30 July 2011

Try, try again

As y'all recall, I abandoned the first version of the latest cross stitch design after noticing too many counting errors, and mentioned I would redo it with different colors.  I didn't goo too different on the colors - instead of black and red I used dark grey and pink ... and managed to stitch it out without any (*permanent*) errors this time!
cross stitch counted right this time
Everything lined up this time ... although I will confess I had to pull some out and redo.  However this is an improvement to not noticing the counting errors until it was too late to fix.

So now I am up to four completed squares, although the first one is smaller than the other three.  My idea was originally to do up a small wall hanging with four designs mounted on some cotton muslin ... but that was before Hancock put even more of the small kits on the clearance table for only $1 each.  Now I am wondering if I should do up nine total ... although next I want to start a small band sampler for borders of different heights.

It's been a cross stitch week for me, not only because I felt so determined to do this design correctly, but because I have sounded like a bowl of Rice Crispies ("Snap-Crackle-Pop") pretty much all week.  I do have a sewing project ready to cut after trimming the pattern and picking out the mockup fabric ... I just haven't felt up to cutting it out yet.  So, once again, I am saying: "Hopefully tomorrow!"

Now for the close-up of the latest cross stitch for those interested:
Cross stitch - it reminds me of wrought iron

26 July 2011

Cross stitch ain't always easy

... and I take back what I said in chat about counted cross stitch being more forgiving than freestyle/surface embroidery now.  Even threatening to take my socks off to count (since all my fingers are busy with cloth, needle, and floss) didn't help on this project.  I managed to pick a design even more intricate than the thistle flowers on my English rose design ... and while I messed up one corner design I figured I could just get the other three right.  Oopsie!

Here's the pic of the piece I am abandoning due to multiple mistakes (marked by red "X"s)
multiple counting errors in cross stitch
So I have a new square of Aida cloth hooped up to start this one all over.  I am going to use different colors, as I discovered I don't have as much black floss as I thought in all these clearance cross stitch kits.  Hopefully I get this new version counted correctly, because I really do like the design and want an example/sample of it.

Since I call my mistakes "learning opportunities" what have I learned other than counted cross stitch isn't always easy?

  1. I need to stick to easier designs when on my good pain meds.
  2. Dark color charts are difficult to read ... I may need to get one of those magnetic boards with a line bar magnet to keep track of where I am on it.
  3. On difficult or dark (or both) charts I should probably count three times instead of two.  Then again, even that doesn't help when I accidentally skip a line.
  4. Definitely let the floss untwist more ... those twist-tangle knots are extremely irritating.
On the bright side, I received my own copy of The Embroidery Stitch Bible.  I like it enough to buy one, and returned the library's copy yesterday while renewing the Elizabethan Cross Stitch design book I am working out of.  I checked out another embroidery reference book to peruse, Embroidery Techniques & Patterns by Marie-Noelle Bayard.  So far I've only skimmed the table of contents, so no opinion on the actual book yet.  If any of y'all have it or have read it, I'd be interested in your opinions of it.

Now to choose a color I have a lot of on hand this time ...

24 July 2011

Renaissance flat cap S4059

Feeling good today and trying to make up for a week of no sewing ... the flat cap from the Simplicity 4059 (men's costume) has been both cut and sewn!  Y'all will recall I made the doublet for my friend the history professor to wear the Ren Faire this year, but didn't get to the hat ... now it's done and I need to call him up and have him look over my small ribbon stash to see if anything tickles his fancy since I used up the Christmas-green velvet ribbon on the doublet trim.  Here's the plain Jane version:
Simplicity 4059 Renaissance flat cap
If he doesn't have a feather plume suitably fancy enough, there is a vendor who has been there every year I've gone who sells hat feathers on pins (versus the "cut a slit" method the pattern recommends!).

Folks, don't fear making a flat cap - they are super-simple.  About the only style easier would be a beret, which is so similar in both pieces and construction they ought to be related.  Two pattern pieces, a handful of seams, and you are done.

Now ... about the pattern and instructions ... "one size"?  Really, Simplicity?  And that "one size" is snug on me??  I just made up the medium in the Vogue hat yesterday ... so I don't have a large head by men's standards.  In fact, my army soft cap was a little size 6-7/8!  It's a good thing I not only had my friend's head circumference measurement, but also my own.  I had to sew the brim-to-crown seam three times before I had it big enough, using "ye olde tryal-ande-err" method.  It's now a size too big for me, which should fit my friend just perfectly.

Oh yeah, that reminds me.  Flat caps were not only worn by men, especially by Elizabethan times.  Women wore them also!  I have my red one, and since it's snug plus the construction method ... I strongly suspect it was made from this pattern.

