Thursday, October 27, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!!

So, over the last few weeks, I have actually done some sewing! I made 2 skirts and a simple jacket. Those reviews will be coming as soon as I can get them photographed. Anyway, I didn't do too much because I had a niece get married last weekend and had my house full! So, I started a knitting project from Wendy Knits Lace by Wendy D Johnson.
Now, it's been a few years since I took on any kind of yarn project. I did learn to knit as a teenager, my mom is very talented in this department, but I haven't done any since then. So, I picked a beginner project from the book- the "Lace Stripe Scarf".
It seemed like a pretty simple pattern, you only need to know a handful of stitches. Unfortunately, I only remembered the basic knit stitch, and while the book provides descriptions and drawings for the stitches, I still didn't get it, so off to the internet I went! I have to say that I love the internet! I found several sites and watched several videos to learn the stitches that I needed for this pattern. And when I find the slip of paper where I wrote down the sites I used the most, I will be happy to post them. Now the pattern calls for 2 skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh DK, 100% superwash Australian merino. I couldn't find any of that at my local Hobby Lobby, but what I did find was a beautiful yarn with sequins in the perfect color to match a top that I already have! It is Patons Lace Sequin in Aquamarine. Now this could be the reason my scarf looks nothing like the picture.
But I still like how it looks, so I plan to keep going. Of course, after I fell in love with the yarn and bought it, I reread the part of the book where it talks about yarn selection and says that anything over 20% acrylic does not do well for lace knitting because it does not block well. My yarn is 68% Acrylic. Oops! I promise that next time I may possibly get the actual yarn recommended so that my results look more like the picture. Or maybe not. That's just how I roll.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy Mail Day!!

Today, I really love my postman!! Not only did I get my Colette Pattern order,

I also got my Amazon order!

I am so excited!! Now I have my Clover pattern for the sew along and the lovely Jasmine pattern to go with it! Can't wait to sew them up!

I also got "Wendy Knits Lace" by Wendy Johnson. No, I don't knit. Well, I learned as a child, but that was long ago. But, the projects in this book make me want to learn again! Hopefully I will have some success with this book.

Second book is "Handbag Designer 101" by Emily Blumenthal. I am also not a handbag designer, but have always wanted to learn and this book has some great ideas and resources that would be great for all sorts of projects. Plus, I have extra fabric from my raincoat that has been screaming to be made into a matching tote.

And last, but certainly not least, "Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit" by Steffani Lincecum. I love pattern drafting and I love the idea of being able to copy your favorite pieces! Can't wait to try some of the ideas from the book.

Lots of new sewing stuff for me!! I think I will be busy for a while! How about you? Any new sewing purchases that have you excited?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sewing Summit

So, quick update on what is going on with me- Moved cross country. We are back in Utah and after moving, I had a week to set up house and get the kids registered for school. Fun!

So, weeks later, I was finally able to set up my sewing room. It's in the unfinished basement. Maybe one day I will get pictures of my space.

Anyway, while cruising some of my favorite blogs about a week and a half ago, I found out about The Sewing Summit.

Of course, I had to go! I was only able to go for one day, but that was still wonderful! I met so many great people and learned so much! I actually decided to update my blog!

I just want to thank Amy and Erin for their hard work in putting the Summit together!

And the teachers were wonderful-

Dana of the Old Red Barn Co. taught about blogging and social media. I got lots of great information from her. And met lots of people from Utah County! So many sewers right in my neighborhood! Yahoo!!! (Note to Dana- sorry for the terrible photo, I hadn't yet taken the photo class. :)

I also took a photography class from Vanessa Christenson of V and Co. I don't have a photo of her because after looking at all her great photos- I was too intimidated.

And then I got to take my last two classes from the wonderful Gertie of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing!

She is truly wonderful and a really great teacher!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vintage Pattern Finally Finished!

