Monthly Archives: December 2018

It’s a Wonderful Sewing Life

Like so many people in the USA and around the world, my favorite Christmas holiday movie is the 1947 Frank Capra picture, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.  No Christmas season is complete for me without watching it at least once. Bedford Falls, the fictional town where the movie takes place, would have been bereft without the life of Stewart’s character, George Bailey, as he eventually discovers under the benevolent care of his guardian angel, Clarence.  I believe the movie is a good reminder to think about our own lives, the things that make us happy and the talents we have which enable us to do lovely things for others.  And so – I often reflect on how my life would be so much poorer without sewing in it.  I love to sew in all the seasons, but especially at this time of year, I am so grateful that I can sew for my little granddaughters.  It is one of my greatest pleasures to plan and make new dresses for them to wear to all their holiday events.

Last year’s dresses were red and white checked flannel, so this year I thought they should have green dresses.  Trying to find a pretty “Christmas green” in a child-appropriate fabric proved to be a challenge.  Thankfully, on a trip to North Carolina in October, I had the good fortune to visit Mulberry Silks in Carrboro.  There I was able to order a lovely green cotton sateen from a swatch book, and have it sent to my home in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks later.

I already had a vision of a way to make these dresses just a little bit special.  My inspiration came from a feature in Classic Sewing Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 3, purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics earlier in the Fall.

Not only do I love rickrack, I love to embellish it. When I saw this collar and cuffs, I knew I had the inspiration I needed.

Although I wasn’t planning on smocking these dresses, I knew I could embellish the collars and cuffs in the same manner as the illustrated dress.  Of course, I envisioned red and green rickrack crisscrossed, and red and green detailing on the cuffs.

I used lightweight linen for the collars and cuffs, and made self piping for the edge treatment.

Because my girls had outgrown the patterns I used for previous years, I needed a new pattern to configure in their sizes.  Fortunately, the same Classic Sewing Magazine contained this pattern in sizes 4-8.  I knew I could use the smocked dress pattern, by using the bodice lining template as the actual bodice.

The smocked dress on the left had the correct collar, cuffs and long sleeves which I was looking for.

Another feature I wanted to include was this embroidered ribbon which I picked up last year in an after-Christmas sale at a home/design store.

I sewed the ribbon onto a long, unattached sash for each dress.  I have just enough fabric remaining to make plain belts for the dresses in case my daughter thinks the girls can wear them at other times of the year. The pattern called for a buttoned back, but I opted for zippers instead, as a practical alternative.  I thought about adding three little pearl buttons right below the center neckline of the bodices, but then I realized they actually detracted from the design of the collars.

Now it seems every project has some little quirk to it, and this one became apparent to me only when I took photos of the finished dresses.  (I should add here that I was racing the calendar to get these dresses in the mail in early December so they would arrive in New England in time for the Season!)  My photos showed the orientation of the rickrack embroidery was different on the two sets of collars.

What I don’t understand is the fact that I laid out the grid exactly the same on each collar, but once they were attached to the dresses, they were askew from each other.

I am still trying to figure out how the grid on this collar ended up on a slant.

Well, at that point it was too late to try to fix this.  Off they went in the mail, with me scratching my head!  Fortunately, when my daughter sent me some photos of the little ladies in their dresses, this mistake was not very apparent.  And best of all, my little girls love their dresses.

As I am wrapping up my sewing for 2019 (in order to finish wrapping presents, for one thing!), I am so grateful for all the resources available to those of us who sew, I am so fortunate to be part of this global sewing community, and I am so grateful to all of you who read my blog.  Thank you so very much!  I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, loving, happy Holiday Season. And may your guardian angels ever keep watch over you and your loved ones.

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Filed under Heirloom sewing for children, Sewing for children, Uncategorized

“. . . A Vivifying and Effervescent Color. . .”

Every December when Pantone announces its Color of the Year for the upcoming annum, I think of it as a holiday gift for the mind and senses.  The commercial implications of the selection are obvious, as the manufacturers in the lifestyle and fashion industries are guided to a degree by the chosen color.  Or perhaps the Color of the Year is more of an affirmation of the direction these manufacturers were headed anyway.  Nevertheless, the color serves as a guideline and often an inspiration.  The color for 2019 is Living Coral, Pantone 16-1546.

Described as “a peachy shade of orange with a golden undertone,” the color shown here is not nearly as vibrant as the real thing!

Its description reads as follows: “ Vibrant, yet mellow, Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.  Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity.  Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.”

Pantone has been selecting a Color of the Year for 20 years, although the company had its beginning in 1962.  It certainly appears that they went back to their early roots in when choosing Living Coral for 2019.  Take a look back 58 years at this cover of a 1963 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine:

This cardigan coat is paired with a white wool dress underneath.

One of the prominent colors featured inside this issue from February/March 1963 is referred to as “absolute orange” and “sun-tinged melon.”

This 7/8 length tunic coat is in “the softest of the melon shades.”

And this is a “pink-infused shade of melon.”

Even the back cover of the magazine shows a golden-tinged orange color.

