Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday dress

Here's a quick sneak peek at my dress. This has been my baby for the last couple of weeks. Just ask my family :) Nothing else gets done when I'm sewing... The party is tonight and I'm excited to wear my dress. I've always wanted to make my own dress for the holiday party. I was lucky enough to visit the Mall of America in October with my husband. I got to see the Bettie Page shop and Betsey Johnson. Lots of inspiration there, some of it was really over the top which isn't quite my style. That's the nice thing about sewing, I can recreate what I like and make it suit my own taste without spending $500+.
The bodice is Chinese brocade. Gathered cap sleeves with mandarin collar. I made the belt, it's just wide elastic with a belt clasp. The skirt (attached) is taffeta. I used all of my fray check going around the edges of the brocade immediately after I had cut each piece. This worked really well, I could actually touch it without it combusting into shreds. The crinoline is 4 tiers of tulle. The bottom tier is close to 20m in length. I should really bind the bottom edge with more black ribbon but I totally underestimated how much ribbon I was going to need. Another day I will finish it off since I'm sure I will wear this under dresses again. Everyone needs a crinoline, right? Just watch, I'll be the only person tonight with one.. Everyone else will be jealous :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

A gift, for Grandpa with the really long arms.

My parents are coming for Christmas this year. We're all so excited, especially the kids. We got Nana something special, it's a suprise and she reads my blog so I can't tell you here. Grandpa doesn't visit my blog so it's ok to share this one. Plus, I made it! I franken-patterned a bit for him. He has really long arms so jackets and shirts off the rack rarely have enough length in the sleeves. So, I thought since we got something awesome for Nana, that Grandpa should get something awesome too. I really hope this fits, I got my mom to measure something that does fit so it should work out OK. He walks a lot with the dogs and he needs pockets for dog treats, and the ever essential poop bags.

The perfect fit fleece jacket. I hope!
It's forest green, hard to photograph accurately at night. The body is lined with the grey knit but the sleeves are not. This should work well for the climate they live in.

I've also been busily working on my holiday dress for the dinner and dance at the convention center. Chinese brocade, taffeta and lots and lots of tulle :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A few things for Caitie

My Twinn dolls are about 24" tall. They can't wear the same clothes as American Girls at all so I had to draft some pants and things for Caitie to wear. I made up my basic 4 pocket pants in her size. I also made her a little interlock knit cardigan and some slippers. I haven't yet decided what kind of closure to put on the cardigan, maybe buttons? I can't put in a zipper because I didn't put facings in it.

Yes, she's wearing her pajama shirt under the cardigan. I haven't made her a regular shirt yet.

Slippers! She came without any shoes or socks and I bought her some baby socks but they were way wrong. So I knit her some wool slippers and cut out some leather soles. My husband has a handy little tool for punching holes in leather that made these an easier project. I made holes all around each sole and stitched them onto the socks with DMC pearle cotton floss.

Now they are non-skid (just what a doll needs) and warm for our cold winters.

She's checking the length of her sleeve here.  It's just right!

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Twinn

I found a sweet My Twinn doll on ebay. She was in need of some help and the bidding didn't seem competitive. I put in a low bid at the last minute and to my surprise I actually won her. I thought for sure someone would bid in the last seconds but nope.. So, this is Caitie, she lives here now. My Twinn has over 40 face molds that they use/have used and collectors have given them names to help identify who is who. This one is called Caitie, it seems to suit her.

I fixed her broken neck, reglued her eyelashes back on, washed her hair, cleaned the paint off her face and limbs etc. She was in pretty sad shape, although it was all very easy to fix.

I took this picture before I cleaned her but after I had fixed her neck. Her head was hanging just by the cloth of her body covering. The lighting washed out the paint on her face but she had many spots where she'd been bumped on a wall or furniture and picked up some paint. magic eraser took care of 95% of these. She still has a couple of faint marks on her chin and near her mouth but I'll have another go at those soon.

She arrived in a pair of My Twinn baby underwear, and some velvety blue overalls with snowflakes on them. I drafted up a pants and shirt pattern for her yesterday. I made a muslin of the shirt that turned out nice for pajamas. I will tweak the pattern before I make a daytime shirt. The pants pattern still needs work but I was able to make a pajama pants pattern today. This turned out really well, so now she has a pair of good pajamas and I've got a better foundation for pants.

I wish I could capture her eye color more accurately. They look blue on my computer screen but in real life they are almost violet. She's a very high quality doll. This particular doll is from the time when the dolls were assembled in Denver by artisans. My Twinn has gone under twice, and the first time they were bought out by a company that was in over their head. Production went over to China and quality and customer service were severely lacking from what I've heard. The current owners seem to have a good handle on things and the quality of the dolls is once again very good. I really like how poseable the dolls are, though I wish their arms could bend closer to the elbow like how their knees bend. I guess they had to choose how much cloth to have on the arm because that relates to how much mobility they have. The vinyl goes up to just past the elbow so everything from that point down is stationary though they have motion in their shoulders. The armature inside the body lets the head tilt, bend at the waist, hips, knees etc. even the feet can move a bit.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Can you show my mom how to make those?"

