Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Won, I Won!!!!!!.....Downton Abbey, Here I Come!

I've always felt like a fish out of water, someone with eclectic tastes and unusual interests cultivated in a midwestern childhood and an adolescence basted in California liberalism.  It makes for strange bedfellows and friends, and leaves me alone a lot of the time.  As I get older, it doesn't bother me half as much as it used to.  I do a lot of reading, sewing and solitary television watching.  Most of the shows I watch are not of interest to a majority of those I encounter IRL (in real life) (lol).  Since I've begun blogging and become involved in the internet, my world has expanded to introduce me to more people like me.  Sites like Pinterest and Facebook help begin conversations with interesting people and connects me with organizations and groups who are no longer satisfied to sit alone at home and bay at the moon.  

I remain a lifelong supporter of the Public Broadcasting System, and for the past three years have become an avid fan of their Masterpiece Theatre show: Downton Abbey.  Are you?   Oh, I hope someone (maybe a few of you) out there is/are as fascinated by the clothes, decorum and storyline of this captivating saga as I am! I digress....

This January, the fourth season of this show begins, and all Downton fans are holding their breath and waiting to see what happens following the sudden death of one of the main characters at the end of last season.  I follow the show for 'behind the scenes' articles on the PBS website, and they recently sent me an email asking if I were interested in attending the local premiere preview of the first episode of the upcoming season.  This will occur just a few weeks ahead of the show's national premiere date!  Of course, I said I would LOVE to!   I quickly submitted my name as one of the group of thousands who must have responded, and lo and behold....about a week later I received an email advising me that I had been selected!  I think it was because I was a party of one....having no clue as to who I would ask to go with me, I submitted only myself as an interested party.

So off I'll go....alone into the Washington night.....wending my way through the dark streets of DC in early evening....carrying a shower gift for Lady Mary's baby (which will be donated to the National Center for Children and HOPE in Northern Virginia, Inc. on behalf of WETA-TV supporters).  Oh my!....What shall I take (or make) for the baby???....homemade or storebought????  OMG!!!! So second issue is...what should I wear!!??....what would you wear!!!!????  I've been sewing like mad, so I do have choices....just which one?  

I've decided it will be what I made from this Suzi Chin Butterick Pattern 4978.. The Washington Metro area is COLD right now....so I am delighted to own an appropriate heavy wool winter coat and have decided to walk from the self-park garage nearby to the hotel event ($34 valet parking they warned!) in a pair of black booties I ordered from Sole Society.   I will wear black hosiery and my earring choice remains open.  I'll toss my black Pashmina over my shoulders and carry my black kidskin gloves.  

I know....I wish I could wear anything Lady Sybill wore (before her untimely death), but this ensemble will have to do.
Full Length Dress
(Tea Length)
Dress Inside Lining

Dress Front with Bow at Waist

Dress Back at Zipper

Just to add....making the dress was not difficult, and was made with $2 per yard fabric from (FabricMart, I think).  LOTS of handwork and basting on the chiffon, but handwork is something I have never minded doing.  I was more delighted to find the lining in the perfect brown at my local JoAnn's.  That brown lining in straight grain and stretch is soooo hard to find!  It is my goal to gather my coins and purchase a bolt of each as soon as I can.  I was also proud of my regular zipper.  Zipper insertion is so important to a new sewist, when I began to sew I practiced and practiced until I could insert them perfectly (lapped, centered and hand-picked).  Now, this was waaay before invisible zippers were even invented, and I still strive to master invisible zipper insertion today.

The only real question I encountered on this dress was figuring out which way the finished side of the lining should face.....which way would you have done it?  Choice one is to have the finished side of the lining facing your body.....choice two is to have the finished side of the lining facing the underside of the chiffon.  Is there a rational choice?  Chime in.....which way would you have completed the garment?  After the event, I'll tell you which way I finished mine and tell you what I chose to take as a shower gift for Lady Mary's baby boy.  Will I meet any blogger friends or sewists there?  Let me know if you will be there, too!  I'm so excited!

'Til next time....
Keep sewing....one stitch at a time!...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Quick Gift for a New Baby....

If you are one of my followers, you already know I now live with my sister in a Washington, DC suburb.  I've been here since closing my mother's home and driving cross-country with my doggy, Domino.  My sister had recently become a widow and needed a little emotional support.  I brought along my sewing machine and serger and have used them for smaller projects for friends and family more often than embarking on the major personal projects I normally tackle.  I've been residing about a year in a home my (only) sister has owned over 40+ years.  Over that period of time, she has witnessed the neighborhood changes and neighbors come and go.

She currently has a next door neighbor who owns a beagle who has become close friends with my Westie due to an unrepaired hole in the fence.  Well...this female neighbor is now pregnant, and the baby is due the first week of December.  This latest project of mine is a small gift to her new baby, which will be a girl!

Do you think she will like it?  Let me tell you where you can get the patterns so you can duplicate the projects for your next expectant mother.

The booties come in multiple sizes (birth to 18 months) and the hat instructions include birth to adult head sizes.  The patterns can be ordered from the Etsy sites here and here.  The pair of items require the purchase of two separate patterns.  I made them from a pink shearling found online on Ebay.  The second pattern is for Bubbo the Frog (he doesn't look like a frog in pink, does he?) lol  This is the second time I have used this seller (DIYFluffies) publishing from the Netherlands, but her English instructions made the sewing experience  just as pleasant.  This sellers pattern instructions are always very clear and the pieces fit together perfectly, just as her dragon pattern did.

The stuffed animal (above) is sitting on a large popcorn can in the picture, and the hat and booties are below him in the front.  These hat and booties require the skill set of an advanced beginner because the drawings and instructions are not so easy to decipher, but nothing that could not be figured out with a little thought.  I used white fleece for the bottom of the frog and his extremities.  The bottom of the booties are made with anti-skid gripper fabric available at most fabric stores.  The position of the frog's legs are left to you the seamstress, and I also warn you to use a stabilizer when sewing on the features of the frog's face.  I also customized the frog by including squeakers; one is in his front leg, the other in the main body.  It should provide some audible interest for the baby as she grows up.

Thank you for stopping by to see my latest project.  I am currently sewing Christmas gifts, so there will be more to share very soon....

Til then, keep going....one stitch at a time!

Hey!  Why didn't I get into the pictures?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shaken from the Doldrums...

 Yes....it has been that long.  Where have I been?  Close by...closed up and closed in.  Like many of us, dealing with my personal demons...healthwise and otherwise.  Now I am better, as it is always revealed  when you step outside yourself and think of others not as fortunate as you--in spite of whatever your current circumstances are.  Just be reminded, we are fortunate to be alive today...many are not.  We are fortunate to move free of debilitating pain....many are not.  And, Rhonda Buss (author of Rhonda's Creative Life,) an expert sewist and fellow blogger, reminded so many of her readers that many of those not so fortunate are children, much younger than we who have had many more years of life.  I felt I needed to participate in the Mary Bridge Childrens' Hospital Pillowcase Project she sponsored, and it helped snap me out of my malaise.

Thank you, Rhonda.....thank you thank you Thank You.  You are an angel to the children who get to pick a pillowcase for themselves, and to those of us who felt the joy of guiding each stitch in our donated pillowcases. The picture above is the pillowcase grouping I created.  They are not perfect and have unique flaws which set them apart from the factory-created examples.  My overlock blade was often too dull to cleanly sever several bulky seamlines, but, I kept sewing.  At the end I was visualizing even more fabric combinations but forced myself to stop after completing twelve.  I put one of my vintage printed labels in each one, hoping the child that chose one of them would find it and wonder who was the creator.  They honor my three grandsons, all healthy and growing up in sunny northern California.  All are rather boyish looking, although I did throw in one with purple and red flowers just for me.  (smile)

Well, that has taken up only a portion of our yearlong separation.  The other time has been filled with sewing, and I have several posts currently in draft status, just waiting to share the final garment on a dress form or on my body.  I have lost so much weight, they will fit differently better, but, I currently have so few opportunities to dress up and model them with the proper accessories, days months have passed by.  I promise to reveal them soon, even if they lie on the floor!

There are several crafting projects to complete, too.  Below you will see three examples of decoupaged cigar boxes I am completing for my son and his oldest two boys.  They were covered with napkins purchased at The Party Store ($1 per pkg).  Each napkin was roughly torn and slapped down with ModgePodge inside the lid and outer surfaces of each box.  Isn't the lizard eye menacing???!!!  My oldest grandson will love it!  The bottom of each box will sit on four colored flat-bottomed marbles and each top will be hinged and latched with hardware I purchased from an overseas Etsy seller.  The inside of each box will be lined in green felt, and it is my hope they use them to store the secrets and treasures accumulated over their lifetimes.  I hope they keep them forever and never surprise their mother by storing a tarantula or frog inside.  lol....

I actually wanted to share a source for my favorite straight pins, but the cigar boxes added so much more visual interest to the picture I included them in the shot, too.  The large blue can in the foreground holds five thousand extra long superfine Iris straight pins!  All those sewists (like me) who do not gravitate toward using ball head pins (except on dressforms) will love these pins.  They are very thin (superfine) and extra long (1-3/4") which remains ideal for old-school sewists who still pin pattern to fabric a majority of the time.  And, I confess....they work great with the bad habit I have of sewing over pins with my 401 Singer Slant-O-Matic.   I know, I know...my sister has told me I can't do that on any other machine.....including her $2000 Bernina...lol  So far, it has worked fine in certain cases (to ease in set-in sleeves especially), so I will continue this horrible, horrible habit another 50 years until I begin to throw off machine timing or begin breaking straight pins one after the other.  I also have the habit of cutting out several garments at once, so I no longer fear running out of my supply of these special pins before I remove them from other projects.

While my son was still in high school, I worked as a training instructor in a (now defunct) fashion fabric store in Fremont, CA.   I fell in love with the extralong pins they carried, and purchased six or seven packages of them, each containing 300 pins.  Well, this year I opened the last package and found out the company is no longer in business.  WAWAK has their replacement, and I am glad I was able to find them.  (Atlanta Thread Supply went out of business and WAWAK took over their customers, website and inventory.)  Looking for a pin that does not snag your fabric and holds a maximum area flatly and smoothly, check these out.

Don't forget me!  This blogging community is amazingly supportive and I have learned so much from its contributors.  My sewing has improved immensely, even though I have been sewing over 55 years, so thanks to you all.   I love the fact that there is still so much more to learn.  I hope to become a frequent participant and encourage your comments.  If you would like to see more detail on the cigar box project, just let me know.

Til next post, take care of your health and take each stitch....one atta time!