Yeah! It is finally done!! It took me a while because we were making life decisions at the same time, but I have triumphed! Of course, I am also getting it in just under the wire.

First a list of changes that I made to this pattern-

1. Graded up just a little in the back only.
2. FBA on the front.
3. Swayback alteration in the back.
4. Really deepened the darts on front to give the bodice more of the shape on the drawing.
5. Pegged in the hem about 2 inches on each side, again to give it more of the look in the drawing.
6. And this is the big one- FTA (full tummy alteration, for those that don't know.) This was a big one because I did muslin after muslin and just couldn't get the front to drape right. I kept getting wrinkles that just wouldn't go away.

Can you see what I mean? After much research, what I found was that I had to do the FTA. It has been a while since I seriously sewed for myself and so this was a new one for me. In all the books I read, they recommend staying away from darts altogether with this flaw, but the dress has 2 front darts on each side. What I ended up doing was cutting the front skirt off and redraping it with only one dart. So, the front bodice and skirt are now actually 2 pieces instead of the 1 the pattern originally had. But, this works perfectly! No strange wrinkles!

I meant to take photos of this process, but with the upcoming cross country move, I have been rather preoccupied.

Anyway, here are more photos of the dress- they are kind of difficult to see because of the dark grey fabric and the fact that my photographer is only 15 and doesn't know about lighting, but beggars can't be choosers and she did a great job overall!

Full front

Full back

Hem done with seam binding as per the instructions.

Close up of the neck pleats.

And the elbow darts!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What I have been up to......

Well, it has been a while since my last post. I had hoped to post photos of my new Easter Dress, Vogue 1043, but it was not to be.

I had even picked out the perfect fabric- a beautiful pink with white polka dots! I had dreams of vintage perfection. I did 3 muslins and really tried to make this pattern work, but it just wouldn't.

But, not all is lost! I have learned a lot from the experience. It has been a really long time since I really sewed for myself and I am still having a lot of problems fitting. I have lost a lot of weight and totally changed my body shape so at least I have a good excuse!

I think the problem that I ran into with this pattern is that it is a wrap with a cut on sleeve, but no darts. I needed to do an FBA, but ran into problems because the cf is not on grain. I even tried to de-draft (is that a word?) the pattern to take it to its basic shape and see how it was drafted, but that didn't work.

I have not totally given up on this pattern, but have set it aside for a little while while I practice my fitting skills on something a little easier- like my pattern for the PR Vintage Pattern Contest!

Here is my pattern again-

I traced the pattern because I want to keep the original intact. I can't replace it if I mess it up. I must say that I really like the details on this pattern. It is only a front and back, sleeves attached, and facings. Really simple! But it has great details, like 3 darts on the back sleeve for elbow shaping!

Since I knew I would be doing some grading on this pattern, I pin fitted to see how bad it was going to be and to measure for the FBA- it wasn't going to be as bad as I thought!

I have concluded that I need a fitting budy! Tissue fitting yourself is really hard!

After all of that, I made up a muslin. Only one this time! I am getting better! But I must say that it now looks like a Frankin-muslin. I have realized that some of my fitting issue may be that I don't like as much ease in my clothes as they put in the pattern. The first fitting looked like a shapeless sack, even with all those darts! All I have done since then is take in and reshape darts! And the ever needed sway back alteration.

Now that almost all of the changes that are needed are done, I think I will do one more muslin from scratch to check all of the changes before I touch my fashion fabric. But that works out because I don't have all of my supplies yet, still looking for seam binding locally. I may just break down and order some.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vintage Pattern Contest

So, I have just decided to enter my first sewing contest. I chose to enter the vintage pattern contest on This is the pattern I will be using. More details and updates to follow.

Sew Serendipity Three-Fabric Skirt Completed

My original book review can be found here. If you don't have this book already, I highly recommend it!

I will probably wear it styled like this, but tucked the shirt in so I could show the cute pockets better.

