October 17, 2017

Finally - A Concord for Me

Long ago in a far away land, I was a pattern tester for the Cashmerette Concord Tee.  At that time, I made a tee for The Musical One.  I loved it, she loved it - but I never made any more.  With this transition to a more casual wardrobe than what I'm used to - the concord has been buzzing around the edges of my mind lately. 

While I was working on something else, I pulled this lovely ITY Print that was a remnant from Carolyn's stash.  I loved it.  Honestly - I took horrible notes while I was making this - but here's what I remember:  I made a tabbed short sleeve, v-neck with the curved, faced hem.  I cut the length between the tee length and the tunic length - because that's what my fabric would allow.  I used a black and white polka dot remnant for the neckband, sleeve tabs and hem facing. 

While I love this top and how fluid it is - there are some things I could change in future versions.  

While I didn't really need the sleeve tabs for the short sleeves, I added them to add more of the polka dots.  I believe in the power of 3s when you are using an accent.  This helped.  Also, I love how the polka dot neckline looks lacey.  

Here - you can see from the side view that the back rides higher than the front - so for future versions, I need to add some length to the back pieces so the hem hangs even.  

And from the back view - I feel like I need a little bit of sway back adjustment.  

I know I graded between sizes, but don't remember which sizes I used.  The bust and sleeves are fine as are the waist, but the hips could use a bit more width.  I have plans to make this curved hem version into a dress - I think it will be fun and comfy and fit right into the kitchen of the B&B.  

October 10, 2017

Pumpkin Placemats

So, just when I think I'm back to blogging - I do something stupid like take photos for the blog then leave the camera in New Jersey when we were visiting the kids.  UGH.  So, I missed a week and my schedule is all off - but here I am again.  This time with a crafty project I just finished for Carriage Corner.  

I decided that pumpkin placemats were in order.  First, I did a search for a pumpkin embroidery design.  See the one I had was too small - but I liked that it had 3 color sections to the pumpkin.  I found a larger design that I could make work.  Then, I dug through the stash of quilting cottons to come up with 3 orange fabrics and 2 greens.  

Next up was creating templates for the applique fabrics. While the design I purchased came with 'cut' files - I don't have a machine for cutting fabric or vinyl so I have to do it myself.  To do this, I unthreaded my embroidery machine, put an old needle in, hooped stabilizer, and then placed regular printer paper on the embroidery hoop, pinning it in the corners.  I stitched out the first couple of colors, then changed the paper - to get templates for everything I needed - fabric 1 - the outer edges, fabric 2, the middle section, fabric 3 was the center of the pumpkin, the leaf & stem.  Because my design was only intended for 1 fabric, I had to get a little bit creative, I stitched the satin stitch that would go around fabric 2 and then traced the template shape.  It worked.  

Templates:  fabric 1 & 2; stem & leaf, fabric 2.
After that, I figured out what size I wanted my finished placemats to be and cut the background fabric to size.  I'm a lazy embroider-er and feel that there is too much room for error when hooping your main fabric.  I tend to hoop my stabilizer and then pin my fabric to it.  So, once I figured out where on the placemat I wanted that pumpkin to land - that's what I did.  The next photo shows my 'official placement.'  I folded the background fabric in half, lining it up with the center markings on my embroidery hoop and had the bottom edge of the fabric just touching the inside of the hoop.  Without moving the design, this positioned it perfectly for the plate to sit right over the embroidery once breakfast was served.  

I will admit - I embroidered a couple of pumpkins that couldn't be used.  And learned a few things in the process.  I had to remember to layer the fabrics all right side up when cutting the templates.  I used fusible basting spray to keep the pieces in position during embroidery.  

Once all the pumpkins were embroidered - a full house around here is 13 - but I made a set of 12.  Honestly, it rare that we have more than 10.  Plus, the only plates these placemats will work with currently are plain white and I only have enough to set a table for 8.  Yes, things can get confusing around here - but I try to always plan for 12 when purchasing or making table linens.  

Anyway - once the embroidery was done, I then cut strips of the green fabric used for the stems and stitched it to the sides of the placemat.  I then squared everything up, layered embroidered top, backing and batting.  Stitched around the outside, leaving an opening for turning.  Turned, pressed and then stitched around the outside a 1/4" from the edge.  

Here's the pumpkin side set this morning - there is a basket of gourd in the center of the table.  I don't like these green napkins with the placemats, but they are what I had this morning that worked.  

