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Patron saint

An awesome friend who shares my sense of humor got me what is perhaps the best gift ever for an art historian who enjoys sewing.

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Yes, it is a Saint Sebastian pincushion. I love Saint Sebastian–he was very popular in the Renaissance and is the patron saint of athletes, archers, and plague victims, among others. I have already put him to use and have adopted him as patron saint of my sewing room. I have to say that I feel a little bad sticking pins into him, so I mostly use the pink base.

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I think his expression says it all.

He is incredibly detailed and definitely much more interesting than my old tomato pincushion.

In related news, I am making progress on gifts. I’m not quite halfway done, but I’m getting there. It is nice to have an excuse to sew again!

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A dress seven years in the making

While sorting through my closet recently, I found an abandoned dress that I began around the time I got my first sewing machine in the summer of 2006. The sewing machine belonged to Jared’s grandmother, and since no one else wanted it, I ended up as its new owner. Jared’s mother took me to Jo-Ann Fabrics to buy me patterns and fabrics to get me started–this was one of my selections and the first dress I tried to make. It is an easy Simplicity pattern, though I don’t recall which one. The fabric is a white-on-brown floral, soft and with a slight sheen. I had completed the main part of the dress and had sewn the neck facings when I set it aside. Somewhere along the line one set of armhole facings went missing. Rather than cut new facings, I decided to use white bias tape. I also decided to remove the neck facing because, even with the interfacing, the print showed through the dress material.

To position the bias tape, I used my new Clover Wonder Clips. These have been on my Amazon wish list for a while, and I recently purchased a box of 50 with a gift card. They are a great alternative to pins, which I always have trouble with. I love them already. I liked the contrast of the white bias tape, so I decided to use it as a trim rather than a facing. I didn’t do the best job sewing it, but that is not too noticeable.

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The dress itself, being super basic, has no darts and therefore is not particularly flattering. Furthermore, I have–ahem–gained a bit of weight since I first began the dress, so it is rather tight in the bodice. This, combined with my facing alternative, resulted in some unflattering armholes.

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The loose thread does not help.

Using my Wonder Clips, I found the best position for a dart to alleviate the bunching fabric. I used another new tool, my pen-style chalk liner, to draw the darts before sewing them (I didn’t realize until just now that these are both made by the same company–I think I’ll be checking them out more in the future as I’m very happy with both purchases). The small darts helped quite a bit, as you can see below, though I should have made them before adding the bias tape.

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Much better, except for the poor job on the trim.

The dress fits decently, though not perfectly, and there are some mistakes. I can definitely live with a non-perfect dress, but there are a few other issues that keep me from really liking it. Firstly, I don’t know what I was thinking when I picked out this fabric. I like patterns, even loud ones, but the brown and white is both too much and too boring at the same time. I am not really a giant flower print kind of girl, unless it is a totally over-the-top floral print. Although there is nothing wrong with it, it’s not really my style. Secondly, this is a long dress, and I am not a fan of maxi dresses, particularly combined with this fabric. There is a lot of high-contrast floral print. Behold:

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So now I’m not sure whether to chop about 18 inches off to make it something I’d wear, or give it to someone who likes maxi dresses and whose style it suits better. However, because of the overall sloppy workmanship, I’m not sure I want to give it to anyone else. I’ll probably end up shortening it and wearing it around the house and while running errands. It does look fairly cute when belted.

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Even though the result isn’t fantastic, it’s still nice to (almost) complete an unfinished project. Now we’ll see how long it sits awaiting a hem.

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I got a dress form!

I got a lovely birthday gift today and couldn’t wait to try it out with the green dress.

It looks a lot better on the form than on a hanger, even with the boring belt (I think I’ll go with the bow, which in the photo is on top behind the flower). I still need to fix the hem, though.

I hope that careful pressing will help these darts to lie flatter.

Anyway, I am quite happy with the dress form, but I think she needs a name.

Thanks, Jared!

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Garage sale finds

I rarely go to garage sales, mainly because I simply don’t think of it but also because I rarely find anything worthwhile. Some people have an almost magical ability to find the most wonderful things at garage sales and thrift stores, but I am not one of those people. Today, however, I was with my parents (my dad, especially, is a pro garage-saler) and stopped at one. I walked away with a couple of good finds, including a small box of assorted ribbon priced at ten cents.

While the quality and condition varies, I will definitely be able to use at least some of this. I also got another box of sewing notions for a quarter. It is a pretty odd collection of stuff, including coverable buttons, fasteners, and lots of belt buckles, but I was most interested in the tailor tacker, which should be useful for both patternmaking and garment construction.

Again, I don’t know whether I will use most of this, but at twenty-five cents who could resist? I also bought six yards of ivory satin for three dollars. I really don’t know what I’m going to do with all that satin, but I’m sure inspiration will strike eventually.

Finally, I wanted to show off the new dish towels I got today, courtesy of my dad’s amazing auction skills. This is one of a full set of seven towels hand-embroidered with birds doing household chores. Here they appear to be cleaning their birdhouse. I love the cute design and the vivid colors, but I have no idea what to do with these. I’m afraid they might get dirty if I use them for their intended purpose, but I can’t think of anything else and I don’t want to just keep them in a box or cupboard. I’d love to use the embroidered portions as clothing appliqués somehow, but I don’t know if that’s possible or whether I’m willing to cut them up.

For now I will just admire these absolutely charming designs. I feel inspired to take up embroidery again.