Monday, November 29, 2010


You all know how much I like Thrift Stores and flea markets.  We have a small St. Vicent De Pauls about 5 minutes away that Hubby and I visit whenever we go out on errands - about twice a week.  Usually they don't carry new clothes, but about two weeks ago a special rack was set up in the middle of the store with lots of kids clothes.  Curious, I checked them out only to realize the clothing was all brand new.  The sign on the rack said $1.99 each.  See what I found?

Aren't these just the cutest?  There are a couple of 12 months and the rest are 18 months.  Considering how fast a baby grows, I don't think it will take long before they fit Mara.

Last week, having already visited St. Vincent's twice, we had to go out for a special errand.  Hubby said to stop in, I didn't want to, but we did anyway.  This is what I found, again for $1.99.
Talk about serendipity!  This set is all hand-crocheted and even the pompoms are handmade.  This was two days before Mara was born.  I think somebody donated this set especially for her!

Here are some other goodies I found in my own stash.

These two panels have been kicking around since before Liam was born (he is 6 now).  I remember buying them at Walmart from the remnants bin with the intention of binding them for Liam.  Never happened and I can't quite figure out why.  Anywho, I finished them for Mara.  Better late than never, I guess.

And while searching for a particular pattern on Saturday, I found this adorable baby pattern  I didn't know I had! 

 Oh, I just can't wait to make one of these dresses for Mara!  I am sure I have the perfect fabric in my stash!

Love from Liri

Sunday, November 28, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS DRESS - The Dreaded Zipper

LOL, now tell me you didn't feel that way when you read the word ZIPPER!  I confess I used to get the same feeling until a student home ec teacher showed me how to install a zipper with this method way back when I was in junior high school.   

Most dress patterns will have a notch at the zipper end mark.  This pattern doesn't, so I had to mark the end.  See the red pin?   This pattern calls for an 16 inch zipper.  I think that is a bit too long for this little dress, so I remeasured the back and marked it for a 12 inch zipper.  The length doesn't matter, this method will work for any zipper. 

Match the center seam of the two backs. Pay attention to the waistline seam.  You want these to match.

Set your machine for its longest stitch and stitch the backs together down to the zipper mark.  Now set your machine back to its regular stitch.   Take a couple stitches, back stitch to lock and then stitch the rest of the skirt.  

Now, at the zippers end (the red pin) use your seam ripper and break the thread just above your back stitching (both sides) and press the seam open. 
Lay the zipper face down on that seam and pin one side in place.  See how many pins I used?  Check the back to make sure there are no puckers or tucks.

Yes, this zipper is too long.  I couldn't find a 16 inch zipper so I bought an 18 inch and then changed the length to 12 inches.  You can do that now that zippers are made of plastic, LOL. 

Change to your zipper foot.  Look at the zipper tape.  You notice the tape is woven in two separate directions so it forms that little line down its middle?  Stitch down that line to about 1/4 inch passed the red pin marking the end of the zipper or, if your zipper is the right size, to the end of the zipper tape.  Check the back to see everything is smooth and flat, then press that side to relax the stitching.

Now, pin  and stitch the other side of the zipper.  If your zipper foot is not adjustable (like mine) you will have to start from the bottom of the tape.  If it is adjustable, you can stitch from the top.  Check your back for puckers, etc., and make sure your waist seams match up, then press to relax the stitching.

Now,  stitch across the bottom of zipper at that 1/4 inch mark.  Stitch back and forth 3 or 4 times.  Did you ever pull a zipper down and rip open your back seam?  I have, many times.  The extra stitching will prevent that and will also act as a zipper stop.  Now trim off the excess zipper.  Voila!  The zipper is in.  Here is the back.

This is what the right side looks like.
Using your seam ripper, open the seam to the end of the zipper.  Look, it zips up and down!

Back to step 1 of the pattern directions, stitch your shoulder seams, trim and press open.  (Now you know where I picked up the habit of pressing seams open, LOL.)

(Sorry for the lousy picture above.  I was pressing open the shoulder seams on the needleboard.)

You can hang this up now.

Just a little note.  Had we been working on cotton fabric (which does not slip) the installation would have been even easier.  I would have used scotch tape down both sides of the zipper (no pins) to hold it in place and sewn it from the top of one side, across the bottom (always back stitch at least 3 times here) and up the other side. 

