Posted on

My favorite tools

As with any activity, the tools used become a critical part of the successful completion. I thought I would talk about a couple I use on a regular basis while sewing.

Over the past few years, I have become a HUGE fan of KAI scissors. As you can see from the picture, I have quite a few. Plus duplicates! They are balanced correctly, comfortable and a pleasure to use. AND the company (located in Seattle, WA) offers a sharpening service: you mail them the scissors (4″ and larger), and for $5 +tax each, they will sharpen and mail them back.

KAI scissors
KAI scissors

Another tool I love and use alot is the Marti Michell Corner Trimmer. She demonstrated this several years ago at Sewing Expo and I was hooked immediately! It is great for joining lengths of fabric for binding, piping, fabric tubes, etc.

corner tool
corner trimmer alignment

The MOST important step of using this tool is to lay both strips of binding right sides up. I sometimes layer several strips to speed up the process but I ALWAYS remember to have them right side up!

corner tool
trimmer with corner of fabric cut off

The “corner” on the tool lines up the fabric for a nice 1/4″ seam. Lay the two pieces at right angles along the bias cut edge, right sides together, and sew.

stitching angle
stitching angle

I press the seam open so there is less “bulk” at the join. On solid or small print fabric, the join is virtually unnoticeable.

joined binding
joined binding

When joining one-way fabric, turn one strip upside down but STILL right side up. Notice the direction of the fabrics that have been trimmed off.

cutting one-way binding
cutting one-way binding

After joining, the direction on the fabric will be correct. I am not ashamed to admit it took a few tries to get this right the first time I used one-way fabric!

joined one-way binding
joined one-way binding

Let your creativity begin! And have fun 🙂

 

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
Prov 2:6

 

Posted on

Useful Accessories for Heirloom Sewing

Many times, after telling others about my passion for heirloom sewing, the response I get is “I don’t have a fancy machine”. Trust me, ANY machine that has a straight stitch and zig-zag can be used to create wonderful heirlooms!

Of course, having a top-of-the-line machine gives you a wider array of decorative stitches to choose from. Great to have but not required!

Another useful “tool” is the presser foot but, again, not absolutely necessary to have more than the standard to create elegant fancy bands and trims.

foot box

I am lucky to have a Bernina 830 and a wide array of feet. Each one was designed for a specific use but can be used for other purposes as well. I am going to talk about the ones I used in creating the Fancy Baby Dress (see related post).

feet
assorted feet (numbers refer to Bernina feet only)

Everyone has a ‘favorite’ foot for general sewing and I have two: #1 and #34. In the photo, #1 is mounted on the machine and #34 is just to the right. On the #1 foot the indentation in front of and behind the needle opening allows for easier forward and reverse stitching. #34 has a transparent sole which ensures a good view of the stitching and needle area. I use this one quite a bit for sewing laces and trims together.

Foot #37 is the Patchwork foot, developed for projects with 3mm (1⁄8”) or 6mm (1⁄4”) seam allowances. As the name implies, it is used mostly for quilting.

#32 (7 grooves) and #46C are the pintuck feet. I also used #46C for the corded piping. It has larger grooves which makes sewing the piping easier.

pintucks
pintucks with grooved foot

#54 is a zipper foot with a non-stick sole. I also used this foot to attach some of the piping.

#20C is called the open embroidery foot but I use it when combining laces, entredeux and trims. The open foot allows for greater control of the delicate fabrics and a clear view of your stitching.

lace to entredeux
lace to entredeux

I tend to switch feet often, trying for the best combination and ease of sewing.

beige dress
beige dress

Remember, you DO NOT HAVE to have all these feet to create heirloom garments or gifts. Just start stitching and enjoy the creative process!

“For nothing is impossible with God.”
– Luke 1:37

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Fancy Baby Dress

Last Sunday I attended a baby shower for a new member of our church. The baby was 1 month old and a little doll. I thought the suggested gift of children books, so the family could learn English, was great!

Anyway, needing a gift for the shower allowed me to do what I absolutely love – heirloom sewing 🙂

The fabric I chose was a bright white Satinella Batiste by Stylecrest; it has a slight sheen and a wonderful feel. I selected a simple square yoke pattern with a gathered sleeve and smocked skirt.

On the bodice, I created a verticle “fancy band” with lace and entredeux inserts alternated with pintucks.

fancy band bodice
fancy band bodice

The sleeves have one row of the lace and entredeux framed with pintucks down the middle.

sleeve band
sleeve band

After cutting the front skirt piece to length, I pleated 10 half-rows across the top. This was then blocked to match the bodice yoke, the pleats startched and steamed into place. I ran a row of back-smocking on the first and 8th rows of the pleating. {I will cover pleating in more detail in another post}

pleated skirt
pleated skirt

After the smocking was completed, it was time to assemble the dress. The bodice is lined and piping was added to the yoke (front and back) and neckline. Small pink pearls accent the bottom row of smocking.  I finished the sleeves with a simple band, trimmed by the piping.

yoke and skirt
yoke and skirt

The back placket is closed with clear plastic snaps and accented with white “pearl” buttons.

back of dress
back of dress

I cut the skirt long, to allow for a 3″ hem. I then added piping along the hem stitch line by creating a tuck. This enclosed the raw edge and gave the dress a finished look. As a side note, I believe in enclosing as much of the raw edge as possible. The side seams are a modified french seam and the yoke is stitched over the skirt gathers.