I finished this skirt a couple of days ago, but didn't get around to photographing it until yesterday! All photo credits go to my 2 daughters!

This skirt turned out so cute! The only problem is that I lost some weight and now it is a little big. But, not to worry! I'm sure the food on the upcoming cruise will take care of that!

That said, I do plan on sewing up some of the other versions of this skirt. There are so many!

And here are just some more photos by my 10yr old. She has a lot of talent with the camera!

She loves the shoes, but boy do I need a pedicure!

This skirt was really easy to fit, easy and fairly quick to construct (when you aren't running into all kinds of distractions!) There are so many ways that this basic pattern could be done up. I also plan to take some of the fullness out and do more of a pencil skirt soon. I highly recommend this pattern and the book!

Bonus! I found out that I have a few Serendipity Studio patterns in my stash!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sew Serendipity Three-Fabric Skirt

So, I finally got around to trying one of the many really cute patterns included in Kay Whitt's Sew Serendipity that I reviewed here. I chose the Three-Fabric Skirt.

I used fabric from the Fandago collection by Moda from One of the things that I really like about these patterns is that the sizes included run xxs-xxl. That's quite a range!

According to the measurement chart, I traced off a medium and quickly sewed up a muslin. The only change I needed to make was to lower the waist at cb for the sway back adjustment and add that measurement to the hem of the skirt to complete the alterations. The instructions seemed really well written and would be easy for a beginner to follow and the book has lots of pictures and diagrams.

I don't know what kind of zipper the pattern calls for, but I chose an invisible zipper and was pleased that I have gotten good enough with them again that I was able to install it right the first time while on the phone with my husband! Yeah me! (I just love wash away sticky tape!)

Overall, this project should probably have taken me just a few hours, but Oh! the interruptions! And then, to top it off, I ran out of thread! I thought I would just run into JoAnn's, grab the thread and get out. But, I was derailed again! Simplicity patterns- .99! So, that quick trip turned into over an hour. (Future projects featuring said Simplicity patterns will be coming soon to a Blog near you.)

One tip that I want to share- I tried the skirt on in different stages and one issue that I noticed was that if I put my hands in the pockets, when I pulled them out, there was a fold left in the upper corner where the pocket is sewn into the side seam. It straitened out if I gave it a tug, but I don't want to have to worry about that, so I placed strips of interfacing over the side seams from the waist down just past the pockets. Problem solved.

This also works to keep the side seam smooth if you have a hollow in your hip.

Some other things that took up a lot of time on this project: lots of ruffle gathering (I am going to get a ruffler for my sewing machine), deciding to line the skirt instead of just facing it, and top stitching. Lots and lots of unnecessary top stitching. But hey, at the time.... Well, it looks good.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Butterick 5317 (Maggie London)

Sew, on to the Easter dress for my 15yo DD. She is old enough to be trusted to pick her own fabric and run with it! She chose a beautiful paisley print charmeuse from Once we got it, (they ship pretty fast), we were off to JoAnn's to find a coordinating fabric for the bodice and contrast band at the bottom of the dress. We were able to find a lovely lime green crepe back satin that looked nice with the charmeuse and a basic white lining.

I went ahead and bought extra lining to line the skirt. The pattern doesn't call for it, but the charmeuse is rather see through and I didn't want to have her worry about needing a slip. I also bought extra of both fabrics because I wanted to add sleeves to the pattern. My daughter is very modesty conscious and since the dress would be worn to church dances....

Anyway, we only had to do a muslin of the bodice and then I pinned the skirt pattern on to check for length. We ended up raising the front bodice quite a bit, it was way too low for a 15yo. Also had to fix some gaposis and take in the shoulders. The other alteration was to take 1/2" out of the center back. Originally, we took a full inch, but wanted her to have more movement. To translate that alteration into the skirt, I simply deepened the center pleat by 1/2" on each side.

(I really need to get better at taking these pictures! The dress looks to big, but really it isn't.)

