Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jo-Ann's iPhone App, Blogger App & Other Stuff

I may be behind the times. In case I'm not the only sewist on the planet who was unaware that Jo-Ann's has an iPhone App with COUPONS, I thought I'd mention it. The lady who cut my fabric purchase today told me about it, so I downloaded it in the checkout line. I was able to use a 50% off coupon, better than the 40% I had in hand. I've included a screen shot of the App.

In other iPhone App news, Blogger recently came out with an App. I am using the new Blogger App for the first time to make this post while waiting in line. I'm not yet sure how well it works, time will tell. As far as I can tell, I can view, edit, or delete any previous posts, in addition to making new posts. I can add pics from my phone's library, or take new ones from within the app. It appears to be pretty basic, but good for a quick post here and there.

In the non-App department, I was overjoyed to receive a new Reliable V50 Iron from the company yesterday. I've not as yet had a chance to use it, but I'll be sure to post about it when I do.

My quick trip to JoAnn's today was only semi-fruitful. I wanted two Vogue patterns, but they had only one. I wanted two particular fabrics, but they had only one. A pretty typical JoAnn's trip..... The bonus though was that I picked up a nice piece of poly/rayon flannel suiting in a deep gray for a Florida winter coat. In general, I find the apparel fabric section at the closest JoAnn's to be rather sparse. Lots of quilting and home dec, though.

I would love to get in some quality sewing time tonight, but I am bone tired. I've learned that when I'm this tired, cooking and sewing don't turn out well. It's looking like a good night to read and relax.

We have a fundraiser on Saturday and a College Fair on Sunday, and lots of life stuff going on this week, so I'm not sure when I'll have time to sew. Hopefully I can sneak some time in before the weekend. ;)

Be well,


****Update:  Edited on the computer to fix the crazy formatting in the post title.  Apparently Blogger doesn't like apostrophes in the title?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

J. Stern Designs Tee: Take II

I loved my first J. Stern Designs Tee so much, and wear it all the time.  It is a great top to run errands, putz around the house, do laundry, exercise - you know, the everyday stuff of life.  This version (blue) is the same fabric as the first (gray), but in a different color, purchased the same day.  However, the blue fabric definitely has more  - come si dice - springiness?  Ok, I am at a loss for the term - it's on the tip of my tongue...  Anyhow, it wears a little more snugly than the first one, but perhaps that will relax after more washings. 

This Tee received a slight FBA, while slightly reducing the size of the upper chest area.  It is a better fit, no doubt.  These tees fit close to the body, and that works for me for wearing them so casually as I do.  

Nice fit at the upper chest with pattern alterations.

I constructed this Tee a bit differently than my first.  Instead of binding the neck and arm openings, I cut 2 of each piece, except the main two body pieces.  I constructed the 2 fronts, then sewed RST and then turned RSO.  The back piece was constructed in the same manner.  The entire top was sewn on my serger, and I coverstitched the hem.  After the rest of the top was completed, I hand stitched the shoulder seams together, a small price to pay for skipping the bindings.  ;)

I plan to make a dressier version of this top with sleeves - for that one I will relax the fit in the body. I ordered some mesh fabric that I love, but didn't love the fabric I ordered to underline the mesh, so this project will have to wait until I find something that complements the mesh fabric.  

As I mentioned in my first post about the J. Stern Designs Tee, Jennifer has a plethora of good information on her blog regarding fit and alterations necessary to change the fit.  Jennifer has a video showing how to sew the Tee step by step here.  So useful if you are new to sewing, or new to knits.  She shows how to relax the fit of the Tee here, which I will do on my "dressier" version.  

Jennifer also has a separate pattern for a Women's size tee, here.  The difference, according to Jennifer's website, is that the original Tee is graded to a 44 1/2" bust with a C cup, and the Women's Tee is more relaxed with D cup room.  The Women's Tee bust measurements listed on the pattern go from 43" at size 16, to 55" at size 24.  Jennifer also says that the shoulder seams are a little wider and the short sleeves are a little longer.  I am planning to purchase the Women's Tee pattern also, as I intend to make at least one for a gift for a friend's mother who is in her mid 80's.  It will be perfect for her to wear around the house and in the garden.  

