Monday, December 12, 2011
The quilt I’m working on has been long in the making. I designed and stitched the squares two years ago when I first released the overtures set.
I’ve used this set many times (there are lots of samples on the Overtures webpage) but usually in bright, colors. This quilt was designed to showcase another, more subtle side of the set.
The completed quilt-squares had a special place in my home along with seventeen other pieces awaiting the completion fairy. When I upgraded the sewing room, the quilt squares warranted their own cubby in one of the new sewing cabinets
The quilt squares came out of the closet this summer when I took them to a sewing retreat and sashed and assembled them. Then, back into hiding they went.
Yesterday, a mere 4 months later I brought the quilt top out to finish.
I spent most of the day adding the borders. It wasn’t hard. Things went smoothly. It was just time consuming.
I chose to add a 3 1/2” wine colored border separated from the outer line of sashing with a half inch cream line.
It took several hours to put in the mitered corners. By the fourth corner I had finally assimilated information I'd been gathering for a while. Several years ago, I took a finishing class from Pam Gerkovich, a local quilting guru. A year after that Suzette Heinrich, another incredible local quilter, showed me her secret for great mitered corners. A year later I shared some time with Trish McCrumb, another quilting aficionado, who showed me her system. I've taken the best of all these and made it work for me. I have 4 perfect miters now.
I think the methodology for the 1/2” line of sashing and the instructions for the mitered corners are worth a write up. Watch this blog.
Tomorrow back to the real world. I'm posting stuff on Etsy- putting together another sale and doing another newsletter. I'll get back to trying starting a Bullard Designs Facebook page - calling the local schools to talk about sew camp... and sew on and sew on.
Monday, November 28, 2011
|The Mantel Scarf|
|This is what the bells look like close-up. This particular one is the free sample. Go to the Bell Choir page to download it.|
|The finished table runner|
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I admit that I have a lot of sewing supplies. And it’s not news that I’m a fabric slut. Actually, I own a generous collection of the whole sewing trifecta: fabric, gadgets and thread. I love it all, but storage has been a challenge.
So, until recently, my sewing room has been a mess. The words“Clean House” and “Bobbi’s sewing room” have become synonymous.
Well, worry no more. No longer will we have to call search parties to find small children in my sewing room. The days of making your way around mounds of unidentifiable sewing detritus to sew a seam are over. I’ve seen the light. And I’m not talking about a high intensity Ott Light!
It started when I was browsing through a local antiques/thrift/junk store in downtown Placerville.I must have mentioned that I sew to the proprietor because he forced me to the back corner of the store where, tucked behind a stack of motley street signs across from a spring sprung floral sofa was (as he said it) “U’re Going to Love this. I have right here a Gen-U-Ine Sew-Ing Cab-net.”
Despite the proprietor’s resemblance to a snake oil salesman, he was right. I loved it. I laid all of my cash on his counter and put the thing on layaway. A mere 90 days and a hundred and fifty dollars later, I drove the van home loaded with one Gen-U-Ine Sew-ing Cabnet.
As you can see, it looks like a wardrobe. It’s even kind of shabby chic looking with the white paint. If you look at the paint closely you can see it’s not its original color.
It’s a sewing wardrobe from the 50’s or 60’s, from before the days when wardrobes were a common item in a family room or living-room.
Inside the cabinet is a pull down desktop.
And do you see the little gold square? That’s the Singer label.
Pulling the desk down reveals storage, shelves and spool-racks.
There’s even a raised bed to create a flat surface behind your sewing machine. Because my sewing machine isn’t a circa 1966 Singer, the raised section doesn’t match the height of my sewing machine.
Though not exactly right for my sewing machine, it IS right for serger storage and usage. And, the bottom of my cabinet houses the machine I’m not currently using.
Though I’ve been sewing forever, I had never seen a cabinet like this one. Imagine my surprise when Tecla (a dear friend I’ve mentioned before) called me from a yard sale saying that she had found the coolest sewing machine cabinet ever.
