Monday, February 24, 2014

Antique Bonnet

I wanted to share with you this time one of the bonnets in my collection.  I have a number of antique items in my drawer and this weekend was going through them looking for inspiration.

As with most antique pieces there is always something on can draw on or learn a trick or two.


This delicate bonnet has seen better days but the embroidery is still in tact for the most part.
Believe it or not all the embroidery on the bonnet and the ruffle around the edges was done by hand on a very fine batiste. It looks like a fine Pearle cotton was used to make the embroidery bolder but strong at the same time. 
The main part of the bonnet has been embroidered to look like what we would call today an "embroidered edge" about 6 1/2 " wide with a picot edge. You can not really see the edge because of the ruffles.

Hopefully with enlargement you can see some of the details more clearly.

The picot edge is visible just above on the inside. The bonnet lining is attached with a somewhat waddy seam but the edges just peek out.

The ruffle is actually a hand embroidered galloon (embroidery with two finished edges) with scalloped edges that has been gathered onto the bonnet edge. The tiny hand gathering stitches are still there but the ruffle has been attached by very fine machine stitching - the only machine stitching I can find on the actual bonnet!

The circle back of the bonnet which you can make out here is composed of two pieces of the galloon whipped together. On the outside edges of the circle, the embroidery of the galloon has been folded over so it can be seen on the outside and probably to make it easier to set the circle into the bonnet. The lady who made this little bonnet obviously was creative in her use of what she had at hand. We can do the same with our sewing just like she did.

This circle and rest of the bonnet are lined with very loosely woven fabric. The same was used for the ties. These were machine stitched on the edges and the hem. But the lining was lovingly attached by hand and shows a lot of wear.

So what can we learn from this little bonnet? Be creative with what we have at hand. You can make or buy a wide edge and a piece of galloon to make a little bonnet of this sort. There are lots of patterns out there with a circle back and a CB seam or a horseshoe shaped back that would work for this type of bonnet. Keep the fabrics light and fine.

With all the incredible embroidery machines we have today, if you can not find the kind of materials you need to make this bonnet, if you have one of these machines you could certainly make a stab at creating your own! 

You could join two 1" embroidered edges together with a mock rolled seam to make a 'galloon' and then gather that to the bonnet edge. With some creative stitching you would never know and the 'galloon would be quite secure!

Hope you like my little bonnet and will try making something similar or at least be inspired by
some of these techniques.

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fabric Ratios

An interesting question came up last week in a pleater class. How do I know how much fabric I need to be able to smock something? My first instinct was to respond at least 3 times fullness. But with a moment's though I knew that isn’t true for every fabric.
Whether you are smocking or just gathering fabric for regular sewing you might be interested in these findings. 

You see the thinner (or finer) the fabric the finer the pleats so the more you need. Conversely, the thicker the fabric the fatter the pleats and the fewer you need to cover a space. 

If you have a selection of fabric in your stash to test you could make a chart for reference. This might prove very handy if you like to mix up your fabrics and take creative license with the patterns you make up!

I chose a commercial pattern for a little child’s yoke in size small for the comparison. It was a straight yoked garment which measured 7” from side seam to side seam. The pattern of course is 'on the fold'. If you were comparing for a garment like a bishop which involves flaring the pleats the results would be different again. But we are comparing only straight gathering.
So here I have taken four popular fabrics for smocking: a soft batiste, a silky broadcloth, a deceiving flannel and a 21 wale corduroy. I pleated a depth of 6 gathering threads and the full width of the fabric (45” for all but the broadcloth which was wider). I marked of every 7" and put a pin in that valley so you can easily see the ratios I photographed.

The batiste:

45" less a seam allowance at each end - 6x fullness

Here is a full 45" width of batiste pleated up and it fills the 7" but is very condensed - perhaps too full to be able to smock and have the stitching look it's best.    

5 x fullness - not bad for picture smocking.
4x fullness  - still lots of fullness in the skirt and perfect for smocking

3x fullness - getting a bit thin good for geometric smocking

2.5x fullness - you can't go any less and still be able to smock


 The broadcloth:
6x fullness - really packed!

5x fullness - still quite packed but great for picture smocking and a lovely full skirt!
4X fullness - looks perfect for any smocking
3x fullness - very good for geometric smocking and still a fairly full skirt
2.5x fullness - getting a bit thin, geometric smocking only
The flannel:
This felt not much thicker than the broadcloth but the results of the pleating showed it was indeed a thicker fabric. Just goes to show you that things are not always as they seem.
5.5x fullness - wow look how wide that is!! Only 4x can be used.

