Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March MADEness!

March MADEness! No, it's not a typo!!

It's not exactly madness at the Midnight Oil Smockers' meetings and we're certainly not playing basketball, but we do manage to get a lot of smocking and sewing done. (Hence the MADEness title!)  Finishing garments or other projects makes one feel like a winner every time. This month was no exception! 

Peg Pocket Dress Sew-in

Our first gathering of the month was on Saturday, March 18, when a few members met at Quiltworks to continue our progress on the Peg Pocket Dress, which was the featured garment of a Trisha Smith class in February. It's always the hope that a dress will get finished at one of these sew-ins, and perhaps if we didn't have such a great time visiting with each other, we might get more done. Of course, a lot of the fun in creating treasures is the actual process of doing them, and being able to do that with friends may slow things down a bit, but it certainly adds richness to the periods of sewing. 

Leslye led the group of sewers, and thankfully she brought the dress from her 1st Peg Pocket Dress class with Trisha. (She's now taken the class twice, lucky lady!) Having this dress to study really helped when one of the chapter members would get stumped by the pattern directions.

 Laura, hard at work on the bodice of her dress.

 Leslye is SO helpful, and she organizes these sew-ins. Every group needs someone like her!
 Juli is working away on her dress.

 Trena's work space. She gave us a refresher course on how to make a "hot dog" hem. (Look it up on Youtube!)

 Joanne is always cheerful! But when you're spending the day sewing with friends, why wouldn't you be?

Perhaps Susanna is thinking through the old saying, "Measure twice, cut once"?

Trena, trimming her piping. Having the right tools makes any job easier!

Lunch Recommendation: Trena, Laura and Denise took a break at lunchtime and headed to The Backyard Grill on Jones Road, which is a few doors down from Quiltworks. What a great place!! We highly recommend it.

March Monthly Meetings

Morning Monthly Meeting Program: Needles

 Leslye presented a fabulous program on needles. She explained the difference between needle names and sizes, as well as manufacturers. Her examples were extremely helpful and her handouts were very informative.
The consensus: We're all going to be looking for Tulip needles! They sound wonderful.

 The needle guide she handed out to each of us. Thanks to Wendy Schoen for giving permission for Lesley to hand these out to all of the MOS members.
Cathy made and distributed neat little needle holders that were the size of matchbooks.
(Photo coming soon) Thanks Cathy!!

Evening Meeting: Sergers

 Kathleen, the owner of the Sugar Land Sewing School, presented the evening meeting on the use of sergers. Her tips and guidelines were incredible! She is one talented seamstress, and she makes her techniques sound so easy. Everyone left determined to dust off their serger (or go buy one) and get started on sewing more projects.

 Brenda and Teresa listen and learn from Kathleen while having a good time doing so. 

Thanks to Lana and Bill at It Seams To Be Sew for letting us meet at their shop. They are great hosts! 

Coming soon!
March Sew & Share: Boy Challenge, UFO/Stashbuster entries & lots of other beautiful garments.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

WeeCare Gowns.....Because We Care!

February chapter meeting: 
WeeCare Workshop

February's monthly meeting was postponed because of inclement weather, but that didn't stop the Midnight Oil Smockers from showing up a week later than planned. Chapter members got to work on the group's philantropy: WeeCare gowns. These gowns are bereavement clothing for those sweet children that are either stillborn or don't survive to leave the hospital after being born. Sad? Yes. Comforting to those that use them? Absolutely. Knowing that, the chapter members lovingly construct and smock these sweet little gowns and bonnets for those parents that will need them in a very dark time of their lives.

Step 1: Cutting the fabric

We use Imperial Batiste fabric, which is a cotton/poly blend, and is a mainstay in the smocking world. It is a light fabric that has a wonderfully soft hand, yet is firm enough to pleat and smock easily. We begin by using a tried and true pattern to cut the fabric. The pieces are put in plastic bags for organization's sake. These then move on to the 2nd step. (This picture also shows Step 3 in the back: Ironing.)

Step 2: Beginning Construction

Members begin the construction process by sewing together the two back panels, the two sleeve scythes, and the front panel.

Although we take these projects very seriously, we don't take ourselves that way. There is always a lot of fun banter between members, as shown here by Nikki and Roberta. Barbara, wisely, is laughing, but staying out of the discussion! Somehow, we manage to get a TON of work done while having a great time doing it.
After this first construction step is finished, the gowns are sent ready for:

Step 3: Ironing (See picture above)
The gowns are pressed and readied for pleating.

Step 4: Pleating

The ironed gowns are rolled on wooden dowels and fed through the pleater, which pushes a set amount of needles carrying thread through the top of the gown.

For an interesting article on the fluter, the precursor to the pleater, read The Fluter Iron: Forerunner of the Smocking Pleater, by our own Tawn Hunka. You can find the article in the November 2016 issue of SagaNews (vol. 37 Issue 4).

Next Steps:
After this step, the gowns are either sent home with chapter members to be smocked or they are sent back to Construction to have the seams and hems completed. The gowns can be smocked when construction is completely finished, if preferred.

Once the gowns are smocked and all construction is completed, they are again ironed and packaged with a caring note to the recipient, then delivered to the Houston, TX area hospitals that give them to the families that need them.

Many Hands Make Light Work!
That old saying certainly holds true for the Midnight Oil Smockers. At the February WeeCare Workshop, 71 gowns were prepared for smocking, while 94 more were in some phase of the process when the workshop ended. 165 gowns is quite an achievement, but when you care about

 these families as much as the MOSmockers do, it's not work, it's a delight!

Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 18     Sew-in for Trisha Smith class/UFOs
                                                       Quiltworks 9 AM - 4 PM
                                                       Work on completing the Trisha Smith Peg Pocket dress or any
                                                        other UFO you have

Monday, March 20      March monthly meeting
                                                       Day meeting: Tracy Gee Comm. Center 10 AM - Noon
                                                       Night meeting: It Seams to be Sew 7 PM - 9 PM
                                                       March Challenge: Boys Will Be Boys!!

Remember: Keep smocking and creating, but most of all, keep smiling. Life's too short to spend it with a frown!