Sewing Cafe

Patterns, Tutorials and Works in Progress from the Sewing Studio of Lynne Williams

Friday, December 26, 2008

Studio Diary

Over the holidays I have been working on a vintage jacket for myself. Several years ago on a trip to Madison Wi. I had the pleasure of visiting Gayfeathers, a lovely little fabric store. I found a number of unique fabrics, but my favorite find was a large houndstooth in wool and angora. The color is a favorite of mine...chartreuse on creme, how could I resist. Not knowing what I would do with it I purchased what she had and it has been hanging in my studio tempting and inspiring me ever since. About a year ago I decided on the pattern, a "retro Butterick" originally printed in 1936. This shorter style jacket is flattering for my figure and I felt the larger collar would suit the scale of the houndstooth well. I am also intrigued with a detail on this pattern that you do not see to often anymore which is a hand running stitch along the princess seams, and hemlines. Now I do not have much practice at this stitch, as I do not hand quilt much although I have tried Sashiko stitch work which I adore. Well adoring something does not mean you are proficient at it, but there is only one way to get better at something and that is by the doing. I have been enjoying the process of the handwork on this jacket, but it does not bear close scrutiny. I prefer for things to be done very well, but find that I tend to be reasonable when working on a new skill, so although the stitch work is not perfect, I can accept that especially on things I make for myself. I have plans to line the jacket in a silk charmeuse to match the green and have been designing a creme silk chiffon dress as I work on the handwork. Currently I have the body of the jacket together, one sleeve is set and I am finishing up the handwork on the 2nd sleeve which you do prior to the setting.
I suspect another contributing factor to starting this project over some of the others that are about the studio can be found in a BBC television series my husband and I have been viewing called "The House of Elliot". In this series there are many scenes in the production sewing room where the seamstresses are sitting around a table hand sewing many lovely silk garments. These scenes appealed to me, the camaraderie of the stitchers, the light streaming through the windows highlighting some incredibly beautiful embroidery and beading on deliciously delicate feminine garments. Needless to say I recommend the series to anyone curious about a very interesting time in women's fashion. These scenes certainly made me anxious to work slowly on some beautiful fabric.

These are some detail pictures of the vintage jacket. It is now ready for its lining, which still must be ordered, but I do hate just ordering one piece of fabric so I am reviewing my upcoming needs. The picture at left shows the detail of the sleeve hem. I chose a creme pearl cotton for the hand stitching.

Upon running aground with my jacket I did need to get some paying work done so....for the next day or two I worked on some top-secret projects for DC. Next some progress on the Jayden Medley Jacket for Williams Studio 2 patterns. I am in the process of creating the sample for the cover, as well as writing the instructions. A very lengthy process but I am trying to create some very easy to follow and comprehensive instructions for all of the patterns. I did manage to squeeze in a quilt block for my "Just Plain Nuts" exercise...always fun. I call it an exercise because I am really not sure that I will make it into a quilt or even a wall hanging I am just "Enjoying the Process" as I always like to say. It develops accuracy in cutting and sewing due to the small scale of the blocks ( 6" ) But it is primarily a fun way to play with color. Its always good to allow yourself to play and not feel that everything has to become something! Sometimes the something is just allowing your creative brain to accept new possibilities.

Today though I do need to do handwork on 3 Cowls! And I understand there will be 3 more for this month. I wonder who the fortunate owners will be? Handwork means old movies to watch/listen to. "Casa Blanca" is certainly on the viewing list for the day and another favorite "My man Godfrey". Well lets get to it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joanne's Projects

The week of the 23rd Joanne put aside her glittery top to tackle a project for her daughter. She is making new cushions for her outdoor furniture from Sunbrella fabric a wonderful weather and mildew resistant product. The colors reminded us all of the sea, which in our current winter weather was a feast for our eyes as well as our imaginations. She got the cushion sections all cut out in class and is planning on preparing the zipper sections prior to class this Friday. Then she will have 56 yds of piping to make. Projects like these are great for class time, the good conversation is a nice diversion from some of the more tedious tasks.

