Category Archives: Basic no-embroidery Machine Projects

Kiss the Cook Dishtowel for Basic Machines

 

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and many readers have already mentioned that they are working of projects for the day that honors love.

Many, of course, are stitching special outfits for their children or grands.  One dear grandmother is making 35 gifts for her grandchildren’s classmates, some pencil toppers and the others toothbrush wraps.  I’ve never heard of toothbrush wraps and think it’s something I need to find out about.  Do you know anything about them?

Others are creating gifts for family and friends.  Since not everyone has an embroidery machine, I’m going to be adding blog projects, like this dishtowel, which require only a basic machine.

This was one of the many SM1738 machine samples assigned to me by Brother.   It is very basic, with only 17 stitches.  They include 3 straight stitches–short, medium and longer, 3 zig zags –short and narrow, medium and wider, and longer and much wider, a blind hem and a few others, a look at the video shows how much can be done without all the bells and whistles that owners of high end machines enjoy.  I made all of those samples on this machine, except the pillowcase which was made by someone else.

You all know I LOVE my Brother Dream Machine, but there is much that can be done on a basic model. It’s likely we all started out with a simple workhorse. The SM1738 is much like my first sewing machine, which as a bride, I used to make curtains and pillows for our first home in 1968.  I thought it was to-die-for and stitched miles and miles of seams.  I wish I had had some creative suggestions then!

To make this towel, I used: a plain white dishtowel, 1/2 yd. kiss fabric, 2/3 yd. red and 2/3 black rick rack, regular sewing thread and monofilament thread.

Here’s how:

  1.  Cut away hem on dishtowel, leaving a raw edge.
  2.  Join kiss fabric to raw edge with turntube/burrito hem technique.  The tutorial calls for just 1/4 yd. of hem fabric.  But without embroidery, I wanted a larger hem.   The finished hem will be seam’s width less than half the fabric.  A quarter yard will render a hem approximately 3 1/2″ wide and the 1/2 yd. piece used on this towel created a hem of approximately 8 1/2″.  Just suit yourself or use available scraps.
  3. Twist red and black rick rack together.
  4. Baste through the center of rick rack with monofilament thread.
  5. Free motion with monofilament and #60 needle over humps of rick rack.
  6. Fold ends to back and tack in place.
  7. Remove basting stitches in rick rack.

Of course, any print with any color combination of rick rack could be used to make a special dish towel.  Kiss the Cook or any other text could be quickly hand embroidered. If you are lucky enough to have an embroidery machine, the addition of text would be a breeze.

 

 

With any sewing machine, you can create fabulous items for your family and friends.

Coming up in future Basic Machine posts are

  • an heirloom pillow complete with shadow pintucks, inserted Swiss beading, a monogram and shell tucks
  • Minnie Mouse dresses
  • Elsa costume
  • fabric greeting card
  • cell phone case
  • and more

 

 

Maggie B’s Kitty Cat Ode to Joy

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy dress

 

My 4 yo granddaughter and I really love this Ode to Joy pattern by Maggie B.  It is offered to students in her on-line class with excellent directions and a multitude of step-by-step instructional pictures.  Our little dynamo is always on the go, in a hurry to get wherever and impatient with fussy button closures.  She’s a gal who has places to go, people to see, and things to do.  So just get on with getting dressed!

One of the best features of this little frock is that it simply pulls over the head like a tee shirt  No buttons, no buttonholes.

 

As you can clearly see, the neck binding is loosey goosey. It IS important to use the correct size elastic and worth a trip to the store if you don’t have it on hand. Lesson learned.

 

With it’s pop-over style and comfy fit, Ode to Joy is a favorite of our Vivian Rose.  The cat print is an added bonus, making it a very popular wardrobe choice. Continue reading

Too Big, Too Precious

8 yo loving her too large, unhemmed smocked dress

 

This dress and this little girl make my heart sing.  Our summer has been so full,  so busy, and absolutely fabulous, but this dress is one of the highlights for me.  All this busy-ness is why  it’s been so long since I have posted.

Our pilot son flew the family down from their new home in New Jersey.  11 yo Robert and 13 yo Laurel spent the week visiting with old friends and spending time with their cousin Vivi.  What a wonderful family time that was!  Cousins, pool, golf cart rides, puppies to play with–it was plenty to make them happy.