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Didn't Mean To Do It

First off, thank you to those who left such lovely comments about the bouclè skirt and Threads technique. It really was fun to sew. Haven't worn it yet - a waxing is sorely needed!

So onto today's topic. Really and truly, what I did was unplanned, an impulse. Because it was an impulse from somewhere deep within, I didn't take 'before' pictures. Just trust me when I say it was quite a job. What did I do?

I cleaned my daughter's closet.

There I was, minding my own business, doing laundry. I don't mind doing laundry, but there are laundry rules in my house. "Rules?", you ask? Yes, rules.
1) I don't go looking for laundry. If you want your clothes cleaned, you put your dirties in your own personal dirty clothes basket in the laundry room cabinets.
2) Everyone is responsible for putting away their own laundry. I wash/dry/fold, they put away.

I think I mentioned before that our girl is taking some school trips this year, this weekend being one of those trips. Knowing that she had a busy night last night, I put her laundry away for her. Or, at least I tried. Her closet was so packed with clothes and other stuff, I couldn't fit anything in there. Now, usually we clean out her closet together every summer, but didn't get to it this past summer.

One thing I have often wondered this past year was why my girl was always 'borrowing' my clothes, in particular, running shorts, sweaters, and button down shirts. My clothes are too big for her even! While I was immersed in organizing yesterday, I surmised that it is because my closet is so neat and organized, while hers was, well, a disaster. I ran this thought by her last night and just got a little giggle in return. Hmmmm.

Now generally, my girl is organized and does a decent job of keeping her room neat and clean. Much better than most kids her age. Her school work is always impeccably organized, and her bookshelf is magazine cover ready at all times.

Her closet configuration presents challenges to organization.

The builder (@#%***~!) made a small, walk-in, square closet with 10' ceilings, then proceeded to put the door on - opening INTO the closet. When we bought the house, the door came off day one. The closet itself has a small footprint - definitely designed by a man - and has a wire shelf on the three walls. No built-ins, yet.

Anyhow, back to my cleaning impulse. As I scanned her closet, I saw many things that hadn't been worn in a good while, and I knew would never be worn. So I grabbed sections of clothes and piled everything on the bed, then emptied the rest of the contents - books, hats, scarves, belts, purses, and all kinds of miscellany. Then the closet got a good vacuuming, and the baseboards a good cleaning.

The other day I had picked up a good sized plastic drawer unit at home depot for the studio closet to store and organize sewing supplies and the like. Since it hadn't been filled yet, I moved it into DD's closet. This became home to hats, scarves, accessories, etc.

I sorted through all her clothes, tops first, then bottoms, then dresses. I made a keep pile and a donate pile. This was quick and easy. If I hadn't seen it on her in 6 months, sayonara. The exception was cold weather clothing, which we have little opportunity to wear. She doesn't have much anyway.

When I had pared down the piles, I put all the tops, sweaters, and jackets on one side of the closet, and all of the bottoms and dresses on the other side. In the middle sits the plastic dresser, then I hung her belts from the shelf above the dresser. It looks and feels to be a more efficient system, and it's easier to access the clothes in the back by not having clothes hanging on the middle shelf.

All in all, this was a good exercise for me to do. I've been wanting to get her closet built out, and this gives me a better idea of what will work for her. DD is 'vertically challenged' as she puts it, so I need to buy her one of those fold up wooden stepladders so that she can access the vertical space when I do get it built out. I would love to have this amazing lady build out the closet for me. She is an inspiration, but I will definitely have to hire this out. :-)

Today, a trip to the women's shelter donation center is in order:

The bonus to my accidental closet cleaning? Packing was a breeze for my girl last night.

