Friday, August 12, 2016

Embroidery Finished!

Odd looking leaves for the blackberry bunches
There are just a few finishing touches on the embroidery for the Embroidered Silk Evening Bag. As I was looking at the photo of the finished bag, I noticed that I had completely forgot the leaves and sepals for the blackberries. The chalk markings had completely rubbed off the silk fabric. So I carefully drew them in by hand with a chalk pencil. Then I realized that the center thread is supposed to be Au Ver au Soie, Soie d'Alger No 516, a dark green that you can see in the centers of the other leaves above. Unfortunately, I am completely out of it. I looked through my stash and decided No 514 is close enough, so that's what I used. With the lighter green outlining the leaves I think it looks fine. 

What do the beads represent, pollen?
I placed little gold beads around the blue flower spray. I used many more than the directions specified, so had to raid my stash for a few more. Luckily, I have plenty of the same color. I also filled in the center of the large pink flower with yellow Ghiordes knots and encircled it with beads.

Blue buds added to the blue flower 
In the last post I mentioned that I couldn't figure out what the flower spray below the blue flower is supposed to look like, so I rubbed the chalk away and drew in new markings. Then I added the blue buds with pink accents and a brown branch.

Finally finished! 
Here is the entire embroidery, all complete. Now I just have to make it into a bag. The directions include a fabric handle, but the joins on the purse hardware are just too tiny to make it work. I'll head over to Joann's to see if I can find a small chain that will fit, otherwise I'll have to look online. Can't wait to get this done.

If you would like to see all of the posts for this project, this link will take you to them.

A quick PSA (Public Service Announcement for those who read in other languages): I am now starting to answer comments in the blog directly below each comment, so please check back a while after you leave a comment. Thanks for all your lovely remarks, I do appreciate them. Now I'm off to do some grocery shopping. We just got a freezer for the new house and it's time to fill it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Embroidered Bag Progress

Pretty needle minder
I hope those of you in the Northern Hemisphere are managing to stay cool. It's been pretty hot here, getting to 101 ℉ (38℃) on Monday. Tomorrow we may get some cooler weather, and I must say I am looking forward to it. It's been over a year since I posted on the Embroidered Evening Bag, but I've been working hard lately to finish it. Above right, you can see that I've finished the blue/purple flowers. Since this project is worked entirely in Soie d'Alger silks, it's pretty expensive. I had run out of the light blue, but ordered more from Hedgehog Handworks. To save the silk for surface stitching, I made the padding of the blue flowers from a corresponding color of DMC floss. As the silk is upwards of $4.90 per skein vs $0.39 for the floss, this is quite a savings, especially if you do a lot of padding.

Pink buds almost finished
Here I only have the tips of the pink buds to finish, along with the center of the large flower. Since the center will be Ghiordes knots surrounded by beads, I'm saving it for last.  This will help to avoid any snagging.

The grapes are a bit more grape-like
If you look at the link to the previous post (over a year ago!) the grapes sort of flowed together in a mash up. I seriously considered taking them all out, but after thinking about this for maybe five minutes, I added a few strategically placed French knots which seemed to make them rounder and more grape-like.

What is the mystery bud below the blue flower?
I finished the little blue flower, again padding the petals with DMC floss. There are some sketchy lines just below the blue flower that don't seem to correspond with the original drawing. I'll have to figure out just what to do with it. Besides the mystery bud(s), I only have to finish the centers of the blue and pink flowers, the pink flower buds, a few tendrils and stems here and there, and add a lot of spangles overall. Then comes the construction, which looks pretty easy.

One aggravation that creeped in a few days ago is that I broke the broke the post of this embroidery hoop. It is a large sit upon hoop so now I have to hold it in my hands to work on the project until I can find a replacement.

I'm sure you are all wondering why I have picked this particular project to finish now. Well, there is a very good reason for it. In September, I will be attending the SAGA Convention in Hampton,  Virginia. This particular project is from a class my SAGA chapter in California held back in November, 2013, almost three years ago by the talented Susan O'Connor from Australia. Besides wanting to have a nice bag for the annual banquet, I will be taking three days of classes from Susan. I will definitely want to show this evening bag off!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

New Project - Dress Form Cover

Very sad dress form on the right
I bought the dress form you see in the above photo while still in California, and for a while, it worked pretty well. I had it pretty close to my measurements. But sadly, neglect set in and I've gained weight. In this post, you can see how loosely the dress hangs on the form. It fits on me a whole lot better, but it's not perfect. Since I paid good money to have it stored for nine months and then shipped to the new house, I thought I had better make use of it.

As I mentioned in the last post, I purchased a Craftsy class, Customize Your Dress Form with Judy Jackson, on how to make a dress form cover to match your own body. I took inspiration from Bunny at La Sewista, who made her own cover a few years ago. Click on this link for her last post on it. I also studied the tutorial on by Laurie Nash of Sew Chic, which is very in depth. This link will lead you to her first post of the tutorial.

This pattern has princess seams to the shoulder
One of the things that is all important is to make sure to pick a good pattern, specifically one with princess seams that run up to the shoulder, not the armscye. I used McCall's 7352 for this.

First attempt on the dress form cover
For the fabric it is important to use something not too light. I thought I had the perfect fabric, some pink drapery fabric from about 30 years ago. It was nice and stiff, but it had a distortion that no amount of ironing would remove. After washing it, the distortion came out, but now it was just a lightweight cotton fabric. So I went ahead and made the cover anyway. After about five or six fittings with only Mr CS to help, it was pretty well molded to my body.

New pattern pieces in pink/grey toile fabric
Then I realized that it looks like a micro mini skirt, way too short, and the neckline isn't quite high enough. Rummaging through my stash I found a darling pink toile upholstery weight fabric that would be perfect. So I took the first attempt apart and used it to cut the toile fabric.

Matching the thread traced seams
I transferred all seam lines to the new fabric with a tracing wheel, but realized that I need to see the marks from both sides. So I thread traced all seam lines. What a great idea. I could match all the seam lines pretty accurately now.

Almost finished! 
The Craftsy class instructed us to pad the form with polyester batting, which I thought made it too soft. Besides, I had only a bit of batting and a lot of look fiber fill, which was impossible to place on the form and hold in place. Laurie at Sew Chic said to use cotton batting, which I have a lot of, so that's what I did. I used lots of paper tape to keep everything together. 

Adding the neck fabric with a curved needle
 I also copied Bunny's method of adding a neckband and covering the armholes. Luckily I had a set of curved needles used for tying quilts, which really helped to get the neck and armholes in. I used a 30 inch separating zipper in the back, and ran a cord around the bottom casing to gather the extra fabric in.

Not quite tight enough, but it matches!
Laurie also says to spray the form with water and let dry to help smooth out the bumps. This photo is before I did that. It's now dry but doesn't look all that much smoother. But, I have a form with correct measurements and that's what matters. Since I'm not likely to make anything very form fitting, a few wrinkles in the hip area won't matter too much. I still need to mark the waist with a ribbon (it's now only chalk) and the shoulders, since mine are a bit narrower.

This whole process makes you look at your figure very critically and gives you more insight into how your body looks. I discovered I have a bit of a swayback, which I never realized before. Since I've started this, I've really made sure I'm eating right and have been exercising, so I expect to lose a bit of weight. But that's OK, if I lose enough weight I can take it apart, refit, and take away some of the padding. Which would be a very good thing.

I want to thank Bunny at La Sewista and Laurie at Sew Chic for kindly posting on how they made their forms. I read all the posts several times along with the Craftsy class and now feel I almost have a handle on this.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Starting to Sew Again

Still pretty messy
The sewing room is slowly coming together, as you can see. All the boxes are removed and only a few remain to be unpacked.

Definitely much better organization than before
 I decided that function trumps form in organization, so instead of buying cute antique furniture to store my projects, I bought large plastic tubs and organized all of the projects in them. I labeled each one with a category and number, such as "Quilt", or "SEW", and inventoried each project that went into them. It was a scary proposition. I have so many projects I don't see how on earth I'll get them done in my lifetime. So I've started a donation bag, and have put some things into it. I have also come across some fabric that I'll never use, and brought that to my tatting group. Most of them sew, and were glad to get some free fabric. My daughter is learning to crochet, so she got all the yarn and hooks, and the knitting supplies went to the Loveland Library Knitting Group.

I love this old secretary/cabinet
I do have one antique piece, well, vintage really. This was in our family room in California, sitting in a nook once occupied by a wet bar long since torn out. I haven't quite decided just what to put in it, so it's mostly empty now as I figure out what to use it for. I still have to figure out pattern and thread storage, and what to put on the walls. There is a lot of space just waiting to be used.

