Archive for 2013

Last Minute 2013 Sewing...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I have been a busy bee the last couple of days.  I wanted to finish up some projects that I had promised for 2013.  My sweet niece, Carmen, always talks about her aunt who is going to make her a pair of pajama pants and a matching pair for her American Girl doll.  Well, I did it yesterday!

Pajama Pants


It all came together nicely since my fabric shop had a sale on flannel (I sort of went crazy for pj bottoms) and I used free patterns!  For super simple pajama bottoms for children, Create Kids Couture has a pattern called Taylor's Pajama Pants, sizes 12 months to 8!  They have many fabulous clothes, tutorials, and patterns.

Taylor's Pajama Pants is versatile, easy, and I have used this pattern over and over again.  If your fabric is prepped, this pattern comes together in a jiff.  In fact, it comes together so quickly I didn't stop at one pj bottom.  I made one for my son and had previously made two for my friend's children for Christmas.  I really love this pattern.



In my haste, I accidently cut the pattern upside down on my son's Star Wars flannel.  He didn't seem to mind.  He said, "It's ok.  When I look down at my pants, they will be looking at me!"










Pants for Dolls


What really was a difficult was making clothes for dolls!  Oh my, oh my -- I realized after I had made pants for an 18" doll that those who sew doll clothes have a healthy supply of patience.  I, on the other hand, do not possess this.

The free pattern I found was from Milo Mila.   The fabric amount is minimal (Go figure!) and the hardest part was dealing with the smallness of everything.  If you are in need of doll patterns, this is the place to go.

Free Pants Pattern 
Image via Milo Mila

By no means were my doll pj pants perfect, but I think my niece will be excited to have a matching outfit!



 Oh Heavens -- The Laurel Disaster


I figured since I was on a roll -- well, why not make a top for New Year's Eve.  I have been wanting to make Colette's Laurel top version for a while.  I even had the pattern cut and ready to go.  I dove right in yesterday with some fabric in my stash.

Everything was going so smoothly.   This should have been my clue that this experiment was headed for disaster.  I used the pattern size 0 since that is what I used in my Sorbetto top and failed Peony.   I didn't even do a muslin because, well, why would I?  Zero fit before.

Ummm, I must have gained a ton of weight over the last week or this pattern runs small (I am guessing it is the latter).  I sewed the sucker up and when I went to try it on, I could barely get the thing over my head.  And when I did, I wouldn't want to ever have a picture of that!  It took a lot of wiggling and my help from my husband.





I lowered the neckline so it had more of a scoop shape and added 2 inches to the length.  But my ill-fated try-on revealed a gap in the back.   At least I used up some of stash...

Sooooo, I am going to quickly bind the neckline and hem this to send it to my niece for dress-up.  I'll probably cut a size 4 pattern next and take in where needed.  I will also have to fix the gap at the back by adjusting fit through the shoulders.  

Happy New Year!




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2014 Sewing Resolutions

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Gillian at Crafting-a-Rainbow had the great idea of urging sewing-bloggers to share their Top 5 Hits, Misses, Reflections, Inspiration, and Goals of 2013.  I have read lots of amazing posts and know that many bloggers are starting with their hits or misses.  Off the top of my head, I can think of one garment that I have worn over and over again so I figured it best to start with my goals for 2014.  

Top 5 Sewing Goals for 2014.

1.  Participate in The Monthly Stitch.  I know this will be a challenge.  It seems that between my work (I am a college professor and also a 1/2 time admin which means semesters tend to be a tad busy!), spring soccer, and the hubby's work, balancing sewing and blogging are a difficult.  Look at what happened during the Fall 2013 semester -- I did not come up for air until winter break!  I could never do a weekly challenge but a month...well, I will make an effort to work on that.  Plus it is nice having other sewing enthusiasts to cheer you on....

