Thursday, October 31, 2013

October's Sewing

Hi there, another month done, can you believe it??  I pledged last month to sew a garment a month, when SarahLiz set up the challenge.  You can read about it over at SarahLizSewStyle.  Since I am really lacking in the wardrobe department right now due to a totally new size and shape, I decided I'd work on sewing some basics, and I also committed to working through the UFO and 'take in' piles.

 I began October by making the positively reviewed Pamela's Pattern's Magic Pencil Skirt in a remnant of grey Ponte left over from another project.  It is a true 'quickie' pattern to sew up, and a great wardrobe basic. Not much to say that hasn't been said about this patterm. A bit challenging to capture the right color.

 Styled on my dress form:

Next up I put this skirt construction method to the test. This was based on the Threads article that showed how to make an easy to alter skirt.  I am happy to say it was truly easy to alter! I removed the hand stitching where I had sewn the lining to the zipper tape, pulled up the lining, and basted both side seams a couple of times until I found a good fit. Then I serged up those seams, and had a new, wearable skirt. One thing about this is that I was able to reshape the sides so I could wear the skirt higher at my waist. This also made the skirt a little above the knee rather than mid knee.  I've only had this on in the house for a quick try-on. I need to wear it for a little while to see if I need to go back and make a back slit or vent, since it's both smaller and shorter now.

Zelda wasn't too sure about the dress form!

Third in line this month was a simple slip refashion (above with the boucle skirt).  I had a very old (vintage, lol) slip I think I purchased in high school. It has a lace trim at the bottom, the waist elastic was shot, and it was mid-calf length. Well, I don't really need that length, so I shortened it from above. I cut off several inches, applied new elastic, and boom! I have a brand new slip that is wearable again!

The fourth sewing project of the month was to sew up the pillowcases I'd long ago pledged to Rhonda Buss' Mary Bridge Pillow Case Project.  They were fun to sew, and the fabrics were so bright and cheerful!  Rhonda, if you're reading this, they are going out in the mail in a day or two!

My favorite, the Dr. Seuss pillowcase.

The fifth and final sewing project, a garment, was made just under the wire yesterday!  I went upstairs to cut the pattern out around 1pm, then sewed it yesterday evening after dinner.  My daughter needed a simple black dress with a gentle A line, for today. It is actually for a costume, but is nice enough to wear as a regular dress. I used the most fabulous Ponte, which I think was purchased at Spandex World. It is a heavier weight with super snappy recovery. I am definitely buying more in black, as it would be great as pants or a jacket. I wish you could all feel this fabric! This morning I hadn't had my coffee yet when Lauren left for school, so I forgot to snap a picture!  I took a couple quick shots before the onslaught of trick or treaters came. As far as the pattern, it was pretty basic; it was a New Look, but that's all I've got on it tonight.  I'll do a review of this pattern another day. When Lauren came home from school today, she said she loves the dress and wants to wear it all the time, it was so comfy. She said she told everyone her mom made it. How sweet is that?

These pictures are not great. Evening, indoors, black dress... I lightened them as much as possible.  I'll try to get daytime pics when I write the review.

She dressed as Kiki from the film "Kiki's Delivery Service, by H. Miyazaki.  The bow was a bit wilty by this late hour. 

Great stretch and recovery, no 'bagging' in the seat!

I am looking forward to creating several more wardrobe basics for myself in November.  Don't forget to click on over to SarahLiz's blog to see what everyone has been up to!

Happy Halloween,


Monday, October 7, 2013

Garment a Month Challenge

The lovely Sarah Liz of SarahLizSewStyle is hosting a garment a month challenge. I have been in need of some motivation lately to get some garments made, so this is just the thing! Come on over, grab a button, and join the challenge.

I am in desperate need of some new clothes, as I have just a few things recently purchased and a few things I've made that fit.  This weekend I went through my patterns and pulled a stack of patterns up for consideration, and have been culling that stack down to a reasonable number, with the emphasis on the basics, because basics are what I need at the moment. I ordered a few patterns from the most recent BMVsale, as well. Unfortunately, all of my Style Arc Patterns are out of the running because I've gone down a few sizes and don't want to grade them down.  I am throwing a couple of indie patterns in the mix, along with the usual suspects. Losing weight has only one downside that I can think of: TNT patterns are no longer TNT. But I can live with that.  Time for some new TNT patterns!  I'll be back next week with a list and a plan, if all goes well.

October started off with some sewing - a Magic Pencil Skirt that is awaiting hemming, and a blouse muslin that still needs a little work.  There are some UFO's floating around the studio that need finishing; my goal with those is to complete one a month until all UFO's are FO's. I don't have too many, thankfully. A very dear friend's dad passed away this morning; I will be traveling to the funeral, and need something to wear. After I click post, I am headed up to the studio to pull out a LBD UFO to see if I can make that work. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!

