Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Many years ago, I saw a very elegant Frenchwoman demonstrating Colorhue dyes at a sewing expo. She was wearing a beautiful scarf that was simply a piece of dyed rayon lace and, her being a very elegant Frenchwoman, it looked simple and effortless on her. Who doesn't want that?

I finally got around to making my own version. I started by soaking a piece of lace from my stash in warm water.  I covered my work surface with plastic, then sponged the dye straight from the bottle on the wet lace. I used the goldenrod and brown dyes, but the brown looks more like indigo once it dried.  I had used this dye once before on the trim for this robe and it turned out a much deeper color, so I think this particular lace may have some poly in it.  These dyes are really nice to work with because there's no mixing, heat setting or foul odors.

Once it was dry, I sewed two rows of beads along the length of it. I think I would have preferred smaller, more sparkly beads but these purple-brown and gold beads were the only ones I had that went with the finished color.

I am not a very elegant Frenchwoman, but I do have a pretty cool scarf-neck-lace.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Goodbye, Whales

The finished whales all ready to go to the baby shower and their new homes. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Enough already!

The sewing room is back in order and even better than before. I went all Marie Kondo on it!
If you don't know who Marie is, you should!!! I gave her book to my daughter and it changed her life (her closet, anyway).

I got rid of a few books and reorganized the rest by subject.

I hung all my Threads magazines by their spines over hanging file folders in my file cabinet. Threads is the only magazine I keep after I have read it. If I know I'm going to have some time to kill somewhere I'll take an old Threads with me and I can guarantee I will see something new even though I've already read the magazine once or even twice before. Storing them like this is nice too because you can easily read the contents on the spines.

And I took out all my fabric friends, we snuggled a bit, then I refolded them so they are upright in the drawers.  A piece of fabric may be neatly removed by sliding two file folders on either side of the target. No more rooting around in tangled nasty piles.

I know I am in the minority here, but I never work on more than one project at a time and I usually tidy up between projects. Plus, if a project goes south, I put it out of my mind and my sewing room right away and just move on.

Am I the only sewer who doesn't believe in UFOs?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My Inglorious Sewing Room

Carolyn over at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic has an interesting conversation going this morning about sewing rooms, so I thought I'd show you some pictures of mine. It doesn't usually look like this. These were taken shortly after the beginning of the installation of my new furnace earlier this week. My sewing room had to be hastily dismantled in order to get to the old furnace and make way for the new. What a mess!!

My fabric hoard (on the left) would just about fit in the box
 the furnace came in. That's a smaller than average
hoard, don't you think?

The new furnace next to my main worktable, along with
my regular machine and serger. Drawers under this table
contain notions and such.

Not so subtle product placement for Haberman Fabrics,
next to sheet metal pliers and whatever that other thing is.

Sawzall and sewing machine foot controller peacefully coexisting

One of two file cabinet that house my patterns
along with parts of the bookcases.
I've had to channel my energy elsewhere this week. My husband and I are going to spend the day today (or the whole weekend) putting the room back together. Looking on the bright side, I'm grateful it wasn't a flood at least. And it will give me an opportunity to thin things out a bit. Less clutter equals a quieter mind!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


They're a thing.  I made these for the challenge based sewing club of which I'm a member. Except I wasn't actually at the meeting to learn how to make them. So I had to rely on the internet for my instructions.


The top series is called "Boston" and the bottom "Detroit". I was watching reporting of the Boston weather while doing the collaged part. The mayor of Boston was telling its' citizens to stop jumping out of second story windows into snow drifts because it was dangerous! We got a lot of snow here in Detroit this winter, but I don't think I'd try that stunt.


This is the collage I started with:

Some of the fabric is from the whales, some is the binding from the pike, some is from the collaged coat from last summer plus there's some Chinese machine made Battenberg lace in there. So cool, no spendature!! They're secured to the background fabric with Wonder Under and Stitch Witchery. There's is a layer of heavy Pellon inside and another piece of a men's shirt on the back.

After I got it all fused together I free motion stitched it. I was happy that I seemed to be getting the hang of it finally, then I looked at the wrong side and the thread was all loopy. I felt loopy when I saw that. Please don't look at the back!

After the stitching is done they get cut into strips. With a rotary cutter. I hate rotary cutters. I think because I'm short I don't have enough leverage.

The next step was to do a satin stitch along the long edges. That's when my daughter came in and asked "don't you have a machine whose job it is the finish the edges of things like that?" So I slapped myself in the head and moved over to the serger! After that they get cut into squares and the short edges finished. That was a bit harder with the serger. Some aren't quite square, so sue me.

Once that's done you get to embellish them with whatever bits of ephemera you might have. I have a lot! Never before has so much effort gone into such a one inch sewing project.

The final part of the challenge is to incorporate them into another project. I don't have any ideas yet...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Commas and Snales: Butterick 5826

Optimistically deciding it was time to do some spring sewing, I unearthed this pattern from my hoard. It's similar to a RTW top I have (thrifted, of course!) At least around here, you can't always try things on at the thrift store, but I took a chance with the top anyway. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked the style on. But I felt guilty wearing it because I hadn't made it. I make it a point to wear mostly self made clothing and if I realize I don't have at least one thing on that I made myself, I'll change clothes. If that makes me a weirdo, well then, I am one unique weirdo.

I purchased the pattern (Butterick 5826) last fall but never got around to making it. I've got about 200 others patterns I haven't gotten to yet either!  PR has a couple of reviews of both views.

I like it. A lot actually. It and its RTW cousin I mentioned above are the only pullover woven tops I own. Perhaps I need to explore this genre further. Its a shirt but not a shirt and it feels and looks feminine. The fabric is an inherited piece of 35" wide mystery fabric. Its very, very thin which is pretty ideal for a top like this with a fair amount of ease.

I have to say I wasn't too keen on the gathers in the back but after looking at the pictures I quite like them. I also thought I didn't like that the sleeves don't have cuffs on them and now I don't think I mind that either.

I cut out a size 12 and added a bust dart (adding an additional 2 inches)

The top and the sleeves were shortened  2 1/2 inches. I'd recommend cutting the sleeve cap down a bit. I got them all in there but they are not perfectly smooth. It seems like to much sleeve for the amount of scye.

I did have a head scratching episode over the instructions for finishing the front neck binding and facing.

I did it like this:

Here's hoping it's warm enough to wear soon!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Call me Ishmael

I made these whales for my step daughter's baby shower next month. Making them was a lot more fun than reading Moby Dick. Also, it did not take as long.
There were a few drawings and re-drawings before I got the pattern quite right. The sewing, trimming and turning was a bit fiddly, but I think they turned out super cute and so does the mom-to-be. They're made from men's dress shirts with the collar buttons for eyes. They'll be put on little stands for the shower (my husband is making those).