Wearing V8405 sunhat and test hatband

OK, I have a pic of me wearing my new linen Vogue 8405 view C sunhat now.  And a test hatband for it (this is only a test):
Vogue 8405 view C sun hat
As many of y'all know, I tend to regard pattern "instructions" as more like suggestions ... so no big surprise when I ignored the call for interfacing and used buckram in the crown, top, and back brim ... then used 14 count Aida cloth when I ran out of buckram and Hancock's was also out.  Then, I ignored it's instructions to fasten down the hatband with the button.  Instead, I put the button on first this morning, and after hunting through my small ribbon collection without satisfactory result, grabbed some satin blanket binding, eyeballed the length (no way this hat needs a whole yard of ribbon!) and put a buttonhole on each end so I now have the ability to change out hatbands.  It's a good thing - the blanket binding is a bit too wide (whereas all my 1/2 inch ribbon is too narrow!).  I'll be digging into the scrap bag to find some more suitable hatband fabrics ... I'm pretty sure I have enough of the light pink linen/cotton from last year.  Plus there is the leftover silk charmeuse from my tunic.

Overall, I am happy with it, even though my teenage son keeps saying it looks like an Amish bonnet (HA!).  And now for a pic of just how short of a haircut I got this past Tuesday:
Yeah, I cut it way short!
This is as good as the pics get while it's still morning here.  LOL  Now hubby wants a hat to go along with the shirts I still haven't cut out this summer (yet!!).

23 July 2011

Vogue 8405 Sunhat

I didn't want to say anything all day because I didn't want to jinx myself ... but I've been sewing today!!  WooooHOOOOO!  Now that I've finally had the chance to sit down in front of a machine, the hat went together rather quickly.  Well, up until the part where I hand-sewed the lining into it.  Hubby isn't inclined to snap a pic tonight ("It's called a SUNhat, right?  So you need sunlight.") so here it is on my styrofoam head ... which I have been referring to as "Max" lately (yes, as in Headroom).
Vogue 8405 view C sunhat
More tomorrow, including pics of my new short haircut.

22 July 2011

Still cross-stitching instead of sewing

Since hubby got off work early, we combined errands ... and now I'm wiped out again.  I could have sworn the temp hit triple digits while we were out, but the weather page is saying only the heat index did.  So instead of pulling out a sewing machine, I finished up my current cross stitch:
Strawberries motif cross stitch
This one is page 94 in Elizabethan Cross Stitch by Hammet, and the other night while surfing around I stumbled on the original it is based on ... the pattern apparently was first published in 1598 in the Jane Bostocke Sampler and was a blackwork design.  Nice webpage on it here, with the blackwork pattern plus a modern stitching of it.

I made a counting error in the top left leaf, but that is mostly covered up by the second green which does not have enough contrast (second oopsie).  So I left two of the leaves "open" ... and as luck has it, those two were done right.

On the same page as this strawberry motif is a very similar design with acorns and oak leaves.  I'm tempted to do that one up also.

I have declared tomorrow a sewing day, because as I was out and about bareheaded today I realized just how badly I need another sunhat with my hair cut short.  Hubby is also wanting a lay-about-the-house day where we don't hassle with errands ... so I may finally break out a machine.

Oops, one more pic of the strawberries, a little larger for Gloria:
Elizabethan era strawberries motif

21 July 2011

Still no sewing

I'm beginning to think I need to hide out in the Witness Protection Program just to get some quality time with my sewing machine.  Before I get rolling on my vent about this, I should note that I have been going great guns on the latest cross stitch project in the evenings and a bit in the morning while chugging down coffee, so there IS a needle moving this week ... just not any of the ones loaded into any of my machines.

So Monday I hinted at some "life" happening ... an appliance I ordered online was scheduled to be delivered in the afternoon so I couldn't leave the house until that was taken care of.  About an hour after getting the call to schedule a delivery window, my son came home and announced my car now had a flat tire.  *Sigh*  Once the portable dishwasher was inside and out of its box, hubby came home to change the tire, and we discovered a jagged hole in the sidewall of the flat.  This was of course after many tire places were closed.

So I spent Tuesday afternoon getting new tires on the front of my car.  While waiting, I got my hair cut short.  I still don't have a pic of it yet - hopefully tomorrow.

Wednesday afternoon and early evening involved braving Crashville traffic to pick my friend up from the airport ... with his flight scheduled to land during the rush hours.  I've never understood why it's called "rush hour" when even the interstate traffic is often at a complete stop!  I took my cross stitch with me in case his flight was delayed (it wasn't though).

As for today, we just spent another six hours trying to locate a car for my friend after the sudden demise of his last car right before his vacation.  This is on top of five hours of car hunting before he left on his trip.  I never thought I'd see the day when it is a challenge to find an ugly-but-running small beater car for daily driving - especially in this army post and college town where there are arguably as many used car lots as there are bars!  It may have been quicker to locate hens' teeth ... but we finally accomplished the mission, just in time to get soaked in one of our infamous summer squall thunderstorms.

Tomorrow I only have two errands planned, with a third as "maybe" ... so hope springs eternal that I will FINALLY get to sew together the sunhat pieces.  I really do want to get it sewn up, as right now my only sunhat is a screamingly obvious "Florida tourist!" one that I had to buy down in St Augustine, Florida once I realized just sunscreen wasn't keeping me from sunburning.

Cross your fingers and knock (or touch) on wood that I can finally power up one of my sewing machines.

18 July 2011

Elizabethan rose cross stitch done

Not what I planned to post up as finished, but here it is:
Elizabethan rose cross stitch design
Obviously I made no progress on the sunhat idea.  A whole lot of life got in the way today, along with my back still acting up.  I can always hope for tomorrow to sew ...