Until next week, happy sewing!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Makeup Brush Rolls and Many Thanks

Hello!!  Thank you all for your comments and emails after my last post, and for all the good thoughts and prayers.  I am happy to be able to say that our daughter is much improved, and pretty much back to life as usual.  It was a stressful time for all of us. Any of you who have children know that you are only as well as your sickest child, and no matter the age, watching your child suffer just makes your heart hurt. When I was young, I used to wonder why my mom prayed so much, with such constancy. As a mom, I know. I have one child; my mom had six, so she always had novenas going!

I needed to sew something non-taxing and fun while the stress was high, so I whipped up a couple of makeup brush rolls.  Recently I had purchased a nice set of makeup brushes for my daughter, and thought it would be nice for both of us to have a roll up case for traveling.  After reading the myriad of tutorials on line, I used this tutorial at Sew 4 Home. It was a good tutorial, although if you are very new to sewing, you may need more detailed instructions. My favorite part about the tutorial was the part about using waxed paper to draw your lines on and then sew through to get the individual pockets.

Fabric was purchased from Hancock's Fabrics - the dot fabric is laminated cotton (wipes clean), the only choice they had in store.  The green and black are quilting cottons, and I used cotton batting between the laminate and the black fabrics.  I made double fold bias tape out of the green fabric.  The brush rolls are so similar, I decided to add black grosgrain ribbon as ties to mine to distinguish between the two. I customized the pockets in mine to accommodate my particular brushes. The open brush roll above is my daughter's - the pink arrow shows where I shortened one of the pockets by sewing horizontally. The eyeliner brush is a shortie, and otherwise would get lost in the pocket.

The dotty laminate fabric is a bit crooked, oh well! This was a fun little project, and the closest I have come to quilting. I would like to make another set of these with more 'sophisticated' fabric choices when I find a suitable laminated cotton, and may make some as gifts in the future.  Overall, my daughter and I both like these rolls a lot; they will keep our brushes organized while traveling.

On another note, I lost another 20 pounds over the summer, so literally nothing fits, except a couple things I recently purchased. Out of all the clothes that I've made, I only have two tops that are still wearable.  The plan is to formulate a plan - not my usual m.o., but necessary right now as I need to replenish the basics.  I'll be back soon with something to wear. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Trying Times

This summer my little blog has suffered from a lack of attention from moi.  It was a busy summer for me and my family. The busy summer was good busy and fun busy, exciting times looking at colleges, traveling, and spending time with my girl. Spending time with family and our fun little nieces and nephew.

Two weeks ago fun summer ended and school began, senior year for our daughter. Along with the beginning of school and her birthday came something much less welcome. Our daughter started a new medication which caused a type of meningitis - a noninfectious type. The first two weeks of school have been hell for her - she is very stressed - AP classes, college apps, etc.  What we don't know is how long it will take for the inflammation and symptoms to subside. 

So for the time being, my focus is helping my daughter through this trying time. My sewing machines and the blog will gather some more dust. When life is back to 'normal', I'll be back. If you're the praying type, please keep my girl in your prayers.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Sewing Update

Hello friends! It looks like my little blog has become quite the sporadic thing lately, which was not my intention! Truth is, it's been a busy summer, with no sign of slowing down. In fact, we just arrived home this evening from a long driving tour of colleges.  So glad to be home.  Let's talk about sewing, shall we?

Thank you for all the comments and input on my last post regarding the shirt muslin. It's good to have the input, and to know that other ladies have similar fit issues.  For the ladies out there in my age bracket, it's good to have your commiseration.

 I have to begin with my latest creation, a bra.  Seriously, I want to jump up and down in excitement over this bra, the 'Shelley Bra' by Beverly Johnson of Bramaker's Supply. (Michele, are you reading this?) Truly an excellent pattern. I participated in the bra sew along that Amy at Cloth Habit hosted a while back, and came out with some knowledge about bra making and a too-small (in the cup) bra muslin. I used a Danglez pattern - not one I would recommend for anyone who is a bra making virgin, as I was then. Shortly thereafter, I ordered Shelley, but just got around to making it recently. I wish the Shelly pattern had been my first bra pattern - it's got amazing directions. I'll do an actual review and post pictures later. I still will need to tweak the fit - the size I made was maybe 2 or 3 cup sizes too big, but even at that I could see that it was amazing, and really, really comfortable. When I ordered the Shelly pattern, I also purchased Beverly's bra making manuals, which will be helpful with the fit changes. More on Shelley to come, but for now here are pictures on my dressform. It really is a lovely bra.  If you've made the Shelley Bra, what are your thoughts on the pattern? I would love to hear from you about your results.

