Getting serious about appliqué

I’m starting to think about a full applique quilt, maybe something along the lines of a Baltimore Album quilt, but not using the old fashioned templates, something new, but I’m not sure exactly what yet.

So, first off I need to try out more tools.Karen Kay Buckley has come out with a simple tool called perfect seams.  These little plastic templates help make a perfect tubes, from 1/2″ to 1/8″.

It’s simple, cut the fabric on the bias, sew wrong sides together into a tube, using a zipper foot, as I sew, I keep moving these templates down and finally out.Trim the sewn edge, iron down and start appliqueing.I have here the 1/2″, 2/8″ and 1/8″. The narrower the tube, the easier it is to get tight curves. I sewing with silk thread, strong and almost invisible. I sew by hand, for me, applique is hand work.I twisted these freely as I sewed.  Knowing me, I probably won’t use the 1/2″ much.

Then I decided to embellish with more Appliquick shapes. Don’t look at these for color schemes, I’m using us scraps I have on hand.

I could just keep going, but I think I’ll stop here. I had a $10 gift certificate from Candy’s Quiltworks. So I bought some more boy fabric and made another pillowcase.  This is for foster kids, they always need pillowcases to give the kids and girls themes are more plentiful than boys. So whenever possible, I’m making pillowcases for boys.

Leah

Two kinds of knits

I love knit fabric, especially one that is mostly rayon. And look at that print, those roses! This took two hours to make, I love my serger. The only thing I did on my sewing machine was sew the hems.The sun is in her eyes, otherwise, I can assure you, very happy granddaughter. Look how her shoes match perfectly.Who doesn’t love a dress that twirls?

And then there is the knitting that takes a long long time.Another shawl, although, sadly, despite all the work, it’s more like a scarf than a shawl, it does cover my shoulders, but not enough.Knitting with two yarns takes longer than just one. The narrow bands are one skein that gradually changes color.Interesting shaping, which is what attracted me in the first place. I’ve already wound up another ball of yarn, even if my knitting has slowed down a lot, I have to have a project on hand.

Leah

Why I sew clothes

I love sewing my own clothes, there is a lot of creativity involved. But there is more to it than that. Clothes shopping sucks. From time to time I’ll go to Marshalls, or Nordstrom Rack and I’ll find a t-shirt or pants. Yes, I can sew pants, but I don’t. That is fine, but this weekend, when everyone was watching the Superbowl, I wanted to treat myself to shopping at a real Store, Macy’s to be exact.One doesn’t see displays like this at the discount stores. Cute dress, so I took a closer look. $90 before tax, which is quite high here in LA. I looked inside, the fabric is Polyester and spandex – not high quality at all. I didn’t take a picture of the inside, but it was like my sewing on my home serger. The industry has better machines than I do, I expect industry style finishing.Most of the store looked like this.Or this, an orphan jacket thown onto any old rack. Over fifty percent of the store is sales items – I might as well be at Ross.This looks like something I might wear, well no, I would have worn it twenty years ago. Once again, very cheap fabric.This is about $20, but really?? Ok, I admit it, I’m old, I don’t need to be on the cutting edge of fashion, especially, when cutting edge really means cuts.Or how about the inside out look? Ugh!Sleeves actually have more fabric than the front or the back. But that the sleeve has as much as both together? No thank you.I couldn’t even find a simple long sleeve t-shirt. You see how see through this fabric is? Most shirts were like this. Once upon a time, this was called – sleazy. It’s an industry term that describes a very cheap see-through fabric. For the last 10 years, it has been used in the fashion industry. I guess if you have to compete with H&M, you need to make sure that the cost of the garment is close to nil.

Sure, there were some clothes for Mature women, but they were soooo boring.  I bought nothing, but it just reinforces my sewing for myself. I will spend good money on good quality fabric and will make clothes that are unique to me.  And that is a real blessing.

