Monday, May 28, 2012

It Is Finished.

I still can't believe I took this.

And turned it into this.

Inside out to show the lining.

Tomorrow I'll find out if it fits the recipient. I'm worried it will be too big but my fingers are crossed. I'll post a picture tomorrow of my daughter modeling the dress, whether it fits or not.  Please excuse the lining looking crooked. It probably is. That stuff was hard to cut, hard to pin and hard to sew. It slipped all over the place and spit out the pins. I like to use lots of pins but they would literally fall out of the lining fabric while I was trying to sew. I do like the end result and can live with a bit of crookedness. It's going to be hidden on the inside.

Shoulders Done

This morning I finished installing the lining by sewing the shoulders together, pinning the opening  and slip stitching it closed. After the husbeast leaves for work I'll slip stitch the lining to the zipper opening and put a teeny hem into the dress. Almost there!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Home Stretch

I thought I'd be able to finish the dress today but the lining is taking longer than anticipated. This fabric is incredibly slippery and difficult to sew. Once the lining was sewn I needed to hem it. The pattern calls for a small 1/4" seam. However, given the incredible slickness of the fabric, I figured I would have better results if I sewed seam tape to the raw edge, turned it up and then sewed the hem. This is what I ended up with.

Next I had to sew the lining into the dress...

...and edge stitch the lining in place.

Tomorrow I will join the shoulders, tack the lining to the zipper opening and hem the dress. I can see the light at the end of the polka dot tunnel.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This Week's Yard Sale Bargains

It's still a bit early in the season. The pickings are slim but I did manage to find some goodies. Today I found this set of vintage Noritake stoneware in the October Fest pattern. It's obviously been used but there is not a chip on it. Eight place settings and the only missing piece is a small saucer. All this for a mere $8. Now I have nice dishes that match.

I love this pattern and it blends in well with all my pottery pieces. Noritake stoneware is virtually indestructible. You can put it in the oven or microwave with no problems. Yesterday I found a few things, as well. Apparently it was "match what you already have" day. I found this set of chicken themed items (plus a chicken hot pad, not pictured) for $3. 

Not that I need another sugar/creamer set but it matched this spoon rest that I'd purchased at a different yard sale over a year ago. What are the odds?

I think this is even stranger. 
I bought this sugar bowl for $2...

...only because it matches the pattern of this gravy boat that I bought at a yard sale way back when my kids were little. I have never seen this china pattern before or since. Until yesterday. Now they are reunited.

I love that gravy boat because the base is attached. We use it every Thanksgiving. That china is marked Bavaria, Germany, but I can't find it anywhere on the internet. I'd love to know the name of the pattern. It looks like it's from the 50's. I have been on a book gathering binge so also picked up some eclectic reading material. $1.75 for the 3 books.

And I couldn't pass up more sewing trims. Like I'm ever gonna use all that I already have hoarded away.

I paid $1.25 for all the trims. What I found interesting was that many of the packages had prices from previous yard sales. We're just passing them around Tacoma. When I die you all need to come to my estate sale. I've got some cool stuff.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

White Knuckle Time

I waited until this morning to attempt inserting the zipper. This isn't something I want to try when I'm tired. I pulled out all my sewing books and read about zippers. None of those techniques seemed to apply to this project. I reread the pattern instructions, trying to visualize what they wanted to accomplish. There was to be no top stitching other than the decorative saddle stitching (which I had opted out of). The first thing I needed to do was tack down the top edges of the zipper tape.

Next I was to open the zipper and lay the zipper face down on the right side of the fabric with the zipper teeth to the outside of the seam line. Before I could do that step I'd need to baste the seam line onto the fabric. Note to self: This would be much easier to accomplish before sewing that back seam.

It would also be easier to see if I used a contrasting thread. Now to lay the zipper down with the teeth over the seam line so that when you fold back the seam the teeth will clear the fabric. Pins are your friend.

Now for the fun part. Use your zipper foot to sew a 3/8" seam. Take your time. It's not a race. You don't want to have to rip this out.

Repeat for the left side of the zipper. Remove your basting stitches, place the dress on the mannequin and enjoy your handiwork. And don't forget to breath. All that's left are the lining and hems. You can do it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We Have A Ribbon

Singha finally decided (after knocking my box of pins onto the floor). I topstitched the ribbon on by machine. Quick and easy. I think that's it for today. I need to read up on how to install a zipper. I haven't done it in over 20 years and it's a pretty important step. I'd hate to screw things up at this late stage. All that remain are the zipper, the lining, and the hemming. We're getting so close.