Wider band = comfort!

This summer I also made Kwik Sew 3740, view B, the sleeveless, simple knit 'tank top', in a white, knit piqué fabric. Although it is a recent purchase, for the life of me I can't remember where I got this fabric, which had lousy recovery and some defects. Apparently I did not take pictures of this top, despite numerous wearings. Review and pics forthcoming another day. Spoiler: I will make this top again, just in different better fabric.

A few weeks back, I made yet one more muslin (#5? #6? Lost count!) on the shirt from last post - B5678. I took into consideration the helpful comments on the last muslin. I'm pretty happy with the fit after bringing in the seams for a closer fit and taking out some width above the bust. I may need to take the shoulders in a tad more.  One day soon I'll make up a final, wearable version, and possibly several versions. Maybe I'll try some of Rhonda's great collar variations!

Last post, I showed the lining to Pamela's Pattern's Favorite Bias Skirt. I finished the skirt (except for hemming) complete with the draped zipper technique that I mentioned, a Petersham waistband, and tab & button closure. It was a well made, well fitting skirt, but I just wasn't feeling it. It was looooong. I'd initially planned on mid-calf length, but pinning it to that length, it was still... meh. My daughter had a strong negative response to it, and hubby complemented it when he saw me try it on. I emailed my friends Rhonda and Myra and asked for honest opinions. Sewing friends are great! Thank you both, your thoughts on the skirt were both welcomed and helpful.

After letting the skirt marinate for a bit, I picked it up one day and hacked it off at the knee. Tried it on again and decided it did not have the slimming effect I was looking for. The skirt is currently in 'time out' with it's side seams unpicked. We may, or may not, see more of this later. Win some, lose some.  Maybe I should have been suspicious of the fact that PR had only 1 review of this skirt... Regardless, sewing on the bias is a good skill to practice.  In addition to that, other skills revisited in sewing this skirt were 1) the petersham waistband with tab button closure, and 2) zipper insertion in a bias garment.  Even if this skirt never sees the light of day, I can chalk this one up to good practice sessions.

Original, unhemmed length
That might be the KS3740 top I'm wearing.

Just before we left on our driving tour of colleges, I cut and sewed the body of a red circle skirt for my daughter.  She is attending a function in character this weekend, and asked for a red circle skirt with horsehair braid at the hem.  I'll be finishing that up while attacking the mountain of post-trip laundry tomorrow, and hopefully get pictures to post.  Horsehair is something I've yet to use, so I am looking forward to seeing the result.  If you have any tips, please share!

Now that I'm about to post this, it's time for a good night's sleep in my own bed.  After I catch up on my blog reading, that is.

Thanks for stopping by; I'll try to be back sooner!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Current Projects: B5678 and Pamela's Patterns Favorite Bias Skirt

Well I guess I went and took a little blog-cation for the last few weeks!  I've been keeping up on all your blogs and admiring your wonderful makes.  Some of you make so many things so fast, I am always amazed. Also, I am loving the pictures of gorgeous gardens I'm seeing popping up on blogs all over blogland.

I've been working for a {long} while on refining the fit of Butterick 5678, the shoulder princess seamed shirt pattern. (Rhonda Buss did a series of collar adaptations using this pattern recently on SewNews, check it out!)

One of the conundrums I face is getting a slim fit at the waist in the presence of a large bust without looking Dolly Partonesque.  My full bust is 10 inches larger than my waist, and is equal to the measurement around the fullest part of my bottom/very low hip area (damn gravity). So in essence I'm an hourglass, but with my back being narrow, the top part of the hourglass is not distributed equally.  Rather, it's all up front.

This first blurry cell phone picture is the latest muslin pinned closed at the front. The fabric is rather stiff, not drapey at all.  What I'm not loving here is the excess width at the waist, and the shoulders are a little wide. There is also some excess above the bust (damn gravity again) but once I take up the shoulders, I'll see if I can live with that excess or decide to remove some at the princess seam.

Here in a slightly better picture, I am holding the sides in to show I have a waist!  I sent these pics to Myra for her opinion; she said "Take it in!" I had pinned out a couple inches at each SS at waist level, and a little at the bust and hip levels. There are some lines all around the bust that may or may not be due to stiff fabric, pinning, and me pulling on the fabric for effect.  Last night I distributed that amount between the front and back princess seams as well as the side seams on the pattern.  When the wind blows the right way again, I'll sew it up. 

In the meantime, I've been wanting a long bias skirt in linen for summer. I bought a few yards of beige  linen at Mood while in NYC expressly for that purpose.