Leah

Gifts

I exchange gifts with a number of friends around the country. This is supposed to be a Christmas exchange, but sometimes, things get delayed. It’s fine, because it’s so much fun getting a fun package in January.Vivian is from Texas, got to love Texas, Texans are full of state pride.What I really love is the shawl she knit me. Not only did she knit it, she also dyed the yarn. She is now my source for hand-dyed yarn, Hillview Yarns.January in LA means the Camellias are blooming. I have one bush, but my neighbors’ bushes always show off with a riot of color.I happen to be wearing a sweater I knit that matches this shawl perfectly. How cool is that?Then there is the gift I made. Shannon Fabrics has put out a very easy pattern for this blanket, using both their double gauze fabric and their super soft cuddle.I didn’t pre-wash the fabrics, just threw it into the machine after I put it together, it came out great.Eyal likes it.He sure is getting big. Very serious right here, although these days, he has that wonderful baby smile – where his whole face lights up. I was too busy enjoying the smiles to worry about getting a picture.

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Leah

Another cat

After making the bear using Cuddle fabric, I wanted to make more. So I went back to Paulas’ cat pattern to make another cat.

These are the scraps, yup, even cuddle sheds like crazy, but it’s not flimsy like most minky fabrics.I went through a lot of these lint roller sheets.I like using a touch of quilting fabric and since the person who is getting this cat doesn’t have any small children, I can use these eyes.Flat cat.Begining to bulk up.I used more than one bag of polyfill. I think it’s because of the Cuddle fabric, it has more give than quilting cotton.Love how the tail stands up in the air.I love working with Cuddle, people are making garments with this, but I’m just loving it for stuffed animals. Which means I’ll probably be making more soon.And here’s the label.Two critters together, I may be giving the fox as a gift as well….

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Leah

Making a fox

I have a real weak spot for making three-dimensional objects from fiber, be it sewing or knitting.  A while ago I discovered Paula from Funky Friends Factory, She has the cutest animals around.I have already made the cat, now onto Fifi the Fox.  I have no idea if I am giving this away or keeping it for myself. I guess it won’t be a baby gift since I’ve put on those ‘safety eyes’. They aren’t safe, doesn’t matter how I install them, even if I add glue to the process – a baby can chew those eyes off. The body is complete, just waiting for the stuffing.What a difference fiber-fill makes!!  I have made many stuffed animals, some better than others. Paula has a real understanding about the shapes and how to render them flat and yet, they sew up into remarkable three-dimensional creatures.It’s a small thing, but the ears have real personality.I need to order more labels.Just to leave you with a happy smile.

I’m already working on another one, this time, it’s already got a recipient.

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Leah

Looks like I have a shirt factory…

I’m on a big clothes sewing binge right now. I even went to Mood to buy some more fabric. Only to discover that the rent on La Brea must be way too high and they have moved much closer to downtown LA.I don’t even know how old this sign is, days? Weeks? So I went to International Silks and Woolens instead. Costumer service will have an effect on my buying habits. I picked up a few knits, really nice quality. I asked one of the salesmen if I could leave them on a cutting table while I continued to shop, he wanted to cut them right away, I wanted to wait. I was then looking for shirt material, thinking of plaids.

Well, next thing I know, my knits are gone, I mention this to another salesman and he says: maybe someone put them away. Doesn’t offer to help find them, anything.  Within a few minutes, I leave – even though there were very nice fabrics there. It’s a good thing I did, cuz look what I found at home.A really nice plaid I bought downtown last year. It even has a gold thread running through it. Festive! As much as I enjoyed my latest class, I also love my serger so on the shirt I decided to do the felled seam after serging, not folding over.I agree, a full felled seam is beautiful, but I’m the only one who sees it. So when the mood strikes me I’ll use it, otherwise, the serger is a great tool.
I was being very careful about matching the plaids. Somehow when I inserted the collar the left side ended up lower than the right. Good thing I checked!I was able to fix it without a problem.  Experienced seamstresses make mistakes all the time. It’s knowing how to fix them that matters.I’m not sure you can tell, but I cut the plaid collar and stand just a tiny bit smaller than the previous shirt. Most people may never see the underside of the collar, but I like the contrast.Another fun thing with plaids is playing with bias, in this case, the pocket and the yoke.I could have really spent the time and had a center seam going down the middle of the yoke and had the plaid mirror image. Then again, I think this looks just fine.The front matches beautifully! I am so proud.Another very successful shirt.  I love how sewing has enriched my life.

