Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunbonnet Sue: Take Two

After sewing costumes, the return to quilting feels like I am going on vacation! Here's the completed quilt top of the second Sunbonnet Sue design, which I was working on a few weeks ago.

Today I am contemplating quilting designs for this top. I have a few ideas to audition and would like to make it a bit different than the first SS quilt. Since the sashing is plaid, I'd like to see how X's would look in that area. For the background, perhaps some McTavishing--named after Karen McTavish--which is short flowing lines that creates little pillow-like pockets of quilted space. It's a great background fill around an applique design. For the border triangles, maybe a feather design to fit the space. We'll see how it goes!

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Prom, Tom, and more pettiskirts!

These last few weeks have been filled with non-quilting activity but plenty of sewing. First of all, prom rolled around and Becca's dress had to be taken in a bit and shortened just a tad.

At the same time, I was working on the costume committee for Tom Sawyer, CYT's spring production. My task was to make three pair of overalls for the girls in the whitewash gang. A white pair for Hannah, blue for Courtney, and brown for Alyssa. They were only worn for one short scene, but they were cute as buttons. And each pair of overalls had eight buttonholes, so after 24, I became an expert.

Since I had bragged about making a pettiskirt for Hannah's tap performance, I was given a load of pettiskirts to spruce up for the eight Liberty dancers in Tom Sawyer. I lost some sleep over this project because we had five useable skirts and I wasn't sure how to make something as full and fluffy with what we had to work with. These skirts are time consuming to make from scratch...and we didn't have that kind of time or money for materials.

There was one very full pink skirt that I split into two. I added a stretch waistband with a buttonhole opening facing inside to insert the elastic. The opening makes adjustments easier.

Two more skirts were needed so I split a very full brown pettiskirt into two. I added a brown satin waistband to each, fusing a 1/2" strip of interfacing to the edge for reinforcement and to prevent fraying. Finished those just the night before school day shows. The girls were thrilled to have them and I breathed a hugh sigh of relief. Whew!

When not in overalls, my whitewasher wore a bright red, white and blue outfit as a schoolgirl. She was awarded the "sparkplug" award for bringing life and a lot of snappy lines to her character. That's my firecracker! shown here with Emily who knows how to reign her in when necessary.

Big props to our committee chair, Lowanna, who calmly figured out how to solve problems backstage, like "the mic guy broke my zipper!" And fixing Tom's straps so they wouldn't keep sliding off his shoulders by sewing tabs out of the shirt material to hold them into place. She also replaced the hook and eye closures on the liberty girls blouses with zippers to make the quick-change go more smoothly. Amazing work. Below is Lowanna, Lori, me, and Jennifer (not pictured is Dawnette)

Huckleberry Finn (Caleb A.) and Tom Sawyer (Austin P.) with two adoring fans.

We are finished with productions for the year, but we look forward to Oliver, the Wizard of Oz, and Snow White next year.

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fabric Grainline

Contrary to assumptions, not all fabrics are printed on the grainline. To find the true grain of the fabric, the selvedge edge needs to be snipped and torn. The true grainline isn't found simply by rotary cutting the fabric. The torn edge will reveal the exact grainline of the fabric. Refold the fabric and use your rotary cutter and ruler to clean-cut the edge where some of the fibers may have been distorted.

When fabric is printed non-directional, it might not be noticeable if it's printed off the grainline. Stripes and plaids, however, will show if they are true or not.

For the Sunbonnet Sue quilt, I used this fabric to make the sashing strips. The stripe pattern is slightly off-grain. When viewing the 45" of length selvedge-to-selvedge, the print looks straight for several inches, then dips down, and then comes back to the printed line. In order to cut a long strip of fabric that would appear straight, I trimmed up the edge a bit along the print and found a line I could measure off. It takes a bit of tweaking the fabric under the ruler. Cut a few inches then realign the ruler.

The other option for this print would be to insert cornerstones along the sashing. Cut a strip of fabric equal to the length of the block. Then add a square of fabric for the cornerstone.  The sashing strips are 2.5 inches wide so cut a 2.5 inch square for the cornerstone. Even if your fabric is printed off-grain, there will be sections along the fabric that will work for this option.

I do like the look of the red cornerstones here but the client's desire is to have a continuous strip of sashing along the diagonal. The strip between the third and fourth row of blocks show this option. It's not as bold and the red binding will pull it all together nicely.

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs

Monday, May 2, 2011


For my daughter's solo tap performance, she needed a pettiskirt. I wasn't sure what it was so I googled "pedi skirt" and came up with this very helpful tutorial from Ashley Read it for the full instructions because I only include here how I altered the size and materials used.

What makes the skirt so full and fluffy? It's actually two skirts. One is sewn to the inside of the satin waistband and the other is sewn to the outside.

Following Ashley's tip of tightening the top tension on the sewing machine (7-10) and elongating the stitch length to 5, I was able to ruffle very easily. In order to adjust the ruffle I left very long thread ends and ruffled a few yards at a time. I broke it into four sections.

I ordered a 60 yard roll of 7" wide candy colored nylon chiffon from The top tier of chiffon was 6 yards and the bottom was 12 yards. For both skirt layers I used 36 yards. For the waistband I used a stretch satin that was very shiny. My daughter's waist is 23.5 inches so I cut the satin 8" x 47".

When pressing the fold on the waistband, lay a piece of muslin over the satin (works for ribbons too) so the iron doesn't stick to the fabric/ribbon and damage it.

So after ruffling, gathering and pinning for what seemed like forever, the skirt was finished just a day before the outdoor showcase, a prelude to the final recital next month. I love the look of it, but honestly, it was very time consuming. Thankful I only had to make one. Worth it, though.

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs