Sunday, 27 April 2014

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - A Duck in Bath

I have been to Bath today, and while there met three ducks out for a walk, just down the road from where I saw this noisy blighter.  The ducks were much better company, very keen on the crumbs I chucked at them.  One was more enthusiastic than the others and gave me a quick peck...

... resulting in this rather brilliant photo of a duck's-eye view of Bath

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Free Motion Quilting and Frozen Shoulder...

... just don't mix.  Leah Day does say on her blog that you need to be careful with posture and keep your shoulders relaxed, but creaky old age is catching up with me.  Free motion quilting for the moment is going to have to be an occasional indulgence, and I shall just get on with the rough and ready tweed cushion I am making for my husband.

The great advantage of working with tweed is that it is very easy to get rid of slight rumples - just turn the work over, sprinkle water on the cotton backing, and press it with a hot iron.  The reward is the lovely smell of damp wool, and seeing the tweed magically shrink itself flat.

This brown tweed is particularly felty.  It is hot work quilting it, even without gloves - which you just don't need because the wool is rough enough to grip.

Anyway, back on the subject of the shoulder, we are trying out the Niel-Asher technique.  My son is doing the home treatment for me, and I think there may be a slight improvement already, but I'm not altogether sure.  Anyone ever tried it?  I'd love to hear how it worked out for you.

Linking up today with Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday

Update 30th April
Also linking up today with Barbara's blog Cat Patches for the April NewFO, and here is the latest progress on February's NewFO

Friday, 25 April 2014

Meet my Daughter - 1940s Style!

She looks fabulous (but I'm biased) and she's giving me the don't-think-I don't-know-what-you're-doing look I used to get from my mum.  In fact, with the thick dark hair and lashings of red lipstick she looked like her - just for a few seconds at a time.

As for the blouse, I'm thrilled with it.  Had it not been for the Sew for Victory challenge I wouldn't have made it so quickly, it would still be on the nebulous to do list between my ears.  But now, suddenly, after hours and hours of work, it is finished, and the end result doesn't look much like the pictures on the pattern.

The first big change I made was to make it button down the front.  I was dying to try out the sunray darts, but I wasn't keen on doing a placket, and an undivided front with a high neck just doesn't suit me.  On the finished blouse you can't really see the lines of the darts because the material has such a busy pattern - however what you can see is how the darts make the front of the blouse fall in nice soft folds.

The pattern was for a 32 inch bust, so I had to scale it up a bit.  Not only did I have to widen the front and back, but also make the armholes deeper.  The original pattern was definitely cut for girls with arms and necks like broomsticks.  The neck came very high up to the throat, so I cut it lower front and back.  This meant that the original pattern piece for the collar wasn't going to work, so I drafted my own collar pattern.  The short string of vintage beads sat really nicely just above the neckline.

The scariest bit of all the alterations was cutting the blouse in half to widen the back.  I used a strip where the pattern matched, so it repeats itself down the middle.  This way the two extra seams don't look too conspicuous.

The original plan was to make a peplum.  After having to cut into the spare material to make the extra strip down the back, I didn't have enough left to cut circular pieces for a peplum, so I made a pleated frill instead.

I realise that I could have made a toile and planned and fitted in advance, but this cotton was only about £4 a metre, and I started late on the challenge, so I just bashed ahead with the intention of improvising as I went along.

Now I'll show what you never see on the Great British Sewing Bee - the inside story!  Not a raw edge or a stray thread in sight.  French seams across the shoulders and down the sides - as well as the two extra surprise seams down the back - and all other seams bound with bias binding...

...narrow binding inside the collar...

... and the cuffs...

... and the armholes... 

... and wider binding for the seam attaching the frill.

The great 1940s star of this project has been the 1949 Singer 15K hand machine, which I used for all the machine sewing, except for the buttonholes...

... which I did yesterday using the buttonholer attachment on the 1936 Singer 201K treadle.

It has been an intense bit of sewing, and despite the fact my daughter looks wonderful in it, the blouse is mine!

Linking up today with Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Half-Made 1940s Blouse

This is the Sew for Victory blouse being tried on by my daughter.  The fit looked fine at the front, but at the back it was just a touch too tight.  It isn't obvious on the photo, but if she pulled her arms forward it pulled too tight across the shoulders.  I had already tried to avoid the problem by enlarging the armholes before I even cut out the pieces, but it needed more adjustment.  It was time for drastic measures.

So I cut it straight down the back so I could insert a strip to widen the back.

Scary stuff, but this was ten days ago.  If all goes well the blouse will be completely finished tomorrow.

Linking up today with Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Putting Braid on the 1940s Blouse

Slowly but surely the 1940s blouse is taking shape.  When my daughter is around at a convenient moment she tries it on for me.  The sleeves are now on, and since taking this photo I have made the collar, but it is not yet attached.

Also I have sewn on this tiny rick rack, using the braiding foot.  It is very pale pink and it looks really pretty as a trim on the cuffs and collar.  It is getting easier to visualise the finished blouse... 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Free Motion Quilting on Tweed

This is the first project using the tweed offcuts I received last week.  I have promised my husband a cushion, using the plain tweeds, which are especially thick and felty.

The first stage was joining the pieces, using a strip of cotton print as binding.  The idea is similar to the method for joining quilted blocks in the quilt as you go method - except that only the top strip is needed.  This way the tweed lies edge to edge, so the seam has no bulk.

Then I pinned on a piece of muslin as backing and started the free motion oak leaves.