Just for the observant (and history geeks!  LOL) this isn't quite a Tudor rose.  The Tudor rose has a white inner rose with the red outer rose.  On top of that, I just couldn't do red thistles like the book showed ... to my USA-born and raised eyes, thistle flowers should be a light purple/lavender color.  The first thistle flower was a challenge, but they did get easier and faster to do.

Time for a sunhat!

I've hinted at a new sewing project, and yesterday managed to get all but one piece cut out of my most recently "wild hair" inspired adventure: I am making a sunhat out of the linen leftovers from my shorts I made in May.  After much debate about which style (fedora versus sunhat) I then had to choose a pattern ... I probably have too many hat patterns but I do love hats.  I chose Vogue 8405, view C:
Vogue 8405 view C in grey linen
So I am still one piece shy of starting to sew ... because I ran out of buckram!  So I hit Hancock's this morning ... and they are out of buckram.  To add insult to injury, they've been out for a couple weeks and the computer system still has not ordered more!  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??  Is there no manual override on this automated ordering system??

Aida cloth was suggested as a substitute (after I flatly rejected heavy craft interfacing) and they did still have some ivory-colored Aida by the yard ...that was NOT on the utility fabrics shelf last time I looked at it!  So I snagged 2 yards of the 60 inch wide Aida.  Even if it doesn't work for the hat brim, I can still cross stitch on it.

Question time: Does anyone have a decent source for hat buckram?

17 July 2011

In-progress cross stitch Elizabethan rose design

So yesterday I was playing with my new iron, some linen, and pattern tissue.  I took a break after lunch to run an errand to WalMart, intentionally going the one that is located two blocks from Hancock's Fabrics, with the goal of scoring all the rest of the $1 clearance cross stitch kits like the one I had already stitched up.  After completing the dreaded WM run, I headed into Hancock's, and was delighted to see a local unadvertised sale flyer as I walked in ... not many things make me happier than to see a better sale on the stuff I am going in to peruse!

While leaning over to inspect items on the bottom hang rack (barely a foot off the floor) I moved wrong and my back started hurting.  Oops.  I didn't even spend 20 minutes inside Hancock ... which was pointed out to me at the register.  Returning home, I hit the pain meds and waited for them to kick in ... and waited ...

As I mentioned in my previous cross stitch post, hand embroidery is something I can do when my back is acting up.  Since my meds didn't kick in enough to return to linen and pattern tissue, here is an in-progress pic of what I accomplished yesterday evening:
Elizabethan rose cross stitch design in progress
What you see is page 93 of the Elizabethan Cross Stitch book I checked out from my local library.  Since there is a limit to how many times I can renew it, and we are planning large nonsewing projects for the house instead of hobby purchases, I am going to attempt to work all the designs in this book that I like and keep them on hand as samplers ... the historic purpose of samplers.  I'll probably transform these small ones into a wall hanging, incorporating the decorative purpose of samplers into it ... but my goal is to have the patterns on hand to work from after the book of patterns is returned (and someone else grabs it up).  Meanwhile, to relatives and close friends reading this: This book is on my wishlist for the holiday and birthday season!

Along with pretty motifs, there are also border patterns that I will make into a traditional band sampler, and be able to use on future garb projects.  There's even some lovely Elizabethan blackwork patterns, which was used for fancy smocks and shirts.  Those are definitely "must-have" for when I get to a really fancy outfit like a court gown!  I haven't even begun to intentionally brainstorm on garb uses for these designs yet ... just trying to get ones I really like onto Aida cloth for future reference right now.

The good news is today my back is feeling good again, so it's back to playing with linen and patterns ... I'll post something on that project later on as I don't want to interrupt the mojo too much for this afternoon.  I'd like to achieve some progress, as it's been a while since I've posted a completed sewing project!

16 July 2011

Black & Decker F210 iron initial review

I just pulled out my new little Black & Decker F210 iron after my previous B&D iron (that I bought back when I was at Fort Gordon!) started acting goofy.  I had a few reservations after reading the reviews of this on Amazon, but was also confused as it didn't sound like most were reviewing the product described!  OK, so here is MY review of this.
Black & Decker F210 variable steam iron
(Yeah, yeah ... I need to wash my ironing board cover ...)  When I first pulled it out of its box, I did something strange and read the instructions that came with it (*gasp! shock!!  Teh HORRORZ!!11!*) to see if there was anything special for set-up.  Just the usual notes about not putting too many appliances on one circuit, standard polarized plug routine, and the note to use regular tap water without any in-home processing (water softeners?).  A couple good things about after you are done using: unplug and empty the water tank after it cools.

It has two dials - one for "fabric selection" a.k.a. temperature setting, and another for steam selection from dry up to full steam.  I likey!  There is also a little light that lets you know the iron is in the process of heating, and that kept popping on and off as I ironed a piece of linen.  When I set it on its heel to move the linen on the ironing board, I could hear it hiss a bit as some water was responding to gravity, but did not see any on the sole plate.

After ironing my linen fabric ... I went to the other extreme and started ironing pattern tissue!  The iron had the opportunity to cool completely which I went hunting for the right pattern envelopes, so it was starting back up from zero.  I set it to no steam and below the first "fabric" setting ... yes, you can do that with this one!  One of the big complaints over in the Amazon reviews was that this model leaks no matter what setting it's on ... mine doesn't.  The pattern tissue would have certainly showed even the tiniest leak.  None ... mine does not leak.

