Art and Needlework by Rebekah

Art and Needlework by Rebekah

Dec 28, 2013

12/28/13: Breaking the Silence and Sewing a Lace Belt

When a person comes back to blogging after 6 months of non-blogging, she has, obviously, a lot to talk about. That is where I am at today and I don't have a clue of where to begin! Maybe I should start things off with a short recap. . .

The last 6 months or so were full of many long days at the farm working the fields and market. Last year our orchards didn't produce any fruit (apples, peaches, etc.), because of a frost we had in the Spring. This year turned out to be plentiful. We had a beautiful crop of apples and peaches and they haven't looked so blemish-free in a very long time. A good portion of our field crops were also successful, such as our tomatoes, sweet corn, and pumpkins. As always, there were certain set backs and trials during the year that involved a wide array of causes. Those that stand out in my mind are the late crops of potatoes. We planted potatoes in three different locations and only the first patch produced potatoes with high quality; the other two were combated by disease and scab. If you ever planted a garden--especially one with vegetables--you would know that it is a very good idea to plant a variety. Don't just plant one thing, plant an assortment so if some disease, bug, flood, or drought comes along and makes your tomato plants wither, you'll still have those carrots that you planted next to them. :)

My time wasn't solely spent at the farm this year. I also was working part time in the kitchen at the Summer camp that is right down my street.

As the farming season was slowly fading away in October, I went in high gear for an upcoming December craft bazaar happening at a local church. What was I selling? I will tell you all about it in the next post!

In all the Summer/Fall craziness, I managed to do a little crafting. I made curtains for my bedroom and I finally put together a belt using one of A Fashionable Stitch's belt kits, which she no longer has in stock. I was really disappointed about this when I heard the bad news, because her kits make it so incredibly easy to execute! Maybe she'll get kits later on when her new brick and mortar fabric shop is running smoothly; congrats Sunni!

So here's the belt being worn with a ready-made, loose fitting linen dress of mine:

To make this belt I used two fabrics: a lace fabric and a white lining. I cut a strip of each and basted them together. I then followed the kit's instructions for the belt, using the two basted fabrics as one fabric, like an underlining. I used a small scrap of white bias tape for the belt loop.

The part of this project that I would deem the hardest, was setting the eyelets. I first thought that I needed to go out and buy a tool or something for this step but as it turns out my mother or grandmother had an eyelet tool, I just never knew what it was until I searched the internet. This is what it looks like:

And this is what it was made to do:

This belt may be a small accessory and didn't take much time to do, but I am so proud of it. For a long time I included belts in the category of leather shoes--a clothing accessory you simply cannot make at home, (unless of coarse you buy a truck load of new shoe making tools and materials, something I'm not planning anytime soon). In a nutshell: a new crafting door has been opened. 

Labels: ,

May 30, 2013

5/30/13: Checking In

With the month drawing to a close (can you believe it?!), I thought it was high time I stopped by and shared my "goings on." If you measure your crafting time in terms of finished objects, mine has been meager. On the other hand, if you measure using the Universal Enjoyment Meter, May has been good to me.

In case you're not in the know, my days are mainly made up of working on my family's fruit and vegetable farm here in western Michigan. I never got a chance to tell you that back in March this year I got a part-time job working in the Food Service Department at a nearby camp and so between those two jobs, crafting time has been cut back. So I leave you with that reason for lack of finished objects. But I tell you, whenever I find time to sew or knit or crochet or whatever, it feels SO GOOD. Distance makes the heart grow fonder as they say. :) And crafting may just move down a block or two soon, as summer camp is beginning in a few days and total mayhem will follow! 400 hungry kids. . . That should keep me preoccupied. Goodbye crochet hook; you won't be forgotten.

The latest about the farm. . . It has been raining so frequently here that we are struggling with getting certain crops planted. Because c'mon, how can you plant anything when you're sinking six inches down into mud? Ugh. And said mud causes farm equipment to come to a stand still. So no discing, no planting, no nothing. Latest forecast for tonight? Rain. Please pray that the rain will keeps its distance for the time being!

In the little spurts of free time I have had, I made my way to the sewing room for one goal: to sew up another pair of jeans for myself. I've been wearing my first pair to death and they are already showing signs of stress. I never did bother using flat felled seams (the traditional seam for jeans), on my first pair and this is probably the main cause of the jeans' current state. My mindset when sewing up the first pair was to make it easy to alter the fit so I made plain seams with large seam allowance just so I had wiggle room later on. Now that I know the fit is good I am confident enough to use the more durable flat felled seams. I'm also going to break out the recognizable, gold thread used on jeans and really make it look like ready-to-wear.

