Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mary De Insert Tutorial - Part 1.

This is the yoke of the dress.  I pinned it to my ironing board to keep it in place.  You'll see why in a moment.  This pattern calls for pleating the skirt of the dress then attaching it to the yoke.  I really liked this fabric and thought it would look really cute with a white insert smocked with strawberries.  This tutorial will be in spurts only because I don't like super long posts.

First you'll want to decide how wide you want the insert, and that depends on your design.  This dress is a size 8 and called for 14 smocked rows.  My smocking plate is only 7 rows, so I'll go into how I increased my rows in another post.  I pleated 16 rows - 2 holding rows and 14 smocking rows.  I wanted an insert with more depth, so I decided to use a 60 inch wide insert.  I didn't have 60" fabric, so I simply cut another insert and sewed a 7 1/2" piece to each side of my 45" wide insert.  Then pleated as usual.  Unfortunately, I didn't snap a picture of that, but you'll see the seams in the following pictures.  Make sure you mark the center of the insert on the top and bottom.

Once you have the fabric pleated, you'll want to flatten out the ends and mark your armhole curves.

Now you'll simply match your armhole lines with the edge of the yoke as shown.  Pin the insert to the ironing board where it meets the yoke.
A close up.

You'll also want to match up your center mark on the insert with the center of the yoke.

Be sure to line up the bottom center mark as well.

Now you are ready to begin tying off.  You'll want to pin one side of the insert all the way down making sure to keep the armhole lines from moving too much.

You'll also remove the pleating threads up to where the yoke stops and begin tying them off 2 to 3 at a time.  See picture for reference.

And after the thread are all pulled.

Now pin the other side.  And you'll begin tying off that side.  This is where you have to be particularly careful.  You don't want to pull the thread so tight that the insert becomes smaller than the yoke.  It should always be kept even.  You also don't want it so loose that you see thread puckers in the insert.  And you have to be especially careful to get the right tension on all the thread, or you'll wind up with a lopsided insert.

Here is how I pull them up to ensure an even insert.  Always start at the top and work your way down.  I always put extra pins in the side I'm pulling from.  Take your threads and pull them very gently to get most of the "looseness" out.  Then gently bring them back across the insert as shown.  And give it a gentle tug.  Once you are sure the thread is nice and snug, tie off the threads and keep going until you get them all tied.

In the next picture you'll see I actually pulled my bottom thread a smidge too tight.

I decided to leave it, since it's only my holding row.

And this is what you should have once all the threads are tied.

Now you can remove the pins and we are going to spray starch the blocked insert.  This will help when smocking.

You'll want to give it a really good starching.  You can't be too heavy handed here.  Starch until your little heart is content.  Then let it dry.  Once it dries, you can add piping or ric rac.  I chose ric rac for this dress, but I would normally use piping.  I didn't have any piping this particular day, and I didn't really feel like making any.  I had some ric rac that was the perfect color, so that's what I'm using, but the way we'll attach it is the same for both.

You'll need some fabric glue (or you can use Elmers).  I like fabric glue because it dries quicker.   Measure the amount of ric rac you need.  Hint: your bottom piece will be much longer than the top.  See pictures below.  I extended my top ric rac past the yoke line.  I want to catch it when I sew the dress together later.  Place a small amount of glue along one edge of the ric rac or piping as shown below.

Now gently place the ric rac just above the first pleating row (not the holding row).  So in this case, it would be the second row down.  I'm doing this because I want my smocking to just touch the ric rac.  If you want a little spacing, then back it up a little.  Continue adding a little glue in sections and gently press it down onto the insert.  This is what it'll look like.

You'll repeat the same process with the bottom row of ric rac.  Again, do not place it on the holding row.  I placed it on the second row from the bottom, which will be my last smocking row.  Now your insert should look like this.  LET IT DRY!

Notice that I extended the ric rac all the way across and off the insert.  Again, I want to catch the ric rac in the dress when I construct it later.  Once you've attached the bottom piece of ric rac, you'll want to cut the extra fabric off the bottom making it the same as the top.  I didn't snap a pic right after I cut mine, but I have one with some of the smocking completed.  You'll also see how my top and bottom rows just kiss the ric rac.

I wasn't overly concerned with make sure the bottom cut was super even, because we'll be sewing right on top of the ric rac anyway.  You'll never see the bottom.  I don't like the size of my strawberries, so those will be different the next post you see.

That's all for now.  See how long these posts get.  I'll have more later once I get more of the smocking done, and I get the insert attached to the dress.  The next post will be on how we attach it to the dress.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments.

Happy Tuesday!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Children's Corner Mary De

This was my first Mary De I ever made.  That was (oh boy I'm showing my age) 15 years ago.  Brittany was 4 when she wore this. OUCH!  It is still in fantastic shape considering its age.  I have made 3 or 4 since then and 2 of those just last year.  I can't find those pictures though.

