Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How to Insert Piping in a Collar

Sometime ago I thought it would be helpful to some of you to see my method of inserting piping into my creations. I LOVE piping, as if you couldn't tell. I have no stamina for ruffles or tiers, but for a bit of piping, I'll do whatever I can to put it here and there. So again, I'm not a sewing expert, but this is how I put piping on just about everything.

First things first. If you have decided to use piping more often, or if you find cutting the seam allowance a real drag, this ruler is a must. It is the DARR Piping Magic Ruler and it has made my life SO much easier. It is a little clear ruler with grooves on the underside. If you need a 5/8" allowance, you just put your piping in that groove, and with a rotary blade, go right down the edge, and it'll give you a perfect seam allowance.

My seam allowance happens to be 1/4", so I put my finished piping in that groove, and took off the excess edge. Perfect. On to my next trick of the trade.

Some of you may know WonderTape from other applications like zippers. I swear by the stuff for piping. WonderTape is a wash-away double sided sticky tape that doesn't gum up your needle. I apply it to one side of my piping seam allowance and voila, no more pinning. Not only that, but it keeps your piping right where you want it when you stitch it down. With pins, the piping still wants to wiggle around a bit. With the tape, that problem is solved.

Apply it to one side of your piping. It's best to avoid the stitching, so try to get it right onto the seam allowance only. Make sure to leave the paper on for now, and run your fingers along the length of piping and tape, just to make sure you have it on well enough. You'll be pulling the paper backing off next.

So now you have your collar and the collar lining. Set aside the lining for now. Start pulling off a little of the paper backing. You have now revealed the other side of the tape.

Start on the outside edge of the collar (not the neck edge), and apply a bit of piping. If your collar is rounded like mine, you'll want to clip a little (just to the stitching near the cord, not through it) to ease the piping around the corner. You can clip right through the seam allowance and tape together. Press the piping down onto the edge of the collar, with seam allowances matching.

Continue pressing and clipping until you have made it all the way around the outside edge. You can leave a little bit of the piping out at the edge.

Now it's time to stitch the piping to your lining. You might ask why this is necessary as it is already pressed down to the fabric. The reason you still have to stitch it is because the stitch line will provide you a guide for where to stitch when you put it together with the collar lining. Your piping won't be as neat if you skip this step.

You want to first stitch the piping right on top of the stitching of the actual piping itself. In my gingham piping, I'll be stitching directly on top of the white thread.

So, now that the piping has been sewn down, go ahead and pin your lining fabric with right sides together. In my case, I used the same fabric, but you could use a solid, or coordinating fabric, etc.

Here comes the tricky part. And it's not really that tricky, you just have to stitch carefully. You are going to be doing something called "squeezing the piping." You want to sew a straight stitch just to the left of your original stitch line. This will ensure that none of the thread from the actual piping will show through on the right side of the collar.

Hopefully you can see from the picture what this looks like.
If you sew too close to the original row of stitching, you will see the thread. If you sew too far away, you will have squeezed too much, and not enough of the piping will show from the right side. If this happens, just get out your seam ripper, and try, try, again!

In this picture, my finger is pointing to an area where I didn't sew far enough away from my original stitch line, and I'll have to go back and stitch a little closer to the cord in the piping. The key to making piping look neat is to make sure that none of those stitches show.

I then go back and make one more pass into the seam allowance in lieu of clipping the whole thing. Clipping the seam allowance allows for the curves to lay flat, but I've found it somewhat easier to just run another line of stitching and cut all the excess seam allowance away.

Then, just turn your collar, and carefully press.

You're done! See, that wasn't so hard...

Now, on the dress I am making, I wanted some piping on the seam between the bodice and skirt too. On this particular seam, there is a 1/2" seam allowance. So, I put the piping 1/2" up, using the wondertape method.

I want to reduce the bulk of the seam by cutting away a little of the cord. Gently open up the piping, grasp the cord, and pull a little out. Clip the cord back to where you think the seam will be, and straighten the piping back out.

