Monday, December 10, 2018

The Chair Project, part 1

There are actually two (matching) chairs that I inherited from my maternal grandmother's mother (my great-grandmother Bridget H.) They sat in my grandmother's basement forever, until I grabbed them, and then they sat in my basement. I have been wanting to get them fixed up and in usable shape for some time, but it seemed too daunting a task. I started making some home improvements this year, and needing to move stuff around in the basement, I finally resolved to do something about the chairs taking up space there.


It was a formidable task, indeed. It took several weekends (and weeknights), and the ordering and purchasing of many various tools and supplies. Some, very specialized items.

I started by stripping the chair. This mainly just involved a tack remover, and pliers for some of the more stubborn tacks. This thing had a bazillion tacks in it.

There is a padded roll in the front of the cushion, to help keep its shape, which I removed and reused.

The filling is Ginger or Coconut Coir, which I saved. 

The springs looked ok, so I saved them.

I suspect that the complete label inside reads, "G. Buehler & Co., manufacturer of Parlor Furniture Frames, Allentown, Pa." I would not be surprised if it came from this Buehler. It makes sense, considering the location and timeframe. 

The pile of old webbing, and all the other materials that I pulled off the chair was extremely dusty, dirty, and disintegrating.  I discarded most of it.

The back was also webbed and padded.

Luckily, the frame was solid. I did not want to strip and refinish the wood. I just cleaned it, and filled the tack holes with wood filler. I wasn't sure what to clean it with, so I tried a couple of things: 1) Denatured alcohol, and 2) Mineral spirits, and I used a fine grade of steel wool. I still can't tell which is better. I probably took some of the finish off, but it brightened up the wood considerably. There are lots of scrapes and scratches, but I don't mind. I will follow up some paste wax to polish and protect the piece.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Summer sewing: swimsuit construction, and "granny chic"

Sophia Swimsuit

Just finished one of the most challenging projects that I ever tackled: a vintage look two-piece swimsuit with a supportive top for an extra-large bust. I went through a bunch of patterns before settling on this one: Sophia, from Closet Case Patterns.

Sophia swimsuit, View B, Closet Case Patterns
One modification that I had to make to the top was to significantly widen the halter straps. I might also swap out the 3/8" elastic on the bottom band for something heavier. Otherwise, it worked out well. The top has foam cups and underwires. It approximates a 38DD bra size.

I had to purchased poly laminate foam, underwires, underwire channeling, and nylon tricot for the bra lining from Sew Sassy Fabrics. I purchased swimsuit lycra and lining fabric rom my local fabric store.

I did not use the serger at all, but used my regular Singer Heavy Duty for the whole thing, ball point needles, and zig-zag stitches. I also used Coats Eloflex thread.

Before I even started the swimsuit, I made this robe as a swim coverup: pattern is Almada by Seamwork, in a tribal cotton print.

Seamwork Almada relaxed bathrobe

Granny Chic

I picked up this book - Granny Chic: Crafty Recipes and Inspiration for the Handmade Home, and immediately got inspired. One of the recipes was to recycle old towels into fun dish cloths. I can't have too many dish cloths. It was also an opportunity to use odd scraps of bias binding. 

Old towels -> new dish cloths
I also made a couple of Dottie Angel frocks, as featured in the book, and Simplicity Pattern 1080 Misses' Dress or Tunic.

I liked the look of the cotton calico for making a summer dress, so I followed that idea with these sun dresses - made from 100 Acts of Sewing, Dress No. 1:

Who doesn't love a dress with pockets? One modification that I made was to add some ties at the sides to cinch it in a bit at the waist. This simple pattern is great for beginners, and a great jumping off point for more advanced sewers to experiment with.

Bonus Round

I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking here, but I wanted to use this astrological fabric from Mood for something. I ended up using Simplicity Pattern 1108 Misses' Kimonos in Different Styles, and some lace trim that I had on hand. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hot Patterns: 1230 Metropolitan Bouvier Jacket


I am really pleased with how this turned out. I purchased some linen/rayon blend fabric from JoAnn's and whipped it up in a day and a half (unlined). The only adjustment that I made was to increase the bust dart slightly, and shorten it overall about 3/4 inch. I wanted a lightweight jacket for spring/summer. I love the lapels and all the rounded corners. It looks soft and easy to wear. 

Monday, March 05, 2018

What have I been sewing lately? Pattern roundup

...Since the last time that I posted anything about sewing, I made some stuff.

My man here picked out this flannel fabric, end of fall last year, so I made him a good old-school flannel shirt. I got the pattern askew on the front button band, and it's a little crooked on the back yoke, but otherwise, it fits nice and looks sharp.

Looking to do something similar for myself, I found this McCalls pattern that could be adjusted for bust size. Being a DD, it's an issue for me, and having a pattern that already has cup size options made it a bit easier to get a good fit. I was inspired by the styles at Duluth Trading. On the left, I used an old calico fabric that I had in my stash forever, and on the right is a recent purchase of flannel from JoAnn's. Once again, lining up the plaid was tricky, but it's still a cute comfy shirt.

I used that same calico (I had several yards of it), and some scraps to make this apron-dress-coverall thingy. It's perfect for days when I feel like baking, gardening, cleaning. These Dottie Angel patterns from Simplicity are so adorable.

I am obsessed with bags, and I like the waxed canvas styles that Duluth Trading carries, so to get that look, I found this pattern at Colette (#ColetteCooper), and some waxed canvas at It was spendy, but I think it was worth it to get the look, and the durability. Haven't tested it, but it is probably water-resistent, too. I used a scrap of leather for the handle.

Used another Colette pattern - Anise - to make this cropped jacket in black velveteen (I had several yards in my stash), with vintage buttons. This was a more challenging tailoring project. It is fully lined. Not sure how I am going to wear this yet...

...but I did make this top, out of a light silky charmeuse designer fabric that I got on clearance at JoAnn's.

I used the sewstylish Simplicity pattern on the left for the top, with the intention of constructing the full suit at some point. The pattern on the right is another option that I am considering. I have some odds and ends that might work for some of these pieces, but not enough of anything to make a whole suit, so I am still shopping for this one.

Earlier last year, I made this attempt to knock off the Geneva dress on Universal Standard:

I had this nice olive jersey in my stash. I started with Lotta's Esme tunic pattern, gave it cap sleeves, and gathered the hem on one side. I wore it a couple times last fall, and getting ready to bust it out again for warmer weather. 

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