The reason for the post you ask?  Well, I am making another Mary De in a fabulous fabric full of strawberries with a beautiful strawberry smocking plate from Crosseyed Cricket for my little friend, Gracie.  But this time I'll be using a smocked insert.  I'll be posting a tutorial on how to do that, since the pattern does not give instructions.  So I'm flying by the seat of my pants on this one.  I hope it turns out the way I envision.  If not, I'm in trouble because it will require that I cut the front skirt much shorter.  If I do that, and I totally make a mess of this, I will not have enough fabric to make another skirt!  But I'm feeling scared to death lucky!? 

Also, my smocking plate is 7 rows, but I have 14 rows on the dress.  I'll show you how I add rows to the plate to make up the other 7 rows.  I've done this with 2 or 3 rows before but never 7!  Should I just shoot myself now?  What was I thinking??  I just loved the plate.......I couldn't resist.  Besides, do you know how hard it is to find picture smocking plates for yoke dresses with that many rows?  Seriously, not easy.   Geometrics are easy to find with many rows, and even easier to add/subtract rows as needed.

I have the insert pleated, blocked and ric rac attached.  I'll have a post on that probably tomorrow.  I'll be doing this in parts, so the posts won't get too long.  I'll smock the insert before attaching it, because the dress has a facing that covers the smocking on the inside.  That makes it a little harder to smock. :)

Stay tuned.

Happy Thursday!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gathering Fabric Tutorial

Want an easy way to gather fabric without using a basting stitch?  I have a simple technique that will create perfect gathers every time, and there is no chance of breaking the threads.

First, decide where you want your gathers.  I wanted to make a gathered sash for a skirt, so I chose to gather both edges.  I started about 1" in from the edge.  You'll need some DMC floss or cording.  For this demonstration, I'm using floss.  The darker color shows up better in pictures.

Place your floss down on the fabric as shown.  Make sure you leave a bit of a tail.  Your floss should line up in the middle of your presser foot.  You'll set your machine to zigzag.  You'll want a wide stitch.  The idea is to stitch over the floss.  DO NOT stitch the floss.  It will not gather if you catch the floss.  Stitch carefully.

Use the hand wheel to for the first couple of stitches just to be sure you do not catch the floss.

Stitch the length of the fabric zigzagging over the floss until you reach the end.  Stop with your needle in the down position.  Raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric as shown.

You will now fold your floss around so it's facing the other direction.  Lower the presser foot again over the floss so it's right in the middle of your foot as shown.

Again, stitch all the way to the end of the fabric leaving a tail at the end.  This picture shows both ends.

Now simply grab the tails and pull to gather the fabric to your required thickness.

I wanted it as tight as possible, so I gathered until I couldn't pull anymore.

Be sure to tie off your floss at the end so it doesn't unravel.

And there you have it.  Easy, easy gathers.  Feel free to ask questions if something is confusing.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More of Robbie's room.

Robbie's old changing table is still in his room, and they've always held 5 of these baskets.  I've kept it in there, because the baskets are great organizers for his small toys like trucks, Legos, and action figures.  But since we are redoing his room, these liners just don't work anymore.  So yesterday I sat down and made some more.  I was surprised at how easy they were.

The picture above is the before, and here is the after:

I chose not to add the tie.  I thought it looked more boyish without.  And this is his changing table/toy organizer:

The 5th basket used to sit on the very top and housed all his baby blankets.  It now sits on the floor and is used as a trash can.

I'll post a tutorial on this soon, because they were super easy to make.  I used the old liners as a pattern.  It is basically one long strip running from one side to the other, then two smaller pieces that attach to the other sides.  I had all 5 done in less than an hour yesterday including cutting the fabric.

Happy Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Go Fish Quilt Finished!

I love the colors in this quilt.  I finally decided on the lime green binding.  I had some help from some great women at the fabric store.  They also helped me choose my backing.

It's hard to see in the picture, but it looks like little bubbles.  They didn't have enough of the fabric though, so I wound up piecing the back.  Here's a pic.

I took these pictures outside, because our weather has been fantastic.  Notice Gabby in the shot?  If I go outside, she is going to be right under my feet.  And she was having nothing of my taking these pictures without her.  I chose to quilt it with a dark blue thread by hand and just around the blocks.  The prints were so busy, I didn't want a whole lot going on with the quilting.  I wanted it very subtle.

I am finally finished and can work on some other projects that have gone by the wayside.  I am almost finished with my hutch.  I have attached all the shelves, filled the holes with wood putty, and now it just waits for paint.  I'll be painting today and should have pictures later in the week.

Happy Tuesday.