Showing posts with label Ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ideas. Show all posts

Monday, 9 February 2015

Three little Dicky birds

I can't claim this as my own.  It's a vintage item that The Much Belovéd's mother sent from the US.  I think it is such fun I wanted to share it with you all.  I think it is the cutest tea towel I have ever seen and in some ways it's too good to use.  I guess this dates from 
the late 1950s or early 60s.

A closer look reveals how deceptively simple this appliqué is.  Each bird is made up of two contrasting strips of bias with the twig made of brown bias.  the eyes, beaks and legs are back stitched with embroidery thread.  Anyone feeling inspired to make a copy?

Also from the 1950s I leave you with some other singing birds - British ones this time though.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Seam Guidance or This one's for Matt C

Of all the sewing machine accessories I own (and they have rather mounted up here over the last year) the one I use the most is my seam guide.  This is probably because I use old black sewing machines with no markings on their throat plates.  To the best of my limited knowledge there are two basic types of seam guide.  The first is quite heavy, T-shaped, and pictured left.  This is the kind that tends to come with black japanned Singers with gold decals.  The second is made of lighter pressed metal and plastic and tends to be found with the later tan, pale green and duck egg coloured Singers.

Early type Singer seam guide
Later type Singer seam guide

Both types will screw into either hole in the machine bed of a black Singer sewing machine [say a Singer 66 for instance Matt]  I've taken pictures just to prove my point.  Notice that the later type can be swivelled about to allow for sewing curved seams.

If you have a zig-zag machine you can also use this type of seam guide to help with making a blind hem.  I haven't done it yet myself but this operation is on my experimental to-do list
Now this is not, as you might think, a six inch/15 cm ruler.  It is, in point of fact, a knitting and sewing gauge.  I know this because it has this written on one end of it.  This gadget, with its sliding marker, has a number of uses.  I use it a lot to set up the seam guides on my black Singers, none of which have markings on their throat plates.
Sewing and knitting guage

Now although these old Singer are not marked in the way that a modern machine would be there are landmarks if you know how to read them.  I've tried to illustrate the first here.  This is the front one of the two screws which actually hold the throat plate on to the bed of the machine.  Check out the seam gauge.  If you use the right edge of this screw as a reference point you'll be sewing a quarter inch seam allowance.  This is useful for those who piece quilt tops and other patchwork projects.

The next land mark is the mystery hole nestling snugly in the D-shaped throat plate.  Don't look for one of these if you have a VS machine like a Singer 28, 27, 128 or 127 because I don't think you will find one.  I'm not entirely sure what the intended purpose of this hole is.  I think it might be something to do with an under-braiding attachment sold by Singer.  The other interesting fact is that by using this hole as a seam guide you will be sewing a ⅝ seam which just so happens to be the industry standard for home sewing patterns.  Don't believe me?  Check the sewing gauge - handy eh?

Now, without the aid of the seam gauge, if you have the older type of seam guide and thumb screw you have two useful default settings.  The first I wrote about last time is for a ⅜ seam allowance and the second is achieved in the following way.  Set the thumb screw in the threaded hold nearest the throat plate and position the flat side of the seam guide as close to the thumb screw as possible.  This creates a spacing of one inch.  I suspect that this might well come in handy for turning hems.

Some people have seam guides and use them, some people have sewn beautifully for decades and have never seen a seam guide never mind used one.  They were a standard in the accessory boxes for Singer sewing machines so millions must have been stamped out over the years.  Bear this in mind if you are going to buy one.  I wouldn't want pay more than a couple of pounds for one.  It might be more cost effective to buy a job lot of accessories that include a seam guide - mixed lots turn up regularly on ebay.  If you can find one to buy cheaply or, even better, get one given to you you will have an easy to use accessory which will really earn its keep.

In parting I leave you with a link to one of Muv's (of Lizzie Leonard Vintage Sewing fame) excellent video tutorials.  If you're not familiar with her videos and blog check them out.  They are a priceless source for the care and use of vintage machines!  I cannot recommend them enough!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Did your granny wear one of these?

I don't recall my Gran wearing a traditional apron.  I remember her occasionally wearing a mauve overall (which has a nice consonance).  There is even photographic evidence of this garment somewhere at my mother's house.  Where I grew up butchers, joiners and freemasons wore aprons whereas Mams, Mothers, Grans and Grannies wore pinnies.  My own Mam had a rather fetching vinyl/oilcloth number with Superwoman (yes Super not Wonder) on it.

I am seldom certain of what motivates me but while I was on holiday I decided that, when I got home, I was going to make what I thought was called "a cross over pinny".  So I googled that phrase and was more or less thwarted by my NW UK English usage.  After further lateral searching I discovered that what I was really looking for was a pinafore.  This surprised me because I thought a pinafore was a dress. I was convinced of this because I remember my Mam sewing them for my sister.  She would ware a polo neck sweater underneath.  They were the girl equivalent of my dungarees.

I often discuss things with The Much Belovéd and this proposed project was no exception.  Now he grew up on the other side of the Atlantic, far away from our red brick man traps with their scrubbed steps, and when I told him what I had in mind he had some difficulty understanding me.  After further discussion we established that down his alley what I call a pinafore dress is a jumper, a UK pinafore is a US house dress, an English overall is a North American cover all and an apron is an apron.  Are we all singing from the same hymn sheet?  Great!

Thanks to actresses like Irene Handle...

 .........Kathy Staff... 

...and Jean Alexander this garment looms large in the psyche of one born in the late 1970s and weened on a diet of British television during the 1980s.

However this garment does not loom large in the psyche of internet search engines and sewing patterns, never mind free sewing patterns, for such garments are few and far between.

I did however manage to track down an inexpensive PDF explaining how to create your own pattern and construct a pinny from scraps. You can find it here if you are interested and if you are really interested you can tune in here soon to find out how I got on with it.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Tea, Tiles and Inspiration

Look at this!

Quilt Floor

I mean the tiles and not the feet.  I believe that this type of tile is known as encaustic tiles.  The pattern is made up by inlaying clays of different colours rather than by paint or glaze.  They were first seen in churches and cathedrals during Medieval times and became hugely popular in the hallways of Victorian England.  They appear to be enjoying a revival in this delightful cafe bar in London's West End.

The-Much-Beloved has an eye for architectural detail and is a great believer in snapping a record of features that please just in case we ever need them.

"Oh look at the lovely floor!  I bet you'd want to sew that as a pattern"

Hmmm.  Sounds like a challenge is that a gauntlet I hear hitting the encaustic tiles?

The tile here looks like a variant on the eight point star.  I think it's do-able.  How scary can half-square triangles and flying geese be?

Watch this space...