Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sewing Tip-Gauging Tape

I consider myself a lazy seamstress, I hate to
measure & I don't like using a marker.  I want
 my sewing to be relaxing and enjoyable.
  My favorite tool is my eyes, I love to
"eyeball" things.  Once in a blue moon I run
across fabric that has a repeat pattern that's
too large for me to sew a straight line
and too swirly to keep focused on. 

This "icky" green and tan reproduction print is
a fine example of that type of fabric.  Yes, it's
"icky" but I think it's going to make a lovely
dress.  So, what do I do?  I dig to the bottom of
my sewing box and bring out my gauging tape! 
 I've had this roll several years but, I looked
online and found a similar tape at
Joanns (online only).
It's well worth every penny!
Especially if you want to sew a gauged
skirt but, perfectly straight synchronized
rows of stitching seems impossible!
It's very similar to masking tape, it sticks well to
your fabric and all the measurements are
already there!!
I took these photos at night...the icky green
is now an icky blue green.
I can sew a perfectly straight line and
perfectly measured stitches.
 Move the tape down (you can use it several
times) and make your second and third row
exactly like the first row.
 I love it for tiny even pleats.
How lazy & easy is that???
Happy Sewing! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Barbed Wire Wreath

I wanted a large wreath for the front
porch that would hold up to bad weather
and be a durable base for holiday decorating.
I was tired of continually replacing  wreaths.
So, I smashed chicken wire and formed a
large circle.  I then wrapped it with barbed
wire.  I hung horse shoes in it and spray
 painted it a hammered gun metal gray. 
It's about 35 inches in diameter and
quite heavy.
  It's very easy to insert greenery etc. into
the open spaces for seasonal and
holiday decorating.

Construction tips............ 
Wear jeans, boots & heavy gloves.  Have a few
band aids close by.  Oh.... a tetanus shot 
is highly recommended.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cinder's Star Quilt

My girlfriends and I all live in different cities,
so a couple times a year we get together for
a "girls only" weekend.  There is always a little
gift exchange, something we make, bake,
grow, or find at a flea market or auction.  Nothing
expensive or new, just something that reminds us
of one another.  I have received several cookie
molds, baskets and dolly things over the years!
My girlfriends know me so well!  
Last year, Cindy (the quilter) was given this
hand pieced star, purchased at a farm auction
by Teresa for just a few dollars.  It was in
desperate need of some cleaning, repair and
of course finishing.  I remember we had a lively
discussion about the possible age of the star,
who had so loving hand pieced it, and wondered
 why it had been left unfinished.
Cinders set the star on a white background,
chose a red binding & spent endless hours
hand quilting it.  It is truly a beautiful quilt.
 We had a "girls" gathering in Kansas City 
a few weeks ago and Cinders gave the 
finished quilt back to Teresa.... 
Isn't that a great quilt story, and a
touching story of friendship!!!
Teresa and Cinders
Miss you, looking forward to next time!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tutorial-Cora's Hair and Bonnet

