Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WIP: Pillowcase Technicalities

I have made many, many pillowcases and blogged about them. I just noticed that I have made several of them  wrong without even realizing it. This post is probably more than you ever wanted to know about sewing pillowcases. But just in case you do not want to ruin that special piece of fabric you have been saving, read on.

My mistake is very noticeable in the fire engine pillowcase I just made for my son is law. When you lean the pillow against the headboard of the bed, the fire engines are taking a nose dive into the mattress or driving up to the ceiling.  I concentrated so hard on keeping the wheels oriented down toward the contrasting fire hose border that I did not realize I was off by 90° and the fire engines were sideways. Somewhat in my defense (in other words, my excuse), the instructions stated that if you have a directional print be sure it "stands" on the contrast band. The instructions called for three quarters yard of feature fabric but did not mention more was required if the fabric were directional.  Come to think of it, the instructions, which I have used many times, originally came from a pillow case kit. The fabric had been pre-selected and was non-directional.

The main body of the pillowcase is sewn from a 27" x 41" piece of fabric. The 27" is the length of the pillowcase and the 41" is the folded-over width. In most cases, for non-directional fabric, it would make sense to use the fabric width for the 41" dimension and three quarters of a yard for the 27" dimension. For most fabrics with a directional print, the up and down direction of the print generally runs parallel to the selvages of the fabric along the length of grain. If you get that 27" from the three quarter yard length direction, the images are sideways when the pillow sits on the bed. For fabrics with an up and down direction of the print parallel to the selvages, like this fire engine print, even though it is the norm for a directional fabric, you need one and a quarter yards of the feature fabric per pillowcase in order to get your 41" dimension.

This did not became obvious to me until I began to make a pair of Christmas pillowcases out of Christmas fabric where the up and down direction of the print runs cross grain. This directionality is not generally the norm but can be found in banded stripe fabrics from a fabric collection. I thought, aha, directional fabric, I will need more. Actually, no, because the up and down direction of the pale fabric on the right runs cross grain I still need only three quarters yard.  

The darker grey fabric on the left has an up and down direction that runs lengthwise with the grain (generally the norm). I used it just for the border. The contrast border is cut 10" x 41". Since it drops over the edge of the mattress anyway I felt the 41" could come from the fabric width and would be pretty wasteful if cut along the length. I did need to fuss with the orientation though so the border did not drop over the edge of the mattress upside down.

I also fussed and considered if I wanted the band to have stocking and doves or snowmen and trees.  But that is another sort of fussiness and irrelevant here. Here is one finished pillowcase and I have one to go.

Since I am making a pair of pillowcases I realized another aspect to consider. The two pillowcases would have a right or left handedness to them so that when the print of the main body was oriented correctly for the bed, one would open to the left and one would open to the right.

It took me longer to describe this than to figure it out.  Hopefully it was arduous enough that I will remember it next time I decide to "whip up a pillow case" or buy that cute novelty print because "I only need three quarters of a yard for a pillowcase".

So in summary:
Up-down fabric direction is along length of grain? Get one and one quarter yards.
Up-down fabric direction is cross of grain? Three quarters yard will do.
Contrast band is directional? Be sure it will drape over mattress edge right side up.
Making a pair? Take care that one opens to left and one opens to right.

I am off now to check out other folks creations at WIP Wednesday at 

Stats since last WIP 9/18/13:
     Completed  projects - 1 pillowcase + helped daughter in Oklahoma move
     Currently in progress - too many, no change in list since WIP 8/21/13
     New projects - 1 pillowcase + recovering from helping daughter move

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dress Pattern Info

My previous post generated a fair amount of interest in the patterns I used for my granddaughter's dresses. The pattern I used for the owl dress was Simplicity 8814, shown on the left and the pattern I used for the airplane dress was Simplicity 9090, shown on the right.

Both of these patterns date back to the early 1980's.  But my daughter informed me (see comment on previous post) that vintage patterns like these may still be available at the stores and are just no longer shown in the pattern catalogues.  So if you have a specific pattern number in mind, you may still be able to get it from a drawer in the pattern files.  Other source options are or eBay.

I think the next thing I make for Autumn will be from one of these Butterick patterns, handed down from my sister. These are from an even earlier time.  Note the 60 cent and 65 cent prices. I think the sailor collar and pleated skirt are a real cute combination on Butterick 5261 and I very much like the scalloped collar on Butterick 5521.

I'd better sew a bunch of stuff while she is little. Since my stash is mainly from quilting, my lengths of fabric are low yardages. You can only make so many two-toned items of mixed prints before it gets repetitious looking. The other solution, of course, is to buy more fabric...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WIP: Granddaughter Dresses

I did not want to miss my third WIP in a row. I have been busy traveling and working on redecorating the living room and I have not done much quilting. I did want to share what I just finished though... two cute little dresses for my 11 month old granddaughter. I can't wait to see her in them!

This one has owls and squirrels and little birdies. I thought the owl buttons were a perfect match.

My daughter wants to be sure her daughter is exposed to toys and prints that are stereo-typed as being for boys. I honored that with this airplane print but I did put lace on the sleeves. The aqua and other blues in this print will go great with my granddaughter's big blue eyes.

My, but my clothing sewing skills were rusty! It was awfully hard to switch back to the HUGE 5/8" seam allowance after all my quilting with a 1/4" seam allowance. Puffed sleeves? I was out of practice on gathering those after all my flat quilts. Notions? I have many boxes of bias tape, hem lace, buttons, rick rack, and elastic but finding them was a challenge and I think took just as much time as the sewing. I did find my tracing kit with wheel and coated colored wax paper for transferring pleat markings and casing line markings. The 59 cent price really dates it. I could not even find the cent sign on my computer keyboard.

I will be checking out other folk's projects tomorrow since it is so late here but at least tonight I wanted to link up to WIP Wednesday at 

Stats since last WIP 8/21/13:
     Completed  projects - 2 dresses
     Currently in progress - too many, no change in list since last time
     New projects - 2 dresses