Source: Talbot's website
Recently, I tried this skirt on at Talbots. I seem to remember it was a little longer on me, and I'm 5'8". The model is probably 6' tall.  I liked the look and really wanted to take this skirt home and love it, but it had a fatal flaw that I could not live with for the price: rippled seams!  This skirt has 4 seams - 2 side and CF & CB. I'm guessing that's to conserve fabric, but it gives more opportunity for poorly sewn bias seams.

Tell me - do the CF and CB seams serve a shaping (or other) purpose? I am curious, please speak up if you know!

How nice is it that we don't have to put up with paying $$$ for rippled seams? We can just make it!

I had Pamela's Patterns Favorite Bias Skirt Pattern in my stash, so that's what I used. Pamela suggests taking waist, high hip, and low hip measurements, and selecting the size based on your largest measurement. I did this, and selected a size large based on my low hip mmt. (See gravity reference above.)

I made a muslin with some mystery fabric of which I had a ton in the stash. It had some stretch to it, but nice drape. It was fatally ugly, though. The muslin was too big, but because of the stretch, I stayed with the large, and cut the lining out of white batiste from the stash, and the beige linen for the skirt body. Easier to remove fabric than to add it back. I went with the lines for the slim cut skirt - the pattern gives the option of full or slim cuts. I wasn't looking for a lot of fullness.

When I tried the lining on with elastic tied around my waist as Pamela recommends, I found I preferred the look when I pinned about 4 - 5 inches (eyeballing) out from waist to hip. Doing so makes it impossible to pull on and off without a zipper. The skirt is designed with an elastic waist, but my plan is to go with a slimmer look and side zipper.  Today I will baste in my changes, tapering down to the hem, and see how it looks.

My plan for finishing the waistline of this skirt is to add a side seam zipper, and use organza selvedge as a waist stay to prevent stretching.  Check out this tutorial on draping a zipper in a bias skirt!

Funny, I did not find many reviews for this pattern on PR, in fact only one! Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt Pattern seems to be popular, though.

That's all for now! Hope you are enjoying your summer or winter, depending on your location, and getting in plenty of sewing time.  Thanks for stopping by,

My garden

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Woman Who Taught Me to Sew, and a Local Meet-up

  Sunday was Mother's Day, as you know, and to all the moms out there - including you 'adopted moms', I hope you had a wonderful day.

This is my mom - I believe it's her senior picture from high school. Beautiful, wasn't she? Mom married about a year after this photo was taken, then had three children, each almost exactly a year apart. I was the third. Mom went on to have three more kids, spaced a little better than the first three. 

What do I remember about my mom when I was a little girl? I remember she was patient and loving. I fondly remember her reading to us every day, and teaching me to read, write, and do math problems.  I distinctly recall  she believed in the power of pine-sol and spic 'n span.  She told me once how much she liked hearing the sound of my siblings and me playing and laughing in the yard on summer days when the windows were open.  Mom could be as ferocious as a mama bear when it came to protecting her children.  I poignantly remember when my mother lost a young child, my sister, to cancer, how she never stopped caring for the rest of us, even through her grief, something I never fully appreciated until I had a child of my own.  

My mother only gave birth to six children, but mothered (and fed!) many more over the years.  Throughout her entire life, Mom never stopped giving to those around her, especially to her children and grandchildren.  She was truly the glue that held us together.

I learned many things from my mom - not the least of which was to sew.  Mom made me a beautiful plaid wool skirt and wrap one autumn, teaching me how to lay out the pattern and match the plaid in the process.  I still have the wrap stored away, which had fringed edges, but unfortunately I can't wear wool anymore.  My first lesson in 're-making' a garment into another wearable garment came from Mom when I was pretty young.  It was a warm, early summer day, when a friend called to see if I would come over and run thru the sprinkler with her, a common activity of our youth. I didn't have a bathing suit yet that summer, so what do you think my mother did? She pulled out her own bathing suit, cut out a bikini suit for me from it, then quick sewed it up on her sewing machine. The same machine on which I learned to sew some time later.  Mom not only saved the day, but taught me a few things that day by her actions.  

We lost Mom 3 1/2 years ago, and I miss her like crazy.  Even though I am old enough to be a (young!) grandmother, I still wanted more time with her.  We had fun together as adults, and Mom adored my husband, especially when he golfed with her. I could never argue with my husband when Mom was around, because in her eyes, the man walks on water.  It's a pretty good deal when your mom loves and respects the man you married!   Hug your mom today, and tell her you love her. You won't regret it!


p.s.: I have some clothes to post about, and I'll do just that as soon as we get our air conditioning working again and I can get dressed without breaking a sweat.  We had no A/C for a week, so I am thankful for the little 'gift from the heavens' cold front that came through and dropped our temps to a high of 84*F, with some lovely, cool sleeping temps at night!

p.p.s.:  Vicki from Another Sewing Scientist (the very same who started the Map the Sewintists Project) is in Tampa for work this week.  Myra and I are meeting Vicki for Dinner on Thursday! If you are in the area and interested in a sewing blogger meet-up, send me an email and I will send you the details.  Don't be shy - the more the merrier! A :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Maxi Remake

Hello from warm and sunny Florida! Hope you're having a stellar day. It is unseasonably cool here right now, which is still warm, but so gorgeous outside. Comfy weather for today's outfit.

