Category Archives: This and that

Making space

Pretty soon I’ll be adding two more machines to my herd: a Singer 143W (with which I’ll be able to zigzag on leather using 138 thread!) and a Singer 112W (double-needle, needle-feed machine for leather). If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know space is getting pretty tight in the second sewing room! I already measured and discovered that my two file cabinets (where I store extra patterns) will fit into the walk-in closet of my exercise room so that’ll leave room for one new machine. Then, when I was unpacking my boots (which are stored in Jess’ old closet) I got the idea to move my little Merrow into the left side of closet. I cut the table down years ago so it’s small and there’s an outlet and light in the closet. The Merrow only does a perle edge so it’s one of those machines I’ll use every few months for 20 minutes or so and that’s it. I think she looks rather at home, don’t you?

merrow

And now I have space for a 2nd machine next to the window in the sewing room. I’m happy.

window

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Filed under Sewing Machines, This and that

Dyeing MOP Buttons

When I wanted to try dyeing MOP buttons for my silk blouse the first person I called was my friend Sharon. Sharon is very experienced with dyes and paints and dyed a bunch of plastic buttons a couple of years ago – yes, you can dye some plastic buttons too! She recommended I use Rit dye and experiment first with one button to check the color and time.

I used one cup of water with four capfuls of liquid dye in a small Corningware dish. I prefer to use a glass dish because it’s non-reactive. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Thread the button(s) on a string (I used some topstitching thread) and put into the mixture. I looped the thread around one of the dish’s handles so it wouldn’t completely fall into the liquid. I checked my button every 5 minutes. After 20 minutes I realized that this was going to take a very long time! But, by then I could already see that the color was going to work, I just needed to simmer it for a long time to get the saturation I wanted. I strung up the rest of my buttons (make sure you dye a few spares!) and simmered them for three hours. I turned off the stove and left them overnight when I went to bed.

The next morning, I decided to try to get them a bit darker so I started with a fresh batch of undiluted dye. After a couple of hours they finally looked good to me so I rinsed and hung them to dry. I can’t imagine that they will fade but we’ll see. Due to all of the gathers on my blouse I will probably dry clean it so I’ll let you all know how they hold up to those chemicals. Hopefully, they’ll be fine because I have a ton of men’s MOP shirt buttons and plans to make a few more silk blouses.

Because MOP buttons require such a long cooking time, I really recommend you use a dish with a lid. Not only does this prevent all of your liquid from evaporating, it also prevents the dye from getting into the air. It’s not just a little stinky, it can’t be too good to breathe in either. If you are going to be standing over the pot a lot I’d recommend a mask of some sort too. Most of my dying consists of quick jobs like lingerie elastic (which dyes in mere minutes) so it’s not been a problem before. I just wanted to mention it to you so that you can be prepared.

PS: Don’t forget that anything you use for dyeing should never be used for food again. I’m you already knew that but it bears repeating.

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Filed under This and that, Tutorials

Light Table

This is – or used to be – a sign that hung in my friend’s shop window advertising a brand of machine that he sells. He said this one hummed when it was on and so he was sent a replacement. He mentioned that these signs make great light tables once the cellophane is removed and asked if I wanted it. I didn’t hesitate! I have always wanted a light table but they are expensive and I wasn’t willing to spend a lot on something I need so rarely. I can’t even imagine what you’d pay for one this size – it’s 24″ square. UPDATE: A light table like this one in an 18″ x 24″ size is $399 at Dick Blick – yikes!

lightbox

Yes, it does hum after it’s been on for a few minutes but I can live with that – or I can just replace the ballast.

I’m off to get my nails done and then I’ll be chaining myself to my sewing machine for the rest of the day! My honey says I have a break in my sprinkler line under the black olive tree out back. He is going to come over and take care of that for me but promises he will not interrupt my sewing or ask for tuna melts. 🙂 He’s so sweet – I’ll just make the tuna ahead of time.

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Filed under This and that

Yep, I’m still here!

The last couple of weeks have been very busy so I just haven’t had the energy to write – or even do much to write about!

