Monday, August 31, 2015

Janet Pray - Islander Sewing Systems

Familiar with Craftsy?  If not, you should be!  This is probably the best online site out there in regards to online classes.  They offer EVERYTHING.  You will find Janet Pray on Craftsy teaching industry secrets  and more.  I will be honest with you and say that I have made a plethora of shirts, but none have compared to Ms. Pray's classic fit and detail.  I love her patterns.  When I found that hers' was another one of those company's where you run off the pattern on your computer and then tape it together, I was rather leery. I've done that before with other patterns and the end result was disastrous. (Ms' Pray does offer the paper version as well.)   The lines actually matched up on Ms Pray's patterns... and the shirt came out perfect. Like I've already shared, this pattern is more tailored  and includes a collar stand piece which I like....its that narrow piece that the collar 'sits' on to make the collar 'stand' up better.  You can't go wrong when using Ms. Pray's pattern..especially if you are truly looking for that classic, tailored fit.  I give Ms. Pray an A+.

The pattern:

The shirt from this pattern:

I included a close up of the collar so that you could see the collar 'stand'.

Her plackets are beautiful and so well designed...I have never sewn anything like it.  Please click on images if you want larger view of them.

Until next time......

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Word From God's Word To Begin Your Week

 I happen to read God's Word every single day.  I love it, I believe it, I stand on the Truth that is written within It's pages.  Every now and then, I share something with all of you because I feel a need..this is one of those  days.  The verses that I am sharing with you are from the book of Ephesians using The Message version of the Bible.  I find it rather apropos, especially in the days we are living.  My prayer is that you will be blessed by reading them.  Here they are:

Ephesians 6:13-18,  "Be prepared.  You're up against far more than you can handle on your own.  Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll be on your feet.  Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.  Learn how to apply them.  You'll need them throughout your life.  God's Word is an indispensable weapon.  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.  Pray hard and long.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.  Keep your eyes open.  Keep each other's spirit's up so that no one falls behind or drops out."

Dear friends, in these times make sure you are surrounded by good friends....and learn the importance of being a good friend.  Have a great week.

Until next time........

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Gooseberry Hill

If you want a great, little jacket pattern, here's one  that I have made countless times over the years. The fit is spot on and it has been a winner on every child that I have ever made it for.  There are various ways that you can change up the look of this jacket, so let your creative genes simply take over.

I must confess, this was another one of those purchases that I felt I absolutely 'needed' to make when visiting Zoelee's  years ago.  She had made a sample using this pattern and  had it hanging in her's still there today in fact.  Once I laid eyes on that little jacket  it instantly captured my heart and sent my mind whirling as to what I could do with it!  You know when you see a pattern and you just intuitively  know what you are going  do with it  and even if you don't right then, you know you eventually will??  That's the affect that that pattern had on me...I just had to have it!   Zoelee, at the time, also carried this beautiful lace that was perfect to sew on the bottom of the jacket.  Unfortunately, she ran out due to its popularity and  I was forced to go online to find more.  I did find some beautiful lace in the UK as a replacement until Zoelee was able to get more lace in.  Trust me when I say that the lace enhances the jacket  big time so it is imperative that you get the right one.   I give Gooseberry Hill and overall A for fit, design, and directions.

I wish I had better pictures to share with you, but I will share what I have.

First up,  the pattern:

And here are the pictures that I do have of some of the jackets that I have made.  What's nice about these jackets is that you can dress them up...or down.  They look adorable with a cute pair of jeans or over an outfit, your choice.

Instead of hand embroidery, which I dearly love to do, I used my embroidery machine and embroidered on the backs of some jackets especially when using denim fabric.  My fabric of choice however will always be 100% cotton, waffle weave fabric.  Sadly though, this fabric is difficult to find anymore...and when I have found it, it has a blend of polyester in it which I don't care for.  The look, feel, and use is so different than the 100% cotton only fabric.  Should you ever find the cotton, it is also superb in making kitchen towels as gifts for Christmas ...or for yourself.  I have made lots of these kitchen towels using the cotton version of the waffle weave due to its ability to actually dry dishes with ...and as a bonus, it looks great hanging in your kitchen with an embroidery design on it along with a ruffle gracing the bottom.  So cute!! Just make sure that you always pre-wash that cotton before embroidering on or sewing with it as it does tend to shrink.

Until the next post...have fun creating!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Side Note

Good morning friends.  I wanted to make sure that I clarify something....these critiques are merely MY opinion and what I have found when using the various, patterns, books, and ideas that are out there.  Your perception may be completely different than mine... and that's okay.  My aim is to simply share what I have experienced in my over 50 years of sewing.  I enjoy sewing immensely as I am sure you do or you wouldn't be here.  Prayerfully my blog will be of some help to those who may be new, getting back into sewing, or simply visiting my blog just for the fun it. I will continue my critiques tomorrow but here is what I have shared with you so far.... in a nut shell:

Martha Pullen    A- fits slightly big, has great directions, many patterns work well for beginners, but many are definitely for intermediate and advanced as well.  Easy patterns to teach.

Izzy & Ivy   C- darling designs and good fit but the directions are lacking.  A beginner would be utterly lost.  You need to definitely know what you're doing before you start.

The Old Fashioned Baby   A-  This company has been around for a long time and is great when taking that first step into heirloom sewing.  These are more for the intermediate sewer and up.

Cottage Mama     A- A newer an upcoming pattern company. Lindsay works hard at making sure her directions are least with the pattern I worked on.  I can't wait to make more!  The pattern I used was great  for  beginners.

Kari Mecca     A- for passion, creativity and design, but definitely not for the timid or the beginner.  I have made a ton of Kari's patterns and have even taught them.  She inspires me.

Fiona Bell     D- Great ideas, but her patterns and directions are nearly impossible to follow.  I wish I could have given a better review.

Kwik Sew     A- This is another company that has been around for a long time.  It's a pattern company that is pretty much exclusive to using knit fabric.  Having a serger is maybe not necessary, but preferable.  Several of their patterns are great for beginners, but not all of them.  It's like taking baby steps while working with knits.  Start slow and build, you won't believe what you can accomplish.

So there you have it..again, my prayer is that this will not only help you but encourage you to grow in the area of sewing.  My upcoming posts will include, Children's Corner, Favorite Things, Olive Ann Designs, Petite Poche, Gooseberry Hill, Rob Merrett and more.

Any questions or comments?  Please share.  Thanks!   Until next time....

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kwik Sew

Remember Stretch and Sew?  I can't even begin to tell you all of the t'shirts, underwear, bathing suits, etc. that I made for my children while they were growing up!  Oh my goodness!  Those of you who remember that company. didn't you just love their fabric?  Nothing even came close to the quality of their fabric, their lace, their name it.  When making my girl's t-shirts, I would always purchase enough fabric to make underwear to match. ;-)  They had this wonderful elastic that looked like lace and no one could tell the difference!  When you have seven kids, you made as much as you could, whenever you had the time...but I admit, I did enjoy  making those panties for my girls!  Those were the days when it paid to more.   Kwik Sew patterns are just like those old Stretch and Sew patterns and just as popular...just ask Zoelee from Zoelee's. They are still easy to make, giving you a fit that is perfect and they always seem to be in style.

With that being said, whenever I go to Lee Summit, Kansas, I ALWAYS go to Zoelee's.  Zoelee is an amazing, as well as talented, woman.  I have never visited her shop without feeling  this need to purchase something new and wondrous...and there's the dilemma...there's always something new and wondrous. She carries a wonderful assortment of Kwik Sew patterns and has a continual flow of clothes that she has not only made for herself but to also put on display in her store...which is located downstairs in her fabulous home.  Truly, it's a must see shop!  The last time I was there, there was a darling pair of children's slippers on display that Zoelee had just made using a Kwik Sew pattern.  Having used Kwik Sew patterns in the past, I knew that the directions and fit would be perfect and that my grandkids would LOVE the finished product.  How can I give anything but an A to Kwik Sew patterns?  These patterns are great for any beginner, but I must add, owning a serger makes these patterns even easier to make.  Since I obviously don't have any pictures of past projects that I made for my kids, you'll just have to trust me when I say that you can't go wrong when using Kwik Sew.