I've worn it twice this week!

How often do you find yourself in a dressing room, all alone, no salesperson in sight, to take some cell phone selfies? Never? Me neither. Until this past weekend, that is.

My daughter's school leases a space in one of the local malls for their yearly Student Art Show.  I'm doing my volunteer duties and covering this afternoon's shift, enjoying all of the amazing art.  (Seriously great art!) And I'm wearing my new maxi skirt.

This store space used to be an Ann Taylor I think, so it is equipped with dressing rooms.  So yeah, I took some great photos cheap cell phone pics of my outfit.

Blurry face shot.

The cami and linen sweater are old and RTW.  The skirt is the newer piece here. Actually it used to be a dress that just didn't see much wear, mostly because it was so revealing at the bust. I would typically throw it on over my bathing suit at the beach. The fabric is great, comfy, smooth, and drapey, (probably ITY poly) so the other day I got a wild hair (hare?), cut the top off and made a new maxi skirt.  I have enjoyed wearing my new maxi skirt, and I think it will see the light of day much more often than the dress ever did.

Side view/blurry face...

I can't say I love the sweater with this skirt - not quite the right length/proportion.  I'll be making a couple tops to coordinate with this skirt very soon, and I have the perfect fabric in the stash!

I have a small pile of other items awaiting a remake, and enjoying this skirt makes me want to get to my pile. I'm not doing MMM this year, so maybe I'll just do a little personal 'Re-made May'?! (Next year I want to do MMM, though.  Hold me to that, okay?)

How about you, are you into re-making your rarely worn clothes into something you'll wear more? Breathing new life into an old garment? Cutting up your husband's t-shirts to try out the latest underwear pattern? (Not that I've done that. Much, anyway.)  I'd love to hear about your favorite remakes!

 Still trying to catch up on posting, so I'll be back soon.  Until then, happy sewing friends!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dress, Refashioned

Hi there, can someone tell me where April went?  I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, just not much time to blog lately.  In an effort to catch up on blogging projects, here is a dress I 'remade' for my daughter.  
In early March, I drafted a dress for my daughter - I think I mentioned previously she needed a long, black dress.  Three bodice muslins later, we had a good fit. Her request was a long, black, sleeveless dress, with a deep V front and a high slit in the skirt.

 As I was tidying up the worktable, getting ready to cut fabric, I remembered that I had a dress somewhat similar to the one I was about to make for Lauren.  The dress was too big for me, which meant she would swim in it.  She tried it on, I pinned a few places, and voilá, beautiful!

I basted what I had pinned out, and that was as far as I got.  We left for Orlando, sewing machine and supplies in tow.  I stayed in the hotel room sewing, while she and her friends went to the convention.  She needed the dress for the evening.  I had a nice day sewing without distractions. (How often does that happen?)

I am sorry I have no "before" shot to show, as I was excited and dove right in.  A lot of width had to be removed from the dress, so that I had to end up taking the underarm area of the bodice apart and reshaping it so that the front and back met at the sides. The straps had to be removed and redone, as they initially had rings in the front, and because she is petite.  Lauren requested a side slit, so I opened up one side seam, so that it can be closed in the future.  We made this for a Cosplay Convention, actually a Cosplay Prom if you will, but the dress without the props looks fabulous, and fits my girl to a T.  I made every effort to make this dress very wearable and not just a costume.

The one thing I am disappointed about it that there was supposed to be more elaborate green trimming on the front and back of the dress.  The plan was to wonder tape it on, secured with a few strategic safety pins or stitches, so as to be removable.  The wonder tape was the one item that did not make it into the bag.  :-( So while Lauren was fixing her wig and horns, I quick whip stitched some trim to the straps and following the V in front.  She was running late and that's all she had time for.  She looked stunning!

I can tell she was tired in these pictures - no smile!  The pictures below were from the morning, when she wore another outfit that we made.  See the smiles?  By the way, her skin is not gray - that's makeup and tights, and arm socks/gloves that we made out of gray tights. I really need to get better pics of this dress in good lighting, because these pictures do not do it justice. She was quite happy with the dress.

Lauren made the horns she is wearing, the outfit was made by me to her  specs.