Well, I do not need any convincing to be excited about the chosen color for 2019, as I already have made several garments n this hue.  Not only do I love this coral color, I admire its versatility and wearability with other contrasting colors. Following is a quick run-through of my examples of Living Coral.

Although this dress gave me fits when I was making it (because of the pattern and the fact that it called for knit fabric and I used a stretch charmeuse silk instead), I do get compliments whenever I wear it, so I guess I did something right. Even the print in the fabric looks a bit sea-life and like living coral.

This dressy coat has to be one of my favorite makes:

To me this is a perfect example of Living Coral color.  One of the reasons I love this coat so much is because it pairs so well with blue.

Another example of coral and blue – this time navy blue – is this dress I made a few months ago.

And then last year about this time of year, I made this blouse to pair with a bronze-and-white-lace skirt, tied together with a coral sash.

My most recent make for me (I’ve been sewing for my little granddaughters, too, soon to be revealed!), is this coral wool skirt.  I have worn it with gray , and it will also look good with navy blue and light blue , and of course, winter white.

Although I haven’t tried it yet, I think Living Coral will look spectacular with this year’s color of Ultra Violet, and 2017’s Greenery.

I made this coat last Spring in a color very close to Ultra Violet.

With three weeks left in December, I am presently concentrating on the more traditional colors of red and green and blue and gold.  But Living Coral gives us an optimistic view of the year to come, and that’s a vivifying message for all of us.

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Filed under Fashion history, Mid-Century style, Pantone Color of the Year, Uncategorized

Season for Sewing: Gift Ideas

Every year, it seems, I come across a few select items which either enhance my sewing experience or give me pleasure because of their fashion/sewing connections.  Happily, this year is no different. The following is my list of those items, eight this year, in no particular order.

1)  I actually purchased this needle case a couple of years ago, and for some reason only really started to use it this year. Perhaps I thought it was too pretty to use.  Whatever the reason, I have been making up for lost time.  I am misplacing and losing far fewer needles with this lovely little case.  Susan Khalje sells them on her website.  It is made out of a vintage linen cocktail napkin, and the leaves upon which you fasten your needles are lanolin-infused wool.  This not only protects your needles from rust, it also seems to make them glide more smoothly through your fabric.

These come in various colors and every one is just a little bit different.

2)  If you are a fan of ribbons and trims like I am, then you probably have lots of short or long pieces which can difficult to store and preserve in any logical way.  I found these super winding boards at Farmhouse Fabrics, and oh, my, they help at least one of my storage drawers stay neat and tidy and organized.

These come in various sizes, too!

Just beware: once you get on the website for Farmhouse Fabrics, you may not want to leave.  They carry some amazing fabrics, including an extensive selection of beautiful cottons.

3) With all the books on Coco Chanel on the market, you probably do not think you need one more. But take a look at this book of Chanel quotes.  I thought I had heard every sage bit of wisdom and advice she ever gave, but I was mistaken. There are quotes in here that are new to me and which further convince me of her wisdom, fashion and otherwise, biting though it is at times.  It is divided into sections on Style, Women, Herself, Life and Success.  I find this book endlessly fascinating; I hope you will, too.

4) From the sublime to the basic!  Here is a spray bottle which I have found to be perfect for misting.  Wool especially, I find, needs to be misted, not just steamed and this is the best bottle I have found for the job.  I mist lengths of wool when I am getting them ready for sewing, and heavy weight wool responds well to more then just steam.  Made by Dritz, this bottle is available at JoAnn’s or Amazon.  (It also works well on linen.)

5) Oh my goodness, I love this Lap Desk.  It’s perfect for those times when I am doing handsewing in the evening and would rather be sitting in front of a nice cozy fire instead of squirreled away in my sewing room.

As you can see, the cushion that is supported on your lap is ample, but very soft and lightweight.

The flat surface is water resistant, and also excellent for holding a laptop computer.

And the wooden rim around its edge keeps your supplies from rolling all over the place.  This is a winner!

This item is available at Bas Bleu, an online bookseller.

6)  I am constantly making notes while I sew. I’ll be the first to admit that I am addicted to cute notepads.  And when they have a sewing/couture connection, then I am a happy person. This one even has a vintage theme to it, making it even better in my eyes.

You can purchase this from Idlewild.

7)  On a visit to the Fabulous Fashion Exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this Fall, my friends and I spent ample time in the Exhibit Shop as it was filled with all kinds of  delights.  Among those delights was this “dressform” Christmas ornament.  The body of the form is out of papiermâché.

Unfortunately there was no manufacturer listed on this item.  It also is not listed on the website for the Museum Store, but you can check out the store’s website for some other fashion related ornaments.

8)  I had been eyeing this Sleeve board with built-in presser and clapper in Helen Haughey’s Etsy store for quite a while.  I finally took the plunge and purchased it. It is beautifully made and the width of the pressing board seems calculated excellently for most sleeves.  I am very glad to have it as another one of my essential pressing/sewing tools.

The pressing surface is nicely cushioned, too!

No doubt by next year at this time, I will have come across more sewing essentials, but this will do for 2018.  Perhaps you will find something among this selection to add to your holiday wishlist.   Happy Sewing in this season for gifting!

 

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Filed under Gifts for Sewing, Uncategorized