Sewing Cafe

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pajama Party Sew Along

This summer I have been lamenting the lack of proper pajama's for our unusually hot weather.  Now you know I love the heat, but it does require proper attire.  Seeing as how we only have 2 opportunities to sew together in August at Nicolet, and understanding how busy everyone is this time of year especially here in the North Woods I thought a Pajama Party Sew Along would suit perfectly. 

If you are a beginner, pajama pants or capri's are a great place to begin your garment sewing experience.  If you have very little time to sew this summer, pajama pants or a nightgown would be the perfect small project. 

I will post once a week in August possibly more for this sew along and you can check in and sew along at your convenience.  Now I have designed a pair of pantaloons for my summer p.j.s, which I will post in a day or two,  but you are welcome to sew any garment that you would wear for sleeping or lounging. 

We will begin August 5th (Friday) and you will need to let me know your joining by commenting below.  I f you will be making pajama pants you will need the following supplies
  1. Pant pattern such as New Look 6160, McCalls 3432
  2. Required fabrics and notions per pattern instructions.
This will be your opportunity to ask questions of me through the site which I will do my best to answer in the form of pictures or videos as the case may be.  So dust off your sewing machine, dig through your stash and lets do some sewing together.

To get you thinking about your pajama's here is some inspiration.

Nighty Nights

These look like they would certainly do the trick for hot summer nights.  A pattern made by Favorite Things and found at their on-line store The Sewing Garden

Chinese pajamas

For something elegant you might want to try these Chinese pajamas from Folkwear patterns

Princess slip

 For the lover of vintage nostalgia, this Princess slip from Folkwear  would make a beautiful nightgown

Free Pattern from Sew News
Keeping it simple this pattern is available on Sew News as a free download.  So all you need is a printer and some tape. 

I hope you are all fired up to join me for a Pajama Party. 

Fairy Costume - Complete

A drum roll seems an inappropriate sound for the arrival of a Fairy queen, perhaps flute and zither?

Regardless of the music the completion of this Fairy costume was a proud moment for me..can you tell?
Lynne Williams with Fairy costume 2011
 The joy of a silk and rayon velvet can clearly be seen in these pictures.  It captures the light and soothes the senses don't you think?

Hemming Velvet at Williams Studio 2

Peg and I are placing the swing tacks that hold the hems together.  The final touch completed the afternoon before Sue arrives for her final fitting.

Sue/client contributed the fabrics, the wings and the fabulous beaded purse which was a design element I presented in my original sketch to her.  This purse arrived at our 2nd meeting along with some other possibilities.  She has been collecting materials for this project for many years, and I am thrilled to have been the recipient of this commission.

Fairy Costume - Williams Studio 2 - 2011

The bodice is outlined with a embroidered applique which was died this bronze color and then some metal sequins added to catch the light.

The sleeves are edged along the top with a narrow metallic gimp and the sleeve hem was cut to mimic the wings and then edged with a metallic thread.

The belt which holds the purse is detachable and made from an upholstery trim, backed with Petersham ribbon and then trimmed at center front with a brass jewelry finding to replicate a buckle.

Slippers fit for a Fairy - Williams Studio 2
 I do love these slippers!  which did cause Sue to "Gasp".  They were an additional surprise for her.
There is a mini tutorial if you would like more information about them.

Fairy wreath - Williams Studio 2 
The head piece which enhanced Sue's ginger hair, the highlights in the wings, and the contrast trim on the bodice.  Crazy fun isn't it?

Presenting Sue Sadowske in her Fairy Queen Costume - by Williams Studio 2

Here is our Fairy Queen standing in my humble fitting room.  She seems well pleased. 

I have mixed emotions about this project coming to an end.  It always feels good to finish a project but this one was particularly fun for me, so I am a little sad to no longer be creating such fantasy.  Working on it reminded me of sewing in dark theatre basements, traveling with Harry Blackstone Jr. and making pyramids for Ronnie James Dio.  Creating costumes means doing something different every day, exploring new techniques, working with new materials, playing with light and form and collaborating with other creatives.