After that weekend is sunny Orlando, we traveled to the very cold Cleveland, Columbus (OSU), and Chicago (Loyola) for an appointment and some college visits.  We had really limited time, but got to meet the lovely Rhonda of Rhonda's Creative Life, because she was so wonderful and worked around our tight schedule.  She is every bit as sweet in real life as on her blog.  Rhonda took us to a fantastic restaurant for breakfast, a place famous for it's cinnamon rolls (seriously to die for), but where everything was so good.  Rhonda, thank you! It was such a treat to meet you, hopefully we will have another time in the future.

I can't close this post without telling you a little secret.  Last weekend my family and I were in New York City!!! I had a meeting just across the river in NJ, and a couple social events.  On Friday, I eeked out time to go to Mood Fabrics and a super brief visit to Metro Textiles, but there was just no time for meet-ups.  (Myra, seriously we need to arrange a trip!)  Yeah, I did some damage, more on the goods in another post.

This weekend I was supposed to be in Atlanta with my family for a family event, but sh-sh-sh-shingles kept me home. (Btw, did you see Marcy Tilton's new 'Shingle Dress' in Vogue's summer pattern release?)  I am off the serious painkillers today, so finishing up a long black dress for me.  Couple other things to post about, including a pair of Ponte pants that Mrs. Mole so graciously helped me with. (Drop that crotch!) So I will be back soon!

Sunday, March 31, 2013


So, I finally went on over to bloglovin and claimed my blog. But, as these things sometimes go, there was a snafu in the cyber world and it didn't seem to work. I have done some fiddlin' and I think it's working now. I put a bloglovin icon in my sidebar, which you can click to follow my blog over there if you like. I am not sure I am convinced about bloglovin yet, but it seems to show all the 324 blogs I follow, whereas Blogger Dashboard never would. So, we'll see how this goes. How do you get your blog updates?

 I've been using Flipboard on my iPhone to read blogs when I don't have access to my laptop. I have enjoyed using Flipboard (for blogs only - I do not use it for news) - I like the format, and the pictures show up quite nicely, filling the whole screen.


 Just because I prefer pictures in posts, here is a shot of a very neglected and confused Amyrillis. It bloomed in March, when it was cold. When it was not supposed to be cold in Florida.

 That's all for now, folks. Please let me know if you do bloglovin and my bloglovin thing isn't working, ok? I hope your Easter weekend was a beautiful one!

 Be back soon with some sewing chatter!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

a well suited model

I was really tickled with this little suit and had to share! My daughter and her friend are working on an animation project today and needed to dress the debonair model pictured above.  I taught them how to draft a simple suit, then they used some of my leftover anthracite Ponte from a pair of slacks.

Lauren is afraid to use my Crescendo BabyLock because it's so new, but I've been encouraging her to use it.  She used it to sew this suit.  She whipped up a purple tie freehand, and a quick dickie, both also from the scrap bucket.  Her friend sewed on the red button (Loved the color choice!), with guidance.   It was the first time the friend had ever sewn anything, even though her grandmother was a clothing designer and skilled seamstress in Miami all her adult life until retiring.  Lauren's friend is a wonderful young woman, leaving for college this fall.  I left her with an open invitation for sewing lessons, but it is unlikely she will have time this year.

Can I just tell y'all how glad I am that my girl knows what to do with a needle and thread, and knows her way around a sewing machine? Maybe I should teach her how to do a little buttonhole so handsome can button his jacket?!

I'm way behind on blogging, be back soon with some actual grown up garments!

Happy Easter!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Ok, maybe it's not spring yet where you are just yet, but well, in Florida, our spring has definitely arrived, as evidenced by the green pollen coating cars and patio furniture. Heck, you may be headed into autumn where you live! Nonetheless, we are fast approaching the spring equinox, and regardless of any lingering snow, it will be spring in the northern hemisphere, at least officially.

This afternoon I had to visit my favorite fabric store and see my favorite fabric proprietress, Marisu. I picked out two lovely items, only one of which I can show today. It reminded me of sunny, warm days, and I'm thinking a sleeveless top with the 'stripes' running vertical, something with a drapey front. We shall see. ;-)

Happy {almost} Spring,


Monday, February 25, 2013

Xiao Long Bao, a Foodie Quickie

Took a break from two sewing projects to be the one woman camera crew for my daughter as she made these little delights. What are they? Well I'm so glad you asked!
The translation is 'Little Basket Bun' I am told. They are little baskets of yum! Inside a small piece of dough rolled in a thin circle is a mixture of pork, and several flavoring ingredients like ginger, green onion, and soy sauce, along with a broth that has been thickened with a special ingredient. When steamed, the thickened broth makes soup! So it's like a little basket of soup, with pork in the center, how cool is that??!
These were hands down the best Chinese food item I have ever eaten. We invited friends over and had these for dinner.
Lauren made these for her Chinese Class, as the students were assigned to make an authentic Chinese dish. I'm pretty darn sure she aced this assignment!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Dress Project and Pants Fitting