I came down with a cold this month so when I was stuck in bed with my box of Kleenex I watched the last two episodes of the Great British Sewing Bee. Awesome, awesome, awesome. If you are a reader of sewing blogs you already know about this show and probably watched all four episodes months ago, but hey. The one thing I always take a way from watching this program is the feeling of pride of what I do. A lot of the time I think of myself as just a home sewer that knows a lot of the basic sewing skills and who is still working her way up; gradually learning more complicated sewing skills with each project. Trepidation is normal for me and on the occasion I find myself not starting certain projects just because I never tried it before or have tried it once and didn't like how it turned out. So whenever I watched the show and saw the contestants try making something they've never done before and struggle along, I was reminded of myself. Especially when Lauren teared up in the last episode. Yeah, I do that. Sometimes I do pour my blood, sweat, and tears into a project. (When I prick my finger when hand sewing in 90 degree heat while I am mentally drained, and find tear drops rather than iron leaks on my ironing board. Been there?)

So thank you Great British Sewing Bee for making me feel better about me and my sewing.

Another thing that brought a smile to my face this month was when two nice ladies left comments on
the blog.

Geraldine has just picked up sewing again because of what she's seen on my blog. So happy that I helped rekindled a love for sewing.

and Shona told me that my invisible zipper tutorial helped her install a zip in her friends, get this, wedding dress! Wow!


Don't know when I'll be able to stop by this blog but I will definitely be reading crafting blogs throughout the summer months. Hey, if you can't craft yourself, why not read about it? So if you have a crafting blog, please share it in the comments below and I will be sure to check it out.


Apr 28, 2013

4/28/13: Daffodil Time

Finally back and writing up a blog post. If you've been keeping tabs on me you would know that it's been nearly a month since I've posted. April is just whizzing by and I didn't even realize how long my absence has been!

In essence, I've been pottering along in various projects. A little crochet here, a little sewing there, no full-blown projects like the dresses you would find here and here. My sights have been moved towards other aspects of life since then and so I've been gravitating towards crafting that doesn't involve too much thought.

Crochet came to the forefront this month because a crochet-along was in the works. Back in February I started a crochet-along on a ravelry group (found here), and the chosen pattern was the Daffodil Bag designed by Marty Miller. It was featured in the March/April 2013 of Crochet Today magazine and is a great portable design because the bag is comprised of motifs that are later seamed by hand.
[ the original bag featured in the magazine ]
The object for me was to make this bag for Catherine so she could use it as her crochet project bag. This is how it turned out:
The yarn I chose for this bag was your typical go-to acrylic yarns: Red Heart Super Saver and Caron Simply Soft. It's funny to note that the first eight motifs I crocheted turned out to be completely wrong! They looked like this:
[ my motif of embarrassment ]
They should have looked like this:

Reason? Me! I was too much in a rush and didn't take my time to look at my cluster stitches. For some reason I kept on believing that a double crochet stitch was the chain I was suppose to work into. Next time, slower please!

Now about the finishings. I knew from the start that I wanted to line this bag, so Catherine chose a beige colored eyelet fabric we had on hand. Had some oddly shaped pieces to deal with so I had so seam three pieces together to form the lining. Here’s how I made it, step by step.

Found these measurements: Length and width of bag’s bottom. Height of bag (from bottom to highest point). Circumference of bag from the inside.

Bottom: 9” x 9”
Height (highest): 9”
Circumference: 25”

To figure out what fabric pieces to cut, I did some math. I wanted this lining to have its start as a tube. So the finished tube would measure 25” in circumference, and 15-1/2” in height. I arrived at the 15-1/2” measurement by adding the bag’s height (9”) to half of the bottom measurement (4-1/2”).

Added 1/2” seam allowances and 1” hem to all necessary edges.

I cut out the required pieces, seamed them together using a 1/2” seam and I created the lining’s bottom by folding in the sides like you would a Christmas package. I tacked down the folds with machine stitching; right in the area you would use scotch tape on your present.

I inserted the lining into my newly constructed bag and I folded under the top hem so that the fold just meets the crocheted, yellow border on the bag. I pinned the lining in place and slip stitched it to the bag.