 

Robert and Vivian Rose

 

Robert stayed with us when the rest of the family went home.  The next day we drove to the North Carolina mountains where we stayed at a fabulous cabin.

 

Now this is a great place to enjoy smocking!

 

At wonderful Bear Ridge Cabin in Brevard, our daughter Rebecca and Vivian Rose joined us while 8 yo Alastair was spending his last week at Camp Watitoh in Massachussets.   Our mutual friend Zahra and her two children also joined us while the daddies stayed at home working.

The children were just delightful, a special treat for this Nana and Granddad.

 

After s’mores, the children were all jammied up and ready for bed.

Continue reading

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy Dress

 

 

Maggie Bunch has created a new classic with her Ode to Joy pattern.  I love everything about this dress–quick smocking, easy construction, use of coordinating print and the comfort of a pull-on dress or playtop with no buttons to fuss with.  It is smocked front and back with only about 90 pleats sleeve to sleeve.

 

 

Ode to Joy was first taught by Maggie as a class project at Sewing at the Beach and she is now offering it as an on-line sew-along class.  She has given several sew-along, smock-along classes, reasonably priced at $25.  They are a bargain at any price.

Step by step, Maggie sews along with you and posts even more detailed photos in the process.   She is also  is available to answer questions.  The class begins mid- June.  Registration is limited so if you are interested, check it out ASAP on her website here.   

I learned so much making this little dress.  Sewing and smocking on a border print requires some special considerations and Maggie addressed them all.   Reading how she adjusts the garment pattern to accommodate the border fabric pattern others was so comforting.  I don’t EVER want to go  through trying to match side seams and the front button closure as I did on CC Jenni Leigh.  Now I can figure out a way to match the print more easily on most patterns.

 

Note the side seam near the yellow dashed line.

 

I first saw this dress made up in the same Michael Miller Swan Lake fabric on one of the smocking/heirloom sewing lists and just fell in love with it. I wish I could recall who made the dress so I could thank her for the inspiration.  The dress was modeled by an absolutely adorable,  curly red-haired child.  I HAD to make it. Already, my plate was full to overflowing, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

Locating the fabric required an hour-long internet search.  Everyone, it seemed, was sold out of this charming print. Finally, I located a shop in Washington state which had both Swan Lake and the coordinating print in stock.

Vivian has been adamant that she only likes garments with kitty cats, hearts and rainbows.  To my surprise, the success of the pink bishop for which I had no hope, was due to the fact that there were hearts in the smocking.  Hearts in the smocking?  I can do that!

You can see  that the Swan Lake smocking is heavy with hearts, just what Vivi loves.  I expect she will wear this dress quite happily.  She arrives her on Memorial Day for a week of Nana Camp.  Film at 11.

NANA FUN:

Meanwhile, I sent the photo of the little red-haired girl wearing the dress to my Rebecca and gave her some persuasive arguments to convince 4 yo Vivi that this was the dress for her.  Yeah!

“Tell Nana no thanks.  I only like dresses with kitty cats, hearts or rainbows.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #1.  “Nana says if you will wear this dress and be happy, she will then make you another kitty cat dress.”

Vivi:  “Tell her to just make the kitty cat dress.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #2:  “Nana really wants to make this swan dress and if you don’t want it she will give it to Eloise (our pastor’s 4 yo daughter).”

Vivi: ” Ok, ok, ok.  I’ll wear the dress and be happy.  I don’t want Eloise to get the kitty cat dress.”

The fine print of that proposal went right over her curly head.  Whew!

 

Style Conflicts

CC Charlotte top and Parker Pants shorts–she likes it!!!!  I love the Confederate jasmine in bloom.  The scent is heavenly.

 

I doubt I’m the only Nana who has issues with what I want to sew and what a child wants to wear. My passion for sewing for my grandchildren and the fashion preferences of 4 yo Vivian have been at odds more and more frequently as she grows.  Even at a very early age she had strong preferences for her outer wear.  As you can tell from the name of my blog, I am an old fashioned Nana.  Vivi is a modern child, 2 generations removed.

 

enjoying Butterbeer at Harry Potter World

Continue reading

How good is good enough?

children with their teepee bags at my grandson’s 8th birthday party

 

This is a question I have struggle with frequently.  Does EVERY project require or deserve perfection?