I will be posting more tutorials on this project now that I have met the deadline so please check back if you want to learn about sewing on velvet,   how to make swing tacks and that sleeve hem finish. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fairy shoe - Restyle

Today these sad little flats were transformed. 

Thanks to Peg for coming into the studio an extra day I was able to make over these shoes into something more suitable while she hemed velvet. 
I got the better end of that deal for sure:)

Once again all of the necessary supplies were on hand.  Irridescent organza, silk florals, glue, more glue, hot glue and rhinestones.  That should do it.

 And we have Fairy shoes.  Covering these shoes reminded me of theatrical costuming...what fun I had.  The smell of hot glue always brings fond memories.  Memories of  other shoes, fancy hats, fabulous accesories....for some its the smell of grease paint, nope I say hot glue.

I began by covering the upper with a thin layer of Yes glue, really great sticky stuff.  The organza was then layed on top placing the bias over the top of the toe.  This allows the fabric to be worked around the curves and still have it lay nice and flat.  After trimming the excess fabric off I pushed the cut edge into the crack above the sole, with my thumb nail.  Hard to believe this works I know, but your soles are not glued on as tight as you might think.  Once the glue had dried I applied the ombre ribbon around the top with Alene's Tacky Glue.  The leaves and flowers were then arranged and set with hot glue, and finally the rhinestones were set in place with 527 cement.

I changed the lighting on this shot, to enhance the shifting light effect that the irredescent fabric creates.
How much fun are these.  Why don't I do this more often?  Think of  Brides and their maids, or what about with my favorite pair of jeans...honestly I am running to Goodwill to pick up some cheap flats to amp up.  You want to join me?

Tomorrow my client Sue will be picking up her Fairy Ensemble. I hope to talk her into photos, but she is quite busy getting ready for her Garden Party, so may not feel inclined to be photographed.  But rest assured photos are being taken although they may only be on my dress form, which does not do the justice to the dress that Sue does. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy Spots in my Home and Studio

 Rachel Denbow at Smile and Wave posted a photo challenge recently.  The challenge was to photograph spots in your home that make you happy.  Messy or not.

This Orchid which sits on my front window will along with my terrariums was an anniversary gift from my mother.  It was covered in blooms when I received....all of which proceeded to shrivel and drop off the very next day.  Sad right?  But after much fussing and determination on my part to make it as happy as it had made me it bloomed!  Today it bloomed and this makes me very happy:)

Cameras and I do not play well together but some day I will tame this beast as well, but apparently not today, but be that as it may, here is my living room.  It makes me happy because it tells you at a glance who lives here.  We like art, and dress, and books, and comfort.

My pattern table is a very happy spot for me and the owls.  I like to make practical things, and doing so makes me happy.  I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful spot to make messes while sewing, designing, and making more practical things.

Thanks Rachel for inspiring me to reflect on my happy spots in my home

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wonder Boy Patterns

Ever wonder what 1000 patterns look like?  Now you know.  Yesterday afternoon UPS delivered the Wonder Boy patterns.  How thrilled do I look?

A special thanks goes to the team at McCall's for helping in the delivery of my first set of ....patterns. 

Soon we will be booting them out of the nest and sending them off to far flung corners of the globe.

The envelope, Instructions and Tissue pattern.

Special Thanks to:
 Mark and Sherry Hardeman - For giving us access to the costumes
Chuck Williams - For his love patience and prodding
Scott Sebring - For the envelope artwork
Jerry Durnan - For his help with the "blueprints"

I could not have done it without you! Literally:)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fairy Costume - Cutting Velvet

This yummy piece of velvet is the star of our costume.  Think mist, and sea foam.  This picture does not do it justice, but I will work on that for the final reveal:)

This velvet has a special history to my client, which always adds to the emotional impact of the finished garment.  It belonged to a Aunt (now deceased) who worked as a Dressmaker in California.  I cannot help wondering what her plans for it were and how thrilled she would be to see it put to use now.

Do you ever wonder what will become of your cherished stash items?

I unusual.....Okay let's talk Velvet!

Our velvet here is a silk and rayon blend.  It behaves like liquid, it  resists the confines of a table..dripping off.  It wiggles when handled, like your tickling it in slow motion.  The qualities which make it catch the light, and hug the body, and entrance the eye, like sunlight on water also make it very fussy to cut and sew.  But it is so worth it!  Take a deep breath and think calm and quiet, and soothing thoughts.  The right music might help:)

Possibly you can see from a closer look at the photo, that our velvet has not been stored properly over the years.  It has some small scattered rust spots, and what I can only describe as tea staining along both selvage edges.  I think this only adds to our theme though and somewhat pre disasters wearing velvet in a garden with children.  It has some crushing scattered about from being crumpled up, or folded, or who knows what exactly, so I decided to wash it!  Normally I would not recommend washing velvet, some will not respond well to it at all.  Since it already had the crushing my thought was to create more of that over the body of the piece, and what it accomplished was breaking up the surface beautifully.  I simply placed it in my machine on a cold hand wash cycle and then literally threw it in the dryer on a low heat. 

Now to rules for cutting:

1. Cut - cut in a single layer with the nap down

2. Truing your grain lines - Pull a thread along the cross grain to insure absolute grain perfection and tape or anchor all edges to your cutting table.  Do this in as small and manageable pieces as you can.  I unfortunately barely had enough fabric, so did not have that luxury, which meant I spent a great deal of time truing up my yardage as I moved along
Here I have place a large square ruler along my selvage to aid me in seeing and correcting the grain line.
3. Nap Lay out -   Use the nap lay out, which means that all of your pattern pieces must run in the same direction.  Run your hand over the nap along the lengthwise grain line.  Generally you want the nap running down the body, meaning it feels smooth when your run your hand from say shoulder to hem. 

4.  Marking - Mark your pieces before removing them from the table, because they are shape shifters.  It is important to mark your stitch lines and notches.  The best way to do this is by removing the seam allowance from your pattern pieces and hand basting the stitch line with silk thread.  Silk thread is important here, because it is the only thing that will not leave a scar in the velvet.  Fortunately quilt shops are now caring various weights and colors of silk threads these days:) so it's not as difficult to come by as it once was.  Even more fortunate for me though is that since I washed this velvet I was able to use a tracing wheel (which would normally scar the fabric) and dressmakers carbon.  The marks left by the wheel steamed out for me.  One advantage to marking your stitch lines is that you can leave a larger seam allowance.  The larger your seam allowance the more stable the fabric will be at the stitch line.  Normally I would have given myself one inch, but again there was not enough fabric for that luxury, so I felt lucky to get a full 5/8"

5. Pinning....pinning will also leave scars so it is better to use patterns weights which can also leave scars unless you distribute the weight by placing on a larger object, like some C-Thru rulers.

My pattern has been traced onto true grid and has a 5/8 seam allowance.  I am marking my stitch line with dressmakers carbon and using thread tacks for the notches.
6.  Cutting - I like using a rotary cutter, which works well on velvet.  Some people prefer using serrated scissors though as they find the velvet wants to crawl away from them to avoid being cut.  The serrated scissors help tame the beast better then regular dressmakers shears.  I find rotary cutting the most accurate though because you are not lifting the fabric off the table with the lower blade on the scissor.  It is also far quicker. 
 So my advice is to invest in a cutting mat, that covers your entire cutting surface and keep a good supply of sharp new blades handy. 

Nylon chiffon with a lining fabric behind it.
I repeated these steps for the companion fabric....Chiffon with velvet flowers, and mylar leaves and stems allthough it was stable enough that it did not require marking the stitch lines.  Which will give me more time for the next stage....Hand basting:)  the subject of our next tutorial.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fairy Garden Dress- It ain't pretty yet.

The Fairy dress "muslin" 

Can you even believe that after altering New Look 6670 to create our dress that I had no muslin!  That is right zip zero a sewing studio?  Peg and I are still confused about our missing bolt(but that is slightly beside the point)  After some rummaging I came up with the green cotton and a voile which I picked up very inexpensively and love to use to represent chiffon.  I will admit the color and the bees are very distracting but it did allow for our first fitting.  Fortunately my client could see past that to the over all silhouette. 

All of these pictures were taken after the fitting so please excuse the pins as well. 

 The pattern changes were:
  1. Changing the neckline rather dramatically front and back.
  2. Creating a slip with corset, as the dress must support the wings.
  3. Changing the center front line to create the open skirt front.
  4. Adding fullness to the hem
  5. Creating a sleeve that drops off the shoulder.
  6. The usual fitting alterations, which consisted of a bust cup adjustment and other minor circumference changes

During the fitting we decided to change the way the sleeve attached to dress, eliminating the cording indicated on the original sketch.  Additionally the back neck line needed to be raised so that the wings would sit higher.  We also marked the belt placement line and lowered the starting point of the front lacing.

The fitting went really well.  Sue was very patient as Peg and I pinned, tucked and adjusted.  The design fits her body shape beautifully and we are all looking forward to seeing it now in velvet and chiffon.

Did I mention she brought us more goodies to cull from?  Amongst the stash a fabuous beaded bag which will work beautifully hanging from her belt.

There is a lot of work ahead.... I could probably do an entire post on cutting and marking velvet, which I will admit does require the patience of Job, which explains why I have taken a much needed break to post these pictures.

Hope you enjoy following the progress.

You might also enjoy the new background in honor of the garden party:) 
Thanks to Sue for the inspiration.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Faerie Costume Fun

Recently I received a phone call from a lovely gal named Sue.
 She requires a Faerie costume for a garden party she sponsor's each year at her beautiful home in Three Lakes WI.  on July 30th.
What fun...right? 
She arrived a few days later with 2 laundry baskets filled with fabrics and trims she has been collecting over the years for just such a project. 

We spoke about her requirements: 
Elegant full length gown
Covered arms(she is after all over 30)

1st sketch by Lynne Williams - Williams Studio 2
This first sketch I did for her is more along the lines of the reference material she brought along by Nene Thomas  but reflecting wear ability, the sleeve requirement and available material and time constraints.

The dark green velvet seemed a bit oppressive for a summer party so I broke the surface up a bit by stamping a gold filigree design on it.

 Still feels heavy to me though.

2nd design by Lynne Williams - Williams Studio 2

This 2nd sketch was for fun and it's always good to have choices. 
Sue really had a solid idea of what she wanted to do, but was not convinced of it or locked into it. Often providing alternatives help makes the choice clear. 
This sketch reflects the 2nd color palette she brought along and the one shown at the top of the post. Both of us were more engaged by these fabrics.

What Sue disliked about this sketch was the "bar maid" look which she feels is not flattering to her full bust. 
Additionally the tissue sleeves with cording felt fussy to her.

The clear solution was to use the 1st sketch with the 2nd color palette.

Which sketch do you like?

The challenge for me now is to accomplish all this by July 30th

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Material Girls - Paper madness

Recently on a visit to our local Scrap booking store Nossers I stumbled upon this line of paper called "Material Girls" by Cosmo Cricket.  How could I possibly resist...right?  My brain has simply been spinning thinking of ways to use it.  The above tins are my 1st project, but I have more ideas in the works.  These started out as cocoa tins which I kept because they were a useful size and shape.  They have been sitting on my pattern table having been pressed into service during the last organizing blitz. I have a passion for lovely items that are useful. 

Please check out Cosmo Crickets site and visit Nossers here in Rhinelander.  I try to visit them regularly because they are a great source for lovely ribbons, fabulous tools, such as eyelet setters, scissors etc, and brads, rivets and eyelet's, all of which can be used in your sewing projects.  Not to mention the organizing totes, which although meant for scrap booking work equally well for sewing notions.

You can keep up with the latest Nosser artistry at their blog or their face book page.
You can also follow Cosmo Cricket's blog or their face book page

If you can resist playing with these papers..I don't think I want to hear about it, but if like me you became hooked by the cuteness, please share your thoughts and ideas?

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