I was doing some Uglydoll research for a project a friend had inquired about. I left the window open and my 5 year old son was in love with what he saw. He wanted to buy one, but they are very expensive for what they are. I offered to make him one and he was delighted. He chose the body shape and the face design that he liked and I set to work on it today. Luckily I had everything on hand to make this for him, just how he wanted it. What are the odds?  Together we drafted the pattern and traced it onto the black fleece. While he was at school I hand stitched the face in place and machine stitched the mouth.

The sun washed this picture out.

These colors are more accurate.  I think the red dots in the eyes need to be larger, I can do this while he's at school tomorrow.

He got to put in lots of the stuffing himself. I don't think he has ever been this happy with something I've made. This picture is washed out too, hrmm.

The boys had swimming lessons this evening at the Y. He insisted on bringing his new friend along to play in the playstructure before his lesson. A little girl he was playing with came up to me and we had a little conversation.
"Did you really make that for him?"
"Yes, I did."
"Wow! Can you show my mom how to make those?"

I thought that was pretty sweet. Anyways, I'm happy with how it turned out. I can't believe they charge $50 for these. It surprised me how simple it was to make. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

King size duvet cover and other things.

I've been busy lately! Not all sewing but definitely some. It all started with a clean spot, isn't that always the way? I steam cleaned the carpet in the basement, and that led to painting the faux wood paneling.  I've been itching to paint the basement since we bought this house 6 years ago. It's an old house and we've been picking away at renovating/improving each room over the years. Now that the boys are both in school again I have had some time to work on bigger things. My youngest is only away for 2 hours each afternoon, but I can still get some work done. He and my husband went away for the weekend and my oldest and I worked on the paneling. It had to be washed with TSP, primed with bullseye 123 and then painted. It's a lot of walls to do, and we have some furniture dowstairs so I had to work around stuff. There is still 1 corner left to do, it's my sewing area, plus a fake rock looking wall that will get a different treatment. So, this is phase 1 of updating a very dated basement living space. I'm not much of a decorator, but we'll be going to Ikea in a couple of weeks. Maybe I'll find some good things there to cozy up this playroom/tv area and the sewing side.

 I think we need a long/lowish bookcase along the wall under the window.

The door to the furnace/sewing room. I still need to put the ceiling panel back up. Shaw was here hooking up cable and they needed access in there. I know, the couches are icky. We have 2 little boys... You can see the rock wall here. I'm going to paint it light grey, then let it dry before rubbing dark grey into the grooves.

I freshened up the white sides to the stairs. They were badly chipped and worn looking.

The door to the laundry/utility room. I've since finshed painting the door/trim and replaced the doorknob. To the left is my sewing area. I think I will paint it very light blue.

This is what the paneling looked like before. Ick, right?

A few days ago we were shopping and I found a good deal on a nice king size sheet set. I washed them yesterday and put them on the bed. We don't use a flat sheet so I went to put the dark brown sheet into the closet with the other linens and then I had an idea. The new sheet coordinated nicely with the old one that we had never used so I thought I should sew them together to make a duvet cover. I sewed three sides together and threw it on the bed. It looked perfect! Until last night we each had our own blanket since we didn't have a king size duvet. The bed was always a mismatch of a queen size quilt and a twin size boy themed duvet cover. We were at Costco last night and found a really nice king size wool duvet for a great price. It fits perfectly into the duvet cover I made out of the flat sheets. I had left the bottom open so I could close it up at the right length. I measure it against the duvet and then sewed 2/3 of the bottom closed. Presto! A coordinated grown-up bed set. After 12 years, this is our first matched set.

I used the tops of the sheets as the top edges of the cover. There is an embroidered strip across the top of the front and the back that coordinated with the pillow cases

Last is a picture I took of my little guy on our way to kindergarten. He's wearing a few things I made. Backpack, raincoat and pants. Just wanted to share because it's cute.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Marie-Grace is here!

Marie-Grace is my birthday gift this year.  When I first saw her online early in August I wasn't sure about her facemold. It's different, and new. And it grew on me. I think she has a finer featured, more delicate version of the Josefina mold. Welcome to the Dynamite household, Marie-Grace. Of course, it wouldn't be a warm welcome without some new duds. While I waited for her to arrive I made her an outfit with Addy's patterns. I made a couple of minor changes for her.

I couldn't wait to get her out of her Barbie pink dress. Didn't even bother to take pictures in it, sorry AG. It's a nice enough dress, but Marie-Grace is much happier in her new skirt and blouse. I'd like to make her a bonnet and little jacket to go with this, but I'll have to go shopping for supplies. I made the blouse and skirt with things from my stash. She is wearing her crinoline and chemise as well. My kids got a kick out of looking up her skirt last night. Boys!