Decisions, Decisions....

My project is getting closer to becoming a dress.

Today I have added the pockets, joined the skirt backs to the front, and attached the skirt to the bodice. But before I can insert the zipper I need to figure out how best to attach the black grosgrain ribbon to the waist. Below, one of my supervisors pores over the instructions, trying to decide how best to proceed. He thinks he's a huge help but in reality he just wrinkles the pattern pieces and tries to look important. The pattern calls for decorative topstitching, by hand, using a saddle stitch. It is supposed to be applied to the waist ribbon, the back zipper opening, and the hem. That's a lot of extra work for something that isn't crucial to my vision for this design. All I care about are the polka dots, ruffles and the black ribbon. I am leaning towards simply machine stitching the ribbon to the waist. What do you think, Singha?

I have a couple of confessions to make. I've had 2 screw ups so far, both involving the pockets. Remember when I was complaining about there being 5 sizes stamped on this pattern. In many places the size lines were very close together, making it difficult to tell which cutting line went to which size. I was being ever so careful. Double and triple checking before cutting. All went well until I cut the bodice front. At the shoulder straps the lines were incredibly hard to keep straight and despite my best efforts I managed to cut one of the straps along the wrong line. Aaaack!!!!! This was especially problematic because I didn't have much extra fabric to work with. I was able to cut out a second bodice piece (after taping the pattern back together) but thought I would have to sacrifice the pockets to do so. I was just barely able to cut out the second pocket. I had to do so with the grain going widthwise instead of lengthwise. Shhhhh! It'll be our little secret. That was screw up #1. Number 2 came as I was attaching the pockets to the back and front pieces. Just as in reading a knitting pattern, or any instructions, make sure you're reading what it says and not what you think it says. I was attaching them using a 5/8" seam instead of the required 1/4". Oopsie. The good news is this lining fabric is very forgiving. Here is the finished (and lined) pocket.

The lining side is facing up. As you can see, it's a very thin lining. I'm not sure how much further I'll get tonight. I'm going to sew a bit more and then I have a cigar to enjoy. Our nice Subaru salesman was also a cigar smoker and shared.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Hate Ruffles

Now I ask you, does THIS look easy?

I think the ruffles are the most difficult part of the whole dress. And there are 3 of them so the torture is drawn out. Here's the first one attached.

And all 3.

The first picture shows the true color of the fabric. I did get a little further than this, today. The bodice back has darts and is sewn to the bodice front at the side seams, the waistband is attached, the back skirt darts are sewn, and the skirt front is pleated. I am getting ready to install the pockets but that will have to wait for tomorrow. I'm getting a headache from staring at polka dots all day.

Tackling the Beast

What have I gotten myself into? My middle daughter wants me to sew her a dress and I thought it would be the perfect birthday present for her. We headed to Jo-Ann's so she could pick out a pattern and fabric. My only stipulation was that the pattern was EASY.

She settled on this pattern. A cute, little sleeveless dress with ruffles on the front and a ribbon at the waist. And, most important to me, that little four letter word. EASY. What does easy mean to me?

eas·y  (z)
adj. eas·i·ereas·i·est

1. Capable of being accomplished or acquired with ease; posing no difficulty.
2. Free from worry, anxiety, trouble, or pain.

3. Causing little hardship or distress. 

We picked out fabric, zipper, thread, ribbon...and headed home. I tucked it all away while I finished up some other sewing projects. Fast forward to yesterday.

I had finished up 2 SUPER EASY projects (those sleep shorts) and was ready to advance to EASY. The day had arrived to begin cutting out the dress. I was already aware that the dress had a zipper. I don't consider that especially EASY but it wasn't scary. However, as I was preparing to lay out the pattern pieces I noticed a word that I had missed previously. LINING. What the hell? Linings aren't EASY. I began to suspect the good folks at McCall's weren't being completely honest about the difficulty of this design. This suspicion was confirmed by the darts and pleats I had to mark onto the fabric pieces. Then, as I'm reading through the assembly instructions I note that the ribbon is attached with top stitching. Using a Saddle Stitch. By hand. WHAT!?!! Hand stitching is not EASY. So far we have....ruffles, pleats, darts, zipper, lining, hand top it off the pattern pieces are marked with not one, or even 3, but FIVE sizes, making it a jumbled up mess and really hard to see where to cut or mark. This dress is most definitely NOT EASY. Then I notice a little word, at the bottom front of the pattern. Couture.

