Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Paper Bodice #2

I think we are getting closer to the correct bodice. The neckline is more in tune with what Whitney had in mind. The size is closer also. When looking at the bodice, it appears to be still a little small but I don't think it is. The princess seam is not lining up with the black bolduc tape that is underneath. I think the tape moved slightly. In certain areas of the dress form, it is difficult to have my pins stay in the form and they come loose. I'm hoping that is the case. Whitney and I were both happy with how the bodice fit on her.

One thing that has to change is I need to move up the midriff band one inch. The dress form is about one inch to one and a half inches shorter than Whitney in the shoulder to waist measurement. I have the midriff band folded up to give it a smooth look. Another thing that I need to modify is lining up the seams. Because I'm blending patterns from different pattern companies, the seam lines are not matching up. I'll need to take care of that with the 1st muslin run. I'll also have to pay special attention to the princess seams on the skirt to make sure that they are in line with the seams on the bodice.

So I think I'm now ready to move to cutting out the muslin. I'm hoping that once we move to fabric, things will start to come in place. The Swedish tracing paper is a great way to start but it has it's limitations. There is no give anywhere with this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lace Cutting

A few months ago, I purchased five yards of beaded Alencon lace from Buttons n' Bolts. I think the width is about 35 inches. I had ordered seven yards but there was only 5 yards left. That should be plenty. I think I estimated that I would need about seven yards for the bottom of Whitney's bridal gown. I'm sure that you are thinking my math is wrong. No. It's just that this lace is a little different. What I'm doing is cutting through the "middle" of the lace so actually instead of five yards, I actually have 10 yards total.

When the lace finally arrived and I took a look at it, then took a look at the little lace scissors, I thought it would take me weeks to cut and trim this out. This task went much quicker than I anticipated. I think I spent about 3 to 3.5 hours trimming out the first half. It was my husband's favorite day of the year. Not his birthday, not our anniversary. It was the NFL football draft. It was also the season finale of Project Runway. So I thought I might as well start the lace project since I was going to sitting on the sofa for a while.

I first took the lace to the table and carefully used my Ginghers to cut between the medallions. Then came the fine cutting. I placed the lace on a dark pillow so it I could see it better and more importantly, see where I was cutting. I did not want to repair this lace.

I still have half of side #2 to finish. I wonder what's on tv this week?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

À quelle heure part le prochain vol pour Paris?

Hello, is anyone here listening to me? I keep telling everyone that I'm bored but no one seems to listen around here. All I do is stand and wait, and wait and wait. I don't understand this American designer and her thought process. In fact, what thought process? She is such a slow thinker. She keeps telling me that she's researching things. Like what? Can't she just take a risk and put something together and get this job done? I need to get a real runway job. There is little excitement in fit modeling.

I know that I'm impatient. I'm working with an aging American designer. She forgets what is like to be young. I think the term they use in this country is "old fart". I don't understand this but whatever. Anyway, I have things to do and places to be. I need to get back to Paris and be me again. I'm missing springtime in Paris. I want to walk arm in arm with my friend Gaston and stroll through the Tuileries Gardens. Then after a couple of hours at our favorite cafe, I want to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe when it's dark and watch the City of Light come alive .

Now do you understand why I want to get this gig over and done with? I did find a place in this small town that the local kids flock to. The American term for is "mall". Hah! I scoff at this. I went to the mall once. I thought I would be able to see the spring lines for Chanel and Dior. All I saw were pants made out of denim. The American women flock to these little counters that sell Coach purses. I hate to be snobby (well, ok, I am French) but it's not a Vuitton. I need my Christian Lacroix's. I don't want to wear these little rubber things on my feet. Those are shower shoes, not shoes for a girl that likes to dance into the night. Galeries Lafayette, now that is a store.

Men's fashion here is a story in itself. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to learn I would be coming to the states. I kept saying "George Clooney,here I come". He is such a sophisticated dresser and oh so dreamy. But what do I see, gasp, men wearing gastly shades of orange. All. The. Time. The American men also like to wear clothes that mimic tree branches. It is not unusual to see women also wear these "things". I can't even call them clothes.

I can't sit around here much longer or I'll get fat. Say a prayer for me that soon, very soon, I'll be strolling down the Champs-Elysees.

À bientôt


Another Child Joins the Sewing Revolution

Whitney had been discussing sewing a couple of things. I decided to invite her to our Sewing Saturday at work. I didn't think she would make the entire day. I thought she would become bored. However, I was wrong. She sat and plugged away and didn't get frustrated. She bought this cute fabric at Hancock Fabrics. She bought enough to make two aprons, one for her and one for Alicia, her best friend. The pattern that she used is McCalls 5643. I think she did a great job. She now has ambitions to work on other projects and wants to learn make a quilt before she heads to Houston. I bought her a pattern for ballet slippers. But first, she needs to finish apron #2! We don't want her to develop any bad habits like her mother!

Floral Design Class #5

Here we go again, another funeral arrangement. This week, it is a casket spray. We used a flower container that curves and has little rubber pads under it so it can sit on the curve of a casket. I hope no one is eating breakfast right now. If you are, I apologize. I decided to go for a monochromatic theme. That would have been a good idea for a bridal bouquet but not so much for a casket. I pulled different pinks off of the flower table. This combination of flowers wouldn't pack much of a punch I don't think on top of a casket.

The second half of class was fun. We worked on boutonnieres and corsages. The boutonnieres are so easy. They really only take a few minutes to put together. The corsages went together pretty easy also. We actually did one boutonniere and two corsages in less than an hour and that included the instruction and questions. I hope I can remember all the important details when it's time to put together Whitney's flowers.

Floral Design Class #4

We are now over half way finished with our six week floral design class. This week's projects were a free-style bouquet and another funeral arrangement. The free style bouquet we used a bouquet holder. It allows the designer to "move" the flowers in different directions, for lack of a better description. After completing, you would need to use a floral glue to hold everything in place, especially the heavier flowers such as the roses. As interesting as this is, I still think I like the hand tied bouquets better.

Whitney and I weren't quite sure why we were doing another funeral arrangement. This is very similar to what we did earlier. The only difference is that this arrangement is an "L" shape.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Cowboy Love

Alright folks, I want you to pony up to the hitchin' post and meet the boys. Let me introduce you to Jeb, Pole Cat, Hal, Slim, Squirt and Tex.

Last year, I posted a picture of this quilt in it's unfinished stage. Finally, finally another cowboy quilt is finished. I love the colors on this quilt. I love the fabrics of the quilt. I hate that it won't be mine. Boo Hoo.

This quilt wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for my friend Pat and her Magic Bobbin Genie. I mentioned something a while ago regarding my frustration with free motion quilting on my new machine. Well, with another foot and Pat's washer that seemed to do the trick. No tension issues or broken upper thread on this quilt. Meandering was done on the border and on the main part of the quilt, I did loops to sort of mimic a lasso.

When I mentioned to Jeff that all my favorite quilts go to others, he said "Well just buy more fabric." Really? Really? Well, twist my arm, ok. Done deal.

Floral Design Class #3

I'm sure that my three hundreds of followers are possibly tired of the rookie floral designs. This blog was mostly developed to post sewing projects. But now and then, I veer off course. Only three weeks left, then hopefully more sewing posts.

This week's topics were hand-tied bouquets and cascading bouquets. Our instructor said all he used to design was cascading bouquets then along came Martha and she changed the flower industry. He said that he only does about 10% cascades now, the rest are hand-tieds. Whitney was in Houston this week visiting Joshua and her future home so she wasn't at class so you only get to see my designs.

The hand-tied was a little harder than expected. I think part of the problem is that we are working with fewer flowers that what I would want. My hand-tied I thought was slightly off balance. I think the tree ferns should have been throughout the bouquet and not just on the outside.

Ok, warning, minor rant ahead. There is someone in class that either doesn't know how

to count or Princess just doesn't care that she takes more flowers than what we are suppose to. It seems that there are a couple of vultures in class. They swoop down onto the flower tables before the instructor even tells us to and takes all the best flowers. I'm usually left with all the flowers that don't match. Princess's cascade bouquet was twice the size of mine. Grrrr. Can you take what is allotted for you please?

