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What a Tutu

soundstitches sewing blog oregon ballet theatreYou know what you’re working on, and how the hours pile up. Check out this bit of effort — making tutus for the Oregon Ballet Theater’s production of Yuri Possokhov’s Raymonda. (That’s okay, I never heard of it either.) Each tutu, they say, takes 80 hours to construct! My favorites are photos 13 (below) and 17 (on Web site).

What are you working on? I’m off to a sewing retreat soon, so what I’ll be working on is… packing!

Oregon Ballet Theatre makes tutus for Raymonda

SoundStitches sewing blog tutus detail

o-SOCIAL-TV-facebookHere’s a new stat:

The average American spends 5 hours, 4 minutes watching TV each day (Nielsen.com, February 10, 2014).

I’m not sure whether this includes mobile devices too. Back when I had cable TV, I used to say that I “learned” from watching HGTV (Home and Garden Television), which was my favorite channel. But, really, did I spring from the couch and go DO a project? No! I supposedly stored up this knowledge for later implementation. It rarely happened.

I think the same about the growing number of sewing videos out there. It might be comforting to see someone else learn along the way. If that inspires you, watch just a little of that, then press Pause and try it yourself.

And so, go do something! Take that stuff off the shelf and rearrange it to your liking. Stop at the hardware store and price out your next repair. Grab that quilting book off the shelf and start planning your next project. Because doing — not watching it being done — is learning. Lower the quality bar you have in your head, if necessary, because it might be keeping you from trying new things.

I prefer to have books around. After World War II, jobs were plentiful and people had more leisure time. Men and women acquired power tools, sewing machines, and cooking appliances and installed workshops and rooms dedicated to their hobbies. Books through the early 1990s covered self-sufficiency topics extensively. Step into a used book store and see if you can acquire a good sewing or home improvement book with great illustrations and end-to-end instructions. You can spread these out on the floor or table as you work. Go to it!

Image source: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1195200/images/o-SOCIAL-TV-facebook.jpg, Accessed April 7, 2015

SoundStitches sewing blog charity sewing Days for GirlsHere’s what I did last weekend: I stitched colorful fabrics to help girls stay in school! A co-worker alerted me to a sewing session to benefit a group that believes, “Every girl in the world deserves education, safety, and dignity.” Well, I decided I not only believe in that, but I could spend a few hours proving it! Here’s a bit more on Days for Girls International:

We help girls gain access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene and awareness, by direct distribution of sustainable feminine hygiene kits, by partnering with nonprofits, groups and organizations, by raising awareness, and by helping communities around the world start their own programs.

Practically-speaking, we stitched soft cotton covers and liners that will go into kits with washcloths, soap, and various plastic bags to make these necessary items easier to manage. We also consumed tasty soup, snacks, chatted, and enjoyed the great view afforded by our hostess’ hillside home! The goal of this program is to enable girls to continue attending school when they are often absent for one reason alone. More days in school leads to higher educational attainment and delayed motherhood, which leads to better maternal and infant health, and overall quality of life. Learn more or find a session near you: Days for Girls International

The organizer had assembled ready-to-sew kits. The fabrics were the delightful, high quality, and well-coordinated cottons you see in the picture, making it a pleasure to stitch together various combinations. I hope to attend the next session! This is actually the second session I’ve attended. The first was with school-aged girls, organized by a local mom, and held in a local crafts/sewing studio. Though puberty has not arrived for these girls yet, they were eager to either learn or practice their sewing skills to benefit other girls. And what a great, informal way to learn that the arrival of puberty is a challenge all girls can handle!

 

Gift Pillow

detail of knife edge pillowA guest room at my brother’s home has rust brown color sheets, so I decided on these colors for a simple pillow. I’m happy with the result, which is neither country cute nor too modern. I first had in mind a cover for a travel pillow that was resting on the bed. Silly me, I thought all travel pillows were the same size! So this square pillow is the result instead. It’s on its way in the mail, and I hope it will be enjoyed.

I used a “knife edge” technique that makes the corners tuck in instead of sticking out — with no stuffing to give them definition. The photo below shows the detail, and it’s easy to do. Wrong side out, select a short distance in from the corners. One-half inch might do, or one inch. Draw a dot or an “X” using chalk or a disappearing fabric marker. Then use a large dinner plate or some other round flat object to taper a line towards both edges. Those lines, along with a regular seam allowance, are the lines you’ll stitch along. Proceed with trimming and turning inside out as usual.