2. Make a Cape.  The cape bug bit me and now I want one.  Bad.

3.  Conquer my fear of sewing with knits.  The stretch, the special stitches, everyone's own unique technique -- ah, knits frighten me.  It is ironic because my first sewing project was a knit T-Shirt as a pre-teen and if my mom could teach me that, well, it gives me confidence to try on my own.  I bought some lovely knit fabrics and they are waiting to be used.   First up is Megan Nielsen's Briar.    Then if I am adventurous and I can find the right fabric: The Bombshell Swimsuit.

4.   Make a pair of pants.  It seems silly but a dress is rather forgiving if your fit is not perfect.  But a pair of pants...that means you could travel down a highway of fashion follies and not to mention that you could make your bottom look incredible bad.  It also means getting real about your waist size and hip size.  For me, that means learning to perfect pattern grading as my waist and hips always fall between two pattern sizes.

5.   Sew something for my husband.  I sew for myself.  I sew for my son.  I even sew for others but so far I have not made anything for my husband (I sound like a bad wife).  I keep telling him I will make pajamas for him but I think he has given up.  I need to restore his faith and make him something fabulous.

Here is to the 2014 experiments!

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Winter Dress

Friday, December 27, 2013





I would never call my style vintage.  I have a hodge-podge collection of clothes that make me smile whether it is an old t-shirt or a sleek dress.  I am not as stylish as Tilly or as awesome as Gertie, but I know what I like.  I will admit that I am drawn to vintage silhouettes -- there is something romantic, beautiful, and womanly.

When the Sew Weekly Reunion ended, I wanted to find a project to use a blue peacock fabric and to fill a hole in my wardrobe.  Since I moved to Louisiana, where it is warm most of the year, I suddenly find myself with a lack of Fall/Winter dresses (rather, clothes!).  I specifically love dresses because in the morning when it is chaotic (I have a six year-old who will soon to be 7 in 2014!), I can throw on a dress with shoes and a touch of mascara and be ready for the day. Whew!  That sounds like some silly marketing tagline.  It is true because if I have to match some separates then I will linger in my closet, contemplate outfit ideas, try on outfits, throw them on the bed, and generally waste time.

In the spirit of vintage dress patterns, I began to make Vogue 8615 in September.

V8615


Ooohhh, September was soooo long ago -- sorry for the delay.  I had the bodice sewn together in the fall and over the last week I have been sewing the skirt panels and finishing the dress.  All final touches were done yesterday.  It was all very last minute: inserting the zipper and hemming.  I wanted to complete the dress so that I could wear it to dinner at Restaurant CottonMy wonderful friend had a birthday celebration last night (She is the gorgeous gal in the maroon cowl neck sweater!).


I used a size 10 pattern and there are obvious goof-ups (You can see how the bodice is loose fitting in the above picture).  I should have started with a 8 at the bust and graded up to a 10 at the waist. Overall, I am happy with the result.  I would call this a wearable muslin.  I used Gertie's method to narrow hem a circle skirt which means that my dress form came in quite handy.



I lined the bodice and opted not to line the skirt but when I do this all over again, I will line the skirt and not the bodice.  I also used an exposed zipper in a very different color for contrast.  The construction and the directions of the pattern were very straightforward.


 I did get tulle so maybe I will make an underskirt to add some flounce.



The dress and the birthday celebration were a success! 



It is a shame that my husband did not get more of my fabulous pink shoes in these photos!









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Hello....again?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The semester is over.  Finally. 

It was hectic and I am very sad to admit that I accomplished no sewing projects.  It was hard to find time between work demands and being a mom.  My New Year's resolution is to sew a project each month.

My poor Singer has been lonely.   No sewing but within the last month, I have gotten a little crafty.  For a Saturday project after Thanksgiving, my son and I made an advent wreath.  We headed to Hobby Lobby with the intent of finding an actual evergreen wreath and corresponding candles, but when we got there, my son found a red platter and round candles.  We improvised with details like sparkly jewels and evergreen to lay around the candles. 

I do find the holiday season invigorating.  I have sung in a choir holiday concert, watched Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and baked an obscene amount of cookies.  