I do have one little quibble with this iron - it's extremely lightweight.  No more letting the weight of the iron do the fusible interfacing work for me, because there is barely any weight there.  Other than that, my first time using this baby has been positive.  If my opinion changes with more use, I'll be sure to post up about it.

13 July 2011

Cross stitch and hand embroidery

Maggie has been waiting (im)patiently for this post for the past couple days, because she is still floored by the idea of me doing hand embroidery when I just don't like hand-sewing in general.  But earlier this week (or was it the end of last week?) I hit my local library in search of fitting books, since I do need visual help with that, and stumbled on more textile craft books than you can shake a stick at.  That combined with a massive clearance sale on needle arts supplies at Hancock have nudged me back into this idea ... and let's just admit that my embroidery machine is the high-tech way of mimicking hand embroidery.  Ok, ok ... the pic:
Cross stitch - Tudor period design
That is my little piece of "Can I still do this after all these years?" cross stitch and page 88 of Elizabethan Cross Stitch by Barbara Hammet ... which is a truly inspiring book for a Ren Faire geek like me!  All the designed are sourced to extent originals, including a large sampler.  Given its price tag, check your local library first.

I used to do counted cross stitch, after graduating from plastic canvas needlepoint and what is apparently called "surface embroidery" as a kid.  The last time I can remember doing cross stitch was either my freshman or sophomore year in high school, when I drew a design onto graph paper to make my own.  I chose something small ... mostly because the kit I picked up off the clearance table for $1 had a 3x3 inch aida cloth and a little hoop/frame.  If I had bought the hoop by itself, it would have cost me $3 ... instead I got cloth, floss, hoop, and even a needle in one cute little kid's pack.  Have I ever mentioned just how much I love a good clearance sale?

Now for another local library find: The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden.  This one does not appear to contain any patterns or designs - just all the different stitches.  A whole lot of them ... more than I knew about, that is for sure!  Even better: the version my library has is hardback spiral-bound, so it will lay flat open to easily refer to while both hands are holding cloth and needle.  It has both how-to diagrams as well as pictures of what the finished work should look like, great for visually-oriented folks.

Now, for the truly important question: How many times can I renew these books before my local library says I must turn them back in?  LOL

Last note on the whole "I can't believe she's hand embroidering" bit ... when my back acts up, I cannot even sit in front of my sewing machine (much less cut anything out!) so if I want to get any progress on those days, it's hand-work in my ergonomic computer chair or nothing.  Of course, the big trick is how to keep my embroidery floss away from my nosy cats.

For those of y'all who want some immediate gratification, I have an awesome link: Needlework Tips & Techniques.  It doesn't have as many stitches as the little "stitch bible" but it does have quite a bit, including some free patterns to download and print for those of y'all who can keep a printer working.

(Amazon link note: Yes, I am an affiliate and have been for about a decade now.  I get 1-2% commission on Amazon purchases made through my links ... given the price tags on several of the books on my wishlist, I could use all the help I can get!)

12 July 2011

Fabrics out of season

So, it's been ugly-hot this week, with temperatures in the mid-90s (Fahrenheit) and relative humidity close to that.  There's even an "Extreme Heat Warning" in effect this week according to the radio.  So ... what does my friendly USPS carrier bring me today?  A FabricMart box with ... two new wools!
two new wools from FM
The top one - blue and cream houndstooth Shetland wool - is a repeat order, since I now have a real 1975 coat pattern that is just begging me for a houndstooth fabric.  The bonus is this time it was a dollar less per yard than the January sale on Shetland wools.

The bottom one was a couldn't-resist wool suiting, and WOW is it soft feeling!  It's definitely a heavier, fall/winter suiting, and I adore the stripes in addition to the colors.  Note to self: Start working on the blazer/suit jacket idea.

This morning, I declared today to be a "slug day" where I wasn't intending to even get dressed, just lay about the house like a slug.  I accomplished this ... not much else, but after all the road-tripping and errands I've been doing the past 4 or 5 days I needed it.  I briefly thought about pulling out fabric and pattern tissue, but that sounded like too much effort.  I have been working on a slow-hand-embroidery project, and do owe maggie a post on that ... but I am so close to done I'll wait until tomorrow for it.

08 July 2011

Stitchin' it Old School

I figured today's "little" project would be easy once I got everything set up ... I thought wrong.  Last night I tucked Camster into her cabinet and folded it up, which makes it easy to see how she spent a year impersonating an end table, then broke out Timex, my ridiculously sturdy $80 WalMart Brother LX-3125.
Timex, my Brother LX-3125 mechanical
Timex is so named simply because he survived my first six months of sewing.  This is the little mechanical that could ... sew through poly boning both length-ways and cross-ways, go through an entire Elizabethan corset corded with hemp craft cord, and plow through through five layers of heavy drapery for my pirate coat.  I treated this poor little bottom-of-the-line plastic machine as if it was a heavy-duty industrial model ... and it still sews.  But this morning, Timex met his match ... my son's "papa-san" chair.