{I have to be honest and wonder if my attack on my daughter's closet was my way of handling the conflicting mom feelings I'm having about my daughter spreading her wings. This will be her second trip without her dad and me, but a little stepping stone to some more epic trips both domestic and overseas (without us) to come in her life during the next two years. I am both excited for her and a little anxious that she will be away where her dad and I cannot control the circumstances. She's a smart, sensible young woman, and able to fend for herself, so I know she will be fine. She will have such a fabulous time, and whether she realizes it or not, will be exercising her independence muscles. She will be blossoming a little bit more these next several days, expanding her horizons - traveling with school friends, granted with a faculty escort, but without mom & dad. Small steps, preparing herself and her dad and me for when it is time for her to leave the nest. Truly, in so many ways, I am proud of her beyond words.}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Boucle Skirt ~ and ~ The Threads Magazine "Easy to Alter Waistline" Lined Skirt Technique

The boucle skirt is finished, and I am very happy with the result.  Below I will discuss the pattern and changes I made along with the construction technique found in Threads Issue No. 157/Nov. 2011 on page 62.

Pattern:  New Look 6345

Fabric:  Boucle remnant of unknown content, underlined with Pro Woven Fusible interfacing.  Bemberg Ambiance lining fabric in black.

Fashion fabric and lining.
Thread: Sulky 100% Viscose with silk finish in black.   This thread has a silky feel but has good tensile strength.  I liked sewing with it, both on the regular machine and hand sewing.  Poly serger thread was used for edge finishes.

Notions:  9 in. black invisible zipper and a hook and eye, lace hem tape.

Pattern changes/alterations:  This pattern has several skirt views, all with yokes.  I did not want a yoke on this skirt so left it off; plus the technique I was examining works best on simple pencil style skirts with no yoke. Since I was omitting the yoke, I had to refit the skirt to sit a little higher, slightly below the waist where it is comfortable for me.  I also had to add length.  These are simple changes, and I've made this skirt this way before, so I knew it fit.  I just cut generous 1" seam allowances to allow for fit tweaks.  Darts were necessary for a good fit; I place 2 in back and 2 in front. I also pegged the side seams slightly for the bottom 10" of the skirt.  I did not follow the pattern instructions, as I was using the Threads technique.  The pattern does not include lining, but I included one.

Construction order: 
1)  After cutting out the 3 skirt pieces (1 front, 2 back) in both fashion fabric (ff) and lining, I marked all the darts, making sure to place the marks in the same place on both the ff and lining.
2)  Stay stitched across top of all skirt and lining pieces, ss'd down sides for 9" also.
3)  Next I installed the invisible zipper, then sewed up the back center seam, and sewed the cb seam on the lining, leaving an opening for the zipper.
4)  Then I sewed the front ff panel to the lining front panel, right sides together. Next pressed & trimmed seam allowance to 1/4", pressed sa toward lining and understitched.  Repeated to back panel.
5)  Next the darts were sewn in one fell swoop.  I just pinned my darts in place on the ff and lining - they are continuous because of the way the ff and lining were put together in step 4.  The article gives the option of starting in the center and sewing out each dart to the end, but I started at one point and ended at the opposite point with good results.  I would use whatever dart sewing method you're comfortable with.  Darts were pressed to center.
6)  Almost done!  The front and back pieces were pinned with right sides together, ff to ff and lining to lining, so you have two long pieces, one on top of the other.  Here you have to be careful to match up the seamline where the ff is sewn to the lining, and pin well to avoid mismatched seams.  The side seams were sewn up, starting with the ff end and finishing with the lining end.
7)  At this point I finished all my raw edges on the serger.  This can certainly be done earlier, and in future iterations I will likely do so.  To hem the lining fabric, I simply used a 3 thread rolled hem on the serger.  I left extra thread tails on the two side seams and the center back seam to use in attaching the lining to the ff seams.
8)  I hand stitched the lining to the zipper tape. You could do this by machine if preferred. I added a hook & eye above the zipper.
8)  Lastly, the skirt is hemmed by your preferred method.  I used black lace hem tape.
Front skirt panel sewn to front lining panel.

Back skirt with zipper, attached to lining. Note lining opening for zipper.

Skirt front attached to lining front, sa trimmed, pressed up and understitched to lining.

Ready to sew up side seams.
Darts and side seams sewn.

Oops!  Too big... Took up more in rear darts.

Hem finishes on lining and skirt.

Skirt unzipped, showing lining with dart lines.

Side view.

Full front view. I like my skirts mid-knee.
Thoughts on the Threads Technique:
I really like this technique and will use it over and over, whenever I make a pencil skirt.  The idea behind this technique is to make future alterations easier.  I think most women fluctuate in weight and waist girth a fair amount through the years, with hormonal changes, pregnancy, etc.  This technique definitely makes it easy to alter the fit.  If you leave generous seam allowances in place at the ff and lining side seams, you could also let the skirt out quite easily if necessary.  I found the technique to be quick and easy overall.

What I Would Change/Add for Next Time:
As far as the technique is concerned, I would keep it as is.  I would, depending on the fabric used, consider adding a twill tape or grosgrain ribbon at the top of the ff, in the seam.  This is something I do on occasion to prevent stretching.  Stay stitching helps also.  This time I did not add tape or ribbon, for fear it would make the seam too bulky.  Additionally, the ff was fused to woven interfacing, which should help with the stretch factor.  Speaking of the interfacing, all I had was white in the appropriate weight/type.  I would have preferred black, but with the skirt being lined, it's not a big deal.

On the Skirt Pattern and My Fit:
This pattern is a good basic, versatile skirt pattern that has been reviewed many times on Pattern Review.  I have used it before and will use it again.  I feel that I achieved a good fit, however, I may go back and add a couple more small darts in the front.  Initially, I grossly underestimated the dart uptake, and had to go back and increase my back waist dart's size.  It is ever so slightly loose at the front waist, but I want to wear it for a day and see how it feels and wears before I add another dart.  The last time I made this skirt, it was from a really nice stretch twill, which is a more forgiving fabric, and I used 2 sets of small front darts.  I left out the second set of small front darts on this skirt, which as I said, is subject to change. You can see in the side view above a slight pouf at the lower abdomen because it is slightly slipping down at the waist.  This may be a temporary issue as a result of just being sick with the flu-like thing for 10 days, so the jury is out for a week or so as to whether this skirt will get additional front darts.

I enjoyed making my skirt in this manner, and look forward to doing it again.  It will definitely be a TNT method for lining a pencil skirt.  I loved this fabric remnant, and I am pleased it is now a skirt I will enjoy wearing.

Have a wonderful day and be well,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Reliable Customer Service Rocks!

Just a quick post about my iron issues. I received an email this morning from the eBay seller with the phone number for Reliable, along with pertinent info. I called and spoke with a technician, who approved the return and asked me to leave a voice mail with all my info and I would be contacted.

This afternoon I received a call from a woman named Alice in customer service. She was calling from Toronto, Canada, and was very pleasant. We chatted about the issue and I told her how I came to buy a Reliable V50. I mentioned that after researching and reading all the great reviews, some on PR, I was convinced, especially with the 1 year warranty they offer. I also told her that I love the iron and the incredible steam it puts out.

Alice told me she was just going to send me out a new iron, and they would test it before shipping. How fantastic is that?! I am most pleased with the wonderful customer service I received from both the eBay seller and the Reliable company. These days it seems that customer service like that is an outlier, an outlier that I am thrilled to have found.

I am so looking forward to receiving my new iron. I'm pretty sure I'll be a customer of Reliable for life.

Have a wonderful evening,


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another Leaky Iron, and Bouclè Skirt Progress

I've got issues. Iron issues.

The problem:

The Culprit.

This is my 3rd iron purchase in the past year. First one was a Shark, after 6 months, leaking like a sieve. The second, a Rowenta, worst iron I've ever purchased. Third, I recently bought this Reliable off of eBay, from a great seller. The Relaibles had such good reviews. Day 1: leaked off the bat. Gave it a couple more tries - seemed ok. So today I was pressing good fabric, and of course when I skipped the press cloth, it made a mess of my fabric. Ugh.

