True Bias

bias skirt completed. Excuse plant distraction

Although I’ve been sewing for many years, I’ve just completed my first bias skirt.  A medium weight tightly woven cotton print is the fabric.  I did much research on this and found some basics. Most of the advice was to cut larger seam allowance, let the skirt hang at least 24 hours before sewing or hemming and use a straight of grain waistband with elastic rather then applying the elastic to a cut on casing. The latter just kind of happened when I drafted the skirt in Pattern Master Boutique 5. In PMB 5, I simply drafted an A-line skirt and placed the pattern on a bias fold.

Fabric folded diagonally and pattern placed on bias fold.

Cutting was easy. There were only three pieces and I used a rotary cutter. Next I finished three of the edges with a two stitch overedge on my serger.  I overedged the two sides and the hem. I then pinned the skirt together and let it hang on Beatrice for a day. I then stitched the side seams. For the waist, I stitched on the waistband. I cut one inch wide stitch – able elastic approximately four inches smaller then my waist. I butted the two ends together over a square of lightweight fabric and zig-zagged over them and cut the excess fabric off.  I divided the elastic into fourths and marked with pins.  I divided the skirt waistband by the side seams and center front and back into fourths. I matched the pins on the waistband  and serged the elastic to the waistband. I then just folded the waistband down and cover stitched encasing the elastic and end of the waistband. (You can also use a double needle if you don’t have a cover stitch on your serger)  Because the cotton was so tightly woven, I hand catch-stitched the hem after hanging for twenty-four hours.

Elastic stitched into the skirt with coverstitch

completed skirt

completed skirt

With a different blouse

With the skirt hanging around, I had time to test my new coverstitch bias binder feet. For me at least, the jury is still out. I did purchase these for use on knit necklines, but I haven’t tried it on knits. I cut some bias strips and attached it to a raw edge and the results are ‘iffy’.  It might be that I just need to practice more. What I do like about these feet is that written on them is the width to cut the strips and the finished width. The following site really explains the coverstitch and use of these feet well.  Stitches and Seams

The bias binder foot on. This one is called Collarette Coverstitch B. This only folds the bias strip on top as the bottom is covered already

This is what I'm going for. It looks like this on top. The upper line of stitching on the binding and the lower line on the body of the garment

I’ve practiced some more with this foot and it is certainly a challenge to get consistent stitching. At this point, I’m only stitching the knit binding. I haven’t yet been successful with the attachment. Suggestions are welcome.

Stitching 1 1/8 wide knit on the crosswise stretch. The stitches that would seem to be hanging off would go on the tee shirt neckline.

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The Last Tuna Casserole

Richard is crazy about this new concoction.

One way to get Richard to eat seafood is with Tuna Casserole.  I’ve already blogged about another recipe here.  I wanted make a recipe similar to one I made years ago that I had gotten from a Betty Crocker cookbook.  I only remembered that it had sour cream and mushrooms and cream of mushroom soup. I had stopped using canned soups in recipes years ago because of hydrolyzed ingredients that are supposed to be awful for you. I’ve checked the can on the Cambells Soup labels and they’ve changed their ingredients. I searched all over for that original recipe and scoured the internet for ‘like’ recipes. I finally ended up using my own. One note: years ago, when you purchased a bag of egg noodles you got one pound. Now one bag is twelve ounces. I used a bag and half.

The Last Tuna Casserole

4 6 oz cans of tuna drained

1 pound of egg noodels

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 can of cream of celery soup

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup milk

8 ounces of  mushrooms sliced

1/2 cup chopped pimento ( I used a roasted red pepper that I had in a jar)

1/2 large green pepper chopped fine

2 TBS butter (to sautee peppers and mushrooms)

1 cup frozen peas defrosted

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup of bread crumbs

3/4 cup grated pecerino romano cheese

1 Tablespoon paprika

2 Tablespoons of parsley chopped

1) Cook noodles till al-dente.  Sauté green pepper in butter till almost tender and then add  mushrooms. Sauté until they give up their juice.

2) Mix noodles, soup, tuna, sour cream, mushrooms, peppers, pimento, peas, salt pepper and garlic powder and place in an 9 X 13 baking dish.

3) Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add bread crumbs and cheese. Add more bread crumbs as needed till mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over casserole. Sprinkle paprika  and parsley on top.