So it seems I can procrastinate making curtains a little longer. My daughter asked me last night if I would make a black dress for an upcoming event, just shy of a month away. She sketched her vision, then looked through the pattern stash for some inspiration. I knew immediately which fabric I wanted to use. I have had this black Italian rayon matte jersey out in my sewing room ever since it came home to me from Gorgeous Fabrics, (see Ann's used of this fabric for her Mission Maxi here) just waiting for the right time to make it into a beautiful dress. It's time has come.  The green at the bottom of the picture will be an accent color.  If I can't find trim in that color, then we will just have to get creative.  This will be a bit of a frankenpattern/self-drafting type of project. Lauren requested a slit in the skirt to the high upper thigh. Or wherever I'm comfortable with it ending. Cough-cough. Lol. More on this project another day, once I've come up with a pattern.

Next are a pair of Style Arc Sailor Sue knit pants in a brown Ponte knit. So y'all know how many times I've made these? This will be #5.  They are comfortable and versatile!

A while back, after taking my first pair of Sailor Sue's in twice, I altered the physical pattern. However, as I am typing this, I am realizing that I took the pants in at all 4 seams - each side, front, and back. When I altered the pattern, I think I removed width from the waist and hip area only at the side seams. I'll take another look at the pattern.

I made this brown pair up yesterday, no waistband or hem yet, but slipped them on to gauge the waistband elastic. Looked decent from the front except maybe a little excess fabric in the front crotch area. Looked good from the side. The back not so much.  There are all kinds of diagonal wrinkles under my bottom. I took some crappy, late night cell phone pictures, lightened to show detail.
Extra fabric folding in the crotch.

Side view not bad.

The last pair that I made, this gray pair, I added length above the waist, and added a waistband as well, because I wanted the pants to sit higher and look smoother under knit tops at the tummy region. The grey Ponte was a thicker fabric with a firmer hand and drape than the first pair I made. When I noticed similar wrinkles, I thought they may have been due to my fiddling around with adding a waistband and length above the waist. I'm not a fan of those wrinkles, so I tend to wear this pair less.

Back to today's brown pair. I'm toying with the idea of a waistband, but I may just sew in elastic and turn as the pattern indicates. I love these pants and wear the heck out of my others, but want to fix the wrinkles for future makes.

I will hem these pants to exclude excess fabric pooling as a cause of the wrinkling, then try to figure out  the fit issue. I'm wondering if I have the dreaded old lady 'low butt' (OLLB Syndrome) causing this - after all, I did just turn a year older this month.  {Looking at pictures of your own butt is motivation to exercise, is it not??}

Maybe I need a fisheye dart to take out excess under the butt?  Reshape the crotch curve? I'll be pinning out fabric on these to see what gives the correct fit, and consulting my fitting book library.

In the meantime, if you know what causeth my back leg wrinkles, please speak up in the comments! I know so many of you have gone through the pants fitting trials.  Did you have a similar issue, and if so, what was your fix?

Thanks and have a wonderful day!


Friday, February 15, 2013


I've been MIA for awhile, working on some home improvement projects. There has been *a little* sewing room activity, though! (Emphasis on little.)  I've been keeping up on blog reading, but have been having difficulty commenting on Blogger blogs using my iPad or iPhone.  Have you experienced the same issue?  Hoping Blogger fixes it soon.

Anyhow, this is what I've been up to!

Bra Sew-Along:  I completed my muslin during the sew along.  Amy of Cloth Habit and Norma of Orange Lingerie were fabulous, so gracious with their time, talent, and knowledge.  It helped me make the leap from staring at my bra pattern to sewing my bra pattern.  I do not have a final, complete, well-fitting bra yet, though.  That will require some pattern alterations or a different pattern.

Bra Muslin hanging.

Bra muslin stuffed.

This shows the cup details better.
It is a 2 part cup with a power bar.

The pattern I used was Danglez DB3E.  It is said to be a good pattern for larger cup sizes, but as a first bra pattern for a bra making newbie, I had some head scratching moments with the instructions.  I had to use a few other sources to make sense of the pattern pieces initially.  The Danglez directions do not have pictures,  ladies.  I dare say most people who sew & create stuff lean toward the visual.  The power bar on the side cup really does it's job to bring your sides in, if you know what I mean.  (You busty ladies will.  ;-))

The pattern as I made it did not have enough volume in the cup, which is fixable, although I am happy with the underwire fit.  There is one thing I didn't care for with this pattern - the straps are too far apart for my taste.  This can be altered, of course, if I choose to go further with this pattern.

