Aunt Emily

Emily Bowyer Hammel was my father's older sister. She was the dearest person I've ever known. Over several adolescent summers, she patiently taught me how to sew and how to cook. I loved her. Sadly, she has been gone these few years and I miss her very much. However, I am carrying on her legacy of sewing and trying to carry on her legacy of caring.

Thursday, February 28

Order from Fabric Direct

I received my first ever order from Fabric Direct. Having never ordered, I wanted to see the types of fabric they had. These two aqua fabrics are not exactly the same color, but coordinate. On the left is a cotton stretch sateen and on the right a cotton stretch knit. I think the sateen would be dynamite as Sandra Betzina's Jeans Jacket. And I think a skirt rather than pants!

I also received this rayon/cotton mix in a pink sort of boucle. It isn't exactly what I expected, but the photos on the website are so small, it is hard to tell what you are ordering. The left photo is the right side, but on the right is the inside. I think I like the inside best.
Overall, I'm happy with the order - good quality, 12 yards of fabric total for just over $40.

L2 Bag: Sewing Workshop - Finished Bags

I just posted a review of this bag pattern at PATTERN REVIEW.COM. Here are the photos of all my finsihed bags. See below where I discuss making pockets, etc.

The pink, green and gray bag is reduced to about 65% of the larger bag.

Tuesday, February 26

Patterns I have known and loved

I've spent several hours the past few days looking for a specific pattern from the late 60's/early 70's. I never did find it, but I found a lot of others I've made in the past. Here are some, and what I can remember about them.
I am not sure of exactly when I made the pants and vest or the dress with the scarf, but it was sometime while in junior high or high school, so the range would be about 1967 to 1972. I think these were from the earlier side of that range. I think the dress was green, but I'm not certain anymore.
Then this dress came along - I know I made the long version. In white and in blue. Maybe more than twice! Again the same range as above, or maybe just a tad later.
I was thrilled to see this pattern. I made the middle dress - short puff sleeve - for my high school graduation in June 1972. Amazingly enough, a few months ago, I found this dress in a box! It is white cotton with pink and white flowers. If I can find it again, I'll take a photo.
Now this is quite specific - the summer of 1973! The summer of the Jolly Green Giant and Bertha Butt - does anyone else remember that crazy tune? I know I wore this when I went out with the new boyfriend after work from my summer job. Again, not specific as to material, but I made the one on the left.
I absolutely loved this dress. I made it in several different fabrics in the late 70's. A burgundy fake suede. A pink and white floral print. A black satin. It looked great and felt great. I think I wore this when I was finishing up University in 1977/78 or so, maybe just a bit later.
The description of this dress was 1970's, but I know I made it in 1982/3. My memory is quite specific, as I moved to Mississippi in 82 and it was so hot, I couldn't cope. This loose dress was very helpful. I know I made it in a sheer chiffon - small floral, peach and brown.

There were a number of others - and some I wondered how I missed! It was fun to see these old friends again.

Thursday, February 21

Easy Interior Pockets for Bags - Bohemian L2 Bag

This is an easy way to make a pocket for the interior of your purse. First, cut a piece of the main fabric about 8 to 10 inches wide and however long you want the pocket to be. Then, cut a contrasting strip at least two inches wide and sew one at the top and one at the bottom of the main fabric, and repeat with the second main fabric. You will have an oblong with a contrasting edging.
Determine how deep you want each pocket. Cut a piece of stiff interfacing and insert into the oblong (non fusible is best). Now fold the bottom toward the top of the oblong to create an offset of two pockets (as shown above). Turn under the pocket's ends. Put your lining fabric on top of the stiffer interfacing, then place your pocket onto the lining sandwich. Pin liberally, especially at sides to keep edges tucked.
This photo shows the two lining pieces in place with the pockets pinned in place. Sew around the pockets (use a zig zag or a stretch zig zag - measure how wide a pocket you need, and create the pockets by sewing up the body of the pocket piece, then back down to the bottom to continue the bottom edge. The blue fabric piece across the pockets is for the key leash, so you don't need to include it for the pockets.

Marking Hard to Mark Fabrics

Most marking for darts, pleats, etc. can be done with chalk or pencil. However, when you have a difficult fabric, such as this red knit, using tailor tacks works well. I am assuming that you will use a small slash for matching the diamonds, so save this process for other more difficult parts of the pattern marking. On this, I'm working on the red knit dress from Simplicity 3804
Step one, (left above) align your fabric and your pattern. With this stretchy knit, I pinned the fabric and pattern onto the ironing board to make it easier to handle. You will need to "unpin" selectively.

Step two, (right above) take a long double length of contrasting thread and thread a needle. In this photo I used black - I started with peach, but it didn't show up too well in the photo. Tie a big sloppy knot in the end. You will go through the pattern and fabric (both layers) with the threaded needle, pulling taut. Be careful you don't pull the knot through the fabrics. Clip the thread so it is about 2 or 3 inchs long.
Then tie another big sloppy knot and reach under the pattern and material sandwich, enter the fabric at a point just a bit to the top or bottom of the knot and pull through again. Do this for all the areas you need to mark.
Step 3, (left photo) when you have all your knots marked, you will gently pull the two layers of fabric apart. Do this a bit gingerly to get the feel. You will end up with your two pieces, each wit ha long thread and knot to mark the point you want to mark.
The next photo (righ) shows what the two layers look like with all the knots and threads, pulled apart.

Finally, I immediately pin to make the pleat or dart or whatever I'm marking. That way, you don't wonder later what matches what! In this photo you can see one side front piece with two large pleats pinned, the top and bottom of each pleat with a thread. Also a thread for the neckline pivot point.
And that is it! It looks scarier than it really is. This is an effective way to mark anything you can't mark with chalk or pencil.