Well, I didn’t believe her cause I had just brought home the coolest sewing machine cabinet ever, my vintage Singer cabinet.
Well, she was right. She had found the coolest sewing cabinet ever made, a twin to my cabinet. It was an identical twin, only still sporting its original pecan wood finish and typical 60’s handles. Other than that, it was the same. And this one was only $25!
I’m no fool. I snapped it up.
I use the second one for my computer and storage of a variety of sewing supplies. It’s amazing what happens when you have a place to put things. Now my sewing room looks like this:
One of these days I’ll re-finish one or both of these cabinets, but for now I’m just happy to have them.
So, Niecy Nash, be gone!
On another note, did you see the gorgeous Bernina 830 in this picture?
I’ve had it since June and other than a few hiccups during the learning curve (all operator error), it's been perfect. I'm giving it a work-out. I love this machine.
If you’re wondering at all why it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post, it’s because my creative writing muse had been busy helping me write a book. I can’t say much more about it except that I’m done with my part. It will now take the publisher another year before it’s out the door.
I am happily back working the blog.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
The show is beginning to air on PBS beginning June 30. Contact your local station and request that they pick up the show to air in your area.
In my never ending quest to become a sewing celebrity I accepted the invitation to appear on the upcoming TV show, “It’s Sew Easy.” To tape my segments, I journeyed cross-country to Cleveland, Ohio, which seems to be the Hollywood of sewing shows. As in every good journey I had to conquer a variety of obstacles, the biggest of which was the weather, which bestowed an irritating blizzard in my path.
Because of the kindness of strangers, strangers who later became friends, the weather proved to be more of a worry than an actual impediment.
During my time in Cleveland I was befriended by one of the other newly discovered TV stars, Trish, of Two Peas in a Pod and her one-woman entourage, Kristen. Kristen generously expanded her entourage work to include us all. She performed not only the expected entourage tasks, braving the snow for Starbucks for lattes, checking each of us for stray threads, lipstick coverage, and no unruly hairs, but she also rose early and attacked the snow with a snow shovel to make sure the van was available for transport.
It was lovely to have an entourage, even if I was a peripheral entourage-ee.
In addition I had the luxury of having my make-up done by Karen, the make-up artist.
She exposed the real me, the Angelina Jolie rival. I’m currently choosing which venue to attack next: America’s Top Model or Dancing with the Stars. Can’t decide which will showcase my new-found beauty most.
Most of my time in Cleveland was spent in the Green Room, the area assigned to stars awaiting their taping time. I’ve heard stars recount their time in David Letterman’s, Ellen’s and Oprah’s Green Rooms. Odd, not one of them mentioned that the green room was populated with sewing machines and sergers.
I had scheduled the time in the Green Room to finish last minute preparations for taping, and I did do that. But, thanks to the help of my my wonderful friends/helpers (you can read more about that on my previous blogs ) and my oft mentioned friend, Tecla, I finished my prep work by noon the first day. Tecla had made the step-outs I needed for the show (the multiple versions of the works in progress you see so often at sewing shows) while I was at the Sew Expo show in Puyallup.
I’m look forward to repaying that debt; a task that will be completed as soon as I learn to spin straw into gold.
Anyway, because of everyone’s help, I was able to focus on the real work taking place in the Green Room, socializing and eating.
I loved my fellow Green Room inhabitants; a wide range of sew-ists ranging from young to old, from those re-working sweatshirts to those sewing bags, from those in the home-sewing industry to a Project Runway participant. And then there was me.
The Actual Taping
Part of the fun of the Green Room is watching as each presenter tapes her segment. We gathered around a TV just a little larger than the state of Rhode Island, commenting on the important stuff, nail polish color and how many times someone said, ‘uh.’ The studio is soundproof so the ‘star’ never hears the peanut gallery’s comments, luckily for me.
HD has added an interesting dimension to television, a clear view of the presenters’ pores and facial flaws, giving me something to really look forward to; seeing my facial imperfections broadcast to all of America.