The pattern that I took home that day:

And here are the slippers..aren't they cute?  Making these plus personalized, flannel, pillowcases for the grandkids was not only different, but FUN!!  A thought for you to consider, I made  all of my grandkids  pillowcases using Christmas fabric before Christmas had arrived last year.  It's funny how making something as simple as holiday themed pillowcases, would excite those kids,,,,but it did!   Whether it's Halloween, Christmas, Patriotic,  Thanksgiving, Easter, it doesn't matter! Kids  LOVE having their own pillowcases.   AND, when you make them pillowcases using themed fabric and then embroider their names on the cuff...I'm just sayin'... it's a sure hit.  Like I said...just a thought.

Do I hear the purring of those machines working away out there? ;-)

Until next time....

Fiona Bell- Sewn With Love

When I first saw this book on Amazon, I knew right away that I had to get it. Fiona is located in England and her beautiful designs captured my interest due to her grasp of of the vintage look that I so desired.  There had been no customer comments or reviews left on Amazon as yet....something that I make a point of always reading...but I forged ahead hoping this would be the book I had been longing for.  When the book arrived I was on pins and needles to make my first project...the dress that adorned the cover of the book.  After looking at all of the pictures, I ran off that first project.  Can I just say that I was disappointed beyond words!  None of the lines on the pattern seemed to match up...and the directions?  Unbelievable...actually nonsensical.  The book is gorgeous, the ideas are inspiring but ladies, that's as far as it goes.  I did end up making the dress that I started with on the book's cover and a shirt for my grandson as well, but Oh My..I struggled making both. I give Fiona an A for her wonderful inspiration, but a D for the patterns and directions themselves.  Definitely not for a beginner or the intermediate sewer out there.  Let's just say, you must WANT to get your project done or you may just give up and quit!  I am so sorry for this rough review.

Here's the book:

And here are the two projects that I did make from this book:

This actually ended up being one of my grandsons favorite shirts..pretty funny.  I loved the fabric and the little tucks in the back.  (Notice how I tried hard to match up my pocket? Is that what you call OCD?)

The dress that started it all..and I must say that my granddaughter loved this dress and wore it to needed a nice burial, but was sweetly passed on for more to enjoy. ;-)  (Ties added to the back of course.)

Ladies, I'm sure you already know this, but if you ever see anything highlighted on my blogs it is for your benefit to click on and take you to those I am writing about.  ALSO, if you want a closer view of any of the projects, simply click on the picture with your cursor and there they are!  Now go out there and become 'one' with that machine of yours and get busy on those projects!  Happy sewing!  Until next time. ;-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back to Martha....Just For A Moment.

As I shared in my first post in critquing patterns, I recently returned from another round of Martha Pullen Licensing's,  this one being Children's Garment Construction.  I wanted to share with my fellow students that I have indeed finished another project!! YEAH!!!!  I did add some ties to the back due to the fact that some of my granddaughters are rather on the thin side.  This dress would have just hung on those girls!  Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  ;-)  But here is my completed dress.  And for you beginners out there, wait a bit on this one.

I'll be back tomorrow with more patterns and what I learned from using them.  Enjoy your time on that machine of yours!  Until next time....

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kari Mecca of Kari Me Away

Where do I start?  I have made so many of Kari's dresses, as well as taught them, that I feel I could make them blindfolded.  They are just so girlie!  And my granddaughters LOVE how full they are!  The dresses in her first book, I could teach over and over...and even sell...which I have,  with Kari's permission of course.  I will only show a 'few' of the dresses that I have made out of that first book as there are too many outfits to count.  If I have any complaint at all it's that the armholes on some of those dresses were a little big.  To compensate for the larger openings, I simply made a couple of 'dickies' and sewed them just inside the armhole .  No one ever noticed.  Kari is a genius at creativity.  Between her use of bullion stitches, whimsy sticks and ideas when using rick rack, she never ceases to amaze me with the things that she comes up with.  Embellishment is definitely Kari's strong point and THAT is what I love!  I can't help but give Kari an A for her passion for creativity....BUT not for beginners.  Thanks for your constant inspiration Kari!