To reboot and get inspired, I have planned Christmas presents for family and that means serious sewing time when I can fit it in.  My husband (and my Singer!) can attest that I enjoy sewing and it feels really good to be back sewing.

Here is a preview of a few things:


I am excited because I am starting on my first entry for the Monthly Stitch.   I mentioned above about my New Year's resolution and I think this is the perfect motivation.  I had joined the collective in September but, alas, have not gotten around to sewing or posting.


The Monthly Stitch

My local fabric shop had a massive sale and I grabbed black tulle.  The theme this month is 'Party!'.  I plan on making a tulle skirt with a red silk belt for the holiday season.   I also plan on finishing the dress I was working on in September. Hopefully, I find the time -- the holidays can be so busy!

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Vintage Inspiration

Friday, September 6, 2013






Isn't she gorgeous?

The 1940s and 1950s were all about glamor.  I think my grandmother exudes it.  I have always enjoyed looking though the old black and white photos of my family. I can thank my mother for that.  My mother keeps our family history alive through pictures and stories.   My grandmother (we called her Nanny) always seemed to be romantically dressed and incredibly beautiful. 



I want to make a coat inspired by my grandmother's above .  I have been scouring Estate Sales, consignment shops, yard sales for vintage patterns to recreate my grandmother's posh look.  My paternal grandparents were on the radio and hosted a plethora of radio shows before the rise of the television.  Because of their profession, they encountered many stars and tended to be glamorous.  Here is a picture of my grandfather with Louis Armstrong.




I have two sewing goals for the month of September.  I am going vintage for The Monthly Stitch with a dress inspired by grandmother.  I have several vintage patterns to choose from and a fabulous peacock print fabric.  I want modern vintage -- it needs that vintage flair but also encompass a decidedly modern point of view.  I am going to use Vogue V8615:  the shorter version with 3/4 sleeves.




          

I also have a dear friend who is going to do a sew along with me.  We are using Butterick Pattern B5930.   We spent a good hour last week in our local fabric shop and she fell in love with several fabrics.  Picky me still has not found the right fabric for this so I will probably finish later this month.  I have traced and cut each of these patterns.  I am worried about time since I like to make a muslin of the bodice for correct fit.

 

I am determined to finish my two projects no matter how hectic the month gets.  So, raise you glass (or tip your shears), here is to a good month of sewing!


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Pantone Challenge

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Sew Weekly Reunion
In the spirit of the Sew Weekly posts, here we go with my finished product:

The Facts

Fabric: Cotton for shirt; unknown blend for skirt - estate sale finds for $1 each
Pattern: Simplicity 2215 (from the swap!), Sorbetto from Colette Patterns
Year: 2012
Notions: Zipper, hook and eye, and bias tape (from swap!)
Pantone Challenge colors: Acai and Samba
Time to complete: Skirt: 3 hours and Shirt was about 2 hours
First worn: Lunch then shopping at outdoor market
Wear again: Skirt is a maybe, shirt is a definite
Total cost: $2

Sooooo, my Sew Weekly Reunion pattern swap partner graciously sent me the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity Pattern 2215.  I love it!  Specifically, I dig the skirt.  And it only requires 1.5 yards (Say what?? ...What?... I know, a great way to reduce my fabric stash).


What was even better was that tucked away in my stash was about 2 yards of a Samba colored cotton and several yards of a patterned unknown blend of Acai color.  All thrifted. Woot-woot!  Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge is on.



Do you ever have an idea that it is absolutely fabulous in your head and when it comes to fruition it is not at all like you imagined?  This is exactly what happened to me with the Cynthia Rowley skirt.  I should have known.  I am petite and lots of pleats, well, I get lost in them.   In order to compensate for the poof around my bum and hips, I shortened the skirt a little and tacked down some of the pleats at the bottom.  Did it help?  Only a little.  Despite the mounds of pleats, it turned out lovely.




