Sunday, December 11, 2011

Victoria' Cotton Smocked Dress

      I am out of town and thought I would post a photo of a dress I made about 10 years ago. This is Victoria's dress. Eliana has worn it with brown leggings this fall since it kinda has autumn colors.
I think because of the color combination I get lots of compliments. The smocking design was from an Australian Smocking book that belonged to my mother. I added the green ribbon bow with embroidered center. The fabric was a quilting fabric and the pattern for the dress was a Children's Corner Bishop dress pattern.The sleeves are called, "angel wings" because they are open and resemble wings. Sometimes the angel wing bishop is featured with a basic yoke dress and the bishop angel wing is the apron over the dress. I love that. Maybe I should do that for Easter.  In case you don't know, a "bishop" smocked dress has smocking all the way around the neck. It incorporates the sleeves and both front and back yokes. So, when pleating it, you leave the side seams unsewn. After pleating, the side seams are sewn together. I usually sew french seams on the side. If you own a pleater, you roll the fabric onto a wooden dowel and slowly turn the fabric through the pleater. Successful pleating takes practice. There are some basic instructions on the net, like this one, Here.
   I made embroidery thread button loops and embroidered a flower over the button. This dress has seem numerous washings and  active kid wear & tear. Suprisingly, it has held up well. My favorite smocking stitch is the feather stitch. I like the look and I enjoy the actual embroidering part. Like crochet, I find it relaxing.
      If you are wondering whether or not to invest in a pleater, I would consider how much you actually intend to smock. Some specialty fabric stores that sell smocking supplies will pleat fabric for you at a cost. Something to think about. If cost isn't a problem, then a pleater is wonderful. I happen to have one my mom purchased but never used. It is a small pleater with only about 14 rows. I would love to have a large pleater but it probably isn't worth the investment for me right now.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Tea Time Advent Calendar

As you can see on the blog, I make a lot of tea pot stuff because I am a Tea Lover. So, I had to come up with an idea to incorporate that with an Advent calendar. So, here it is. My Christmas decor is silver and turquoise but I am sure that any color combinaiton will look fantastic with this design idea. What I think is so cool is that each "teabag" is a mini goody bag to insert candy, idea, or tiny toy. Another idea is to put actual tea bags in the mesh baggy. Each day having a different holiday tea to try. The teapot is open on top to either stuff the empty tea bags in each day, or to place a special Christmas day goodie inside.


 Sari Fabric (35x24)background
Wool Felt (approx. 1/2 yard) teapot and tea cups
31x20 ( heavy interfacing)
broadcloth 5"x 45"
mosquito netting approx. 18"
embroidery thread ( for blanket stitch by machine )
basting thread
96" of gold cording
glitter and glitter fabric adhesive
Fray Check
sequins, pearl strands, genmstone
Glue Gun
Fusible  1" stitch witchery


I started with the Tea bags ( the most detailed part of the project)

Cut a strip p5"x 45"
serge along the 45" length on both edges (or zig zag)
fold & press lengthwise
Serge along the folded edge (or zig zag)

You will have a nice folded edge to guide through the serger or to zig zag. The other side will have two finished edges. That will be a little pocket to insert the gold cord.
 Cut 24 1 6/8" peices. Serge(or zig zag) the edge of each peice.

Cut the tails off at the ends or the serged edge

apply Fray Check to prevent unraveling
(stack of tags before cutting)
After snipping, fray checking, paint the daily number 1-24 on each tag with
acrylic paint mixed with fabric glue for the glitter.  
Add decorative items with hot glue
cut 4" peices of cording

cut 3 6" strips with rotary cutter and then cut those strips into 3" wide peices for the "tea bag" 

fold and zig zag the 3" ends of all 24 "bags"

Straight stitch down cord on netting, then back stitch with a zig zag.
Inset the other end of the cord into the "pocket" end of the number tag and straight stitch across the top, over the gold cord.

Fold and sew the moquito net with wtong sides together, then turn right side out
It should look like this
Now, for the tea cups. Cut 24 handles and 24 cups out of wood felt. I used a disappearing ink on to trace the handles.

