Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Monday, August 17, 2015

I've Got a Notion - Hand Sewing Needles

I love estate sales, yard sales and rummage sales (if you've ever read this blog before, you know this). One of the things I buy frequently at these sales is sewing baskets. Sadly, a sewist passes on, and her family has no earthly clue what to do with her things. Often, whole sewing baskets can be found in these sales, fully stocked with all sorts of great tools and notions, left just the way the owner left it.

I've acquired neatly organized baskets, and ones that look as though the grandkids just pawed through it looking for only they know what. All have their charms and treasures within. One of the things I come across most frequently and abundantly are hand sewing needles.

I will never have to purchase another hand sewing needle at a conventional modern sewing store. I have hundreds (maybe thousands) of these gems. Some will remain in their wrappers unused, and others will be used in my work. Some will be passed on to others via Etsy.

Hand sewing needles come in greater variety than the uninitiated would think. Each needle is crafted for a particular purpose. The most common is the “sharp”, used for general hand work, with a round eye, a sharp point and a medium length. Applique and crewel needles are used in embroidery and surface design. Tapestry needles are used for needlepoint and other canvas work. Betweens are hand quilting needles. Milliners needles and beading needles are very long and are usually used for decorative work. Darning needles are long with blunt points and used in fabric repair and reweaving.
And, of course there are specialty needles for upholstery and leather work.

Each needle type comes in a variety of sizes. The size is indicated by one or more numbers on the manufacturer's packaging. The general convention for sizing of needles, as with wire gauge, is that within any given class of needle the length and thickness of a needle increases as the size number decreases. When a package contains a needle count followed by two size numbers such as "20 Sharps 5/10" the second set of numbers correspond to the range of sizes of needle within the packet, in this case typically ten sharps needles of size 5 and ten of size 10 (for a total of 20 needles).

The packaging of needles is also fascinating, from ornate needle books, to advertising premiums. Some of the packages feature great artwork, which seems so grandiose when you consider that the contents are but humble sewing needles.   

I've been doing quite a lot of hand sewing lately for the Downton Dress.  Between that and my estate sale habit, I have developed a new appreciation for the hand sewing needle!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sewing Project Journal - Free

For some time now I've been thinking that I should be doing a better job of record keeping when it comes to my sewing projects.  I blog about almost all of them, but what about the details that don't get shared?

I went in search of Sewing Journals online, and there are several really nice ones.  For instance, here at Escapades in Sewing, or here at Sew Mama Sew.  Like anything else, we all like to personalize or tweak, so I made my own to suit my own style.  I'm sharing, but I fully realize this may not work for you.  Maybe one of the others works better, or maybe you want to make your own, too!

Here's an example of how mine looks when completed for a project, using my last project, the Alice Tank Top.

If you'd like a blank copy for use with your projects, the PDF can be obtained here!  Happy sewing, and happy documenting!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pattern Review: Alice Tunic from the Magic Pattern Book

The Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman (Workman Press, 2014, list price $22.95) is one of those great sewing books with endless possibilities for your creativity.  I've had the book for some time, but have not had the time to try any of the patterns.  The premise behind this book is that from variations on six basic patterns, one could make an entire wardrobe.

I decided to first try the Alice Tank Top or tunic.  The pattern is very cute and fits with my current Lagenlook style.  It is pictured in the book styled with leggings, cowboy boots (not my thing, but ok if you like them) and a long thin infinity loop and dangle earrings.  Cute!

Patterns are included on an accompanying CD.  The same issue exists here as with any PDF pattern which prints in tiles and must be taped together.  Care must be taken to align the papers precisely so as not to create and then propagate problems with sewing and fitting the pattern.  The pattern went together "ok".  There were a few spots where it did not match up perfectly and had to be muscled a little bit.  Not the end of the world.

After some initial fiddling with the pattern, all troubles ceased.  The pattern went together like a dream, and was not at all difficult to sew.  I opted to have the neck and armhole facings appear on the outside of the garment as a trim, and I used a solid fabric for the bodice potion of the top.  I carefully saved the pattern pieces, so I can duplicate this top again.

I really love the way the top came out, and I'm sure I'll wear it frequently.  The black linen bodice was cut from fabric I had leftover in my stash from another project.  The floral print on the bottom, and used for the facings as well, came from and was on sale.  Here is Betsy, wearing my new Alice Tank Top.  Oh, by the way, this is a pull on top, as people have asked about closures in the past, wondering if those were just not shown.  No closures here!

Stay tuned for more on the Downton Dress, and my Home Dec project, as well as more random sewing shenanigans when I need a break from the serious stuff!