Friday, January 25, 2013

A Bit of Old...

  A Look at the Past

     Hello again!  January got off to a quick start - 2 of the chicks went back to Boston (when they went back, it was colder here than it was there!), I had a birthday (thanks for all of your birthday wishes!) and I have been subbing the last 2 weeks for a teacher who lost his father over the holidays.  Let me tell you, working can really cut into your sewing time!


     I have been sorting and cleaning and moving and organizing (though not too much throwing away yet) and have come across some of my old 'Modern Priscilla' magazines and thought I would share some of the pictures and articles with you!  This is the cover of one of them.

     A beautiful dress that has been embroidered - white on white for the baby!

      Some select women's fashions of the day, along with some children's looks.  I must say, I am glad that the 'pigeon' look is NOT one if those that keeps returning every few years!

     A closeup of an pattern add for a christening gown - you can see the insetion panel down the front of the dress.  You can also see the eyelet and cutwork on the front of the girl's dress.
     Here is a baby's bonnet - if you look carefully, you can see the ribbon weaving in and out that is pulled to fit around the baby's head.
     Sometimes, the adds are as much fun as the articles!  Here is one for leather English sandals - and I still have seveal pair in my kids' baby boxes to pass down!
     Last by not least, an add for Stork Pants, made from Stork Sheeting that buttoned over the diaper, from the Stork Co., in Boston, MA.  We have come along way!  And speaking of diapers, I also just got a sample of diaper flannel in - nice and soft and thick - I am going to play around with that also. I am going to run it through the wash for a shrink test tomorrow to start with and go from there. I will let you know how it turns out and if I will decide to carry it.  It makes great cleaning rags to start with!  When I was growing up, we always used old diapers as cleaning rags.  When I got married and started having kids, I bought a package of diapers to use as burp cloths (before they got so fancy) and rags.  Remember the Curity brand?  But they were not the same diaper fabric that we had growing up - the fabric was not nearly as soft, and not just because it was new.  I am thinking beyond diapers, as it makes great burp cloths, receiving blankets, and is wonderful for underlinings!
     I hope this has brought a smile to your face!  I just got a package in the mail today with a new sewing 'toy' that I have decided to carry - I will be playing with it over the next few days and will post pictures soon. 
Happy Stitching,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Madeira Institute for Embroidery

           More Madeira!

     The Madeira Institute of Embroidery is the ruling body for embroidery inspection in Madeira.  Once an embroidered piece is finished, cleaned, and pressed, it goes to the Institute for Inspection.  If it passes inspection, it will receive the seal of approval, or a gremio.  It is attached with several pieces of threads (different colors) and then the gremio is crimped onto the thread, which is attached to the fabric.

     You can see the gremio in the bottom right corner of this hankie.  the different colors of threads actually do have significance.  The final destination of the piece determines what color of threads are used to attach the gremio.  For example, pieces that are going to be sold in Madeira are given different colors than those that are destined to be sold in the United States.

Here is another example of a gremio - upper right corner.

     In 2006, the Institute for Embroidery, Tapestry, Handcrafts of Madeira (official name) merged with the Madeira Wine Institute to become the Madeira Wine, Embroidery and Handcraft Institute (IVBAM).  With the advent of this entity, they switched to a paper tag, but by the end of 2007 were moving to a cloth tag.  It will be sewn onto the piece and will be numbered, giving a permanent certification to the piece and will hopefully contribute to the item's value.
     I think this is a great idea, as I hated to cut off the gremio!  I did cut them off of my blouses, but hae actually left them on the napkins, doilies, etc. that I have used.

     Maderia Embroidery beware!!!!  Watch out for tags that are on embroidered pieces that say Madeira Embroidery!  this means NOTHING!  Remember that Madeira Embroidery is a FORM of embroidery as well as the place.  If the was actually stitched in Madeira, it will say so and if it has passed inspection, it will have the tag on that says so.  Anyone can place a tag on something and have it say Madeira Embroidery.

     Along with the women who inspect the embroidery, the building also houses a wonderful museum that covers the history of embroidery in Madeira.  There are some beautiful embroidered pieces - dresses, tablecloths, etc., as well as some of the machinery that was used!

***Please accept my apologies for the pictures! These were taken many years ago, before digital cameras were commonplace.  All of the items were under glass, so lots of glare!***

     This machine marked the fabric.  There were roller bars and the fabric was run through (kind of like a pleater with no needles) and the beads that had the design on them marked the fabric as it rolled by.

     This is a string of of different beads that were used in the machine above.  Each bead had a specific design - just put the bead with your design in the machine, crank through the fabric and you were good to go.

      One of the dresses on display - each horizontal strip is full of eyelets!