The fully-lined bonnet is very simple, with pintucks and piping accenting the front band. I finished it off with a satin ribbon bow and tie.

bonnet
bonnet

And here it is!

dress and bonnet
dress and bonnet

Love and prayers for a long life were included in every stitch. I thoroughly enjoyed this project!

Posted on

Have Machine, Will Travel

I recently traveled by car from the Seattle area to central California for a family reunion. As usual, I took my sewing machine and supplies.  As I am usually in the middle of one or more projects, traveling can affect deadlines. Besides, I sew most every night anyway!

sewing supplies
sewing supplies

Depending on my travel schedule, I might not take the machine in for a single night. This trip I was in the hotel for three days. I have two travel machines; this one is my Bernina Aurora 440. My only setup option was a round table and I had to use pillows to make the chair high enough.  There was an ironing board however, so that was handy. As most of my supplies are still in boxes my travel iron was not handy, so my Oliso traveled with me too. I love that iron!

room
room setup

The projects and fabrics filled one suitcase. The red boxes held all my tools: scissors, bobbins, tweezers, etc.

lap quilt
lap quilt

This setup was at my cousin’s for one afternoon. We had a nice visit while I sewed! All that is left to do is the binding!

Posted on

Teacher Appreciation Throw

This project is one of the reasons I have been so busy the last few weeks – don’t take me wrong, I have enjoyed working on all my projects! I finally got a whiteboard to list them all!!!!

As part of a teacher appreciation gift, my 11-year-old grand-daughter and her 5th grade classmates signed blocks of white fabric. I assembled them together with assorted school prints for the 2-1/2″ sashing and 3-1/2″ border. As there were only 21 blocks, I added 4 in baseball fabric to create 5 rows of 5 (7″) blocks. The Boston Red Sox fleece was chosen as the backing as it is the teacher’s favorite baseball team. I put my label in the lower left block and added “2013-2014” with permanent marker.

teacher throw
teacher throw

This was all done “long-distance” as my grand-daughter lives in New York state (I am on the West Coast)!

This project is quick and easy to put together. Feel free to create your own signature teacher throw. I am sure it will be greatly appreciated!

Posted on

Darling Dress for Baby or Doll

This dress features a full skirt, cummerbund with bow and wide collar in matching gingham, embellished with pintucks, French lace, satin ribbon and embroidery. The back closes with small mother-of-pearl buttons. This pattern will fit either a 24” Middleton Doll or 6-9 month old baby.

The center front of the wide circular collar is embroidered with a delicate floral vine then trimmed in lace and ribbon. The Heirloom techniques used are stitching lace to gathered-lace and lace to fabric, which is then accented by a narrow strip of ribbon. The neckline is trimmed in gathered lace and entredeux.

collar
collar

Entredeux is a “ladder” trim used in Heirloom sewing as a “bridge” between lace and fabric, fabric to fabric, or lace to lace, as well as a trim all by itself. In the picture, you will see I am using Tiger Tape to hold the gathers in place until stitched. The same technique is used to stitch gathered-lace to lace.

gathered lace to entredeux
gathered lace to entredeux

Pintucks are created using a grooved foot and a twin needle. A slightly stiffer fabric works best, so if your fabric is light-weight, such as batiste, spray starch before stitching. Following the groove on the foot creates even spacing between pintucks.

stitching pintucks
stitching pintucks

On this project, the pintucks are also scalloped. Work slowly as you are using a double needle. Pivot at the top of the scallop, with the needle down. Drawing the curves and pivot points on the fabric will allow for uniform scallops and points (make sure you test that your lines will come out!).

scalloped pintucks
scalloped pintucks

I modified this dress for an Easter outfit. The client wanted a pink dress trimmed in white, no lace or collar. I used quality Swiss Batiste for the pink and white cotton sateen for the trim and cummerbund. The skirt is finished with the scalloped pintucks.

baby Easter
baby dress for Easter

The sleeves are gathered and trimmed with a band of the matching gingham fabric.

doll_baby dress
doll_baby dress

Regardless of trims or embellishments, this is a cute dress for dolls OR babies!

Note: I have a few of the 24″ Middleton Dolls still in stock. Contact me if interested.

 

 

 

Posted on

Multi-pocket Tote Bag

My granddaughter liked a tote bag I had made during a Martha Pullen Licensing so much that she asked me to make one for her friend’s birthday. She picked out the fabrics and I got busy!

