Saturday, February 26, 2011

Trying new ideas

I am feeling more and more confident in my sewing and, as such, am trying new ideas.  I love to look at other people's sewing to see what they are doing.  This week, two new techniques/ideas I tried are A) using my serger for gathering; and B) sewing a ribbon with gathered fabric and a button down the front of a bodice for decoration. 

Here is what I made:

First off, this post from Make it and Love it came through on my blog feed this week.  I had never thought about using my serger to gather! I have a Janome 1110DX and I am only now, after a year of ownership, feeling comfortable with it.  That is just me, not a condemnation of the machine.  It is an awesome machine.  I am just slow to learn.  At any rate, the blog post got me looking in my owner's manual and sure enough there is a section on gathering!  So, I tried it.

The top to this dress is from the Portabellopixie Claire Petal Knot pattern.  I love that pattern! LOL!  The bottom, well, that is me winging it.  I combined some fabric from the Benartex Magic Vines collection (no longer available unless you find it on ebay like I did) and RJ Fabrics Everything but the kitchen sink collection.  I just cut them into 22X8 inch stripes and went from there.   I set up my serger to gather and then worked from the bottom up attaching tiers. 

Well, the gathering feature is ok but it does not gather very much. Certainly, if you want a very twirly dress because you three and that makes you happy, then this machine does not gather enough.  But, it worked well enough for the bottom two tiers.  I ended up hand gathering the top tier to the bodice so it would have a lot of gathers.   The stinkerpoo three year old refused to try it on for pictures but it does twirl very nicely now!

Secondly, I decided to copy an oft-used detail on the bodice: the ruffle-ribbon-button detail.   I used the rolled-edge feature on the serger to serge the edges, gathered it on the bodice, and then sewed a pretty ribbon down the middle.  I found some teapot buttons at my local Joann's Fabrics and added one.  I think it looks pretty!  My only advice is not to use satin ribbon, as I did, because it shows every needle hole.  Next time, I will use a ribbon with more texture to it so the holes don't show.  

Voila, a twirly knot dress for my little girl.  She is all ready for summer!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Making Playsilks

My children love to play with playsilks and they are easy and fun to make.  First of all, here are the directions I use.  I wrote them about 8 years ago and have used them enough times to know that they work well.  I am happy to share!

You can also use your Pyrex dishes or a steel pot on the stovetop if you don't have a microwave.  Any type of food coloring will do.  I prefer food coloring to Koolaid for two reasons.  One, I use the food coloring for other craft projects.  
Two, it is less expensive in the long run.  

If you want to avoid the mottled colors, you will need to buy professional dye from Dharmatrading or Thaisilks and get yourself a huge pot.  

Here are some pictures!

 Mix together water and white vinegar with as much food coloring as you like.  The already damp scarf immediately soaks up the coloring!  I use Pyrex dishes so I can microwave them to cook the color and set it.
 I like to have an assembly line going.  You need to cook each scarf for three minutes in the micro and then let it sit for three minutes in the dish before cooking it again. 
Repeat.  Then, the scarves are very hot to the touch so I put them in a bowl to set aside and cool before hanging to dry.
 If you don't have a microwave, you can cook your scarf on the stove in a large pot. 

After they cool, I like to hang them on a line to dry as much as possible.
 My wee one wanted to hang out with me while I was cooking.  She is playing playdough.  Because this involves very hot fabric, I did not let her help me too much. I did let her choose the colors and help prep the pots.  It is a rainy day today so I ended up drying the scarves on very low in my dryer for 20 minutes.  If you do not have a very low setting, do not machine dry them.  It will compromise the delicate silk and cause tears. 
The finished products!  
A beautiful rainbow of scarves for her preschool to use for pretend play.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rufflemania (Amy Karol made me do it)

Today, I was reading Amy Karol's book, Bend the rules of sewing, and decided to take a chance and try something new with ruffles.   Why not?  What was holding me back?  I had an idea and why not try it out?  Amy made me realize that it couldn't hurt to give it a try and it might actually turn out ok.  What is sewing for, after all, other than expressing creativity!  What you see here is the result.

The back story:

Last month, I entered a contest with my favorite online fabric store, Treasure Bay, and one a fabulous selection of Anna Maria Horner fat quarters.  I won seven fat quarters from her Innocent Crush (woven) collection.  When it arrived, my three year old got first pic and chose the blue fabrics as her favorites. I immediately thought of this boring Hanna Anderson Picture of a Great Tee she loves to wear.  We have so many of them that I knew it would be ok to turn it into a dress.



The process:

I started out by cutting the fat quarters into four inch by 21 inch lengths.  After washing, 21 inches is how wide they each were.  I made one tier of three, one tier of four, and one tier of five choices.  I ruffled and serged all that into a skirt, just as you normally would to make a twirly skirt.  

Before I attached it, I had some leftover fabric I wanted to use to decorate the top.  This morning, I spent the better part of several hours looking at ruffle tutorial online, read Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing book, took the dog for a walk, and developed the courage to try something new with this top.  I made it all up.  Forgive me if it looks terrible or makes no sense, but I am going to blame it all on Amy.  It is her fault I took a chance and tried something new and different.  I used all my creative powers because, in the end, that is what sewing should be about.  Amy is right. :)

I make some wee strips of fabric, seams inside, and then put them in the machine to hand ruffle.  I wanted them to lay flat on the shirt so I fed a fold into the sewing machine ever inch or so, like so:

I did not use any pins because I couldn't figure out how to do that!  I just winged it.  Or wung it.  Whatever......

Halfway thru, I realized I had made a heart-shaped oval.  I was ok with that.

I made more ruffles and kept going.  I ended up making a wee booboo up at the shoulder but nicely covered it with some ruffle so you can't tell. Neener neener.

I like the way it looks.  It is not perfect but I don't care.  If I wanted perfect, I'd be in trouble.  Who makes anything perfect anymore?!?!

Next, I attached the skirt and finished it with a rolled edge, now that I have mastered that stitch on my serger, and Voila!

A fresh from the bathtub fashion show.  The best part is that it is a super twirly dress!

So, now, go try something new!  Be daring!  Read an Amy Karol book!  Have fun! Isn't that what life is all about?



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's the Peacock Lucia Petal Knot!

What is a  Peacock Lucia Petal Knot, you ask?  Well, here it is!

 It is a knot dress, with an apron, made using half each of two different patterns.  The top is from Portabellopixie's Petal Knot pattern.  The skirt and ruffle are from Romeo and Mae's Lucia pattern.  I have made them both before and prefer these parts, so I combined them!  And, then I added an apron because it really all started with this Dena Design's Monaco peacock print.    And, of course, the best part of all is the peacock ribbon I found at my favorite store, Treasure Bay!

 And here is the adorable new dress owner!