Sunday, May 30, 2021

Summer Tank from Vintage Pillow Cases


I love vintage linens.  I mean REALLY love them. I have amassed a fairly large collection, mostly from estate sales. I am always drawn to the intricate, beautiful, embroidery and trims that once were part of everyday life as bed linens, dish towels, tablecloths, handkerchiefs and napkins.  While I DO use them for what they were intended, I wanted to find some ways to use them for other purposes, including clothing.  Just look at the crochet work on these cases I've had for a long time. Look at that beautiful detail!


These cases were in pristine condition but some you come across may have stains on them.  Sometimes you can use parts of them but if you want to use the whole item, there are lots of options for trying to remove the stains. Bleach is NOT one of them.  This can disintegrate and damage especially very old linens. BIZ laundry detergent and Hydrogen Peroxide are two methods I've used with great results.  Since these were clean with no stains, I was able to use them just like a piece of fabric.

Before cutting (or even choosing a pattern) you have to visualize how you're going to use the linen piece. In this case I knew the crochet edge would be the bottom edge of my top.  First I cut the pillow case open on the side and top to make one full piece. I found the center of that, folded in half and placed my front and back pieces on the fold of each case.  This was made using TWO pillow cases, one for the front and one for the back.  If you only have one, you can use a pretty, coordinating fabric for the back!

Here is the front cut out.  The back was cut in the same way.



I took this picture because I'm always in awe that many of these vintage items were HAND sewn as seen here.  No sewing machine.   This was one of the seams I cut to open up the pillow cases.


One thing I found when laying the opened cases out was that the side areas while they were not an actual SEAM, they were quite a bit whiter (see the lines on the left and right of the sewn seam). I'm not sure why this was but I had to take this into account before cutting out my pieces. In this case, it works perfectly and LOOKS like it was meant to be there. This is why it's important to choose your pattern, lay out your pieces and make sure everything is going to be able to be cut properly. Sometimes you may have to work around a stain or hole and you want to know that BEFORE you start cutting.


Not the greatest of pictures but you get the idea.  This tank turned out exactly as I had hoped!


I used the Peplow Juniper Tank Top which is a downloadable, printable pdf pattern.  It was SUPER easy, quick and worked perfectly with the pillow cases as my fabric.  There are lots and lots of things you can do with vintage linens.  This post on DIYS.com gives lots of cute ideas that I plan to use in the future.  Many of these will be perfect for those linens that have stains since they are small projects requiring only small pieces of the fabric.

I hope you're finding time to relax and enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend! Summer temps have arrived and I may just have to move my sewing machine out into my gazebo!










 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

My Dirty Old Lady

 


This is Helen. She's named after my maternal grandma who I never met but she was an amazing seamstress who clothed eleven children during the depression and could make anything the family needed.  Grandma I was told would get 'hand me downs' from people at church and would rework them into clothes, coats and more for her family.  I remember my mom saying that they were always dressed beautifully because of her mom's sewing talent. Helen and I go way back.  All the way to 1993 when my dad purchased her for me.  Back then, this machine cost 3,500.00!!  Can you believe that? It was the first home embroidery machine and was made in Germany by the Pfaff Company.  To this day, it is still one of the most coveted of sewing machines and it's not unheard of to see them still selling for 900-1500.00, used.  

But Helen had become a dirty, old lady.  I was hesitant to try cleaning her myself as she's electronic and I was afraid I'd ruin something.  Then I read about Carole at From My Carolina Home and her tutorial on Pfixing the Pfaff (Yes, Pfaff is pronounced Faff!).  Carole gives a wonderful step-by-step tutorial on cleaning this machine so I took the plunge!


My, my, my . . . Helen had been dishing dirt for quite awhile it appears . . .


Just look at all that nastiness!  Following Carole's instructions, I had removed the covers on top and side and began cleaning. I used my vacuum (I think here would be a great place to use one of those little computer/keyboard vacs!), pipe cleaners, nylon brush and tweezers to begin cleaning Helen up.




The pipe cleaners were great for getting down inside and around gears, etc.   Look at all of these little threads that were caught up inside!


After oiling the parts that Carole recommended, it was time to step back and admire this spiffy gal!


What a difference, right?


Beautiful inside AND out!  

Thanks Carole at From My Carolina Home!



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

DIY Pressing Ham, Part 2

 


Pressing hams are one of those sewing tools that you tend to think you can do without.  But once you use one, you realize they're a pretty handy thing to have and you can make them quite easily.  Last week I made this long, narrow one that is great for sleeves or seams in tight spots, baby sleeves and cuffs and on and on.  This week I made this nice, chunky one that is great for pressing darts or curves on necklines, armholes, the tops of sleeves etc.


I started with two different size plates and traced them to create the width of each end of my ham.  However far apart you place them, that's how long your ham will be.  After you trace the two circles, draw a line connecting the two to get your shape.


