Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Apply Piping to a Neckline

The Material Market
by Jules Trayer, France 1824-1908

Adding piping to the neckline of a cotton dress will make the garment last a lot longer. The seam of the neckline is less likely to fade or wear thin. I hope I can demonstrate adequately how to apply piping, but if you need more help, try searching some free sewing videos online, or find some "sewing piping" tutorials on sewing sites.

Although it is not necessary to have a facing, when sewing piping on a neckline of a dress or blouse, I find a facing helps keep the edges of the trim concealed and the stitching hidden, as well as making it lie flat. Before applying this trim, join the front and back shoulder seams of the garment, press them open, and then, with right side facing you, lay the piping trim down on the neckline, with the rounded edge toward the body of the dress, and the raw, unfinished edge of the piping toward the neck, as shown, above.

Put the top raw edge of the piping trim right on top of the raw edge of the dress neckline, on the outside of the fabric (not the inside).  Stitch along the same stitching that is already on the piping, all around the dress neckline.

Piping is hard to cut and join in a smooth way, so this is how I finish it: curve the end pieces downward off the fabric and stitch them. The white stitching is my own machine stitch, so you can see where I sewed. The other side of that stitching will be your guide for sewing the facing.

Prepare your facing by joining the shoulder seams, pressing the seams open. Iron a one-fourth inch hem on the facing and stitch it all the way around.  

The piping will be between the facing and the dress bodice. Put the dress part, with the under side showing, up, for the machine stitching. This is where you will see the previous stitching of the piping showing through.

Lay the facing on the inside of the dress and then, on the outside of the dress, stitch along the previous stitching line--the one that holds the piping.  That way, the facing and the piping are on the exact same stitching line.

With scissors, trim the excess fabric to about a fourth inch and then make a close zig-zag or some kind of edging stitch on the cut edge.  Turn the facing to the inside of the dress and press with a hot iron. Hand-stitch the facing to the inside of the dress, all along the lower edge of the facing piece.

Here is the finished dress. I had to piece it in several places, because there was so little of the fabric.That means that instead of putting a pattern piece on a whole length of fabric, I sewed small pieces together and then laid the pattern for the sleeves, and part of the hem. 

I have used this pattern and added sleeves that I liked better, from another pattern. This style is so easy, having only a front and back and facings and sleeves. I have done many different things with it, including adding a bias ruffle at the hem, different trims at the neckline, and a variety of sleeves. The neckline needs to be raised, but not a lot. If you want to make a dress in a day, this is the perfect pattern, or if you need to sew for someone else, this one has very little stress involved.

Here's a sewing tip you might like: If you have a pattern that you would like to use again, or one that has become a favorite, take the dress you just cut out, and lay that fabric on top of some new fabric, and cut around it. It is a lot easier to do that, than to get the tissue or paper pattern out and anchor it down and cut around it. The fabric "pattern" from the previous dress pieces clings more easily to the fabric, and does not move when you cut around it.

A couple of weeks ago I showed my experiment making a shirred blanket on the machine. Here is a much easier way to make an interesting, dimensional type blanket or spread. This is a fabric called Minky, which looks like the old fashioned ball fringe and chenille bedspreads. I quite like it, even though I prefer natural wovens, and it looks good as a bed spread. It does not need to be hemmed, but some matching ball fringe would look nice around the edges.

This is what it looks like on the bed. It is a very soft fabric and very pleasant to the touch. You can wash it and hang it out to dry and it will not get stiff or scratchy.

I am going to experiment again, and make a little jacket to match a dress, with the green color Minky.

See also, How to Make Your Own Piping from string and bias cut fabric

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Summer Ramble

A Summer Ramble
by Frank Herbert, American (b. 1920)

I was looking for paintings of wheat, when I found this beautiful piece of art. What a lovely way the figure compliments the surrounding scene. Nature is the guide for much of my choice of fabrics and sewing styles, and wheat is something that I've always wanted to "match" with fabrics. I am looking for a soft cotton printed with wheat kernels, on a cream-colored background, but so far have found nothing like it.

From my front window, this is the scene before me today:
Click on the picture for a larger view.

Though I have never thought of the wheat color as being particularly desireable as a color to wear, I've come to feel differently about it since great crops of it surrounds me. These photographs that I have taken do not show the vivid beauty of it in the sun. In the moonlight it shimmers like fine spun gold.

Here's some wheat print fabric on ebay

A wheat rubber stamp from the Kansas Heritage Center. Kansas is the "wheat state."

A Summer Evening
by  Leopold-Francois Kowalsky, 1856-1931 (Russian)
(The garments on the women appear to be peasant style
and I would love to know about the pattern or sewing technique. The 
look good with the flowers.)

From the north window is a field of blossoms from another crop, and I did have some fabric to make a dress to go with it.

The blue of that sky is amazing. Now I need to find some fabric to make a dress to go with it. 
The sleeves have a piece of white fabric in the middle because I did not have enough of the main fabric. I'll show you how to do that on a sewing tutorial on some future post.

