Friday, June 29, 2012

Made and Making No. 3

Happy Friday! I didn't have much creative time this week, but I did finish off one sewing project and start another. Could I finally be on a roll?

{all images link to Flickr for full size}

Clockwise from upper left

1. My latest sewing project. I've been thinking the last week or so about what I'm in the mood to be wearing lately, and it's coming down to lots of separates! My green skirt was the first attempt to start filling in the gaps in my separates wardrobe. Having publicly complained about my recent frustration with sewing collars, I had a heart-to-heart with myself about giving them another try as I really do love them. I've been watching Sunni's 2-in-1 sew-along, and when she mentioned an alternate way to sew a collar everything fell into place in my head. Don't you just love when that happens? So this week, I dove into a 40s  Butterick blouse pattern. Well, slow dive. I'm still cutting out the pieces.
2. Homemade pesto snack. With the food processor Mel and I got for a housewarming gift from my mom and step-dad, we made pesto this week! Two batches. One using garlic scapes from our CSA, one using basil from our yard and a bit of garlic scapes, too. This is a cracker with homemade pesto with manchego cheese and grape tomatoes from our neighborhood's tiny farmer's market (we're glad to have one at all). Oh yum, yum.
3. A tip I made up for myself. Solid-colored fabric remnants annoy me, because I cut something out and then have no idea which way the grain is going once the selvages are gone. So I'm starting to attach a teeny little reminder of the fabric and grainline.
4. Underlining. The blouse I'm working on will be underlined! I've never done this before, but I've read about it plenty. Most recently Lauren from Lladybird talked about it. I followed instructions from Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing. I know there's a shortcut, but I have a hard enough time maneuvering fabric, so I'm hand basting. I love that it's making a slightly-underwhelming-in-person cotton lawn print really pop.
5. A possible future project. Recently I was reminded that I love the idea of embroidering quilt squares from the vintage Aunt Martha's kit I have of state flowers of all 50 states. Well, 49, as I discovered this week one was cut out, but I don't know yet which one! I may work on this in cahoots with my good friend and quilter extraordinaire Elisa, because I don't know the first thing about quilting. But I can't shake this idea from my head. It would be a long long long loooong-term project, obviously.
6. My finished apple tree dress. It's finally hemmed, so here's a sneak peak! Hopefully I'll discover the photos I took under the awning portion of our deck during a rainstorm turned out. If not, I'll have to shoot for another photo session. I really like the finished dress, very comfy and cute, and my first time doing side seam pockets. I think this technically qualifies as a quilting cotton, but it's about the nicest cotton I've ever worked with. I'll tell you about it when I post final pictures of the dress soon.

I'm very excited that my dad is staying with us for a week, so there's probably not going to be much "making" going on next week, except him doing helpful dad stuff. So next week's post might be things like "oh look, my dad added an exterior outlet on our garage". ;)

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Finished project: bias-cut green skirt

I have a new favorite skirt!

Okay yes, it's not that exciting. But I've needed at least one (okay several) good, basic skirt for ages, and finally I sat down to change that. I can't tell you how many times I look into my closet, pick a blouse, then look at my skirts and think, "I'll wear this blouse with... what?"

I sewed this bias-cut skirt from New York Pattern Creation 1730, which is probably from the early 1940s. I really love the styling on their pattern envelopes. And somehow now I'm craving a mustard-colored version... lol

I had to share the instructional diagram for this skirt. Granted, there were a few sentences along with this, but talk about concise. This is all you got!

I did a muslin because I'd never done a lapped zipper with a skirt waistband (just in a dress), but I'm also glad I did because there were a few fitting tweaks. While the skirt was a bit too big, the waistband piece was too small (huh?) and since I'm a shortie I had to smooth out the side seams after cutting out 3" of length below the hip. In the end the underlap on the waistband is longer than I wanted (you can see it sort of peeking out a bit in the photo below), so I'll trim some off next time.

I mentioned in my last Made and Making post that I tried a slightly different technique for the lapped zipper, from Casey's circle skirt sew-along last year. I'm really happy with how it turned out. This is the first time I did one that wasn't hand picked. The secret for a straight line for me was tape as a stitching guide (shown in this Flickr pic), lots of basting, and going sloooowly.

I used rayon seam binding and catch-stitched the hem. It was hard to ease in the fullness... I need to investigate if there are better techniques for this because steaming doesn't always cut it and I always feel like I'm doing a crappy job at it.