The flowers really wouldn't be my choice. I would use the spray roses only if I had tea roses in addition. The spray roses get somewhat lost because of their size. The carnations are overpowering I think. And obviously, I would not put yellow flowers with beige roses and red carnations in the cascade bouquet. The important thing is is that I'm learning how to do the techniques. I'm not using them so I'm not going to worry about the color combinations. I'm still confident that Whitney and I will be able to achieve the look she wants for her wedding.

Irish Soda Bread

This Easter I decided to make a couple of loaves of Irish Soda bread for dinner. A yeast bread would have been more appropriate but this is quick and easy. I was able to put this together and bake it before going to church. For those of you who haven't tried this yet, it is similar to a scone. This recipe was published in our local newspaper, the Post Crescent this year right before St. Patrick's Day. Unfortunately, I printed the recipe off the newspaper website but the recipe doesn't state who the author is.

Aunt Barb's Irish Soda Bread

2 cups slightly rounded all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (a bit less) baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
small handful of each: golden and regular raisins
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (cut into pieces)
Pinch of salt

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add raisins and gently mix. Add buttermilk, blend, and add butter or margarine. Do not overmix!

Shape into a mound, then gently pat down. Cut a cross-shape with a knife into the top of the dough.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Bread will be golden.

I have used both attachments on my Kitchen Aid mixer. I do think the paddle works slightly better than the dough hook. I think the batter is too wet for the hook to work it's best.

As you can see, the dough is a moist dough. Kind of in between a muffin dough and a yeast dough. I find that I add a little more flour than what the recipe calls for. I usually double the batch so it makes 2 loaves. One quart of buttermilk will make four loaves. Don't let the buttermilk go to waste! I'm sure this would freeze ok if you double wrap it. Make sure that you don't skimp on the raisins. I only used regular raisins. There isn't a lot of sugar in this recipe so the raisins give it a little extra sweetness.

Because this dough is so sticky, make sure that you generously flour the board. Do you see the scorch mark? All I know is that it involved a husband and a saucepan. I was gone for the day. It really isn't safe to leave home some days.

Generously flour the top of your dough. Now you are ready to "knead". You don't really knead this dough. I will just knead or flip it over until most of the flour is taken up by the dough and the dough is now workable and no longer sticky. Because this is a double batch, I then cut the dough into two and shaped the dough into mounds.

This is what they look like going into the oven. I love using parchment paper. I use that on just about anything that I put into the oven.

There you have it! Two golden brown loaves of Irish Soda Bread. Don't wait for the next St. Paddy's day to roll around to make this. This is a great breakfast bread or snack bread.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Curious Case of Megan's Garter

Taylor and I were invited to a bridal shower last week. Taylor will be standing up as one of the bridesmaids. When I can, I try to make the bride a garter. I have been making bridal garters for about 30 years now. You'd think that I would have a better handle on them by now.

I suppose that part of my problem is the lace. The lace that is available in my town comes from Hobby Lobby, Joann's and Hancock Fabrics. Have you looked at this stuff lately? Very plasticky. I have a container of assorted laces. However, my bridal laces are dwindling. I was hoping to score some schiffli lace when I was at Mary Jo's in North Carolina. Unfortunately, they didn't have what I was looking for. What I want is about a 4 inch schiffli lace flounce. It can be flat trim lace. I can deal with that and gather it myself. I want my bridal garters to have a romantic, somewhat Victorian look to them. I don't want them to look like they were purchased in Vegas at a show girl convention. I'm lucky that I do have some nice 3 inch chantilly lace but I guess I still prefer schiffli. It is a delicate Swiss lace. Have I ever mentioned that I'm part Swiss? Maybe that is why I have an affinity to this lace.

There are two regions in the world that were powerhouses in lace manufacturing. One being St. Gallen, Switzerland where my mother's ancestors are from. The second area is Northern New Jersey. I can only guess that these textile areas have been affected by the economy and goods being produced in the Orient. I can remember over 20 years ago when the bridal gown companies started to use lace from the Orient. It was then called "Oriental" lace. The name sounded kind of exotic. I would think that that term isn't used any more. It's not exotic lace, at least not anymore. True beautiful laces come from the Swiss, the French, the English and America. I know that these laces are very expensive, but can I have a choice please? Oh my, it looks like I've hijacked my own post and gotten on my soap box. I better step down!

