to back & has a cabinet dated 1855 .

         Sometimes not so interesting or attractive ones too , like sad stray unwanted pets they come home with us . This nasty looking Featherweight was bought to use for parts but ended up being a project .

Here it is after an insane amount of time & effort , like sewing clothes , saving sewing machines is a labor of love & not the most practical way to get a machine !

                                                                             BUT - there are many jobs that an oldie can perform sooooo much better than even my Viking top of line machine can ,  like this 1915 Singer treadle powered chainstitch machine I use all the time . It is fantastic for any seam you may need to do more than once , like in a fitting , test muslin , first time using a pattern or piecing difficult fabrics like velvet . Just pick out the last stitch & zzzzzzzzzziiiip - just pull the seam out with no strain at all on your eyes , nerves or fabric ! Also makes a virtually impossible to break stretch stitch . Also not affected by power outages : )
                                                                 Sewing folds of high thread count weave goods like silk taffeta ? My new machine goes waaaaah I don't want to & beeps & says "motor overload" on it's snazzy touch screen                      
                                                                                    Grab a can of spinach & heft this 40 lb chunk of glorious turquoise iron up on the table & pound thread through anything that won't break the needle ! Plus the bonus of feeling like you are behind the wheel of a 57' Chevy while you sit in front of it .
speaking of aesthetics , could a machine get much better than this 1926 White SMCo ornate casting in antique bronze finish ?!    No wonder they couldn't keep up with Singer , the time it took to cast this much detail & create this finish *sigh* . Makes Singer's black tipped -over-eggtimer design look like the push-them-out-as-fast-as-you-can cost saver it was . I also have this casting in a fine crinkled black finish .                                            
      But wait - There is also a whole 'nuther bunch of goodies to go with these old forgotten beauties - tons of gadget attachments !  Oh the fun of it ! My oldest obscure one is my arrasene embroidery attachment , an embroidery technique that was popular in the 1880's and used mostly chenille type yarns .        I have a little collection of some of the old goods made in silk and dyed the most vivid colors , some were in the original wrappers
                                                                              here is a link to some info on this subject :
Another was the chainstitch attachments that were used on rotary sewing machines like the White & Standard brands . There were single & two thread embroidery attachments that ratcheded a second thread around the needle thread to form interesting little loops
                                  but this is a whole posting unto itself !                                                          
 another great thing is that sometimes you find cute little ones in fun colors ,                                     cute + fun = appealing to young people !  a great thing to get them to sit down & learn a bit about sewing !                             
                                    and those crazy dials & levers !  get them hooked early !
                                                                                   Do you ever use a vintage machine over using your modern high tech one(s) ?   An old straight stitcher for perfect edge stitching , old ruffler attachment for trim ? A tiny free arm Featherweight 222k for sleeves or millinery ? If so post below !  Let's get these oldies out of the garage & back in use : )         

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Early Edwardian Style Dress for Summer

well I finally got around to finishing a dress I started last Fall ... well almost . I thought a lightweight sheer 1902-ish dress for October in AZ.  would be nice to have , but , well you know how sewing goes . So here it is now , just in time for Wyatt Earp Days in Tombstone over Memorial Day wekend .

Here are a couple inspiration pics :

OK , great dress with the big lace yoke & ruffles galore , cute on that young thing but not so much on this grandmother of six , so we need to tone down the fluff ....

OK , better , I think with a more mature palette and less lace this can work .
Now for a pattern . Being horribly cheap I like to make do with what is on hand , and this seemed close ...

Not my best idea , but too late now .

I had ordered a large amount of tiny cotton net edging lace , here I am attempting to use the narrow rolled hem foot while edge stitching the lace on in one operation . Miles of it . On bias cut ruffles . This is why the dress was abandoned for a while I think .

Then there was that yoke & collar ... pin tucked with rows of the edging lace applied with hemstitching ...

Only to try it on & hate the fit . Ugh .

So 3 more times through the machine altering the shoulder seams to get it acceptable .

BUT - now I don't like the front , the lower edge of the yoke looks too straight across & not as round as I had wanted . Double UGH .

   So ... I hand stitched a sparse old lace collar over the yoke to try & give it a more rounded line .....

Horrible photo , but you get the idea .

Someday I will make the ruched , pointed girdle for it out of cream silk , but for now , an antique ebroidered silk sash works fine .

Now , if someone can just help me do something with that HAIR !  I can't do anything but grow the stuff ...

Any help or suggestions will be appreciated !
Feel free to comment ...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another 20's style dress ...

                   I have made this pattern before , from a warp print linen blend , and really liked how it stitched up , but felt it had details that could be accentuated but were not in the original . I decided to do another using a lighter weight fabric , in two colors for contrast . I cut the dress a few sizes larger than normal to get a lose fit , more like a 1920's style , rather than the slightly fitted 1930's illustration .


The fabrics are both light weight crinkled crepe , synthetic , a snappy brilliant green bias print plaid paired with a solid black of the same . I used a black silk/cotton blend fabric for stabilizing the neck facing & will be making a slip from the same .

Now for those pins ... I am not much for pinning things , I have set sleeves without pins even , but this sneaky - slippery - shape shifting stuff  had even pinlazy me pinning like crazy !

As always , vintage machine for vintage sewing project !

Nothing beats an old narrow feed straight stitcher for accurate , neat edge stitching !

I decided to make the front yokes black , and then to make the facings from the plaid and flip them to the outside for more fun contrast . I still wanted a little more , so I topstitched folds of the plaid fabric along the lower yoke edge . I also pieced the skirt inserts from the solid black with a bias cut plaid section in the center .

A lose fitting dress made up in floating , flowy fabric , with a draped sash at the dropped waist and a scarf type drape on each hip to flutter along ...

and I have me a new dress !

Saturday, May 12, 2012

1921 Butterick pattern dress project

so here is the pattern , an oldie , and I just now when uploading images for this page noticed the notes for construction ... oops . I really like the mention  "Dress should be worn over a Suitable Slip"

I traced pattern onto pellon to keep from damaging original , then cut from some mystery content fabric found on a clearance table , but in a perfect Jadeite green with a vintage Aisan inspired red print .

as always , a vintage machine must be called into use for a vintage sewing session , although I am not enthused enough in this heat in my upstairs sewing room to be 100% authentic & treadle this one , so a newfangled 1961 Singer 320K will do just fine : )

God forbid I leave well enough alone & use a tasteful crisp white collar , so I added some bright red braid type accents to it with the old "special purpose foot" ( whatever that means ) that came with the 320K Singer .

Then I used some fabric I bought like 10 years ago to drape a wall for a Tea I was hosting ( it was originally bought as throw away fabric to use for decor , but throw away & fabric can't coexist in my brain ) as an accent overlay on the center front panel & to make the sash .

here are the two fabrics together

the pattern calls for an elastic in casing around the dropped waist , being no fan of gathers or ruffles around my big bum , I opted to change that ( suprise ) to pleats at the sides & front , and some slight fullness at the back brought in with the sash .

and there you have it , a nice warm weather frock for afternoon tea , or more realistically in this climate & local  , chips & salsa with ice cold beer(s)