Addy's school blouse pattern calls for a stand up collar, but I changed it to this style. I put tiny scallops along the outer edge and handstitched the front in place. I like collars to stay put on dolls.

 I also changed the cuffs. I don't like velcro so I lengthened these to overlap and accomodate a metal snap closure.

Inverted box pleats. The topstitching really makes a nice defined waistband.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, back to school. It's right around the corner for us here in Manitoba. My youngest is going into kindergarten and he asked that I make him a new backpack. I was happy to oblige, the Oliver + S book "Little things to sew" has a sweet penguin backpack pattern. He loves it! It was not hard to make though I'm glad I had my faithful vintage singer to sew through those layers of heavy denim. Up to 14 layers at times. Like butta, every single time. Sorry plastic computerized Kenmore, you're just not cut out for this. Thanks for the occasional zigzag though.

The dark grey body of the backpack is an upcycled pair of Grandpa's jeans. I used the wrong side facing out so it's not so obviously black denim and also gives it a softer look. My son picked out the cows for the lining and the yellow for the beak and the feet. The tummy pocket is a scrap from the box. I satin stitched around the pocket, I like it this way. The buttons are vintage. He loves his new backpack. I'll take some more pictures of him modeling later but for now here it is.

The cows inside. The lining is hand stitched along the zipper. There is a pocket in here for pencils too, but it's on the inside front so you can't see it.

The straps are adjustable, it should fit over his winter coat fine. The black strap adjusters are from Mountain Equipment Co-op. Luckily they had the exact size I needed.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Farmhouse doll bed

My husband built me this bed with plans available for free from These are really nice plans, it makes a good sized doll bed. Some people think it's too wide, but it's just right to me. I dislike doll beds that are only as wide as the doll. How many people have a bed that narrow, really? Plus, more width = more room for decorative pillows and a square quilt.

 We decided to paint it, after the holes were filled and sanded. My 5 year old picked this nice blue color. In this picture it's got a coat of primer and the first coat (of four) of blue paint. It's quite a rich color and I'm debating another coat and whether or not I should varathane it. My little guy is a keen helper so he got a birdhouse from the craft store to paint along with me.

For now, it has a 2" mattress cut from foam, and little sheet to cover it. I think I will box the corners and put elastic around to make it a proper fitted sheet. There is a seam across the middle of the sheet because it's the scraps left from the quilt. There is a plywood base under the mattress too. It's very sturdy.

I also made a quilt and two regular pillows. Most of the fabrics used was scraps from the last few months of sewing. The bed was also made of scraps from the garage. Scraps are cost effective but not time efficient. My husband had to rip 2x4 lumber into 1x3 and 1x2 etc. The only things purchased for this were the paint/primer and the foam for the mattress. Up next will be a flat sheet, two pillow cases and a decorative pillow or two.

Thanks for looking, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Introducing Lady Laura Parker

My mom arrived last week for a visit. She brought with her my great grandmother's antique Singer treadle. It was in need of some restoration, but overall in nice condition. My mom, husband and I worked together to restore it as best we could. It had 108 years of dust and goo on it.

This picture is of the assisted lift assembly that folds the machine down into the lid and helps lift it out when the lid is open. Very very dirty.

Some of the pieces here, the top of the lid, the drawer "baskets" and a couple of the drawers. Notice how dark the drawer faces are. Almost black. Grandma was a smoker.

The rest of the parts. My husband took off everything for  a proper refinish. My mom restored all of the wood. She is amazing! On the chair are the other 2 drawers, a piece of the top and the wide drawer. Under the glass table is the large top piece and the small top piece. The box looking piece is the one that holds the sewing machine when it is folded down. 

Craig was so careful taking everything apart. Great job!

Most of the pieces are here, looking lovely and ready to be reassembled. My mom stripped off the old finish, then stained and varnished everything.

I repainted the gold details on the iron stand.

The top piece, it was water damaged at some point. The dark part gets covered by the machine surround pieces.

Lady Laura herself, a Singer 27-4 from 1903. Originally my great grandmother's (Laura Parker,) then my grandma and my mom, now mine. Even my boys have sewn a bit on this making 5 generations of use. Craig got her running right away and she's lovely. A new treadle belt is on the way, but the original works somewhat. 

All finished, isn't she beautiful! We cleaned all the brass handles, screws, hinges etc with brasso. It's amazing what came off those. I can see myself doing a lot of quilting by this window in the winter. It's North facing so we get light but not direct light. Perfect.

The drawers were so dark that none of these details were visible before.  I wish I had taken better before pictures. It's truly been an amazing restoration, and so nice that we all did it together.

Thank you so much for reading and looking at all of these pictures. I hope I've inspired some of you to find and restore/use your family's treadle. There are so many out there that need love and this is the perfect time of year for refinishing. Don't put it off any longer.