I tried to sew using upholstery thread, a topstitching needle ... and probably too many layers of fabric.  So I am resorting to hand-stitching this thing back together.  When I was up in Indiana, I managed to find a pair of Machingers gloves recommended to me a few months ago by Nay, an avid quilter who also has done bridal sewing and gave me all kinds of useful advice on sewing my silk charmeuse tunic.  These do help grip the needle for pulling it through the layers, but don't protect me from accidentally putting the needle point up and under my thumbnail.

So I have one corner fixed, halfway through the other, and still one more to go.  Then I have the fun of putting the "pillows" pieces back in right.

Something unusual from last night: my usually camera-shy Cuddle Kitty posed just long enough for me to snap a pic of him.  This time, he wasn't posing on the new Camster cabinet (I have been shooing him and the Terrorist Kitty off that cabinet since I set it up!) or a pile of fabric.  So I now have a cute pic of my only skinny cat:
my camera-shy Cuddle Kitty
Now y'all know where the darker cat hair comes from ...

07 July 2011

Another use for scraps

Nothing pretty here ... no sewing involved .... but extremely utilitarian!  In fact, I have just reduced my bag of fleece scraps by at least 75%.

Remember my (miraculously undamaged) beautiful blue glass dishes rediscovered at Mom's?  Last night I washed them up after noticing how much newspaper ink had smudged onto them, and knew I had to pack them back up today but certainly didn't want to wrap them in the inked newspapers again.  Enter the scrap bag to the rescue!
small fleece scraps between bowls

medium fleece scraps between plates, with cotton gauze scrap for wrap

fleece and cotton gauze scraps will keep newspaper print off my dishes!
Right this second, I am feeling brilliant here.  Just think:

  • Extra padding for breakable glass dish set
  • The newspaper ink can't get to the dishes
  • I am down to just 5 large fleece scrap pieces now!
I still reserve the right to change my mind about this later ... but it does seem like a good use for those fleece scraps that are too big to throw away but leave you scratching your head when pondering just what to do with them.

More old patterns from Mom

Morning: coffee, cereal ... and sorting old patterns in the box from Mom.  Sounds like a decent start to a day to me!  I already informed hubby I will run no errands and do very little housework today, because today I shall play with sewing stuff.

Here are pics of the rest of the garment patterns from the box, first women's:
Misses/unisex patterns ranging from 1975 to 2005
As noted in the caption, the oldest is from 1975, and the newest from 2005.  I'm torn about which I want to do up first from this group: the 1975 jeans and matching handbag or that drapey tunic pattern from 2003 (think silk charmeuese again!).  The big problem with the 1975 jeans pattern is it has been used ... and the cut pieces were stapled to the instructions to keep from losing them.  There's also the "WooHOO!" factor in having a real 1987 boyfriend jacket pattern.

Now, the men's patterns:
Men's/unisex patterns, 1971 to ???
Those two Kwik Sew patterns are undated, but between the style on the shirt ("beach jacket") and the prices (!!) I am going to guess mid-1970s.  Seriously ... Kwik Sews for $1.25 and $2.50??  As for the amount of garment selection ... these are all post-style period for guys for the most part.  Not a funky or disco one in the bunch.  Dad wasn't cutting/bleeding edge stylish in those days, but he wasn't that conservative either.  I'm wondering if the trendier mid- to late-70s patterns died in the basement flood a few years back.  I could have had some real fun with some of the collar styles I remember my dad wearing (and there are pictures in the family to prove it!).

There is still one more small stack of old patterns from the box ... all missing their envelopes ... not garments at all ... but those definitely get their own post.

Meanwhile, I need to think of how to remove that staple from the 1975 jeans pattern without tearing anything. Added bonus: I have almost unpacked and put enough away to reach my embroidery machine again!  It's whispering to me again about how it wants to come out and play ....

06 July 2011

RIP my Trusty iron

It's been a good run, but something is wrong with my trusty old Black & Decker Quick & Easy 300 iron that I bought in the spring of 1998 at the Fort Gordon, Georgia PX for only about $20.  It's not steaming right, and the water tank won't fill right ... it runs out the steam holes in the plate immediately.  I'd say I got my money's worth out of it!
Trusty B&D iron, 1998-2011
While at Lowes last night, I spotted another Black & Decker iron, and popped it into the cart.  This was after our excursion to Hobby Lobby and then Home Depot, where we walked most of the store trying to find stuff for nonsewing projects and left empty-handed.  So I was kind of tired by the time we got to the small home appliance aisle in Lowes ... and didn't notice this until this morning:
Eek!  Auto-shutoff on this iron!!
I DESPISE auto-shutoff on irons!!  And with only a 30-second window on the using angle ... oh **** no!  This is going back in a few minutes, unopened.  I'm just glad I noticed before opening the box, as I can see myself cussing and throwing a hairy cat fit every time it decides to shut itself off as I am interfacing a low-temp fabric like rayon or silk.

