Unique Hand-Crafted Gifts
Learning to finger knit was my entre` into the realm of using yarn to create . Knitting along with a variety of other creative pursuits was part of the cultural landscape I was born into … hands were always busy making interesting and beautiful things. With that level of industry and interest modeled before me, it was most natural I, too, would learn to thread the needle.
I well remember the project in which I was allowed to use knitting needles for the first time; it was a yellow pot holder with a little loop knitted in one corner used for hanging. From there I moved onto to slipper making; they had pompom embellished toes… in the same yellow yarn. To this day, I could make those slippers in my sleep; I was so proud slip-sliding around the house in them. I eventually moved on to knitting hats and mittens and sweaters, but that was long ago. My knitting work was eventually was set aside to make way for my primary focus on sewing and tailoring.
It was during this past Christmas season that I had a challenging gift selection to make for someone special. I gave it good thought, but nothing seemed particularly fitting. It was only after considering making a gift that I was knew I was on track as it is in the making of something that the true gift resides, the gift of time and thought and effort. And so it was that I reached into my bag of tricks, dusted off my number 9’s and knitted a beautiful, one of a kind, Christmas scarf.
Considering her smile, I think she likes.
I’m knitting again. Since making this scarf I knitted two more and have yarn for number three and four. I’ll keep you posted.
From Start to Finish
I recently went through a box in my sewing room marked “winter projects.” The box contained the best of the best projects I salvaged during our sizing down move three years ago. I have always found it difficult to start up work on old projects. It is usually a lack of interest as whatever it was that got my creative juices flowing has long since dissipated and the prospect of picking up in the middle of an uninteresting project seems like work more than fun. Fortunately, that was not the case with this piece. It had been long enough that I had forgotten I had ever started this jacket. The fact that I still loved the red quilted fabric was good and I still liked the striped douppioni… so far so good. After studying the pattern and the pieces that were already cut, I decided I definitely needed a third piece to create additional interest. So off to The Mill End Store I went with swatches in hand.
It’s really quite remarkable that I was able to find a douppioni print that complemented the stripes so perfectly, but not without considerable effort. I was in the store for at least two hours searching, searching, and searching again every piece of fabric at least five times. I was finding nothing suitable and finally decided it was time to surrender. Resigned to defeat, I headed for the exit pausing only to notice a silk display… and there it was. It was exactly what I’d been looking for; the colors were right, the scale was right, it was perfection and obviously meant to be. And so I begin the satisfying endeavor of resurrecting an old project to new life. More to come…
Bringing Beauty Into Your World
Table linens are a simple sewing project that are well worth the effort. These small pieces of fabric artfully arranged add pop, sizzle, glamour, elegance and just plain fun to an otherwise ho-hum table.
They are quick and easy to make and the choices are as endless as the selections at the fabric store. So have fun and be boldly creative!
Begin by cutting out a large square. Determine the width of the hem and miter the corners to suit. My favorite size is 21″ x 21″. To create the mitered corner remove 3 1/4″.
Turn under 1/4″ all around the perimeter of the square as shown below.
Bring folded edges together at mitered edge and stitch a 1/4″ seam.
Clip threads and trim corner to stitching line to ensure a crisp point.
Press open and complete on each of the four corners.
Turn each corner and carefully press hem into place.
Stitch hem into place. You may wish to decrease stitch length for added strength at the corner seam lines. Once stitched, your napkins is completed.
While shopping during the Christmas season, I came across some decorative accent towels that inspired me to try making some of my own. The thing I like most about this type of project is that they are simple to sew and offer a myriad of opportunities to use up scraps of fabric and trim in unlimited creative ways. They can be as elaborate or as simple as you want to make them and are easily picked up or set aside to work on later. I find this a good fit for my creative outlet during this very busy period of my life.
Paris in Spring
Taking Inspiration from Historic Costume
I’ve always had an interest in historic costume; I imagine most of us who sew share this interest, as studying past fashions can provide endless inspiration for contemporary designs. I recently came across a collection of charming illustrations of British children’s costumes from the 18th and 19th century that I wanted to share with my friends in Sewville. I adore these and plan to frame a set to hang in my sewing room… they are so sweet. I’ve put a couple up in my RemnantWorks Etsy shop and will be adding more as I have the time.
RemnantWorks Vintage Patterns Shop
I remember when this dress pattern first came out. I was completely taken with the design; it seemed so fresh and unlike any of the dress styles I was used to seeing. I made it up, but don’t remember wearing it very much. My sewing skills were somewhat limited in those early days and the dress probably didn’t turn out to look quite as nice as the picture on the pattern envelope.