4) Bake in a 350 oven till top is brown and crisp and ingredients are hot. (about 40 minutes)

This has become our new favorite

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Easy Peasy Jammies

Easy Pajama and Robe Pattern. Out of Print

I’ve had this pattern for a while and wanted to make it up. It’s very versatile and easy to fit.  I chose a cotton sea gull print and even though in my mind I was making pajamas, I couldn’t help remembering back to when I was a child and my Mom would order clothing from either Sears or Penney’s or Montgomery Ward. She’d order these short sets made of cotton that would come wrapped in cellophane. She’d make me try them on and then she would begin putting tags in them so I could take them to camp.

I made the cropped top and shorts version of this pattern.  I can also see these made up in a cozy flannel for winter and I will surely make this again with longer pants and a long sleeved top.

The construction of these jammies was basically unremarkable except for doing something a bit different to ease the sleeves into the armholes. As Connie Crawford suggested in the current issue of Threads Magazine, I decided to try the gathering foot.  I didn’t have a Bernina gathering foot, but I did have a generic low shank foot and a Bernina adapter for the 830E.

Generic gathering foot on the Bernina adapter. Notice the slot on the side that can be use to sew gathered fabric onto ungathered fabric.

I’ve tried several ways of gathering sleeves including the old faithful way of sewing two lines of basting stitches and pulling the bobbin threads to gather the sleeve. I’ve also tried the zig zagging over a thicker thread.  The most recent way I’ve been gathering sleeves is to place my finger behind the presser foot and holding the fabric against the back of the foot. That works pretty good except I found the gathers hard to adjust. Using the gathering foot, you can adjust the stitch length for more or less gathers. Once you are finished a line of stitching, you can adjust the gathers and in the case of these pajamas, I was able to slide some gathering out.

Gathered sleeve ready to be applied to armscye

If you are making this pattern, be very sure to note that there are different neck facing pieces for each size. I didn’t make the robe, but I think it was the same for the collar on the robe. Read the pattern pieces carefully before cutting out. There was some confusion expressed by a few of the reviewers on the PatternReview site.

Completed Jammies McCalls 3454

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Not meant to Sew today.

I love the feel of this machine, but now it's broke.

Most of you know I’m a Bernina girl. My 830E sewing machine is exquisite but I admit I was annoyed with the needle threader only working ‘sometimes’

::sigh:: Today I was going to sew all day and finish a lounging outfit of shorts and a top out of seagull cotton fabric. I have a zillion other things I want to sew, but I wanted to finish this. It is a very easy pattern and I thought it would be a perfect time to use my Pfaff 2034. Before I started actually sewing, I thoroughly  tested the machine since I hadn’t used it in ages and it sewed like a dream. It did have this click noise, but I think this is characteristic of a Pfaff.  I free motioned… double needled… tried some embellishment type things and the machine sewed great.  I really liked the feel of this machine. I had just finished the seams on the shorts and the neckline facing.  It was time to put in the sleeves and I noticed I had a gathering foot for it. I put on the gathering foot and  went to lower the tension. As soon as I touched the dial. I heard  a ‘crack’ sound and the tension ceased to work. I wanted to try to ease the sleeves taking the advice of Connie Crawford of Fashion Patterns suggested in the latest issue of Threads Magazine. She said her favorite foot was the gathering foot.

The foot I was using when the Pfaff broke.

Not all is lost though. I have a gathering foot for my trusty Bernina.

It suddenly started shooting water and making loud noises.

As I was packing up the Pfaff, the Bernina Iron started spitting and making noises as if it was going to explode causing Richard to leap from his chair like an old man in a fireworks factory.  Hot steaming water was going everywhere.

I guess I’m not going to finish this project tonight.

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Southwestern Wagon Wheel Salad

South Western Wagon Wheel Salad

Wagon Wheel Salad (Richard said A ++

Today was the Wharf to Wharf Race in Santa Cruz.  This is usually so exciting. There are great bands about every block. Thousands of people running by our house. Chloe is usually so happy and loving to play and entertain while all of this is going on. Today is also my son Bart’s birthday! Happy Birthday to Bart!

Happy Birthday Bart!

It is definitely a Margarita day and the lime juice has been squeezed.  A barbecue of  sausage and steak is on the agenda. The New York Mets are on and not exactly playing well.  We are waiting with dread to see where Carlos Beltran is going to go. I can enumerate on the way the NY Mets broke my heart by trading beloved players. From Tom Seaver, to David Cone it has happened many times. Just heartbreaking.

Here is the recipe for the Wagon Wheel Salad. It is surely a keeper!

