Sunday, February 20, 2011

Update From the Madhouse

I need a sewing buddy, someone who can commiserate with me when I suddenly realize that I should have sewed on the patch pockets before sewing the bodice darts in the infamous pink checked dress. My confidence in the pattern instructions is now shaken because they told me to do the darts first. And now I notice that they don't call for interfacing along the front opening where the buttonholes will be. And no interfacing on the collar. Was that negligence on their part, or a deliberate decision? A bug or a feature?

I try to think back to the last time I made dresses for the granddaughters. My middle-aged memory seems to have gone on holiday. To interface or not to interface: that is the question. I hate improvisation when sewing clothes. That's because I don't have the same confidence as I do when I'm quilting.

I need a sewing buddy who knows more than I do -- someone who, after a quick judicial glance, can tell me what I really need to do so that I won't sit around dithering. Well, this is why I like to have so many projects going at the same time. Time to leave off with the pink dress for a bit and get back to work on the Heirloom Blouse.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back to Heirloom Sewing -- And Checked Dress Update

I guess I haven't yet mentioned that my long awaited heirloom sewing class has finally begun. I took the prerequisite technique class way back in September, but the sewing class itself was delayed until February. We are working on a linen shirt which showcases various heirloom techniques. So far: lace shaping, wedding tucks, hemstitching, puffs, and machine embroidery.

I'm the only one in the class who doesn't own an embroidery machine, so the teacher did the embroidery for my shirt on one of the shop's machines. (The class is held at a local quilt store which is also a Janome dealer.) The white embroidery on white linen is very elegant. I wish I could post a picture, but my digital camera has gone senile. (That or it's mortally offended my laptop because the computer refuses to recognize it.)

While I was there last Friday, I confided to the other members of the class my problems with the pink checked fabric. The teacher took a look at it and suggested that I lay out the skirt of the dress on the crosswise grain so that the hem will fall near the selvage where the check is least distorted. I've managed to lay out the rest of the pattern pieces in such a way that the checks should look relatively straight. Luckily, the dress has kimono sleeves, and the front and back bodice pieces are joined with a bias insert which obviates the need to match the checks. I also received helpful advice from the Vintage Sewing topic on the message boards at (Click on the message board tab, then choose the Vintage Sewing topic. My thread is Child's Vintage Dress.

So I'm not only struggling with the pink checked dress, I'm also trying to keep up with the other students in the Heirloom Blouse class which is not easy because I'm the slowest seamstress in the world. But oh, I do love working with linen! In fact, working on this blouse has inspired me to try making a First Communion dress for one of my granddaughter. Just what I need -- another project. And one with a deadline! How is it that I keep adding stress to my life?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sewing Detour!

Is quilter's ADD a bona fide affliction? It must be -- why else do so many quilters have so many unfinished projects stashed in their Closets of Shame? I try to put a good face on my own case by talking about how much I like to focus on the process rather than the finished end result. But the bald truth is that it doesn't take much for me to exclaim "Oooo -- shiny!" and jump into a different project.

Just now all of my ongoing quilting projects have been moved to the back burner (Eeek! A very flammable metaphor for a seamstress.) while I try to whip up Simplicity 2210 for Granddaughter J.

I cannot resist the cuteness of View 2 -- especially since I already have some pink and white checked quilter's cotton. So on Sunday I nipped over to the LQS for some compatible, reads-like-a-solid pink for the collar and sash. (Yay, Superbowl Sale -- 25% off!) It's a very subtle tone-on-tone floral. A perfect combination!

J's measurements exactly fit the pattern's except for length. I'll have to add 5 inches to the skirt. (According to the picture, little girls wore their skirts very short in the '50s.) And I may alter the sash a little. The pattern calls for a single layer of fabric, narrow hemmed all the way around. I'm thinking that a double layer sewn right sides together and then turned right sides out would have a nicer, more finished look.

So, having having preshrunk and ironed my fabric, I began to lay out my pattern pieces. Oh, no! The checks are not printed on the straight grain of the fabric! (I know, because I tore the fabric along the crosswise grain.)

Okay, I'll just match the pattern's grainlines to the printed checks. Urrrgh! The printed checks are not really straight. The bottom of the skirt is going to look as though I sewed the dress crookedly. Now I remember why I hate checks and plaids. "A pox on directional fabrics," I say, "A pox!" What, I wonder, am I going to do?

Suddenly, everything begins to look shiny. I can feel my quilter's ADD beginning to take hold...

Gosh, maybe I should go put the borders on my Bricks & Stepping Stones quilt. And I've been meaning to sort my stash of 3.5 inch squares according to color. Or wouldn't this be a good time to start cutting those 600 half square triangle units for my Cotton Boll quilt?

No, no! I must focus. One can properly take years to finish a quilt, but a granddaughter's dress pattern will be quickly outgrown. I'm not sure yet how I will solve The Case of the Off-Grain Check, but I do know that next time I attempt something like this I'll make sure to buy a true gingham. (Real gingham has the check pattern woven into the fabric rather than just printed on it.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Simplicity 2210

Here's something else I bought at Road to California: Simplicity 2210. One of the vendors had a few vintage patterns at the back of her booth, and this one caught my eye from across the aisle. The kimono sleeves have an interesting bias under-arm inset which I'm looking forward to making.

It's a perfect fit for one of my granddaughters -- except I'll have to lengthen the skirt a bit.

I'm wondering how to make the skirt poof out like those in the picture. (Well, I know the picture is probably a bit exaggerated -- artistic license, don't ya know. But I'd like the skirt to stick out just a bit.) An underskirt, perhaps? If so, what should I make it out of? The dress would be cotton, so any underskirt must be washable.

Any suggestions?