As the original pattern creates a LARGE tote bag, I adjusted the measurements a bit to better fit an 8-year-old’s stature. The quilting was created by stitching the main fabric onto batting. I used a 1″ gridded pellon and followed the lines, stitching every 2″ on a diagonal. I can’t sew that straight free-hand! I used a walking foot to prevent puckers.

I used the blue ‘frosted’ fabric for the outside of the bag. One side has 2 vinyl pockets, trimmed in an accent fabric. The bottom and straps are purple ‘frosted’ fabric.

bag front
bag front

The other side of the outside is a zippered pocket which I trimmed in the lining fabric for a “pop” of color.

bag back
bag back

The lining is a zebra print with 3 open pockets on one side (purple) and a zippered pocket on the other (in blue). The bottom corners of both the outside and lining were stitched to create a box pleat.

inside bag
inside bag

It was a hit with my granddaughter and I am now making another for her own!

Posted on

Wonderful Seattle Weather and quilting!

Seattle and the Pacific Northwest are beautiful with sunny skies and super warm days! The mountain has been “out” in all her glory !!!

My daughter-in-law’s mother was moving (it’s been a busy few months for our family!) so I made this throw for her as a house warming gift.

This fabric was in my stash and in one of the first boxes I unpacked. There was a center panel and eight coordinating fat quarters, plus about a 1/2 yard in an ninth print.

The first border, sometimes called a “piano” border, was created from the eight prints.

strips
fabric strips

These strips were sewn together, cut into the width I wanted and stitched together for the lengths needed (sides and top/bottom).

strip piece
strip piece
piano border
piano border

I did not have enough fabric for the outside border to go all the way around. Luckily, there was enough of the border strips to make corner squares. Quilting was a simple stitch-in-the-ditch around the center panel and piano border.

corner squares
corner squares

I chose a beige backing which was rolled to the front to bind the edges. She really liked the final result!

finished throw
finished throw

More quilts, bags and other garments to come in future posts!

 

 

Posted on

Smocking and Scallops

This dress began as a blank with the pleating already in place. The smocking is a simple trellis design in colors to match the ribbon roses used to embellish the dress.

yoke smocking
yoke smocking

I created the piping and attached it to the sleeves and collar. A lace beading trim was stitched on the sleeve with satin ribbon for “gathering”.

The hem features a Madeira Scallop technique using Wash-Away Thread, in both the bobbin and top thread. Cut your piece for the scallops a bit wider and longer than needed and fold in half. Mark the scallops and stitch 1/4″ away from that line. To make turning a bit easier, take one stitch across the point of the scallop. Turn the piece and press lightly to set the edges.

turned scallops
turned scallops

Now, the next few steps are the IMPORTANT ones! Do NOT pull apart yet! Spray starch the turned edge until fairly wet. Press until COMPLETELY DRY. Once dry, gently pull the pieces apart.

scallops after pressing
scallops after pressing

This process sets the 1/4″ turned edge. Pretty neat, huh! Place the scallop onto the hem – right side of scallop to wrong side of dress. Stitch the long edge of the scallop trim and turn to the front of the dress. Press and stitch (I used a pinstitch) the scallops to the dress.

pinstitch scallops
pinstitch scallops

Small ribbon roses complete the embellishment, with one rose on each scallop point and at the center of the collar.

finished dress
finished dress

This was a fun and easy project. The dress can be customized with colors of your choice!

 

Posted on

Simple Easter Dresses!

Since most of my fabric/trims/etc are still in storage, I decided to pick up a few ready-made dresses from All About Blanks at the recent Sewing Expo. These are cute, but plain, sundresses. You can easily and quickly turn them into darling dresses for Easter or just “Sunday best” by adding lace, ribbon and trims. Note that the decorative trim extends to the back of the bodice. The back of the dress should be just as cute as the front!

The first two dresses, white with pink or blue collars and hems, have 3 rows of decorative stitching around the skirt. The third dress is all white with two rows of cutwork stitching along the hem.

On the white/pink dress I stitched Swiss beading trim woven with pink ribbon around the hem and bodice – both front and back. I used pink silk ribbon roses as accents along the trim/ribbon at the hem and bodice front.

white_ pink dress
White & pink dress

The blue/white dress features a French Lace beading woven with white ribbon around the hem and bodice as well. The accents are white silk ribbon bows.

white_blue dress
White & blue dress

For the white dress, I cut the two rows of cutwork stitching apart and inserted a row of French Lace. Narrow lavender silk ribbon was woven through both rows of cutwork. I stitched a row of French Lace on both sides of a length of Swiss insertion. This “fancy band” was then stitched onto the bodice (front and back) in a V shape.

A row of French Lace beading woven with lavender silk ribbon was stitched around the bodice and 3 lavender silk ribbon bows added to the front ~ and one on the back.

white with lavender
White Dress

 

Even when short on time and supplies, you can create dresses ready to be worn to any special occasion!

 

FYI  These dresses(and others) are available for purchase . . .