I am a fan of Simplicity patterns:  the directions were straightforward and the pattern is fun (with pockets!!).  I think next on the next go 'round I will make the dress version of this pattern.  It will be a good fall/winter addition since you can wear a turtleneck or button-up underneath. 





On a final note, I happened on the Sew Weekly blog when I became more serious about sewing.  I love(d) reading the Sew Weekly Blog posts because of the inspiration and knowing that other sewers in the blog world take risks.  More importantly, all of the bloggers enjoy sewing, the challenges it brings, and the reward of awesome garments!  I was glad to be part of the Sew Weekly Reunion challenge. 

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The 'Firework' Walkaway Dress

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I did it.  I made the B4790 -- Butterick's famous walkaway dress.  I had traced and cut the pattern weeks ago but I kept looking at pictures on other blogs of people who had made it.  I was drawn to the simplicity of the pattern and the allure of a project that could be finished in an afternoon (What was I thinking !?! Projects for me rarely turn out as planned).

One thing was certain -- the right fabric was key to making this dress.  The wrong fabric could send the dress to no-man's land.  I am particularly sensitive to fabric choices since I made Simplicity 2147.  It is a simple tunic dress and I choose what I thought was this cute patterned fabric:  light blue with simple, small flowers.  I was mortified when I asked my husband what he thought and his response was it looked like I was in the hospital.  In fact, he pretended to check for fever.  I still bring this up with him, "Please tell me I don't look like I am wearing a hospital gown!"  But I would rather have honesty than platitudes.

Bearing all that in mind, it took while to find a fabric that I liked -- for 5 yards of required fabric, I wanted to find something fab.  I wanted to avoid looking like I was wearing 
(1.) a hospital gown or 
(2.) a drape or  
(3.) a sheet or 
(4.) a nightgown. 

Looking at the photos of all the lovely Walkaway Dresses, I wanted to find a patterned fabric that was subtle but did not fall into the color range that would qualify it as any of the aforementioned no-no's.  After wandering around several fabric stores (which if you saw me, it would appear rather aimless), I choose a cotton blend that had enough drape to make the skirt swooshy (Is that a word?!) with a lovely red firework print.  


This dress is cleverly designed and really easy to put together which is why it got its name.  I love the drawings on the pattern envelope but I found that when I began to line the neckline with bias tape, it looked 'homemade'.  Don't get me worng, homemade is fine.  I really like bias tape (I love making it in quirky prints and colors!) and use it in all sorts of things.  Just not here.  I instead used the bias tape as a facing, folded it under and stitched.





Hemming a circle skirt is a giant pain in the rear.  I did not use buttons (or snaps)  as suggested but instead made it tie in the middle.  In the end, I was disappointed.  The dress had (or has) potential and I do like it but it fits funny around the ribcage.  It seems loose in the shoulders, tight in the ribcage, and loosens back up below your waist.  The tightness in the ribcage prompted me to get rid of the buttons and go with something that would allow a little more ease.


If I do it again, I will probably start with a larger size bodice and take in as needed.  





So much for 'Fireworks'!  Part of the fun of sewing is trying something new.  On the plus side, I can learn from my mistakes and know how to adjust for the next go-round (That is the teacher in me -- cheering on the frustrated). 

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Sew Weekly Reunion

Sunday, August 4, 2013


The Sew Weekly Reunion challenge is posted and I am excited.


The Sew Weekly Reunion


The Pantone challenge: this seasons colors are rich, jewel-toned, and earthy.  The direction one could take is endless.   As soon as I read the challenge, I looked through my fabric stash but nothing is inspiring me.  I have a  couple of patterns I want to sew but these will required the right fabric.  The right fabric for me is both visually and texturally appealing.  I am always wondering through the fabric store touching visually interesting fabrics.  If it feels yucky then nothing, not even the color or pattern, can convenience me it is worth it.  I can spend a lot of time in my little fabric store.