Now how do you feel about the Dreaded Zipper?

Love from Liriopia

Saturday, November 27, 2010

KOALA REDWORK - Top is Almost Finished

In between working on the Christmas Dress, I have been tossing ideas around to finish the Koala Redwork quilt.  I had already decided on a medium red border for the basic blocks and was working on the finishing borders.  Did you notice that all the string blocks were lined up the same way?  Did this for a reason.  Here is what I tried first.
Ehh!  It was OK, but I thought the scale was off and I wasn't happy with the way it looked against the first border.   Notice the way the strips are slanted?  I did that on purpose.  So I took another look at my blocks.
Hmm, let's try this.  Flip the block and make the new border like an extension of the block.  This is what I came up with.
I scaled the strips down from the original two inches to 1-1/2 inches.  The red borders will finish at 3/4 inches, which is the size of the block borders and I will have to put together three more block for the corners.

I like it, lots!

Love from Liri

Friday, November 26, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS DRESS - Front and Back Construction

If you read/have read dress pattern directions before, usually the first thing they tell you to do is stitch the shoulder seams.  This never made much sense to me because when you have to attach the skirt you have at least 3/4's of the dress flopping around.  So I am going to show you how I do it (actually, I misplaced the directions for the dress.  I know they are in my quilting room, somewhere!)  Here are the pieces we will be working with.

The front bodice and skirt.
The back bodices and skirts.  (I was going to include adding the zipper but decided to deal with that in the next post.)

Now because I am working with velvet and I need to press, I will be working with a needleboard.  This is what it looks like.

You need to use a needleboard for any fabric with a pile but especially with velvet.  If you press velvet directly against a flat surface, it will crush the pile.  Once you have crushed the pile it is virtually impossible to restore.

So we'll begin with the back bodices and skirt.  You will need to gather the skirt top.  Way back when, the instructions would be to run a long stitch at 1/2 inch in side the seam allowance and then pull up the bobbin thread.  This will still work, but here is an easier way.  Using a very strong thread, (quilting thread will do but I am using buttonhole thread), set your machine to the widest zigzag and longest stitch you have.  At 3/8's inches inside the seam allowance (remember that is 5/8's inches) zigzag over the buttonhole thread, like this, being careful not to catch it in the zigzagging.  I used white thread because this will be pulled out after final stitching.

It will look like this when finished.

This is the front skirt, do the same to the back skirts.  Velvet has a tendency to curl after stitching, so I used the needleboard to press the skirt top straight.   I'll also be using this technique on the sleeves.  Take a back bodice and skirt and pin one end together and wrap the white thread around the pin to secure it.

Now draw up the white thread to fit the bodice top and secure the other side of the white thread the same way.

If it doesn't quite fit, pull the string a little more.  Now, adjust the gathers so they are nice and even.

Start pinning by halves.  Half will place your first pin at the center, half again will place your second and third pins at the quarter mark
Keep pinning by halves until the skirt is secured to the bodice.  Notice the change in pins? 

The old-fashioned straight pin is actually a dressmakers pin.  It is shorter, fatter and sharper to secure fabric together for construction like this.  Here are my pinned pieces
Yes, I used a lot of pins. Velvet is a very slippery fabric and I don't want this to slip. Which is why I tell you to use as many pins as you are comfortable with. If this were cotton, I would probably only use 1/4 as many pins.
This is what the bodice back looks like. There should be no puckers or gathers along the back.

Do this again for the other bodice back and skirt.  Then set them aside while we deal with the front bodice and skirt.  You should have already run your gathering thread.  When working the front, divide the pinning in half.  Start the same way, but put your second pin at the center front of the bodice and pull your gathering thread up to match it to the center front of the skirt.  Pin by halves until you have half the skirt front secured.

I marked the centers with a white pencil and matched those marks.  If I were working with cotton, the crease would have been my center.  Now pull up the gathers on the second half and pin. 

Here is the back.

Here is the front.