Cut two pieces of muslin or other fairly sturdy cotton. I just used this printed cotton because it's thick and what I had on hand.  Cut one piece of flannel or wool for the top of the ham and a piece of cotton print for the bottom.  You could totally use the flannel/wool for both sides if you want.  You can skip the cotton lining but I don't recommend it because you will be filling this very tightly with wood shavings or sawdust and you don't want anything leaking or poking out of the ham.


Lay your pieces down as described above. It doesn't matter which side is up or down for the lining as it won't show.  The only ones that matter are your flannel and the cotton print.


Now stitch these layers together leaving a gap of about 3-4" on one of the straight sides.  After I trimmed my seam to 1/4" I used a tight zig-zag stitch around edges to prevent fraying and help make this more durable.


Turn your ham right side out and press.


Now it's time to stuff your ham!  Typically hams are stuffed with sawdust.  You can probably get this for free from a lumber yard or home depot but I decided to use rabbit/hamster bedding which is just wood chips. You want to make sure you get chips that are very small and fine - you don't want big shavings.

I put my ham in a large box lid to help contain the mess which is inevitable when you stuff this.  You need to REALLY fill the ham well and tightly.  Keep poking, pressing, filling, adding until you just can't squeeze in any more.  

Once it's full, you are going to just hand stitch the opening. I suggest using a heavy duty button or quilting thread.  You are going to be yanking and pulling this very tightly and regular thread will tend to break.


Once you're finished you can use a lint roller or tape to clean off the ham and remove wood shavings from outside.  I've already used both of these so much, I can't believe I went without them for so long!


The long ham was great for getting these little cuffs nicely pressed.


These little sacks are so great for babies. My kids use them anytime the baby goes down for a nap or at night time.  Keeps him nice and cozy and warm.  These are a lighter weight fabric that they can use in the summer.

What projects are keeping you busy these days?






Monday, April 12, 2021

DIY Pressing Ham

 


I'm still here . . . I'm just a delinquent blogger who has been very busy with life and LOTS of sewing for a precious, new grandson!  I'm also in the process of evaluating my sewing/craft room and re-organizing.  In my efforts to organize, I've realized there are some basic sewing tools that I've lost, worn out or just plain never used that I now need to add to my arsenal and one of those things is pressing hams. These can be a bit pricey so I've decided to start making my own.  After a little research, I discovered that the long, narrow ham (for pressing small things like, oh, well, baby sleeves among other things) can be made quite easily.


This gal's video on YouTube was super helpful and most of what I did was taken right from her instructions with a few modifications of my own.


Following her instructions I found this heavy cardboard roll.  This actually came from a roll of vintage interfacing, back in the day when these tubes were . . .


THIS THICK!  I thought about cutting it to a shorter length but I would have had to take out my circular saw and I was lazy so I kept it long.


I had some fusible batting so I cut that to fit my measured piece of fabric (flannel) and fused it to the flannel.  Then I hemmed each side with my sewing machine to make nice, straight edges.


Before stitching the edges though, be sure that they will MEET in the center and not OVERLAP.  You want a nice, flat seam with no extra thickness here.  I chose to use a heavy, button thread and I recommend using that instead of regular thread.  The reason for this is that you are pulling quite tightly with these stitches and I think if you're using regular thread, it's going to break easier.



After hand stitching (follow her directions on this), you should have a nice, enclosed tube. It's a bit tedious sewing it this way but really makes it look nice and clean.



Finally, take the circles you cut out and start stitching them on the ends.  


I'll be making more of these in various sizes for various purposes.  And here's a little peek at what's been keeping me so busy . . .





I'd love to share pictures of the cute little baby who's wearing these but his mom and dad have decided to not put his images on the internet and I have to agree with them on their decision so suffice it to say, he's ADORABLE and we are thoroughly enjoying being grandparents!


































Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Color Street Real Polish Nail Strips

 

I've always loved pretty nails!  Even now that my hands have strangely become 'my mother's hands' . . . I still love trying new polish and treating myself to the occasional manicure.  A few months ago I was introduced to something that's well, kind of amazing in the nail world . . . nail polish STRIPS.  There may be other brands out there but I was introduced to Color Street.

I love that the strips are real nail polish so you just use polish remover to take them off.  In each package, you get enough strips to do a minimum of one manicure.  When my nails are this length, I can get TWO manicures from one package!


Besides the fact that you put these on in about 15 minutes and you're ready to go with a dry manicure, I love how they last!!  Here they are above on the first day . . .


the fifth day . . .





and on day 8 . . . after day 10, I changed them just because I wanted something new!  They could have stayed on at least another 3-4 days!

You can get all kinds of fun, seasonal strips as well as solid colors and other designs . . . 


I'm having a Facebook Nail Party going on right now so just click on this link and you'll be able to join in on the fun and possibly win some free nail strips and other prizes.  Join us this Friday at 7 p.m. central time for some live demos!  Even if you can't join us on Friday, you can still order nail strips here.

You can also visit the Facebook page for my 'nail stylist' Regina for more information or check out the YouTube videos available for Color Street.