Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Blog Has a New Home on MarthaPullen.com!

We've moved!

Our blog has a new home on the Martha Pullen website. Be sure to update your bookmarks to stay in the loop for all future blog posts. All previous posts have been moved to the new blog as well.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back-to-school = Back to 'me time'

Editor’s Note: With the kids back-to-school, there's more time to sew! From Sept. 6-15, we’ll be celebrating “back-to-school” season in a number of different ways -- from ideas for sewing for children to inspiration for sewing for yourself!

Back-to-school isn’t just for kids! In fact, for those of you with empty nests, it’s a wonderful opportunity to find some creative “me time.” For today’s post, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite clothing designs for women. Whether you’re looking for an heirloom lace blouse or a comfy knit jacket, there’s something to suit any style:

Daisy Top (left) and Timeless Lace Heirloom Blouse

Daisy Top – When we first spotted what has come to be known as the “Daisy Dress” hanging among a collection of Martha Pullen’s antiques, we knew our readers would fall in love with a reproduction dress. What we didn’t know was that it would inspire Helen Lively to make an irresistible top for adults, but here it is. The clever designer worked up a contemporary version in black voile with ecru cotton trim. She changed the shape of the sleeve to fan out a bit more than the original girl’s dress and added a drawstring inside the lower bodice seam for a more fitted silhouette at the hips. Download the Daisy Top instantly and start working on this project today!

Timeless Lace Heirloom Blouse – For the past few seasons, a number of highend designers have infused their collections with touches of heirloom sewing. But as to be expected, at the same time they’ve made purchasing an age-old tradition extremely fashionable, they’ve also made it a very expensive proposition. You, however, have the goods and the sewing talent to capture this trend for little expense using scraps of lace and fabric in your stash. It’s a very savvy and stylish way to use up those small yardages you’ve been accumulating. Here, Andrea Birkin used the pattern "Vogue Basic Design Custom Fit 8689 View C (multi-sized)," and created lace panels for each side of the center front placket and one down the center back. She also created lace blocks for the yokes. Instructions for recreating the lacy embellishments are in Sew Beautiful issue #152.

Cape Cod Jacket (left) and Shana Tunic

Cape Cod Jacket – This basic, stylish Cape Cod Jacket designed by Nancy Zieman can be made quickly, and it looks and feels great. The garment has three variations and was designed specifically to work with knit fabric.

Shana Tunic – The Shana Tunic from Sis Boom combines a comfortable fit with a classic appeal. The design features a unique keyhole neckline with delicate tucks. This top is free fitting, yet gently curves in just the right spots to accentuate the figure. The bell sleeves add flair and femininity.

Patricia (left) and Fleecy Rose Scarf

Patricia Tunic – The Patricia Tunic from Sis Boom is cool, comfortable and elegant. It is just as perfect for running errands as it is for an evening out on the town. Wear with cropped white pants, jeans or even a skirt. With lots of size, length and finishing options, you can create a range of looks for yourself and your friends.

Fleecy Rose Scarf – We can’t leave out the accessories! This simple-to-sew scarf featured in Kay Whitt’s Sew Serendipity Workbook will keep you super warm while looking stylish, all at the same time. The construction is so easy that you will find reasons to make more than one! The scarf is composed of two layers of fleece, so you could easily get a totally different look by using two coordinating or contrasting colors. The addition of elastic down the center with a hidden opening to pull the end through makes the scarf slightly springy in nature adds to the comfort level. The roses are optional, so if an unadorned look is more your style, simply leave them off.

Shop our "Back-to-School" sale for a variety of women's patterns at 50 percent off - plus the fabric, notions and more you need to complete your "me time" projects!

We're hosting a huge “Back to School Sale” in our online store. Almost everything is 50 percent off, including the patterns and products mentioned above! Click here to shop and discover the savings!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Making and Applying Embroidery Patches

Editor’s Note: With the kids back-to-school, there's more time to sew! From Sept. 6-15, we’ll be celebrating “back-to-school” season in a number of different ways -- from ideas for sewing for children to inspiration for sewing for yourself!