Other than the leakiness, I love this iron, and so wanted it to be the one! The way it generates steam independent of the temp setting is unlike any iron I've ever used, and makes pressing easier, better, and more efficient. I have a confession to make here - I iron my sheets. And pillowcase. I just love the look and feel. I have a front loader washing machine, and hate the way it wrinkles and twists things together so tight. It wrinkles my sheets, so I iron them. The Reliable V50 just blasts those wrinkles away in no time. (You may be sensing I like to iron - it's an instant gratification thing.) Very cautiously using it tonight while sewing, I was impressed with how it made the fabric behave. The V50 is the boss of the fabric, most definitely.

After drying my tears over the stained teal silk blend fabric, I emailed the eBay seller about the issue. He was most gracious and emailed me back to let me know he would have customer service contact me tomorrow, as it is under warranty. I am very pleased with his prompt response, and look forward to a new V50.

Once I get an iron that does not leak, I will post a full review.

Onto skirt progress. I had planned to sew the bouclè skirt and finish a couple other items hanging about the studio on Saturday, but alas, life got in the way of my studio time again. I got started on it today, and while normally a skirt is a quickie, in this case it is not for a couple of reasons.

First, the fabric - no idea of content - is a loose woven bouclè that I picked off of a remnant table in PA several years ago. It was a nice sized piece, enough for a skirt, with a little leftover for maybe a clutch. Because of the nature of the loose weave, it needed to be fused to interfacing to make it more workable, which if I am correct in my terminology, is also a form of underlining. I laid out my fabric right side down on my worktable, with the interfacing on top, and spot fused, starting in the center and working out. I did just enough spots to prevent the fabric from shifting. I let it cool and rest a bit, then took my time fusing the entire piece. I let it fully cool and dry from all the steam before I cut out my skirt pieces.

Second, I am using a construction order that is new to me, so I am taking my time. (Translation = I sewed in between multiple loads of laundry and cooking both lunch and dinner today, so in actuality had very little sewing time.) The last issue of Threads Magazine - the one with red lace on the front - has a good article regarding construction order of a lined skirt. The gist of the article is to construct the skirt in such a way so as to make future alterations easier. This caught my eye because my weight tends to fluctuate a fair amount, and I've been on a general downward trend for the last 18 months. I also felt that once I am familiar with the construction order, the process will actually be faster. We'll see. So far I really like the way it is coming together. It's too late for me to see well, so I will have to leave the rest for daytime.

Here are a few construction shots:

Back of skirt with zipper installed, back lining sewn to back skirt piece. Opening in lining for zipper.

Front skirt and lining sewn together.

Darts marked, ready for sewing in one continuous dart.

On another note, I was reading a thread on Pattern Review this weekend regarding Bemberg lining. The poster was frustrated and found it difficult to work with, especially after laundering. Personally, I love Bemberg, and in fact am using it to line this current skirt. It is generally my lining of choice. I was wondering if she really had Bemberg lining, or had gotten her hands on an imposter. In using mine today, I was reminded that the name is on the selvedge, so there would be no mistaking it I guess. Have any of you had difficulty with this fabric?
This pic has the blurries - I must learn to hold my phone still while shooting pics!

Hopefully I will have time to finish this up tomorrow while my people are at school and work. However, since we have an early DMV appointment for my daughter to get her learner's permit, I'd better be off to sleep.

Happy Monday to you, and be well.


Friday, September 16, 2011

The Ruffle Skirt

Here it is! I think it will be so cute on my daughter, and I have to thank Vanessa at V and Co. for the inspiration. Vanessa has a great blog, and made a skirt just like this. Imitation being the greatest form of flattery, I ordered the same color fabric. I've been into the grays lately, and my daughter prefers dark colored skirts anyway - and how many black skirts can I make??