September 19, 2017

Eleanor's First Stocking

Oh Gosh - I still haven't introduced you all to E yet.  The Princess and The Sports Writer had a beautiful baby girl on January 23, 2017.  She is just the most perfect thing ever.  I strongly advise everyone to have grand kids.  :D

E wearing a dress her Mommy wore as a baby.
Ravelry says that back in 2009 - I decided to knit new Christmas stockings for our family of 4. Everyone picked their favorite color - JB chose Eagles Green; The Musical One = purple; The Princess = hot pink; and I got lime.  The 4 original stockings are the same.

The Princess, JB, Mine & The Musical One's stockings
Then, The Princess got married. So, it only seemed right that The Sports Writer got a stocking. His stocking is slightly different than The Princess' and the rest of the family. Similar but different. This was gifted to The Sports Writer in 2014, after the wedding.
Leg of The Princess' Sock
Leg of The Sports Writer's Sock
We picked a soft pink and white for E's First Christmas Stocking - I say first, because as she grows up, she might want a different color and I'm okay with that.  As you can see - E's sock is similar but different from the others.  I really love the striped instep on this one.  I love the way the stripes look and the snowflakes across the top of the foot.

E's First Stocking

My favorite photo of The Princess & Little E

September 13, 2017

New Sewing Room

Well - we've been in our new house and living this new life for close to a year now.  While our "Owner's Quarters" are much smaller than our home was in Seattle - there is plenty of room for us.  There is even room for us to have personal guests.  Oh - but that's a tour for another day - remind me, k?

Today, I thought I'd show you how I've set up my sewing space in our Owners Quarters.  Once again, we have a large walk-out basement space.  And I think I have just as much space as I had back in Seattle, only with more furniture.  So, when you go downstairs, the first thing you see is the fabric shelves.  Yes - I know they should be covered, and they will be - someday.  Probably before Eleanor can walk and starts pulling fabric off the shelves.  At the top of fabric shelves are baskets of yarn.

The old leather dual-recliner loveseat is downstairs along with 2 chairs.  {We move most of this furniture out for sewing retreats.}  Because Beau couldn't manage the stairs very well, we started spending our evenings downstairs.  We have the seating and a large tv down here.

Immediately to the left of the fabric shelves is the little shelve which holds my envelope patterns. The top bins have button overflow and zipper storage and the basket on the window ledge holds fusibles.

Behind the chairs, is my sewing desk.  It's the same one I had in Seattle.  It holds all 3 of the machines - although I'm not sure the newest one will be out all the time.  I've been moving them around to set the sewing machine up for embroidery and still be able to sew - hence the newest one.  

Behind my sewing chair, is my cutting table.  I lost the storage under it when we chose to put the dog crates under there.  This truly was for the best, because the crates are large and Jethro & Stella still sleep in them.  So reorganizing was a priority.  As you can tell - I did not clean up to take these photos - I was getting ready for shirt cutting and holiday sewing prep.  I do tend to clean up between each project, however.

Behind the cutting table is my ironing board and iron.  I keep it set up all the time.  The door go out to our fenced yard.  

Finally, at the end of my sewing desk is a bookcase which holds my sewing and knitting reference books, binders of knitting patterns, and my Threads and Ottobre magazines.

So - my space is spread out and yet just a bit more compact than it was before.  We spend more time down here.  There is also a full kitchen, dining room and half bath - which is why it works so well for the retreats.  Sorry for the mess - but welcome to my new sewing room.

August 21, 2017

Pressing Matters

One of the other things that Miss Carolyn suggested that JB make is the multi-point pressing tool with attached clapper.  I'm sure there is a different 'real' name for this - but that's what I'm calling it.  The tool at the top has many uses - to get into corners - I can't wait to use this to press tiny little collars on sweet dresses for Miss E.  Plus there's the matter of my Fall wardrobe being filled with buttondown shirts - it will happen.

While perfecting the shape of the tool, JB created an interesting point.  It's curved from the widest spot of the piece to the point.  This allows it to be stronger and get into tight spots.  The top of the tool measures roughly 3/4" wide.

Along that top edge you can press a sleeve seam or any seam really.  The wood on all the tools is unfinished and has been sanded smooth so it won't catch on any fabric you happen to be using.  And that tiny little curve on the back end - well you can press curves over it too.