What's cuter than an embroidered lunch box?

What do you do when you want to add embroidery to something that cannot be sewn on or will not fit in a hoop? With this solution from Evy Hawkins, you can create a machine-embroidered patch and then apply it permanently and professionally to a variety of different surfaces. Originally featured in issue #132 of Sew Beautiful, this creative method works on suitcases, leather totes, straw purses, wooden boxes, glass containers, plastic bins ... even lunch boxes!

What you'll need:
• Chosen machine embroidery design with smooth, simple lines
• Very Firm cut-away stabilizer by Pellon or Vilene D0102 wash-away or for a sheer cutaway, use Sheerstitch *Patches can be created by using two layers of silk organza instead of heavy cut-away stabilizer. The organza color should closely match the color of the item to be decorated.
• Applique fabric, backed with Wonder Under or Steam a Seam 2 fusible web
• 90/12 embroidery needle
• Embroidery thread
• Permanent glue (see "Which glue to use?" below)
• Very sharp, small scissors with curved blades
• Clover Mini-iron

TIP: Apply a bit of rickrack, tiny pom-poms or other edging to the perimeter of the patch by gluing in place before applying the patch.

Before you begin:
• Embroidery designs that have smooth, simple lines work well for patches.
• Decide on the position of the patch before beginning to be sure the chosen design will fit.
• It is not necessary to always have a blank canvas - busy prints can showcase embroidery patches very nicely.
• Patches adhere best to items that have smooth, flat surfaces.
• Backing appliqué fabrics with fusible webbing and fusing the appliqué to the patch base creates a sturdy, professional patch.

1. Hoop a piece of sturdy cut-away stabilizer in appropriately sized hoop; stitch out first outline stitch of embroidery design.

2. Place appliqué fabric over outline stitching, fusible side down; stitch second outline.

3. Remove hoop from machine (but do not remove stabilizer from hoop), place it on a hard, flat surface and carefully trim away excess appliqué fabric. Trim very close to stitching line, but take care not to cut into it.

4. Place hoop on a heat-protected, hard, flat surface and fuse embroidery to stabilizer using a Clover Mini-iron. Return hoop to machine and finish stitching design. NOTE: For framed embroidery designs, choose an appliqué frame that will easily contain the chosen embroidery motif. Follow same steps listed above, stitching frame first. Should extra stabilizer be necessary to support embroidery design, slide a piece of regular tear-away stabilizer under hoop. Remove excess stabilizer before proceeding.

5. Remove stabilizer from hoop. Carefully cut away excess stabilizer. You will notice that the needle has created tiny holes in the stabilizer all around the appliqué, right next to the satin stitch outline. Cut directly on top of those holes. TIP: If you accidentally cut a stitch or two, it will be OK; stitching will eventually have glue behind it, which will prevent unraveling. If you cut more than a couple of stitches, use a drop of seam sealant to secure thread.

6. Following manufacturer's directions as listed on glue package, apply a layer of glue to wrong side of patch. Firmly apply patch to item. A thin coat of glue usually works best and helps keep glue from oozing out around patch. Allow item to dry completely before use.

Shop our "Back-to-School Sale" for a wide variety of machine embroidery designs at 50 percent off! From elegant floral designs to festive holiday motifs to cute children's embroideries, there is something to suit any project.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back-to-School Sewing Ideas

Editor’s Note: With the kids back-to-school, there's more time to sew! From Sept. 6-15, we’ll be celebrating “back-to-school” season in a number of different ways  — from ideas for sewing for children to inspiration for sewing for yourself!

With September officially underway, we're feeling so inspired to sew for autumn and the upcoming holiday season! From school clothes to seasonal décor to holiday garments, there is much to keep us busy. Since school clothes are on most parents' and grandparents' minds this time of year, we perused some of our fall issues of years past to put together some of our favorite back-to-school looks. Rather than heirloom finery, we tried to restrict this list to garments that are cute enough for picture day yet practical and comfortable enough for a child to wear to school any day of the season. Enjoy!