Most recently, my struggle focused on the party favor bags for my grandson’s 8th birthday.  The party had a sports theme, with a football pinata and soccer field cake.  My contribution to the festivities was 12 teepee bags  (click here for the post with the free pattern) 3 each  from football, baseball, basketball and soccer novelty fabrics.  After enjoying the bounce house and the girls swapping clothes and changing again and again with the garments in the dress up box,  the bags were stuffed by the children with the spilled contents of the smashed pinata.

Like most of you readers, I am very, very busy.    But I am also very, very fussy about my sewing.  Often I ask myself, is it better to sew more with a few imperfections or better to sew less and get my projects as close to perfect as possible?  In fact, I rarely achieve results even close to perfect.

I wrestled with this question when making the quick and easy bags , which take 10 minutes each without finishing touches.  Two of these touches include topstitching the zipper, finishing the seams and trimming stray whiskers from the seams. Ultimately, taking time to cut out and make each bag unique (who wants mass produced?) with different colored zippers and handle loops, winding different colored bobbins and changing threads, I spent about 20 minutes each.  But was it worth it?

 

Do the seams really need to be finished for a candy bag? Must the stray thread be trimmed?.

 

In search of the answer, I did not sit in my Adirondack chair under a freshly leafed oak tree on a sunny Florida spring afternoon.   Remember, I am very busy. Oops, I think I already mentioned that…  Instead I contemplated the quotes  below while folding laundry, feeding the cats and scouring the kitchen sink.

Confucius said, “”Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”  Hmmmm….

But Aristotle said,  “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”  I have an abundance of pleasure in the job, but I don’t get perfection.  Hmmmmm…

Plato really muddied the waters with his declaration, “Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.”  Hmmm…again and again.

Then, many quotes addressed the subject of excellence along with perfection.

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” ~ Pat Riley

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~ Aristotle

Ultimately, it was the wisdom of a football legend who spoke to my heart.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” ~ Vince Lombardi

As you can see from the photo of the single soccer teepee bag, the seams were finished, the zipper was  topstitched,  and finally the stray threads. were trimmed.  I’m not sure it was the wisest expenditure of my time, but I couldn’t help myself.   I’ve decided that I am in search of excellence in all I sew rather than demanding or expecting perfection.  Whew!  That’s a relief!

So what would you do?

 

 

 

Kitty Cat Dress #3

V andE

 

As expected, kitty cat dress #3 was a huge hit.  With the dress on a hanger and gray leggings hanging below,  we walked through the door to Vivian Rose’s 4th birthday party. She ran to me squealing with delight and ran off to put on the dress. Also as expected, her personal fashion sense demanded different leggings than those provided with the dress.  But  that was okay with me.

Vivi loved the and has worn it repeatedly in the short time she has had it.

Again, I used CC Lucy for the pattern after giving up on CC Kitty. I had cut that dress out with this same fabric the weekend Vivi was here. The gray, pink, black and white cats are on a gray background.  The dress is lined with gray gingham and trimmed with gray whipstitch piping.

Vivian  graciously insisted on “helping”  me in order to get the dress done more quickly.  You might remember this photo of her assisting me.

 

V helps me sew

 

While she “helped me” the guide sheet and the back yoke pattern piece, cut out and still pinned to the fabric, both disappeared, never to be found.  Fortunately, I always buy extra fabric and had enough cat print and gray gingham to hunker down and make another Lucy.

 

pocket.jpg

That is a too-skimpy cat ruffle under the black binding.

 

The pockets, however, are 40% larger.  She commented somewhat sweetly that the pockets on kitty cat dress #2 were “Vewwwy small!”

Her party was a big success.  There was a bounce house and the de rigueur  pinata, rainbow style.  I made 10 teepee bags with scraps from each of her 3 kitty cat dresses. The  cake featured her signature roses (for Vivian Rose), tiny cat candies and  rainbow.  I pray her life be filled with these, sunshine and love and a cat or two.

 

V cake ED

 

Yesterday, I was chatting with my daughter who told me about an incident at her preschool.  One of her favorite playmates, a very active boy, turned quickly and hit her nose with his elbow.  She bled profusely and cried like she was dying.  The  teacher tried to comfort her, wiping the blood from her face, to no avail.  Vivi finally cried out, “There is blood alllll over my kitty cat dress!”

