Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Christmas Crochet

Mantilla Doily on Mom's organ

Contrary to the evidence, when I decided to learn to crochet, the goal was not to make dozens of crooked wash cloths.  While the wash cloths were good for practice and, once I could get them square, decent Christmas gifts, what I really wanted to make was cotton lace.

When I was in the 8th grade, my Mama Leah made me a purple sleeveless shift with a Peter Pan collar and added a piece of cotton lace right down the front.  I was surprised at what a difference the trim made to the garment and how much I loved the look of that lace.

Mama Leah's shift

Years later, my wedding dress would be a strapless J Crew gown in guipure lace: 

I wanted to recreate that look in a more casual dress, but sadly, nice cotton lace fabric is hard to find and very expensive.  So I decided that 'one day' I would try making crochet lace myself and moved on to a different project.

This past summer my mom gave me my great-grandmother's tiny steel hooks and, since pregnancy had me mostly confined to the couch, I decided to give it a try.  I lucked out and found a great set of tutorials on YouTube by Jeego Crochet that walks you through each stitch and round of his beautiful doilies.

After several months of naptime crochet, here is my Mantilla Doily, which became a Christmas present for my mom.

Blocking and Starching
Swollen Pregnancy Hand for Size Reference
Finally Done
I also made some little Christmas stars and attached them to a long chain as a garland for my Mama Leah.  That tutorial can be found here.

Now that I know how long it takes to make crochet lace, I may not be making dresses any time soon, but I do love the delicate look of the doilies.  I plan to follow additional tutorials by Jeego Crochet as soon as I have two hands available again.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter 2015 Vintage McCalls 1921 and Simplicity 4018

Since Easter is earlier this year and we have a new baby to keep us busy, I went for simple dresses this year.

The pattern for the wrap dresses for my big girls is from 1954 (Thanks, Etsy!)  It was simple to put together and required very few adjustments.  I had to take them in along the side seams for both girls and add 1.5" in length for my oldest.  I also increased the size of her pockets by .5" on all sides to maintain proportions on the larger skirt, but that was it.

My buttonhole foot does not love bumps, so I made sure to lay out my pattern pieces to keep the button tabs free from embroidery and placed my buttonholes before adding the bias tape.

I used some tear-away stabilizer when adding the buttonholes, as I was concerned that the thin fabric tabs would get caught in the feed dogs.  This worked well.

Since I was on a time crunch, I took a few shortcuts.  I pinked seams instead of finishing, omitted stay stitching :/ and applied the bias tape by simply sandwiching the fabric inside and stitching it down, instead of doing it correctly...  They may not last as long this way, but they did get done in time for Easter!

Wrong side of dress, pinked seams

I did take a minute to sew my bias tape together before starting so I'd have enough length for the whole dress.  Here's a reminder about how to do that:

Place bias tape right sides together at right angle, with a little tail hanging over each side.  Stitch on diagonal.  Open out and cut away excess.

Mercifully, last year's bloomers still fit the big girls and the baby has a store-bought eyelet pair, so no extra sewing there!

Front of larger dress, back of small.  Last year's bloomers

The pattern for the baby dress is from the early 1960's and on loan from my Mama Leah.  As a size 1, it was still too big for my 3-month-old, so I made some adjustments at the collar and armhole when laying out my pattern.  This worked fairly well and I only needed to take up an additional ~.5" at the shoulder seams for a good fit.  The length was much more than the pattern called for (since the pattern was too big to start with), but I ended up liking it, so opted not to shorten.  If I'd had more time, I might have added some bias-bound patch pockets to the front of the dress, but this will have to do for now!

Pattern adjustments at armhole and neck

One last adjustment at shoulders

Front finished

Back finished

Happy Easter!

Three kids and a bunny in one photo. Whew.


Thursday, March 19, 2015


My Mama Leah has always kept dishcloths in the car to use as lap napkins ("lapkins"). While I was working in outside sales, I spent all day (including most lunches) in my little Honda Civic. In order to keep my suits clean, I made some modifications to the lapkin and created the Neck-Kin. (I never said I was good at Marketing...). I just made a few more this winter, so I thought I'd share the technique:

The Neck-Kin is just a dishcloth turned longways with a casing sewn on one end to hold a ribbon tie. Once you have made your casing and inserted your ribbon, you can tie the Neck-Kin around your neck to protect your clothes while eating in the car. It is sort of a family joke now, but I have 5 in my van and they do get used!

I recommend a lighter-weight dishcloth so it doesn't bunch too much when gathered at the neck.

Fold over one end to make a casing.  Make sure it is wide enough for your ribbon.

Stitch along edge to form casing

Use a safety pin to insert ribbon into casing

Use a safety pin to insert ribbon into casing.


And... Enjoy!

Works great! ;)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Liebster Award

Regular readers (Hi, Mom!) will have noticed that almost a year has passed with no updates.  I am happy to announce that the project that had me tied up all last year arrived happy and healthy in December and is just starting to sleep through the night.  I'm hoping to get back to semi-regular posts soon!

Last year's project

Right before I went on hiatus, my friend Jen over at Quests of Quirkiness nominated my blog for a Liebster Award.  From what I can tell, the Liebster appears to be a way to recognize blogs that you love.  The rules are fairly simple:  Thank the party that nominated you and then pass on the award to your favorite blogs.

Jen and I began sewing at the same time and have enjoyed sharing both the fruits and frustrations of learning to sew together.  Her blog not only catalogs her awesome sewing, but also shares other craft projects as well.  Many thanks to Jen for nominating my blog for the Liebster and for being my sewing buddy these past few years!

Now for the paying-it-forward part:

Please check out these great sites, which I hereby nominate for the Liebster Award!

LIZ-O-MATIC -   Liz has just started her blog about sewing, knitting, and gardening. 

Catherine Brawner Jewelry  Cathy makes original, hand-crafted jewelry which can be viewed (and purchased) on her blog.

Sew, Jean Margaret Jean Margaret sews an astounding number of beautifully sewn and fitted clothing.

Urbane Baby Liz makes and sells precious (and affordable!) children's clothing.