See?  No puckers or gathers.  Now, stitch your 5/8's inch seam slowly and carefully, pulling out the pins as you come to them.  This is the first row of stitching.  I remember when I was a little girl, all we wore were dresses and two places always ripped out first.  The sleeve seam at the back and the waist line seam in the front (usually because I stepped on it after a tumble).  So I always double seam these two areas.  Run another seam line between your first seam and the gathering thread.

Pull out the gathering thread.  No need to pull the zigzag, it will not show. 

Trim the seam to just above the second row of stitching.

Press the seam up towards the bodice.  Do this for all 3 pieces.  Here they are all finished and waiting for the next step.
Let me know if you have any questions.  Next post we will tackle the zipper! 

Love from Liriopia

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I am pleased to announce that my new granddaughter, Mara, came into the world yesterday around 3:00 pm.  Mother is doing fine and reports that Mara is beautiful and "pink", which we all know is a wonderful color for a new baby.  Mara weighed in at a whopping 8-1/2 pounds!  Mama is doing fine but very tired (small wonder, huh?).  We will be seeing her sometime this weekend and I will be taking pictures (provided I don't forget the camera, LOL).

Today is also my son, Luke's, birthday and we will also be celebrating my son, Joseph's, birthday (Veteran's Day).  I have much to be thankful for. 

Hope Turkey Day is as full for you!

Love from Liriopia

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS DRESS - Pattern Layout and Cutting

Although these posts are supposed to be progress posts, I think they are turning into a tutorial.  So I will start at the beginning and try to take photos as I go along.  This is how I start all my fabric construction (including quilts!), so here goes.

Step 1:  Pull out all you pattern pieces and press them flat with a dry iron.

Step 2:  Assemble the fabrics, notions (zippers, thread) and any trimmings you will be using:
Oops, forgot the zipper but I have it!  The green velvet is the dress fabric and the spools of thread are sitting on the interfacing.  If you don't already know, choose a thread color that is one shade darker than the color (or most prominent color) of your main fabric.  I'll be using ivory thread for the collar.  Now, press everything!  (WARNING:  If you are using velvet or any other napped fabric, DO NOT press and, most especially, DO NOT press in any creases.  Velvet must be pressed with a needleboard as explained in the next post.)

Step 3:  Fold the fabric selvage to selvage and press a crease down the middle.  Remember quilters, garment construction is based on the lengthwise grain of the fabric not the width.  Although you can use the width for small pieces, lengthwise grain should be used for the large pieces.  Now, layout your pattern pieces on your fabric. You will be cutting two pieces at a time.  Pay attention to the instructions on the pattern pieces, the fronts are usually placed on the fold (hence the pressed crease).  I am using green velvet for the dress bodice, skirt & sleeves and cream satin for the dress facings, collar and dress ties.  Once all the pieces are in place, pin everything down within the seam allowance.  Remember, the standard seam allowance for garments is 5/8 of an inch.  Use as many straight pins as you need and are comfortable with, even if it means every half inch!

Sorry the ties are not shown.  I had to cut out all the collar pieces and then fold the fabric to cut the ties.

Step 4:   Now you can cut.  I usually cut everything by hand but have found a rotary cutter and ruler works well on the long straight cuts.  Since most patterns are multi-sized, make sure you cut on the line for the size garment you are making.  I am making a size 4 dress.  Pay attention to the notches on the pattern.  These are to assist in construction.  You may cut them in or out, it doesn't matter.  I usually only make small 1/4 inch cuts into the seam allowance at the notches now, but for this dress, I cut the notches out so you can see them.
This notch will help you set in the sleeve.

Here are the cut pieces:

The dress bodice back & front, the dress skirt back & front and the sleeve are cut from the green velvet. 
The collar, neck facings and ties are cut from the ivory satin.  Notice there are two collars?  One will be the facing or underside of the collar.  Facings should be interfaced to retain their shape.  I use fusible interfacing and here is a hint you will not find in any book or pattern.  Fuse your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric before you cut.  So much easier than cutting facings, then the interfacing and then fusing. 

Except when necessary, leave the patterns pinned to the pieces until you are ready to work with them!  The is especially important when you are working with a lot of pieces.  It is very easy to get confused!

Oh, this was exhausting, LOL!  I hope all the instructions are clear but if you have questions or need clarification, leave it in the comments and I will address them at the beginning of the next post.  I hope to start sewing today.  We shall see.

Love from Liri