My studio time started with a director attaching a microphone to my clothes and placing an earbud in my ear. This had the potential to be strange but for me it was a good time as the director was a cutie. After a sound test and a light test, it was go time.
I taped two segments, the first on multiple hoopings in the embroidery machine, the second on re-working jean jackets.
I’m not going to write much about the actual taping. You can see the results when my segments air. They went well. I didn’t forget and pick my nose or scratch my crotch or anything. I didn’t say forbidden words. (One of the tapers said “Oh, my God” 6 minutes into her taping and had to start all over again). I know that I paused a squinch each time the producer talked into my earbud (she gave me time warnings at each minute mark) and once in a while I faced the wrong camera, but in general the taping went well.
I loved it! I loved the whole thing, from the Green Room experience to the time in front of the camera. OK Letterman, I’m ready for you.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Today tested my will power almost to the breaking point My new sewing machine arrived and I didn’t rip open the box, tear through the packaging, and get the thing stitching. Instead, that luscious piece of perfectly engineered metal is still nestled in it’s styrofoam nest. You see, I’m heading to a retreat Sunday and I’m taking the machine with me. It doesn’t make sense to unpack the thing only to have to pack it up again 24 hours later.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a retreat slut. I LOVE a good sewing retreat and each year I go to as many retreats as I can.The retreat Sunday is given by my ASG Chapter, one of two retreats it holds each year at Lake Tahoe.
So I’m taking the new machine to Tahoe where, surrounded by the beauty that is Lake Tahoe, I’ll experience the magnificence of a Bernina 830 for the first time. Meanwhile, the box sits teasing me in the living room. I have my fingers in my ears but I can still hear it calling. “I’m waiting. Unpack me!”
And if that isn’t enough frustration, for the last week my computer has been keeping me humble. Last Friday, as I was diligently pecking away at the keyboard, I glanced up only to find that no letters were appearing on the screen. I tapped the A key, then the S, nothing; the X key, the Z, still no results. Then, when I hit the escape key, the computer went very, very quiet. After a reboot I found that touching the keyboard gave the charming results of powering down the computer.
With a bit of experimentation I found that the computer works fine with an external keyboard but that configuration is not the most wieldy thing in the world (as in wieldy, the opposite of unwieldy).
I called Dell’s tech support and within hours I had received an email that a new keyboard heading my way. That was last Friday.
Today is the next Friday and I still don’t have the replacement keyboard.
According to the UPS log, my keyboard has had quite a tour of the Midwest.
The keyboard left Nashville on the 17th and went to Indianapolis for the day, followed by an evening jaunt to Louisville, Kentucky.
Obviously the keyboard was not satisfied with it’s brief visit to Indianapolis, so after spending the day in Louisville, it went back to Indianapolis. The next day it went back to Louisville.
I take it that a second visit to Louisville was enough for it, so it finally headed west to California.
This morning it arrived in San Pablo. Tomorrow it’s supposed to get here. We’ll see. For all I know my keyboard will lounge around the bay area for a day or two completing its leisurely trip.
Until I get the keyboard and face the fun of installing it in the laptop, I have my new sewing machine to dream about. It is here and awaiting launch. Did I mention that it’s a Bernina 830? Sweet!
I’ll write more about the sewing machine when I get to the retreat. Hopefully, I’ll be writing on a keyboard that’s actually installed in my laptop.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
The top, Vogue V7828 (now out of print) is a crossover wrap top with seams crossing the front diagonally. By fiddling with the seams, I came up with a great fit in the front. The blouse skims over my curves and highlights my best feature, a small waist. Because the eyes in the back of my head were not working correctly, the back was not as pleasing.
My choices were to throw the thing on the scrap heap or seek help. I hopped right on it, a mere 12 weeks after discovering that the back of this top was so unflattering, I met with my favorite fitter, Anita Marshall.
Before the meeting I had constructed a second muslin using my front adjustments. I donned the muslin for Anita and was rewarded with ‘oohs and ahs’. Then I turned around. That’s when I heard it, that “tsk, tsk, tsk,” sound you never want to hear from a fellow sew-ist (A sound I usually hear only when people get a glimpse of my sewing room). Anita agreed with my assessment. The back was my Titanic.