This skirt took 30 minutes start to finish. My kind of quick sew! The most time consuming part was matching up the ruffles at the one seam, and pinning each one so they stayed in line. I already had an elastic waistband sewn into a circle, because one day I made a few in my daughter's size for times like this. Boy, was that a great idea. When I sat down at the machine to sew up the skirt, it was already threaded with gray thread - bonus!

It will definitely be too long on her - she's short, and this is the perfect length for me. The really nice thing about this fabric is the no-fray factor. Hemming will consist of snip-snip. Fingers crossed she likes it - she hasn't even seen the fabric...

If you want to make one and need instructions, hop on over to Vanessa's blog where she has a tutorial.

I was looking over my stash tonight, and pulled out a piece of bouclè that is a few years old. If memory serves, it was a remnant I snagged while visiting PA one summer. I've got a lovely piece of Bemberg lining in a complementary color perfect is that? I know what I'll be doing after breakfast on Saturday morn.

And Janlynn, I tossed some thread and fabric scraps on the floor and mussed up the daybed a bit for you!

**If anyone reading this blogs on an iPad, I'm throwing out a question. How do I make the pictures smaller when I post from my iPad? On my laptop, they resize automatically, and it is easy to change the size. Not so much on the iPad. If anyone knows what I'm missing, I'd be grateful if you educate me on this. TIA :)

Have a fantastic weekend,


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ruffle Fabric and a Peek at the Studio

Well hello there! Absentee blogger reporting in. It's been a long, slow week back to the land of the healthy, and I am itching to sew. A good sign, in my world. Sooooo, thanks to the presence of online fabric shops, there was some fabric shopping going on from the sofa. I couldn't resist making a skirt from this ruffled fabric for my daughter after seeing it here on V and Co.

The fabric arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It's a poly/lycra blend, and semi-sheer if you lift the ruffles as the pictures below show. I will have to dig through the stash to find something to use as a lining. I wish I had a simple charcoal colored voile to cut on the bias, as I love the comfort factor of voile linings, especially in our heat. ***This may necessitate more fabric shopping.

A peek at the studio while it's clean!

Right before the back-to-school contagion from hell hit me, I had a dear friend from out of town stop in for a couple of days. Since the sewing room doubles as guest quarters, I had to make the room presentable. It's a good thing I get company from time to time! But really, I love my studio neat. I find I am more creative in neat surroundings.

I made that bright pillow on the center of the bed last week - before the contagion from hell - out of Ikea fabric.  It has a lapped zipper in the back at the bottom.  I like to put zippers in pillow covers so I can change them out when the mood strikes - they take up a whole lot less space that way.
See that cord peeking out in front of the dust ruffle?  Electric blanket.  Sometimes I sit and sew here and like my tootsies warm.

No peeking behind the curtain! Seriously, I need to do some organizing under there. Curtains are great for hiding the unsightly, aren't they?

Ready for action.

So, with fresh fabric and a clean space, hopefully the hum of sewing machines will soon be heard. In addition to the ruffle skirt, I'd like to give the J. Stern Tee another go, this time with fit tweaks.

I hope you are having a great week, with lots of sewing going on.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, September 10, 2011


Lately, it feels as though every form of contagion that has drifted my way has attacked me with vigor. Today my latest bout brought to mind this poem from one of my daughter's favorite childhood books.


by Shel Silverstein

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

I turned the corner last night, and spent much of the day sleeping today. I plan to do a little blog reading while sipping coke and nibbling on saltines, then perhaps watch a movie or two.

My family has been so sweet and caring. The husband went to the store at 6am today to buy coke, ginger ale, and bread for toast, then brought me up a breakfast tray with my first (and only) cup of coffee in two days. Crystal sat by my bed, lying her little head on the edge of the bed and looking up at me, in that sweet way that dogs have perfected to melt their people's hearts. For her loyalty, she was rewarded with bits of toast.

I haven't been downstairs since Thursday evening, but had to chuckle earlier today when I heard my husband below say to my daughter, "Come on, let's get this place in some sort of order." Much clanging of dishes and loudness and silliness ensued thereafter, with some action flick blaring on the TV. Two peas in a pod, those two are, always a source of entertainment.