Leah

Another shirt, with quilting fabric

I really enjoyed making that shirt, I am now on a roll. A while ago I bought some wonderful fabric from Alexander Henry that is full of owls. How could I resist. I used a different pattern, same methods.Took my tripod out in front of neighbors houses, the ones who have lovely Christmas decorations.I do enjoy combining fabrics, not just in my quilts but in clothing as well. On to another house. Can I tell you how pleased I am with the sleeve slit, the pleats, and the cuff?  I have tried more complicated slits, it’s not worth it, as I get older I am learning that simple is often the best. This is probably more about the decorations that the shirt. How many times do you need to see a shirt.Ok, one more since I am very proud of how clean and professional this is.I do try to accessorize well. How cute are these owl earrings with the shirt?!?  I bought the earring, couldn’t resist.

Then I wore this outfit throughout the day and at the supermarket, the cashier commented on both the shirt and the earrings. I thanked her profusely, so the woman behind me said: I also noticed! Well, thank you as well!

I didn’t mention that I made the shirt, but yes, this is a big reason for sewing my own clothes. Not everyone will comment, but I know that people notice and I love it. I remember reading a book years ago how at 40 women become invisible. I was still in my 30s at the time. Well, guess what, 40 is in the rearview mirror and what can I say, I’m not invisible at all.

Leah

The classic button down shirt

I sewed another button down shirt. A number of years ago I took a Craftsy class with Janet Prey, she teaches all kinds of ‘industry’ techniques. Which is all well and good, but I’m not trying to sew in an assembly line. I want a good result. Unfortunately, although my shirts look good, I was really having problems with the collar and collar stand.When I was in Albuquerque I was wearing one of my handmake shirts, of course, one of the sales-women at a quilt store had to inspect every aspect of it. She was impressed, but she recommended taking Pam Howards’ class on Craftsy. I am so glad I did!The fabric is a Liberty Lawn, this style print is much more indicative of Liberty. The fabric is beyond amazing for a shirt. Lighter than quilting cotton, it is lightweight with a tight weave. I loved working with it. The pattern itself is a little simpler than the one I’ve been using up until now. Since I love sewing these shirts out of prints, I see no reason to go back to a pattern that has a separate placket, or a fancy sleeve vent.I usually don’t put on a pocket. I did this time for two reasons, I wanted to follow Pam’s instructions to see how it’s done. I also worked hard to make sure that the print flows without a break.I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the collar! Turns out, working slowly and methodically, doing some hand-sewing as well leads to much better results than fast and quick techniques.I’m loving the sleeve vent, pleats and cuff as well.When sewing, I am always using my serger to achieve nice clean seams. In this class, I learned how to sew the shirt with fell seams, even the sleeve. The inside is as neat as the outside. Pam joked that one could wear the shirt inside out.  The button plackets.The side seam where it meets the sleeve.Inside the cuff and vent.

I am so happy with this shirt, it fits well, it looks more professional than any shirt I’ve ever made. I can use some of these techniques on other garments that have collars and cuffs. I will also be making more of these shirts. There is a short sleeve option, which I intend to make as well.

Never stop learning, never! I immediately ordered two more of Pam’s classes, sewing a jacket and sewing with knits. Since it was the weekend after Thanksgiving, I got a great deal. But at this point, I would have paid a little more. Pam Howard is an amazing teacher!

Leah

Sewing for cooler weather

I’ve been sewing clothes for the cooler weather, and we get a heatwave.This is a Liberty Corduroy, a very soft, pin wale, it’s not heavy at all.You can see how tiny the wales are on the back of the fabric. This deserves a hand-sewn hem.I love the print! Not the cutesy flowers that Liberty often does, but bold shapes and colors.I made this in time for Thanksgiving, but as yet, I haven’t worn it, that darned heatwave!

Then a friend asked me to ‘help’ her make some Christmas stockings, she had started on her own, but she needed my ‘help’ to sew up the rest of them.There are so many things I love about Christmas, I get to enjoy other peoples lights and trees. So I had a lot of fun making these, even if I did give her a hard time.These were the ones I made.She did hand embroider them herself, so it’s all good.

 

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Leah