I was able to add short sleeves without a problem. I found the sleeves I wanted on a Simplicity pattern in my stash and traced off the same size (14) and walking the pattern, it was a perfect fit! Only the notches didn't match up, but that is such and easy fix!

This dress was really easy to put together and sooooo cute! It even has pockets! The only change I made during construction was to decide to use an invisible zipper instead of a regular. I should have made the decision before construction as it would have been easier, but.... Can I just say I am grateful for double sided, water soluble sticky tape? It made getting the zipper in with everything lined up so much easier!

In conclusion, I would recommend this pattern! It can be dressy or casual and goes together really fast! My daughter just loves it and can't wait for Easter!

(Hands in pockets!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Dresses

So, with Easter coming up quick and my cruise coming up the week before, I thought that I had better get my girls dresses done before the cruise. I am hoping that I will have enough time before the cruise to do some sewing for me and maybe time before Easter when I get back to make an Easter dress for me!

Now that I have taken the Moulage class from Kenneth King, (thanks for setting that up!) I have a lot more desire to sew for myself. I have been working on the slopers from different pattern companies to help make self fitting go faster, but that is another post for another time....

Meanwhile, back in the sewing room....

For my 10yo, I decided to pull a pattern out of my stash, Larken from Maja's Heirlooms. She wanted a dress that could be worn with a jacket and I thought that this dress, with Blair, also from Maja's Heirlooms, would fit the bill nicely. So, I ran to JoAnn's, the only fabric store close to me, and picked some coordinating quilting cottons. That would become mistake number 1. Normally, I would choose batiste or lawn for something like this, but since I knew that I wouldn't have time to hand smock the dress and it wouldn't work with machine smocking, I didn't worry about the fabric being thin enough to go through the pleater.

So, a quick description of Larken from - "Larkin is a slight A-line dress with a bishop style neck on the front and sleeves. Short sleeves are finished with elastic and long sleeves are smocked at the wrist leaving a ruffle. The dress closes in the back with buttons."

I chose the short sleeve option, finishing the neckline and sleeves with elastic, and according to measurements, size 10.

I must note that the quality of paper that the pattern is printed on is nice and the instructions come in booklet form. That said, I traced out the pattern and cut it out on my pre-washed fabric. The dress went together very nicely and quickly. But, it must be noted that the instructions are sadly lacking. Fortunately, I have been sewing enough that I do not need the instructions, but I do tend to read them, usually not until I have finished the patter, just so that I can rate them. This pattern, I would normally rate as good for beginners, but the instructions are so vague that I get the impression that they assume you know what you are doing. Also, I found the instructions for the back facing particularly poor and if followed, would not give a good result.

Once the dress was together and all I had left to do was put in the buttons, button holes and embellishments (this pattern just screams for embellishment!), my daughter wanted to try it on. So....

Even pinning it on her for the photos, it is too tight across the waistline.

The sleeves are huge! The fabric that I chose does not work for this pattern! It is too stiff by far to look nice! Maybe they would have laid down a bit if I had smocked them, but since I didn't... There is no way they would fit into the sleeves of a jacket. Also, it is noted that the dress does not fit! It is a tad too tight and shorter that my daughter would like. So, I would recommend going a size larger than the measurements suggest on this pattern. I do not plan to finish this dress for a while and if I do, I will give it to someone with a smaller child.

In conclusion, I do plan to try this pattern again, using a thinner fabric because I do think it is a fabulous design and the pattern does come in a large size range- 10-16 in one envelope. I will also, at a later date, post instructions for the back facing on how I think it should be done.

With that dress scrapped, we had to work fast! My older daughter had picked some fabulous charmeuse from and it was on it's way for her dress. I grabbed my JoAnn flyer and found that Butterick patterns had gone on sale that day, so we searched online and my 10yo picked a pattern and told me what color she wanted. I had the pattern, the fabric serged, washed and all the notions lined up before she got home from school! Yeah me! (For the fabric, I chose a cute seersucker and lined it with broadcloth, they had the same fiber content, so I thought they would work well together.)