 



I traced and cut two patterns this week but didn't get to sew.  I planned to work on the muslins of these dresses however life gets busier once the semester draws closer.  But I did score at an Estate Sale this week -- vintage fabric and notions! For $10, I purchased a new Simplicity Bias Tape Maker which will come in handy with my sewing project this week.


On my sewing table this week is Butterick's 4790 Walk-Away Dress.  It has gotten some bad flack but I think it has potential.  There are some really cute versions that ladies have done: here, here, and here.




Here's to a good week of sewing!





This is what my wonderful swap partner sent.  It is perfect.

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The 'Steady As She Goes' Sorbetto Blouse

Saturday, July 27, 2013


When I renewed my interest in sewing, I found Colette's Sorbetto blouse pattern and whipped up one.  It was free, the directions were straightforward, and there were variations galore -- so what was not to like? I liked it so much that I bought some sheer black cotton lawn and black poly blend to make a Sorbetto.   I started this project at the beginning of the year.  But as a semester usually goes (I teach science at a university), I get busy and it got buried underneath new projects and fabrics.

Gearing up for the start of the school year, I wanted to complete some crucial projects to supplement my school year wardrobe.  To top that, I was nudged by the Pattern Review UFO contest.  The decision was made in an instant and it was an easy no-brainer: complete my Sorbetto.


UFO (UnFinished Object)

Since the pattern pieces were laid out and cut well before.  All I really had to do was put my own spin on the Sorbetto and sew it up. Guess what popped up on my Ipod when I started to sew? The Raconteurs' Steady as She Goes and I knew I had my inspiration.  I need a Steady As She Goes blouse to conquer the school year. I choose to add 3/4 sheer sleeves instead of short sleeves which I had intended so that I could wear it in the Louisiana winter. I also omitted the center pleat.  I made some bias tape for the neckline out of a fat quarter of quilting cotton and sewed the sucker up.



Viola!  The Steady As She Goes Sorbetto Blouse



Look at the little guy in the picture above -- he wanted his picture too!


Onward to a new semester!

 

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The 'Mysterious Ways' Dress

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mysterious Ways Dress:  McCall's M6741 Pattern Review

So it's true and long overdue:  U2 has a new album coming out!  I happened upon this little bit of fabulous information and it became inspiration (well, considering I have been listening to U2 for the past couple of days and I happened upon a tie-dyed green 100% cotton -- a rock inspired dress was lurking in there somewhere!).  As I began to sew, U2 was the perfect companion to rock out with while sewing a new dress!  I choose McCall's M6741 from my pattern stash. 







It was girly (which is right up my alley) but I could make it a bit edgy.  After a muslin and several hours of work, the Mysterious Ways dress was born.

Check it out:






This was the first McCall pattern I have completed.  It was just okay.  I really like the pattern but not the directions.   I changed things heavily to reflect what I envisioned.  I did not cut two panel pieces for front, instead I cut the fabric on a fold.  I also decided on a square neckline with a pleat down the middle of the dress.  I omitted the lining mainly because I was lazy and unsure how things would shake out in the end.    I also did a fancy embroidery stitch at the hemline of the skirt for contrast.





Pattern Description:
Princess seam dress - fitted at top with a flared skirt.

Pattern Sizing: 8 - 16.  I cut the pattern in a size 8 and had to modify.

 
Time to Complete: 5-7 hours


Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? For the most part -- I did change things up a bit. 







Were the instructions easy to follow?

Ughh!  I was not a fan of the directions.  I used them a guide and went with my gut for most of it. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the shape.  It is very flattering and with panels you can play with texture and color combinations.  The skirt is swirly -- fantastic.




Fabric Used: 100% green cotton.


Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I added a long pleat down the middle, changed the neckline to a square design (not too happy with the stitching around the neck but it works).  I must have taken the dress in by 3+ inches to fit my waist.


Would you sew it again?  Most likely with many alterations.  I had to take in inches at the waist to fit.


Would you recommend it to others?  Only the adventurous ones.

 
Conclusion:   Not my favorite dress.  I guess time will tell how often I wear this.

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