Sunday, 28 December 2014

A little tutu!

A couple of weeks ago I received a message from a relative asking if I could make a baby tutu. Well I hadn't actually made a tutu before but how difficult could a tutu be, especially one for a 3 month old baby?  A quick google search would no doubt find the necessary tutorials and I felt quite confident. The only fly in the ointment was the request to make it from my nieces wedding gown! Mild panic ensued at this point.  Did she really want me to chop up her wedding dress? Yes she did! 

The dress had plenty of netting I could use for the fluffy tutu but she also wanted me to add an over skirt from the dress satin and could the sparkly trim be removed to put on a head band?  I think this was the point at which the mild palpitations and sweaty palms started. Good job I'm not easily spooked though and love a challenge so I promptly got out the seam ripper! In just a few minutes I had removed the trim, released a bunch of netting from the underskirt and split the dress panels. (It's amazing how quick you can undo stitching when you use a seam ripper correctly, something I have only just learnt to do the last six months!)

So Tutu making began! Having looked at a number of tutorials I decided to follow the more traditional pancake tutu method,  so out came the ruffler ! Love this gadget. Pity mine broke at the end of the project mind but I think I can mend it. It is such a time saving foot for gathering. I had 6 layers of net to gather. 2 long layers each of 3 different widths, 5", 4" and 3". Once gathered I layered them all up and stitched them together to make one piece of netting. The shortest width was placed on the bottom to make the tutu stand out from the waist. 

The over skirt was cut from the satin dress panels. I really wanted to make a full circle skirt overlay but unfortunately the width of the panels was just too narrow so I had to cut 2 half circles. Being used to working with cotton I was a bit nervous of stitching the slippery satin but I was pleasantly surprised to find the panels were underlined with muslin and stitched out without a hitch. I used a new size 60 needle and Aurifil 50 weight cotton to stitch it.

Net and over skirt were joined at the waist and a small narrow elasticated waistband added. To prevent the scratchy net irritating the baby I also added a fluffy underskirt made form the chiffon lining. Finally I hand stitched the trim from the shoulder of the dress around the waistband. The sparkly gems took me longer to hand stitch in place than I expected so when I prepped the jewels off the front of the dress for the hairband I mounted them on white felt first. 

All in all I was quite pleased with the tutu and I think my niece liked it. Baby wore it for a photo shoot just before Christmas. She is such an adorable baby don't you think!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Warning : Soap Box moment

Several years ago,17 to be exact, we moved from the South of England to San Jose in California with my husbands job. His new boss was very nice and so was his wife. I think she felt a sense of duty to help me integrate and invited me along to one of her soirees for the jobless wives and being the dutiful wife I felt obliged to attend.  It was one of those events where we "all got to know each other" and worse still we had to wear a badge we'd penned with 3 'life-statements' so we could mingle and chat using these one-liners as ice-breakers.  Can't say I was overly impressed at the time but I was reminded this week why I never went to one of her soirees again.  You see my 3 life statements were very simply Wife, Mother, Sewer.  Thats SewER meaning a person who sews.  Of course the inevitable happened and these 'Real Housewives of San Jose' were quick to single me out.   Well forgive me but anyone who thinks I enjoy being a soil pipe are quite frankly stupid beyond belief in my book and I didn't take kindly to being made fun off.  

Clearly other sewers have encountered the same problem because now we have the term SewIST.  Who the heck came up with that?  Personally I can't abide it even though I do accept it does avoid confusion.  It pops up all over the internet and last week I even saw an advert from leading thread manufacturer that referred to one. Asides from being downright irritating, it sounds mechanical, cold and unfriendly. Not your warm 'home is where the heart is ' kind of word plus I'm sure it can't be grammatically correct either.  You would never introduce yourself as a quiltist or a paintist, illustratist or knittist so why would you call yourself a sewist?  You are a Sewer.  Pet peeve and soap box moment over! (Normal service will resume shortly).

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Making a custom tailors-dummy

Meet Winifred. My new custom tailors dummy.  I made her last week and I love her.  

She is my body double. (...almost!) 
She's a little less lumpy than me in real life and just a weeny-bit smaller on the hips but she's pretty much me. She didn't take too long to make and didn't need much in the way of materials but blimey it was a messy day! 