Later, when her mother asked her if the knock on the nose hurt, she replied no.  She was just upset about her Aristocats dress and was afraid it was ruined.  Rebecca is working on it with our favorite stain stick so the life or death verdict is still out.

 

Another CC Lucy--and another kitty cat dress for my kitty cat loving granddaughter.

Aristocats dress for my kitty cat loving granddaughter.

 

The next project in the queue is her Easter dress.  I doubt she will be crazy about it but it will feature NO cats!  And I will really enjoy making it.

 

Whispering Daydreams–New Fabric!

Violette Bleues pattern by Petite Poche. Whispering Daydreams ultra-lawn fabric from Spoonflower.

 

I love fabric, you love fabric, we all love fabric.  But with experience we become more selective about what we choose to sew.  Of course, everyone appreciates the beauty of Swiss batiste, linen, silk, Liberty of London tana lawn, Swiss pique’ and more.  Most sewists praise Michael Miller, Tula Pink and easy care Imperial.  But now I have a new love.

Even though I’ve been on a fabric starvation diet, Nancy Lee Moran’s hand drawn fairytale toile, Whispering Daydreams,  had me from hello. I can hear it whisper…”shhh… Pippi Longstocking’s gone heirloom!”

Seeing that scrappy, pigtailed girl and her fantasy companions portrayed so delicately just delighted me.  The print is pure innocence and set me to daydreaming.  Teamed up with the tiny, fancy dot, also available from Spoonflower,  garments for 3 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose danced like visions of sugarplums in my head.

Available in lavender or blue, in three sizes, and in an array of fabric choices, the smallest blue Whispering Daydreams‘ ultra-lawn was my choice. CORRECTION:  The MINIATURE size (2″ figures) was  used.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to lay hands on it.  When I opened the package, I was not disappointed.  It truly is a fine lawn. Continue reading

Star Wars Party Favors

 

black tp front

The black and white bags were made from scraps, left over from this super hero cape.

 

Sometimes you can learn something that seems rather inconsequential at the time but, in fact, it turns out to be a pretty big deal.  That’s how Mary Lou Nall’s “inconsequential” teepee bag project became one of the most useful  sewing tidbits I have ever picked up.   I still have the bag I made in that class more than 30 years ago!

 

This grubby bag lives in my pleater box and holds my pleating supplies--screw driver, extra needles, small scissors, marking pen, etc. I guess I should wash it.

This grubby bag lives in my pleater box and holds my pleating supplies–screw driver, extra needles, small scissors, marking pen,needle threader, etc. Apparently, it’s long overdue for laundering.  I guess I should wash it.

 

I’ve raved about this before, but I’m compelled to it up again, since I’ve just made 38 more as party favors for grandson Alastair’s 7th birthday.

 

38 Star Wars bags for party favors

38 Star Wars bags for party favors.  Zipper and ribbon color is varied which makes it a little easier for children to identify their own personal bag.

 

Sometimes I wonder just how many I have made in these 30 years, but the number must be in the hundreds. Continue reading

Easter Dress: Disaster Averted

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose.  The pattern is Children’s Corner Betsey.

Okay, I’m done whining about missing out on Easter with the grandchildren this year.  As I mentioned (or wailed) in the previous post, this year’s Resurrection Day garments remain undelivered.  And no, that is not the disaster to which I refer in this post title.  There is no recovering that missed celebration. But the Easter dress suffered a real near disaster which I dodged, more or less.

 

27" wide with 10" embroidery

27″ wide with 10″ embroidery

 

First, the details of this dress.  The gorgeous fabric, a 27″ Swiss embroidered flounce purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics, has languished in my sewing room armoire for many years.  It was meant to be used for granddaughter Laurel, who was too small at the time to use this length.  The embroidery extends 10 inches from the hemline.  Then, like so many other projects, it was pushed down on the “make soon” list.

Now with 3 yo Vivian Rose in the family, this beautiful fabric’s day in the sun has come.  Though it was a late start, the smocking was well under way before disaster struck.

Thinking to use my time wisely, 3 days before Easter. I brought the dress along to the hairdresser’s and did some smocking while my…uh…color enhancement set.   BIG MISTAKE!!!

 

stain

ugly stain

 

Janice Ferguson’s custom color #1234 was smeared on the dress.

Scan-3 Continue reading