She chose- Butterick 4385

We chose view D, size 12. I must say right now that usually patterns require way more fabric than what is actually needed. This is not the case with this pattern, lay and cut carefully to have enough. Also, the fabric requirement for the contrast band is not on the back of the pattern and you must have this fabric, even if you decide not to make the band from contrasting fabric as the requirement on the back is not enough to cut this piece. The requirement is listed on the instruction sheet and is an additional 7/8 yd for size 12. I did not notice this in my rush to get through the store and it required an additional trip the next day.

I did the jacket first. It went together perfectly in just about an hour. I did the short sleeve version and I really like how cute it is. One complaint about the instructions is that they have you construct the fashion fabric and then sew the lining fabric front and back together, sew the lining to the fashion fabric around the edge and then SLIP STITCH the lining sleeve head in place. Well, bag that! Literally!

Here is what I did-

- Sew shoulders together on both fashion and lining.
- Sew the sleeves in flat.
- Sew fashion and lining fabric, right sides together around the outside edges.
- Sew the sleeves together at the hem.
- Turn right side out through the side seam.
- Sew fashion fabric side seams together, going as far into the lining as you can.
- Press everything and slip stitch the rest of the side seam lining together.

Why hand sew more than you need to? I know this is about as clear as mud. I am getting a camera to keep by my machine for better documenting. If you don't understand a step, let me know and I will try to make it clearer.

For the dress- It also went together really fast! My one big complaint with the pattern is that it is drafted for someone with a B cup. My 10yo does not have a B cup. I checked and the size 7 isn't much better. So, be prepared to take out some of the shaping.

I constructed the fashion fabric, basting the contrast band and pinned the shoulder straps on for the first fitting. At that point, it was really easy to make changes. In addition to taking out the B cup shaping, tightened the shoulder straps quite a bit (she doesn't like anything too low cut), this caused the contrast band to go up into her arm pits, but it is cut on the bias. So, it was easy to lower it under the arms and then lower the back by 1". (I used the contrast band as the top of the dress rather than folding it over as the pattern indicates. With the bias shaping, I can get away with it.) I also took in the side seams about 1/2" and the back about 3/8". It seems I took in a lot, but I am glad we chose the size 12 because around the tummy area was perfect and the length was perfect.

From there, it was easy to make the same changes to the lining before sewing it in. I also did add the little netting underskirt. It gives a lot of fullness to the skirt and if I make this pattern again, I think I would leave it off. It seems almost too full for the skirt.

After seeing this photo, I checked, and the fold in the bodice is because of how she is standing with one hip cocked out. She is such a ham!

(After seeing this photo, I think I may add another hook. The zipper should have been longer, but I bought the size the pattern called for and even lowered the back some. Can you imagine if I hadn't? I could have raised the zipper, but was in a hurry and didn't.)

On reading the instructions, I noticed that in the drawings, they ignore the fact that there is a contrast band and it looks like they are showing you to sew the lining to the top of the band as opposed to the bottom. This might confuse some beginners, but remember that the fashion fabric and lining are cut from the same pattern pieces and are therefore sewn in the same way. They also don't show the band in the drawings for the finish work. In skimming the instructions, I felt like they were taken from another pattern and just pasted there.

All that said, I do recommend this pattern with the caution to beginners to be aware of the mentioned errors. This pattern is really cute and goes together really fast and I also recommend it for those that are just getting into doing pattern alterations as some will be required for this to fit a child, but they are really easy to do. Just pin out the fullness on the bust line, before sewing in the lining and just make the same changes to the lining and you will do fine.

BTW- Proud momma note: My 10yo is part of the Honor's Choir for her school. After the concert the other night, a tribute to Elvis, the director handed out awards. Out of 50 students, my daughter was named Outstanding Performer of the Year!