The green silk tunic is nearly done. I’m looking for some beads so that I can bead the edges to give the crinkled silk some weight.

I also finished the Layer Cake Quilt – photos of that later. Today I cut out all of the pieces for a large Drunkard’s Path quilt. It will be made entirely out of batik fabrics, 20 prints in all. Interestingly, the instructions (and every quilter and website out there) say to stitch with the convex piece on top. Hmm, as a garment sewer that makes no sense to me whatsoever! When I sew a Princess seam I always stitch with the concave section on top and curve it around the side panel. This is a real piece of cake when you’re working with a 1/4″ seam allowance! Am I missing something? There is even a foot marketed to quilters to help stitch these curved seams. I don’t get it so I will just sew the blocks my way – no pins, no marking.

curve1

curve2

curve3

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Filed under misc., Quilting, This and that

Bad sewing

I was really looking forward to finishing the Kimono Dress today but ended up hemming a big pile of pants for the coaches of my alma mater’s football team instead. How did this happen, you ask? Well, a couple of months ago The Boyfriend called me from school and said they wanted to order some pants from Nike that were only available unhemmed. Since the pants would not arrive until the week before their game in Cincinnati (the Herbstreit Classic if you follow high school football) next Saturday they were wondering if I’d be willing and able to hem them all. No small job with a 17-man coaching staff! Of course I couldn’t say no, with the exception of The Boyfriend most of these coaches have been there since I was a student more years ago than I care to admit. All I can say is thank goodness I have the blindstitch machine!

pants

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Filed under This and that

Silk Jersey Top – Finished!

Warning, a lot of F-bombs were dropped in the making of this top. Not to worry, no one heard me. I know what you’re thinking: that silk jersey was a bear to work with, right? Actually, the silk jersey was a joy to sew. It was the !/?#**! stretch satin that I used for the (uncorded) piping that caused me so much grief! I decided that the main print needed some sort of “border” to set it off so I started searching through my stash for a suitable black fabric. In my binding bin I found an 1/8 of a yard of black polyester stretch satin, obviously bought specifically for this purpose.

Sure, it looked innocent enough but it was horrible to work with necessitating a lot of reverse sewing. In my frustration I decided to handbaste (shocking, isn’t it?) the piping because surely this would result in perfection, right? Wrong! It seemed that no amount of pressing or basting could tame this beast. I spent so much time ripping and resewing the sleeve piping on what should have been a quick project. There are still a couple of areas on the underside that look a little wonky but I decided that enough was enough. No one is going to notice! Shoot, I probably won’t even notice. Funny enough, the neckline facing went smoothly. If I had anymore of this awful stuff I would promptly toss it in the trash!

So, finally, here it is. Once I get over my trauma I know I will love this and wear it often. I think the fabric really makes it.

kimono

Neckline detail. I cut the facings on the bias for interest.

kimononeckline

I used the Coats & Clark Fine thread on this project. You can see how fine it is here.

kimononecklinedetail

I did enjoy watching the first season of The Tudors while I was sewing. I picked it up on a whim a few months ago and just started watching it this week. I am hooked! I can’t wait until Season 2 comes out on DVD (October 2008 ) so I can catch up before Season 3 starts.

tudors

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Filed under Fabric, This and that

Button magnets

I’m not into crafts (rather be sewing!) but today I made magnets out of vintage Patrick Kelly buttons! You see, I bought a magnetic bulletin board at my friend Bonnie’s garage sale last year. I finally hung it next to my desk a couple of weeks ago but had no magnets for it. I was going to make these great magnets from Not Martha but they were just too involved for me. Then I came across a bag of these buttons that I’d purchased on Ebay a couple of years ago and voila! in less than 5 minutes I had some cute sewing-themed magnets. You can buy magnetic discs at Michael’s. I used the 1/2″ ones and some E-6000 glue to attach the buttons.

magnets

If you want to hang cards or larger photos I’d recommend the 3/4″ discs as they are stronger than the 1/2″ ones.

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Filed under This and that