Monday, August 12, 2013

A little bit o progress

I've made headway on the sewing room de-trashing.

I redeemed some Viking points to obtain three new sewing machine feet:  an elastic foot, a rolled hemmer and a variable bias binder.

I discovered the instruction guides for my TruEmbroidery software.  Still might need some help from Himself figuring out how to work it, but at least I know where the help files are, now.
The entertaining thing:  I've still not found the instructions for how to import and image into any of the modules.  They all start after that point.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Settings seem to have changed AGAIN.  I can no longer comment on any Blogger blogs.

Stitching Foolishness:  I LOVE that kit!  Perhaps you could do a compromise alternating two hours on a WIP and an hour on the new one?

Southern Matriarch:  That is a lovely group of kids.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Dress that Never Ends

Last August, when my great-grand-niece got married, I offered to make a Christening gown for their first child.  The project got moved to the back burner for one reason or another until late May.  I had an idea of what I wanted to make, and I knew what kind of fabric I wanted to use. When Martha Pullen had a fabric sale in late May, I ordered the fabric- a 55/45 cotton/silk blend she calls Elegance . I'd wanted to use Micheal Miller's Radiance, which is 65/35 silk/cotton, but at $15/yard, the on-sale-for-$4/yard fabric won.   I ordered a lot.
   MP usually has great customer service and quick order fulfillment.  However- they got blasted out of the water with their sidewalk sale, so of COURSE the white fabric I needed was backordered til "sometime".  I ordered the Radiance from LowPriceFabrics (it's a misnomer).  While I waited for the fabric to arrive, I traced off patterns, found threads, cleaned my pleater, etc, so I was ready when the lovely stuff showed up.

    So, cue a couple of days doing yardwork. Add 5 days of frantically readying my guest room for an actual guest-  it's been the box room and the random storage room since we moved in.  It's now looking pretty good, although I still need to paint and put up the new curtains.  By the way- the guest didn't show up.  By this time, the days between "now" and the Baptism were dwindling.  I got busy.

These are things I re-learned.
1)  pleating fabric for a full-smocked bodice is a job.  It needs to be done slowly and patiently, and for best results without a cat trying to eat the dangling threads.
2)  it always takes longer to smock a row of geometrics that you'd think it should.  Add in lack of practice and bad counting skills, and the work time starts to really add up.
3) entredeux, good laces and Swiss embroideries are not cheap.
4) You don't just "put in the entredeux".  First you measure, then you trim the seam allowance on the lace, then you stitch it on,  press it open, then reinforce the stitching.  Then you do it again for the other side.  And you do these steps for each and every row of decorative stuff you put on that item.  And they all take at least a half hour on a size 3 month.
5) A comfortable chair is a must for long stitching sessions.  I have a decent chair at my sewing machine, but the one at my handwork table is just a folding chair.  My lower legs and ankles are swollen as badly as they did when I was pregnant from sitting on it.  (moving the good chair from room to room isn't a viable option - there are no paths big enough at the moment.
6)and speaking of that, having a tidy sewing area with stuff put away would probably be a really big help.  [put on list of things to do soon]

I ran in to a couple of snags.  The petticoat pattern has, in teensy letters, a memo that you need to cut apart the skirt pattern and spread it 7 inches in order to get the proper length.   Guess when I saw that?  Not before I cut, that's for sure.  The skirt also didn't come anywhere near to fitting the bodice, either.  I made a new skirt for it that was just gathered.  It worked, but it added time.  I can use the rejected skirt to make dolly underwear.
   Somehow I wound up about 15 inches short of the lowest band of lace.  I remember there being a loose piece that was on the table, but I'll be darned if I could find it last night or today.  I discovered the shortage at 4:30 this morning.  I had nothing similar in my stash and nothing I could substitute.  Just what I didn't need- a trip to the fabric store in Mount Lebanon.
  Did I mention I made this discovery by running out of the edging while sewing it onto the skirt band?   Yeah.  
       Aaaand the Liberty Tunnel is closed, which means a new and exciting detour.  yay!
             AAAAnd, they didn't have the damned edging!  Someone had bought up the whole card since I was there a couple weeks ago!  We Hates THem!   I got something that would blend with the intention of removing the current edging and replacing it with the other, but what I wound up doing is removing it, then putting it back on but starting with it centered in the front rather than starting from the side seam as per the pattern.  I then improvised a small patch of the similar stuff in the center back.  Nobody sees the back of a baby anyhow, right?
   In any case, the gown, petticoat and booties got packed into a box and zoomed up to the Fed Ex store where they were shipped out via overnight delivery.  Hopefully this means Aria won't have to be nakey for her big day.  

I had no time to take photos.  I finished sewing on the edging at 4:30 and needed to get the stuff packed and up to the shop by 5.  I made it at 4:47.  Go, me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On the Joys of Sewing with Cats

I love my kitties.  I do, really.
Stitching with them in the same room can be a bit of a chore, though.  Kali and Loki are pretty sure they are fabric weights and that once they are ON the fabric, it is supposed to just lie there until they're ready to do something else.  Loki likes to eat patterns and pull pins out of my pincushions.
   Bes has decided he is an embroidery fan.  He plopped himself onto my lap a while ago.  This also happened to be on top of all my threads and my embroidery scissors.  (of course it did).  After several minutes of head-butting and rubbing allll over my hoop he settled down...until I started stitching.
Oh, Boy!  Im'a bite that!   He managed to get most of one strand swallowed before I was able to grab it and pull it out of his maw.  Ewwww- slurmy floss.
   Despite this, I managed to get all 8 thousand french knots done in the center of the sunflowers I was working on.  Next up, blanket stitch flowers.  Pity I can't remember how to start them....  :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

just catching up

 Oh.   It looks as if I've not updated this in a couple of months.  You'd think that nothing's been going on, but that isn't the case.

  In May, we went to the UK for a week to witness the marriage of my husband's younger sister.  We took an extra couple of days to visit his younger brother and family in Yorkshire before driving west to Berkeley. (pronounced "barkly")  
  The wedding was held at historic St Mary's Church, a lovely building that has retained much of its original atmosphere.
  Last week we went to NYC for a school reunion.  The venue was near Times Square and the Fashion District, so we wound up in both places.  There's an entire store devoted to m&ms at Times Square!
I found NYC to be disappointing.  Traffic, both foot and auto, were horrendous!  Most of the buildings had scaffolding in front of them, so even if I passed something I'd seen in a film, I sure didn't recognize it.  The intersection of Broadway and 42nd Street looks like any intersection in any Eastern Big City.
   Mood Fabrics, however, did not disappoint.  We walked up there on Wednesday afternoon and browsed around at several stores on the block.  I came home with just 5 yards of fabric, though: 2 of pale yellow silk dupioni and 3 of an ephemeral silk voile.   Thank you, Mood.

  Time in between has been spent working in the garden and maintaining the yard, doing a (very) little sewing, and reading.

   We also had to purchase a new vehicle.  The transmission on the Civic Hybrid just stopped one morning.  Blue book value of the car was pretty close to the cost of a new transmission, so we decided to put that cash towards a down payment.  We came home with a Ford C-Max Energi in Candy Blue (eventually- it took the dealership a few days to find and obtain that particular vehicle for me).  So far, I love it.  Love, love, love.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Getting Ready for the Next Convention

  Somehow, I managed to win an early registration for convention this year.  I've chosen my classes and emailed them to the registrar, and made my hotel reservation.  I need to reserve a sewing machine for my first class- this will be my first machine class at a convention!- and make flight reservations.

  I'm looking forward to a week in Frisco, Texas!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

SAGA Regional Retreat

I've just returned home from three days of sewing with friends old and new at the first-ever Smocking Arts Guild regional sewing retreat.  It was held at a convention center in State College, PA.  As one attendee put it "equally inconvenient for everyone", the center was not too bad.  At first, we were dismayed by the fact that the rooms had outside doorways, but they were covered and it was just a short walk to a door into an inner hall.

   My two fellow chapter members and I had a wonderful time.  I took all hand classes, while they also took some machine technique classes.  Friday was tough-  breakfast at 8am,  classes from 9-noon, 1:30-4:30, and 6-9 with breaks for meals.

  I really enjoyed my classes.  I had a baby daygown class all day Friday where we learned how to measure and adapt a daygown pattern to accomodate tucks of several types, lace and pleats.  I finally managed to do a decent featherstitch!  Jeannie Baumeister, our teacher, kept telling me that if I do it fifteen minutes a day for two weeks, I should have it mastered.  Now that I have the rhythm and sequence of the stitch down, I'll try that and see how it goes.
   On Saturday my class focused on a sweet little sachet adapted from a pattern printed in a 1914 magazine in an article about quick homemade Christmas gifts that Jeannie had found.  You can see her blog post about it  here.  She surprised us with a packet of dried rose petals from her own rosebushes to fill the sachet when it's finished.
  This morning was my final class,  Italian Hemstitch taught by Claudia Newton.  Things learned:  some linens are easier to draw threads from than others,  left-handed instructions are wonderful things to have, and scissor-action tweezers are easier on the hands than normal ones.  The project for this class is an embroidered guest towel.  I never have guests, and I'm not fond of linen towels, so this will likely end up being just a show piece.

   I'm having a bit of trouble getting out of stitching mode and back into cleaning-up-after-the-cats mode.  Can't think why!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

a quick update

I'm ready for spring.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ah, March.  How I love you.  The robins are back, there are plants poking hesitant new growth up out of the still cold soil.
  I  have a lot of sewing to do this month, not the least of which are some cute little sewing caddies our new Pittsburgh web-based SAGA chapter is donating as table favors.
   Last week I submitted my artisan points for verification, which means I'll also be working on not one, but TWO artisan project submissions.  The Smocking category is fairly small- a couple of pleating samples and a smocked sample.  The Fine Hand Sewing category has 14 different bits to be submitted, though, so I'll be hand-stitching like a mad thing.  I'd like to get them in the mail by mid-April so I have plenty of time to re-do anything that needs tweaking.

  My husband's younger half-sister is getting married (finally!) in May, and we'll be making a trip over to the UK for the wedding.  I'm really excited about that!  The wedding will be in Gloucestershire, but I suspect we'll do a bit of traveling to see some UK based friends, as well.  I wouldn't mind catching up with my friend Dylan- it's been ages since I've seen him.  A visit with another friend, Misty, is a must- I was in her wedding, and she is one of my best friends Evar!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Small Oddity

A few weeks ago I tried to post a comment on a blog I've been following for a couple of years now.  I've commented there before with no problems.  I typed the comment, hit 'post' and the comment disappeared.  "Huh", I thought, and tried again.    Then it happened again with another blog.
   I figured it was a Blogger thing.  They have them sometimes.   When it hadn't cleared up in a few days, I contacted the blog owner to make sure I'd not been turfed off her pages, and I hadn't.  I did notice that I was no longer listed as a follower, though...
   Fast forward to today.  It happened again, with yet a different blog.  It seems that when I cleared my cookies and cache in December, it also cleared off all my Blogger Following settings.  I can understand it clearing my Blogger login, but the blogs I've followed?  That's just weird.

Anyway. Fixed now.  I post this mostly so if anyone who reads this has had or runs into this problem, they know a possible fix.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


  Sadly, I have not ventured into the sewing room for more than a few minutes in the past week.
My husband's dust allergy has been rather active, so instead I've been vacuuming and dusting and spritzing things with allergen control spray, then mopping and wiping down.

Ohh.  We Interrupt this Post for the Arrival of my Shiny New iPad.....  (love air miles)

Right- two days later.  The new iPad is shiny and white and so light I'm afraid it will float away if I don't keep a good grip on it.  I'll have to procure a nifty case/lid/thingy for it at some point in the next few days.  I installed Google Chrome on it, so now I can do tabbed browsing- something I really missed about Safari on the iPad.  Games and music will be ported in gradually, as well, but for now I'm working with my Gen1 nd mostly admiring the new device.  

Back to the sewing room.  I ordered and retrieved some of these.  One bench, one each of the storage cube units, and a few drawers to put in them.  I'll be having Some Fun putting them together over the next few days.   I'm also thinking about paint colors.  The other sewing room is a very pale green
(I think its this color:  but I'm not sure I want that same color in the other room as well.  Maybe a pale peach or yellow. I tend to buy paints that are as close to white as I can find, but I might do an accent wall in an actual color.  We'll see.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Small successes

  Over the past week I managed to achieve things!

First up was a couple hours of work in the sewing room.  I'm cataloging my books and magazines, and this week I went through my Inspirations,  Australian Smocking and Embroidery and Sew Beautiful collections.  They're now in labeled magazine folders in order. This is one of those tasks that takes longer than it should because it's impossible for me to just sort the things:  I have to stop and thumb through some of the issues.

I got most of the Holiday decorations dragged back to the basement, and cleared off a metal shelving unit that has been taking up space in our front room.  Homes have been found for the things that were cluttering it up, and the shelf unit itself has gone up to the sewing room where it can be more useful. 

   I've stitched about another inch of Palestrina stitch on my Flip-Flop Needlebook case, but am stuck now because I have to add a new thread.  I can't remember the process, so I have to experiment.  
   My daughter-in-law sent me home with a jacket which had lost about half its hem.  I got that put back together for her last night, then realized the jacket was missing a button.  I checked with her this morning and she said she hadn't been able to find it at home, so I toddled off to Joann's to find replacements.  I wanted to use one of the funky La Mode Brocade designs, but it only comes in one size and I need two, so that was out.  The experience made me wish I lived much closer to Britex, where they have an entire room full of button designs.  Bet I could have found multiple sizes of cool buttons there!  It's entirely possible that DiL would be just as happy that I had to choose something more subtle.  She's not a funky or flashy gal.
  After finishing that bit of mending I started on a more long-term project: making a plarn shopping tote.  Last night I smoothed out blue plastic bags, cut them into loops and joined them to make a decent-sized ball of plarn.  Sometime this week I'll start crocheting that into a bag using this pattern:
  It's been a while since I've done any crochet, so I suspect this to take a while as a 15-20 minute at a time project.  [The plastic has been deemed to be too noisy to be a tv project.]