Actually, it didn’t take Anita long to figure out the fix. She took a large pinch across the back, parallel with the waist. It seems that my back from shoulders-to-waist is short. I shouldn’t be surprised at that as my front, from the shoulders-to-waist it short, too. With this pattern I had sucked up the extra fabric while fiddling with the front seams. With this pinch, the fabric smoothly skimmed the curve of my back. She redrew the arm-scythe and reduced the shoulder width (about 3/4” each shoulder) and we were done.
I am VERY happy with the finished results. Now I look good both coming and going. I’m anxious to find the right occasion to show off this piece. Maybe I need to manufacture an occasion.
The designs are from the Flowerful set (by the way).
I’m ready to resume my work on the green vest I wrote about last time. Hmm… it’s only been a month or so since I started that one. Maybe it needs to age a bit more.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Fact: I always have to shorten my patterns two inches. Always! No matter what pattern I choose. If I make up a pattern without shortening. on donning the finished garment, I will resemble a chubby 4 year old clattering around in her mother’s heels.
Fact: I am short-waisted; very, very short-waisted. The distance between the bottom of my bust and the top of my belt is best viewed with a microscope. When they invent the belt-bra, I will be the first in line at the cash register.
Fact, unaltered V-neck patterns, expose things best left hidden forever.
Fact: Linda, Kubrik, designer of Elements, the new pattern-line Bullard Designs* is carrying, is one tall drink of water. She’s tall and slim and the distance from her belt to bust is wide, very wide, grand canyon wide.
Fact: Because independent pattern designers can relate best to their own body-types, their patterns are usually designed for bodies similar to their own. Therefore, if you know a designer’s build, you can project which body type her patterns will flatter. Apple shaped designers design garments with loose waists and exposed arms. Fashion model shaped designers should be designing garments with long waists.
Proposition: In theory, when making up one of the Linda’s patterns, Elements’ Vest 103, where the waistline is an important design element, I should shorten the upper body by a minimum of two inches.
But as I have made up patterns without testing the fit with a muslin and lived to rue the day I chose to take the extra step of making a muslin. Turns out, that was a wise choice.
So, after deciding the fabric/embroidery design combination for my next project, the Element’s Vest 103 pattern I began with a muslin.
Before starting the muslin, I did take a pre-emptive strike and shortened the bodice. The pattern has a wonderfully interesting X shaped back which made shortening a challenging task. Taking out one inch above and one inch below the middle of the back required reshaping and re-angling all of the back pieces; making sure each matched the one next to it and had the appropriate seam allowances. The front was a much simpler task, a breeze after the back.
So I made up the test muslin. Yikes! The vest was hiked up under my breasts. I was Erkel sans suspenders. My top looked shorter than usual. Is that even possible?
I experienced something I’ve never experienced before, a too short top. Two inches too short! I can’t believe it.
My original plan was to whip up the vest and post a picture of it when I posted this blog. As is the norm for my projects, the original plan has had some major additions. The vest is taking way longer than expected so its not yet ready for prime time. Here’s a picture of the back, so far. I feel another blog in the making.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
So here it is, my collection of vignettes from the show. Be warned, a sewing show from a vendor’s view is very different than that of an attendee. My only views were of the booth, the people who visited my booth, and my classes. Pretty myopic.
This year I taught 5 classes and gave 2 talks on a free stage as well and I accompanied a young sew-ist down the runway in a fashion show that highlighted the future of showing.
The show had 32 time slots for classes and still managed to schedule me for the 8:30 timeslot every morning. It’s not that I mind speaking that early in the morning I love mornings. I’m one of those crazy people who greet the sunrise every day. (I know it’s unnatural but it’s the way I am.) What surprised me is that so many people came to see me that early in the morning. I’m pretty sure that at least 1 person in each class attended with eyes sealed shut and a drawing of an eyeball applied on the eyelid.
