June 30, 2013

When Thimbles Ruled

After having acquired an old Singer sewing machine (see previous post) I decided to continue in this historical vein and tell you about a book I acquired from my bookseller friend (Garrison House Books or her blog).
The cover is a bit bland but it has real charm inside.
The book was published in 1913 by the Butterick Publishing Co. which was housed in the Butterick Building in New York. Wonder if the building still exists.
The book is written for the teacher and not a step-by-step for the student. 

 Thimbles are my thing and they are used but not pictured. There is NO machine sewing anywhere in all the projects right up to a middy blouse at the end. I am throwing a picture in here just for interest. Beneath it is the detailed 11 step and repeat thimble exercise!

In the supplies for your sewing outfit it suggests an aluminum thimble because they are light and inexpensive. "Colored thimbles are pretty, and children like them. Silver thimbles are nice, of course, but children outgrow them, so that there is very little point in getting them." So these little ladies were expected to start quite early.
 Click HERE if you missed out on my earlier post about my first thimble.

She's not in the book but isn't this ad image from THE GRAPHICS FAIRY sweet? I don't think they started THIS young!
Methods (for the teacher)
"Always remember the never-ending patience which it is necessary to use with the dull-witted, awkward child. Some time this patience may be rewarded with a result showing some degree of success."  Is this PC?
Miniature clothes
"These small garments are an excellent preparation for the making of full size clothes in the upper grades. "

There are instuction for making a baby cap from paper and then using the folded paper as a pattern for a one made of "fine lawn".  Great for the unwed mother! We go right from dolls to real babies.
The book continues with gussets, bias edges, tucks and mending.

The best feature of this book are the beautiful line drawings of the sweetest young ladies of the early 20th century. I used one of them to create THIS.
I shared these with Karen at THE GRAPHICS FAIRY and she has posted two of them for you to use. Click HERE and HERE.
The book ends with the middy blouse that you see when you click on the first HERE in the previous sentence.
Helpfully the text suggests:
"For the Summer for play dresses or for gymnasium suits the middy blouse is frequently made with a short sleeve. For colder weather and for school, the long sleeve blouse is more practical and comfortable than the one with the short sleeve.”
So who has ever sewn any more than a hem by hand? Could you complete a whole garment that wouldn't fall apart the first time it was washed?

June 23, 2013

An Elderly Friend has Moved In

A neighbor is moving away and she couldn't take her.  I felt she would be a great friend and companion to my Elna and me so we are taking in Miss Singer. She was born a model 15-91 in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1953 so she is still a little younger than me. 

She wasn't free but $50 was a mere token for the privilege of getting what I am almost sure was the same model as my mother's first machine. My dad bought it for her one Christmas and I swear that he said he paid $50 back then!

I have cleaned and oiled her but her table is a bit of a mess. And this is why I am posting her pictures on my blog this week. Could you help me make a decision about how to do a makeover on her? 

With the help of the THE GRAPHICS FAIRY and her fabulous array of images and ANNIE SLOAN CHALK PAINT, the  easiest and prettiest paint ever, I am planning to fix her up. 
Please comment and give your opinion on how this should go. First for the images.
1. Use a frame image like this on the corners (2 or 4) to maintain a clear space in the center for a pot. ( I have lots of nice pottery)

2. Use a large centered image like this:

3. Should it be simply decorative like this:
4. Sewing related like this:

5. What color to choose. I have to stay light in order to add images. 
A. Paris Grey

B. Old Ochre

C. Versailles

D. Cricket


E. None of the above. Leave it alone in all its grungy glory.

Please leave your opinions in a comment. Just list the numbers and letters that apply or you can write me a whole essay on why this is wonderful or pointless!

June 16, 2013

Sixty-three and still in great shape!

No. Not me!
I mean Cindy, my doll I received her for Christmas when I was five.
 I gave you a hint about her at the end of last week's post. Cindy is a Mary Hoyer doll. The doll and her outfits could be purchased or the home sewer (my MOM) could purchase kits or patterns to make the clothes.