     This dress has tucks and an intricate embroidered band around the bottom of the dress and yoke.  Beautiful!

     A tablecloth with an embroidered edge.

We had a wonderful time looking around at all of the beautiful examples of embroidery.  It was marvelous!  I truly hope I get a chance to visit again!

     I hope you are all taking some stitching time for your self.  Both of the girls leave to go back to Boston by the end of the week (where it is co-o-old) and then things will get a bit back to normal.

Happy Stitching!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tracing Your Design

                   All I Want for Christmas is
             Magic Sizing, Extra Crisp!

     Well, it took a trip across the country, but look what I got for Christmas!  I like sizing much better than starch - it doesn't seem to flake as much for me, and Magic Sizing - Extra Crisp is my favorite.  The unfortunate part (for me) is that NO ONE around here seems to carry it.  I can find Magic Sizing - light Body (blue can) everywhere - Target, Von's (our local grocery store), Ralph's, Albertson's, even Wal-Mart, but no one carries Extra Crisp (sounds like fried chicken, doesn't it?!).  I have even asked to order a case of it and no luck - not on their order inventory sheet.  At my last smocking class, I was talking about this and the problem I was having finding it locally and one of they students whipped out her iPad and ordered a whole case (12 cans) from Agelong.  For those of you who are not familiar with Agelong, they sell all kinds of things, especially those things that you remember from your childhood (like Beechnut gum and real girdles), as well as Magic Sizing Extra Crisp.
     The order came in and I am happy as a clam (especially as I have about 1/4 of a can of my last can from my last case left - very timely).  I  can now block and starch (or size, as the case may be) to my heart's content!

     Speaking of sizing...........and the focus of this post, I am going to talk about tracing your designs on to your fabric.  Today I am going to be worling an example on a fabric that you can 'see through' when you lay a design under it.  (I will be talking about denser fabrics at a later time).  I know I mentioned that in Madeira, they run the design through a machine that is essentially an unthreaded sewing machine, and then use a pounce ball to mark the fabric.  That would work with this, but is usually more involved than I want to do.  When I am going to trace a design, the 'tools' that I use are:

Smocking Board
Clover Extra Fine Water Soluble Marking Pen
Glass Head Pins
Magic Sizing Extra Crisp

( I am going to go through each item and tell you what/why.  That way, if you want to substitute, you can figure out what will work instead)

Smocking Board - I like to really stabilize my design and my fabric so that they don't shift.  If you use a lace shaping board, it usually has foam underneath the cover and so has more 'give'.  

Remember - your finished design is only as accurate as your tracing, so
                                  GET IT RIGHT!!!!   

Clover Extra Fine Water Soluble Marking Pen - again, your finished design will only be as accurate as your tracing, so make sure your lines are thin, smooth, and clean.  If you use the regular marking pen, the felt tip is wide and there is so much ink that comes out when you place the tip on the fabric, that it often 'bleeds' into the fabric and spreads, distorting the design line.  I don;t have that problem with the fine tip.  The reason that I use the Clover brand is that they last - they don't dry out.  Most of mine last a year or two, where as with the other brands, I am lucky if they last me a month or 2. 

Clover Glass Head Pins - the Smocking Board actually comes with these cute little pins, but the shaft is larger than the glass head pins, and I son;t want big holes in my fabric, so I use my Glass Head Silk pins.

Design (pretty obvious), but remember, if the design is on something that you do not want to be marked, make a copy first!  If you have to have mirror images, make a copy in a clear sheet and then turn it backwards to get the mirror image. 

Magic Sizing Extra Crisp - talked about this above. When I am going to trace a design on fabric, I use sizing on the fabric first - that puts a layer of sizing between the fabric and the ink, so there is less of a chance that the ink will embed itself in the fabric.

Fabric - talked about this a bit at the beginning - my sample is on linen, but typically I am using a fabric that I can see through when I lay it on top of the design.

     To start, put the design on the Smocking Board.  (if the design is on light paper, I will often put a piece of plain white paper underneath to make the design stand out).  Put the fabric on top of the design, making sure the grainline of the fabric is oriented as the same as the design.  You can see where I am starting to mark the fabric.


When you are tracing a design if you follow the design with your pen to the fabric, chances are your will shift your fabric and then your design will not be accurate, and remember:  

     Your finished design will only be as accurate as your tracing!!!

     So instead of 'drawing' the design, 'dot' it instead!  Pick your pen up off of the fabric after each dot.  This way, your fabric doesn't shift and your design will be more accurate.


     If you look carefully, you can see the dots.

     Remove the pins and I have my accurately traced design.  Now, if I can only find the time to stitch it!!! 

I hope you found this helpful!  Let me know if you have any questions!  

Happy Stitching,