Since this one was the only Black & Decker model on the shelf last night, I went surfing online.  I guess we sewists are a tiny minority of iron buyers ... most of the B&D models have that extremely annoying feature.  However, I found the perfect model ... and am puzzled that it is also one of the lowest-priced ones.  Here is the Amazon link for it:
With that, I do need to mention I found a lower price from Black & Decker's website, especially after checking retailmenot's page.  So, I ordered two of these cute little very useful sounding irons.  I'm including all links here for anyone who may have Amazon gift certificates or special codes for that site.

This leaves me without the steam portion of my iron until FedEx brings me my two little irons.  I'm really excited about the temp light feature which will let me know when it has heated to the right setting.  And a dial-a-steam knob?  Sounds like exactly what I need!  If it works as I am hoping, I will be able to do high dry heat without needing to empty the tank first ... which may have contributed to the demise of "Trusty".

So ... am I the only one who thinks it beyond strange that the iron that has all the features I want - and definitely does NOT have the feature I hate - is also the lowest priced model on the manufacturer's site?  Maybe I am just weird (okay, we all know I am, but still!).  I am definitely not complaining about getting two of what I want for the price of the one I am returning (not counting shipping) ... but it does seem a bit odd to me.

Since I can't do wool, cotton, or linen without the steam settings, I guess this means I have no excuse for not playing with my rayon challis for about a week!

05 July 2011

Lovely wool gifts from Mom

I am still working through the loot brought back from Indiana ... and alongside the fleece piece that came back are a couple of new-to-me wools Mom has had tucked away for years.  Both of these are truly impressive in different ways.

First up, the mostly-constructed wool ... Mom says she was making this as a custom order from a lady back in the 80s, but after the lady needed some alterations ... it has hung up in her basement/sewing room with the bottom hem and underams unstitched to add gussets.  When I mentioned pattern sizes (plus pattern alterations I need to learn) Mom directed me to where it was and said if it fits me I can have it:
Wool blazer, almost finished
When I first looked at it, I thought it had been purchased retail and just needed altering.  Mom corrected this: she made it to the pattern (she doesn't remember which pattern) and then the lady wanted more room to move her arms.  What threw me off were the tags inside the jacket, which Mom says came with the wool itself.  Along with the "Dry Clean Only" tag, there is a large flat one below the back of the collar that says
"Hand tailored from
Pembleton Woolens
Pembleton Woolen Mills
Pembleton, Oregon
100% virgin wool
Made in USA"
A quick bit of Googling shows they are still in business, still in Oregon, still sell yardage of wool fabrics ... and are still considered high-end.  Along with the "wow" factor on this nice fabric, all I need to do is sew three seams to have a really wow fancy wool blazer.  This gives me a reason to actually look forward to cooler fall weather!

As "wow" as the blazer is ... Mom really floored me when after she saw my pics of the Stewart wool vest I made in January, she asked if I would like a pink plaid wool.  Those are three words I love, all said in one breath!  Pink.  Plaid.  Wool.  Even that didn't prepare me for what she pulled out of her closet:
Pink plaid wool from 1966 or 1967
That isn't a "retro" looking wool ... it's the real thing from when Mom was still in high school!  Mom says Grandma bought it for her, then carefully preshrunk it and then just as carefully pinned the stripes together so they wouldn't shift.  There's two yards of it, and Mom said she just never could make up her mind what to make from it, and didn't want to cut it until she was sure.  Mom says she thinks it would do Grandma proud if I made something from it, even though it was purchased before I was ever thought of.  Right now, I am leaning towards the idea of making a late 50s/early 60s style jumper with it, but I intend to take my time on the idea.  I'm also open to suggestions.

Aren't these two wool pieces inspiring?

04 July 2011

Kenmore 148.12190 anchor

This morning I mentioned my (new-to-me) Kenmore 1803 Camster wasn't the heaviest thing to follow me home from Indiana ... even with its lovely wood cabinet.  Let me introduce y'all to my heaviest aircraft carrier anchor ... err .. sewing machine.  Interestingly enough, it's also the one I have technically owned the longest.
Kenmore 148.12190 sewing Anchor
Yes, I have indeed named this poor bedraggled machine "the Anchor" just as the other sleek and beautiful Kenmore 1803 is officially now named "the Camster".  (Wait until I introduce Timex ...)  I managed to clean off the surface ick enough to snap a pic, but there will be no sewing until it gets an official inner clean and servicing.  Honestly, I cannot recall sewing on this thing for at least twenty years.

Yeah, twenty years ... my Mom brought this home for my tenth birthday back in 1983 when it was traded in at the Sears store she worked at and none of the other employees were interested in it.  Mom says two things about that: 1) She only paid $5 for it at the time, and 2) I was (once again) disappointed because it was not the horse I asked for each year starting with my 5th birthday.  My comment to Mom today was that at the time she gave it to me, the Anchor weighed more than I did.  After she had a good laugh at that, Mom agreed.

By some strange twist of fate, this has to be the clearest pic I've posted in quite a while here ... for a machine given to me 28 years ago and has been missing/misplaced/hiding for at least the last dozen years.

When I remarked to Mom over the phone today about how amazing I find it that both the Camster and the Anchor were sitting in Sears store at the same time, Mom informed me that the Camster was considered top-of-the-line at that time ... while the Anchor was considered low-end ("bottom-of-the-line") and their prices were inversely related to their weights.