The neckline is trimmed in white eyelet,

and there is a bias type ruffle on the hem:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The "Old Ways" vs. The "Old Days"

Herb Kane (Hawaiian, 1928-2011)
You can read about the artist here and here.

I have added a feature that allows a scripture to pop up when you run your cursor on it. This makes reading more convenient, as you don't have to click on a link and go to a different page. 

I sometimes hear remarks concerning the past and its disadvantages.

 While there is a Biblical warning not to glorify the former days as though they were better, (Isaiah 43:18 and Ecclesiastes 7:10), it was never intended that the values of the past, or that history, would be despised or dismissed.  There are many admonitions from God's Word to walk in "the old paths, where is the good walk," (Jeremiah 6:16) and to honor traditions (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Daydream by Herb Kane (Hawaiian, 1928-2011)

 I love the paintings of the water-carriers and shepherdesses of by-gone days, yet I think that running water is far better, and automobiles are a better form of transportation.  What I am addressing here is not the old days, but the old ways and the old paths, which can still be traveled today.

It is adventurous and admirable to blaze a trail of your own in some things, but the well worn path of virtue and values is important to follow. The old paths, which lead to the good way, which bring spiritual and emotional stability and well-being, are the paths every generation in every era of time needs to seek.

 Moderns who love the things of times past, such as the automobiles, furnishings and styles,  also need to embrace beliefs and values that are good and true.  Courtesy (1 Peter 3:8), careful conversation, (Ephesians 4:22; Hebrews 13:5), and contentment (1 Timothy 6:6; Philippians 4:11) are just a few of those things, as well as faith and fortitude. Other valuable things are loyalty, dependability, dedication and simple belief in God's Word.
The old ways, (the old paths), based upon the inspired Word of God, are to be desired above all other types of progress. The "old paths" described in Jeremiah 6:16, is where you will find the key to happiness and success in life.  While there have been people in each century who were always wanting to hear some new thing  (Acts 17:21) , the old ways, where the good walk is, are tested and proven by the faithful followers of God in the past.  Because of the examples recorded in the scriptures of people who grew in wisdom and were obedient to God, we can easily see what paths to follow. 

And so, the old days, while they may have been filled with the old ways, are not exactly what we are seeking these days. While we honor the past and celebrate its glory with anniversaries, memorials, jubilees, and other markers, we are not actually living in the past, but appreciating it.  We realize that when we follow the old paths, we will get the kind of results that other people got when they followed these values. There are customs from past times that we admire which were there because someone followed the old paths, back then, as well. Many of us desire the quality and craftsmanship of the houses and clothing of the old days. Others admire the slower, more deliberate pace of life in past times. There is nothing wrong with reproducing the good things of the past or practicing the traditions of the past that have good values. These things are part of the good walk.
When you see someone wearing a different style than that of the prevailing culture, do not quickly conclude that the person is glorifying the past or thinking that the former times were better. They are probably just enjoying the finer things from another era, to make life pleasant in this era.  God designed life so that we could learn from the past. In the area of clothing and fashion, we are the most blessed of any generation before us, for we have many centuries of designs to study and choose from.

 We should not be limited to just the fashion of the day, dictated by designers and their particular tastes. When I wore my Victorian costume and rode my tricycle in an old-fashioned parade, there were several people curious to know if I lived completely in the past, or dressed that way every day.  While I wear costumes that are more authentic in design when I participate in special events, the designs of the past influence the way I sew clothing for every day wear in these current times. I like the feminine look of the Victorian clothing, and I add touches of that style to modern sewing patterns.

There are other things that people admire about the past. The way people spent their leisure time with their families, the things they made by hand, the habits they had, plus the way they handled life's ups and downs; these all have something to teach us today, for they are some of the old paths that God speaks of. Jeremiah 6:16 says that following the old paths, you'll have peace.

 It is only natural to see the things of the past that bring serenity and peace to our lives, and there is also nothing wrong with rejecting modern values that bring an uproar into our lives.  We are all free to choose which values we will embrace. Therefore, if it appears that someone is a little old fashioned, or "living in the past," it could be that they are only adopting something from the past that gives them truth, direction and peace.  The law of the Lord, itself is rooted in the past, and so to obey the teachings of our Lord is to follow the old paths, where the good walk is.

 The paintings by Herb Kane which appear at the beginning of this post, are an illustration of the old ways. The painter lived in modern times, yet recorded some good customs of the past in his paintings.  The scenes in those two paintings illustrate an old Hawaiian tradition that is still practiced today. While these paintings depict things that were in the past, they speak of good traditions and customs which can easily be imitated today--the old paths. There is certainly nothing wrong with re-enacting the old days in order to appreciate our past or to understand the way our forefathers lived, and we can also do this by following the old paths, where the good way is. (Jeremiah 6:16)

Those who mock and deride the past are not showing respect to the Lord, who uses the past to remind us to follow in His Ways. Those who are really living in the past are the perpetrators of past, failed doctrines and life-styles such as communism, socialism, modernism, rationalism, cynicism, darwinism, dewyism, atheism, skepticism, materialism, marxism, feminism, fabianism, keynesian economics, and many other "isms" that you can read about here.  Unregenerated people resurrect these old, dead doctrines generation after generation; old beliefs that provide nothing but dismal, hopeless and demoralizing lives for those who have it imposed on them.