Kari's first book:

Her second book.  This doesn't even include all of her singe patterns.  Incredible!

Just a few of the many, many dresses that I have made from that first book!
Take a little creative license and change the dresses up a bit for a different look!

It's difficult to see, but I embroidered a pair of sunglasses on the bodice of the dress down below... I knew the family spent a lot of time at the beach.

This is one of the first dresses in the book and I loved making it.  Take note, I rarely make any pattern exactly like the directions tell you to.  I always have to make each project 'mine' so I change it up just a bit. I added embroidery to these dresses below...and to all of the other ones I made using this design as well.

The one above needed a purse!

This is the dress that had the larger armhole,  I don't think by adding the 'dickie' or even the ties in the back compromised the design of the dress whatsoever.  I also cut a large piece of the brown silk, gathered it up and tacked it down like a cumber bun.  Once the piece was securely tacked down,  I glued crystals on top of those two stitching lines.  It was beautiful.  I'm thinking my granddaughter liked her dress don't you?  She danced the night away....pretty cute.

A few pictures of projects from Kari's second book:

I LOVE the shorts.  Until we meet again...;-)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cottage Mama

While in Kansas, I enjoy visiting a wonderful quilt shop by the name of Prairie Point.  Not only does it have lovely fabric, but the people who work there are extremely kind and incredibly helpful.  One person who teaches there you might be familiar with if you are a quilter, Kathy Delaney.  She specializes in appliqué and is the author of some very fascinating and beautiful books that are published by Kansas City Star.  Her work is exquisite and I was honored to have her take the time to share her appliqué technique with me one afternoon.

On one of my last visits, I noticed an adorable romper on display and found that it was a Cottage Mama design.  After hearing that it was one of their more popular patterns, I decided to try it out for myself and was pleasantly surprised by her simple directions and how well the outfit came out.  This may be my first Cottage Mama pattern, but I can tell you now it won't be my last.  Another A...great for beginners!

I love that it is not only a reversible romper, but it looks incredibly sweet on.

And here's the little darlin':

A final note, please pray for Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham's daughter,  over the loss of her husband this past week.  I received an email this morning that I  now share with you.  Simply click onto Anne's name.  Thank you.

The Old Fashioned Baby

The Old Fashioned Baby is one of my favorite pattern companies.  I love the detail on her designs and it was probably one of the first of many heirloom patterns that I purchased years ago.  One of her patterns that I used over and over again, is the one pictured below.  Making those dresses was like stepping back in time.  I used Liberty of London fabric,  a *lawn fabric.... making it delightful to sew with, and giving each dress the vintage look that I was desiring.  If you have not worked with Liberty of London fabric, spoil's wonderful...and you'll probably want to make a blouse for yourself!  Handwork ideas, along with their patterns, are always included with each pattern packet and making piping by using contrast fabric sets these patterns apart.  I give The Old Fashioned Baby an A and great patterns to start with for heirloom sewing.

Forgive my one and only picture of this pattern but back in the day I didn't take pictures of all of the outfits that I made except for this one.  ;-)

The pattern: Now known as Maddie's Toddler Dress.

One of the many dresses that I made using this delightful pattern:

  1. Lawn cloth or lawn is a plain weave textile, originally of linen but now chiefly cotton. Lawn is designed using fine, high count yarns, which results in a silky, untextured feel. The fabric is made using either combed or carded yarns.
    Google lawn fabric for more ideas.  ;-)  Happy sewing!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Continuing On - Critiquing Patterns I Have Used, Izzy & Ivy

In the coming weeks, I thought I would review some of the many patterns that I have made or worked with over the many years that I have been sewing and share my honest opinion of how they worked out for me.  Some patterns, though cute, completely baffled me while others proved to be a joy to work with.  I have been one who can actually visualize an outfit, quilt, pillow, purse, etc. completely finished in my mind before I even start.  It has always surprised me as to how many people cannot do that.  For me, once I purchase a pattern, I can quickly find the exact fabric that I am looking for to get the look I already have pictured in my mind.  Working in a quilt shop was perfect for me and helping women who struggle in that area was a wonderful challenge that I relished.  I would spend as long as it took with every customer until she could visualize her quilt in her mind using the fabric that we picked out together.  I loved doing that!!  Back to my blog....

