Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts

I tend to read an eclectic assortment of books and this is an odd one for this day and age. First printed on June 25, 1937, I have a 2nd edition printed July 1, 1937 by Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. Garden City, NY. If you click the link above it seems that Buddy Ebsen had a movie or serial based on the book as well. I have never seen that so can't tell you if it was any good.
~ however~
I loved the book! I do have a thing for books written in the first half of the 1900s and this one did not disappoint me. My husband preferred the portion about Rogers in North America, originally released pre-1937 as a serial under the title of Roger's Rangers. Yes, I can see that he liked the battle action best - but I had no trouble enjoying the later section from London just as much. I think I might even make this one of the few books I will read a second time.
As with books written during this era, don't expect them to be politically correct or careful in dealing with sensitive issues.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Half Slip

I am so blessed to be able to make a half slip for a dear friend. I am not especially experienced at this - yet - but with the quality of nice RTW lingerie going down and the prices going up, I will be making many more slips in the coming years, I am sure.
Here is the slip.
The fabric is a brand called Whisper II, a very soft 4-way stretch. I found it through an on-line seller at, what was, Lucy's Fabrics. Lucy has since liquidated fabrics from her inventory. I bought quite a bit at that time. (I hope when my stash runs out I will have found other nice lingerie fabrics.)
I used some 3/4" picot trim elastic from an on-line store called Sew Sassy. I was very pleased with their service, product, and prices. I am not sure the "correct" way to apply the elastic, but I just folded over the top and stitched it on. I divided the garment top edge and the elastic into quarters and stretched it as I sewed.
For the hem edge I just turned it up twice and stitched. It would be nice to use some pretty lace here, but I don't have any at this time for the champagne color requested by my friend.
I used a stitch on my sewing machine called "straight-stretch-stitch." It goes in nicer than a zig-zag and stretches beautifully. It also looks prettier than a zig-zag stitch. I also used a stretch needle.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Summer Dress - Part 1

The Princess wanted a couple summer dresses. I am currently working on Butterick 4443. I am doing View "C" which is the yellow one in the middle - but with sleeves as shown on View "F" (the green one on the left).
I am doing the skirt portion first. I learned from a sewing blog I enjoy that on a bias skirt it is best to sew it first and let it hang at least overnight so that any potential fabric stretching will fall out. If you don't do this step and just go ahead and hem it, you can end up with a hem that falls unevenly, especially at the sides.
Anotehr tip I have learned is to put a 1" strip of fusible interfacing along the seam area of the zipper. This dress will have a zipper that extends from the bodice into the skirt portion. Here I have fused the interfacing strip to the skirt and basted the zipper area closed. The zipper in this dress is one of the last steps, but the area is now all prepped.
And my last tip for this entry is my seam finishes. There are many ways to finish a seam, but whichever way is chosen, the seams really need some type of finish in order to hold up over time, otherwise they fray and just plain look ugly. Many people use a serger to finish the edges, but this is not currently an option for me. Other methods include overcasting the edge, zig-zagging the edge, or just using pinking shears. Bias binding and a really nice technique called a Hong Kong finish are other choices. They all have a place and depending on the fabric and garment usage, I have used some of these choices at various times. My favorite seam finish, and the one I am using on this dress, is to just pink the edges and then sew a line of stitches along the edge of the pinking. I have found that just using pinking shears alone can still allow some fabrics to unravel over time so the line of stitches prevents that from occurring. This finish also lies very flat and adds no bulk. The down side is that I do have to sew down each seam 3 times - once to join the seam and then along the edge of each pinked side, but it isn't hard and the results are worth it.
Here is a picture of the seam finished, but unpressed. It bubbles a bit until it is steamed flat.
And now pressed flat.