[ eyelet lining sewn to top edge of bag using a slip stitch ]
So that’s how I made and inserted the lining. Now about the handles. Crocheted handles tend to stretch out of shape, especially with a heavy load, so I decided to stabilize the handles by machine stitching very narrow twill tape to the side edges. 
[ handles stabilized with twill tape ]
There you have it! Can’t wait to see my sister toting around this bag with crochet hook in hand. I've been teaching her crochet this year and they way she's been catching on, she probably could have finished this bag 2x faster than me. :)

The daffodils are finally blooming in my neck of the woods. . . Happy Spring everybody!


Mar 30, 2013

3/30/13: Finished - Vogue 9668 Dress

I casually mentioned this dress in a couple posts ago, (this one precisely). This dress has a very long history and took me forever to sew up, but it was a labor of love for sure. So here is Vogue 9668:

As you can tell from the long, wavy locks, this isn't me modeling. ;) I sewed this dress up for my sister Catherine. She's been waiting a very long time to see this dress made, three years in all! Let me explain.

Do you remember this?
You don't? I wouldn't blame you. Haven't mentioned this pattern (Vogue 9668) since March of 2010. My original post talked about how I would take Vogue 9668 and make the dress on the far right for my sister using a beautiful jacquard cotton in a dark blue. The fabric has an all-over, subtle flower design. I don't know if the photos really capture it because you can only catch glimpses of the flowers depending upon the light.

So back in the spring of that year I took on this dress project. At the time I knew this was a big undertaking for me (especially when I didn't have much knowledge of pattern alteration then), but I dove right in. I altered the pattern to my best ability, sewed up a muslin, and had sis try it on. Oh boy. That's when the trouble began. There was some big problems, things like the armscye not positioned correctly, excess material under the arm, wrinkles radiating from the neckline, and on and on. I tried assessing the trouble areas for days and asked people on forums and such, but it amounted to nothing. I just didn't know where to begin. So the muslin was put away and sadly, the dress, too.

Then after finishing up my pair of jeans this past February, I got into the mindset of completing something I put down long ago. Of course my sister was the first to point out the Vogue dress, so I got to work.

OK, you got the background story, now for some details.

The Dress's Features: Vogue 9668 is a fully lined dress that has a separate midriff piece, waist and side bust darts, a uniquely shaped neckline, and a bias cut skirt.

The Fabric: The fashion fabric--which I bought from in 2009--is a medium weight, 100% cotton jacquard that has an all-over flower design that resembles hibiscus blooms. I used a black, polyester lining from for the skirt and lightweight, black cotton for the bodice's lining.

The Pattern: Vogue 9668, a very popular pattern according to a lot of sewing blogs, was given to me by a kind member on a group. The pattern I was given was one size too small for my sister so there was need for some changes. I followed Casey's tutorial on how to grade up one size (I added 2"), and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Never ever graded before, been scared of doing it to be frank, so you can well imagine the one happy camper that resulted from this smooth grading venture! I then added 2" to the length of the bodice, 3 inches or so to the length of the skirt, and minuscule amounts to the waist area, i.e. midriff, bodice, etc. I also added inseam pockets to the side seams of the skirt.

Construction Process: After making changes to the tissue pattern, I made up a bodice muslin. Sis tried it on and there was only small problems to solve--nothing catastrophic like before. I guess the tissue alterations paid off. I only had to lower the side dart, take it in a little bit at the side seams, and re-sew the shape of the neckline because the original was too low. I noted that the bust darts that start from the midriff looked fine. I found out later that they were to reek havoc!

After cutting and sewing the bodice together I had Catherine try it on. It was then when we noticed that the bust darts--the ones that I just mentioned--looked wrong. They were positioned correctly but their points were not smooth in the least. I tried a number of recommendations I gathered from the net and sewing books; things like shortening the dart, narrowing the dart, etc., but nothing made a smooth point. Actually, these endeavors made things worse. In the end, Catherine pushed me into trying a technique she found on It is redrawing the straight-legged dart into a dart with curved legs. See the tutorial here. I gave it a go and it worked! Was elated. I'm so glad she made me try it out, it saved the day.

So let's take a looksy at the dress's interior.
[ bodice front ]
[ bodice back. I used an invisible zipper instead of the centered zipper ]
[ dress front ]
[ dress back ]
[ the top of the invisible zipper ]
[ the inside of the inseam pocket. I used the same lining that I used for the skirt's ]
What was my hem of choice this time? This dress's skirt is cut on the bias so I had to give the hem some extra attention. I first made sure that it had time to drape and relax. I then had Catherine put the dress on and I asked her to point to the place where she wanted the hem to fall. I took a yardstick and found that her chosen hem level was 16-1/2" from the floor. Using pins, I pinned every couple inches to mark this 16-1/2" level all the way around the dress.

