Thursday, September 30, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to CarlaF, Ivalyn, StitchyWitch, Julia, Summerset, Faye, Elaina, Meredith, Nancy W., Katherine H., Shannon, Sarah & Becky for talking back to my confession last week! I confessed that I haven't used sew-in interfacing since my highschool days, when that was the only option around, and asked if others were similarly "addicted" to fusibles.

As usual, I got a lot of different opinions and a lot of good insights!

For starters, there were a few folks on each end of the continuum. More specifically, there were 4 votes for "I have NEVER used sew-in interfacing" (with 3 of these folks taking the further "but I am considering trying it someday" position) and 2 votes for "I ONLY use sew-in interfacing."

In the "I rarely use..." category, the 2 sides were evenly matched, with 1 vote for (or against, depending on how you look at it) sew-in and 1 vote for (or against) fusible.

We even had a couple of votes for "I don't really use 'interfacing' at all." Elaina prefers to use organza and canvas (depending on the fashion fabric) instead of official interfacing and Katherine reported that lately she's been avoiding patterns that call for facings, and so that elimates the need for much interfacing.

And, of course, we had a variety of "it depends" responses - seven, to be exact.

Five of those seven said that it depends on the type of fabric. Three said that they use sew-in interfacing on sheer fabrics, like silk and organza, and one only uses fusbiles for knits.

Katherine said that (when she does use interfacing) the type she uses depends on the instructions / recommendations of the pattern.

And Summerset said that her choice depends on the nature of the project. She uses sew-in for her couture projects (because, among other things, it IS couture) and fusible for children's clothes and more trendy clothes - reading between the lines a bit, clothes that don't necessarily have to last forever.

There were also some pros and cons of the two materials called out. Hmmm... Now that I think about it, there were some pros for sew-in and some cons for fusibles called out. ;)

Regarding cons: Several people pointed out that fusibles can mess up your iron and are not as dependable as sew-ins, and can pucker and bubble - especially after washing.

Although Meredith - who has sewn continuously from the P.F. era (pre-fusibles) through the Dark Ages (of "iron on" Pellon) and into the present, A.F. (after fusibles) - believes that today's high quality, woven fusibles do not have this problem.

I completely missed the Dark Ages - they took place during my 20 year sewing hiatus - sounds like it was a very rough time for all... ;)

Regarding pros: Of course, sew-in interfacing was called out as supporting a longer life for your garments. And Shannon prefers sew-in because it's easier to fix mistakes - once a fusible is attached, it's not coming off! At least, not ALL of it... ;)

Thanks again to everyone who responded! I love reading about your experiences and being able to learn from you! :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Winners

Thank you to everyone for your congratulations and other kinds words on the occasion of my 500th post! I wish I had 50 copies of that PatternReview book so that I could give one to each of you!

Unfortunately, I only have five. So, who did Lady Luck favor in my random drawing?

Congratulations to:

Karin van D.


Carla (Lover of Words)


Nancy W

To the winners - Please email me with your mailing address at: I'll get your books in the mail ASAP. :)

Thanks again to everyone! I certainly never would have made it to 500 if it wasn't for you! :)

Photo credit: kaibara87

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekend Project: No Baby Animals Allowed

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.
~Author Unknown

The young woman who cuts my hair just had her first baby - a little boy. I was so excited to make something for him - until she explained that her husband doesn't like any clothes with baby animals on them. "He thinks they are too childish," she explained. "Too childish for a baby?" I wondered.

But, mindful that my goal is to make THEM happy, not me, I trudged off to Joann's and dutifully by-passed the adorable Noah's Ark prints, Baby Snoopy prints and Winnie-the-Pooh prints... Let me tell you - it wasn't easy!

In the end, I found 4 fabrics to make 2 reversible baby bubbles. The first pair still retain a trace of the "awww!" cuteness that I feel is essential for baby clothes. One side is light brown with little blue cars & trucks & planes, and the other side (for when he needs to look professional) is a blue pinstripe.

I cannot say how much I love this Sis Boom Carly Bubble Romper pattern. There are only 3 pattern pieces (4 if you want little cap sleeves) and the method of making it reversible so that all of the seams are hidden is ingenious!

I use velcro along the bottom and a ribbon to close at the back of the neck.

For the second bubble, I went with sports-themed fabric, as the new Dad apparently is a big sports fan. Football on one side...

And baseball on the other.

Not your typical baby prints, but hopefully the Dad will approve.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! If you haven't signed up for my 500th post give-away yet, don't forget! I'll quit taking entries at midnight (EST) on Tuesday.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Confession

Sewing with a new-to-me brand of pattern (Amy Butler) was interesting in that her instructions and materials differed in several ways from the Big-4 pattern companies that I am used to. Last week I mentioned the darts. Her Lotus Cami pattern also called for SEW-IN interfacing.

Now, I took Home Economics in high school, approximately 30 years ago, when sew-in interfacing was the only option. When I started sewing again (almost 10 years ago), I discovered iron-on interfacing and immediately decided that it was a miracle and the best thing since sliced bread!

I thought I'd never go back to sew-in, but I did figure that she must have some reason for calling for it, and so I followed her instructions. It actually went in pretty easily and works well with this pattern - although that may be as much about the weight (heavier than the iron-in that I usually use) as anything else...

But it got me to wondering - are there times when sew-in is a better choice? Does it have any advantages over iron-in? What do you think? Do you ever use sew-in interfacing? If so, when and why?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Karin van D., Karin, Katherine, Cindy, Jessica, Sarah, Summerset, Lisa Laree, Becky, Susie, Debbie, Mamafitz, Faye, Mary, Elaina and Patsijean for talking back to my confession last week! I asked how people finish their darts - backstitching or tying off?

Generally, tying off won out over backstitching along the same seam (8 commenters to 3 commenters), but of course it turns out that there's a lot more to sewing darts than the simple choice that I offered. ;)

First off, some people backstitch for thicker fabrics (home decor, etc.) and tie off with sheer fabrics. Apparently backstitching along the same line can have a messy and/or bulky effect in thin fabrics.

Next, people recommended 2 tricks that I had never heard of. One is to reduce the stitch length near the points of the darts. Six people called this out and several of them said that it was secure enough to not need any other finish.

The second cool tip, called out by 5 people and illustrated in this video - thanks, Jessica for directing me to it! - is to back stitch, but NOT along the same stitching line, rather along the fold inside of the dart.

Finally, a few people brought up an aspect of dart sewing that I hadn't considered - the direction in which you sew it. Two people start at the widest part of the dart (one end or in the middle, depending) and sew to the tip. One person starts at the tip and sews to the wide part. And for Lisa Laree, it depends on the type of fabric - she usually starts at the wide end, unless the fabric is stretchy or unstable, and then she starts at the tip.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to leave a comment! I can't believe how much I learn from you guys and I am really looking forward to taking my dart sewing up a notch with these cool ideas! :)

Image credit:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

500th(-ish) Post Give-Away!

Well, okay, this is really only my 499th post. But I didn't want to mess up my "Talk Back Thursday" post for tomorrow. Hopefully no one objects to me jumping the gun just a little bit... ;)

Normally, I give away a Kiva gift certificate in honor of each of my n-hundredth posts, but I am so excited about having one of my tips included in the new book, I decided to give away FIVE (5) copies of this book in honor of my (upcoming) 500th post!

The fact that, as a "co-author" I was able to purchase the books at 50% off, didn't hurt either! ;)

So, if you would like a copy of this book, including the amazing tip #489 on page 70, just leave me a comment. I'll accept entries until midnight EST next Tuesday and I'll announce the FIVE (5) (randomly selected) winners in next Wednesday's post. Good luck to everyone!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekend Project: Lotus Cami

The Ladybug wears no disguises.
She is just what she advertises.
A speckled spectacle of spring,
A fashion statement on the wing....
A miniature orange kite.
A tiny dot-to-dot delight.
~J. Patrick Lewis

Ignoring assorted chores and responsibilities this weekend, I hid in my sewing room and made my Amy Butler Ladybug Lotus Cami!

For some reason, the ladybugs on the fabric were facing sideways. I wanted them to face upwards on the top, so I had to come up with my own arrangement for cutting out the pattern pieces. Luckily, I had plenty of fabric.

The pattern has two significant princess-like seams - I was concerned about my ability to get a good match between the curved pieces of fabric and the straight ones, so I tried something that I've read about, but never done before. I basted along the seam line of the straight pieces and clipped to the stitching, to help these pieces curve to fit.

Here you can see the 2 strong curves. The pre-clipping approach worked pretty well. :)

For some reason, her arrangement of the back neck facing and the back center seam facing seemed odd to me - she had the center seam facing on top. I don't know why, but it seemed to me like the neck facing should be on top...

So, that's the way I did it. In hindsight, her approach may have been better because with this method you can see 2 folds of fabric (although, no raw edges) along the top inner edge of the back seam...

Getting the neckline facing on and preserving the sharp inner corner was challenging. On the other hand, I think that the bias strips make an adorable armhole finishing. :)

I also like the big buttons up the back.

It was a fun project and I can't wait to wear the top to work tomorrow! This was my first Amy Butler pattern, and it was interesting - she definitely does some things (like the darts) differently from the Big 4 pattern companies.

Make sure to stop by on Wednesday, because I'm having a give-away!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and is as ready as possible to face another work week... :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Confession

So, I was reading the Amy Butler Lotus Cami pattern and was surprised to see that she says to back-stitch at each end of the darts. I'm used to the sewing patterns from the Big 4, which direct you to leave a tail and hand tie a knot at each end of the darts.

How about you? How do you begin and end your darts? Do you do the knot tying bit? Do you think it matters?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Craftygirl, Christine, Amelia, Summerset, Sarah, Elaina, Shannon, Lori and Cindy for talking back to my confession last week! I asked how people tackle stains on various fabrics.

Here is a summary of all the great tips. (This is my first attempt at an html table, and html is not co-operating, so please excuse the flawed formatting. I CANNOT figure out how to make the large amount of white space before the table go away...)




CraftygirlPeroxide Just about anything Test first! Can remove all color.
Craftygirl Dawn dishwashing liquid Degreaser Fabrics sturdier than silk
ChristineClub soda Just about anything
Christine Pantyhose Deodorant residue
AmeliaBoiling water Berry stains Hot water from the tap is not good enough
Summerset Rubbing alcohol or anything with alcohol, (ex. hair spray, hand sanitizer Most ink stains Fray Check residue See this post on Pam Erny’s blog
SarahRubbing alcohol
Elaina Vinegar Cigarette smell & residue Add a cup to the rinse cycle
ShannonGlycerin dish soap Degreaser
Shannon Sunlight Food based stains
LoriCascade with some water Stains on white baby clothes
Lori AlcoholPen marks
CindyHairsprayHair coloringTrick from her days working in a beauty salon.
CindyLemon juiceInk
CindyBaby powderDeodorant stainsApply to underarm area of blouse BEFORE you wear it.

Finally, we had two “shout outs” for Shout Stain Remover® from Sarah and Lori. :)

Thanks again to everyone for sharing their stain removing tips! I definitely picked up some new ones! :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the Queue Wednesday

I picked up this Amy Butler pattern (my first) at the sewing expo in Tampa last February. It's been languishing in my queue every since. (At least it's not lonely!)

Over the weekend I squeezed in a quick trip to Joann's and found this fabric:

I wasn't deliberately trying to copy the dot pattern in the modeled cami, but this print - with the lady bug - called to me.

So, the queue pattern advances and becomes a queue project. I'm hoping to start it this weekend. Even if I don't, don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in the queue... :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Confession

When it comes to getting stains out of fabrics, I'm not very savvy. About the only "trick" that I know is to use baby powder on oil or grease stains. Someone told me about this after I bumped up against the unfinished inside edge of a car door in a silk dress that I had just finished - what a life saver!

How about you? Do you have any "secret weapons" to get different kinds of stains out of your clothes?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In the Queue Wednesday

I just received the September issue of BurdaStyle and this skirt, #106, caught my eye. I think that A-line skirts work reasonably well on pear shapes as they can leave a bit of mystery on the question of how much of the spread is the skirt and how much is the actual bottom under the skirt... ;)

The skirt looks a bit more A-line in the sketch and a bit more straight in this photo. I'll make the longer version (shown here) - not the mini-skirt version being worn by the 5'8", 100 pound, 18-year old model on an earlier page in the magazine.

Not sure what fabric I'll use - definitely something dressy enough for work. Apparently the skirt in this photo is gabardine. And, in the "not sure" category, add the topic of when I'll get around to this one...

But don't worry, I will get to it someday! It's in the queue...

PS - On my last post, Rose asked if my parents were going over a cliff to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The answer is, in a way, yes. We all spent Sunday rock climbing together. On Saturday, before my husband and I were able to join the group, my parents and my sister's family went white water rafting. My parents are not your typical septuagenarians... ;)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekend Project: Celebration!

We spent the weekend at the New River Gorge, West Virginia, in a rented cabin, with my immediate family for a very special celebration...

To my Mom and Dad:
Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Don't panic - it's Saturday. I'm just running late! ;)

Thank you so much to BConky, Wendy, Julia, Kristine, Summerset, Shannon, Faye, Cathy, Stitchywitch, Mamafitz, Lynne, Katherine, CarlaF and Elaina for talking back to my confession last Friday! I confessed that I don't have much experience underlining and asked what other people think about it.

As the picture suggests, underlining got a bunch of big thumbs up! :)

While not everyone underlines a lot - some save it for special occasions like wedding dresses - all but one of the commenters have underlined at least once.

So, what types of garments get underlined? Pretty much everything was mentioned at least once - dresses, skirts, pants, tops, jackets, coats - even corsets and a costume!

Why do people underline? The most commonly mentioned reasons had to do with improving the appropriateness of a particular fabric for a project. Specifically, people underline to:

(a) add body or structure to loose weaves so that they keep the desired shape,
(b) add weight to give a nice drape to a lightweight fabric,
(c) reduce wrinkling in linens, and
(d) add a bit of opacity to sheer fabrics.

A few less commonly mentioned reasons include those given by:

- Wendy, who underlines winter coats in flannel to make them warmer,
- Summerset, who also underlines garments that she want to wear a long time,
- Shannon, who says that it makes working with silk fun, instead of a chore, and
- Elaina, who underlines skirts and pants for the support and to hide panty lines.

What do people use to underline?

Silk organza was far and away the most commonly mentioned fabric.
But flannel, muslin, batiste and lining fabrics were also called out.

Finally, I picked up some good advice - like Kristine I think I'm going to try to always keep a supply of organza on hand and Lynne reminded me that this is one time when I really need to make sure that my pattern fits first! ;)

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time and effort to talk back! You've got me looking forward to underlining my "Iceland" fabric! :)

Photo credit: apdk

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In the Queue Wednesday

I have another weaving project in the queue - I'd like to make a guitar strap for my husband. When I first had the idea, I thought I'd make it for an anniversary present - but our anniversary is next weekend (our 28th!), so it looks like it might be a Christmas present instead...

Hopefully one of those Christmas gifts that are handed out in December, not June... ;)

I'll probably let him pick the pattern & colors so it won't be a complete surprise. I'm not sure if I'll need to incorporate some kind of strapping underneath my weave for support or if the woven fabric will be sturdy enough to stand alone.

The other big question, of course, is when am I going to get started? I don't know exactly when, but don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in the queue. :)