Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Name That Tune....

Back when I was a kid, I watched "Name That Tune" game show quite a bit (I don't remember that part of the show, mainly the "I can name that tune in 5 notes" bit.  But there are other links there too....).  I love listening to music, all sorts, and  had a good aural memory...until I had kids, LOL.

Today's blog post is a sewing version.  LOL.  I was at my parents' on the weekend, and was hoping they had some specialty presser feet I could borrow.  We found this little case in the cabinet.  It has a silver gizmo on the left side, and the center indent is empty.  It says Sears Kenmore on the clear lid.

 It doesn't have the usual notch on the side to screw it on, nor is it possible to snap it on (this is, assuming it is a presser foot!).
 It's shaped like a pie server, although the back is higher, and one side curves up.
 There is a hole in the top of the shaft, and a tiny screw on one side.
Any suggestions?  I'm totally baffled.  I've googled Kenmore presser feet, and it doesn't show up.  I've googled specialty parts, accessories, etc.  This makes me even more fascinated and determined to figure it out!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


So, I finally finished my "muslin" of Simplicity 5189.  I made my first version last summer when I had to go to a funeral, but it turned out too big...even though I had made the right sized based on chest measurements.  It wasn't until the next month when I was trying to make a sundress did I learn about a "full bust adjustment" and why my sewing attempts were failing (patterns are based on an average frame, with a B cup bust, so because I was a D cup, to get it to fit my bust, the rest of the body was too big).  I never showed a picture of it, as the only picture was blurry, over exposed, and my hair was in a towel, LOL.

I decided to give it another try, since I had found a tutorial on how to do a FBA on princess seams.  Well, as I posted a little while ago, it wasn't as easy as the tutorial showed.  I started by taking an inch out of the upper bodice, but I still ended up taking another inch out!  The bust curves were too sharp, there was too much material in the center panel over the upper chest.  I took the sides in quite a bit too. 
 The weather turned warm finally, so I ditched the plan to add the sleeves...I figured with the adjustments I was making, the sleeves would never fit right.

I had to get Rob to mark the bottom to hem it, as all the panels ended up a different length. 
I decided I'd try making my own bias binding.  Well, that was....fun.  This is a light, gauzy, woven material that I don't think is 100% cotton going by the sound the fabric made when I pressed too much with a hot iron.  I had issues making the tape...the rotary cutter made the edges open up, not fray exactly, but splay.  When I seamed the first piece, it didn't line up right so I had to figure out that it's the sewing line you have to match up.  The folded tape is really narrow...my gadget was for 1/2" tape, so it was really fiddly to sew it on.  I wasn't happy with the first sewing on job, and I noticed I needed to shorten the upper bodice more on one side, so I took the trim off the arms (hadn't done the neck), and re-did it, much better.  I had to cut a new neckline.  Trimming it went better than the armholes.  There still seems to be too much width in the upper chest, but I don't know how to fix that.

Oops, the continuous mode on self-timer didn't give me enough time to "suck it in" LOL.
It is a nice, light dress, even with a slip on it was still comfy.  I do have to watch what bra I wear, some show under the arms.

Edit to add:  I forgot to mention that I sewed a little strip of elastic across the back waist, to pull it in a little but still let me get it over my head without a zipper.  It's a nice little touch that I might do on other items; I like it better than sewing long ties into the side seams (too maternity dress-ish).

I had planned to use this as a muslin, but I made so many adjustments, I don't think I could transpose those changes onto the paper pattern, and now that it's summer, the fabric I was planning on isn't appropriate.  Next time, if there is, I will try using smaller shoulders as the adjustment...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Little Gifts

My to-do list is not getting shorter!  These items were on my longer to-do list, planning to do them later in the summer.  They're for my "grandma" as a thank you for letting the kids ride her horse briefly last summer.  I figured I'd make them before we go out there again.  Well, she's dropping by this afternoon to give Hugh his birthday gift, so I got to it!