Craftsy kit that I bought a year ago
 Last year I bought this Craftsy kit, and it went into storage. As I was going through all of my projects I decided to put it together right now as it is so hot. The fabric is a rayon challis which was a bear to sew as it is so slippery, like silk charmeuse. The sleeves are fairly wide, and I hemmed them with self bias strips that I cut myself. Next time I'll make cotton strips which should be easier to handle. I also will use maybe a cotton voile or lawn instead of rayon.

My new dress
But it looks fairly decent and is very comfortable to wear, except that as it is loose fitting, the shoulders tend to slip.  It looks huge on the form, but that is because I bought the form about 20 pounds ago. I don't have a photo of me in it, as we went walking this morning and I don't want to put the dress on my very nasty body right now.

Lingerie stays should help keep the shoulders in place
I went leafing through some of my sewing books and came across lingerie stays made with ribbon. I've seen them with crocheted thread, but this was pretty easy. I couldn't find snaps so I cut some from some baby snap tape that I had. I have since found the snaps that are not attached to fabric. 

He fits beautifully in the sink
I realized that since it was so long since I've posted, you might want to see what my little grandson looks like now. I just love those curls (and that big sink).

Can you believe he is 20 years old?
We got Oscar in mid August, 1996, and he was six weeks old at the time. So I figure his birthday is right about now, the first week in July. In human years he is 97! He has settled beautifully in the new home and goes out to sit by his catnip on the right.

My next project, before I sew anything else, is to get that dress form into shape. It's not doing me a bit of good being a size too small. I've just started a Craftsy class on this subject and can't wait to get going. I have some old drapery fabric purchased about 30 years ago, so all I needed was a long zipper and the pattern. Stay tuned, I'll post my progress on it.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Some Progress on the Sewing Room

A few boxes unpacked
I've been busy in the basement unpacking all those boxes. As you can see, I have an ironing station set up and the table in place. Yesterday I actually had the machine out to make some curtains, but now it is down under the table top. 

Welcome back, old friends
I've appropriated a bookshelf from my son's room to store some magazines and books. He is now in Seattle and may eventually want this back, but for now, I'll use it. It is so nice to have my books back. 

A-Z Books on the center left shelf
All of my A-Z Country Bumpkin books are on the center left shelf, while the Italian books are in the center stack. They will have to go out someplace else. I was taking a few classes while in California, but need to get back to studying. The jeans on the top shelf are donations from Mr. California Stitching, and will be turned into a ragged edge quilt top once my new cutter from Accuquilt arrives. The sweaters below it are all wool and will be felted for some future project(s). 

Project organization
This is how I organize some of my in-process work. Whenever I travel, I try to collect sturdy, preferably canvas bags. They are great for toting projects around while reminding me of all the places I've visited. The toile bag on the far left was from Lady Washington's Gift Shop at Mount Vernon (George Washington's Home, for my non American readers), which we visited during the government shutdown in October 2013.  It holds current tatting supplies. The red, white and blue bag is from Yale and holds Wee Care gowns to smock. The Smithsonian bag is (obviously) from the Smithsonian museum and holds the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top. The bag in the center back has titles of books on the cover, many of which are blacked out to represent banned books (such a Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It is from the British Library (September of 2014) and holds the Rambling Clematis stump work project. The red and white bag is from the Monterey Aquarium, one of my favorite places in the world, and holds some ironing equipment, such as a pressing sheet and a wooden pressing tool. The three bags in the front (SAGA Dallas 2007, Vanguard, and Boston) are empty, and awaiting projects.

I am thinking of cataloging all of my projects in hopes that it will make me finish them in a more timely manner. I've tried this before with virtually no success, as you can see on the "Ongoing Projects and Finishes Page" for my half hearted attempt two years ago. It will be a daunting task, but it is something that needs to be done. My in-process inventory is just too high and seems to be getting higher.  If any of you dear readers have a good way to do this, please leave a comment below, and thanks in advance! Yes, I know, it's called discipline.

The all important tree 
In other news, we had to have this tree planted before we could get a permanent Certificate of Occupancy issued by the city of Loveland. The city is determined to have shady, tree-lined streets, and for the most part, has succeeded. 

Twenty-six tons of gravel
The landscapers left us with a whole lot of gravel in the street! It is now all spread around the lot. In fact, only a few plants and the lawn are missing. It is still too early to plant the seeds as the landscaper is afraid they will rot with the cools nights we've been experiencing.