Glinda the Good Witch outfit

1946-1950s Mary Hoyer doll, 14" tall, all hard plastic, jointed body, mohair wig many colors & styles, some with molded hair beneath, usually blue sleep eyes. closed mouth. Doll marked: Original Mary Hoyer Doll inside a circle.

As you can see, dolls back then were not exactly built like Barbie.
The wig was replaced with a bad one that is turning into dreadlocks!

When I took her down from on top of the tall bookcase in my sewing room where she has resided for the last ten years she seemed fine except for the dust on her brunette locks. But then I noticed her head was bit wobbly. Stupidly, I twirled her head a number of spins thinking I could tighten up the heavy rubber bands that hold this type of doll together. The band snapped and OFF WITH HER HEAD!Her left arm also appears to have suffered some weakening...perhaps a stroke. But she still seemed agreeable to pose in her mutitude of outfits.
The Early Years
These are a few of the clothes my mother made for her. Some are knitted and some sewn. I remember having lots more but I think the knitted ones didn't age as well as the fabric ones. I do know that I favored the fabric ones and perhaps was not as careful with the knitted. Very few accessories from the early years exist. My friend in the neighborhood though seemed to aquire things about the same time as I was losing them. hmmmm.

This chartreuse balleina tutu was a particular favorite and still is. It has probably held up better than all the older apparel. Just fluff the tulle and she's ready to dance.
This is the Alice Blue Dress shown in the ad. No idea where the perky white pinafore went. I have no idea how Mom got those teeny little sleeves set in.

The Southern Belle is a delight of detail in dotted swiss, ribbon and lace. However, it was way more glamourous in the day when she actually had a matching PARASOL! 

But Cindy wasn't always into finery. She also is quite athletic. Here are two of the knitted garments. She's a real Sonja Henie in this angora trimmmed number. Again her footwear is lacking. The skates were replacements at the same time as the unfortunate hair  and even one of those is lost. The riding boots rode off long ago. As did the buttons on the top. She is sewn into this but they do that photo shoots in real life, too.

Marriage put Cindy on the shelf (literally) for many years with two boys.
But in the 90's she had a rebirth due to a later in life daughter (on my part).
Now Grandma was again ready with the sewing machine when I came across a book.

The Later Years
Cindy really comes into her own as a fashion icon in her forties. The fabrics and syles are flashier and more diverse. They range from the demure
Miss Muffet
to the dramatic

A few more of the later outfits
Crochet skirt and wool knit swimsuit 
Notice the rubber bathing cap on the lower right.
The coat and lounging pajamas are corduroy.
There is ONE skate and ONE wooden shoe!
Here are the two trunks containing the wardrobe. The one on the left was mine and is made of metaland the other is my daughter's. I bet you could have figured THAT out. I love the nursery rhyme decals I put on mine. The outfits portrayed on the other do not look like anything I remember anyone wearing.

Did you play with dolls? Do you still have your doll?

June 9, 2013

This and That

 This week's post has no central theme, just a gathering of little stuff that filled my week. First came the clean-up. After numerous projects the fabric stash had exploded. The carpet has become multi-colored with thread ends and fabric fluff plus old stains of an unknown source.

 It usually takes a fire under me to get into a cleaning/organizing spree and this time it was a tornado! Not here - the one in Oklahoma. As I watched news coverage, I though WWID - What would I do?
We have a basement so, of course, I'd  go into it. But what else goes besides other humans in the house at the time. Having no pets, I realized how I wouldn't like all the important papers to blow to the next county. I'd grab the purse and hubby's wallet and then there is this file drawer in the sewing room. But it's not so easy to grab. However, at some point we put a large 3 drawer file cabinet in the basement and it has NOTHING in it.
So I moved all the important papers to that file cabinet. Now I have a whole empty file drawer to put patterns, transfer papers and other flat stuff. 

The drawer above the file was filled with obsolete computer and electrical wires, cinnections and hardware. OUT!
Now it is the home of interfacings and battings.
The tall narrow cupboard was made for three pullout shelves for CD's and DVD's. I used it to stuff all manner of junk into, but now it houses stacking boxes of notions and some of my ribbons. Phwew!
But I'm not done yet.


Then after the floor was cleared it was obvious NOW was the time to get the carpet cleaned. Wish I had a pic of the guy and the giant hose that came and took all the filth out of here. Now I have to keep it clean. I love my Elna and my used serger so to keep them dust free, I clothed them. How do you like their new outfits adorned mostly with images from THE GRAPHICS FAIRY? 

On Friday I drove to my sewing machine service store to pick up 15 genuine metal Elna bobbinsthat I ordered.  The metal ones I have been bought and given do not fit and I really do NOT like the plastic ones. I also had asked about a walking foot. For a non-sewist this may sound ridiculous - don't all feet walk?!  Also a button-hole attachment. The Elna CAN make buttonholes but not as easy as with an attachment. I was excited to try them out and it is a good thing I did because neither one really fits my machine. I can't get the walking foot on and the buttonholer leaves NO SPACE to get the fabric under it because I have to use a cover for the feed dog (another silly term). I have to go back. The owner said to bring my machine and she will make sure it fits this time.

But all was not lost with the price of gas for the 40 minute drive. I learned that I was only five minutes from a decorator fabric store I had gone to before and picked up samples scraps for cheap. Well, they moved all the scrap to the back of the store and they are going to throw them out. I rescued half of the box. Now where to neatly store it (hmmm).

But that is not all I got for free. The left turn signal bulb had burned out on my car and I was really nervous driving without it. I considered hand signaling, but I'm not sure anybody knows anymore what they mean and someone might just think I was making rude gestures! So I pulled into a Goodyear Tire place that I saw near the highway and inquired about the fix. The guy came out and took off the tail light assembly to check what bulb he needed and proceeded to replace it AT NO COST!!  Thanks, GOODYEAR!

Watch this blog next week for a real hand sewn wardrobe extravaganza with:

June 2, 2013

Beach Bag Tutorial

It is finally warn enough here in Northern Ohio to think about the beach....or the pool. The shores of Lake Erie are not close enough nor enticing enough for me, but our nearby club pool has been  my summer hangout for a very long time. Once my kids got older and out of the house, I thought I had no excuse for idling in the sun, but then WATER AEROBICS came along and now I can justify four days a week to get healthy and slim (less chubby).

Of course, you need the right gear for any athletic endeavor and perhaps the most important is the carrier to get it all there. I completed my new beach/pool bag in time for the opening of the pool for Memorial Day weekend. As per usual in this part of the world, it was chilly and dismal. But this week the sun has shone and I got to fill it up and take it for a spin. If you would like to make one here's how.
The Beach Bag Tutorial

Choosing fabrics: I found a great coated fabric much lighter than oilcloth but water resistant to avoid stains and lined it with rip-stop nylon. Neither was a fabric I had sewn before, so I practiced a bit with it before starting. The stripe was sticky ( a friend suggested a Teflon presser foot…what will they think of next?) and the nylon was slippery. And pinning was prone to creating small holes, so not the type of project for a complete beginner. Another fabric choice would be much different.  I suggest a canvas or duck and wouldn’t this Graphics Fairy image look great?

      Outer fabric: 2 yards of 45” wide
       Lining: 2 yards of 45” wide
       Straps : 3 yards of webbing or similar. You could make fabric straps. I don’t give instructions for those.