I look forward to creating my dolls hair.  I try
very had to use period appropriate styles. 
  Whether the pioneer created hair similar to mine
 I couldn't say but, I did read an account from a pioneer
girls diary, that described the doll her mother had
made for her.  She describes her dolly's hair as wool
yarn pulled from an old sweater that was plaited
into beautiful braids. I have to think a doll's hair was as
important to the early doll makers, as it is to me.
Many of the early settlers that came to this
part of the Ozark mountains were Scotch Irish.
My sister has the most luxurious naturally
wavy auburn hair as proof.  Surely a home made
Ozark dolly or 2 had red wool hair!
Cora's auburn hair is flattened over the ears and
pulled back into 2 coiled plaited buns on the back
of her head. Oh, so mid 1800's stylish!
 To create Cora's hair I used
hand dyed wool yarn,  
coiled & sewn
into a bun with doubled matching thread.
The interior.
I made two buns & 2 small balls of wool roving.
They will go underneath the coils to give
them some stability.
I started by sewing a single strand of
yarn at the front center of Cora's head.  The
yarn hung about 6 inches on each side. I sewed a
single stitch using the same yarn threaded onto a
large needle with a large eye.
 I continued sewing rows with a single stitch
(basically a back stitch)
 until I reached the mid way point at the back
of her head.
I then pulled it to the side and twisted it.  I made
a few stitches (with coordinating thread)
underneath and at the back to secure it.
The side front view.
I used a curved needle with double thread
to stitch the coils down.
I pinned them in place.
Stitching each coil until it was very secure.
This is Cora's simple straw spoon bonnet.
It's functionally lined with muslin & ties
with a green silk ribbon. Cora's doesn't want her
coiffed hair getting stuck in the straw plaiting. 
She has all the proper under garments,
pantalettes with pin tucks, a lace edged
petticoat, and chemise with flat felled
seams and gussets.
I also added a tiny hand crocheted lace collar to
Cora's dress.  I have a wonderful lady friend,
that crochets all the lace and shawls for my dolls.
She's in her seventies and still hand quilts, knits,
and crochets.  Her hand work is just beautiful.
 Much to my dolls delight & mine!
After many enjoyable hours of sewing and
taking photos she is finally done!
(I may do a touch more aging)
I hope in some small way
these "how to" posts have helped
 to make your hand sewing experience
 more pleasurable!
Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

MAIDA Dolls Group Storybook Challenge Featured In Prims Magazine 2012 Autumn Issue

"Making Antique Inspired Dolls & Accessories"
Storybook Challenge Featured In
PRIMS 2012 Autumn Issue
My great-great-great uncle, Barnett Farthing
was a boyhood friend of Samuel Clemens.
They attended school together in Hannibal, Missouri
and shared in the many adventures made so famous
in the book Tom Sawyer.  So, when Dixie
Redmond of MAIDA challenged us to make a doll
from a story we loved, I thought it only fitting I choose
Becky Thatcher.
Barnett Coffee Moran Farthing

Becky was really a "challenge" for me.
She is described in the book as having
blue eyes and yellow hair.
It was great fun to be a part of this challenge!

Be sure to pick up a copy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cora's Dress-How To Make The Gauged Skirt (cartridge pleating)

Gauging or cartridge pleating?
Many years ago I was in a historical
ladies group, and a civil war reenactor.
We made period clothing and often gave
fashion shows from different periods in
history.  When I began to make dolly clothing I
 came upon the term cartridge pleating and
frankly, I had no idea what that was.  After some
research I realized it was the same technique
 used in civil war clothing construction, it's
 just the more modern term.  The proper 1800's
term is gauged plaiting.  Gauged refers to even
 measurements, plaiting just means pleats.
Hence, even measured pleats. 
They are the same thing and both terms are
Gauging is the perfect technique to incorporate a
large amount of fabric into a vary small space.
Bigger pleats, more fabric. Smaller pleats
less fabric.
Ladies wanted to accentuate a small waistline but,
have the yards of fabric required to cover the
large hoop petticoats during the mid to
later 1800's. When the basting stitches are
removed the pleats literally fan out
to cover the hoop.
In the last post I showed how Cora's
bodice was made, here I will show the
process used to make her gauged skirt.
I do iron periodically during the sewing
process, sometimes I finger press.  I
 just don't mention often it in the tutorials,
but, it's very beneficial to the look of
your finished garment.  I own a teeny
tiny ironing board purchased at CR's
crafts on the web for a few dollars. 
For me, it's a must.
Back to the skirt!
I had 1/2 yard of this 45 in wide fabric. I started at
 one selvage end and turned under about 1/4 in. all
along the top.  I turned under about 35 inches.
I make very few measurements, 
I fit to the doll.  Your doll will be a different size!
I then turned under about 5/8 inch.
Turn in about 1/4 in. on the side.
Turn again to about 3/8 or 1/2 inch.
For a gauged skirt you will need to make 2 or 3
rows of synchronized running stitches.
That means exactly the same,
 evenly spaced stitches. 
 Here's my cheat for making evenly
spaced stitches:
Gauging Tape 
 I have a striped fabric, I wanted the
top of my pleat to have the wheat colored stripe
showing.  This is how I spaced my stitches
to achieve that effect.  Play around with this, it can
make a big difference in the look of the skirt.
Iron well before gathering your pleats.
I used 3 rows.  It holds the pleats firmer & I find it
easier to work with.  If you want to leave your
basting stitches in the skirt when finished, use
a coordinating color thread.  I have seen the basting
stitches left in antique clothing & clothing with no
basting stitches.
This is the effect I wanted for Cora's skirt.
I put the skirt on Cora to make sure I would
have enough pleats, I allowed enough fabric for
the folds at the other end & added a bit extra.
 I can always squeeze in a few more pleats. 
This type of skirt looks best when it's full.
Then I cut it off.
I placed the fabric on Cora to determine the
hem placement.  I folded up about 1/4 inch
all along the bottom, then folded where I
wanted her hem.
This is what I had left to cut out the bodice pieces.
Time to finish the end sections of the skirt.
I started on the left back side.
I turned toward the inside my 1/4 inch.
Then my next fold.
Butting it up against the first pleat.
Actually making another pleat.  I made sure
the stripe matched the other pleats.
On the back side, I took several stitches
firmly securing it to the next pleat.
(you can see a couple knot ends from the
running stitches hanging out)
I moved to the other end of the skirt. This side
will be overlapped by the left side, SO I didn't
want a lot of bulk here.
I made my 2 folds,
Secured it down with several stitches, but
I did not butt it against the first pleat on this
side.  I left it flat.
I then sewed the side seam.  Leaving
 an opening a the top, about 3 or
4 inches long.