Currently Joanne after having whipped out some warm and wonderful fleece tops is adding some glitz to her life, and by extension ours as well. She is creating a blouse from a glittered slinky fabric. The top has a cowl neckline a shirred hem and a keyhole sleeve. Sounds very intriguing yes? So stay posted to catch pictures of the finished product. Wow! What a tremendous project. This fur jacket started out life as a cape and Joanne decided to make it into a jacket. She created sleeves and a front placket, added slash pockets and.....dyed a wool sweater to create an interior zip front and squall sleeve cuffs! It has been a another labor of love as this fur garment had belonged to a family member. Now of course it is very fashionable to re purpose garments ( the very green thing to do) but this project was started many years before all of that proving that practicality and using what you have has always been the right thing to do for many people. Joanne showed a lot of perseverance with this project but she learned how to make a lining pattern, create a squall cuff, dye wool, create a false placket, sew on leather, make pockets, etc. Our thanks to Livalips for taking this picture with her phone, and again Congratulations on a job very well done!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunchelle's projects

On the 30th Michelle continued work on her "Frayed Jacket" She decided to reset the sleeves to correct the shoulder slope and width. She "unstitched" the sleeve caps, tried the jacket on and we then pinned the sleeves along a more flattering line. She marked this change with thread basting and then reset the sleeves. For a breather after all her hard work it was on to the fun stuff...."hmmm what buttons do I like"? Hopefully she will get the lining in before the grand baby comes, which rumor has it will be happening on the 2nd, like it or not.

Well I failed to get a picture of Michelle's fortune cookie purse on the 23rd, because
I was distracted by her "Crazy Quilted Tote" a Williams Studio 2 pattern, and her very clever cat bed.

The cat bed, which her cats actually sleep in, is
made like a fabric bowl. The method whereby you wrap bias strips around laundry line and zig-zag it all together.

A close up of Michelle's embroidery and embellishment. I can see she is putting her new machine to good use. Sew beautiful!

Michelle has made a promise to herself to use her class time for personal projects. She launched into this commitment with....yes you guessed it a purse. I like to refer to this style of purse as a fortune cookie, not sure why, that's just what it reminds me of. Her purse has a most fabulous lining of silk taffeta a major find at our local goodwill. Hopefully she will post the pattern number for us, and I will be sure to get pictures soon. Ah Ha I told you I would get a picture isn't it cute?

What a baby blanket! This crib quilt/wall hanging was made from the mothers binky and carefully reconstructed for the imminent arrival of Jonah. A true labor of love by Grandma and adorable to boot.

Our very proud grandma Michelle, made these wonderful blocks with her grandsons name. Each side has a fun fabric with embroidery or applique in addition to the letters. Sew clever! Michelle makes great use of her embroidery machine and her imagination. In Fridays class she was remaking a baby blanket that had been her daughters for her daughters first baby. This is a real work of love, needless to say the blanket was much loved and threadbare but Michelle fused a lightweight interfacing to the back, cut out blocks from the printed motifs, sashed it with the backing fabric! A very special project and when we left on Friday she just had the binding to apply.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sewing With A Plan - what a concept

A wool melton double breasted coat. Looks very warm and cozy doesn't it. We all loved the sweep of this coat which reminded us of Anna Karina. Paula used some sew in magnetic snaps as the actual closure on this coat, as the buttons are purely decorative. The large snaps were found at Sawyer Brook, the wool Melton at and the lining at Sew True.
No doubt Paula will get some good use out of this coat, as we still have several months of winter left.

Ah! - The orange sherbet silk cami in all its glory. It does make one yearn for spring. Nice work Paula we will look forward to seeing you in it.

Here we have a few of Paula's "Sew with a Plan" items. All of these fabrics were ordered from Sawyer Brook. The Shirt is made from McCalls # 5522 and the fabric is a crisp cotton shirting with a creme and sage stripe. The skirt is made out of Tencel, which drapes so beautifully and is very comfortable for wearing. This skirt is a Williams Studio 2 pattern, and you can see another version of it under my recent projects made from a wool flannel. A very versatile pattern!

Great Work Paula!

Friday, November 7, 2008

In todays class

The weekend of the 23rd we settled into 2 whole days of sewing together! We planned cushions for Joanne, while Joel completed his first pair of pajama pants. The pj's turned out well, but Joel feels next time he will make them a little roomier. The best way to know if you are getting the amount of ease you like to have is by measuring a garment you have and like, then you can compare the ease amounts to your pattern. Elizabeth finished her robe, and some shorts, and then layed out a little silk jacket. Michelle worked on her "frayed jacket" a project she started this summer at a retreat. This required some quilting, and sewing up the lining. George has discovered that he loves working with stripes, and what fun it is to see him patiently match, chevron, and just play with them, all while learning the basics of shirt making! Paula finished one full length wool coat, and dug into another 3/4 length coat in a winter white cashmere. Kathy C. modeled her wool ensemble, and then did some pattern alteration and cutting. Kathy D. altered a jacket pattern and made a muslin to check the fit. Liz took a break from quilting to make her granddaughters some very cute corduroy jumpers. I run around and do a lot of "oohhhing" and "ahhing" and assuring them all they are doing the right thing. Thanks to Paula and Kathy C. for some wonderful treats.

There is never a boring moment with our wonderful sewing group. This Friday we sewed a quilt, a shirt, a coat, a purse, a robe, pajama pants, a slinky top, and fixed a zipper, and accomplished a tricky hem job on some ready made pj pants. All while laughing, groaning, encouraging and helping one another. Is there anything we can't tackle? I think not! All of this in -30 degrees!


