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Sep 10, 2010

The Comeback: Peter's return to sewing

I'm back and bigger than ever.  And I have a treadle.

You don't have to remind me that I haven't sewn in more than three weeks.  In my defense, I had a full week's vacation without access to a sewing machine, plus I bought the aforementioned treadle as well as a vintage iron.  That's almost sewing, right?

Anyway yesterday I decided it was time to get back to work, if only to stop the ugly online rumors that I was a washed up recluse, a has been.  People who sew can be cruel.

Hey, look what the Wells Fargo Wagon dropped off yesterday:

Ta da!

It's my new vintage, six pound General Electric iron.  Guys, I love it  and boy does it get hot -- and stay hot.  Just look at that crease.  Whoops, don't cut yourself!

And speaking of creases, I found these popular classics at the Salvation Army on Wednesday:

I want to use these books -- and this really must stay between us -- to help my cousin Cathy.  Cathy likes to lay the spackle on a little thick and I don't think it's helping her.  I tell her her photos require minimal retouching -- no lie, that -- but surely you've noticed that most shots are taken at medium distance and often with the sun shining directly on her to wash out the imperfections -- a trick I learned watching old Joan Crawford movies.

Cathy's going through a difficult period common to many models and actresses too mature to play "the girl" but not ready for the Fay Bainter roles either.  (Cameron and Julia know what I'm talking about.)  Cathy's clearly not "Younger Than Springtime" but neither is she "September Song."  What she really needs is a big producer like Ross Hunter to recharge her career like he did for Doris Day and Jane Wyman.  If only someone would re-make Magnificent Obsession.

But back to sewing...

I've begun the Burda dress and so far, so good.

Preparing the fabric for cutting, I was reminded that this was the pattern that Willy had voided his bladder on a few weeks ago.  While the odor is gone, visible water damage remains.

By day's end I had finished the front tucks and I am now ready to put this thing together.

I would love to have it finished by day's end; certainly by Saturday.

Today I'm going to have to face those button loops -- I can't let them hold me back any longer.  I think the pattern calls for eighteen (!) but I'll do ten, which is plenty.  I know what I need to do, I just have to do it.  I have a loop turner, cord (which I don't even have to use), and a few good online tutorials -- how bad could it be, right?  Virtual hand-holding would be much appreciated.

I'm so ready to put this project behind me so I can move on to Michael's you-know-what.

So friends, I have not lost my sewing mojo, I was merely recharging my batteries -- not bootleg Chinese Duracells I hope.

Oh -- before I forget: I made those tucks with my treadle!  My plan is to begin doing most of my sewing on it.  It's such a pleasure to sew with.

And now friends, I must return to work.  Would that I could while away the day blogging and commenting on a sunny patio in some warm and breezy Mediterranean country like so many of you -- or even New Zealand.  Alas, I must away.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Pass the Kleenex...(sob).


  1. 18 rouleaux loops, you say? I would rather iron over my hands with the vintage 6 pound General Electric.

    Good luck with the ten!

  2. Oh Peter, it's always a pleasure reading your blog, whatever you decide to write about!

  3. Jane Wyman was born in 1917, so she was 37 in 1954, playing someone who was obviously much...much...older.

  4. I know the feeling, as I just finally completed Vogue 8060 with much, much disaster and hair pulling out. I now remember exactly why I tend to avoid Vogue patterns like the plague....

    Congrats to returning to sewing. And if I were you, I'd get a glue basting pen and tiger tape to make that many loops.

  5. What? SEWING?? Whose blog is this?

    I agree with Bratling above, but I'd change to Collins Washaway Wonder Tape.

  6. Ooo, great idea! I have Wonder Tape too. And a glue stick...

  7. Wonder tape is a wondrous product once you get used to handling it. (I think some people are unprepared for its level of stickiness.)

    I used to have that "Making Faces" book and it's a good one. Kevyn Aucoin was a genius at makeup. May I suggest a damp cosmetic sponge for application of foundation, if Cathy wants to avoid the cakey look.


  8. Magnificient Obsession is one of my favorite movies - not so much the story, a little too fanciful for me, but rather the location: Lake Arrowhead. I spent many a summer swimming, sailing and waterskiing on that lake and when my brothers and I weren't in the water we were at the Village in the arcade playing ski ball. The Village no longer exists and Lake Arrowhead is no longer dotted with lovely mountain cabins but with rather with huge mansions. But the movie Magnificent Obsession truly captured the charm of Lake Arrowhead in glorious color. Thank you for sharing.

    Now on to sewing - a great book that illustrates the whole 'button loop' is Easy Guide to Sewing Blouses, by Connie Long. It is out of print but still available; however, there are probably lots of tutorials on You Tube - I am more of a 'look-it-up-in-a-sewing-book' person then a 'go-find-it-on' You Tube person. I am sure your dress will be lovely and Cathy will look just stunning in it - but of course, she always does. I mean really . . . she's just one of those people that looks great no matter what! ;)

  9. Sometimes a break is just plain necessary! Besides I bet you have been sewing in your head...getting all the steps worked out.

    Peter, I don't think it will matter how many loops you make; but actually putting in more is not a big deal since you will make one long strip for all the loops. Just a few more inches of cord to make those extra loops.

    The following video may help you. It is the easiest way for me. But in making thin button loops you will also need to trim the seam allowance fairly close before turning. Anyway, hope this helps.

  10. I don't mind button loops myself, but then I don't think I've ever made 18 of them... I would probably tack them down by hand first, but I suspect that wonder tape will work as well and be faster. Are loop turners really better than pulling it through with a cord? I've never had one and have heard mixed reviews.