I didn't have any green seam binding, so I used blue! I like it.

But the hem does look nice from the outside, so I'm sure my 'crappy' isn't as bad as I think.

I used a heavy twill to try and use up something from my stash. I thought it was 100% cotton initially, but didn't remember for sure. I'm now thinking it's a cotton/poly blend. The fabric barely needed to be ironed when I pulled it out of the dryer and it didn't wrinkle too badly either, considering these photos were taken after being on and off public transportation and outside in the hot sun all morning at Randolph Street Market.

Gratuitous dog picture since how interesting can a bunch of photos of a plain green skirt be?

So apparently below is my look of concentration, as Mel took this just as I was about to scoot myself up onto the bench on our deck. I had to include it because this is probably a way more accurate photo of how I normally look than any others you see. Classy, huh?

Well, here's the slightly nicer version of that.

Outfit details: me-made skirt, peasant blouse from Shanghai Lili's, 50s fruity earrings from my mom and step-dad, Bakelite bangles from here and there, Miss L Fire shoes

So it's simple, it's basic, it's not exciting, but I'm pretty pleased with this little skirt! Solid skirts are almost non-existent but desperately needed in my wardrobe. Now I have a great pattern with all the quirks ironed out of it. Expect to see more of these in the future! It's definitely going to be a new wardrobe staple pattern. :)

What should I sew next??

Friday, June 22, 2012

Made and Making No. 2

Happy Friday! Here's the second installment of my new Made and Making series. Gosh there's been a lot of sewing this week, which is very unfortunate for the knitting project I'm really supposed to be working on!

{all images link to Flickr for full size}

Clockwise from upper left

1. Dress in progress. And it doesn't fit on my dress form! But before you worry, it's only because apparently a 9" side zipper isn't big enough to clear the shoulders of my dress form. It fits on me just fine (with extra ease, even). It's frustrating because now that means I have to recruit Mel to help me hem it, and we haven't had time. So it's completely finished except the hem. Isn't the center front pleat cute? Well, such as it is, pinned to the front of my dress form...
2. My grandmother's earrings. Aren't they darling? My mom gave them to me awhile back. Little palm trees embedded in plastic (lucite, perhaps). They're screw back and I'm converting them to post back so I can wear them. I've been meaning to do this for ages. I have a lot of little things like that, so I'm hoping this summer to tackle some of those niggling things that linger on my mental crafty to-do list!
3. Cherries to make popsicles. You may call them ice pops, or ice lollies. I recently got a book and molds to make frozen treats on a stick. I tried to take a picture of how badly my hands were stained after, but it looked like I'd committed murder. The ice pops turned out yummy—cherries, yogurt and a bit of honey, mostly!
4. Pretty great lapped zipper. If I do say so myself! I love the look of them, and you'll often see them in vintage clothing. I've done a couple (including the above unhemmed dress) and each time it's been a little easier than the last, but this time I tried the method Casey outlined in her circle skirt sew-along last year. Along with lots of basting, I used tape to give me a stitching guideline since I decided not to hand-pick it this time. Though I think it looks better when it's not all still basted and taped and un-pressed. lol
5. The last of the first batch of radishes. With locally-made tortillas (Chicago is full of tortillerias), eggs over medium, a bit of cheddar cheese, scallions from our CSA and cilantro and radishes from my container gardening. (I forgot to mention last week that the few things we're growing are in containers.)
6. My sewing notebook and skirt pattern. Last month, Kerry at Kestrel Finds & Makes wrote a post about her sewing diary. With my sewing relatively sporadic last year, I wanted that to change. I knew my random sticky notes here and there and nonsensical scribbles were not going to help the cause, so inspired by Kerry, I started a sewing notebook. Friends, if you don't have one, get one! It's amazing the difference a little notebook can make. I have an entire page about the muslin of my skirt, a 40s bias cut pattern from New York Patterns. I love their envelopes!

Hope you have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last weekend's vintage finds

Hello everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed my tutorial on how to make a feedsack hair bow. It's such a quick and easy project, you better let me know if you make one!

