Monday, July 15, 2013

A Summer Sewing Project

I apologize for not posting very much this summer. Beekeeping has been keeping me very busy. I started the season with 2 hives. One was sick and I wound up losing that queen. Then my strong hive swarmed. First to a spot high up in my next door neighbor's chestnut tree, then they moved across the street to a lower tree and I was able to capture them. Now I have 3 hives. The hive that threw the swarm also wound up queen-less so I have purchased 2 new queens this year. The hives are back on track but for some reason they are not taking to the new shallow supers or the yellow rite cell foundation.

Now that the bees have settled down I can turn my attention back to sewing. I don't have the concentration for an involved project but I would like to make some easy, cool clothing items for the summer. This prompted me to look through my stash and I found this fun piece of cotton that I had picked up at Jo-Ann's during one of the "50% off the clearance fabric" sales. I took all they had left, which was only 1.75 yards. The colors are teal green and blue. The fabrics is sort of tie dye/batik/camo-ish.

I looked through my patterns and found one for a pullover t-shirt top that only requires 1.75 yards. Perfect. It is Butterick 3383 and I am making view E. Scoop neck, 3/4 sleeves....not even any darts. I was worried about it fitting since there was no zipper or buttons and no shaping to speak of. I made a small muslin, just the front and back, to slightly below the armholes (no sleeves), and tried it on. The only modifications I made to the pattern were to move the shoulder seams back 1/2" at the neck edge, shorten the sleeves 2" and grade the pattern from an 18 at the top, to a 16 at the hem. The pattern just barely fit on the fabric. There was no way to try and manipulate what part of the fabric design would end up where. That is the front piece in the photo, above. I am glad those big light rectangles ended up where they did. It could have been much worse. The machine in that same picture is my Kenmore 1914. Probably the nicest machine Sears ever sold. I found mine for $20. I had to drive all the way to Whidbey Island to fetch it, and it had been badly abused. But it came with every single attachment including the monogrammer, buttonholer, design cams...etc...It needed a bit more help than I could give it, so I paid our local "old sewing machine guy" $50 to give it a thorough going over and a new belt. A $70 total investment for a machine that usually sells for $200 or more. Yes, I am really happy with that purchase.

Back to the tunic project. Since this is a very easy pattern I decided to spice it up a bit and experiment with some techniques I'd been meaning to try. This top calls for a bias tape facing around the neckline. The colors of bias tape available at the fabric store is extremely limited. What a great opportunity to finally learn how to make my own bias tape. I ran over to Jo-Ann fabrics to pick up a 1/2" bias tape maker (which just happened to be on sale for 50% off!). The Clover bias tape makers are supposed to be the best, so I bought the 2 sizes they had in stock. There are a bunch of online tutorials for making bias tape. I opted to use this one which shows how to make a continuous strip of bias tape.

While at Jo-Ann's I noticed they had Gutermann thread on sale for 40% off. I picked up some of their decorative metallic threads. This tunic is going to be rather plain and I want to add some pizzazz with fancy threads and decorative stitching. Here is the neckline. My shirt has its own jewelry!

I applied the decorative stitching using the Kenmore 1914 and one of its design cams. I will add the same design to the cuffs and hem. As you can see in the first picture, this fabric is very thin. I like to leave some things (like my lumpy body) to the imagination. I will be adding a lining to this top, even though the pattern does not call for one. This is how far I have gotten. Now back to work.

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