I am excited about a new pattern from Bramaker's Supply, called the Shelly full band bra pattern that Michelle, a bra sewing buddy told me about.  It has the larger cups, a 3 part cup with power bar, and the angles of the straps looks more to my liking.  I want to give this pattern a try before I alter and remake the Danglez.

Fabric Acquisitions:   By now I am sure you have read about all the sewing bloggers practicing abstinence (of the fabric and pattern variety) or pledging to use X number of fabrics from their stash.  I'll have none of it!  No abstinence, no promises.  To that end, my first fabric purchase of the year came recently from Marcy Tilton.  The gold fabric is a Ponte, the other two are yummy microfiber knits.  I am not positive about the gold color on me, but my daughter looks fab-u-lous in gold.  It was too pretty to pass up.


Garment Sewing:  Several patterns are cut and ready to sew, just waiting for the time to sew.  The other day I put on my first pair of Style Arc Sailor Sue Pants, made 11 months ago, and since taken in 2 sizes.  I hate to say it, but it's time to retire them, or at least relegate them to around-the-house wear.   The Ponte used for these has become terribly pilled.  Although I have a brown pair cut out, and also own a navy and a gray pair, black is a mainstay in my wardrobe, so I'll need to make another black pair.  This pant style fits my lifestyle well, since it can be dressed up or down, and is so comfortable.  They are also easy to take in, if you are in weight loss mode.

Speaking of pilled fabrics, this knit made into a Style Arc Creative Cate top, has also pilled.  I wear this top fairly often - it is so comfortable and I love the fabric.  It never goes in the dryer, and the fabric was not inexpensive, so I am disappointed.  I recently saw this fabric for much less than I paid, on for $5 per yard!  I have a skirt in this fabric also, which has seen much less wear, so is still in great shape. 

Hemming and Hawing:  During the Great Purge, I found several pairs of pants that are older & skinnier ~and fit~ that need hemming, since I had to give up heels.  I hate hemming, so in order to get it done, I am visiting my friendly neighborhood tailor.  Yes, lazy, I know.  I'll throw in a couple of my husband's pants while I'm at it.  My mending pile is already too high, and I've got to clear off my project/cutting table to make way for my next big project, curtains.

Knitting:  I am trying to relearn knitting.  It's been in Barbie Doll scarves were on my knit list.  

Practicing knit & purl, and slip stitches.  It's not pretty.

Curtains:  Yes, I am about to begin a couple sizable home dec projects.  I've got 26 yards of dec fabric, and the  same amount in both interlining and lining, for long overdue master bedroom curtains.  The goal is room darkening, as well as sound and temperature blocking.  I've promised my daughter mom-made curtains for her bedroom as well - I am thinking white velvet!   
I've had a large cutting table set up in our MBr for some time, rolls of fabric waiting.  Of course, I've been using the fabulously large table for cutting out apparel fabrics & patterns. Once this project is done, it's bye-bye to my fabulously large cutting table in our bedroom.  My husband will be overjoyed.  But I'll be sad.  

Ahh, Florida:  As much as I miss the change of seasons and beautiful snowfalls, life in Florida is nothing to complain about, friends.  This has been a mild winter again for us, and while we have had a few cold days, for the most part it's just been plain gorgeous.  I took the dogs on an extra long walk a few days ago, to the circular park in our old neighborhood.  When we lived there, we walked Crystal in this park most days.  Her old stomping grounds, if you will, and it was time to introduce Zelda to the park on this particularly beautiful Florida day.

The park is full of Oak trees, and squirrels to chase are plentiful.

This is 'the bouncy tree'.  An old palm that grew sideways.  On any given day, you'll see kids climbing on it, and bouncing up and down.  Lauren spent many an afternoon bouncing on this tree!  It used to be several feet more off the ground, but gravity, age, and bouncing kids have taken their toll.  I may have bounced on the bouncy tree at times.

Gratuitous dog pictures....
Crystal introduced Zelda to the bridge that goes over the creek and small ravine.  Z wasn't very sure about it, so proceeded cautiously.

Zelda was pretty proud that she mastered the bridge!

We have family coming into town this weekend, so I've got to tidy up a bit and make some cookies.  The little ones that I made skirts and pants for will be here!  Best thing is, they are considering moving to town - we are all so excited and hope it works out.  It's good to have little people around.   

The painters have finished Lauren's room, so I'll put it back together today, since she is away for a couple days on a school trip.  Her 'stuff' has been clogging up my studio. 

If I go dark for a while, it means I have begun the Great Curtain Project.  But I might have to sew a few clothing items first.  ;-)  

Happy sewing!