Last Sunday was our one year wedding anniversary. Our plan initially was going to involve a walk around the nature preserve where we got married, but come the day of, we just weren't in the mood. Isn't that terrible? lol We keep missing the vintage fairs this spring and summer due to conflicting plans, so we've been a bit starved in that department. So instead, we drove out to the suburbs, had a lovely lunch and went to an antique mall. Julia from the Volo Antique Mall... if you're out there reading, we're coming to you next! :)

I am crazy about this rhinestone-studded nut charm bracelet!

The purse is hard to photograph because yes, it's actually covered in plastic.

Outfit details: me-made New York leaf dress and matching hair bow, vintage belt from Etsy, 50s confetti earrings from Auntdelta (though you can't really see them), bangles from here and there, nut charm bracelet from eBay, Lotta from Stockholm clogs, can't remember where the purse is from.

What do you think about these shoes? I love clogs. I have worn my red or yellow mary jane-style Sven clogs with many vintage outfits (like here). They are just so darn comfy and cute and great for casual summer outfits, even if they make my outfit a little funky or folksy. (What the heck, I've always been a little funky and folksy!) Last summer I saw a brand that had a style of peep toe clogs. Clogs that have a 1940s feel, yes please! I saved a pair to my bookmark list and of course promptly forgot about them. When I looked this spring, it seemed like the brand didn't exist any longer. So I found Lotta from Stockholm, which had peep toe clogs in a medium and low heel. Of course since then I've discovered Sven has peep toe clogs now (with way more colors) as well as Swedish Hasbeens, though the Lottas are quite a bit less expensive.

I'm still deciding if I like the look of this heel style on me. It's the same as the Hasbeens high heel... their super high looks more 40s but 3.5" is just too tall for me. But I'm in love with the rest of the shoe. And I know I'm not the only one who likes this style, I've spied peep toe clogs on Katie from The Little Red Squirrel and Jenny from Yesterday Girl, too!

Anyway, enough shoe rambling, onto the vintage finds. Not a huge haul, but we picked up some nice things. From the last time we visited this place I remembered there was a booth with oodles of inexpensive scarves and buttons, so of course I had to take a few of each home.

We got two Richter Artcraft wall plaques for the living room that are amazing. Molded gold plastic! Since we're keeping the gold-flecked mirrors on one wall, these will go between. We may decide to paint the frames to make them a little more dramatic, and because there's a bit much brown in that room. I've watched Hepcat Restorations do this many a time with amazing results.

(And wow, I actually found a room in the house that I can take natural daylight photos in, at least for a small window of opportunity in the morning.)

I love seeing things like this on the back. :)

And the find that takes the cake. For our anniversary, Mel bought me this amazing lamp for my bedroom (AKA the guest bedroom, where my closet and vanity are, and where I'll be decorating and painting).

Isn't she stunning? She's not in perfect condition... the shade has some issues, and what looks like the matching finial is actually clearly not from this lamp (hint: it's a fish) but is a good match. She's not a Reglor, but definitely in that style.

I saw her the last time we were at this place and kind of regretted not taking her home, but she was still waiting patiently for me this weekend. I love her! I can't wait to design the rest of the room with this piece in mind. She's just what the bedside table (early Heywood Wakefield) needed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Make a hair bow out of 1930s feedsack fabric

Today I'm sharing a tutorial I hope you'll really enjoy: how to make a hair bow out of vintage feedsack fabric, with instructions to make your own pattern pieces, too. This is what I alluded to in my kickoff Made and Making post on Friday. By the way, thanks for all the positive comments on my new round-up series!

How to make a feedsack hair bow from 1930s feedsack fabric
Sorry there's a long back-story with this one...

I hatched an idea born out of recent bad hair days: I wanted to create hair bows out of feedsack fabric. Feedsacks were the fabric bags used to hold grains, sugar, flour and such in the early part of the 20th century. They were around earlier than that, but people often associate them with the 1930s, when they were most used and popular. Women in rural areas would use the somewhat stiff, loosely-woven cotton fabric from the sacks their husbands brought home to the farm to make clothing and home accessories for their families. A wonderful example of recycling and making do!

The patterns on feedsacks are out of this world. Often brightly-colored novelty prints and beautiful florals. There's just something about the prints and the fabric and the history that I adore! Want to learn more? Feedsacks: A Sustainable Fabric History is a great read.

Now the problem with vintage feedsacks is that there's just not that much fabric in a sack. If you're creative on how you use it or get lucky enough to collect multiples of the same print, you can use it for clothing. For example, Lauren of Wearing History made a fabulous 40s playsuit out of feedsack, and Kim Stewart (AKA Nudeedudee on Etsy) has oodles of amazing feedsack prints in her Flickr set and sews wonderful vintage fashions with it.