Oh last note: Mom couldn't recall who made the "148." machines ... so I googled.  Then I tried Bing, Yahoo, and even Wikipedia out of desperation.  Finally got an answer over at PatternReview's message board from member FrBasil, who informs me that a company called Soryu made it for the Kenmore brand.  Another public thank you for that!

Hey Google: Soryu manufactured the 148.12190 for Kenmore.  I'm still peeved that I couldn't find that out just by googling no matter what search phrase I tried ...

So between the three of us 1973 year models ... the Anchor is definitely still the worse for the wear.  The Camster still looks the best for her age.  And I am somewhere in the middle of the two.  LOL

In-cabinet Kenmore 1803 Cam-ster

I finally got it some floor space and set it up and got a somewhat-clear (for me!) photo ... so here she is ... the largest piece of loot brought home from Indiana (although not the heaviest - that is another post).  This little beauty is from Dad's wife, not Mom ... Mom would have never given this up as she had one back in the 1970s that she loved and had stolen out of her car.  A pic for the visually inclined ... then a typical wall-of-text to tell the story:
In-cabinet Kenmore 1803 with most of its accessories
Isn't she pretty?  Dad's wife found her at a garage sale over a year ago, minus cams and a few accessories, told it didn't work anymore, but the manual and most of the feet came with her in the cabinet which is in beautiful condition.  Now, for the part that will make most of us eat our spleen with envy ... she got it for only ten dollars!  Afterwards, she took it in for a service and tune-up, after which the "Kenny" worked again.  So, price at garage sale plus $40 for servicing ... still only $50 in this beauty ... and when she told me about it last year when I was up there I am sure I turned a sickly bile green because somehow I never seem to hit the right garage sales to find something like this.

When I mentioned to Mom someone I knew had a 1803 but not the cams ... Mom spent a total of 4 minutes digging up the box of cams for it.  So last June when I took the cams over, I told Dad and his wife that if it didn't get used in a year's time I would claim the machine.  And so it came home with me this year, after about 54 weeks of serving as a pretty end table because it folds up so neatly into the perfect size for that.

The handwriting on the front of the manual includes the date "1973" so that means this lovely machine is as old as I am.  Mom was in Kentucky and southern Indiana that year ... but it is possible that Mom had the original owner of this machine in one of her sewing classes at Sears a few years later if she kept coming to classes.

I've had to promise Mom I will read the manual before attempting to sew on this old cam-ster, so that will need to wait until the rest of the loot is unpacked and put away.  If it runs as good as it looks, Mom says I will absolutely love its stitching.  She loved hers up until she got the then-new 1914 to replace hers (which she still uses regularly).  Oh, the official model number handwritten on the front of the manual says 158.18032 ... which Mom informs me means it was manufactured by Brother .... which keeps up my "Band of Brothers" motif in machines.

03 July 2011

Out-of-Print fleece patterns from Mom

Now I have finally gotten to the sewing-related gifts from Mom.  Here it is 95F outside ... and I am pulling out fleece patterns Mom gave me.  Oh, and the piece of plaid fleece that I gifted Mom with back in December - it came back home with me as Mom has finally decided what she wants made from it!  And it isn't one of these patterns:
OOP fleece patterns from Mom
If you can hear in the back of your mind the old Sesame Street ditty "One of these things is not like the others ... One of these things just doesn't belong ..." then you've probably noticed one of these patterns sticks out like a sore thumb, and probably isn't intended for this kind of fleece!  Actually, both patterns in the top row get a closer mention from me, for different reasons.
NL 6790: what year(s)?  S7123 is almost as old as I am!
First, the New Look 6790 ... I cannot find a copyright date on the envelope or in the instructions ... and can't find run dates for it when Googling.  It's been out of print long enough for NL to reissue the number though.  It looks close in age to the McCall's 4222 in style, which does have a copyright date of 2003.  Can anyone confirm this?  Or correct?

Now, for the "sore thumb" in this batch ... a 1975 Simplicity 7123 mens/unisex poncho/coat ... sans envelope. Several of the mid-1970s patterns in Mom's boxes are missing their envelopes, so I sincerely doubt these will be sought-after collectibles.  Even though the pattern tissue looks like it has never been unfolded.  For those of y'all 70s-era vintage fans ... hold your fire.  I have no intentions of cutting this pattern tissue.  It probably wouldn't survive actual use.  However, I definitely want to trace it off and use one of my Shetland wools to actually make this pattern!  Seriously, this one is a neato-looking coat.  Is this old enough to be considered "vintage"?

Oh, I may be asking for more help as I sort through the rest of the small box of patterns:
box of Mom's old patterns
There's a couple more without envelopes in there, along with more men's wear patterns.  Just for the record, Mom would have been happy to give me even more patterns than this, but given my weakness for the 99c pattern sales, I didn't want to take more than I feel I will want to sew up.

The unpacking of the Indiana loot continues ... and the thought briefly crossed my mind today if I will get things organized enough to get back to actual sewing!

Unexpected sewing gift for Mom

This is above and beyond the bag of scraps I would have snuck into Mom's house (and conveniently "forgot" to take back with me).  For the record, Mom not only liked the cotton scraps I brought her, but also wants the purple cotton flannel scraps I forgot to stuff into the bag as well.

