Monday, August 29, 2011

Casting on with Jean Greenhowe....

This past week one of my friends dropped in to get some help with her sewing machine. She brought with her some of her work and I just had to share these photos with you!

Lynn is becoming renowned for her needlework in yarn. The number of first prize ribbons for her knitting and crocheting keeps growing year after year and she is now becoming a judge for the local fair.

Here are some photos of the little Jean Greenhowe dolls that she makes. She sent me these details on the dolls along with their pictures. They are all made with double knitting yarn; the scarecrow figures are about 13” tall and the other dolls are about 15 to 17” tall.  "They are what I call a “soft toy” as there are no wires or buttons involved.  Perfect for a hug or just tucking under a chubby little arm."


I can't tell you how sweet and charming they are. She said each doll takes about a week to make and when you see the detail it is no wonder. All the parts are stitched down so you can not lose a hat or pantaloons. I know how to knit so I can appreciate the quality of each of these little people. I am thinking that perhaps I should purchase a couple in anticipation of a grandchild in the next few years....  

If you are interested in contacting Lynn, let me know and I will put you in touch with her. I am sure she would ship them to anyone who was interested and they are light as a feather so it wouldn't be that expensive to do so. 

So until next time, keep stitching!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

This 'N That...

It has suddenly turned fall-like! The blue jays and crows are heard calling most days and I spied a small flock of geese passing overhead early one morning in formation! Practicing no doubt for that long flight south. The mornings are decidedly cooler but the days are still wonderfully warm thank goodness. And of course the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) has opened. Every year it signals the end of summer and when it ends on Labour Day, school begins the following day.

We were driving to Orillia the other weekend and I convinced my husband to stop so I could photograph these signs at this little shop along the way.

They have coffee, deli meats, the biggest and best stuffed olives (blue cheese or jalapeno pepper to mention two kinds), desserts to die for, old fashioned candies and lots of really interesting 'stuff'. But what I love the most is the parking sign:

I'm thinking of getting one of these made up for our cottage parking lot!!

There was the most unusual sunrise the other morning at the lake. We face the west and to see the sky all pink and reflected on the water was amazing. Contrary to the old farmers' saying, "Red sky in the morning, sailers' warning" it didn't rain.
Equally beautiful and amazing was one of the sunsets that weekend. the tree branches just wouldn't get out of the way and the sun kept moving so this was the best I could get. It reminded me so the the "eye" in the movie series, Lord of the Rings. There was an eye-like slit in the cloud cover through which a brilliant circle of white light was emitting its rays and these in turn were reflected on the water. It lasted only a very few minutes and was gone and dark!

Erika and I have been working hard over the past couple of weeks. She showed me how to create smocking graphs using Adobe Illustrator and so I have been practising. And now the new fall schedules have been updated and will be posted as soon as possible. 

I am anxious to get a few more things out of the way and get on with some new work. 

So until next time, keep stitching......

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Setting in sleeves

Although the new pattern, Infant Wardrobe I, says you can use light weight denim, Patricia ran into a problem when making the jacket for her two year old grandson. This little guy lives out in Calgary, home of the world famous Calgary Stampede. Patricia envisioned the boy's view made up in sporty black denim with brilliant colours of native embroidery and set off with a T shirt, cowboy hat and boots. All went well until she went to set in the sleeves.

All patterns have limitations and a designer can not predict how every fabric will react. I want you to think beyond the Christening outfit and be creative. Don't be afraid to be challenged. There is always a solution.

The denim plus the lining proved rather bulky and the results were more like a puff sleeve which might have been fine for a little girl but not the tailored look she had planned.

So she brought it to me and asked what do I do now? The jacket was finished - buttons, buttonholes and embroidery all in tact - she didn't want to ruin it after all that work.

It was obvious to us both that there was simply too much fabric at this combined weight of denim and lining to allow the sleeve to fit smoothly into the armhole - so - a trim was needed! 

By shaving three eighths of an inch from the cap and tapering it to nothing at the notches the amount of fabric would be reduced significantly and the angle of the sleeve in the garment only slightly altered. The notches were transferred to the new cutting line. The gathering threads would have been put in place again at one quarter inch and one half inch but I was not going to remove the whole sleeve from the jacket! If you were starting fresh that would be imperative but I knew that a technique from tailoring would work well in this case.
With this technique, you divide an area in half and pin. Then divide that area in half and pin. You keep doing this until you have no more room to place a pin or the fullness is used up. On the left you can see how the notch and the shoulder seam have been matched up and the area to the left has begun to be divided and pinned. On the right you can see my hands dividing the area to pin. Or you can fold the fabric in half, lining up the last two pins to find the centre of the sleeve and armhole. This is more accurate in the beginning when you are working with a large area.  As you get down to less fullness you can see how much fullness you have to divide and pin.

