Sewing Cafe

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Replica 66 Robin Costume

This Replica Robin costume found a new home in our fitting room this week when Chuck scored this perfectly sized mannequin to display it on.
I made the costume using our Williams Studio 2 patterns #WS1001, available for sale at Williams Studio and the Etsy store.
The patterns were created by myself after having access to an original costume from the Hardeman Collection.

This picture shows the original costume owned by Mark Hardeman with our fabric sample laying on top for comparison.

Had to throw in a picture of the mask.  
This one is made from wool just like the one in the Hardeman Collection.
 These can also be purchased thru the Etsy store in a polyester gaberdine, the fabric that Burt Ward says his were made from due to the fact that he was allergic to wool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Silky Alpaca Harbor Beach Wrap on my needles

Thought I would share my current knitting project with you all.
This is my first time knitting with a lace's very fine!  
Which makes it very lovely and very difficult to see.....drat these aging eyes.

This is the Harbor Beach wrap by designer Tonia Barry as featured in Classic Elites Summer Breeze pattern series.

#2466 Midnight Forest
 The recommended yarn is Silky Alpaca by Classic Elite
It is a blend of silk and alpaca in a lace weight and I chose this color Midnight Forest.
I am knitting this for my mom, to complement  her new coat purchase which is a boiled wool in green
(unless they are out of stock, in which case it will be navy) either color should suit this palette nicely.
  This is a suprise for "mums the word".

The Pattern is simple enough really but...requires careful attention as it is easy to pick up two stitches, or the stitch below, or who knows where that stitch came from.....Arghh.
So not a slapdash project and the jury is still out on whether its worth the frustration.
I should have tried this when I was much younger and my eyes much sharper.

Had to throw in another progress shot. 
 Coming off the needles it measures about 10"
After blocking the pattern states it will measure 15"......
We will see Rabbit, we will see...

Have any of you knitted lace?  Love it, or Hate it?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dress Form Evaluation Series

Antique Dress Form
I have been wanting to do a series of posts for a while about Dress Forms.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to use many different types of forms and I thought a post about their different qualities might prove informative for beginner and intermediate sewers.

We will be comparing: 
Professional forms
    Prym/Dritz dial forms
 Duct tape forms 
 Uniquely You.

My question for you dear readers is.....
Do you have any specific questions about Dress Forms that you would like answered?
Do you currently own one....which type?
Are you planning on buying one or upgrading your current model?
Are you curious why/what people use them for?

I will do my best to post each Sunday about each type until they are all reviewed and hopefully all of our questions answered.
Hope you can join me:)

Circa 1893

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

For The Love or the Economy of Sewing?

This NY Times article about Bespoke Tailors was just brought to my attention thru  Made by Hand - the great Sartorial Debate  and I thought I should pass the favor on by sharing it with will all of you.  Please take a few minutes to read it and be sure to look at the photos.   I love seeing peoples/companies sewing rooms don't you?

Marvin Orellana/The New York Times

Obviously sewing for yourself and/or others is a time consuming and not always inexpensive endeavor.  Homemakers in the past sewed for economy's sake....but does that still hold true today?  With fabrics costs rising and RTW clothing prices being so affordable why do we bother sewing?  Why do you sew?

Lynne Williams at her cutting table in the Williams Studio sewing room

I often tell my students to compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges.  By this I mean compare the price of your custom made pants to a pair of custom made pants, not to RTW pants you could pick up at JC Pennys  This only makes sense right?  We cannot custom make a pair of pants for the same price a factory can crank them out for...thats apples to oranges folks....apples to oranges.  While it is true that when you begin sewing your skills might not be as good as factory standards, but you are gaining so much more than a garment.  You are gaining skills, sewing, fitting and style skills, critical thinking skills, not to mention, patience, endurance, humility and pride of accomplishment.  This is valuable human development!  Sure some might argue that shopping will provide some of the same lessons, but I prefer the that just me?
 While those around us might wonder why we bother....we know why, its far more than having something to wear, its having something to wear that was constructed especially for us, completely unique in fit and style, just like each of us.

Please let me know your thoughts on the article and how you benefit from sewing for yourself and others.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Seasonal Sewing Plan

Eucalyptus tree bark
Am I the only one feeling "Seasonal Transition Disorder"?
 ( Don't google that I just made it up)  Maybe it's just my ADD working overtime but I can't settle down to my sewing.  July went so well...and then August just fell apart, and here we are its Sept. 1st....National Sewing Month and I simply must pull it together.

I suppose it is in part due to all of the fall trends being released and a bit of Pinterest overload.  Last week though I decided I had to take control of the situation so I spent a day deciding on my fall & winter sewing line up.  Once I had a plan I was able to settle down and I am now looking forward to my sewing once again.

My fall plan is inspired by this Eucalyptus bark.  I have fond memories of eucalyptus..I can smell it in the air and hear the distinctive rustle of its leaves every time I say the word.  It reminds me of dry September days, dusty toes, playground fun and's all good:)

I thought about joining the Fall Wardrobe Challenge at PR but I don't really need a wardrobe, mine got a fine start last year....Remember.......

My needs are:
          Ministry clothes -  Skirts, Dresses and Blouses, dressy
                                       layers - vests, sweaters,blazers
           Studio clothes - Jeans, cords, Henleys, T's and sweaters

I made this skirt last fall along with several other items and I simply need to add a few items to the mix.  I have enough of the skirt fabric left over to make a vest from.....

This is a Folk Wear vest made last year and I will probably use the same pattern for my vest for this year or the double breasted version is another option.

These are some stash fabrics I pulled and I found a use for the burnt orange (2nd from left) which will mix in nicely with my other dressy separates.

This is a tried and true pattern which I will make up in the burnt orange silk adding a flutter sleeve to it.

I also have some brass sequins which I will add to the hem of the sleeve and possible the hem of the blouse, or possibly scattered over the silk....

The brass sequins came from a jacket I made for my mom.  The silk dupion yardage she chose had a fairly dense covering of these lovely sequins on it.  They had to be removed from the seam allowance which produced a fine stash of them for future projects:)

This piece of linen on the far left was planned for the blouse on the right as part of last years fall sewing plan....Ah well the best laid plains will be just as suitable a year later.....right?


My Jalie jeans have worked out well and I think I will modify the pattern to create some straight leg corduroys.  I have some green medium wale corduroy in my stash that will be suitable for studio days.

In the evenings I can knit on this vest, which will be suitable for both the studio and the ministry:)

This is a knitting class being offered thru Craftsy which I signed up for because.... I like to knit, have not done any Fair Isle and have found knitted vests to be very useful here in WI.

I have had a love affair with this pattern for a few years, could this be the year it gets made up?........

I don't have fabric in my stash for this one and I have been trying to use all the glorious fabrics I already have but.....could I break my "no fabric buying" streak with.....

....this plaid from  

So this is the Fall plan and we will talk about winter once I have a few of these babies made up.  I do not expect to accomplish them all but if I don't have a lot to do I procrastinate and then nothing gets done...Anyone else have this issue?  

I will stop sewing fall items on Nov 30th  and sew winter items from Dec. 1st thru Feb 30th.

Do you like to plan your sewing seasonally? or just as you're inspired?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Glacial Sweater by Rock + Purl Review

This sweater by Rock + Purl has been my primary summer knitting project.  I was in desperate need of a studio sweater as my old one by Cabi had worn out.  I am thrilled that I have completed it in time for the colder weather which is already beginning to set in here.....sigh:(

I must wear a sweater in the studio throughout the fall, winter, and spring months as the studio is in our basement and the cold seeps up through the concrete making me perfectly miserable most of the time.

My requirements:  Warm!
                             Snug fitting so it does not collect pins
                             Allows some layering

 The Yarn is what the pattern called for and very reasonable.  Purchased at ColourMart on line.

It is an Extra fine Merino Wool DK 2 ply.  Super soft but it splits easily and looks rather uneven until after blocking.  I would highly recommend it for scarfs as the softness is almost cashmere like.  I had a little difficulty getting my gauge, actually having to go up a needle size which for me is very unusual ( I generally go down a size)

The sweater was a complete pleasure to knit.  No seaming because its knit from the bottom up:) I love that the sleeve detail runs up onto the shoulder by means of short rows and the shaping is flattering.

The pattern comes in a large size range from a 32" bust up to a 64+" bust which I think is awesome.

Although my gauge was correct my final measurements were different in some areas than given in the pattern.  The 2 largest areas being the bicep which was 1" smaller and the hips which were 4-3/8" smaller.  The bicep might be because I tend to knit tighter on double pointed needles and the hip measurement is due to the ribbing I think.

The sweater does button all the way down to the hip so it's not a real issue. I probably should have gone up one size though.  My bust is 36" and I chose the 3rd size (36 3/8") the next size up (38-1/4") might have been a better option.

From the back you can see how nice the shaping is.

The pattern calls for you to make the collar 7" long, but I stopped at 6" because I preferred that scale around my narrow face, but as you can see that left it a touch shy of covering the back neck seam.

I will no doubt get a lot of use out of this sweater and I look forward to seeing how the yarn holds up.

I found the pattern easy to follow and well written.  I would recommend placing markers at the beginning and end of each pattern to help keep you on track.

I started knitting at the end of May and completed it Aug 15th.  The yarn cost $45.00 for 1380 yds(what a deal)  and the pattern sells for $9.00 as a pdf download.  I purchased mine through 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Charity Quilt #1 - Half Square Triangle Overload

Thrilled does not even begin to describe my feelings about this quilt and the ladies who participated in its creation.  
I am impressed by the quality of stitching in every block.  
Peg and I had no difficulty in assembling the blocks into this soothing quilt because each block was properly small feat for half square triangle units.
Now that its assembled it will be sent off to Tina who will be quilting it for us on her new long arm machine.  I cannot wait to see what she decides to with it.  
It reminds me of ocean waves, which I hope will provide some comfort to the family that receives it.

Thanks to all the helping hands.  I am already looking forward to our next one:D

For information on the pattern we used see this post

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thrift Store Find - Vintage Rayon Dress

Chuck and I were in Minocqua recently and upon completing our necessary business we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast and some antique shopping.  Breakfast was at Paul Bunyan's and before you groan in disbelief ( those of you who know it) let me just say horrible camp food eaten in the "family style" reminds us both of our childhood...and all goes hand in hand. 
 So let's just talk shopping for vintage fashion at Island City Antiques
You will not believe what Chuck found there! 
 He is such a hunter!!
They have such a small clothes rack there and I never, never, never find anything of interest, but Chuck, hit the jackpot..... for little ol' me.  
The rack was full of vintage garments in my size.  Someone's closet obviously was cleared out and did I benefit.

First up is this rayon dress.

 My apologies for the quality of this first shot.  I tried and tried to get a nice shot, but I don't think my poor little camera knew what to focus on. 
The daisy's, the ballerina's, the gift boxes, or maybe the rhinestone buttons?

What a curious mix up of a fabric.

The ruching covers the front yoke and is stabilized with a plain lining.  
The same is used for the facing on the front placket.  The small collar is under stitched.
Can you even believe that the self belt is still with it?

There is a small hook at the collar with a thread loop on the corresponding side.  
In some ways this dress is simplicity itself.  The facing and unfinished seams are basic to say the least, but then you have beautifully made spaghetti loops with the lovely little tie at the throat.
It makes me curious...and I was beginning to think it was hand/custom made for the client when.....

I found this one tag along the back skirt princess seam, printed with  style # 1240

The hem , which I pinned up so you could all take a gander at it is done with  rayon seam tape and a machine blind hem.
The belt overlaps in the back and has a series of buttons underneath with 2 buttonholes on the top so that you can adjust the fit.
Underneath the belt there is a small casing with some elastic in it, which is still in good working order!

I am hoping someone can provide some more information about this dress.
Have you seen ready made garments without seam finishes before?
What year would you place this dress from?

There will be more vintage garments  to follow...eventually..I promise - lol

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beach quilt progress

My Beach Quilt is coming along swimmingly :D  

A little each day and before you know it..... have these 2-4 patch units and a simple half square triangles ( hst) made into .......

this 12" block or.....

this 12" block.
Can you see the difference between the two?  
It's really important because you cannot achieve the over all pattern with out these two different block styles.  The directions only show you the one on top...and no matter how long you look at it, or spin it around and look at it again you still need both styles.  

At this stage though its fairly disappointing and I ask myself, did I get my values correct?
There is really no way of knowing without pushing ahead and hoping for the best, so push ahead I did.

Starting to feel a little more confident 10 blocks into the pattern, but still hesitating.
Who knew I was so cautious?

I am now a little over half way through the 30 blocks I need to make my queen size quilt.
These blocks are not sewn to each other yet, but just stuck to my design wall(aka flannel taped to a spare wall in the studio) slightly overlapping each other to kind of mimic the seam allowance take up, but you get the idea.  I won't sew them together until all 30 blocks are made.

The best part of quilting is seeing the pattern emerge with each new block. I suppose its the same satisfaction you get from putting together a puzzle.
Quilting teaches you sewing accuracy and a lot about color.  
For instance the importance of learning to see value - aka. the lightness to darkness ratio.  The psychology of color - what soothes, what excites?  It allows me to play with color combinations I might not think of using in clothing, which encourages me to use new color combinations in my personal wardrobe as well as my clients. For instance today I wore my yellow silk madman dress with a tan belt, light blue shoes and an aqua jacket!  I loved it! 
 Seeing it here, helped me find it in my closet.  
Now that's a win win in my book!