1.Cut 2 pieces 21” x 18” of each main fabric.  Cut 2 pieces 21” x 19”from lining fabric. The extra inch will provide a fold over binding.     Cut 2 pieces 21 x 13 from main fabric for pockets. Cut 2 pieces 21 X 14 from lining fabric. Again  the extra inch  will be for the fold over binding.
2.  Cut 2 pieces of medium weight interfacing 20 x 18 for the main body of the bag and 2 pieces of  the same interfacing 20 x 13 for the pocket.  The interfacing will not be as wide to avoid having extra layers in the side seams. It will go all the way to the top and bottom.
 1.With the interfacing on the wrong side of the main fabric, lay the main fabric and lining right sides together and sew along the top edge leaving a 3/8 inch seam allowance.   for both sides of the bag and also for each outer pocket. I know this pic shows a 1/2 inch but I now know 3/8 is better.
This is to show the layering


A 3/8 seam allowance is better
2. Open out the lining and main fabric (pic:#4) on each of the pieces and fold the lining fabric back over the wrong/interfacing side of the main fabric. This will leave the seam allowance covered by the lining fabric.
3. Stitch directly “in the ditch” down the front of the fabric. Try to keep any pins in the ditch as well, to avoid pinholes if using a coated fabric. Repeat this on the top edge of the remaining large piece and both pockets pieces.

4. Lay out the pocket on top of the main body of the bag and pin in place along seam allowances. Then lay out strap material over both, aligning the straps about 5.5 inches from the outside edge. This will create one large pocket and two smaller pockets. Use your judgment on placement and length. I tried to align mine with the repeat in the fabric stripe. I would have made them a little bit longer if I had more.  Mark where the lower edge of the strap will hit, lay the strap right side down, with the strap running off the bottom and sew across the bottom from the wrong side  Do this for all ends of the strap fabric being careful not to twist the straps. Then fold the straps back over the ends and lay them in place. Fold the main lining fabric up out of the way as you will not sew it down. You will leave the lining in place for the pocket material.
Stitching on the bottom underside of strap
Straps folded back over fabric pinned and ready to topstitch
 Using a thread that will blend or accent your straps, top stitch completely around the straps. In one step you will have attached the straps and sewn the pocket fabric to the main fabric leaving the lining and the top binding area free.
 EXTRA: I found something to add after using the bag. You may want to make a line of stitching across the width of each side of the bag where the straps end. I found that when the bag folds under to form the bottom that small things can drift into the bottom of the bag and are difficult to find and retrieve!!
 5. Lay the two side of the bag, right sides together and without catching in the interfacing or lining , stitch around the sides and the bottom.
 6.   Sew the lining pices right sides together down each side leave at least a 12” opeing at the bottom of the lining. You will have to pull the main part of the bag back through this opening. Repeat the same corner process on the lining
7. With the main fabric section of the bag inside out, fold out corners to create the bottom. (pic#11) Mark the fabric to line what will be the fold forming the  bottom of the bag with the ends of the straps. You will sew across the triangle you have formed and cut off the triangle.
 8.  Sew the lining pices right sides together down each side leave at least a 12” opeing at the bottom of the lining. You will have to pull the main part of the bag back through this opening.  Repeat the same corner process on the lining

8. Sew the lining pices right sides together down each side leave at least a 12” opeing at the bottom of the lining. You will have to pull the main part of the bag back through this opening. Repeat the same corner process on the lining as shown above.
9. With the bag inside out fold the interfacing over the shape of the bag and without stitching create a fold at the bottom but simply cut off the excess fabric. You want the support it provides without bulk in the seams. See pics below.
Corner of interfacing folded
AND clipped
10. Pull body of the bag back through the lining (sorry, no pic) Then with the lining still outside the bag fold under the seam allowances in the lining opening and stitch across the opening close to the edge. You could do this by hand for an invisible seam if you are OCD but I feel it is already invisible enough inside the bag!

11. I did not like the way the top of the side seams looked. And so as a final step I took a 2” x 3” scrap on each side and created a fold over “tab” to conceal it. You could make this out of either fabric or even the strap webbing. See below.
PLEASE LET ME NOW IF YOU LIKE OR USE THIS TUTORIAL. I welcome your thoughts. It took me longer to write this blog than to make the bag!