This is another neck cooler.  After our afternoon there last summer, I looked around for some horsey fabric, but couldn't find any (not even through Freecycle).  A month or so later I found some nice quality horse print at Value Village!  It's a bit larger print than I would have liked, but oh well.  I wanted it a little wider in the tails, and my fabric was about 5" longer than I normally use, but that's okay.  I kept the length for the crystals the same, and centered the width that I normally use and sewed a tunnel (I normally cut it 4" wide, this time it was ...uh...there's just shy of 3/8" on each side...so that's 3/4" wider times 2, so it's a total of 5 1/2" wide?).
Next, I wanted to make a snack bag.  I wanted to use PUL to line it, but worry about the food-safeness of it (some sites say it's NOT food safe, some say it's not TESTED one way or the other), so I got some gold taffeta like fabric.  I sewed the three pieces together, turned right side out, tucked the open ends in and topstitched closed.  I wish I had pressed the seams first.  Then I followed the directions here.

However, the tutorial doesn't mention anything about using one way prints!  LOL!  The seams inside were a little bulky, but at least it's not the raw edges like if I had just held the pieces together.  But if there's a better way to make it double sided, let me know!

This (above) shows the backside, which is rightside up (it's one long piece) and the gold taffeta flap open.
I decided to make another one, without the lining, but this time I cut the front piece separate, and stitched it at the bottom to the back.  Then, as I was sewing the sides, I realized I could have just stitched a U shape around the three sides.
I folded the inside edge over and stitched it down, but for the flap, I fringed it a little and left it for that rustic look.
I've got lots more fabric pulled out to make more!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

My Wish Came True!

I've had opportunities this week to visit Value Village, Bibles for Missions, and Salvation Army thrift shops this week.  On Monday, it was VV.  I didn't find any fabric, or patterns, or anything to refashion, but I did get a Cleo sheath dress in a hot pink bamboo print.  It's not a Cleo Petites, but I think Cleo is geared to an older crowd, so it still fit.  I wore it that evening for Hugh's birthday party, and it was great; I wish I had gotten a picture.  Not a style I would normally try; it had princess seaming in the bust, but then a high waist seam, and was 98% cotton/2% spandex, a nice, solid fabric and well built too.
On Tuesday, Meg was upset that Lucy had gotten a purse at VV, and I had just seen a neat re-fashion of a men's polo shirt, so her and I headed off to Bibles for Missions thrift shop.  It's more like the Salvation Army, but I couldn't find a single men's polo shirt that was big enough!  I did get some "fabric".  The first item, I thought it was a sheet, in a crisp cotton, but it turned out to be a 20ft long valance!
 I like the print though.  I think I can piece together a dress, although it will be on the shorter side.   I also got a twin sheet, 100% cotton, with a nice pinks floral pattern...not the 70s floral, but a modern graphic print.  The only issue is that the side pieces of the fitted sheet are seamed on, not just notched at the corners, so this limits the usable amount.  Might end up being used for a child's dress or top.

While at this shop, I did find this plus size Maxi dress!  It's a crinkle cotton gauze, and definitely too big AND too long--you can't see it, but it pools on the ground a little!
 The extra neat thing is that it's got a wrap skirt!  So there's a LOT of fabric to work with.  The back waist seam is angled though, I guess that's to go over an ample booty.  And there is a center back seam, but that's okay, they don't show much and I'll just work with it.
 I'm thinking of sizing it down, taking off the wrap, and keeping it sheath like.  Shortening the straps to fit me will mean the waist seam will move up, creating more of an empire waist.  It'd also be neat to have a real waist seam, and a gathered skirt.  Could I use the overlay to make a new bodice, and have the resulting skirt be gathered enough?  I wonder if there is enough length to cut it short and either use that extra for the bodice and then the remaining skirts gets gathered, or maybe make a midriff band like the very first dress I made...
 There's no size tag, but it's a little too big, LOL.

Last night Lucy and I went to the Salvation Army, to search for a plus size polo shirt, and found a few things.  This dress is a little too big, mainly in the upper bodice...to get my bust to fit in the proper location, I have to pull the shoulders up quite a bit.  So, I'll shorten that, maybe keep the sleeves, and shorten it.
 The lower seams are split, so I'll lose that, and I'll lose a lot of volume, but since it's princess seamed, how can I keep that volume?  Make a waist seam anyway? 
 However, the back has a bit of detail that I want to keep.....suggestions?

At the Bibles for Missions shop I did find one polo shirt that I got, but it wasn't terribly big on me.  I had some ideas of what to do with it, but it would be fairly involved for a refashion.  So I had Rob try it on, and of course, it fit him fine.
I did find one at Salvation Army that I thought I could play with.  I don't like it as much as the one I lost to Rob, but it'll still work.
 Seems a little shorter than I thought though, I'll have to remember not to raise my arms!