Southwest Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad

16 ounces wagon wheel macaroni, uncooked
2 (15 ounce) can black beans
2 (9 ounce) packages frozen corn, thawed
2 cup salsa
4 tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lb cubed pepper jack
4 cups tortilla chips, crushed
2 avocado, peeled, chopped
1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup lime juice
6 teaspoons cumin
1teaspoon chili powder
5 large garlic cloves, minced

1. In medium bowl, combine all dressing ingredients; mix well. Set aside.

2. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain cooked pasta; rinse with cold water until cool.

3. In large bowl, combine beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes and cilantro. Add cooked pasta and dressing to bean mixture; toss until well coated. Stir in half each of the cheese and tortilla chips.

4. Place salad on large serving platter or in large serving bowl.

5. Top with remaining half of cheese; garnish with remaining chips and avocado.

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The Shopkeepers Apron

Shopkeeper Apron Pattern from the Paisley Pin Cushion

I have lots of this adorable “kids by the sea” and seagull fabric.  I’ve already made some pillowcases with some and I thought it would make a darling apron. I also used some of this fabric to make a bag. McCalls P342

Pillow Cuff with "By the Sea" fabric

McCalls P492 Click to see my review of this pattern.

Shopkeeper Apron in 'By the Sea' Fabrics (note the seagull pocket)

Back view. i used velcro strip for closing to make it easy to put on and adjustable.

I’m finding I get smoother curves when I cut out my patterns with a rotary cutter.  I resisted this for so many years because I thought it was dangerous, but I can’t dispute the result. This pattern came out exactly like the photograph on the cover of the pattern. The directions were straightforward and easy to follow. I do recommend that you have another pair of hands to help you finish it up. You need someone to help you fit the back so it closes cleanly and also the shoulder strap.  Also the pocket gets pinned to the front so you can have it in a comfortable and usable place.

Decades of Style


This apron was a big hit at my store when I had it.  Because the apron cut on the bias, it is very complimentary to the figure. I made one of these reversible aprons in two batik fabrics.

One side of the two batiks flapper apron

Opposite side of the 1928 Flapper Apron in batik

My dear friend Diane Ruby, from Reno, Nevada made me one for Christmas. I love this one also.

Christmas Flapper Apron, beautifully done by Diane Ruby

Another cute apron pattern from Decades of Style is the 1940’s Apron from Val’s Kitchen

1940's Apron from Val's Kitchen

Cute little apron from the 40's

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Beatrice the Dummy

Beatrice modeling my sloper for PatternMaster Knits version 5. This is a heavyweight knit with about 50% stretch

Meet Beatrice, she is my dressform and my darling Richard lugged her out of the storage unit  a few weeks ago to assist me.  I’ve been working on
on my Pattern Master Boutique for Knits and getting really excited at the possibilities.  I have a nice selection of knits to use and now there are some great knits available at reasonable prices.  For the sloper, I used a rather heavy knit and really loved the draft. For the top,  I used a rayon blend slub knit that was very flimsy and difficult to work with.  The ‘hand’ on the knit is delightful though. It feels luxurious  to wear and the drape is wonderful.  I went through a three week period of procrastination on the neck as the fabric kept curling and I had trouble getting it even. At one point, I tried a ruffled neck and really didn’t like the look. I ended up serging a self fabric band doubled wrong sides together and then bringing the band to the right side of the shirt and using the coverstitch on top. I have more of this fabric in other colors and next time I will use a narrower cover stitch. The fabric ‘tunneled’ pretty bad with the wide coverstitch.  I constructed the whole shirt on my Babylock Evolve Wave.

I love the way Marty describes her tee shirt construction tips.  I used a similar order to my shirt as Marty

Marty’s Little Corner

completed PatternMaster Knits Tee Shirt in a lightweight rayon knit blend.

I used a 4 thread safety stitch on my serger and stay tape for the shoulders. (Since I had so much trouble with the  neckline, next time I will serge only one shoulder then apply the  neck band)  Then I applied the neckband.

I then changed to coverstitch and stitched the neckband down. I stitched the hems in the sleeves and the bottom of front and back.

I then changed back to the 4 thread safety stitch ; applied the sleeves and sewed the side seam. Shirt complete!

I love reading hints and tips about knits. Sandra Betzina’s Power Sewing Toolbox has some great hints and tips about sewing with knits.

I also love Nancy Zeiman’s DVDSew and Go Knits”  available at Nancy’s Notions.

Marcy Tilton’s “Easy Guide to Sewing Tops and Tee Shirts”  has several good tips and ideas for making great tee’s.

Great book by Marcy Tilton

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