Fashion · Whimsy

Party Dress: Homage to Bauhaus

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Starting Point

Staatliches Bauhaus, commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicised and taught. Wikipedia

I recently attended the 2018 DesignXri Designer’s Ball. The theme was Bauhaus Bash in honor of the Bauhaus design movement’s 100th anniversary. Predictably, if you give talented, creative people a spark of inspiration, you get remarkable results. I knew I would have to come up with something good!

To achieve this look, I went shopping in my closet. The dress was just a simple black knit dress that has been hanging around waiting for warmer weather. When you look at Bauhaus designs, you see a lot of simple shapes, primary colors, high contrast and humor. That inspired me to make a pattern of bold stripes and circles. Easiest (and most reversible) way – duct tape. I applied the stripes just by eye. The circles are made by layering strips of tape on my cutting mat and using a utility knife to cut out the circular shapes.

Bauhaus13The element that really makes the outfit is the “sleeves.” The sleeve apparatus is made from two inexpensive plastic IKEA placemats, some ribbon, some cable ties, and one strategically placed safety pin.

Add some slicked-down hair, red lipstick and a sense of adventure and the outfit is done!

The whole thing took about 4 hours to put together – or 8 if you count all of the time I spent browsing the internet.

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I really can’t say enough about this great event. For some great photos of how other people interpreted the theme, check out JTJ Photography. For more information on DesignXri, check out their website:http://www.designxri.com

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General · Home Dec · Vintage · Whimsy

Hand Embroidered Dishtowels

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I’ve taken a small break from fashion sewing to work on a few just-for-fun embroidery projects. Over the holidays I had rediscovered how much I love old hand-embroidered things for the home when my Mom showed me some items she had embroidered when she was a girl. They were so charming and sweet.

I thought about the trend for adult coloring books. Coloring as an adult is supposed to be a relaxing activity that relieves stress and restores calm. I think working on simple embroidery projects can do the same. You choose the colors you like and the designs you like. It’s easy and something you can do just for pure enjoyment.

One of the easiest ways to get started is with dishtowels. I love using flour sack towels to dry my dishes.  As a child, my mother embroidered many of these and I was eager to make some of my own.

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A scrap I saved from one of Mom’s well-worn towels. They were always machine washed in hot with bleach! The embroidery outlasted the towels.

My first effort was the kitten in the knitting basket. I found the design on a google images search and just printed it onto regular paper. I already had a stack of plain unembellished towels in my drawer, so I grabbed one of those. Using my favorite sewing notion, blue painter’s tape, I taped the printout to my table. Then I positioned my towel above it and taped it down as well. Since my towel had such an open weave, I was able to trace the design onto the towel with a soft lead pencil. I had a 6-inch embroidery hoop, embroidery needles and needle threader already, so all I needed was some thread. I bought a variety pack of good quality embroidery floss and was good to go.

Once I got started, I had a lot of fun playing with different colors and types of stitches. Some of them I knew already. Others I found in my Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Needlework or in one of the many online resources out there. The kitten uses back stitch, french knots, lazy daisy (my favorite), stem stitch and satin stitch. I consider the final embroidery a success although I would have used a more tightly woven dish towel if I had thought about how much the reverse side would show through.

Now that I knew a little bit, I was ready for more. I researched dishtowels and landed on Mary’s Kitchen as my choice. They are large, hemmed, on-grain (!), tightly woven bright white cotton towels. For patterns, I decided to go the tried and true iron-on transfer route. People have been buying iron-on designs since the late 1800’s and they are still a great option. The Aunt Martha’s brand seems fairly easy to find in retail stores and online. I bought a selection of patterns that I thought I might like – they were less than $2.00 each, so why not? I also got a little more organized with my materials by adding a floss box, plastic floss bobbins, winder and ring. My total investment so far was about $35. This is one inexpensive hobby!

Supplies in hand and fully committed, I stamped 7 flour sack towels with a days of the week birdhouse series. It was a fun project to work on whenever I wanted something small and portable. It went surprisingly fast and I love the results! I will definitely have one or two hand embroidery projects ready to go from now on.

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Project 2: Days of the Week Birdhouses on Flour Sack Towels

If you would like to give embroidery a try, here are a few resources to get started:

Patterns and Transferring
  • Iron-on transfers: I found Aunt Martha and a variety of others on EtsyCreateforLessAmazon and EBay
  • How to transfer designs – Here’s a nice overview of various methods from Mary’s Kitchen
Skills
Materials
Pets · Whimsy

Wintertime Doggie Sweater

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Brrrrr! Wake me in April.