I had her take off the dress carefully, (didn't want to lose a single pin!). I turned up the hem following the pins and basted the hem in place using long hand stitching. I wanted a 2" wide hem so I measured 2" from the hem's fold and chalk marked all the way around. I cut along the marks I left. After searching out for three yards of some navy, stretch lace hemming tape, I sewed that to the raw edge of the hem I had just cut. 1/4" seam was used. Then, using a long basting stitch on my sewing machine, I basted along the edge of the entire length of stretch lace. I did this to allow me to pull up the bobbin thread and ease the hem into place. After easing and steam pressing the hem in place, I hand stitched the hem down using a loose catchstitch.

[ the skirt's hem. I used stretch lace hemming tape ]
For the lining I did something simpler. A half inch narrow hem this time around. I cut the lining on the bias as well so a narrow hem such as this is really the best option. 
[ I used a narrow hem for the lining ]
I trimmed the lining so it would be 2" above the hem of the dress.

Whew! Lots to talk about this dress. I do hope I covered everything! It has been a lot of fun sewing up dresses these last two months. Not many chances arrive to do this sort of thing so I fully enjoyed the opportunity I had. Next up on my list of things to craft would be more along the lines of farm clothes. Like jeans and t-shirts. It's getting to be that time of year again so a little more practical sewing needs to happen, and happen soon. Thankfully, I have a tried and true jeans pattern and a t-shirt rub off. Everything should come together smoothly--I hope!

Labels: , ,

Mar 29, 2013

3/29/13: I'm Sewing for Victory! - Final Part

I was true to my word. The photos just came in. . .

[ By the way, I'm not wearing the shoulder pads in these photos.  I discovered that the weight of the skirt solved the shoulder issues! ]

Catherine and I just took these photos this morning. When I was sewing up this dress I was worried that I would need to take photos with a snow covered background. Thankfully, some warmer temps have arrived!

Now onto the details!

The Features of this Dress: Topstitched, knife pleats in the skirt, pleated sleeves, shirt dress type bodice, and an inset belt at the waist.

The Fabric: A light to medium weight rayon crepe in a navy blue color, was used for the skirt. A cotton lawn with printed polka dots was used for the bodice. The crepe was bought from three years ago and the cotton lawn was given to me by a neighbor.

The Pattern: Simplicity 2106 from 1949 was used.
This vintage pattern was bought three years ago on Etsy. Envelope is tattered for sure but the pattern pieces are in great shape. Also came in my size which was a real bonus! I tweaked the style a bit by removing the button band closure on the skirt. I opted for an invisible zipper instead. Not many alterations had to be made for this one. I only needed to add 1" to the waist and 7" to the skirt's length. OK, that second number is large but it was an easy one to make!

The Construction Process: Let me first talk about the underlining. As I said in my previous posts, the cotton lawn I used for the dress's bodice is much too transparent to wear on its own. That's why I decided to use an underlining for the bodice area and omit it from the sleeves. A medium weight cotton in white was used. So what is underlining? Underlining is a second layer of fabric that is basted to the fashion fabric, (the main fabric that is seen from the public side), which is then sewn in unison. The public layer and the underlining are treated as one layer throughout the sewing process. You can see the underlining in action in this photo:

[ Picture of the inside of the dress. You can see the white cotton that was used for the underlining ]
So what type of hems did I use this time? For the hem of the skirt I used my traditional method: serging the raw edge, turning up the hem, and slip stitching in place. I used a 2" hem this time.
For the sleeve I used a narrow hem. It was the best choice for such delicate fabric.
As I said up above, I replaced the buttons that ran down the front of the skirt with an invisible zipper.
The zipper stops at the inset belt; right near the belt's button.
The inset belt was a tricky little devil to sew in. The pattern instructions told me to topstitch the belt entirely. I gave it my best shot but the layers kept on twisting on me so I wound up slip stitching a part of it. It looks great so it was worth the extra effort. I also want to point out here that I sewed both seams with twill tape and I used sew-in interfacing for stabilization. 
[ An interior shot of the inset belt ]
 Two of my favorite aspects of this dress are the buttons. . .
 And the pleats with their topstitching.

So there you have it. I'm so happy to have joined this sew-along and actually saw it through. I've joined a sew-along before and never even made it past the muslin! Now you see why! I cannot wait to see everyone's 40s creations on parade. Thanks, Rochelle, for being such a dynamic hostess and making this sew-along both motivating, inspirational, and fun. I think everyone has been victorious!

 See the other posts that are part of this series by clicking here.

Labels: ,