My classes were all full! In most, there wasn’t a single spare seat. In two of the classes people paid for standing room. Wow!
This year I strayed from my usual Quick Gifts Embroidery Style class to teach a new class; Machine Embroidery Virtuoso. I covered ways for machine embroiderers to make their work even better. I am writing a book and the class is some of the concepts from that book. It’s always great when you attract a lot of people into the room but that’s generally the result of a good class description. What’s better is when the attendees love the class.
I’m used to people liking my classes. I show fun things, I’m a bit of a ham and get lots of laughs, and I try to have new information each time I teach. What’s not to like? But this class was different. It was like I had brought bread to the starving. Eyes lit up, smiles appeared, heads nodded. I couldn’t have had a better reception if I had been throwing out gold coins.
I heard, “Your class was the best one I’ve ever taken!” many, many, times. The best quote was, “Your class was worth the price of the class, the price to attend the show, and the price of my plane ticket here!” (And yes I am preening as I write this). By the end of the weekend I had trouble getting out the door, my head was swelled so big.
The classes didn’t take all of my time. I also spent time in my booth, working. The best part about working the booth is that I get to see old friends, make new friends, and spend time talking about sewing.
We offer free designs to anyone who comes to our booth wearing our embroidery designs. I would have more pictures except, silly me, I didn’t think to pull out the camera until late in the show.
I only have two pictures from Naomi. She actually came by with three different outfits. The designs are from Crystal of the Month Club of which she’s a member. You can’t see it on line but these designs shine with crystals. And Naomi shines, too. The stitch-outs ain’t too bad, either.
Jeanne also came by multiple times, wearing a variety of clothes, all with our designs. Unfortunately, I only have pictures of one. Luckily it’s spectacular. The designs are from our Brilliants collection.
Talk about versatile, Rosemary used the same Brilliants designs. Look how different they are from Jean’s. Rosemary fell in love with the fabric she put in the hood. She added the embroidery to coordinate with the hood fabric. I love the finished look of designs coordinating with the jacket – without looking matchy-matchy.
Notice anything unusual about Janeen’s embroidery? It’s not exactly attached to her clothes. She really meant to sew up something for the show and didn’t get to it. she was determined to get the free designs so she stitched out this bear from Crystal Critters. and hung them on a rope. Kind of sad for the bear, hung sideways like that, but good for Janeen. She received free designs.
On another note, I was let out of the booth on Sunday to accompany my young sew-ist, Mentee down the aisle in the charity fashion show. The show was designed to showcase the talent of young people who sew. The Sew-Expo folks paired up sewing professionals with sew-ists, supposedly for us to act as mentors. My Mentee, Mia, is 12 years old and incredible. I’d like to take credit for Mia’s work, but the reality is that I did very little. She’s so talented and such a self starter that I didn’t need to do anything. Her jacket has 5 zippers and used a double needle. Everything looked perfect. My only input was to offer an embroidery design for her to stitch designs on the back.
The downside to being a vendor is that I don’t get to visit other booths. I just don’t have the time. If you’re reading this expecting to hear all the newest, coolest stuff in the sewing world, you might as well as close the browser now. Not going to happen. It can’t happen. I didn’t get to see those things.
The show was a success. I was able to purchase three small things there. Luckily I have a helpful secret shopper, Cindy, (see the last post to see Cindy’s picture). She found a few things I couldn’t live without, things I needed.
And now we’re home and on to the next adventure.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Most people who read this blog know that I’m a professional in the sewing world. I write for magazines, speak in multiple national shows, have ribbons from nationally ranked quilt shows and have been featured as a top designer.
Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it, with visions of me traveling down the street, surrounded by my entourage, with scores of gorgeous men throwing themselves at my feet. Ahh… if only that were true. Instead, my life is often filled with a manual labor and humdrum tasks.
Wednesday of this week found me in high drudge mode; I had the excitement of setting up for a sewing show, manual labor of the highest order. The show is Sew Expo, one of the largest sewing shows in the country, probably the largest that is geared for garment sew-ists. Sew Expo is held in the metropolis of Puyallup, Washington and I attend each year as a speaker and vendor, which means that Bullard Designs sets up a booth at the show.