The arc for your hand varies in height from 2" to 2 1/2" depending on the stock he had to work with for the multi-point handle.  But, I haven't felt one that is 'tight' for my giant hands.  The tool fits comfortable in your hand, allowing you to use the handle to apply pressure when using the clapper.

We've already sold a few since this photo was taken, but aren't the colors in the various woods beautiful?  I've put up individual photos on the Pressing Matters tab (up top).  All of the tools sell for $40 and ship in a medium flat rate box.   We have been including a little bonus tool in the box as well.  We are willing to ship anywhere in the world.  If you are interested - click over to the Pressing Matters tab, leave a comment with the number of the tool you would like and a way to get in touch with you.   I'll reply to your comment and send an invoice via paypal.

If you would like a coordinating set with shoulder curve and multi-point let me know.  The shoulders will all be oak, but the base can match either the 'handle' or the clapper portion of your multi-point tool.

August 14, 2017

Get Your Irons Ready - Shoulder Stand

As happens with so many of the things in my life, this one is no different.  Several years ago, the first time Carolyn came out to Seattle, she said to JB, and I quote:  You should make shoulder pressing stands.  I have one I bought and it's one of my favorite sewing tools.  Carolyn's post about her shoulder stand is here - scroll to the middle to see what she has to say about it.

Years passed - as sometimes happens - and in March, Carolyn was at the B&B for the first sew camp and she brought her shoulder stand along.  She put her head together with JB and they had a whispered conversation about sewing tools and wool.  Next - JB got online and ordered some pretty hardwoods.

JB then spent days drawing out the perfect arc.  Figuring out which tools to use to cut, then sand it all smooth.  The shoulder form itself is made from 1 5/8" oak so you have plenty of room to position your garment and press your seams.  JB used 3/4" thick hardwoods for the base and made sure that the stand was the same depth as the shoulder form.  The pieces are attached with coated decking screws so they won't rust with the application of steam.

The cover is made with 2 layers of wool batting and then 2 layers of bleached muslin.  It is tightly fitting and slides into place over the form.

Here I am using mine to help press a shoulder seam and applying a ton of steam.  This was the nicest and easiest sleeve seam I have set in a while.  No more futzing with the sleeve over my ham and finding the spot that matches the sleeve seam the best.  It just worked - and worked well.

AND - because the form is the same size as the base, I could 'roll' the base to get all the way around my sleeve without repositioning anything.

We currently have 5 shoulder forms available.  They are $40 each plus postage and will ship in a flat rate box.

SOLD - This is "Form #1"  The shoulder form is oak and the base is made from honey locust.  The base measures 7" x 5 1/4".

SOLD - This is "Form #2."  This shoulder form is oak.  The base is made from flame maple and measures 6 3/4" x 5 5/8" and all of the corners are rounded.

SOLD - Form #3.  Again - the shoulder form is made from oak.  This time the base is made from mayan walnut.  This is a heavy tool.  The base measures 6" x 5 1/2" and all corners are rounded.

SOLD - Form #4 - Oak shoulder and Flame birch base.  The base on this one measures 7" x 5 1/2" with rounded corners.

 SOLD - Finally Form #5 (like my system for keeping track?).  Shoulder 5 is made with a curved oak shoulder shape and a flame birch base which measures 6 7/8" x 5 3/4".

If you are interested in purchasing any of the shoulder stands available, please either leave a comment with the stand of your choice or send me an email at:  gmariesews at gmail dot com  please make sure I have a way of contacting you.  I will send an invoice via paypal and ship the next business day.  All of the shoulders stands have been sold.  There is lumber on the way to make more.  If you are interested, please leave a comment on this post or on the Pressing Matters Page and I'll email and reply when new stock becomes available.

August 9, 2017

Pony Up!

Oh my gosh!  I started writing this a week ago.  I thought I actually had a draft post here - but no, all I had was a title.  Figures.  :\

Anyway - when the Pony Tank by Chalk and Notch was released back in early June - what?!  I managed to win Pear Berry Lane's instagram give away!  Whoot whoot!!   I was so excited.  I bought that pattern and entered my code faster than anyone knew what was happening.  But then what happened?  Well - life got busy.  The B&B was non-stop from mid-June right through to the end of July.  