I whip stitched the edges of the opening down.
I folded the edges of the back
seam under, and whip stitched the sides.
I then finished the hem.
 Notice the horizontal stitches at the bottom
 of the opening.  I did this to add strength at
 the top of my back seam.  A child can take
the dress off and on without busting out the
I used double thread to attach the skirt.  I
  started at the left back side.  I inserted my needle
between the stitches of the waistband.  Coming
 out at the bottom corner edge.  I pulled my
thread until my knot was secured within the
fold of the waistband.  My knot was hidden.
I inserted my needle through the front of the
 first pleat fold,
drawing it securely.  I did a second stitch. I made
a tiny knot. (you can barely see it at the top of this
photo)  To hide my thread end, I inserted my
needle into the fabric right next to the knot
between the layers of fabric & came out a
 short distance away.  I scrunched the
 fabric and cut my thread.  No thread ends
showing.  I use this technique a lot to hide
knots and thread ends!
This end securely sewn.
I did the same thing to the other end, with the
addition of stitching along the flat inside
This is what it looked like on the right side.
Again, you can see knots from the gathering
Both ends firmly attached.
Knots & thread ends hidden!
Cora's skirt had 76 pleats.  I don't like to measue,
but I did need to count!  I marked the middle
front of the bodice and the half way point on the
skirt and pinned.
I continued marking half way points and counting
pleats and pinning until I had every pleat pinned. 
Sorry, I forgot to take a photo.
Do this on a ladies skirt a few times, this size
is easy!!
Starting at either end using double thread, hide
your knot within the waistband. Come out right
where you want to attach the first pleat.  Remove the
 pin, take a single whip stitch in the front edge fold 
of the pleat.  Remove the next pin, take the stitch
repeating until all pleats are attached. 
 Don't miss one!
I folded it like this to do my stitching.
These are the stitches from the front.  They are
very tiny.
Remove your basting stitches.
If you leave them in, secure the thread ends
neatly, hiding the knots within the folds.
Her dress is sewn!
Cora's waist is 5 1/2 inches around,
there are 35 inches of fabric in the skirt.
(FYI~I measured after I was finished!)
Imagine the amount of fabric & hand sewing
 required to make a civil war ladies skirt!
Next post is Cora's hair and bonnet.
Stay tuned!
Thanks for all the positive comments Cora
and I have received on her tutorials.  I hope
these posts have helped to make your sewing
experience more pleasurable! 
Happy Sewing!