Colorful Charity Sewing

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 1082 Skirt with Curves

(c) 2014 Soundstitches blog skirtNot very svelt on the hanger, this Vogue 1082 skirt perked up once finished and I wore it soon afterwards to my husband’s company party. It’s made out of green checked wool blend. It’s of some vintage, and I acquired it at a garage sale. I imagine it might have been planned for a matched jacket and skirt. Have a look at the curved pieces in this skirt, which I thought would be flattering. Pieces such as these are cut on the bias, and they risk stretching. A traditional treatment, and the one described in Sandra Betzina’s instructions, is to add twill tape to all of the curved edges. Instead of buying the several yards required, I used the selvedge edges of cottons. My rationale was not only money-saving, but I believed that the selvedges would be less thick and prevent warping of the seams. That didn’t work. Lumps were visible every time on to do other fitting. I ended up removing most of my improvised twill tape. The instructions should have called for stay-stitching instead, which would have minimized stretching but avoided the lumps.

Elements that differ from one side to the other are a challenge for me. A vent, for instance, will have a lining piece different on the right side than the left. And sure enough, that vent threw me off. I will confess to sewing up the whole thing in order to wear it for an evening, complete with extra flaps on the inside to encase the vent.

I wish I had read beforehand this piece of advice from a classic book, Tailoring, by Allyne Bane, from 1968 (McGraw-Hill):

…cutting the wrong layer of lining would be a serious mistake. Because it is difficult at this time to determine exactly what ‘left side’ means, it is not wise to cut one layer of the fabric at this time. Instead, cut both layers the same and tailor-tack the cutting line.

Oh well.

I was thrilled to see that you can get your own copy of Tailoring on (I got mine at a public library sale of old books.) It’s full of instructions on everything related to tailoring, and some things we don’t associate with tailoring, such as skirt construction, and of course cutting out a lining. I recommend this skirt for anyone with or without curves.

SoundStitches blog Vogue 1082


Gift Idea for You and Yours

SoundStitches sewing blog pyjamasA simple project that I’ve made over and over again is casual elastic-waist pants. Call them whatever you like — pajama pants, house pants, or yoga pants — I highly recommend them as a quick gift that you can complete in less than two hours. For summer, use a lightweight woven print. For fall and winter, choose a cozy flannel or fleece. (It’s a great beginner project, but it’s also great for advanced sewers — sometimes we just need a gift that’s quick and simple!)

Last summer, my mom picked out this lovely cotton print at a quilt shop nearby. The background is aqua and the flowers are poppy-red and periwinkle-purple. On a recent visit I made the pants and she’s very happy with them. I customized basic pattern Simplicity 9505 for myself, my mom and my husband. Some things I’ve changed about the pattern: Instead of using the recommended 1/2″ elastic, use 1″. This creates more of a smooth yoga-pant look, and it’s more comfortable. To accommodate the wider elastic, add some to the pant upper edge using tissue paper or similar. If you can’t find Simplicity 9505, any unisex or ladies’ elastic waist pants pattern will do, and there are similar patterns for children. All you need is a waist measurement and an approximate length.

Think about how much you spend on pajama pants and consider sewing them for yourself and some other worthy someone this season!

Lorraine Torrence Sale this weekend

This Friday and Saturday, Lorraine is having another sale. She says, “Come see the houseful of great finds and great buys I have as I clean everything out to liquidate my pattern business! Fabrics, garments, kits, notions, books and DVDs, and scrap bags!” She also says she will have big discounts and refreshments.

The sale runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and continues next weekend, July 20-21, again from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. I understand that Lorraine will continue to return to Seattle for retreats and seminars, such as a September design retreat at Huston. When I attended last time I purchased some great interfacing and wool in addition to chatting with Lorraine and Elizabeth, who with Lorraine’s support launched her Sewn line of designs. I’m hoping to acquire more of the great interfacing, but hope to practice some discipline towards other “bolt goods.” Hope to see you there!

2112 S. Spokane St, Seattle, WA 98144. Call (206) 725-8687 with questions.

Mitered Napkins

I decided a lovely cotton fabric with a colorful fruit pattern would make a lovely housewarming gift for a friend who moved into her own place. She often has me over for tea in her tiny cottage of a home. I had one yard preshrunk, which was enough to make four napkins about 18 inches square. I renewed a skill I hadn’t used in a while — mitering. And frankly I had forgotten this skill until about a quarter of the way into my project! It’s the same skill that carpenters use to install wood trim along the ceiling or floor. Mitering fabric edges involves more pressing than sewing. I suppose the carpentry analogy is “press twice, sew once.” Enjoy!

All napkin squares are cut (folded over for the picture) copyright Soundstitches blog
Lined up at the ironing board for initial first edge press on each napkin copyright Soundstitches blog
After the second fold is pressed, I can snip away excess corner material carefully copyright Soundstitches blog
I pin and press each corner a second time before sewing all the way around copyright Soundstitches blog

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Local Fabric Sale Extended — Go Forth and Conquer!

SoundStitches blog Lorraine Torrence
Lorraine in "Class Act" pattern

Lorraine Torrence Designs is welcoming us back for more by extending her liquidation sale another weekend. I went last weekend and enjoyed chatting with Elizabeth and Lorraine. I bought denim, wool, cotton and interfacing yardage. I salivated over many more lovely fabrics, patterns, and notions.

Lorraine says, “The snow and icy weather interfered with lots of people coming to my Studio Sale…, so I have decided to have a one-day re-do this Saturday from 10:00-4:00!  20% off everything!! Fabrics, garments, kits, notions, books and  DVDs, and scrap bags! Discounts, hourly drawings & refreshments!”

The address is 2112 S. Spokane St, Seattle, WA 98144 and you can call with questions: (206) 725-8687.

 2112 S. Spokane St, Seattle, WA 98144 
Questions?  Call (206) 725-8687