Cut the Tea Pot parts out of felt. The Pot is a pocket when the top is left unstitched to the back. I made a snowflake design with fabric glue and glitter before I hot glued the pearl strands to it in a pretty pattern, sewing a gemstone in the middle.
Place the tea pot on the top of the calendar and center it by "eye". Placing the spout and handle in the place you desire and then hand basting like the tea cups and machine stitching in place.

Place the tea cups onto background fabric, evenly spaced. Or you could tilt stack like crazy cups.
Then, baste the teacups in place before machine stitching onto the background.

Machine stitch to the background with whatever stitch you choose. I used a blanket stitch, making sure I used a mirror image depending on which direction I was sewing from.
 I used a fusible "stitch witchery" to adhere the background fabric to the stiff interfacing. Turning over the extra 2" around the edge and using a pressing cloth and a water spray bottle to dampen the cloth so that the fusible material would adhere without damaging the sari fabric.
Have fun pulling out your candy, tea bag, toy or whatever goodie you choose.
Please send me pics of what you have done, I would love to see your own Christmas TeaTime Calendar. ---Amy Liz

Super Cape and Mask

This super cape was created from an online pattern. Just google blogs and super cape pattern and there are a lot of simple patterns to choose from. I could have made my own, I didn't feel like thinking hard that day.  I created a simple felt applique and sewed sequins around the star. Pretty simple idea.  This is a project I created a good while ago.   The mask was created from a pattern from a blog that I love, Ikat Bag.  Lier's cardboard stuff is incredibly fun and what an inspiration it is to see her creative ideas.
( I am super busy creating an advent calendar. Its way past the time it should be ready. Next fall, I think I will release my advent calendar as a pattern for purchase. I am learning from my mistakes, meaning I am cursing and ripping stitches. Also, the general planning and design has taken a lot of time. If I had just created a paper/ magnet or some other simple advent thing it would be done already. I had to create something that is detailed and time consuming, of course. )
Anyway, the cape uses velcro  and was super easy to make. Just sew, and turn inside out. I could have top stitched it, but I didn't. It wasn't out of satin, either. Just used some cotton broadcloth that I had on hand. She loves this costume, still. It is a time worthy project for any seamstress with small kids.
    Especially it they are leaping off of furniture like mine. It never ceases to amaze me how many ways she comes up with to jump off of chairs, tables, and stacked items. Once, at Barnes and Noble, she took a step stool and chair and leaped from the chair over to the step stool. Of course, I was clutching my chest. The cross expression on my face with the disgust tone in my voice said it all. I don't win any "permissive Mommy" awards, that's for sure. I think she likes to watch me spill my coffee from the nervous shake in my hand as I watch her barely catch the edge of the Evil Kineval stunts she pulls.
My very favorite is the, " lets run in the parking lot and see if we can get mommy to catch me before the car hits me" stunt. I now have a death grip on her hand in a parking lot.
Christmas decorating, baking, and the general duties around here inhibit my creative tasks. Oh well. I sure wish I didn't require sleep, that would be fantastic! I would be like a project genie, a production guru with projects being whipped together overnight and during the day. I can dream....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Repurposed table cloth into curtains

One of my favorite things to eat is Miso soup and sushi. An asian salad and soup is great, too. Sometimes I choose cashews, madarin oranges, sesame seeds, green onion and ginger dressing. This time I used wasabi soy beans, sesame seeds, crunchy noodles, red onion and green onion, and ginger dressing. Green tea alongside, mmmmmm. I just love it. I could eat asian food every day. My brother's wife is Korean and I love to eat at their house. When her mother visits from Korea I am at their door so fast, its rediculous. Watching her mom cook, I make mental notes so I can make her dishes at my house. "Kim", the sushi wrappers that are in little squares, I love to eat those with rice. My neice and daughter both love it. Kinda funny that our kids will eat seaweed but push away other food.
Anyway, notice the blue square bowl? I am in love with that deep, dark blue.