The husband slow smoked a pork shoulder on the Big Green Egg today, and while the homey scents wafting upstairs are tantalizing, I cannot partake. It is always reassuring, though, to see how independent the two of them are when the need arises.

I have been thinking that perhaps I should take up some hand craft like crochet or needlepoint. I used to cross-stitch and do needlepoint back in the day - I learned it in home-ec freshman year of high school. Mom taught me to knit when I was very young, but I never learned to crochet. Do any of you crochet? Seems like it would be nice to have something to do to keep my hands busy during down times, and while watching movies.

Hoping that you are all having a wonderful, healthy weekend!

I'll be back in the saddle again soon, just in time for a new fabric order to arrive, methinks!

Until then,


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Versatile Tee Pattern

Good Morning!  While I am lusting over other bloggers talking about FALL and sewing for FALL,  I am still sweating and sewing for SUMMER.  One day, 6 or 7 weeks from now, we will wake up to a chilly morning, and I can't wait.  But for now, I'm still thinking warm weather wear.

I purchased the J. Stern Designs Pattern No. 0041, "The Tee" recently, and made it up this past weekend.  Jennifer is most gracious with all of the information she provides on her website(s) regarding fitting and alterations, and included a note with the pattern to email her if I had any questions or needed help.  Great perks to go along with Jennifer's patterns.  Just as an aside, I think we are all programmed to wait for pattern sales on the Big 4 pattern companies to make our purchases.  J. Stern's patterns aren't available for $1.99 or $4.99 pattern sales, but I found the pattern and the plethora of information Jennifer has out there to be a good value.

This was my first experience with one of Jennifer's patterns, and I look forward to trying her other patterns.  My review from PR follows the pictures.  Keep in mind that this is a wearable muslin, and I will discuss fit issues below the review.

A hint of tugging at full bust, too big at high bust.

Side seam pulling to front indicating more room needed at full bust.

A little too big at upper back/shoulders.

Seated pic shows more pulling at bust, and too much fabric above.

I think it looks too wide at the upper back.

Again, tugging at bust, too much fabric above.

Pattern Description: Fitted tee with unique seam detail above the bust. Sleeveless, short sleeve, and 3/4 length sleeve options. Shirttail hem.

Pattern Sizing: XS - XXXL. I made the XXXL, basing it on my full bust measurement, which is not what I usually do. This pattern also comes in larger sizes.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except I made the sleeveless option.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy. The pattern designer, J. Stern, has a video series on Vimeo and on Sawyer Brook Fabrics where she walks through the sewing of a tee. It's great for new sewists, or those uncomfortable with knits. She also has extensive information for altering the tee on her website.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like this pattern a lot. Even though it is a tee shirt, I see it as being very versatile. I made a sleeveless tank to wear while exercising. I also like that it came very close to a perfect fit out of the envelope, which is very rare for my figure. It is also a fast, easy top to make.

My one dislike: The pattern is printed on thin tissue, similar to the big 4 patterns. Since there is such a large size range, it is somewhat difficult to discern the cutting lines and markings on the smaller pieces, most particularly on the side front piece. I felt that this would be easier to read if this pattern piece was printed 2 or 3 times on the tissue, with different size groupings, ie, XS - S - M, L - XL, and XXL - XXXL.

Fabric Used: Poly 'Ponte' Knit from Hancock's

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: No changes made. I wanted to make a wearable muslin to see how this would fit straight from the envelope. The next time, I will do a slight FBA, and take in the neckline front and back, as well as take in the high bust area. I have a 9" difference between full and high bust measurements, and the picture shows where it is too big in the upper bust area, with an ever so slight tug at the full bust.
Alternatively, I could use a smaller size pattern and just do a larger FBA. Six of one, half dozen of the other, I guess. Since I already traced the XXXL, I will likely do the former.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I intend to sew it again, and will likely make several versions. I will definitely tweak the fit for next time. I highly recommend it to others.