This will make a nicer seam where the two side seams meet. If at all possible, sew the side seams first, then add the piping. It's easier, and looks nicer too.

Happy sewing..., oh and I thought you might want to see the finished product!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sneak Peek

love. That's all I'm gonna say...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Concord Arts Market!

Well, for the past month, I've been gearing up for the opening day of the Concord Arts Market in downtown Concord, NH! Opening day is May 30th, so if you are in the area, come on down and check us out. If it is anything like last year, there will be some amazing handmade crafts, and definitely something for everyone. There is usually some live music, and this year it's rain or shine. The farmer's market is right next door, so get some delicious locally grown food, see some wonderful artisans, and grab one of my favorite sandwiches in the world (the tomato, mozzarella, basil) from Madeleine's on Main Street. Oh, and their raspberry palmier are my favorite in the whole wide world, and I can really say that!

I'm starting to get that nervous feeling already, as I know I don't have nearly enough finished. I especially want to focus on my collection, but when there are so many great new things to try out, it's hard to go back and make more sizes of the same. Anyone else have this problem? Even now I'm planning on a few new knit styles for summer. Ugh, so many great designs, so little time.

I'm in Minneapolis right now, but next week it's off to Washington, D.C. where one of my favorite fabric stores awaits. I first found G Street Fabrics when I was a student. I haven't been able to get back there for at least 10 years, and I am chomping at the bit to go. We arrive in D.C. around 11:30am, so I'll be there by 1pm at the latest. Wahoo! The thing is, there are plenty of quilting cottons to be had in the bold and colorful prints I love. But there just aren't that many fabric stores that cater to clothes-making any more.

When I was a little girl, my Mother and I had terrible battles over clothes shopping. I was extremely picky about fit, color, and conformity. See, I just wanted to blend in to the crowd because I was so shy. So, if we couldn't find anything ready-to-wear, it was off to the fabric store to get all different colors of gabardine for slacks, and cotton prints for tops. No skirts for me. Thank goodness I didn't pass the picky gene on to my own daughter! Back then, there were fabric stores everywhere. Now you are pretty much relegated to JoAnn's, which for me isn't ideal. So, thank goodness there are still some fabric stores that have fabric for actual clothes and not just quiltmaking. I'm particularly on the lookout for eyelet, anything with texture, and jersey knit. I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sandi Henderson's "Gracie", a different way to construct the yoke...

I have totally enjoyed making Sandi Henderson's 'Gracie' pattern. I've done it a few times now, and marvel at its ease, until you get to the part with the bias on the neck.

I have nothing against bias binding per se, it's just hard to do it neatly when you tuck in the ends. After thinking on it, I decided to try to construct it a little differently.

Forgive the pictures as this is my first attempt at showing my work in progress, and the photos are a little rough. This will probably make more sense to those of you who have made this jumper a few times. Also, a little disclaimer. I am by NO means an expert in sewing, this is just my way of making this pattern easier for me.

So, you go along as normal, following the pattern instructions, until you get to the round yoke neck piece. Sew the ends as before, but then go ahead and stitch the inside seam of the yoke too. Now, Sandi's patterns have a 1/2" seam allowance. To account for the fact that you'll be leaving the bias edge out of my version completely, only do 1/4" seams so you don't have to adjust the pattern. Once you sew the inside edge, clip the seam allowance, turn right side out and press.

Then, instead of sandwiching the jumper between the outside of the yoke, just stitch one layer of the yoke to the jumper, leaving the other free. You will want to match up the back of the yoke seam with the edge of the back. So, only stitch one side, and only where it meets the actual jumper.

Once you get one side sewn down, press the seams toward the yoke. Then, press 1/4" under on the side that isn't sewn at all. This will serve as a guide when you pin it all down.

Then, pin the turned under edge just to your line of stitching. Pins are your friends here. Because you will be blind stitching and this jumper is reversible, I take a lot of care to make sure that the two sides are matching up so that when you topstitch on one side, it won't be wonky on the other.

