Tag Archives: treadle

tova dress

I did a bit of patternmaking and dressmaking last year and I was dying to get into it again. When Jenny put a few of her famous tova patterns in her shop, I just had to have it. I looked for the right fabric a good while until I found this beautiful soft plaid flannel and here is my tova dress:

I must say I loved loved loved Jenny’s pattern and it was worth every penny. It shipped very quickly from NYC to Germany and it is beautifully made.

As I made the smallest size available (xs) I traced the pattern onto paper first. I bought some vellum paper but ended up not having enough, so I taped the pattern up against the window and used normal white paper to trace it.

The instructions were very clear. I had been a bit worried because the pattern was marked “for intermediate sewers” and I would definitely count myself as a beginner, but I didn’t have any trouble following the instructions at all.

Even though I made some of my own patterns last year I’m very glad that I did the Tova dress with Jenny’s pattern and instructions, because I ended up learning a couple of new techniques. It was also my first time setting the sleeves in the correct way instead of doing cheater sleeves by gathering at the top. I’m not the most patient sewer nor the most accurate so it is really due to the fantastic pattern and instructions that everything came out looking exactly as it should!

My treadle did a great job again, I only had trouble in areas where stitching through multiple layers of the flannel was required but I was able to get by. I ended up wishing I had done french seams in some places though, because it would have been no trouble and it would look so much nicer (wonder if I’ll find a serger on one of my next thrift store hunts).
I’m thrilled with how the dress came out!

The only thing that bugs me is that the wrong side of the fabric isn’t very nice to look at and it shows as the collar flaps open. I should have lined it (not that I know how to do that). The fit is great, definitely better than my own patterns from last year and it is just such a nice dress.

Thank you Jenny, for making such wonderful patterns! (I just had to go ahead and buy another one, I’m waiting for the fabric to make it right now).

in between

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are uneventful here, working a little and getting used to all the christmas lights being gone. I can’t wait for the dark days of the year to be over, but it will be another 2 months until I will get home from work in daylight.

I got a new quilt top done and now have to find the time to make the quilt sandwich so I can start handquilting it.


The snow and ice is thawing very slowly day by day at temperatures around 0°C. They are predicting January to be full of snow as well…I am already tired of it and soo ready for spring. January will be the time for buying seeds for me and I’m planning to start a few plants indoors as early as February. I’ve never done it before and I am still working on the how’s and where’s because with two curious cats it will be quite a challenge to give the baby plants a space with enough light without having them nibbled at or tossed around or eaten before they are ready to go outside in May.

weekend

A special treat: freshly pressed orange juice.

The beginnings of a new quilt (I’ve missed my treadle).


The first christmas cookies.

These are wonderful and very simple: Whisk two egg whites and 125g white sugar until very stiff and set aside two tablespoons for later. Fold in 125g ground hazelnuts and form little balls on a baking sheet using two teaspoons. With a wet wooden spoon, make a dent in each ball, fill with the mix you set aside and place a whole hazelnut on top. Bake at 140-160°C for 20-25 minutes.

new blue skirt

I am discovering all sorts of smallish fabric shops in the area and most have a pile of clearance fabrics marked down to 1€/m. Clearance fabrics are my favourite to sew with since I hate to make muslins and I don’t feel guilty not making one when I got the fabric for next to nothing :)
This heavier weight light blue cotton (mix?) fabric has been sitting in my pile for quite a while and a few days ago I decided to make a skirt with it.
No pattern, just trying out different pleating methods until, almost by accident, I ended up with this:

I’m loving it, it fits me perfectly and the stitching looks really good…my treadle and I are getting along very well lately!
I did the button holes by hand (downside of sewing on a treadle: no buttonhole feature) but I am very pleased with how they came out. It’s actually nice work to do while watching a DVD in the evening, so I don’t mind sewing them by hand at all.

scandinavia quilt

My dad’s birthday was on Sunday, so I can finally blog the quilt I made him. Last year I wasn’t home for his birthday and then my sewing machine got broken and he only got something small for christmas, so really this quilt covers two birthdays and one christmas ;)
While I love bright, sunshiny colors and the look of patchwork I know my dad definitely likes a more subdued look and scandinavian colours. So when I found this red pinstriped linen blend I knew it was perfect. The backing is a plain dark blue and the plaid binding connects the two colours and livens it all up a bit (I think).

I had originally planned to machine quilt it but it just didn’t work at all with my treadle…no chance without a walking foot. So I sat down to cried a bit and then I picked myself back up and started handquilting. Inspired by Anna Maria Horners new post I did big stitches with embroidery floss (3 strands if anyone wants to know the particulars).
And then I looked at it and the bold, rough quilting looked just perfect for the overall look I wanted to achieve. I think I will do handquilting with embroidery floss from now on on all of my quilts…I love the look of it and it is nice and quick work.

Not that quick though…so when I found out I only had two and a half days to complete it (due to my dad being away on business the whole week until his birthday) I went into panic mode and spend those days quilting and sewing. I never would have believed it but in those two days I got it basted, quilted, bound, washed and dried (though I had to drive over to my mom’s to use her dryer).

Except for sewing the binding on on one side the whole quilt is entirely handsewn and I am pretty darn proud of it. Thankfully my dad loves it so it was definitely worth it.

