Friday, August 15, 2014

If I Were A Better Blogger...

I was reading some favorite blogs and thinking about how great some of them are at being instructive and showing their work... I love those blogs (and those bloggers).

Here's what happens to me:  I think about something I want to write about, something that happened, something that I want to save to remember, and then I think, oh gosh, I should have taken a picture of that while I was doing it.

I have a camera or two at home and one in my phone.  I usually have the phone here:

Bottom drawer of my desk, phone in the pocket.  Or next to the back door... to grab on my way out.
I am not into selfies... believe me, the fewer pictures that exist of me, the happier I am.  I could lose a few dozen pounds.  But taking pictures of my work in progress, well, I guess I am not a photographer because I'm usually so busy doing that I forget about recording.

Tonight I was thinking about my craft fair stuff and about how my selling point for the doll clothes is that they're garment quality fabric and well made, machine washable and they will stand up to a lot of play.  How do you illustrate that? 

When you buy clothes, do you look inside to see how well they are made?  I do.  After being burned by garments whose hems get wavy upon washing, or where the seams are so tiny they pull out, I always look inside.  I have a lovely jacket from Coldwater Creek that pulled apart in a back seam, and I am struggling to figure out how to fix that, but that's another blog.  (If I remember to shoot pics while I'm doing it!!)

When making small things, you use a correspondingly small seam allowance.  Instead of sewing and trimming you just cut smaller.  A doll's armhole is only about 2-3 inches long, and the curve is quite sharp.  So when I sew dresses, instead of using facings I will cut double front and back bodices, then sew each one separately only at the shoulder seams, leaving the side seams open.  I put them right sides together and sew up the center back, around the neck and down the other side.  Then I sew both armholes.  Then I CAREFULLY clip into the curves up to but not through the stitching.

Since I didn't take any pictures of this process, I made some VERY crude drawings... I'm sure you can find some much better pictures on YouTube somewhere if you don't understand what I've got here...
This actually says "1/4 inch seam allowance, flat bodices right sides together. and it's #1 in the circle.
 Then I turn the piece right side out through the bottom of the bodice front.  I press very carefully because the pieces are so small and you can burn your fingers.  Well, I can...

The paper says Wrong side, honestly, I can spell. 
 The result is that you have a bodice with all curved edges enclosed.  I then turn it back inside out and put the side seams right sides together and sew up the lining and down the right side on each side and press that.  That's in illustration 2 above.  See my arrows with the sewing direction on them??  ;-)  You are sewing the front and back together at this point, but you're sewing lining to lining and bodice to bodice  -- bodice first, up over the armhole seam and down the lining, or vice versa.

Sew the top to the skirt by putting the top inside the skirt right sides together.  Sew the skirt to the bodice but not to the lining.  Ugh, my scanner!!
After pressing and turning right side out again, I put the top, right side of bodice against the right side of the skirt.  The skirt will be inside out at this point.  If it's a gathered skirt, I pin the heck out if it to keep it together and to keep the gathers smooth.  I also make sure the lining is pulled away from where I'm sewing so it doesn't get caught.  These pieces are SMALL so go slowly and carefully!

Insert the waistline seam into the bodice...that last word is topstitch.
The last step is to tuck down the bodice lining, fold it over and topstitch it to the skirt.  Depending upon how much is showing between the lower armhole and the top of the skirt, I may turn under a little more than a quarter inch for this seam.  And because I hate messy, I like this method that covers up all the raw edges. 
Here it is in real life:
This one I stitched down by hand because I didn't have the right color yellow thread... but it looks good that way too!
You can sew by machine on the wrong side or the right side, but it's more accurate from the wrong side.  The right side looks fine!

 Another way of enclosing seams is to add some trim.  On this lined dress I used the same method on the top (without all the fussy turning because this one has tie straps), then I sewed trim to both layers, folded it under and stitched it down.

On this little top, I did one layer.  I stitched  on the ruffle, but the raw edges show on the inside... not that most of the little girls will notice but I noticed.  Next time i do this I will use my serger... and see that thread?
This is where it ended up:
That's the leg of my jeans.
I hope you enjoyed my pathetic efforts at a tutorial!  Maybe next time I will remember my camera.
Sew on...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's Up Today?

Last night I joined a local quilt guild.

Oh, dear.  Those ladies are amazing... most of them are eons ahead of me on the quilting part.  I do not consider myself a 'quilter' yet.  I'm a 'piecer'.  I love planning and cutting up kits for tops, and I really enjoy sewing the blocks and completing the flimsy.  Once that's done, I'm sort of blah on the interest meter, unless I have a deadline.