Frannie (left) and Jack & Jill's Bibbed Romper

Frannie - Lyn Week's "Frannie" pattern is a classic. This version made by Barbara Olsen in colorful coordinating floral prints was featured in issue #131. The collar and packet flap are ecru batiste and are scalloped and embroidered by hand with bullion roses and granitos.

Jack & Jill's Bibbed Romper - Martha Demere and her sewing students stitched up this version of our "Jack & Jill's Bibbed Romper" pattern in issue #132. Made from an apple print corduroy in combination with pink micro check, the outfit is embellished with pinked-edged ruffles as well as wool felted apples appliqued with blanket stitch.

Robots & Rocketships

Robots & Rocketships - The cute smocking plate pictured here is Janet Gilbert's "Robots & Rocketships," featured in issue #126. The little boy's romper is made from the same pattern as the previous project, "Jack and Jill's Bibbed Romper" (you can also use the "Jack and Jill's Overalls" pattern). The older boy's button-up bowling shirt is made from Simplicity 5581 (or you can use any short-sleeve camp shirt style you like).

Hemstitching is Hip (left) and No-Pattern T-Shirt Dress

Hemstitching is Hip - Sometimes the simplest details can make all the difference. This floral print blouse for an older girl features a series of box pleats and tucks topped with hemstitching - an embellishment that is both sweet and economical. The pattern used is "Bias & Blooms Blouse" by Kari Mecca, and Amelia Johanson's hemstitched box pleats instructions are in issue #126 and our Heirloom Sewing Favorites for Summer special edition.

No Pattern T-Shirt Dress - Turn a simple, long-sleeve T-shirt into this adorable dress designed by Dawn Wilson in issue #149. The comfort of the knit top combined with a coordinate print creates an easy-wear option for occasions that call for something a bit dressier than play clothes. They're so fun to make, you'll want to whip together a different color combination for every day of the week.

We're hosting a huge “Back-to-School Sale” in our online store! Almost everything is 50 percent off, including the patterns mentioned above! Click here to shop and discover the savings on books, DVDs, embroidery, fabric, laces, trims, notions and more!

We also have 30 specially selected products on sale for $9.14 the entire month of September in honor of National Sewing Month — click here to see a list of products included in this offer!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Exploring Needlework of the Victorian Era

Sewing styles from the Victorian era have always been a major source of inspiration for Martha Pullen Company. From our Vintage Baby and Vintage Collection book series to countless antique reproduction garments, we have spent much of our time studying and recreating the exquisite designs and techniques made popular by sewists in this era. That’s why we are absolutely thrilled to present to you Weldon’s Practical Needlework: Deluxe Edition.

Weldon’s Practical Needlework was a popular Victorian magazine published in England roughly between 1885 and 1915. The go-to source for all things needlework, it offered a variety of technical instructions and projects. This special deluxe edition of the magazine is a box set containing the first six volumes of the series, and each hard-cover volume is comprised of 12 monthly issues. Each volume contains a variety of decorative needlework: smocking, embroidery, patchwork, drawn thread work, appliqué, macramé lace, beadwork, crochet and more.

It is such fun to read through these issues and see how the ideas and projects can be reproduced by today’s sewists. Here is a great excerpt on how to smock a herringbone pattern to give you a taste of what's inside:

In another smocking excerpt, read about the "Child's Smocked Princess Dress" pattern:

This set serves as a historical document and collector’s item that allows you open a window to another time and place as you explore the fascinating history of needlework. Visit our online store to read more about this limited edition set!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Fly Aweigh" with us to a land of "Splendor"!