Looks natural, doesn't it?
I love how the water feature came out. It looks just like a mountain stream. We've seen some robins bathing in the top and our grandson really wants to get right in it. I'll show more photos once everything is in.

Registration for the SAGA Convention opens Monday morning, so I'll be busy this weekend figuring out which classes to take. There are so many lovely choices it will be difficult.  I'm leaning towards taking all of Susan O'Connor's classes so I'll need to finish the Embroidered Silk Evening Bag first.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

We Finally Moved into the New House

Yes, we did it, we moved into the new house.  The move from the apartment was on Saturday, April 16, and all of the rest of our possessions arrived the following Wednesday. That's my car in the driveway.

Boxes, boxes, everywhere
This is the kitchen island, with just a few of the boxes to unpack. I think that by now we have just over half unpacked, but not all put away. While we were packing last year, we were pretty ruthless about throwing things out we no longer needed or wanted. Actually, we gave away much of it, with a lot going to nieces/nephews or Goodwill. But now, I keep unpacking items thinking, why on earth did I pack this? We have already made one trip to Goodwill, and have given quite a few things to my daughter.  I'm sure there will be more. I almost gave away my slow cooker, but my son pointed out that it still is pretty useful, especially when cooking beans. 

Three cars in the garage
I can't believe it, we actually can put three cars in the garage. But only for the first night, as that is where all of the packing materials are going until we can get rid of everything.

View from the patio door
Then, on our second night, we had a bit of a snow storm. Notice the house on the left, with a three car garage and three cars out in the snow. We are determined not to use the garage to store things other than a few tools and all of the cars.

View from the front door
Luckily, the we had only about three inches, even though the forecast was for 5-8 inches. This late in spring the snow doesn't last for more than a day, and sure enough, it was pretty much all melted by the next day. 

We see you!
Last year, we had golden eagles nesting in the natural area about half a mile from the house. This year, we have great horned owls. There always seems to be someone trying to photograph these little cuties. Mr. California Stitching must have taken about 15 photos before he got this one.

Now, for the really scary photos:

This is the view from the door of my sewing room. Don't be scared by that floor, it's actually vinyl. There was no way I was going to put wood on a concrete slab below grade. You have to get down on your knees and touch it to realize it's not wood. Everyone who sees it is fooled.

Double Yikes!
I have a preliminary sketch of how I'll organize the room, but I think I really need to revisit it. I was envisioning old furniture, all painted to match, holding everything. But when I look at all the boxes and realize just how much fabric I have, that idea is so not going to work.

I know this may seem that my priorities are off to many of you, by my main focus is on upstairs in the living areas. Once that is in decent shape, I'll be able to devote time to figuring out the sewing area. I'm already planning on bleeding out to the big rec room as it is. More to come...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Almost There...

Almost finished!
We had our walk through today with the building supervisor and the owner of the building company. There was still quite a bit of work going on in the house but it was paint touch up and final wood trim staining. The darling port-a-potty will be removed tomorrow morning.

I did have a panic attack when the painter removed the French doors leading to the patio and painted them. I thought they were supposed to be stained. The painter was so apologetic but the supervisor, building company owner and I kept telling him that it wasn't his fault. As it turned out, the door is fiberglass, so it needs to be painted and not stained. Needless to say, we were all very relieved.

We also had a problem with the closets in two of the bedrooms, but I'll explain that once they are installed and I can show you a picture. Final inspection is tomorrow with the hand over on Thursday. We can start moving boxes in right away, which will be a help, as we need to be out of the apartment in a week.

I've mentioned before that we had some real problems with the cabinets, and I'll explain in more detail once everything is finished. This is supposed to happen tomorrow. I'll be on site for a good part of the day, to see that it all gets done. Oh, and I didn't even mention the shower doors. The two extra bathrooms are supposed to have oil rubbed bronze frames, but the downstairs bathroom door came with a stainless steel frame. So that has to be replaced. The frameless shower door for the master showed up damaged, so that has to be replaced as well. This is all supposed to happen tomorrow. An awful lot is supposed to happen tomorrow.

The cleaning crew has been working for three days and there is still a film of dust everywhere. I've already brought over cleaning sprays and microfiber cloths so I can wipe everything down myself.

One of the ladies in my tatting group said she has built two houses and that it was two too many. I believe her.