A couple of years ago I had a fun day with Emma from MummyLovesLily making a gummed paper version of a tailors dummy. 
It was pretty good at the time but the paper versions are very hard to the touch and difficult to pin into. You can't  alter them either. Well you can add to them but you can't take away and since (happily) I'd lost a bit of weight it no longer worked for me as tailors dummy. 
 So welcome Winifred!

Gummed paper dummys

To make Winifred I started with a polystyrene body form courtesy of Ebay and at £27 (stand and all) I thought it was a bargain.  I brought a size 16-18 model that was very close to my ownbust and hip measurements. The waist however must have been modelled on a very trim size 16-18 waist measurement and not a 4 kid, menopausal, cookie pooch carrying one. But that was fine. I could add inches as required. (Quite a few actually!)

The bust line was much to pert too. A good inch higher than mine and narrower so adjustments were needed here. A set of bra inserts readjusted the boobs perfectly. 

Back and underarm fat were non existent on naked Winifred so I added some rolls.

Her bum profile was too flat so I padded her cheeks. 
 I am so pleased I saved all those quilting offcuts and samples pieces I made! 
 (The pins kept the pads in place until the glue dried)

To get a more rounded profile for the bum cheeks I layered the quilted sections feathering out the edges. I paid no attention to being perfect here just rough cut the shapes and glued them together.

Finally after a several hours and a few cups of tea I was ready to mummify and even-out those quilted additions. She then got skin in the form of very tight stretch lycra cover (supplied with model). I needed hubby's help here to stretch the cover down the body.  I won't elaborate on what he said or did to Winfred at this stage but he did remind me of Sid James in a "Carry-on" film.

I used leftover batting strips to wrap over the quilted cookie pooch and fat rolls!

Once covered I used narrow ribbon to mark out the bust, waist and hip etc..  
The black waist marker by the way is a standard pattern waistline, the red line below that goes off at an angle is my actual waistline.  I have a foreword pelvic tilt so my front waistline is a good inch and a half below my back waist.  

There was a lot of measuring and looking in the mirror, critical body assessments, protestations (surely that tape measure is wrong!)  gulps and laughs during the day followed by a round of applause as the family all agreed Winifred had a body like mine.  It didn't seem right to leave her naked though so I dressed her -- and look the dress fit her!  Don't you love those flapper buttons (c/o The Eternal Maker

After I made my custom dress form my friend told me about the newly released  Fitting Essentials Customise your dress form Craftsy class. Wish I'd known before I went solo but then again I think I did ok on my own. If you want more detailed instructions on how to make your form though I think it would probably be a good class to buy. 
Its on offer at the moment too !

Happy sewing!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Consuo Consui Consutum

So I'm not going to dwell on the fact that my last blog posting was over a year ago. Things have moved on and I've retired. No shop, no longarm quilting for others and its wonderful. I now have time to sew for myself and I'm looking forward to sharing some of those makes with you again.

First up -  baby and toddler quilts for my nieces little ones.  Something vintage for the new arrival and something on-trend for the 4 year old big sister.  I love the vintage one, the Frozen one I'm a little cold about (lol - pun intended).  Both came together very quickly and I was able to use stash fabric in both (except for the Frozen fabric that I got from Roof Top fabrics).

I'm a great lover of simple designs for quilts and after years of making quilts I am still fascinated to find it is possible to create so many different designs just by arranging coloured squares.

The vintage looking quilt uses 7 fabrics in the body of the quilt in a 'trip-around-the-world' layout. It was simple to make too using strip piecing techniques.

In "Frozen" I fussy cut the figures and tried to centre them as best I could. I'm not overly fond of the way they float around on the diagonal but thats down to the print. It was the only Frozen print available at the time and since it was flying out the door I grabbed a piece while I could. Since then  more designs have hit the market that I think would have been better for the arrangement I used.

Now I am pleased with the machine applied binding on the vintage one. Normally I sew the binding to the front by machine and then hand sew to the rear. This time I stitched the binding to the rear of the quilt, brought it forward to the front and then used a decorative machine stitch to sew it down. It certainly saved a lot of time hand sewing.

  All these 2 quilts are short of now are labels. (Just wish my printer hadn't decided to give up the ghost! )

See you next time.

ps .. if you're wondering what the title of this post means --- its latin for 'to stitch'.

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