Apparently COUTURE EASY is not the same as regular ol' EASY. It's too late to turn back now. I've got the pattern partially cut out. I have to head back to Jo-Ann's, today, to purchase lining fabric. My daughter is depending on me. I need to produce a wearable dress by mid-June. This should be interesting.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Meet Ruby the 'Roo

We are a Subaru loving family. My husband is on his second. He had an old Legacy Wagon, for years and now drives a sporty WRX Hatchback. I used to have a nice 2004 Outback but unfortunately it lost it's life back in 2007. I had been driving a 1997 Jaguar since that time. As a retirement gift my husband wanted to get me another 'Roo. We looked at used Outbacks but they seem to hold their value here in the Pacific Northwest. They actually sell for more than their blue book value. We couldn't see paying a 20% premium on a used car and began to consider buying new. I don't need fancy. Just a good, dependable, safe car. We headed to the local Subaru dealer this past Saturday, fully expecting to buy a Forester. A red one. I wanted to love this vehicle. I really did. But I did not. We immediately test drove an Outback and the difference was like night and day. I was smitten. Here she is, Ruby the 'Roo, a 2012 Outback.

I haven't broken the news to Kitty Car that she's been replaced. Anyone want to buy a nice used Jag?

We picked Ruby up this morning. There were no red Outbacks available, locally, so we had to wait for them to go fetch her. I know she and I are going to have lots of fun together.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another Pair of Sleep Shorts

These turned out even better. I was able to match up the stripes this time. And even though this flannel fabric is kind of fugly it is really nice quality. Thick and super soft. Once the lights are off and you're under the covers, who cares what they look like?

I decided to use a smooth fabric for the drawstring on this pair. I thought the flannel drawstring, on that first pair, was a bit too "grabby". It's not as easy to cinch up as I'd like. A smooth drawstring against the flannel fabric works much better. I had to run to Jo-Ann's to buy a yard of inexpensive orange broadcloth. I dislike sewing on the stuff but it's only for the drawstring and I didn't want to pay a fortune for the good stuff. It worked out OK. To add some pizazz to the shorts I top stitched using bright orange thread and my goldfish cam. So cute!

I hope my daughter enjoys wearing these shorts as much as I enjoyed creating them. I thought I would share a little hint to my seamstress friends. When I'm pinning fabric together, to sew, I like using those pins with the round plastic balls on the ends. But for pinning the pattern to the fabric, for cutting, those fatter pins tend to rip my tissue paper. For pinning the pattern I like to use these thinner silk pins. Then I can use the tissue patterns over and over and they don't get ruined. I know, it's hard to see the white paper pattern against the white fabric. If you click the picture it will be enlarged.

Now to work up the nerve to start My middle daughter's dress. It's been so long since I inserted a zipper. I'll just have to cross my fingers and go for it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sleep Shorts For My Daughter

I owe my middle daughter a handmade birthday dress. First I wanted to practice on a couple of simpler projects to knock the rust off my sewing skills. I haven't sewn a garment since the early 90's, unless you count Reggie's little shirts. I decided to sew 2 pairs of sleep shorts for my youngest daughter. These are quick, easy projects and will allow me to get comfortable with my Kenmore sewing machine. Today I sat down to make the first pair.

I combined 2 patterns to come up with these draw string boxers. They require no elastic. My daughter had complained about the fabric I chose for her shorts. "That's ugly." Who cares? They're sleep shorts, not Victoria's Secret. They just have to be comfortable. Besides, I don't want to use expensive fabric to practice on. I picked up this blue patterned flannel for $.99 at the thrift store. Someone had allowed their child to scribble on it with a red marker. Even though I washed the fabric in hot soapy water, as soon as I got it home, that stubborn marker didn't budge.

No worries. I was able to cut around it. There was plenty of fabric for the shorts and I'll have enough leftover to make some doll nighties. Because my daughter complained about not liking the fabric I thought I'd dress up the edges of the shorts with some decorative top stitching. Perhaps that will be to her liking.

I think the shorts turned out cute and I plan to make her another pair out of this material, below. Yes, it really is ugly. But it's nice thick flannel and should be quite cozy. I think I'll trim it with "goldfish" top stitching in bright orange. That'll be fun.

Here's poor Millie, my 1912 Singer Red Eye. I got her moved into the corner of my sewing room. I hope to have her up and running very soon. I just have to clean/oil her, and hook her belt back up.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig.

Those immortal words are from one of my all time favorite movies, Blade Runner.