As Megan's shower was approaching, I was getting fearful that I would have to make a boring garter, at least by my definition of boring. I found a beautiful site for lace. What they had was perfect. However, it was located in Australia. That wasn't going to work. So here I sat, majorly worried that I wasn't going to find anything. Then I hit Ebay. I ended up scoring some 6 inch trim Schiffli lace. The lace is longer than I wanted but I thought I could work with it.

A couple of days before the shower, I dyed the lace and the silk ribbon in a tea bath. The tea dyeing only took about 30-60 seconds. So armed with all my laces and ribbons, I started to put the garter together the night before the shower. Usually what happens when I'm working with lace, I take out anything that will remotely work. So on my living room sofa, I had different ribbons and laces to audition. I wanted a little bit of color in the garter, not just a plain ivory. My goal was to use silk ribbon embroidery in a muted purple. The bridesmaid dresses are a dark purple but I didn't want to go that dark for the garter. So I was lucky enough to have a great purple in my ribbon stash. I snipped a little medallion off of some Venice lace that I had. This would be my base for the silk ribbon embroidery. I wish the medallion would have been a tad larger but it worked ok I guess.

This garter was constructed and designed similarly to past garters that I had made. The difference being the size of the lace. The flounce was a couple of inches wider than normal and I think the little lace "posy" was about an 1/2 to 1 inch wider than normal. So what resulted was an over-the-top, cupcake, kind of garter. Taylor didn't like the flounce. I didn't like the lace posy thing on the top. And Jeff, well, he is expanding his sense of fashion flair. He loved it. He didn't want me to touch it. Taylor wanted me to take off the ruffle. That wasn't going to happen. You see, I decided to opt for real silk ribbon. It is strong, yet delicate. The silk did not like going over the feed dogs. I knew that if I took this garter apart, the silk ribbon wouldn't look the same.

I decide to go to bed and think about the problem and how am I going to fix it. The next morning after a large pot of coffee, I decided I had no choice but to deconstruct the garter. So I started to clip the threads, one layer at a time. I then put the bows and silk ribbon embroidery back on. As I look at the photo from the cupcake version, it doesn't look too bad. But trust me, in real life, it was so over done.

Lessons learned. Too much of a good thing is usually not a good thing. The lace netting at the top of the trim should have been trimmed at least 1-2 inches. I probably won't make to many garters out of silk ribbon anymore. Yes, the ribbon has such a glorious feel to it. But once the ribbon is gathered and bunched up, can you really feel the difference? A polyester satin ribbon might be a better choice for the heavy treatment that it takes to put the garter together.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paper Bodice Take One

This is the start of the bridal gown. I decided to work up the bodice in Swedish Tracing Paper. You can actually sew this paper together. I'm glad I did a mock up in paper, even before I started a muslin. I don't know if you can tell, but the princess seam lines do not lay over thebust apex. The arm holes are too small and I think the length of the bodice is not correct. So, I'm going to make another paper bodice. I'll move it up a size and see if I like how things lay. I also need to do a little more chiseling on the neckline. It is still a tad to high. Then we'll graduate to muslin.

Holy Vintage Batman!

My husband and his aunt Arlene had traveled back to Nebraska. Jeff had called and said that he needed to stretch so they stopped at a large antique mall in Des Moines. His first call was to say that there was a Victorian blouse. This was an interesting coversation between Jeff and I. I'm asking Jeff about lace and fabric content. I didn't want a reproduction. He eventually put it back but called me a few minutes later. He said he stumbled upon some vintage patterns. I think he did pretty good. There are many patterns that do not have the copyright date on them. You can get a feel for the age by the envelope size, the pattern company, the coloring of the pattern front, etc. He brought home 26 patterns. There were a few from 1945. He knew that I really didn't want any 1960's, I'm kind of picky on those. But he brought home some children's patterns from the 60's. I was ok with those choices. I can work with those. Some of the patterns he bought are Hollywood, Advance, DuBarry and Sears & Robuck. These companies aren't in business anymore. Hollywood patterns ceased to exist after WWII. DuBarry was sold exclusively at Woolworths and stopped production around 1947. If you've never seen a vintage pattern, they look a bit different than what we are used to today. There are no seam lines, no dart lines, no markings or printing period. What they do have is little holes punched where the markings should go.

