Search This Blog

Friday, September 30, 2011

Smocking up a Storm - Blue floral pique dress

I bought a kit for this dress on special a couple of years ago to smock for one of the twins when they reached 4. It is from Australian Smocking and Embroidery Issue 80 and is called 'Babe". Then, at the Country Bumpkin sale of model dresses earlier this year, I found the model of this dress and, at $15, couldn't resist it, even though I already had the kit.

Veronica couldn't resist it either, and the model became hers. To make the kit or not? A consultation with Niamh decided it, and I began smocking. It felt pretty odd, I must say, making an identical dress for a twin who does not look like her sister, and never dresses the same. Would it be an anticlimax for the wearer?

It's a lovely fabric - powder blue pique with dark pink roses. It pleats and smocks beautifully.

The smocking is fairly simple and very elegant - a scalloped effect with a lattice in the centre.

The embroidered roses are NOT bullions, but cast-ons. Not only is this a nice change to stitch, but they look really good - a good match to the roses on the fabric.

The thread colours are beautifully matched as is the dark pink fabric for the piping.

I embroidered a small initial on the yoke to identify the owner and distinguish between this one and the model (on which I am currently replacing lost buttons!).

I like this dress a lot, but I am going to resist buying kits on special in future, unless I have a particular occasion in mind. Too complicated!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Smocking up a storm - Pyjamas

I bought a kit for Bedtime, AS&E 94 , earlier this year. It looked like a simple and useful project and I found a remnant at a Hype and Seek in Queen St Croydon that looked as if it would be perfect to make a second pair, so I could make them as presents for my twin granddaughters.

I made the kit up first. The cotton voile was easy and pleasant to smock and the pattern straightforward. Getting the gathers roughly even in the angel sleeves was about as tricky as it got.

The remnant fabric had a fair bit of polyester in it - still easy to work with, but care needed when ironing!

It is, however, a very pretty piece of fabric.

I think the girls will really like them. The bow to mark the front of the pants is a great idea.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Insulated lunch bags

I bought some Insulwool a while ago to make insulated lunch bags but experimented first with snackbags that weren't insulated. I used  the Design Collective's book.

I've been looking for a reason to make an insulated bag, so decided to make one for some friends we are staying with this weekend in Sydney. I thought I could take them some homemade quince paste, quince jelly and quince chocolates in an insulated lunch bag.

The pattern I chose required pieces of fabric just a bit larger than a fat quarter so a lot of the pieces I had thought to use weren't big enough. I finally found a piece that would do, and that I could match to a lining fabric. The instructions were clear - but I'd have liked a couple of diagrams.

Sewing in the Insulwool was easy. It has one side slightly shiny - a bit like glue on interfacing. It sews like good batting.

The bag has a velcro closure with a handy tag for opening.

I didn't have grosgrain ribbon that would match so I made the handles from the lining material.

I was pleased with the result, but thought the bag was a bit generous for a lunch bag and extremely generous for my gifts!

As we were staying one night with my brother as well as one night with a friend, I decided to have a go at making another bag a bit smaller and take some quincy gifts to my brother. This one was much faster (because I knew what I was doing!) and I used a fat quarter. I think the smaller size is better.

Altogether a good day's work. I am pretty pleased with the result and will probably make more of these.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Silk bag therapy - Three of Three.

This is the final batch of silk bags from Fabricana's Indian sara scraps, beginning with a lovely graded peachy-orange piece, with scattered flower medallions embroidered in running stitch and a vine border, also in running stitch.

Similar in style, but not technique, is a reddy-pink silk organza piece with a dyed border of blue flowers, also outlined in running stitch with a few sequins.

This rather lovely piece with a trailing vine of running stitched flowers and leaves all over and a more intensive border of the same stitch, produced two bags. It is one of my favourites.

The next one is similar.

 While this next one is a similar technique, the work was much courser and the silk much more like taffeta, giving me a few challenges with fraying seams and long cross-overs of embroidery thread. Still looks good though.

This green piece is the work of a very good designer - a lovely geometric pattern in cream, circles and lines, very pleasing to the eye and touch.

It is a really deep border, finishing in time to give one side of the bag a different look to the other. I lined it to match the embroidery.

This piece, a black cord raised on gold silk, was crying out to be made into a round bag. I lined it in black taffeta.

I left a deep hem at the top of the next beaded and embroidered bag to display the tiny beads scattered across the piece.

It will make a good bag for storing lingerie.

Finally, one more silk organza bag in a pinky-brown with a chain and satin stitch border. The large flowers are padded underneath to give them dimension.

I feel grateful to the women who wore these saris and kept them in condition to be reused. However, I most admire those who did the painstaking work of embroidering the silk. I am finding it hard to resist another visit to Fabricana's wonderful store!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Patchwork Project from the Past

One of the projects I took to Bali with me was a bag of patchwork I began in the 1980s. I can't be sure when I started it, but it was somewhere between 1983 when my grandmother died, and 1987 when I went to Gepps Cross Girls High School as principal. The bag this project has been stored in forever belonged to my grandmother and the materials all came from dresses I made for myself in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. I stopped making clothes for myself when I became principal - no time left.

I remember reading up on patchwork-by-hand, buying the templates, cutting out the tissue diamonds, cutting out the fabric and tacking the tissue into the fabric.

The fabric was mostly silk - left over from dresses I had made myself - a couple of 80s Kalder prints, a teal blue Italian silk my mother had bought me around 1980, a dusty blue Thai silk evening skirt, a deep red Thai cotton print from a long dress, both made in the 70s,the yellow lining of a 1960s yellow wool skirt and jacket and, for good measure, some red dupion from a bridesmaid's dress made for me in the late 60s by Ruth Ford - the local dressmaker in Botany, where I grew up.

I hadn't got very far with the patchwork - nowhere near the Joseph-like coat that I think I originally had in mind!

I thought this would make another good travel project - nothing much needed except needle and thread and the bag of bits.

I didn't do a lot of it in Bali but I did get my head around it, discard the rusted pins and tack a few more tissue paper diamond on to the already cut fabric.

I also reflected on the development of fabric technology in the last 25 years. Iron-on interfacing would make this all much simpler if starting it today.

I was sufficiently inspired to keep going when I returned home - I really like the incentive of finishing!

I added all the diamonds I had cut out. As I added them, I played with the shape of the overall piece and went from a coat to a waistcoat to deciding there were enough diamonds to shape into - you've guessed it - a bag.

It was a lot easier once I realised I could stitch the pieces together on the wrong side.

I then found a piece of deep red skirt lining to line it with, sandwiched a piece of batting between the two layers and began the really interesting part - hand quilting.

I began by following the lines of the diamonds, but soon worked out it was more interesting to stitch around the shapes on the printed fabric and mirror these shapes on the plain fabric diamonds.

I used black and red DMC thread.

The effect inside the bag was quite good.

I added a couple of pockets inside. The handles are a couple of circular ones I had on hand.

I am very pleased with the result. It is a useful bag - whether for my knitting or for a handbag. I learned a great deal doing it. I can't believe what a difference quilting made. It turned it from a lot of raggy scraps into a firm, usable and attractive piece of fabric.
I have a bright, solid bag full of memories - and a huge amount of satisfaction at finishing a project that has been going for at least 25 years!

Would I do it again? For something no bigger than this, yes. I have, however, lost any yearning for my own coat of many colours!