    Good to see you sewing again :)

  11. First off I love that movie.
    Second, great iron! I just purchased a house with the contents and there was a similar one in it. I have not plugged it in yet, but I'm sure it works. One of these days I will get it AND the treadle running, but first I need to move in. Ha!

    I was not in love with the pattern from Burda. A bit too smocky and big for my taste, but am starting to love it as you sew it all together. Can't wait to see it finished.

    Enjoy the weekend.

  12. Oh and Peter, I was watching last nights Project Runway and eghads Heidi started the show in a pair of Harem Pants. You are just too fashion forward for words.

  13. I just received my 1,000 Hints from Pattern Review, and several people recommended using a piece of ribbon to turn loops. They said it is smooth and silky, and easy for the fabric to slide over. Get to work! I made 2 men's shirts last weekend; one for hubby and one for a friend.

  14. --I didn't know you were planning a comeback.

    --I hate that word. It's a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the screen.

    I recommend a loop turner. Although, if these are corded loops you don't need one; you sew with the right side of the fabric outside.

    I was taught to sew a line of basting down the middle of the bias strip in order to create a fold line. After you've sewn the loop, you pull out the basting.

    Use an adjustable zipper foot if you can. When sewing the loop leave a little space, say between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch between the stitch and the cord. When you sew the loop to the garment, lay the second line of stitches in next to the cord.

    When you sew, use one pin the the end of the fabric to start, and once you get it going remove the pin and continue along, pulling the bias strip and stopping to check as needed.

    I would baste down the loops, but I prefer to baste things; it gives me more control and the chances of getting it right on the first try are greatly enhanced.

  15. Sue, must you ALWAYS put me to shame? ;)

    Nancy, I found my iron on eBay and even with shipping it was only about $15. Worth a look.

  16. You're very welcome, as always.

    BTW, do you have to use only the Liberty fabric? Could you use a contrasting color for the loops or something else on the dress?

    Otherwise, Cathy's going to have to do some MAJOR accessorizing. It's not you; it's a combination of the fabric, which I thought was going to be more colorful (maybe it's the lighting in the photo) and the pattern (and I like bohemian styles).

    See ya later.

  17. If you used a bigger cord, could you get away with fewer loops? Now mind you,you'd have to experiment to see how it looked and make sure you can find larger buttons that worked with the dress.

    Just a thought.

    Imagine how much worse it would be if the fabric was silk.

  18. I've had no time to sew in the past few weeks, too. I'm getting the shakes. And headaches - I'm sure not because it's allergy season - but from all the ideas in my mind that need to be released.

    Careful with that iron. Happy sewing.

  19. Love, it's alright. Pattern shopping, equipment acquisition and fabric hoarding all qualify as the art of sewing. Well done.

  20. Great find on the Kevyn Aucoin (may he rest) books.

    He taught me the importance of well groomed brows and secrets with the mascara wand.

    Tell Cathy to keep up the moisturizer. I am a fan of Colonial Dames:

    If it was good enough for old Hollywood, then it's good enough for me!

  21. Maybe you've already found this tip, but when I did 23 button loops way back for my wedding dress, I used a thin cord well more than twice as long as the final loops would require (maybe even 4 times) - like Doreen said, only make one long cord, not individual loops! Then, fold the fabric strip (bias) over half the length of the cord and stitch the cord inside (but don't catch the cord!). An edge stitching foot is nice for that, you can bump it right up against the cord. Then, when you come to the end of the fabric (middle of cord!), stitch across the cord real well, then pull on the end of the cord to help turn the fabric right side out, over the other half of the cord (or you can do the same thing with just 1X the length of cord and end up with the bias empty). Easy!

    Now, for actually making the loops: get some graph paper (or draw your own) and stitch your loops to it (short stitch length to perforate the paper well), forming them one at a time just before they go under you presser foot, using the graph paper to keep them evenly sized and evenly spaced. Don't worry about the irregular loops that will be forming on the seam allowance side of your stitching. Then trim your paper as needed so you can see what you're doing (or to the proper seam allowance, cutting off the irregular loops) and lay the whole thing, paper side up on your garment, stitch over the line you've already stitched on the paper, then tear the paper away and, voila! Perfect loops!

    There's hardly much difference between doing 5 and 50 of them by this method. And they do look lovely.

  22. Really? Magnificent Obsession?? I always thought of Cathy as more of a Written on the Wind kinda gal. It's the sunglasses, isn't it?

  23. I agree that that iron looks dangerous, careful! Loop-di-loop -- ten seems more than enough -- I mean, especially considering the job of buttoning up every time you put on the dress. PUHLEASE! You'd almost need a chambermaid with 18. Love to see you sewing again. I just got September's La Mia Boutique and am about to try my hand at tracing a pattern AND translating directions for a trench coat. wish me luck!

  24. regret to inform you spring in Wellington NZ is not very balmy today. good sewing weather though. I'll join you, but I'm not making those button loops. Just call me chicken!

  25. New Zealand(or at least Auckland) is overcast and showery today, don't worry - you're not missing anything.
    It's a day to stay inside and sew.

  26. Have you tried the bobby pin as loop turner trick? It is amazing!!!! Makes the best, skinniest loops and so much easier than anything else I've tried. Welcome back to sewing!

  27. Weeeeeellll...I've been known to use a bunch of matching-colored hair elastics as loops....just pin them into position and sew, then chop off the excess. But then, I'm slummy like that.

  28. Cathy, Julia and Cameron. Yes, I can see the commonalities.


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