As far as children's garments are concerned, I have used, Kari Mecca, Izzy & Ivy, Children's Corner,  Favorite Things, Olive Ann Designs, The Old Fashioned Baby, Fiona Bell, Rob Merrett, Petite Poche, Janet Pray, Victoria Jones, etc., etc..  I can't even count all of the designers that I have used in the past.  That being said, I must confess that I rarely use the traditional pattern makers, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue,  Burda, etc., because I enjoy using someone different.  I don't dislike the traditional, I just love designs that are fun and unique.  The problem  that I have found in using many of the newer designer's patterns however is that many simply do not know how to write directions properly and many seamstresses out there get frustrated....including me.  In fact, if I were not a good seamstress on my own, I would have thrown the cute  designer pattern, fabric, and everything I purchased to go with it in the trash.  BUT...I can eventually figure out what the designer is striving to explain and move on, but for many out there, especially those newer sewers, it's nearly impossible.  Hence my reason for writing the next few post.

Yesterday I started with Martha Pullen, today I will talk about Izzy & Ivy.  I love their designs, I love how they include their label in the pattern, and I love the pictures on the front of their patterns.  It's all about marketing ladies.  HOWEVER, their instructions are very poor.  When I travel, I visit quilt shops and nice fabric shops to see what is new and popular.  In one very nice fabric shop in Lawrence, KS  I saw a little girl's mannequin with one of the Izzy & Ivy dresses that I had made in the past year. The store owner was nearby and we had a great discussion in regards to this particular pattern.  She shared that it was one of her most popular little girl patterns that she sells in her shop.  BUT because of the difficulty of the directions, she said that she felt as though she needed to give a class to those who purchased the pattern so that they could actually  complete the dress.  How sad.  I have made three Izzy & Ivy patterns, including the one that was on display.  My granddaughters absolutely loved the dresses that I made...but beware.  Unless they've changed, I give these patterns a C overall...and if you're new to sewing, wait awhile before trying these.

Here are the three patterns that I made:

This one is Macy Giggles.

The next two are Kayla Bubble.  (A side note here- as you can see, I did not bubble any of the dresses but simply hemmed them.  ALSO, you need to know how to wrap elastic thread in your bobbin as the entire back is elasticized....but so cute!)

This last one, the one that was on display in Kansas, is Beverly Belle.  This is not one for the weak of heart.  ;-)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Back...And Critiquing Patterns I Have Used In The Past

It has been far too long since my last post and lots has happened in my absence..including sewing! I thought I might do something different this time around.  I thought I would give a critique.... similar to what I have already done in past posts..... of the patterns that I use when making projects.   I am doing this for myself as well as for you so that I will remember what I especially liked and maybe didn't like when using that particular pattern. Are you ready?

First up is Martha Pullen.  I have had the wonderful privilege of attending several of Martha's schools and have loved every one of them.  If you ever get the opportunity to go,  take it..I will not be disappointed.  Over the many years that I have been using Martha's patterns, I have always found  her directions, techniques, and designs to be top notch. Recently I was licensed in  yet another of Martha's Schools, this one being "Children's Garment Construction".  Below are some of the projects that I have made... with more to come.  I give Martha's patterns an "A" overall with many great for beginners.  The only thing I found was that they tend to run a little big.  Having seventeen grandkids to far, I have my own built in models that I can try these clothes on thereby getting a good evaluation of size.  My granddaughters are tall, but very slim.  The dresses especially were a little large for them "around" their bodies, but laying that aside, my granddaughters LOVED these outfits...which is the most important thing to me anyhow.  Here is what I have made:

Even though it was way too big, my granddaughter just had to wear this when having a tea party with my daughter.  Pretty cute!

This is the little boy's shirt from the class too.  Easy to make and very classy looking I think.

Since returning home I was also able to get a quilt done for one of my newer grandsons.  As you know, I love putting 'minkie' on the back of my quilts for them and I chose the rosebud minkie for the back of this one.

Until next time!