But they can be hard to find, or expensive, or you might only find large scraps (possibly being sold to quilters as "fat quarters"). And if have an entire sack, you want to make the most of it! Even if you use the rest for clothing or quilting, you may have a bit leftover, and are looking for a project that uses just the weensiest amount of fabric. So I thought of a great way to use up feedsack scraps: make hair bows. I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of it... I bet some farmers' wives back then fashioned feedsack hair bows for themselves or their daughters, too!

There are oodles of bow tutorials online, but I wanted one that created a bow like a classic tied ribbon, with crisp cutout ends, so I came up with my own idea. I loved the results, and I whipped up this tutorial to share how I did it. The best part is these bows can be made with only 10" x 9" of fabric! Perfect for a small partial feedsack, or any vintage fabric that's precious to you, or just scraps to match an outfit you've sewn!

  • vintage feedsack (or other small amount of fabric, about 10" x 9" or larger)
  • small amount of fusible interfacing (light- or medium-weight)
  • one hair comb (Grip-Tuth are fantastic for fine and thick hair alike—you can use a barrette if you prefer)
  • one sheet of paper
  • scissors
  • sewing machine and sewing needle 
  • matching thread
  • small amount of matching embroidery floss

Piece A — Fusible interfacing piece. This is the size of your finished bow. Everything else is based on this size.
Piece B — The front and back of the cutout ribbon part of your bow.
Piece C — The big looped part of your bow.
Piece D —The smallest piece that wraps around the bow in the middle, giving it the distinctive bow shape.

You'll cut these 4 pattern pieces out of a sheet of paper. Because it's fun to make bows in different sizes, I write on my pattern pieces how to measure for the size of that particular piece, so you'll see my notes along the way. This makes it easier if you come back later and can't recall how to re-size your pattern pieces for a new bow.

Decide how big you'd like your finished hair bow. After trial and error, I came up with 5" wide by 1.5" tall as a versatile size. For the sake of this tutorial, we'll use these numbers throughout. So when I say you need a piece of feedsack at least 10" x 9", that's for a finished bow of 5" x 1.5".

Cut Piece A

Cut out a piece of paper the size of your bow. In this case, 5" x 1.5".

Not sure the best way to cut those inside corners so they're perfectly the same on both ends? On one side, mark where you'd like the inside point. Fold your piece in half horizontally, then vertically, and snip off the ends together.

Mark it Piece A. You will cut one piece of fusible interfacing this size. (If you choose to use sew-in interfacing, you won't actually use this piece to cut anything out, but it will still be helpful to have it in the next step.)

Cut Piece B

Lay Piece A on your paper. Cut Piece B exactly 1/2" larger than Piece A on all sides. The larger sizes accounts for a 1/2" seam allowance. (No, you don't have to worry about the ends being pointy, as this is in the seam allowance and will be trimmed away anyway.)

Mark it Piece B. You will cut two of this piece in your feedsack fabric.

Cut Piece C

Piece C will form the long looped part of the ribbon. Cut a rectangle that is:
  • width: Twice the width of the inside corner to inside corner of Piece A plus 1" for seam allowance.
  • height: Twice the height of Piece A plus 1" for seam allowance.
How do you measure the inside corner to inside corner of Piece A? See below.

  • My width: Inside corner to inside corner of Piece A is 4", so 4 x 2 is 8", plus another 1" for seam allowance.   Width = 9"
  • My height: Piece A is 1.5" tall, so 1.5 x 2 is 3", plus another 1" for seam allowance.   Height = 4"

Mark it Piece C. You will cut one piece in your fabric.

Cut Piece D

Piece D (last piece!) will be the little piece that wraps around the center of your bow. Decide how wide you want that to be. On mine, I liked 7/8".

Cut a rectangle that is:

  • width: Twice the width you decide you'd like that piece to be.
  • height: Twice the height of Piece A (no seam allowance needed).
For me this works out to be:
  • My width: Twice the width I'd like, so 7/8" x 2.   Width = 1.75"
  • My height:  Piece A is 1.5" tall, so 1.5 x 2.   Height = 3"

And you're done with your pattern pieces!