Order from FabricMart - Part One

Me?? A fabric addict?? Say it isn't so....I love Fabric. Of Any Kind. Which means, of course, that I love Fabric Mart. This is my third or fourth order since November - YES I MUST STOP.

I ordered the lovely mauve flowers print silk on the left to make a great top or dress. It is a bit shinier than I thought from the website photo, but it is lovely.

Then I ordered this burnout white on the right - I can't remeber what the blend is, it is a slightly stiffer hand than silk. But it will make a great shirt.

Then this wonderful hot pink, purple and black burnout - just loved the photo and it is more wonderful in person!

The purple and lilac crysanthymums will be great as a blouse, on black silk with tiny specks of green.

The Fragonard design fabric is quite interesting. If you look at it dead on, you can only see shadows of the design. You have to have it on a slight slant to see it. On a dark background. This is going to be a lovely something - maybe a long jacket??

I also requested the free bundle of 10 yards they send if you spend a specific amount. Here are the three fabrics I received. The left is a black chenille print on a taffeta - not sure what to do with that. Then there is a nice rayon black and white suiting. And finally a boucle with pink, orange, yellow, lime - hum, not sure its my thing, but it may grow on me!

I was hoping to sew tonight, but my shoulder is so sore from the computer that I am going to lay back and rest. Maybe tomorrow - we are having a snow day anyway!

On the Cutting Board

I posted about this pattern last time - McCalls 5589 - it reminds me of the 70's. Well this is the fabric I have that I thought would be great for a summer top. Not cut out, just thinking about it. What do you think, is it a match?
Yesterday, I was at JoAnn Fabrics in Columbus, Ohio. I had to go up for a meeting. Can anyone tell me why there are seven or eight Joann Etc.'s in Columbus, and none in Cincinnati?

Anyway, in the clearance dept. I found this nice poly/rayon blend - the two shades of peach are printed on the material, but the pinks are rayon thread. I think this would make a great skirt - probably the Burda 7947, view C (on left) or A (on right). What do you think?

At the Machine

This is what I have going right now. First, I am making one of the Sewing Workshop L2 bags (reduced to 75%) out of the Bohemian Manor by Jason Yenter fabric from In the Beginning. I'll post later about the interior of this bag.
Then, I have started on this Simplicity 3804 in the red knit - see previous posts!
An finally, I am making myself a Sewing Workshop L2 bag in Alexander Henry's Frida Kahlo fabric - I have pockets and straps ready, just need to put body together.

Saturday, February 16

Can Spring Be Far Away?

Spring might be on its way - way back two weeks ago, when Puxatawney Phil saw his shadow, Buckeye Chuck did not. So maybe it will be spring-like in Ohio while it is still winter in Pennsylvania!

Anyway, I looked at some of the new items in the McCalls pattern book last weekend. At the time I looked at 5589 and thought - I've sewn that before - back in the 70's. I didn't think that much of it. But in the meantime, I've found a piece of fabric I'd forgotten - not sure when I got it. It is a thin cotton with a sort of India design in blue. Shades of the 60's and 70's, I know. Anyway, I can just see this top in the longer version, in that fabric. I may have to make it for summer.
Now I must have been on this nostalgia trip for a bit, as I noted I purchased this pattern last summer - McCalls 5337. Again, that 70's vibe called to me. So I may have two 70's style tops for the summer.

Thursday, February 14


Yahoo, I am going to Vancouver, British Columbia for a week in March!

My aunt moved there a few years ago. I've never been, but heard a lot about it. It is supposed to be lovely.

I am going to leave March 27th, so I may start a counter to show how many days to go.

Wednesday, February 13

Button, Button

I bought one of the bags of buttons from Fabric Mart ( It is quite impressive.
The photo shows the sorting I've done - about half the bag (that is the other half on the upper left. I'm going to have to find something to use all those purple buttons on. There are some nice black and white buttons. Lots of neutral colors. And as you can see, varying amounts of the different styles. So far, just one pink, two turquoise and three yellow! There are a slew of dark green and some nice blue.
So if you've been wondering - this is what the bag looks like!

Finished the Top - Simplicity 3990

I've finally finished the top I started a few weeks ago ( Simplicity 3990). It took some dong as it has been a really long time - like 15 or more years - since I had to fit anything. And this fabric was terrible - it frayed the second it was cut. I like the teal and black lace look though.

The changes I made were to knock off about 1 inch on each shoulder, add to the hip, adjust for a narrow back. I'd make this again, but probably a size smaller - I used the size according to my measurements, but this fits larger and a size smaller might be better. I had some difficulty in getting the waist to nip in after adding for the hip.

I'd make it again, in better fabric. So I'm going to treat this as my "muslin" and make other adjustments the next time around.

Christmas on Valentines Eve

WELL FINALLY!!!! My friend and I have missed each other, or forgotten to bring the gifts, since December 24th!!! Finally we were able to get together today. And so I bring you the final photos of my sewing spree in December. PEC wears this black felt hat that I hate - in fact, I can't think of anyone who likes it! Well now she can throw it away, because she has this cool tiger newsboy cap, made by me.
I also made this cloche style hat in a real thick cotton - I thought at first it was fleece. One of those special clearances at JoAnne, but a good one. PEC really like it too.

And then, there is the sartorial splendor of PEC's John Deere fixation! She bought dishes with John Deere tractors a few years ago, so that has given me a theme for all sorts of gifts. Here, her new apron with John Deere pockets and binding, and the fleece scarf with JD and a sort of quilt star design. Note she does have a fleece jacket and a fleece vest UNDER that apron!

So finally Christmas is done.