When this type of pillow is turned to the right side and filled, the corners have a nice shape — worthy of gift giving. Of course there are many other pillow creation techniques, but it’s the one I chose for this pillow. And with that, I say “Happy Holidays”!

 

 

soundstitches sewing blog gift pillow

Vogue 8742

Vogue sewing patterns SoundStitches sewing blog fashion knit Pacific FabricsI’m making this Vogue look from a rust color ponte knit. I didn’t have enough to make the dress, so I’m making a tunic length top to wear with leggings. So far the look is flattering — another waist/bust/hip enhancing look for most of us.

I searched for other ladies’ results online and the pictures bring home to me the importance of choosing a substantial knit. That means a relatively heavy knit, such as ones you would wear for leggings or pants. Think winter instead of summer weight, and to test in the fabric store, squeeze a good handful of fabric, and see how it regains shape and whether it releases wrinkles soon. The right knit weight glides over your body without clinging (though of course wearing a slip or smooth undergarments further reduces “panty lines”).

In today’s standard patterns that contain both a sleeved and sleeveless look in the same package, the bodice pattern piece is identical. But ready-made sleeveless aren’t like this: looks don’t end at the sleeve cap but rather finish closer to the neck. Imagine you were feeling punk-ish and decided to take an old sleeved sweater from your closet to hack off and make a sleeveless sweater from. You could simply draw a line from the armpit to the top of the sleeve and cut it off. But, it would not result in a flattering look. Ready-made sleeveless looks cup in a bit to flatter the neck, arm and body. The sleeved look on Vogue 8742 works fine, but for the sleeveless look you’ll want to cut out another seam allowance-width of fabric.

Rusty red ponte knit

Rusty red ponte knit

In addition to changing the top’s length, I haven’t used the prescribed single-fold binding. Binding, sold in packages by Wrights, is stiff because it contains polyester along with cotton, and this stiffness just isn’t compatible with knits. Instead I purchased rayon seam binding for the neck and sleeveless armholes. (Pacific Fabrics carries many colors of seam binding in its stores. See if it’s available online too.) While rayon seam binding isn’t stretchy, it’s narrow, lightweight and both edges are finished. You can sew it to the dress fabric, right sides together. Attach it before you sew the shoulder seams, and you can eliminate backstitching. (I take time to suggest this because delicate rayon seam binding easily develops holes after the sewing needle goes over the same spot twice.) The rayon gives a worthwhile professional finish and eliminates the bulk created by twice turning over thick knit.

Early on, I accidentally ruched all the way down to the hem, as designed for the full-length dress. As I work on other details, I wonder what I will do with the hem. I may take out the gathering stitches so it will lie flat at the hem.

Finally, I’ve got to make an alteration where the back of the dress meets the neck. The last time I worked on other aspects of the top, I wondered if I even need a button closure. Most women’s heads measure about 21-22 inches (53-55 cm) around, and if the knit stretches this amount around the neckline, that’s all that’s needed. I’ll need to baste to test that out, and after Thanksgiving, I hope to finish up this rust-colored gem and wear it out of the house!

SoundStitches Sewing Blog CoolHipsterDressThis cool free graphic comes to you from Hipster Vector, which offers free graphics that can be downloaded and manipulated with graphics programs. They can adorn your Web site, blog, or Facebook page — the creator simply asks that you credit them, and so here is the credit for Freepik. The dress comes from a set called Cool Hipster Dress Up Girl — find it at the link above, and search for others. Other free art picks include vintage signage, mustaches, goofy clothing with or without body attached, bowties and badges (the digital kind!). Lots of fun!

And here’s the whole Cool Hipster Dress Up Girl set. For Halloween, I wanna be cool hipster girl!

SoundStitches sewing blog hipster girl dress set

Seattle Seahawks fleeceIn the United States, football season is off to a roaring start. American football season, that is. The season coincides with cooler weather in most of our climes. All that’s for the international folks — now Statesiders, what’s your favorite team, and what’s your favorite thing to make out of NFL team fleece? It’s a great gift for anyone who is a fan. The sewing is simple — no need to finish the raw edges, and fleece is forgiving of imperfect seams.

Single or married, young or old, little or large, a blanket is a great cozy thing to wrap up in while watching the game. Our house has a great wood fireplace and we are most often found in front of it during a game. (So are the cats, unfortunately: Cats + fleece = fur-lined blanket!)

I found NFL Fleece Fabric on Amazon.com and wonder what I could make from it this year…

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