Want to know one of my guilty sewing-secrets? I never use a hoop for embroidery or quilting…when I learned it I didn’t have one and when I finally bought one it drove me crazy and didn’t work for me at all. So I just stretch the fabric tight with my hands while quilting.
This picture actually has the truest colours for the lovely red fabric (and it was at the beginning of the handquilting…a few hours on my fingers looked considerably more covered in band aid).

dressmaking – my first dress

Dressmaking is FUN! Even though it took me many many many hours to draft a pattern (see this post here) and a lot of patience and seamripping and improvising to get this finished I am thrilled by the end result and can’t wait to make another item of clothing! I have never really sewn clothing before so on this project I not only learned to make patterns but also to make necklines, armholes, sleeves, buttonholes, darts and what not!

This dress looks pretty close to the vision I was trying to recreate and I love it! It has two darts at the back (not visible in the picture) and the skirt part is just a big rectangle which I ruffled to fit the length of the bodice (I prefer wearing it with that belt to emphasize the waist more).
It is made out of a silky soft blue poplin (which at 8€ a metre was pretty reasonable for german prices). It doesn’t wrinkle and you hardly have to iron it at all. It was lovely to sew with also.
I sewed it on my vintage Phoenix treadle machine which worked like a dream. I think treadling is it for me…at this point I find it hard to imagine ever sewing on an electric machine again!
I had to use my mom’s Pfaff to make the buttonholes and finish the inside seams with zig-zag stitch and found it so hard to adjust back to electric.
By the way Cal Patch suggests french seams in her book ‘Design-it-yourself clothes. Patternmaking simplified’ which I used to make the pattern. I just haven’t done french seams before and was already overwhelmed by all the new techniques I was learning making the dress…I’m saving the french seams for my next dress ;)

To the end I never managed to make the sleeves fit the armholes… no matter how often I altered the pattern they were always too big. I ended up making three pleats on each sleeve but in retrospect I should have ruffled the ca. 5 cm on top…would have looked neater I think.
The part that I really screwed up on is the neckline…I tried making my own bias tape and finishing in neatly but it just didn’t work at all! I came out all wrinkly :( Also it kind of creases between the neckline and the armholes rather annoyingly. I don’t mind too much though…all in all this dress is a raging success for me and I am so happy with it!

spring is coming

but is is slow to arrive. Another beautiful, sunny day today and I have even found the first spring flowers of the year in my mother’s garden.

At the barn on the other hand (which lies a critical few 100 metres higher) everything is again covered in snow.
I have again spent the whole weekend sewing, making a spring dress for myself. I made it on my beloved vintage treadle (that baby rocks!!) except for the button holes and the inside seam finish with zig-zag stitch (I drove out to my mom’s house to use her Pfaff for that). It’s nearly completed, I’ll just have to sew on the buttons by hand tonight and then I’ll do a big dressmaking post :)

The cats have spent the day sleeping in the sunny spots on the floor and while I have no photos of that, here’s a recent one of Murphy in all his sweet, anxious little self.

and another high-waisted skirt

I am really loving these and had to make another one. This time I made the skirt a full circle and added pleated pockets (tutorial by Rae). Of course I messed up a little again and it came out too big, so I had to add two pleats each at the front and the back. I didn’t have a zipper foot for my old treadle machine (though I’m getting one now!), so I stitched the zipper in by hand. Next time I think I’ll try an A-line shape.
I’m not too fond of these pictures, but it’s freezing and dark outside and I didn’t want to wait till the weekend to take new ones. Those gorgeous shoes are Dino Bigioni by the way (friends of mine).

(click to see these slightly larger)

weekending

My copies of ‘Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified’ by Cal Patch and ‘Water for Elephants’ by Sara Gruen arrived in the mail yesterday. I can’t wait to read either of those, so it’s going to be a rather quiet weekend.

Also my pretty vintage treadle has had to take a trip to the sewing machine doctor’s. Apparently there really is something not quite right with the upper tension (so it wasn’t just my mistake) and while fixing it the shop will give her a good clean as well and do all necessary adjustments and such. I know it’s in good hands but I really miss it already and it will be gone for about a week! I think my relationship with my material possessions is a bit unhealthy…it is certainly wrong to be so emotionally attached to a sewing machine, a notebook or a camera, right?

I should follow the cat’s example…the only thing they’re deeply emotionally attached to is food!

isn’t she a beauty?

Proudly presenting: my “new” old sewing machine! When my gran said I could have hers as my yellow 70s machine is broken right now I thought she meant an electric model from the 50s (which would have been awesome as well). But no, she meant this beauty:

She herself got it from her gran. I think it may date back to the 1930s or 40s but I really have no idea (EDIT: after hours of internet research I found out it dates back to 1929!!).
I’m so in love with it, I can’t stop looking at it! Sadly it comes without a manual or extra needles/bobbin/feet, but with the help of some lovely people on a german sewing board and some youtube videos I was able to figure out how to oil it, thread it and adjust tension and stitch length and…it works like a dream! I just really have to practise using the treadle.

It is in pristine condition and was obviously well cared for all its life. I know my gran probably hasn’t used it in 20 years but it was dusted and polished every week nevertheless ;)
Excuse me now, while I go drool over it some more.