While shopping in Target, I had found this blue and white table cloth on clearance. Probem is, when I moved, it didn't look right in the room. So, I repurposed it into kitchen curtains. I have always loved cobalt blue and white. There's something about those colors that is so soothing to me.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I enjoy watercolor painting. When a man I dated left for Afghanistan, I sent him goodies in the mail. I painted this for his postage label and copied it on the printer. I inserted it into a plastic sleeve page and taped it to the top of the box. When he returned, he had the box top with him. He absolutely loved it. It showed my thoughtfulness. ( Along with his favorite 60% cocoa chocolate chip & walnut cookies I sent in a tin among other food items I mailed. )

I haven't had time to paint since I have been working on clothing designs and an idea for a Christmas craft. My daughter's preshool is only 3 hours 4 days a week and that isn't very condusive to creativity. I try to cook meals that will last a few days so that I can have more time to make things. I spent yesterday creating that blog title thing but it's so big. I can't change the size, frustrating. If it is annoying, please let me know.
Advent calendars are great and I have an idea for a shabby chic one. I just need to hurry. I also need to make 18" doll clothes and baby doll clothes for gifts. We have the "Molly" American girl doll. It caused crying and squeeling with delight when my daughter tore the paper and saw the red box and the doll's face last Christmas. So, I have 2 patterns for doll clothes. I do not want to come up with my own pattern for that. It's simply too much work. The construction will take enough time. I may make a bag for the doll. Not sure.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Putting in Grommets

Pandas are the favorite of the 4 year old dress up queen that lives here. So, with cold weather here I have been creating a pattern for a knit tunic dress or top. The velvety spandex leggings I made about a week ago. I created a pattern for those, too. This dress is a mock up of what the final dress garment will be. Its a little too wide in the shoulder area but my daughter's chest is narrower than most 4 year olds.
The panda ears are kind of crooked. I noticed that after. You see, while I sew, my crafting room gets torn apart. My child invades all my drawers, shelves, etc... She climbs on my back while I am at the machine. Its amazing that I even am able to construct a garment. Pheww.....
So forgive the crooked panda ears, please. Anyway, I found this houndstooth knit and I had to have it. The hot pink had to be added in order to convince her to put it on. I love all colors. I really don't have a favorite. In her mind, though, pink and purple are fantastic. The panda had to have rhinestone eye balls, too.

Putting in the grommets was super easy. Bought a kit from Hancock fabrics here in town.

1. I spaced the grommets by "eye" and then traced the inside of the hole with washable pen. The instructions say to cut a hole.

2. I didn't I used an awl and pushed it through the knit. I snipped tiny cuts around the hole made with the awl.

3.The fabric was then stretched around the grommet. I used the tip of the awl to guide the fabric over the edge of the grommet.

4. The bottom grommet fits into a black ring under the fabric.

5. The top grommet fits inside of the bottom one. The top grommet is the longer and wider ring. The long silver tool fits over the top grommet and you just hammer that until the top grommet pushed through and wraps around the bottom grommet.

Voila! Easy and I love all the possible ways I may be using grommets.

The bottom grommet pushing through the fabric hole made with the awl and tiny cuts

Punching the awl through the fabric

Simple Dritz kit I purchased

Bottom black ring and the top peice for the hammer comes with the kit.

Placing the grommets by sight

sofa table sewing

Then, this painful event occured while serging.... I use a sofa table for my machines. I like that it is sturdy and doesn't vibrate. I scooted my chair under the serger and rammed the sharp point of the wood into the soft part of my knee. It hurt so bad I had to lie on the couch. Of course that wasn't enough to deter me from my mission. I sat down, throbbing knee, and continued serging.
I need to write a post on accidents in the sewing room. You know, like burning yourself with the glue gun or the iron, stepping on a needle, cutting your fingers with scissors. My favorite is the rotary blade accident with my son when he was three. He reached up onto my counter top and pulled it down. Holding my hand out, I said, " give mommy the cutter, please" He replied with a rebellious, "no" while pulling his arm back to show his posession of it. That action caused the blade to slice through his face, right next to his lips. I had a plastic surgeon stitch it up. I have never forgotten that moment. He is now 17 and has dated the entire cheering squad at his high school. It obviously hasn't affected his looks.

I try to always leave the rotary cutter on lockdown now. My female Dennis the Menace that I live with could, however, figure a way to unlock it, I am sure.

I flatlocked the top peices together on my serger. To make sure that the top didn't stretch too far at the opening. I put a 3" satin stitch across the bottom before putting in the grommets. A peice of the tearable embroidery paper was used to sew over the two adjoining peices easily. Then, you simply tear it away. Love that stuff.