After having little sister try on my denim Victorian corset in the morning ... and having her want one of her own (that should have been my warning) ... I migrated over to Mom's house to spend the night there.  I had Mom try the denim Victorian on as well, and despite it not being fitted to her body shape she decided it wasn't uncomfortable (big warning sign) like she had thought up to that point.  Part of the try-on for both was showing them how to get in and out of it.

The next morning, Mom asked about the waist corset and how it was different from the overbust.  I figured the easiest way to explain would be to let her try on the waist corset ... it didn't come back off Mom until after two hours of sorting through the old boxes, and the main reason Mom took it off after that was because we worked up a sweat and she wanted to let it dry.  At this point, I had already told her it was now hers.  She put it back on for pics later in the afternoon:
Mom in M4861 front (I rolled the front)

Mom insisted a side view be included to show how the curve up fits

M4861 from the back, showing why we call it a pretty backbrace
The number one reason this is now Mom's backbrace?  It fits her better.  What I had thought was just sloppy patterning is actually a fitting issue: Mom has a longer back waist length than I do, by almost two inches, and the M4861 does not slide up or down on her at all ... even after two hours of rooting through old boxes and lifting.  Mom also declared it is more comfortable than the backbrace she got from her chiropractor ... not to mention it looks better.

Given all this, how could I have NOT gifted it to her?  Like the tops I gifted to little sis, this waist corset fit Mom perfectly.  I'm just glad the denim Victorian didn't fit either one well ... after all, I did spend ten days fitting it to ME!  However, the denim corset inspired Mom to look through Jill Salen's Corsets book with me, and she wants a "Pretty Housemaid" one (page 58) because it is lighter boned to allow more movement as it was marketed to working women in the 1890s.

02 July 2011

Some special dishes

My mom has a sense of humor.  Sometimes it's a little on the strange side (and this is coming from ME!) but sometimes it is just too appropriate. After listening to me grump about how well my sewn clothes fit my sister, and the new pattern alterations I need to try in my quest for a nice-fitting top ... Mom went into her cupboard and pulled out this coffee mug:
"I'm having a fit!" coffee mug
She then said it needs to be mine for upcoming pattern work ... not only cute, but all too fitting.  Yes, the pun is intended.

While rummaging through old boxes in her pole barn, I found these:
Blue glass Avon dishes set (almost)
Mom bought these back in the 80s for my "hope chest" from Avon back when she and I sold it.  At least I think it was the late 80s.  I'd have to google to be sure ... but Mom has already warned me these are highly sought collectibles now, so if we can't locate the other two water goblets, it may cost me a pretty penny to re-complete my set of six.  I have six plates, six bowls ... and four goblets.  This is the only set of dishes that wasn't handed down, or bought at a garage sale or Big Lots.  It's also very beautiful, and the shade of blue you see at the bottom of the goblet stems and in the stack of bowls is the glass's actual color.  I haven't seen these since 1997, and thought they had been lost in one of my too-many moves.  Instead, they were tucked away in a mismarked box and not a single piece has so much as a chip or crack.

Color me happy, in that lovely shade of blue glass.

Clothing gifts for sister

These were the planned fabric gifts for sister described before the trip, and as expected they fit her perfectly.
Little sister in green tunic S2371
I probably should have let her have it back in October when she visited and tried it on.  That is a genuine happy smile - sis loves the fabric and the decorative stitching on this, and will probably wear it to rags.
Sis in S2705 jacket and top

Sis in S2705 top
Once again, perfect fit.  It should be interesting to hear if she learns how to get wrinkles out of the linen/cotton blend fabric I used for these two pieces.  She says she doesn't even own an iron, so I suggested hanging them up in the bathroom during nice hot showers after pulling them out of the dryer still warm.  They're both good colors on her.

The difference between sister wearing these, and me wearing them, is night and day on fit ... and has triggered an almost obsession-like desire for me to get the pattern alterations down to make myself a top that fits this nicely.  I want, I want, I WANT!  No top has fit me like this since I was a sophomore in high school and hit that "out" growth spurt and got both hips and bust ...

Couch-surfing at sister's house for the trip was an interesting experience ... because her golden retriever thought it was wonderful to have people in the living room in the (*EARLY!*) morning.  He didn't jump onto the hide-away bed with us, but it's been a while since I've woken up to dog breath.

When I showed my mom the pictures on the camera of sister in the clothes I originally made for me, even she commented that my sister is making out like a bandit on my sewing, practically getting a new wardrobe just with this visit ... not to mention sister's request list.  Along with the tunic sister asked for in the fall, she also wants a twirly skirt to wear for her ballroom dancing lessons ... and after I let her try on my denim Victorian ... sister wants a corset of her own.  She's even picked out a specific pattern from Jill Salen's Corsets book, which she had sent to me as my Christmas gift.  Sis wants the "Large blue jean corset, 1890-1900" on page 66.

Mom wants ... well, that's a whole 'nother post.  Let me just give a word of warning to those of y'all who are making corsets: Don't let family try them on!  Unless you want to have your to-sew list grow ... Mom and Sis will no longer ask how I can stand to wear them, or remark how uncomfortable they look anymore.  Figuring out when they can come down to be fitted will be an interesting challenge.