As always, the show promoters have cleverly scheduled the show at the end of February, with predictably bleak weather. I’ve been to the show for the last nine years and only once during that time do I remember seeing even one ray of sunshine. At least I think I remember that. It’s possible it’s just something I dreamed.
Part of the joy of setting up a booth at tradeshow is that you have to bring a whole store’s worth of ‘stuff’ with you.
Unfortunately, packing the wares isn’t good enough. When you arrive at the show, those same items must be unpacked, and moved from the van to your booth space. As I have not yet conquered telekinesis, this involves extreme manual labor.
To ensure a maximum amount of discomfort for the vendors transporting their wares from their vehicles to their show spaces, the show organizers open all of the doors and leave them open for the duration of the setup period. This wouldn’t be a problem if these were ordinary doors, but no, the doors into this establishment are super doors, large enough to accommodate the Mongol hoards including elephants. As we’re in the booth closest to the door we get to experience all of the rain, wind and snow at close range
This year we chronicled the setup process. Here’s the space as it looked when we first arrived. We were able to capture the space during a lull in the wind.
The only way to approach this is with humor so despite the weather, we managed to keep our spirits up. And by we, I mean, Cindy S, who actually organizes my show life and keeps me on the straight and narrow, and DH, Randy, the love of my life who plays the role of mule, master technician and salesperson when we’re at tradeshows.
I could go into detail about the frustration of unpacking, the search for the tape gun which you knew was in the under-the-table box but in reality was found in the box for the crystal rack. Or how we must have used an alternate alphabet when boxing the design set CDs at home which impeded the arranging of said CDs on the way. You get the gist of it.
Somehow, just when chaos seems to prevail, a little order surfaces.
Eventually, good does triumph over evil, and our booth takes on a semblance of sanity and order (the illusion we work hard to maintain).
We’re now two days into the show, and things are going well. The booth still looks close to this, although the crystal rack has bare spots and there are fewer CDs on the wall. I daresay that the three of us look a little worn, but our spirits are still high.
So, hello from the show.
Friday, February 25, 2011
When last we followed our stalwart heroine (otherwise known as the Self Proclaimed Queen of Bling) she was splayed across a grindstone, her nose shrinking at an alarming rate as it was pushed against a grindstone.
Overwhelming deadlines rushing to the heroine (the Self Proclaimed Queen of Bling) faster than a speeding bullet. The first deadline; the extraordinarily huge sewing show, Sew Expo in Puyallup, Washington. The second deadline; the taping of a new sewing show, “It’s Sew Fun” two days after the heroine’s return from Puyallup, Washington.
Our heroine spent an exhilarating day at the Old General Store in Drytown in the land of California. She was joined, for this day, by 10 good, no great, Samaritans, each volunteering their time and expertise to help the heroine in her time of need. Now, relieved of the pressure of the grindstone against her nose, our heroine is finally coming up for a breath of air and taking the time to chronicle her adventures in the land of the Old General Store with The Great Samaritans.
Let it be noted that the Good, no Great, Samaritans are each wondrously beautiful women with hands so gifted that everything each of these women touches turns into glorious works of art.
And so the Good, no Great, Samaritans took the lengths of fabric transformed by the heroine from beautiful pieces to extraordinary pieces by the addition of judiciously placed machine embroidery (all designed by our stalwart heroine) and created works of wearable art.
The heroine was amazed at the industry and talent of each of the Great Samaritans.
They employed marvelously advanced technology in their quest for the highest quality of fiber art.
Their machines sang with productive humming songs as they transformed the fabric into clothing.
The Samaritans used their wondrous talents to bedeck the pieces with jewels.
Even as they worked they found time to enjoy the company of others.
And as each completed her work of art, she held it up so all could enjoy the beauty.
With the help of the Great Samaritans your heroine was able to remove her nose from the grindstone and breathe most easily and return to the land of the living.