Here in New England, cold days are hard to avoid. Lately it seems like my dog has gone into hibernation. She’s a pretty furry girl, so I don’t usually do the dog coat thing, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Last winter, I practically lived in my favorite wool fair isle turtleneck. But I found out the hard way that the hand wash setting on the washing machine wasn’t exactly the same thing as actual hand washing. While the sweater still looked good, it was way too small to ever wear again.

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Starting point

Upon closer examination, it was still nice and soft, but now it was a little bit felted too. The benefit of felting is that now I didn’t have to be concerned about raveling if I wanted to cut into it.

I thought about what I could do with it. I considered mittens, a hat, or possibly a vest. Then I saw my dog curled so tightly that she looked like a furry throw pillow. She was going to get a sweater!

Here’s how I did it.

First, measure the dog. You’ll need to know circumference around the middle, circumference of the neck, and length from neck to tail.

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Measure the dog. (Yes, her bed is on my desk. Try not to judge).

I made my own pattern based on her measurements. The easiest way to make it would be to just plan on the pattern being the exact shape of the finished coat. Instead of hemming, I would just sew bias tape on the raw edges. Once the pattern was done, I thought about how to best place the design on the sweater. I brought out some wide double-fold bias tape I thought might work. I also went through my box of bag parts for webbing and closures.

When I get rid of worn out backpacks or other bags, I cut off any good d-rings, fasteners, swivel clasps, and anything else I think I might use. They all go in a box for occasions such as this. For the dog coat, I found a side-release buckle and slider. I added a scrap length of 1 in. black cotton webbing that was the right size to fit them.

I tried a few colors of bias tape and settled on the hot pink.

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Once I had all of the supplies together, I cut into the sweater. I removed the sleeves and cut the front from the back. I took off the turtleneck, but left a little of the main sweater attached in case I wanted to use it. As I expected, it didn’t ravel.

While it wouldn’t work out every time, in this case, the turtleneck was just the right size to fit the dog comfortably. So I made that the neck piece.

Once I cut the coat shape, I did a rough fitting.

I pinned the neck and the body together to fit the dog’s proportions. The I sewed them together using a 3-thread overlock stitch on my serger.

Next I bound the raw edges with the pink bias tape.

Around this time, I realized that I didn’t have a plan for the raw neck edge at the base of the turtleneck. I didn’t want to use the bias tape because I wanted to maintain its stretchiness. I found some black fold-over elastic (FOE) and used that, even though it wasn’t a perfect match. I didn’t think the dog would mind. Also, it’s practically invisible when she has the coat on.

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I thought the FOE would also be a pretty good solution for making a buttonhole (for a leash attachment point). I zigzagged it into place, then carefully opened a slot in the piece’s middle. If I were to do this over again, I would put some stretchy stabilizer under the buttonhole area before stitching. It’s fine, but it could tear given enough pressure.

The last step was the strap that goes around the dog’s middle. First I put together a test belt using the hardware, webbing and a few pins. After some convincing, I was able to test it on the dog. I snugged it up a bit and brought the pieces to the machine. I chose to sew the entire belt to the underside of the sweater instead of making two smaller pieces attached to the sides. While that would be fine for stable fabrics, I’m sure that the knit would stretch.

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I’m warm!

The finished product is slightly imperfect, but sooo cute – just like my dog!

Fashion · Whimsy

Wintertime Friends Tee

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Close up of “Best Friends” panel

Some time last summer, I saw this print for sale in the Wanderlust Designs Custom Fabric Facebook group. Even though the next snowflakes were at least 5 months away, I knew I would want it when they came. Pig and Gnome on stump in the snowy woods… how could I not? The design is printed on a 28″ x 36″ cotton/lycra panel.

Well, it’s December and the snow is here. All of my other projects would just have to wait. I pushed all of my works in progress off the table and started on my tee.

81TUQLvY5sL._SL1500_I wear a lot of long sleeve tee shirts in the colder months – sometimes as a layer, sometimes alone. I already had a pattern ready to go, having made my Walk the Dog Raglan using McCall’s M7286 earlier this year. I just needed to change the sleeves into long sleeves and decide on the layout.  I found a gray knit from my stash that coordinated with the panel and got to work.