They are rough and ready, but this is a bloke's cushion.

The whole idea might sound a bit barmy, but it is turning out fairly well so far.  It has been a lark doing free motion quilting without wadding and with no gloves.

Welcome to HoffiCoffi, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

Linking up today to Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sew for Victory Sew-along

A couple of weeks ago I discovered the Sew for Victory 1940s Sew-along at Rochelle's blog Lucky Lucille and decided I just had to jump in with the 1940s blouse.  Making vintage clothes on vintage machines is what I originally decided to do about four years ago, but somehow I got sidetracked into quilting.  Who says you can't do both?  It's all sewing.

Anyway, if you hit the Sew for Victory button in the right hand margin, you can visit Lucky Lucille and follow the link to the Flickr group, where participants are posting works in progress and finished garments.  Also, the blog has a fabulous compilation video of last year's sew-along, showing some truly gorgeous fashions.

Because the sew-along had already been running for a fortnight when I found out about it, it was a bit late to start planning anything spectacular.  Also, I am trying to buy as little as possible, other than thread, trim and buttons, so I am using up what is left of the jolly red daisies material that I used for the toddler's dress.

So far, progress has been fairly slow but steady...  

The sunray darts took a ridiculously long time, but they are finally done.  I have been trying to work out a time saving dodge for darts, but without making another similar blouse I won't know if it will work.

The neck and the armholes are far too small on the pattern, so there is a fair amount of adjustment going on.

But we are getting there... and I have my model lined up for the final photo shoot...

Linking up today to Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Tweed Offcuts

This collection of pure wool tweed offcuts arrived in the post for me a few days ago, direct from the manufacturers in the north of England - a trip of nearly 200 miles.  (Americans take note - this is a small country, and that is a long way).  I didn't know what colours to expect, I took pot luck and asked for five dark colours and five lighter or bright colours.  

As soon as I had time I washed them all, so I know they are pre-shrunk when I use them, and also to ensure there is no loose dye.  After an initial very warm dunk in a bucket, I washed them all together in the machine at 30 degrees.  No nasty running dye - a fantastic result.  I didn't know it was possible to have so much fun with a washing machine.

They vary in weight - the plaids would be suitable for skirts, whereas the plain colours would be ideal for a thick winter coat.  I love the pink...

... and the herringbones are very jolly.  My husband liked the dark green in the top picture and immediately wanted a jacket in it.  No chance, I haven't even got enough to make half a sleeve, so I have promised him a cushion instead.

Welcome to Chococat, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Early Morning on Broad Street

Another picture from my son, taken this week while he was walking to work.  In town by 6.30 am - the clocks alone are a big clue that I didn't take this photo.  I was still tucked up in beddy byes.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

A 1940s Blouse Coming Soon...

Finally I am using the 1940s blouse pattern.  The pieces inside had never been used, nor even unfolded.  It was a delicate operation, carefully opening out 70 year-old tissue paper.  It needed smoothing out, so I used the iron on as cool a setting as possible.  Then I laid the pieces out onto plain paper and drew round them.  The pattern markings were easy to copy by poking a pencil through the perforations on the pattern.  After that I made completely new pattern pieces by tracing the outlines and markings onto greaseproof paper.

The plan is...

... to have the sun ray darts as on View C, with the darts at the top of the sleeves too...

... but with shorter sleeves with cuffs as on View B.  Also, the front will open and have buttons all the way down, and I am going to put on a collar.

And just to make even more work for myself,  I am going to gather it in at the waist and add a peplum.

It is going to be interesting.  Let's just hope it won't be a jolly red floral disaster.

Welcome to Jessica, the latest follower - thank you joining!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Free Motion Stone Wall

Just a little bit of free motion quilting done today...

... a stone wall against the slightly darker coloured neutral to start building up the foreground.

I'm not convinced that the top of the wall is right, it is a bit too regular, but once I have put in a bit of grass and a few weeds growing out from between the stones it should look a bit better.

At the moment I am having to break Leah Day's basic rule of practising every day.  I spent a rather interesting half hour with the physiotherapist this afternoon.  He asked me to rate the pain he was inflicting on a scale of 1 to 10.  We got to 9 and a half, and the bad news is that I have frozen shoulder.  I am doing my best not to be a grumpy old crock about it, but for a while the free motion quilting will have to be a tiny bit at a time.

Oh well, never mind.  Any excuse for bit of serious dressmaking.

Linking up today with Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday
and Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Meet My Daughter Again

My daughter's parcel tape alter ego is finally looking fairly presentable.  The smart wooden stand was made last weekend by my husband with wood that was cluttering up his shed.  The base used to be part of a makeshift stool that was no longer needed, and the wooden pole was left over batten from when we had an area of roof leaded.  It is now adjusted so that the torso stands at our daughter's height, and conveniently enough, the join in the stand corresponds with the position of her knees.

I managed to persuade her to part with a favourite nightdress which she still used as a top for bed. The label says age 10-11.  She is 18.  Somehow it had grown with her.  It made an ideal cover over the parcel tape.  The neck is filled in with a layer of interfacing that I know I will never use otherwise.

The back needed to be pulled in so it fitted tightly over the body.  It only took a few minutes to put the new seam in down the back and then cut away the excess.

The sleeves just needed a circle of running stitches so I could pull them in at the shoulders, giving a rather gruesome view from this angle.  Finally, a line of running stitches around the hem served to pull the nightdress into place at the lower edge. 

Perhaps now I might finally make her the dress I promised her three years ago...


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