26 June 2014

Bodega Bay

Just a quick trip to the ocean yesterday, quick - because we didn't stay long. The wind was a lot fiercer than expected and we weren't dressed for it. So, the usual walk on the cliff or the beach turned into a bit of a drive through tiny settlements along curvy roads and a visit to a small town hardware store.
Sorry, no pictures of the tiny settlements or the curvy roads, just water pictures.

The marine layer hadn't completely retracted, but I got a few shots of blue sky and sparkly water.

25 June 2014

"Lost in Bartlesville" - This was home for 19 years

The video is courtesy of YouTube.
L sent me the link to this last night, brought back quite a few memories. That's where we lived for 19 years when I first moved to the U.S. (it was back to the U.S. for L).
A small town, a good place to raise children. Rush hour didn't last long, it was more like "rush minutes," traffic wasn't bad, ever. The only time there was a problem with traffic was when we had flooding and the Caney cut the town in half. Most people lived on one side of the river, downtown and all the offices (and a lot of people in town worked for a major oil company there.) are on the other side of town. I remember one weekend when our side of town was totally cut off, all the roads leading out of town - in all directions - were flooded. No TV reception, either, I don't remember if the radio worked.
There was nowhere near as much crime as there is here and people were friendly. You couldn't buy alcohol in the grocery store or the drugstore, only in designated liquor stores and not on election day. Yeah, that amuses these days. And I've gotten used to there being a large section for alcohol in the supermarkets. What strikes me as funny now is when the books on nutrition recommend shopping around the edges of the supermarket, that's where, in their opinion, the healthy foods are. Have they ever been in a supermarket in CA? Because that's where the booze is here - on one edge.
Bartlesville is home to the only skyscraper Frank Lloyd Wright ever built, it's the Price Tower, built as a combination office building and bachelor housing. K and I toured it once, very interesting, with furniture designed by FLW, too. Interesting, but not exactly warm and homey.
It was also home to Shin'enkan, a totally unique building designed by Bruce Goff as a bachelor house for Joe D. Price which, unfortunately was burned down in 1996. Can't find a decent link to it.
And there's a big Mozart Festival  every year, with concerts held both inside the Civic Center and outdoors.
Outside of town is Woolaroc, originally a ranch retreat for Frank Phillips, now a combination of wildlife preserve (with buffalo roaming freely) and museum etc. Took my kids there many, many times.
Bartlesville also is where Ree Drummond (of Pioneer Woman fame) grew up and went to the same high schools K attended. Why high schools? Because along the way, the school board decided to split up the two 4-year high schools into a junior high school (grades 9 & 10) and a senior high school (grades 11 & 12) for football reasons.
I recognized just about everything shown in the video, the building where my favorite quilt store was originally, our first bank, the two office towers where L used to work, the train depot, the karate studio where H went, the approach from the West, from Pawhuska. The painted buffalo are a new addition.
When we moved, the town threw us a big farewell party downtown, with entertainment by Tanya Tucker and Glenn Campbell and a big BBQ. No, not really, it was a party to celebrate a big anniversary for Phillips that just happened to coincide with our leaving.

I've just realized that the video does not play on all devices (my iPad doesn't show it), so here is a direct link to it: Lost in Bartlesville.

23 June 2014

Toddler skirts and tops

There's been quite a bit of fun sewing going on here lately, several skirts for the little granddaughter and a couple of tops.
Few words, more pictures:
This was the first one:
Next came this one:
Then, because I had fabric left over from last year, these two:

After that, I decided to write a couple of tutorials, one for a two-layer skirt. 
Obviously, I had to make another skirt for that:
And another one for a 3-layer skirt.
A few days later, I found this tutorial. After getting measurements for my granddaughter (who lives almost 2,000 miles away), I whipped up these two:

And I really mean "whipped up." This top is incredibly fast and easy to make.
I hope all the little skirts and tops fit, always a bit risky when you're doing "long-distance" sewing. But I sure had fun. I think I need a few more granddaughters or honorary granddaughters because the one I have couldn't possible wear all I could whip up.

15 June 2014

A tutorial for a 3-layer skirt for little girls

Another tutorial for a skirt for a little girl.
The construction of this one is very similar to the previous skirt. The tutorial for it can be found here. 
I used a different method for the side seam (a French seam) and that changes the order in which the skirt is constructed.
I actually prefer this method but it would not have worked so well for the previous skirt because I used lace last time and that makes for a bulky seam.

Again, please measure the child you are sewing for, because my measurements are for my granddaughter (who is not quite 15 months old at this time). You need to measure the waist (and multiply this measurement by 2 if you want lots of width and by 1.5 if you want less width. Anywhere in between is just fine, too.) Length is personal, anywhere from the waist down to the knee or above is fine. Make sure to add at least 1/2" to that measurement, I added 3/4" (1/4" for the seam allowance at the top, 1/2" for the folded over hem).

3 fabrics, 1/2 yard each is plenty
elastic, I used 3/4" wide
1" masking tape 

sewing machine
(serger, if you have one to finish off raw edges. I don't own one, so it's zig-zags for me)
cutting mat
rotary cutter
ruler, scissors, pins, large safety pin (for inserting elastic)

Cut out your fabrics to the desired length. The lengths I used are:
layer 1: 20" x 6.25"
layer 2: 20" x 7.75"
layer 3: 20" x 9.25

Side seam:
Pin together the short ends of the fabric, wrong sides together (yes, wrong sides) and sew with a narrow seam (1/8" or just a bit more).
A little tip here: if your machine is like mine and sucks the fabric into the big void underneath when sewing with anything less than 1/4" seam, use a scrap piece of fabric, sew to its edge and butt the skirt fabric up against it. Much less trouble.


Press the fabric to one side,
fold it over the seam so that now the right sides are facing and the seam allowance is caught in between. Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance (or just a bit more, you don't want any threads showing).
Press to one side again and topstitch about 1/8" away from the seam (this saves on ironing later on, after washing). 

The finished and topstitched side seam.

If using directional fabric, make sure you have the hem on the correct end. Would be a shame to have dogs upside down etc.
Zig-zag the bottom edge (or finish with your preferred method).

Turn under 1/4" - 1/2" for the seam (I eyeball, you could, of course, measure and mark) and sew.

This is my new, absolute favorite method for doing the casing. Unfortunately, it does not work for a single layer skirt. It uses less length of fabric and there are no raw edges showing.
It requires a bit of attention, but it's not difficult.
When I sew the top edge together, I don't have the side seams all in the same place, too much bulk. I'll have two of the seams on one side, off-set just a little and the third on the opposite side.

Layer the three tubes of fabric in the following order:
on the inside will be the shortest layer, followed by the longest layer, with the middle layer on the outside.
If you don't quite believe that this will work (I didn't the first time I tried it), just pin the layers together horizontally for a short length and flip the inside layer to the outside.

Sew along the top edge with a 1/4" seam allowance.
Take your project to the ironing board, flip the inside layer (the shortest one) up and press all seam allowances towards the top.

Pin along the top edge, topstitch a 1/8" away from the top edge.
Next add the masking tape, apply it just below the stitched line. Sew along the bottom edge, making sure to a) leave an opening large enough to insert the elastic and b) backstitch at the beginning and end of that seam.
Casing is done with an opening for inserting elastic.
Insert the elastic, sew the two ends together, stitch closed the opening you left, distribute the gathers evenly. (No pictures for that, I figure they aren't necessary.)
 And that's it. Another little skirt finished.
Obviously, this skirt can be made quite a bit larger to fit older girls as well. You'd need to piece the fabric to get the required width. It would still be quick and easy to sew.

09 June 2014

A tutorial for a two-layer toddler skirt

I have a little granddaughter who, unfortunately, lives almost 2,000 miles away. So, while I love to sew for her, it's almost impossible to make anything more complicated than skirts (or little pants when she was still a baby), anything that has to fit well. Skirts are easy, they only have to fit in the waist and be the right length.
I have been making several little skirts for her lately, since it's getting warmer and, remembering mow much my daughter liked skirts when she was small, I thought her daughter might like them, too.

This is my first tutorial, so be gentle. There probably is room for improvement, since I am so new at this. I tried to find a decent balance between enough and not too many pictures of the process as I went along, and I am not sure I found it. So, if you have questions, please ask and I'll see what I can do.

This will be a tutorial for a two-layer skirt for a little girl (it can obviously be adjusted to fit a bigger girl, as well). The measurements depend completely on the child who will be wearing this skirt, so there is measuring to be done.

I will be using the measurements I used to make skirts for my little granddaughter who is 14 months old at this time. But, please, please, measure your own child or grandchild to get the proper measurements for your skirt.
Conventional wisdom says to make the width twice the waist size and that's a good way to go. I tend to go just a little narrower, that's just personal preference.
The waist size I am using is about 20" and the length is 8" or slightly longer. These are finished measurements.