Of course I do love a finished quilt!!  I'm a good 'binder', so it's just  that part in the middle, the sandwiching and the quilting, that gets me.  (Honestly, who loves pinning those things together??)

I've been practicing.  I've quilted small things and I'm about to push myself to quilt up some doll quilts for the craft fairs.  Really.  I promise!

My co-leader for the church quilting group is an amazing free motion quilter, and she's given us some demonstrations and some lessons.  I'm putting some of her advice to good use, and I must get myself some of those gloves that help you hang onto the quilt as you're swirling it around in the machine.

Last night a couple of the ladies at the new guild were discussing long arm quilting machines.  Evidently there is one that you could buy if you had about $4,000 you didn't know what to do with, and a large space in your house.  One woman said it wasn't worth it... another said the cost of having a quilt professionally quilted was 'way more than $100'!

OK, I am a financial professional.  If you pay $150 per quilt and you can buy a machine for $4,000, if you make 26 and 2/3 quilts and do them yourself, you have paid for the machine.  I'm not adding the cost of thread or your time, but then I'm not adding tax to the cost of the machine.  How is that 'not worth it'?

I don't know about you but I've pieced way more than 26 and 2/3 quilts over the past 12 years.  And a few of them actually got all the way done.

Of course they also said you can rent time on a machine at a quilt shop too, but that would require planning ahead!  And being 100% prepared before you walk out the door!

Hmm...  I might have to throw out some furniture and make some space!

Sew on...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Getting Ready for the Craft Fair Season

A little while ago I asked the question 'where did the summer go?'  I'm starting to PANIC!!

I made a deal with a couple of friends to go into three craft fairs this fall.  Three!!  OMG What Was I Thinking?? 

OK, they're in three different months.  There is some space between them.  I made a rule for myself, one day fairs where the cost to me would be below $50.  You have to sell a lot of $5 items to make that back and show a profit....  And no driving many miles to get there, it has to be in the counties touching the one I live in.  I can't/don't want to add the cost of a hotel room to the mix.

Good plan, right?  And the first one isn't until October.

October!  It's almost September now!

I checked my doll clothing stock.  I have been doing things all along but I put it all in a box and don't think about it again.  Well I guess I'd better start thinking about it!

I put some things up on the design wall, in outfits.  The girls and their moms/grandmoms want things that go together.  I learned last year that you can't just lay out the jeans and tops, you have to put them in sets. 

I need some kind of top to go with that blue and white skirt on the bottom.

The aqua and green striped top, the green top and one pink top came from discarded adult tee shirts.

This is a portion of what was in the box from spring and summer.

I added some other things....

The denim skirt is made from the leg of a pair of jeans worn out by my DH.

I made these patterns up as I went along... wish I had made some notes!

Dresses can be made from scraps, they just take a quarter of a yard each.

These and a few other pieces are all done... I have to sew some tops for the multiple number of jeans and denim skirts I made.  I have multiples of the white pants and skirts too.

I was digging in my stash of tee shirt knits, I need to supplement with some pastel colors, specifically pink and blue plus maybe yellow.  The pajama pants need some tops.  I made some adorable zebra fleece hats and scarves but didn't take pictures. 

My friend Carol and I are working on a plan... our color scheme is pink-purple-aqua-bright green, with denim and red tossed in for good measure.  She's making some things, like robes and aprons, and I'm making others, like the tee shirts and pajamas.  Hopefully when we get together to take inventory, we'll be working on the same plan!  She's working independently so we haven't compared notes yet.  Fingers crossed!

I am a little worried that after the October fair, I'll need to restock and there are only three weeks between that one and the one we're doing in November.  So I'm cutting out huge stacks of basic things like denim skirts and white tee shirts, and I'll keep sewing until it's all done.  Or until I get sick of it?? 

My youngest grand has her eye little on the black and white knit dress in the picture at the top, and this sweater...

I'd make another one, but the reason it has three colors in it is that I ran out of the main color after partway through.  In my sizable yarn stash I have many things that were close, but not close enough!  So I frog stitched it back to half of the yoke, added the other colors, and used the tiny bit that was left over for the base of the hat.  I guess I could do one with different shades of peach or maybe pink and give her this one for Christmas!

I asked my sewing grand if she'd be willing to help me... maybe she could sew some simple pieces like pants, or do hems or something.  She's thinking it over.  I guess she's not motivated to earn any extra cash right now!  But she did offer to make some doll jewelry...  we'll see.

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I wish making clothes for myself was this easy!

Sew on...