Wednesday Already?

Where did the last few days go?  A blur of holiday gatherings, family fun, outdoor gardening, and playing catch-up!

First, the crab fest.  This is for all of you out there who have never experienced a good old fashioned Maryland Crab Fest.  My mother’s entire family is from Maryland, and we grew up, attending family weddings and funerals, always followed by the crab fest.  It was an event!  I have fond memories of my Aunt Joy and my mom chasing crabs all over the kitchen trying to stuff them in a pot with Old Bay Seasoning  to get them steamed.  My sister, who now provides the crabs, buys them by the bushel, from a local merchant who steams them while you wait.



So here we are getting started!  Dump the crabs on a table covered with newspapers and dig in!


And here I am working hard!  Note:  I did NOT drink all that beer, and OK, it was a bad hair day, but I was “down” the shore, salt air and breezes, and hair isn’t important in a crab fest, you definitely don’t want it hanging in your face!

I managed to clean up my out of control studio, and catch up on many many emails, and follow up on some much needed correspondence.  The inbox on my desk is overflowing (my inbox for my email is out of control, but that’s another story), but that’s normal for the end of the month, as Friday is my bill paying day, all the paperwork for the month gets sorted and filed, and dealt with!  I hate bill paying days, but must admit, it is nice to see my inbox with nothing in it for about 24 hours.

I’m making slow progress on the jacket, sidetracked by some fun creative adventures, yesterday morning I judged the Middle School Invention Contest, along with some old friends of mine, retired teachers, and had a blast interviewing these 5th-8th grade would be inventors.  There are some pretty talented, outside of the box thinkers coming up in the world!

My neighbor’s daughter, who is graduating from HS, and going on to college for the arts, is interested in learning about garment construction, and engineering garments for the body.  I’m thrilled, since quite often I hear, “I love to design clothing, but don’t have a clue how to sew…”  As a matter of fact, that’s one of the biggest issues on the new Bravo TV replacement show for Project Runway, The Fashion Show.  Most of these designers can’t seem to sew.  One actually was quoted as saying, “I have people for that”.  Anyway, this lovely 18 year old neighbor, has attempted garments from non traditional materials for her AP Sculpture class, and does actually recognize the wisdom of having a bit of a background in garment construction and engineering.  It isn’t enough to know how to use a sewing machine.  Garment Construction is a bit like architecture, except the covering for the body has to move and perform and fit the structure (body) underneath in a way that a wall of windows and steel doesn’t.  Same idea, different application.  So my 18 year old neighbor spent some time in my studio yesterday afternoon learning some of the basics.

hong-konginside_backI’m playing around with the ways the Sandstone Layers Jacket needs to be finished, I’m happy with the Hong Kong seam finish for seams that are pressed out flat and open, like the center back seam.

The side back seams are handled like a welt seam, where one layer of seam allowance is trimmed back, and the remainder of the two seam allowances are pressed to one side, finished off, and topstitched.  Except in this case, I used a partial Hong Kong finish to keep the look consistent, pressed to one side (so I actually had to do the Kong Kong finish upside down on the side back seams), and couched from the front.  Topstitching gets lost in a handwoven fabric, any tweedy fabric for that matter.  So I make more of a statement by using my cording or couching foot to feed a thicker yarn, preferably one of the weaving yarns used in the original fabric, and stitch a shallow zig-zag from the front to keep it in place.   I couched embroidery floss on the Arctic Sky Jacket if you remember.

couching_footThe couching foot shown here is on my Janome 6600 Professional.  I love this machine!

couching1And here is the finished seam from the  front!

It is cold and rainy here in the north east, so that leaves me with less garden guilt and more studio guilt!

The Hong Kong Seam Finish

By popular request, I am posting a tutorial on how to do the Hong Kong seam finish.  If you have my monograph on Seam and Edge Finishes, you already have these directions along with all kinds of other ideas for seam finishes and ways to finish the edges of vests and jackets.  (OK, that was a shameless commercial plug for my monograph…)  If you buy the monograph and also purchase the companion monograph on Closures, you will save $5. and even more on postage since the computer thinks it is one item…

If you have ever taken a jacket class with me, you know what a Hong Kong seam finish is, your jacket is full of them on the inside, and you have the directions in your handout!

Before I get to the tutorial, thanks everyone, for all the birthday wishes, emailed cards, and kind words.  It does my heart good to hear when a weaver gets back to the loom or even better, takes the proverbial leap into yardage!  And for the sewers out there, who haven’t discovered the joy of weaving your own fabric to sew…  Well, you don’t know what you’re missing! 🙂b-1

OK, here is the Hong Kong seam finish!  I love it on an unlined jacket, so professional!

b-3First you’ll need bias strips, you can purchase them, or cut your own.  There is a tutorial for cutting your own bias strips quickly, in my seams monograph. I used a 2″ strip here.  If you don’t know what “bias” means, post a comment! I’ll go into more detail!

With right sides together, place the bias strip on the garment section, with the cut edges even.  Stitch 1/4″ to 3/8″ from the cut edge.  I use the presser foot as a guide. Just be consistent!


Press the bias strip away from the fabric.


Press the bias strip towards the wrong side of the fabric, making sure it wraps tightly around the cut edge of the garment section.  This is really important, it must wrap tightly around the cut edge!b-6

Pin securely to keep bias from shifting.


From the right side of the garment section, stitch in the ditch close to the binding.  Use a color thread to match the garment fabric. (I used black for the tutorial)


The completed seam “finish”. Note, this is done on the edge of the garment section, before sewing the seam.  You would repeat this step for the other half of the garment, and then sew the seams together.  See first photo!


You might want to trim the excess binding from the back so it doesn’t get caught when you sew the seam.

Happy Sewing!  And have a great Memorial Day Weekend, we are heading to the shore for a day this weekend, to celebrate the anniversary of scattering my dad’s ashes (he was a Korean War Veteran), and to have what would have been his most favorite meal, an old fashioned Maryland Crab Fest!  (My dad’s birthday would have been on Monday, just three days after mine!) My Maryland sister, the architect, is bringing a bushel of Crabs, my other sister is bringing the beer, and I am bringing fruit to cut up, though I think that was just to give me something to bring, in an old fashioned Maryland Crab Fest, you don’t need anything but crabs and beer, and people around you that you love!  And a lots of rolls of paper towels!