Planning the front was easy. I knew that I wanted the characters to be centered on the lower half of the shirt front. Unfortunately, that left a somewhat awkward shaped remnant. There was just no way I was going to be able to use any of the remainder in the shirt. So the sleeves, neckband, and back are all in solid gray.

I made a sleeve pattern based on the medium length piece I already had. Once I was finished, I looked at the picture on the pattern cover and realized that it already contained one. Oh, well. Good practice, I guess. I also changed the bottom to be straight across instead of rounded.

Everything went together quickly on the serger.

I did two things differently this time.

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Contrast topstitching

After reading some thoughts of fellow sewing bloggers, I decided to try using stretch thread in both the upper and lower loopers for my overcast seams. I haven’t had any problems with regular thread, but I was curious to see if there was a difference. I set up the serger to do a 4-thread mock safety stitch with maxi-lock all-purpose thread in the needles and maxi-lock stretch in the loopers. Stitching went smoothly. The result did seem to be a bit stretchier. What I really like is that the seams feel softer against the skin.  I might not do it this way every time, but for knit apparel, it certainly works nicely. If it does well in the washer I’ll definitely use the stretch in both loopers again.

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Hem fused in place before stitching

This other thing I did was stabilize the hem before cover-stitching. I saw a mention for Heat-n-Bond Soft Stretch fusible in a sewing magazine’s new products section and thought it might be just the thing. I wanted something that would keep the hem from stretching excessively under the presser foot, but still maintain the softness and stretch of the original fabric. Bingo! The Soft Stretch Lite did exactly what I wanted, and came in a convenient 5/8″ roll. (I had expected to have to cut my own strips). This is the best cover-stitch finish I have done yet, although I know I can still get better.

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The coverstitch hem turned out better than before – only a little tunneling in one area.

Here is the final result. Hot cocoa, anyone?

Vintage · Whimsy

I Can Do It! Quickie Halloween Costume

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Inspiration images

Ladies, are you pressed for time and want a quick no-sew or low-sew costume? How about Rosie the Riveter? It’s quick to do and easy to wear!

You’ll need:

  • Blue work shirt – must have collar. buttons, and sleeves
  • Dark work pants or overalls
  • Lace-up shoes, work boots, or loafers
  • 1 yard red fabric with white dots or similar bandanna
  • A little bit of makeup and a “We can do it!” attitude

Optional items:

  • Button for collar
  • Classic lunchbox
  • Power tool or mock-up

Here’s how my costume shaped up.

I started gathering things about a month before Halloween. I had shoes and makeup already. I got the clothes from secondhand shops. I bought the fabric for the bandana online, and I found the lunchbox on etsy.

Depending on what you can find to work with, you may need to spend more or less time pulling things together.

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Re-hemming the pants was the only sewing needed.

Step 1: Pants or overalls

I started out with a dark denim jumpsuit, which I chose only for the dark color and loose fitting legs. I needed to take off about 2 inches of length to make them work for me, so I did a quickie hem on my machine. If they hadn’t have had a flared shape, I would have just rolled them into cuffs.

The headwrap came next. I folded the fabric up from one corner to make the largest equilateral triangle I could. I cut across the hypotenuse to make an extra-large bandana. After some experimentation, I found that folding it in half worked the best.

How to tie:

  1. I have short hair, so I didn’t have to do anything special first. But if your hair is long, think about pinning it as flat to your head as you can, or tucking it into a wig cap.
  2. With the fabric folded into a right triangle, position it so the right angle is on your forehead, kind of pointing to your nose. The long edge should be centered at the nape of the neck.
  3. Wrap the long edge forward on both sides so all three points meet in front. Tie snugly. Tuck in any loose material. To look like the poster, adjust it a little so part of your hairline shows.

rosie_costume2I did my makeup next. It was pretty easy – the classic Rosie images show a woman with dark arched eyebrows, pink cheeks and lipstick. There are so many tutorials out there to demonstrate how to apply makeup in a 1940’s style, I won’t go into detail here. My only tip would be to go for a long-wearing lipstick – then you can eat all of the candy you like without messing up your look!

Since I was wearing a jumpsuit, I just knotted the shirt at the waist. I would have tucked it in if I had been able to find pants. Don’t forget to roll up the sleeves.

I put my 21st century technology into my lunchbox and put on my shoes. Done!

This is such a great costume to wear. You can move around, eat and drink – even put a coat on over it if you must.

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Simplicity’s take on the idea

After I did my costume, I found that Simplicity carries a pattern for Rosie, Simplicity 8447. I think I missed it on my initial search because it is in the Vintage category, not Costumes.  Has anyone out there tried it? Their version goes the overalls route, but is pictured with the same lunchbox!

What do you think? You can do it!

Home Dec · Whimsy

Rooster Pillow (Nap-a-doodle-doo?)

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Original drawing with pillow supplies

Did you know that the Rhode Island Red is the state bird or Rhode Island?

When I am not sewing, I enjoy drawing.  Some of my favorite subjects are animals, such as this handsome rooster.  I really liked how his portrait turned out.  It occurred to me that it might make the focal point of a really neat throw pillow, if I could figure out how to go from a piece of paper to a piece of fabric.

Spoonflower is a company that specializes in custom textile printing for the independent designer.  People can upload their own designs or choose from an immense collection submitted by others.  Designs can be printed on over 20 different types of fabric, wrapping paper, and wallpaper.  I have shopped the spoonflower website in the past, but had never tried making my own design.

The spoonflower website has a lot of helpful tutorials, so I won’t go into the nuts and bolts, but they have made the process fairly simple.  I scanned my drawing, made a few edits, then uploaded it to my spoonflower account.  I used their editing tools to center and scale the image.  At this point, I could have my design printed or even publish it for others to use (and get a small royalty for sales).  I chose to get a fat quarter of plain quilting cotton as the base, and clicked the Order button.  Easy!

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It doesn’t have to match to go

It took about 2 weeks to get my order.  Everything arrived looking just like the digital preview.  The only fault I could find was that the part of the fabric that was not printed was pretty thin.  Any color placed behind it showed through.  To make it opaque and give it a little more stability, I fused lightweight interfacing to the reverse.

I went through my scrap heap to find a nice coordinating fabric for the pillow back.  The material left over from my vintage apron was perfect.  Other supplies included a zipper, some bright yellow pom-pom trim, and a 14×14 pillow form.

I love how my pillow turned out.  Now that I know how easy it is, I know I will be printing my own designs again.

 

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With interfacing, the background is much brighter
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Reds and browns look good with the drawing

 

 

 

Fashion · Whimsy

Walk the Dog Raglan Tee

Planning Time
Planning is fun!

Last week, my serger died.  Let’s pause a moment and mourn its passing.

Thank you.

So I got a new one!  And this serger has a lot more bells and whistles.  Welcome to the workshop Singer 14T968DC!  The new machine can do the functions of the old serger, a Simplicity 4-thread overlock. But the new one can be converted to work as a cover-stitch machine as well.  I have been giddy to try everything since I got it out of the box.  I already had several knitwear projects cut and ready to sew, so I will be able to create useful things as I learn.

First up is a simple raglan tee.  I used McCall’s pattern M7286 (rating Easy), but any favorite raglan pattern would do.  I have always been drawn to bright red clothes and anything with high contrast and color blocking.  Something about that sharp, vivid combination of black and white with any bright color really puts me in a great mood.  So when I saw the “Where’s Fido” pattern, I immediately thought about pairing it with blocks of black or red.  Plus, the dogs in the pattern are so whimsical and cute – how could I resist?

I considered black accents, but in the end, I cut out a red neckband and short red sleeves to go with the patterned front and back.

I have been using my duct tape double to test fit clothes as I go.  I’m glad I did. On the model, I could see that the shape was a little boxier than I usually like.  I pinned some darts into the back and it looked much better.  Since the top is so casual that it could even serve as sleepwear, I chose to leave it loose and boxy.  But before I took the pins out, I made new pattern pieces for the back and front. I reduced the back by the area pinched out by the darts.  I lengthened the side seam on the front to match the new back piece. Then I traced the new pieces onto swedish tracing paper, cut them out, and put them with the rest of the (tissue) pattern pieces.  The next time I make this raglan, I will have a choice between a straight or fitted version.

Now that I have the coverstitch machine, I wish I had cut the bottom straight across. Then I could have done a completely ready-to-wear hem finish.  The shaped hemline seemed like it would be better suited to a zigzagged narrow hem though.  So I will save the coverstitch for a future project.

 

It turned out so cute, I can hardly believe it.  If only my dog had a matching leash and collar…

(getting out markers) Hmmm….