I had a taped together and traced pattern sitting on my cutting table, along with fabric.  I just needed time.  Well - I finally found that time.  I think I spent about 2 days cutting the top out and sewing it up - not because it took that long - but because I only have little chunks of time to sew now.  

Anyway - the fabric I used was (honestly) probably not the best for this pattern, but I don't care.  I love it.  It's a heavy cotton spandex knit and I have no idea where I got it.  There was between 1 1/2 - 2 yards and there is still a little piece left - which I'll save for when Miss Eleanor is big enough for these huge polka dots.  

I made my usual alterations to the pattern while tracing it.  Which is just to take 2 1/2" out of the back length for my incredibly short back (or sway back).  

Once I found the time to sew this up - it took no time at all.  JB didn't get a good close up of the neckband, but this baby has the prettiest v-neck that I've ever managed to accomplish. 

There is a dress length also included in the pattern, but I can't decide if I want to try it or not.  I'm getting more comfortable wearing some of my work dresses in the B&B for breakfast service but they are mostly the knit dresses and have a bit of waist definition.  But who knows - you may see a dress version of the Pony Tank pop up here in the future.  

What's your favorite thing to sew these days? 

June 30, 2017

Carriage Corner Sew Camp

Just setting up the Sewing Space/Living Room
So, when we were looking for a bed and breakfast to call our own, one thing that was really important to me was a space big enough to hold sewing retreats.  The first B&B we seriously looked at had a huge beautiful common area - but that property needed more work than we had money, so we kept looking.

As we wandered around Carriage Corner, I kept wondering where we could set up tables and create a comfortable gathering place for sewists.  I played with the idea of setting space up in the garage - I mean there was a fridge in there - but honestly - it's a goldilocks space. (either too hot or too cold!)  Carolyn came to stay for a few days just after Christmas and we wandered around the B&B looking at space.  And then because she's a friend, we hung out in our personal space and did a little bit of sewing stuff (although we rarely seem to actually turn machines on).

It was agreed that the best place to have a retreat was in my sewing space/living room.  We are very lucky with the property we found - you see, many times the Innkeepers live in a room and we have an entire 2 bedroom house - which is accessed from the office.  It's easy enough to bring the dogs in and out through the front door so they aren't around the sewing room when we do retreats.  And - there is a kitchen, powder room, and tv - I mean, what more could you want?

Because our personal space is accessed through the office AND we are able to shut ourselves away in our bedroom - YOU are able to stay up as late as you like sewing or start early.  I keep the office door open to make the space more accessible and will show all 'campers' where light switches, plug ins for irons and remotes are at the start.  We more all the 'regular' furniture out of the space and have a folding tables set up in a large square to create community.  Both the cutting table and the dining room table can be used for pattern work and cutting.

So - we hosted our first sewing retreat in March and has 3 people attend.  Click over to the B&B Blog and read my 'why' behind hosting sewing retreats.  With 5 rooms in the B&B all having queen sized beds, I figure our max attendance is 10 people.  But I'm finding that even if you are really good friends, many of you don't want to share a bed with someone.  Fair enough.  So that puts us at 5 attendees.  BUT, two of my rooms have pull out beds with really nice mattresses on them - so that gives us 2 more people or a total of 7.

We are planning our next sewing retreat for July 21 - 23.  We start by meeting at the B&B around 10:00 am if you haven't stayed the night before.  I will serve coffee cake while I'm getting organized to drive to Fabric Mart.  While we go to FabricMart - JB will stay home, bring your luggage and sewing supplies in.  Once we get back to Carriage Corner, your stuff will be set up and you can get right to sewing.  I'll prewash any fabric that you need from your purchases.  Friday evening dinner will be 'happy hour' style with appetizers. Again - click over to the B&B Blog for the full schedule of weekend events - but basically, once we get back from FabricMart - it's all sewing, all the time.  Except for eating.  I hope you'll consider coming out and sewing sewing me.  I have a block on the rooms until July 6th - so if you are interested in attending - read the details, and then give me a call to reserve your room.

*and this will be the end of me schilling for the B&B on this blog.

June 23, 2017

Rifle Paper Southport Variation

 As so many of my recent sewing projects have been decided, this one started the same with.  With an email from Carolyn.  It said, "Do you want to buy that Rifle Floral to make a garment and then blog it?"  Do I?  Of course!  I started drooling over the lovely Rifle Paper Les Fluers as soon as I saw them hitting instagram. 