Conclusion: This is really a great pattern that I can see myself sewing over and over. I have plans for at least a couple more very soon. It sews up so quickly and easily on either a regular machine or serger, although I mostly used my serger.
Because of all the information that J. Stern has put on her website - basically any and all alterations one would need, I feel that this is a great pattern for new sewers, or those that are not yet comfortable with alterations. It gives added value that one normally does not get with other patterns. 

I wore this tee for an entire day.  While wearing it, I sewed, cooked, cleaned, did laundry, watered and pruned the plants on the patio and rearranged the patio furniture, and ran to the market.  It was very comfortable all day.  I definitely want more!

As I noted in my review, I chose this pattern based on the size closest to my full bust, which is contrary to my usual practice.  This fits me much like RTW tees that I purchase at Target, typically in a XXL or 1X for the bust fit, but too big above the bust, although this is more fitted in the body.  I will tweak the fit for my next version, to include an FBA and to decrease the size of the upper back and upper chest.  On Jennifer's website, she recommends to cut the size of the upper pieces one smaller than the lower pieces if your full bust is > 2" larger than your high bust.  My full bust is 9" greater than my high bust, so I will do that, but also will likely need to take in the neckline more by darting it out of the pattern piece.  Jennifer explains this well on her blog, and includes pictures.  

Jennifer also gives excellent instructions for relaxing the fit of her tee pattern here if you have what she calls a 'happy belly'.  Since my exercise mojo has been nonexistent for the last few weeks, I am quickly seeing the return of my happy belly, so I may need to relax the fit if I don't get busy!  However, I like this tee as an exercise top, and for that I like it to fit snug, happy belly and all.  I think when I make a 'dressier' version, I will relax the belly fit.  ;)

I am looking forward to applying the fit tweaks I need and making another.  And another.  

Hope you all are having a wonderful week, a short one here in the US.  Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cavatelli and a JoAnn's Excursion

Last week my lovely daughter turned 16.  While we went out for dinner at her favorite chophouse, traditionally we have a family dinner.  The grandparents were sick, so we had the big dinner today.  The birthday girl requested Cavatelli, which some also refer to as Gnocchi.  Cavatelli is pasta made from ricotta cheese and flour, +/- an egg or two if the ricotta is on the dry side.  I've seen many recipes on the interwebs, but I make them like my mother and grandmother taught me when I was young.  I think it is one of those regional things where different areas have different recipes.

Hubby kneading the dough.

The dough rolled out.

The dough going through the Cavatelli maker with lots of flour.

A pan of Cavatelli ready for the freezer.
I made 5 pans like the one above.  What I did not cook today will remain in the freezer until we want some again.  It is possible to make these without a machine, but the hand crank machine is faster.

Yesterday I made a massive pot of sauce with meatballs & sausage.  A dish of cavatelli smothered in sauce is one of my most favorite foods.  I don't have a picture of the lovely pillows of pasta smothered in sauce because we were too excited to eat.  Maybe tomorrow - because there will be more.  ;)

The JoAnn's Excursion.

Boy, were they busy this morning!  I accompanied a friend this morning to help pick out fabric to recover sofa cushions on an old sofa she is sending to live with her son in his college apartment.  (We were taking advantage of the extra 10% off coupon in the  flyer.)  He is a Seminole, so we chose a nice outdoor fabric in black with a diamond textured pattern.  We also found 'Noles fleece for a blanket, and 'Noles quilting cotton for some throw pillows.  The upholsterer is doing the seat cushions, and I am making the fleece throw and the pillows.  I asked my friend how big she wanted the throw, to which she replied, "Only big enough to cover one person."  Spoken like a mom!  LOL, since the fabric is 60" wide, my dear friend, I regret to inform you that it'll be cozy for two.  ;)

I just loved fabric shopping with a friend!

Well, dinner and dessert (that's another post) have been eaten, the dishes all done and put away, and my doggies are barking!  Goodnight, and enjoy the rest of the weekend.  My labor has been done, so hopefully sewing will follow tomorrow.