3x fullness - pleats are still very packed
2.5x fullness - still good -compare with the batiste!
2x fullness - still very good for most smocking, but skirt getting skimpy
The 21 wale corduroy:
I love using pinwale corduroy for children's wear. Today knits are very popular and can create very beautiful garments but I didn't have anything readily at hand to test so was left with the pinwale corduroy. It has its own challenges and makes for an interesting base for your stitching.
4x fullness - pleats are really packed and the skirt would be really full

3x fullness - perfect for smocking & skirt would be nice and full as well

2x fullness - still good for smocking and still adequate fullness for a skirt

Of note is the  fact that this testing was done with a 16 row Pullen pleater. Not all pleaters take up the same amount of fabric in a pleat. Differences inn rations will thus appear between pleaters. For example, the Sally Stanley pleater takes quite shallow pleats compared to a Read so the Stanley pleater will give you more pleats over 45" of fabric. Worth knowing!

Hope this has proven interesting, thought provoking and/or helpful.

If you ever wondered why a pattern didn't afford you enough fabric to smock or the reverse this testing might provide you with some answers.
Any other questions???

So till next time, keep stitching.....



Monday, February 10, 2014

Zippers - the newset fashion trend....

The Exposed Zipper                                                                                                                                  
This newer type of zipper application features a fully exposed with the zipper sitting on top or outside of the garment. It is showing up on all types of garments from suit jackets, to pants to eveningwear. If you watch any of the awards shows this season you are bound to see at least one!

Measure the length of your zipper, cut and apply an interfacing to either side of the seam allowance for support. This time the interfacing could be cut ⅞” wide.

Note the length of the zipper – from the top to the zipper stopper. Machine stitch the garment seam below this measure. Backstitch the start of this seam. Press the seam open making the seam allowances a little wider (¾”) at the top to accommodate the zipper pull. Ease the width of the seam allowance from the stitched seam to the new width at the top edge.

Tack the ends of the zipper tape together with a stitch or two. Measure the length of tape there is below the bottom stopper (e.g. ½”). On the back of the zipper, draw a line at ½ this measure (e.g. ¼”). On the right side of the garment, mark a line below the end of the zipper opening at this distance (¼”). Make it wide enough to be seen either side of the zipper tape when the zipper is laid on the seam.

Lay the zipper face down on the right side of the fabric and upside down – zipper stopper towards the top of the garment. Match up the horizontal lines on the garment and on the zipper. Stitch across the marks, through the zipper tape and the garment. This will anchor the zipper. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of this little row of stitching.
Now flip the zipper up so it is sitting right side up on the right side of the garment. Do this so you have about ¼” of zipper tape below the zipper stopper. Pin in place.
If not finishing the top of the garment with a collar, waistband or facing, turn the remaining zipper tape to the wrong side of the garment. Pin in place. Now hand baste everything so you no longer have to worry about any pins!
Switch to your zipper foot. Position the needle as close as possible to the notch of the zipper foot and the foot will ride along the side of the zipper teeth. This will give you even straight stitching. Begin with the zipper open. Back stitch at the top of the zipper; carry on down one side, pausing about half way down the zipper to close it.
End at the bottom of the zipper and repeat the process for the second side. You will need to reposition the zipper foot or the needle for this second side.
From the wrong side, this sample is not perfect but you get the idea. I didn't pin before stitching so you can see that it does pay off to take that extra step.
To complete the application you will stitch around the zipper at the very outside edge, across the bottom and up the other side. This will make the zipper placement secure.
To jazz things up you could do a row of decorative stitching on either side of the zipper on the tape.
Finish the top edge of the garment according to your pattern.
So give this new fashion application a try, you will be surprised how fast and easy it is and you will be right in style!!
Till next time, keep stitching......


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Six more weeks of winter!!

February Second, 2014! How the time flies!!

This is Ground Hog Day here in Canada and the United States. Wiarton Willie is our local celebrity and today when he pokes his nose outside folklore has it that he will predict how much more winter we are likely to get.

Many Canadians celebrate Groundhog Day by attending festivals, engaging in activities and reading or listening to news about groundhog appearances on February 2. Some Christian churches celebrate Candlemas on this day. Other people mark Groundhog Day as the date to take down their Christmas decorations.
According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.
People across Canada will be watching to hear from such forecasters as Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam, Brandon Bob in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta. And of course in the US it is Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil.

This year winter seems to be dragging on far too long for me. It snowed all day yesterday, starting with beautiful, huge flakes. Then as the temperature rose they got smaller and grittier. But looking out this morning, everything is white, pristine and covered in a beautiful deep blanket. Looks like we will be shovelling once again!

FYI, “Buckleberry”, my princely little bear pattern, is back from the printers and ready to go. He is now uploaded onto the web site and on the order form ready for shipping. Teddy bears are apparently a traditional Valentines gift. If you hurry you might be able to get him in time! He is one charming fellow.
I am working on making Buckleberry my first e-pattern! There is lots of testing to do yet and background work to set up the web site for ordering so more about Buckleberry and others later.

So until next time,
Keep stitching.....