Here you see the sleeve pinned in place. There is no more room for any more pins because of the bulkiness of the fabric. Next I hand basted the sleeve in place. Yes, hand basted! with a back stitch to get the most control. Back stitched because I had to use  stitch that I could 'pick and poke' to get the gathers eased out. Had I gone to the trouble of putting in the gathering threads once again, I could have pulled them up and eased the fullness further. But I didn't, so hand basting was imperative! And I might say it worked perfectly.

So here you can see the finished seam and how I am easing in the fullness of the raw edge as I overcast with a zigzag stitch. I used a trolley needle to hold the gathered down and in place as the fabric passed under the machine foot. When the seam allowance is pressed into the sleeve it acts as a support for the sleeve cap and helps it to sit properly.

Oh, but you are not finished yet! Setting the finished sleeve with a bath of steam is important. Steam works best as you won't have any shine from the iron. If you don't have a tiny sized pressing ham or the sleeve won't fit over the end of you sleeve board, create a ball-shaped support from a towel or a couple of washcloths. This needs to be pretty firm though so it may take a bit of 'finaggling' to get something to fit into the sleeve cap area. If the jacket had been made of wool the sleeve could be set with steam alone and all fullness worked out. But with cotton denim (which stretches!) a good bath of steam with the support to shape it all will work well. Remember that it is a child's garment and will be washed often so don't over stress yourself! I just have a tendency to want perfection. 

So here you can see the finished product. I think you will agree it looks much better and Patricia was happy with the results. 

Every fabric is a learning experience and I can hardly wait to see the photos of this little guy all decked out in his Western version of the Infant Wardrobe. I will post photos as soon as she send them so watch here in the next couple of weeks.

Until next time then - you know the drill - keep stitching!!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More wedding photos

People keep asking for more photos of the wedding. We still don't have the photographer's photos - just the proofs. So here are some that we and friends have taken.

Robyn, one of her bridesmaids and I went for French manicures as a treat two days before the wedding at a spa on the outskirts of Ottawa. I have never seen such a large establishment! There were 15 stations for nails, plus 3 stations for French manicures, plus 2 - 3 stations that accommodated 4 people for drying nails, + a separate room with 10 stations for acrylic nails, + rooms for tanning, waxing and massage! To my surprise, about half the technicians were men but it is my understanding that in Vietnam boys start training as early as age 7. I was impressed. The price was quite reasonable and the manicure lasted nearly two weeks!

The Salon/Spa

So let's jump to the day of the wedding. 

We were staying at a Bed and Breakfast, The Old Burnside, just a short drive from Almonte, ON which was the site of the wedding. The mansion was circa 1840 and simply incredible. I invite you to check it out on line: <> It is so picturesque being situated on the backs of the Mississippi River (no, not the big one!) the food was fabulous and we had the whole place to ourselves the night before and after the wedding. Robyn had two rooms on the second floor - one for sleeping in which was "gianormous" and a second one for her and her maids to dress. We had the third floor all to ourselves.

I admit that we were the tradition 15 minutes late getting to the location. But this area is like the Bermuda Triangle of GPS and the photographer got lost finding the Mill as he was using his. It was only a 5 minute drive but he ended up somewhere else and so the ceremony was about 45 minutes late starting. As a result everyone was getting somewhat sunburned!

So here is the Bride on the arm of her Father starting down the path to the ceremony.

The Bride and Groom about to take their vows.....
Who gives this Bride to be wed?

Ceremony over and they are about to leave as Husband and Wife....
Look at all those beautiful wild flowers and the line up of maids of honour

Mom and Dad with two of the Attendants behind.....

It's over and now the fun can begin!

Older brother Paul, Robyn, Mom and Dad

Mr & Mrs Bent Gellerich!

Last but not least, cutting the cake at midnight.....
What a perfect day and evening. They both had to work for part of the week following the ceremony but took a couple of days at Le Chateau Montebello near Montreal for a much needed rest. (Check it out on line - it is quite an historical place! <>) Then they flew to New York for the U2 concert and then on to the Caribbean for their honeymoon. Bent kept it a total secret as to where they were going until they went in the airport and security asked where they were going.

Reality has now set in as the honeymoon couple have returned home to work and school. We heard from them on the weekend and they sounded well rested and ready to 'begin the rest of their lives together' - just like they say on the soaps.

So now it is back to reality and work for me as well. 
Enjoy your summer and keep stitching!! Until next time.....