However, I am not buying fabric right now, and Carolyn is acting as my personal Susie Orman and she has been denying all of my purchase requests.  In fact, she had denied this when I first ran it past her (I'll provide the background in the next week or so).  

So - when Carolyn emailed and asked if I wanted to buy it - I was all over it.   This was my first order with Stylemaker fabrics and hope there are more 'approveds' in my future.  The site was easy to navigate and I really appreciate the Michelle sells her fabric in full yards as many small online only shops seem to sell in half yards.

Once the fabric was in my hot little hands, it went straight into the washer and dryer.  I have 3 dogs and I need easy care clothing.  Then I spent 3 days trying to figure out the perfect garment.  I was torn between a Southport and a shirtdress.  So, based on a email with Mary of IdleFancy, I made the Southport/Shirtdress hack.

First - I took new measurements and re-traced my pattern (and this, my friends, is why I don't cut my PDFs!).  I think this time I cut a straight 16 - I can see it needs a full bust adjustment in future - but honestly it's fine.  It didn't pull at the buttons.  When I traced the skirt - I added the same amount of width at the center front as the bodice for button bands.  I used the skirt pieces for the maxi and added 5" at the lengthen/shorten line and called it good.  Everything else I did the same.     


Construction:  I fully lined the bodice with white batiste, but not the skirt.  To do this, I sewed both bodices together at the shoulder seams, then put them right sides together and sewed up the neckline and armholes, turned the bodice rights side out, sewed up the side seams and serged the center front edges. Interfacing was added to the button bands before finishing that front edge.  Interfacing was added to the center front of the skirt, then it was folded under and topstitched just like the bodice.

To highlight the pale pink in the fabric - I used a pink ribbon at the waist and pale pink buttons.  I also added some buttons to the waist tie (which is way too long and needs to be shortened by about 12" on each side).   

This fabric was a dream to work with.  Michelle was lovely to order from and shipping was prompt.  I think this is fastest turn around in fabric history for me - it was sewn up within a week and has been hanging out waiting for it's photoshoot!  

Carolyn - thanks for "Approving" this purchase.      

June 17, 2017

Hello? Is this thing on?

hello!  I swear I didn't really fall off the face of the earth - although it certainly feels like it.

I feel in love with this goat at a local shop
 When last we spoke - I was just starting to tell you all about our vacation in San Juan last summer.  Well, let me tell you - that vacation launched an epic adventure.  Way back in March 2016, JB had his 3rd shoulder surgery - at least this time it was on a different arm.  Then, in April or possibly May  - The Princess advised us that she was going to be a mommy.  That little revelation set all the wheels in motion.  You see JB and I have long talked about owning a bed and breakfast somewhere.  We've always stayed in B&Bs, and 85% of them time the ones we stayed at were for sale.  See, that way the owners were a bit more willing to talk with us about the day to day running of a B&B.  

So - JB did what he does best, he focused everything on researching B&Bs for sale within a 3 hours drive of where our grandbaby would be.  We had narrowed our 'ideal location' down to a handful of place - Lancaster, PA; Horse Country, VA; The North Carolina Coast; and Buffalo, NY.  (Don't ask me how that made the list - because nobody wants to go to Buffalo).
beautiful houses in Jim Thorpe, PA

We had a great vacation planned and then we decided to to a quick stop over in PA on our way home from vacation last summer.  You might remember we did the same thing after vacationing in Spain, flew to New Jersey to spend a week with the kids.  So nobody was the wiser.

On our last day on the East Coast we agreed to meet the Princess at Carolyn's house.  It was a great halfway point from where we were and where we needed to be.  

We found a charming little (5 room) bed and breakfast with a great history.  We were able to take a little tour around while we were visiting, but then we asked the kids to go check it out - this was 2-fold; 1) we wanted to know how far it was from the kids; and 2) we needed their opinion.  It's really hard to buy real estate from across the country.  We flew home in early July and conversations started - with a real estate agent to sell our current house, with a broker about a loan, with an attorney (because they are needed in PA when you purchase property), with another real estate agent - and the list goes on.  We sent our intent to offer letter and listed our home.  From there - everything is a blur.  Honestly.  

So - that's enough for today's catch up.  If you follow me on Instagram - you probably know the story by now anyway.  You can find the B&B on Instagram and on facebook and I'd sure appreciate it if you would follow us.
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