I also found this Liz Claiborne knit sheath dress.  It is a heavy weight knit, so perhaps not a summer dress, but I was thinking maybe a nightgown.  I'll need to stitch down the button placket though, the edge of it is flipping upwards.  Again, the upper bodice needs some shortening.  The dress is a little snugger than I'd like, but man, it did make my booty look lovely!
I'm looking forward to doing some refashioning over the summer, I'm stocking up now since it's a little harder to shop with the kids over the summer.  One idea I want to explore is some shirring....I'm seeing it a lot on strapless maxi dresses right now.  These dresses are so long that I could probably cut enough off the bottom to make a bra-friendly bodice and move the shirring down to my midriff.  But do I want it there?  I do have one dress, in a heavy cotton knit, with a shirred bust, but it also has shoulder straps; most of the ones I've seen in the cheap store are a light woven cotton.  Yeah or nay?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Is anyone else having trouble posting on Blogger blogs?  Or is it just me?  I write my comment, click "Google Account" and it sends me to the Google sign in page, I do, then it sends me back to the comment page, but as "Anonymous" and when I try to post it goes back to Google Accounts sign in page...repeat....
If you're having trouble commenting on here, please email me at tracykm at yahoo dot com.

A few weeks ago I had plans to go to Value Village after a doctor's appointment as they're close by.  Then I saw that it was 50% off day....I went before on a 50% off day and it was nuts.  But I decided to try again as I had just seen some fabric there that I had passed over but I couldn't stop thinking about.  It was gone though :(  I did find some jersey sheets that I thought I could use to make summer dresses, muslins, and/or a baby wrap sling for Lucy's teacher.  I didn't find much else that I thought would work for me as is, or to refashion.  I did grab one dress that caught my eye.

I didn't get a before picture, but it was long!  I didn't think the bodice would fit me (it was a size Large), but thought the skirt was long enough that I could take the bodice off and get a short dress just from the skirt.  I tried it on at home, and surprise, it DID fit!  So then I thought I'd take off the woven strips on the bodice, and use them to make wider shoulder straps, although I don't seem to need a bra.  However, when I held them out of the way, the bodice was really boring looking.
I needed to shorten the dress by about 7 1/2".  I know "maxi" dresses are still in (I can't wait for them to be "out" so they'll appear in the thrift shops!), but it's a summer dress, and I like my legs!  I marked the new length, but saw that the skirt was several inches wider at the bottom.  I debated how I could shorten it from the top of the skirt....there's a band on the front, but no "waist" seam on the back.  I thought I could cut the back and make it seamed, but worried I'd mess up the seam allowances or something.  In the end, I do wish I had tried, so I could preserve the swishiness of the skirt.  But it's still okay!
I took the 7 1/2"  off the bottom and slip it in half, and hemmed the half from the top.  I tried a twin needle to see if it'd match the original.  The needle wasn't a stretch needle so it didn't work.  I gathered the long strip, pinned it on, sewed it down, and presto!  A great, new summer dress!  The ruffle sweetens up the sultry animal print, and a black stole gives a little coverage.  Perfect for a day trip to Toronto, or for date night!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

More On Illusions

How nice to get comments again!  :)  I know people are reading, but it's just nice to get feedback.

Z suggested re-working the maple leaf chart.  I could probably manage to make it symmetrical, but to be honest, I still can't really figure out how it all works!  LOL. 

Carla mentioned she wants to try doing illusion knitting on the USM (Bond machine).  The ever-wonderful Heidi has instructions on her website.  I haven't really read it, to be honest.  But while I was knitting the dishcloth, I'd do the knit side row and think "This wouldn't be too bad on the machine" and then I'd do the wrong side row...and think about converting all those stitches...The dishcloth took me one day (mmm...maybe actually two) to knit by hand.  Not a big time investment, and I don't think the machine would be faster for something that small.  Now, for a scarf or wall hanging....I'd think about it some more.  There are some pretty cool illusion designs out there!

As it stands today, I think I'll give the dishcloth to my inlaws' guest and explain it's the prototype, LOL.  I will look at the chart some more and see if I can alter it to make a better one for my sister in law, who is the type of person who always wants the best....if not....then I'll whip up a bunch of Marg Coe's circular dishcloths, and I can use the two day drive to graft them all and sew in ends, LOL!