The good news is that God provides something better: the old paths, were is the good walk. Jeremiah 6:16. The old ways that He wants us to follow are found in the precepts, the values, the proverbs, the examples, and the contrasts in His Word.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Victorian-Era British Women at the Beach

The Bathing Hut 
by Charles James Lewis, British, 1830-1892

Read more about the bathing huts, pictured in the above painting, here.

Photos taken in 1906 showing women at the beach.  It must have been quite a windy day but they look thrilled to be there.  As I do like to sew, I was interested in the design of the back of their jackets, in the photo, above, and would certainly like to know the colors they were wearing.  Because of the lack of color photography, it is easy to believe that Victorian women either wore black, or white, but that is not the case. The clothing I've seen in museums is varied and vivid in color.

At a glance, it appears that the styles of this era were all alike, but closer observation will reveal that there was rarely any two ladies dressed exactly alike. I spite of the hundreds of Victorian houses built prior to 1906, it would be hard to find two exactly alike.

It seems that these ladies went to the beach for more than the summer sun. Many of them carried with them books, sketching paper, watercolors and writing tablets.

Friday, July 13, 2012

More Hand Made Picnic Baskets from Boxes and Other Things

The Picnic Party 11

Picnic on the River 
by Henry John Yeend King

Picnic Set-Up  in South Australia
photograph by John Hay

I realize it is winter in Australia, but it is not to early to get things ready in anticipation of summer activities. I don't know how many times I wish I had spent the winter more productively, getting ready for summer, to save preparation time, so that I might have more hours to actually enjoy some summer leisure. 

In this post, and the previous one, you'll see some ways to use ordinary cardboard boxes for picnic baskets.

Some of us in the northern hemisphere have already been through a hot spell, but are hoping to prolong the summer and enjoy more activities.

This is the box I have been working on recently, to change it to a memorable picnic basket. The beauty of doing this, is that very small boxes can be used to pack individual or couples picnics, and the box can be given away to the recipient of the meal.  I have used a large cardboard box here, which would be appropriate for  a family.

This one began as a very plain cardboard box, which probably everyone is familiar with.
I've laid out all the materials needed to cover this box. I would suggest, with any large box, to use wrapping paper that comes on a roll, as it covers the large boxes more easily, without using small pieces. However, in this case I am using scrapbook papers that I got in a packet for $5.00 at Walmart, and I am going to fold and cut and glue them on the box in various places.

Lay the flaps of the box open on the white side of the scrapbook paper and draw around them with a pencil. Cut out and apply with white glue. I won't be covering the inside of the box, because it will just have a tea towel inside of it where the food will be packed. 

Swirl white glue all around the areas to be pasted and brush evenly with a sponge brush before applying the papers.

Using whole sheets of paper, cover the top of the box, and wrap around to the bottom, if it will reach. These two papers are applied in opposite ways to give it a climbing rose effect. You will have to first lay your papers on the box and look at them in several different positions before deciding what look you like best.

If the cardboard shows through on the corners, cut thin strips of paper and fold them over that corner to give it an even finish.

With clear packing tape, secure two long lengths of wired ribbon on to the bottom of the box, in several places.  Here you see the paper strips glued to cover the edges.  You'll have to wrap your ribbon around the box first and tie it in a big bow to determine the length to cut, before you tape the pieces down.

Using the tied ribbon as handles, lift the box and take it to your location. Happy memories!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Altered Box for a Picnic

by  Jean Louis De Marne, France  1752-1829

Someone gave me this large, round, empty coffee box. Coffee cans are no longer made of tin, but of cardboard, so to clean this can and get rid of the coffee smell, it cannot be left to soak in water for any amount of time. It can be cleaned with a wet rag dabbed in liquid detergent.

 Although short in size, this one is very large and roomy. It can be covered in any scrapbook paper (any theme), and can be made to suit any person in your family. 

Turn the paper over to the blank side and press with a pencil, knife, or your finger  into th edge of the can to mark the width of paper. Then fold the paper evenly on that mark and cut along the line.

Mark the lid on the paper by pressing the paper into the indented area, and cutting out the circle.
Paint white glue around the can and the lid with a foam brush, and press on the paper. 

Paint a strip of white glue around the top of the can and apply a piece of wired ribbon or other type of ribbon,  tying it in a knot on one side.

Cut another piece of wired ribbon and tie it on each side of the other ribbon, to make a handle, as you see above.

The picnic basket is large enough to hold snacks for quite a few people. Think creatively and find different ways to re-create this box. Use fabric, gift wrap, brown paper, construction paper, or anything you like. Try lining the inside with co-ordinating fabric or paper.