Pin all the way around the yoke, and when you come to the arm section, turn both sides under and pin. Then, topstitch the entire yoke. And voila, no more bias binding. Finish the rest of the jumper as in the pattern.

I don't know if this method is any more or less tricky, but at least you don't have to make the bias tape and use more fabric.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

spring crocus

spring crocus, originally uploaded by littlegirlPearl.

Today was the first nice day here in Northern New England that I was home with my daughter. I had planned on taking at least a couple hours to try and sew, but it just didn't happen. Some days are like that.

I've been keeping my eyes peeled for anything remotely resembling Spring. Yes of course we've had the mud and the frost heaves but that doesn't exactly lift one's spirits. But today, at last, a harbinger. Some of the crocus I planted to naturalize in our lawn are up and blooming. I must have planted about 250 bulbs in late fall. Scillas, crocus, and fritillarias, my favorite.

These gorgeous crocus have the unfortunate name of 'Negro Boy' and are from Old House Gardens, an heirloom bulb company that I've ordered from just about every other year. They are the darkest midnight purple I've ever seen and date from the year 1910. I also planted a mix of colors from Van Engelen that included yellow, white, and a striped purple. I can't wait to seed the lawn and see the results next Spring...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adventures with a little girl...

A little disclaimer, this has nothing whatsoever to do with sewing, and everything to do with hitting the reset button on our lives.

My husband, daughter and I took a little trip this past week, and I just had to write a little something about it. We decided to do a camping trip through some of the National Parks in Southern Utah, and it was totally extraordinary. Being from New England we are used to feeling surrounded by forest, lakes, and trees, but the country out there is like nothing I had ever experienced. Sure, I've been to Vegas, Phoenix and the like, but the transition from one landscape to the next is so abrupt in that corner of the state it's just very exciting.

So we started our trip in Zion National Park where the order of the day is soaring sandstone canyon walls and steep, heart attack inducing cliffs. My child hiked 8 miles that day (not all at once!), and as you can imagine slept like a champion in the tent. We would've loved to go up the canyon, but you have to get your feet wet, and the weather was still a bit chilly.

The following day we headed to Bryce Canyon where we had thankfully given ourselves a night inside after two nights in the tent. Bryce is at 8000 feet, and it was COLD! In fact, it snowed that night, and I got some great shots of all the hoodoo rock formations in the canyon the following morning. At this point in our trip it seemed as though the weather was really going to get worse, and we toyed with the idea of heading south to the Nevada border. But, no, not us hardy souls. And in fact, I'm so glad we didn't because we would've missed one of the highlights of the trip. So on to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and some of the coolest, narrowest slot canyons I've ever been in.

Spooky Gulch, in the Escalante area, is a small gulch that is known for its accessibility, and narrowness. Honestly, we are not small people, but had we been much wider we would not have made it through the maze of rock. It is about 15" wide at its narrowest, but to be frank, that goes on for a long time. I think the canyon itself is only about 1/2 mile long, but it feels so much longer! Our daughter had no problem racing ahead, a serious problem for us of course, because you really can't see around the next bend, and she was soon unseen.

All's well though, and my husband eventually caught up to her and helped her over the harder spots. I thought I'd feel a little claustrophobic, but the canyon was so awe inspiring, that I loved every second of it.

The next two nights were very cold, down into the low 20's, but we still had an amazing time. The last day of our trip we decided to drive the Burr Trail from Capitol Reef National Park back to our campground in one big loop. We saw a few arches, the "Waterpocket Fold", which is a geologic feature in Capitol Reef that is too strange for words, and picnicked overlooking the Fold and the Henrie mountains.

I'd highly recommend any of the places we went for kids. There are tons of small, rewarding hikes to do, and that's all they really need to be entertained anyway. A few rocks, a whole lot of dirt, and you're on your way.

But I admit, my own bed never looked so good...