2 fabrics, 1/2 yard is plenty
elastic, I used 3/4" wide
lace, at least 3 feet
1" masking tape
sewing machine
serger, if you have one to finish off raw edges. I don't own one, so it's zig-zags for me.
cutting mat
rotary cutter
ruler, pins, large safety pin (for inserting elastic)

Cut out your fabrics to the desired length. The lengths I used are:
9.5" for the longer layer, 7.5" for the shorter layer.
The width of the skirt in this case is completely dependent on the length of the lace I am using, I believe it is 3 feet. I cut across the entire width of the fabric and cut down to size after sewing on the lace.

Zig-zag along the bottom edges of both fabrics. If using a directional fabric, make sure the fabric is going in the right direction.

Pin the lace to the bottom edge of the shorter of the two fabrics, right sides together (my lace happens to have a right and a wrong side, very subtle, but it's there). Sew with a 1/4" seam. 
Carefully press the seam allowance to the inside (sometimes, the lace does not hold up to the same temperature as the fabric, don't want to scorch it at this point), pin or just hold in place and top stitch 1/8" from the fabric edge.
On the longer layer of the skirt turn the zig-zagged edge under a 1/4" (either measure or eyeball) and stitch.

Side seam:
As I said before, the width of the skirt depends very much on the amount of lace, so eyeball until the lace is actually attached to the fabric before trimming it to size.

Try to match up the lace - if necessary. Mine has scallops, so it's fairly easy. Trim fabric to match the length of lace, stitch the side seam with a 1/2" seam allowance. Zig-zag the edges, press the seam open and top stitch the seam allowances down.

The sideseam on the inside, stitched down.

The sideseam on the outside.

The above picture is in the interest of full disclosure, to show that my lace almost matched up perfectly. 

Sew the side seam for the layer without lace the same way - 1/2" seam allowance, zig-zags along the raw edges etc. etc.

Note here: if I wasn't using lace, I'd not only use a different method for the side seam (that will come in the next tutorial), but I'd also sew up the side seam first, and then hem the skirt. You can, of course, do that for the layer without lace. The reason I did is this way is because I had to measure my lace and use the appropriate amounts of fabric for the skirt. And I find that lace slips a bit until it is completely stitched down, so that's why I did it this way.
This is where it gets interesting and it's also where one needs to pay a little attention. I still hold my breath every time I do this step, but, really, it's not difficult.

You are now dealing with two tubes of fabric: the longer/lower/inside layer and the shorter/upper/outside layer with the lace along the bottom.
Slip the shorter layer tube inside the longer layer tube with the right side of the shorter layer facing the wrong side of the longer layer (or, in other words, the right sides of both fabrics facing up).
I folded the longer layer onto itself, so you could see the shorter layer inside.

 Pin the top edges together and sew with a 1/4" seam (you could, of course, zig-zag the raw edge or serge it, but it's not necessary because it'll end up on the inside where nobody will ever see it).

At this point, I take everything to the ironing board, flip the shorter layer up, and press the entire seam allowance towards it.

I then fold the shorter, outer layer down over the longer layer, pin along the upper edge and topstitch 1/8" from the upper edge.

Since I don't like to measure and mark, I have started using masking tape to determine where the second stitching line will be. One inch masking tape is perfect for 3/4" elastic, if you are using elastic of a different width, you'll have to experiment a bit to find the correct one (or just measure and mark).
Apply the tape right along the topstitching line and sew along the bottom line of the tape, making sure to a) leave an opening large enough to insert your elastic and b) topstitch at both ends.
Tape applied to top stitching line.
Sew along the bottom edge of the tape.
Both lines stitched, tape being peeled away.

Now insert your elastic, sew the ends together, sew up the opening you left for inserting your elastic and you're done.

And this is what the finished casing looks like with the elastic inserted.

 Voilà, a little skirt for a toddler girl.

As I said above, this is my first tutorial, so if anything is unclear, please let me know. 
If you make a skirt from this tutorial, I'd love to see it. 
You are welcome to use this tutorial to sew skirts and sell them in small quantities (no sweatshop production, please). But, please, give me credit and link back to me.
Please, please, do not print out this tutorial, claim it as your own and sell it. I am a firm believer in karma.

I am linking up with Randi from i have to say for Show 'n Tell Tuesday.