What new colors are you wearing this season?

Additional posts about this quilt:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Fun and the sewing is easy

Much to my complete delight my daughter has returned from her travels to Australia, New Zealand and Bali
She came bearing having her home isn't enough - lol

These 3 beautiful batiks came from Bali

This incredibly delicious cocktail from New Zealand
recipe to follow I promise

But seeing her sewing......tops it for me.

It's nice to know you have been able to pass on some of your skills to the next generation and although Sule'
was not particularly interested in sewing as a child when a project came up that she could help on she jumped right in:)

In the North woods of Wisconsin Water skiing shows and clubs are a standard part of the summer fun.  When one of our local clubs  The ChainSkimmers needed help with the show Sule' offered her services designing some quick and easy western can can girl costumes for the "jazz line"

She created these from some pre-existing cami's that the girls had used in previous years adding the ribbon to  create a corset look .  

Throw on a sparkly red skirt over some black tights and you are ready to water ski.
or in my case go to bed because......with her busy schedule we did not start sewing until 9pm, not that I was doing the sewing...well creating an easy skirt pattern and providing some basic instructions maybe....but the machine time was all her!

Cute right?
If you live in the area I highly recommend you see the show this year.  It's especially fun for the kids.
and if not......enjoy the cocktail:)

St. Germain Aromatic Elixir Recipe:

Muddle 5 Red seedless grapes in a glass 
Add crushed ice
Add 1 shot of fresh lemon juice
1 shot of gin
Fill the glass with sparkling water
Throw in a splash of cranberry or grape juice - this is optional as it just adds the pretty color
Place a small mint sprig between your hands and clap them together - this releases the minty aroma - now garnish the glass with it.

Let me know your thoughts on this cocktail friends
Have you ever participated in a water-ski show....local theater perhaps?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hand Quilted Book/Notebook cover

Recently I was asked to make a quilted book/notebook cover for a friend, by her daughter, as an anniversary gift.
Still with me - lol

This quilted cover is for a reference bible and holds a notebook, pen and highlighter as well.  It zips around the edges so you don't lose any notes or additional reference material you may need to stash.

This is the front of the cover when its neatly zipped.

This is the back of the cover, where I highlighted a different part of the print.

After cutting out the pattern pieces and sandwiching batting between the layers I sit down to some good old fashioned hand quilting.
I use embroidery floss in complimentary colors and just stitch wherever my heart desires.
It was nice to think about my friend and her many lovely qualities as I stitched.  
Can people feel the love in a hand stitched / hand made item?

Hurray - now you can see the coordinating lining fabric:)  
You can also see the pocket on the back of the cover that holds a notebook and pens.
It's roomy enough to hold a songbook as well...just say'n.

I slipped my Bible into the finished cover to make sure I had not made it to tight....a common issue of mine.
The "pocket" that holds the Bible/book into the cover can of course also hold additional items as well...say your study article or reference material.

This is a great grab and go item.  
For the park, or a waiting room, etc
I can do a little reading or some in depth studying sitting outside or while waiting for the car to be tuned up.

Do organizational items like this appeal to you or do you prefer to simply throw everything into a bag and go?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Denim Floor Mats

Today I made a bra for my mother....which I cannot share with you....because that just seems a little weird, but once that was done I completed a project that has been kicking around in the back of my head for years....literally.  
Do you have projects like that?  

This one began with an article in Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Before the regular use of the internet I would clip articles out of magazines and file them...yes I know...file them under subject.  

This article went into my home dec. file and was for making a rug using strips of denim from old jeans and was described like this :
 "This fluffy rug, so welcoming to bare feet, is made from hundreds of strips of denim. The frayed edges in shades of blue, gray and white create subtle modulations in color"
Denim Fringe Floor Mat from recycled jeans

Not being sure if I would like it enough to sew "hundreds" of denim strips to make an entire floor rug, I opted to try it out on a few floor mats for the back of our jeep.

My floor mats measure 18 x 20 and required 3 pant legs each. 

Torn denim strips
These are so easy to make and so worth the mindless sewing.  Put some good music on, invite a friend over or watch an old movie while you stitch denim strips...for that matter do all three.  

Denim floor mat in situ:)
We are in total rug love here in the studio.....seriously Chuck wants them in our bathroom because it is "welcoming to bare feet"  Peg is ripping jeans as I type( no doubt) to make some as gifts for the kids, and I am mesmerized by the " subtle color modulation" 

Do you "file" projects or "pin" ?

Have you completed any stalled projects lately? 
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