Now that I have begun to sell off my old patterns, I find myself struggling with letting go of this one. Most patterns are very easy to part with once the decision has been made, while others, not so easy. I found myself thinking about making it up in a contemporary fabric. I know it would be cute even though I couldn’t possibly fit into it anymore! 🙂
Creating A Unique CHANEL-style trim
Last year I made my first Chanel-style jacket. Finding a suitable trim, a hallmark of a Chanel, proved to be challenging. I decided to try making my own.
I began with a skein of ribbon yarn and number 9 knitting needles. Four stitches provided a nice width and using a basic stockinette stitch I created a long strip. Stockinette stitches tend to curl at the edges which works to advantage for hiding hand stitching when applying the trim to the garment.
Creating a trim from ribbon yarn
I would recommend making individual strips for each pocket and a continuous length for the center front and neckline. By doing this it will reduce the chance of the trim unraveling at the edges during application and can more easily be tucked in at seam lines or pocket edges. Otherwise, apply Fray Check or a fabric glue to secure the edges.
Once the trim is completed it can be attached by hand-stitching into position along the pockets, center front,neckline and sleeve edges.
trim applied to sleeve edge
Open For Business
Yves Saint Laurent
Paris Original Design
One thing that has recently become very apparent to me is that I need to reduce the numbers of sewing patterns I have in my collection. I have been collecting since I began sewing around the age of 13 and that means I have many hundreds and perhaps even thousands of patterns taking up space.
Sorting through all my patterns has been a trip down memory lane. I seem to remember everything I ever made and when. I like that. The pattern above was something I made while at university and I remember buying the fabric and making it up in my little apartment on Polk Street. It’s hard to believe I ever wore my dresses so short, but we all did. And those wedge shoes are back in style again.
I know that people are selling “vintage patterns” online and it would be nice to make a small return on this lifelong investment, so I decided to see what I could do. I opened my store about a week ago and was quickly bitten by the bug. I sold my first pattern on Sunday and another one today. How cool is that?!
If you know of anyone who is in the market for vintage patterns, send them my way. I will be adding new stock daily and have quite a selection from the 70’s and 80’s with a few from the late 60’s.
So far I am only shipping to US customers, because of cost of shipping internationally is prohibitive. I thought I’d start locally to see how it goes with the thought of possibly expanding later. Wish me luck! 🙂
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Purple or Periwinkle
I’ve been on the lookout for the right shade of purple to go with a skirt I’ve had for some time. I found this interesting piece of embroidered linen that seemed like it would work. I call it purple, but maybe it is periwinkle… I think periwinkle has more blue in it.
Either way, it has turned out to be a good choice to go with my skirt. I picked up a yard for the tunic pattern I’ve been using this summer. I really like the simplicity of this pattern; I can complete it in an afternoon… no problem!
I found a piece of purple duppioni silk in my fabric stash to use as bias binding for the neck and armholes. It’s a good feeling to use up a scrap of something I have on hand.
It’s always fun to give a little update to something you’ve had and make it seem fresh and new again.The unstructured look with nothing-to-bind is perfect for staying cool on hot summer days. I like wearing skirts, but often don’t want to feel “dressed-up.” This look works for me, because it blends casual easy/no-care (what I jokingly refer to as rag-bag fashion) with the I-made-an-effort-today discipline that I try to adhere to.
I love lace, but I haven’t used it on clothing in so many years I can’t remember when. For me, lace is much like a sailor collar; there was a time in my twenties when I felt like I’d outgrown them. My heart still melts for little boys in sailors collars… and big boys, too, come to think of it, but I can’t imagine wearing one myself… unless possibly in my second childhood somewhere down the line. 🙂 But back to lace, it’s big in fashion this summer and I’ve been seeing it a lot of it in the fabric store. I’m always amazed how what is put in front of me begins to look good if I see enough of it whether I think I like it or not.
I found it in the short bolt section of the store and asked the salesperson to measure it for me. She was wearing a black apron and as she held it up to see how much was left on the bolt, I saw it against the black of her apron and was sold. It popped, as they say!
lace on white underlay
compared to lace on black
I decided to use the Mcalls pattern 9278 I’ve used several times this season for the lace tunic and would make another in black for underneath. I like the idea that I can get use out of the black by itself, but also have it double as a lining for the lace.
Simple and versatile black tunic
I rarely throw things that I’ve made away and I remembered that I had two black linen pieces that might go with this tunic; I searched for a bit, and found hem. I paired up the shirt and vest with an old Chico’s necklace I’ve had forever and created an interesting layered ensemble that works; again I really like giving new life to old things and making them seem fresh again.
And finally, the lace tunic over the black tunic. I like the look and feel like it’s a good fashion forward look for summer!