What I really need to do is to purchase some archival plastic bags to store these puppies in. Big hugs to Jeff and Arlene for such a great score.

Today, Jeff was getting tired of being in the office. Poor guy. All winter long he's at his desk from sun up to way late in the evening. He wanted to go to one of the antique malls nearby. Today, I found the booth that I have previously purchased from. The booth had all items 30% off. The buttons that I bought certainly were cheaper than had I gone Joann's or Hancocks. I picked up two packages of leather buttons for $2.40 each.

Floral Class, Week 2

This week in class we worked on a parallel garden arrangement. This is an arrangement that is really only meant to be seen from one side. You would typically see this type of arrangement on an alter or at a funeral home. Since it's only seen from one side, you would be wasting money putting flowers on both sides of the arrangement.

What the instructor does for each arrangement is to write the "recipe" of the arrangement on the board. We go to the back of the room and pick out the "ingredients". Now, all we know is that we need three tulips or two fuji's, etc. At this point, we don't know what the arrangement will look like. There is usually at least three colors of each flower. We take that we think will work together. I wanted to do a red and yellow arrangement. He then shows us how we need to make our arrangement. You can see that the same colors are on the same side of the arrangement. Sometimes that gives you a striking look but I don't think it worked for this arrangement. It wasn't an intentional thing, just how his recipe and my color choices worked out. You can see that Whitney's arrangement is different because of her color choices.

Our second arrangement of the evening was a candle centerpiece. Whitney picked out white mums and I picked yellow. The white mums were larger but fewer of them on the stems than the yellow. Whitney's arrangement looks more balanced. Mine is very crowded. My flowers were smaller but there were quite a few more on the stems. The German in me wasn't going to throw them away so I kept adding them into my arrangement. Obviously, Whitney scored higher on her project. My arrangement is very crowded.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quilt Retreat March 2010

It was retreat time once again. I think this was one of my most productive retreats ever. Lately I haven't been happy with my free motion quilting. My friend Pat had found these little silicon washers that you put under the bobbin. Apparently, machines with a drop-in bobbin have more issues than the vertical bobbin. Well, I used the Magic Bobbin along with my new spring foot and I finally had success. I was able to finally finish cowboy quilt #2. Hooray! I also started to machine quilt Lauren's Christmas quilt. I had to wait until I got up to camp so I could use the large space to pin her quilt.

In addition to quilting, I made a few items for Jacqi's new shop. I worked on a little pair of boys cargo pants. I made three pair of little girls ruffled pants. I also bartered for fabric. I know, like I don't already have enough. I walked by Gretchen as she was cutting some fabric and thought it would be a fun piece to make a little outfit out of. So we struck up a deal. I made her little 3 year old a twirl skirt and I got to keep the rest of the fabric. The fabric is tie-dyed with multicolored thread running thru it.

I also finished up my mug rug for this retreat. I still don't have the binding on the mug rug from last time. That mug rug is also too large. I may have to trim it down.

I thought I had taken a picture with more shop samples but I didn't see it on my camera. Several of us had worked on samples for Jacqi. There were so cute items made out of really cool prints. I can't wait to see how they are all displayed in the store.

Floral Design Class Week 1

Whitney and I decided to take a six week floral design class. We are thinking that we can do the wedding flowers ourselves. So we are doing lots of research in addition to the class. If for some reason we feel that we won't get the desired results, then we will turn to a florist. Our family is pretty crafty so between my girls and my sisters, I think we can pull it off.

Each week we will be making two arrangements. That will include corsages, hand-tied bridal bouquet, a funeral arrangement, etc. Yes the class covers just about everything.

Week one, we designed an arrangement for a vase and an arrangement with an oasis.

We're Talking Turkey Today

A couple of weeks ago, we had someone over at the house to look at the floors. While we were talking, the flooring guy made a statement about the wildlife that we had. I thought he was just making a general comment but turned around and all these turkeys were in our back yard. I'm like "Excuse me, but I have to go get my camera". I went out onto the back deck and started clicking away. Jeff was upset that I went outside. He said that the big Tom's were just starting to walk in the yard and I scared them away.