We are “sew” in love with the Fly Aweigh and Splendor collections from Riley Blake Designs, available in our store! Made of 100 percent cotton, the Splendor collection (designed by Lila Tueller) is fun and feminine, while the Fly Aweigh collection (designed by Samantha Walker) is great for boy’s clothes, home decor or even accessories. Below, we’ve gathered together a few project ideas for you using these fabrics:

Fly Aweigh Lobster

Fly Aweigh Flags

Fly Aweigh Boats
With tiny red lobsters on a white background, this design is perfect for summer! Use it to stitch up a Betsey Apron, placemats, napkins or potholders. It would also look cute on this Reversible Romper for a child, or on a decorative pillow or beach bag.

Add a whimsical splash of color to your projects with this fabric. Featuring little flag designs on a blue background, it can be used to stitch up these "Easy Fit Pants" for a Child or Adult. Or, create a comfy travel pillow for your favorite person on-the-go.

This design has “little boy” written all over it, doesn’t it? With various boat designs speckled on a blue background, this fabric would look great on these Louey Boxers or this Child’s Bowling Shirt. It would also look precious on a baby bubble or romper, or even window curtains or pillows for a nautical-themed bedroom.

These three fabrics also pair together perfectly. Mix and match them on this Tailored Tote to use as a sewing bag or diaper bag. Or, try them on this Boxy Bag to use as a travel tote or makeup bag. The coordination possibilities are endless!

There is so much you can do with these two floral fabrics – one a fun paisley, the other a “ceramic tile” flower design. They would look precious on little girl’s dresses, such as Sew Beautiful classics like Frannie or Summer Separates, or Sis Boom favorites like the Maddie Top/Dress, Molly Peasant or Sophie Tunic. Try one on the Sis Boom Baby Bubble, or make a stylish pair of women’s shorts using the Tommy Boxer Shorts pattern. These also may be used to make fashionable accessories or home décor items and are fabulous for mixing and matching!

What would you make with these fabrics? Let us know in the comments! :)

Splendor Paisley (left) and Splendor Ceramic

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Basics of Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Silk ribbon embroidery is one of the most unique and elegant forms of needlework. Great for embroidering garments, linens, trinkets and more, this age-old art adds romantic and vintage charm to any heirloom project. Below, we'd like to share a couple of ribbon work tutorials from one of the world's true masters of embroidery: Gloria McKinnon.

Gloria is the owner of Anne's Glory Box in Newcastle, Australia and the author of numerous books. She's shared her handwork talents at sewing seminars around the globe, including the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion, as well as on several of our Sew Beautiful instructional DVDs.

NOTE: Silk ribbon widths may be chosen according to size flower or leaf desired. Calico Braided Rug Needles (medium and large) and Mary Arden Leather Needles (sizes 3 to 7) are used for the silk ribbon and thread work embellishment.

Ribbon Stitch

Ribbon Stitch (Japanese Ribbon Stitch)
(4mm, 7mm, and 13mm silk ribbon)
Probably one of the most common silk ribbon stitches, this stitch is simply a straight stitch with a curl at one end.

1. Bring the needle to the front at point A. Lay the ribbon flat against the fabric. Without twisting the ribbon, pierce the ribbon at point B at the desired length of the stitch (figure 1).

2. Pull the needle through to the back until the ribbon begins to curl at the end (figure 2). Keep the tension loose.


(13mm silk ribbon)
This stunning flower takes approximately two yards of silk ribbon. It is made using a ribbon stitch.

1. Stitch one layer of overlapping ribbon stitches (figure 1).

2. Stitch the second layer of ribbon stitches slightly shorter than the first (figure 2).

3. The center may be filled with seed beads or French knots (see figure 2).

The French Sewing Box

Learn more about silk ribbon embroidery and needlework on our newest DVD, The French Sewing Box with Gloria McKinnon. This DVD will show you how to sew a beautiful set of sewing accessories for yourself or a friend as you master gorgeous stitches like silk ribbon fuchsia, chrysanthemums, daisies, asters, lilies, roses and more.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia