Hopefully, I can snap a progress photo of the Celtic Family Christmas in the next few days to share with you. I am making great progress these days on this particular project. One of the main reasons I am stitching … Continue reading
In this post we tackle the skirt assembly. Sewing the lace or any other edging, like piping, onto a garment is easier if you draw the pattern outline on the fabric and pin the edging along the line, rather than a raw edge.
Here are the two together for comparison. The one on the bottom is way easier to pin and to stitch than the top one.
Below you can see how, by using a 1/4″ foot on the machine, I am able to stitch with the seam guide right on top of the drawn line. This ensures that the lace is applied uniformly and that the fabric is not pulled out of shape.
When I assemble my dresses, I prefer to use a french seam whenever I can, especially on the long side seams. This type of seam allows you to hide all the raw edges along the seam and makes a more professional looking garment.
To make a french seam (on a 5/8″ seam allowance), sew a 1/4″ seam with wrong sides together. Clean up the edge, removing any stray threads and turn the garment with right sides together and press the seam. Go back to the machine and stitch the seam again using a scant 3/8″ seam allowance. See two photos below.
Remember in the last post that I was confused about the hem band and that I thought there might be an error in the pattern? Well, like I said at the time, I could be wrong and I usually am about those things. The problem, after lots of rereading the pattern directions was not the number of hem bands to cut (2 vs. 4), but rather the poorly written directions for assembly. The drawings are fine, but the directions are for several different dresses and they skip back and forth frequently, which really makes the whole process more frustrating than it should be. This finally led me to break out the sticky notes and cover up the portions of the pattern that did not pertain to the dress I was working on. After that, the dress went together quite quickly and smoothly.
Here was the precise issue. In all the time I have been making girl’s dresses, I have always done hem bands with facings, meaning that I would need to cut 4 pieces (2 bands and 2 facings). On this pattern, the hem band is sewn in such a way as to use the skirt as the facing for the hem band, so the pattern was correct in stating “cut two.” In the photo below, photo 28 and 29 are NOT the dress I am working on. However, they are right below the photo (27) of the dress I am working on, so EVERY time you look at the pattern for reference, you get confused as to how it should look. Photo 27 and 28 are NOT the same dress…
In the photos below, the hem band is sewn with the right side facing the wrong side of the skirt. Then the hem band is flipped around to the front of the skirt and top-stitched in place. Adding to my confusion, the hem band on this dress has scallops that face upwards when finished, rather than down (see photo confusion above).
Finally, we have to have a placket in the back of the skirt. This is the opening just below the buttons on the back of yoke (or top). The directions in most patterns are pretty clear about how to do this, so I will leave you with a photo of mine for reference. Note how the split edge of the skirt is not lined up with the edge of the placket facing, but drops down to the edge of the seam allowance and then back out again.
The last week and a half I have been busy with my next “out of the attic” project. Today I finished up the blocks and now I am prepared to show you what I have been working so hard at.
Remember the Y2K computer bug? I remember it well. The reason I remember it is because, even back then, I was heavily involved in computers and quilting cyber groups. At the turn of the century, I just love saying that, I was involved in a signature square block swap called the Millennium or Y2K swap. The idea was to swap a 3″ signature square and about 20+ cotton fabric squares, enough to make a patchwork block, with quilters around the world.
I swapped 145 different signatures with quilters from all around the world. I am missing 5 US states, but I do have treasures like blocks from Kazakhstan, Africa, England, and Italy. Here is a breakdown of the blocks I received and which places seem to have more cyber quilters involved in the swap at the time than others, if you are interested.
After 2000 came and went, 911 hit and the squares I had received were packed away and, you got it, put in the attic for some day. It is so hard to believe that 1999 was 13 years ago. Yikes!!!
The time has finally come to make this swap into a memory quilt that we can use and enjoy. I thought I would show you the block I settled on for my squares and how I put them together using a technique called Paper Foundation Piecing. This is not to be confused with English , an entirely different technique. So, if you want to have some fun and piece a few quilt blocks without worrying about perfect 1/4″ seams and bias or grain being straight, follow the tutorial below and enjoy.
To begin you have to print your block on paper. I used a fairly simple block, with a finished block size of 6″. The block I used came from a computer program and I printed the original over 13 years ago, so forgive me if I don’t have the name of it. You can find many awesome block patterns on the internet and one site I really like is Paper Panache. Print as many copies as you will need blocks.
Here is what the signature blocks look like in the center of the square.
For each block, I used the signature square and 8 fabric squares from the packet each quilter sent to me. Sometimes it was hard to make a good combination and sometimes all the fabric squares in a packet had an obvious theme or colorway association. I took the 8 fabric squares and cut them in half, discarding one half for use in another quilt later, and arranged the remaining triangles on my mat the way they were to be placed in the block.
Once I had them arranged the way I wanted, I took the paper pattern, turned it upside down, and, using fabric glue, adhered the signature square to the center of the block on the section #1 (see paper block above). After this, I placed the first triangle (I always started with the one in the right corner section) right sides together with the signature square, having the edges somewhat even, see below.
Holding all the pieces in place, flip the block over and stitch on the line between section #’s 1 and 2. Then, flip the block back over, lay back piece #2 and press. Follow this procedure through piece 13. When I work with tiny pieces, I like to keep this wooden “iron” by my machine (see below). It keeps me from having to get up and go to the actual iron quite as much. You just rub the tool on the seam and it presses, actually creases, the piece in place quite nicely.
Generally, when doing paper foundation piecing, it is important to follow the numbers in order. Getting out of order usually causes huge problems. On this block, however, you can do some things to speed up the process. After pieces 1-5 have been sewn down, I opted to do pieces 6 and 8, then 7 and 9. This way I could press the opposite pieces back at the same time, saving time. I sewed down pieces 6 and 8, then trimmed away the excess, folded back the pieces and pressed. Always remember to trim away all the excess before pressing the pieces back. The great thing about this technique is that you can lay any shape piece down on the paper, sew on the line on the back, flip it over, fold back the paper out of the way along the seam line, and trim off the excess fabric. No worries about keeping a straight 1/4″ seam or whether the bias is going this way or that.
I used white fabric scraps I had in my stash for the “background” pieces. Below is what the block looks like after all the lines have been sewn. Once all the pieces have been sewn down to the paper, flip the block upside down and trim off the excess, making sure to cut on the outer line, not the inner one. The inner line around the border of the block is the sewing line you use to sew the blocks together, or the seam allowance.
Here is how I intend to put the blocks together. I could use a sashing between the blocks, but I really like the way they look when put together without.
Foundation Paper Piecing is very fast and you can make some very complex block designs with this technique that you could not really do with traditional methods. I hope this tutorial makes sense and I hope you stick around for what comes next. Cheers!
Last week I took a class on digitizing. Although the class was not using the software I currently own ($100 version, instead of the $1495 version the class was on), I was able to learn several things that made my program seem less intimidating. I took the class to get a basic working knowledge of just “how” to digitize an image and what the basic tool functions are. Digitizing is nothing more than creating a stitch file that your embroidery machine can read from a piece of clip art or any other image file. It involves drawing on a layer on top of the image.
Another great thing about the embroidery machine I now have is that I don’t have to do machine applique by manipulating the fabric under the needle. With this machine I can take a digitized file, hoop together two layers of fabric and stabilizer and push start. The machine does the applique for me and then I just trim away the excess fabric. Since I wanted to practice the skills I learned in the class, I downloaded a clip art heart from the internet and set about digitizing just the outline. Then I did the method above and the result was a really cute applique heart. One thing led to another and by the time the day was over, I had completed a very adorable set of overalls for a 6 month old boy from scrap fabric I had in the drawer. There are endless possibilities for this method and I know you will see more of the results show up here in the coming months.
PS. The reason the bib and cuffs are a solid color is because I did not have enough striped scraps to make the outfit. Sewing two colors together and then cutting the pattern out is a great way to use up those scrap fabrics in your stash
Summer is coming and I thought it might be a good idea to post some fun things for the kids. Enjoy!
Play Dough Recipe
- 3 C flour
- 1 1/2 C salt
- 6 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 C cool water
- 3 Tbsp oil
- food coloring (cake decorating paste works best)
Mix dry ingredients together in a large cooking pot. Blend all liquids in a separate bowl. Combine with dry ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when dough pulls away from sides of the pot and can be pinched without sticking (about 5 minutes). Turn onto board or counter and knead until smooth and play dough consistency. Store in airtight container. Dough will last about 1 year if kept sealed. Great for gifts and contains no chemicals.
Homemade Bubble Solution
- 9 parts water
- 1 part dish-washing liquid
- 1/2 part glycerin (purchase at drugstore)
Combine all ingredients. The longer this is stored, the better it works. Make in advance for parties, etc.
Homemade Finger Paints
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 C cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 C cold water
- food coloring
- dish-washing liquid
- white shelfpaper
Soak gelatin in 1/4 C warm water and put aside. In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch and sugar. Gradually add water and cook slowly over low heat, stirring until well blended. Remove from heat and add softened gelatin. Divide mixture into separate containers for each color. For each color, first add a drop or two of liquid detergent and then add food coloring a drop at a time until you have the shade you want. Store up to six weeks in the refrigerator.