The husbeast & I have been in the Chicago area enjoying the Annual Chicagoland International Pipe and Tobacciana Show which is held at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois. This was our 3rd time attending, although we had missed the last 2 years. It was wonderful to get to spend time with pipe friends that we don't otherwise see. Like the Two Cousins, Mark & Tim, and Swedish pipe makers Martin Vollmer and Anders Neilsson. We arrived late Thursday evening. I wanted to be well rested for Friday when I was to be Matron of Honor in my friends' wedding. Tom and Lennea are members of the Seattle Pipe Club and decided it would be the perfect setting to be married while at the show. Friday was also the pre-show which was held out in the huge smoking tent. Here is a view of the action that day.

There was also a delicious welcome dinner Friday night. Saturday was the official start of the event. 300 tables filled with everything you can imagine that is related to pipe smoking. New and estate pipes of every make, shape and size, as well as plenty of tobacco. I was not in the market for a new pipe this year, having so many already that don't get the attention they deserve. I had 2 things on my list: Butera Kingfisher and a smaller pipe bag. I imagined I would like my new bag to be chocolate brown. I'm trying to break out of my "but black goes with everything" rut. And the new bag must also be leather. I already have a small Castleford pleather bag that I'm not overly fond of. There isn't anything wrong with that Castleford bag. I just prefer leather. I made a bee-line for the Smokin' Holsters table. I already own an Ultimate Archer Pipefolio in black and red checkered leather. However, I desired something a bit smaller to tote to pipe club. And there it was in all it's chocolatey brown leather goodness.

It is actually a little darker than the photo shows. Inside it has 2 roomy pipe pouches (which each hold 2 pipes comfortably), a big roomy zippered pocket opposite the pipe pouches, and 2 smaller pockets in the spine (for your lighter, tamper or what-have-you). Neil calls this the Ultimate 2/4 Bag. Mine is constructed of dark brown cowhide and kangaroo lacing with a tan deerskin interior.

I was very happy with my purchase. Even more so when my husband pointed out that Neil had signed, numbered and dated the bag. The bag's birthday was 4/16/12 which just so happens to be the date that I celebrated my birthday this year. It was meant to be mine.

My new bag needed some accoutrements. I picked up a tobacco pouch of embossed lambskin and a leather pipe cleaner holder.

Once I sew a little tamper sheath, to keep my new bag clean, I'll be all set. Next up on my list? Tobacco. I bought 3 tins of Blakeney's Best Bayou Slice and 2 tins of Cornell & Diehl Exhausted Rooster. The 2 tins of Sutliff Moulin Rouge were freebies. They aren't really my taste but I am putting them away in my "end-of-the-world" stash. I probably won't be as picky then.

I was looking everywhere for my absolute favorite tobacco, Butera Kingfisher. Sadly it is no longer available here in the states. I was hoping someone was parting with their private stash. There were many vendors doing just that, but I didn't see any of the Kingfisher. I was in front of one of those tables, commenting to my husband that if I could find a tin of my beloved tobacco I would gladly pay a high price. Just then I glanced down....and there it was. An older tin, too. The price was $20 and I happily claimed my prize. Later in that day we happened upon another tin, a newer version this time. It was also $20. Very precious, indeed, but these will be squirreled away for special occasions. The older tin is on the right.

Sunday was the Slow Smoke Contest. I had entered our Seattle Pipe Club's Slow Smoke, and done okay. Why not bite the bullet and enter this, with pipe smokers from all around the world? Did I think I could win? Of course not. But it was fun and the $40 entrance fee not only gets me a new pipe but helps support our hobby. I believe there were approximately 75 entrants, at least 4 of whom were female. There is a women's trophy, for the gal who smokes the longest, but it always goes to Manduela who is a Danish pipe maker.  Still, she needs competition and maybe one of these times her pipe will go out. I smoked for just over 40 minutes. Not too shabby. 3 of the men at my table went out before I did. I don't know exactly where I placed because the UPCA hasn't posted the results to their web site yet, but I placed high enough to get to pick something from the prize table. I chose a tin of the competition tobacco. Here is the pipe and tamper I used in the contest, along with my reward.

Pheasant Run is a good sized resort. There is lots to see and do, both inside and out. Two of my favorite features involve fish. In front of the building, near the lobby is a small koi pond (to the left in the picture), with not-so-small koi.

In the back of the building is a man made lake which is stocked with carp, catfish and what I believe are perch.

Some of the carp in that lake are huge. We almost didn't see them. The water is murky and they stay well below the surface. You can just make one out in this photo.

That wraps up my report on this year's Chicago pipe show. I apologize for not showing many pipes. I leave you with this set that caught my eye.