This is probably the easy part after making all those pieces! Press your fabric. (Not too much, you don't want to scorch it, so use a press cloth. You'll see why I said this shortly.) Cut out your fabric and interfacing as instructed on each piece. As a reminder, that's:

Piece A — fusible interfacing
Pieces B, C, D — feedsack fabric

(If you are using sew-in interfacing, don't cut out Piece A. Instead, cut one Piece B in your interfacing and remember your seam allowance is 1/2".)

On one of your two Piece Bs, lay your fusible interfacing piece on it, centering it. Make sure the gluey side of your interfacing is down. Press to fuse the pieces together.

With right sides facing, pin together both of your Piece Bs. Mark about 2.5" to leave open so you can turn your piece inside out. I used blue tailor's chalk.

Because the interfacing is exactly 1/2" smaller than your fabric pieces, sew them together along the edge of the interfacing, backstitching at the beginning and end. Easy, peasy. No need to eyeball around tough inside and outside corners! Just follow the interfacing. Plus, this will make a nice, clean edge for pressing, it makes the points a little more crisp once you turn them, and gives a bit of body to the bow. Win, win. (If you use sew-in interfacing you won't have this built-in guide, so you might want to mark inside and outside corner's with tailor's chalk to easily keep to you 1/2" seam allowance.)

When sewing, with your needle in the down position, raise your presser foot at each corner and pivot the fabric to the next position. I'd recommend taking smaller stitches at the outside corners (the pointy bits), because it will help when you're later finagling them into position.

Tip! Leave one thread long at either the beginning or end of sewing these pieces together (remember, you leave a 2.5" gap open to turn the piece right side out). You can then use it to sew up the gap when you turn it right side out.

Press, and trim seam allowance to 1/4". I like to keep a little extra on the open part because it's hard to fold in a scant 1/4" of feedsack!

Trim corners diagonally. I like to clip a couple of spots along the diagonal edges and most importantly, the inner corner. Don't accidentally clip into your stitches! I roughly do it like this:

Turn right side out. To push the points into position, I first use my fingers from the inside to push as far as I can (not very far). Then I alternate between pushing with the blunt end of my seam ripper from the inside and pulling gently with the end of a pin from the outside. Be really careful with the pin so you don't snag the fabric. Take your time, it'll be worth it.

Fold in the extra bits of fabric at the gap, press, and slip stitch closed with small stitches.

The most complicated piece is complete! Now for the easy stuff.

Fold piece C lengthwise in half and sew along the long open side using a 1/2" seam allowance. Press and trim the seam.

Turn the piece right side out and press lightly with the seam in the center. Don't press too hard because you don't want to press a crease into the other sidethat's the front. If you're having a hard time, slip a metal ruler inside the tube and press that way.

Fold one raw end in about 1/2", and slide the other raw end into this end about 1/2", forming a loop.

Before stitching it shut, you'll want to eyeball it on top of your finished Piece B so you can decide exactly how you want to sew it shut.

The 1" total seam allowance given should be just right (1/2" folded in on one side and 1/2" tucked into that end on the other side), but decide what you like best. Then sew it shut. (My stitches are uneven, but this won't show.)

Now onto piece D. Press the sides of Piece D to the center, and sew the wrong side of one end of the piece to the interfaced side of Piece B, right in the center. (Remember, only one side was interfaced. This will be the back side, and where you want your seam.)

Time to put all the pieces together! Wth the seam at the center back, lay Piece C onto Piece B. Wrap Piece D around the center. Depending on if you'd like your bow pieces to be very flat or kind of scrunched up a bit in the middle, you can maneuver your pieces around while wrapping Piece D. (I like it slightly scrunched.)

Tuck the raw edge of Piece D under at the back, and stitch into place. (If you pulled it really tight, you can always snip off a bit of the end of Piece D if you have too much excess now.)

Almost done! Using 3 strands of embroidery floss, sew your hair comb to the back of your bow. Pull the needle up between the tines. (Going the other way with your needle is almost impossible.)

Done! You now have your very own adorable hair bow out of a scrap of 1930s feedsack fabric. Go off and make a bunch more!

Wear it however you'd like. It's perfect with a 30s or 40s set...

Or make a slightly larger one to adorn a bun or updo. This one was made with scraps from my New York leaf dress last summer.

Or add one to the side of a roll...

Style it however you'd like. If you make one, please do let me know, I'd love to see it!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!
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