Livalips projects

The finished robe as promised! What is not pictured are the matching pj shorts. This ensemble a football game and some chips are all that's required for the perfect day off. Enjoy!

Elizabeth's current project is a warm and cozy flannel robe for her beau. Nice gift for anyone. She made wonderful progress on it this last Friday, setting her sleeves and applying the neck binding. I suspect she will have it all wrapped up by next Friday. While sewing she has been planning her summer wardrobe, and has located a wonderful simplicity pattern 2703 that is a wardrobe in an envelope, Jacket, dress, top, and slacks! She also shared a gorgeous silk and cashmere fabric she found on-line at with us that will possibly become a key component to this ensemble. Keep up the fine work Elizabeth, I am so impressed with the progress you are making!

Congratulations to Elizabeth! - for having completed her first garment project. This adorable apron has been trimmed in a sassy green rick-rack and embellished with a traditional pink poodle at the neckline. I just love her color choices. And a special thanks to Betty for modeling.

Several pairs of these pajama shorts were in the works this week for a beau. This pair are very special as of course they sport Olivia and her brother Ian favorite characters from Children's books. Elizabeth chose to make the waistband both elastic for comfort and with a tie for security, her first opportunity to use her buttonholer! I am especially fond of the detail at the bottom of each tie which was achieved by interfacing the back of the fabric, layering it with more of the same fabric and then using a very narrow zig zag stitch to outline the shapes. An opening was left at the top to insert the cord into which was then stitched over in the same outline stitch, then the excess fabric was trimmed away from around the shapes. I understand that Elizabeth took this same technique to makes ties on gift bags for the holidays. We all look forward to hearing how they are received.

Learn to sew silk camisole

This silk camisole is a Williams Studio 2 pattern, I apologize for the picture quality but our brave and industrious friend Paula is currently making this camisole, without ever having seen it! She has a lovely piece of orange silk to make it from, which will make a nice accent color for her "Sew with a plan" wardrobe. Today in class she got it all cut out, and at the rate she is sewing these days, we can all look forward to seeing it very soon.

To the right here we have a better and more recent view of the silk Camisole which was made 3" longer for a client who wanted the hem to peak out underneath her blouse.
The complete ensemble can be seem on the bar at the far right.This silk is 32mm 4 ply. An extremely beautiful weight and lustre don't you think?

Here we have the back view of the same camisole

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Betty with Jacket Pieces

Betty once told me that, the better the job you do on your cutting out, the easier the sewing will be. Here we can see her jacket in its early stages, and i feel certain that the finished product will reflect such a wise axiom.

Betty's completed jacket is so charming, much like Betty!This jacket is from "A favorite Things" pattern called
The Frayed Jacket Pattern. It is made from fat quarters, is reversible and can have frayed edges, or bound like it is shown here. By the way beautiful fit!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Some of Lynne's Recent Projects

This purse is a project my daughter started a while back, she chose this fabric for a skirt originally and then decided a purse was what she needed. She got it all cut out, and did a nice job at that, but it has been sitting in her project box in the studio. I stumbled across it during a reorganization of the studio and for some reason amongst all the unfinished projects this one just felt like it needed to be finished. The fabric is simply a quilting cotton interfaced to help it hold its shape. The buttons are some old clear plastic and I could not resist the pom-pom on the zipper pull.

a cowboy shirt...note the stamping...

...and a skirt with felting...

And now a pair of pants from the same fabric

...fabulous bedding worthy of a french chef... and the ensemble is complete!

A wool jersey top

Our Man George


George has made a lot of progress on his dress shirt. Stand back and be amazed! He appears to be having a great time playing with the stripe placement on his shirt. How fun is this pocket, did you notice it has a flap!

Check out the Chevron on the back shirt Yoke!

This Friday George learned how to make a french seam, a sleeve placket, and setting a shirt sleeve. Next week cuffs and a perfectly rolled collar. Can't wait.

Currently though he is tackling a mans dress shirt from a cotton stripe. He is learning about pattern alteration to fit his athletic form, having to blend between sizes to accommodate his new workout routine. His cutting and marking are all done and sew the fun begins. George has a great attitude toward his sewing, he likes to take his time, and is always looking to gain a new skill with each project. With all of Georges projects expect the unexpected, he always adds an extra dose of creativity and I am looking forward to seeing what he adds to this seemingly basic shirt.

Here is George with his vest and the famous welt pockets.

What about George? George finished his second vest this one out of a khaki corduroy. The corduroy had some spandex in it and this created a new challenge...learning how to manipulate and feed a stretch fabric under the foot.
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