Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy Last Day of 2011 everyone!  I'm on holiday goofing off and wishing I was sewing.  (Which is a nice  change.  My desire to sew seems to have come back!)  I hope everyone has had a great holiday season and the new year brings you lots of good things.

I have a couple of things I've done but not posted yet.  I managed to save my icy blue Violet shirt, and I made a holiday dress.  I only have crap pictures of that so far, so here is a teaser picture.

Have a great year everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Violet: Take 2

Here is my second version of the Violet top from Colette Patterns.

There is a little ripple in the collar in this picture, but it is not there in real life, just the way it is laying.  I moved the bust darts down to the proper place and am now pretty happy with this shirt.  I made a stupid mistake when cutting it out, so it is a hair shorter than the last version, and I also had a lot of issues getting the collar to be perfectly rounded where it goes up in the front.  I don't want to spend a lot of time monkeying with something that I am never going to get right, so I am going to change the collar for the next version.  The fabric came in a mystery box a couple of years ago and I am assuming that it is some kind of cotton.  It has little ridges on it like twill.  I dunno, it was nice to finally be able to use it up.  This is post-washing and there is NO bubbling of the interfacing.  All in all, I'm pretty happy with it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


What is this I see?

That would be my interface bubbling on my new shirt.  Which is annoying because I only use the good stuff, and it has never done this before.  Which means it is either this fabric or user error.  (I have cut several pieces from this length and have not had any other problems.) What's more annoying is that it is not only on the facings, but on the collar too.  It doesn't look too bad after being pressed, but it doesn't look good.  Right now I have to figure out if I want to rip out the facing and collar (and lower the bust dart while I'm at it.)  I love this fabric (this picture does not show it's true color) and cannot get any more, so I need to figure out how much work I want to put in to salvaging this item.  Grump.

On a more fun note, here is my gingerbread painting for this year.  It's the scene from Die Hard where the Nakatomi Plaza blows up.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Colette Patterns: Violet

I made something!!!!! Wooo hoo!  Ok.  I've calmed down.  I desperately need blouses that go with jeans AND skirts.  I've been flirting with getting the Colette Patterns Violet top for awhile, but resisted because I though I could draft something similar.   Turns out I can.  Also turns out I don't have much motivation to do so, so I caved and bought the thing.  (There was no sun today, so crappy flash picture will have to suffice.)

I made several fitting changes and one big style change.  ( I like Colette Patterns a lot, but I always make a muslin because I have to make so many fitting changes.)

  • I added 5/8 inch to the seam allowance because I liked the length of my muslin without hemming.
  • The bust darts ended somewhere slightly above my waist, so I raised them.  I can see from this photo that I raised them too high, so I will move them down just a smidge.
  • There was a lot of gaping at the neckline (and too much fabric at the upper chest) so I took all of that out by making a neckline dart and then moving it into the bust dart.  (I did not muslin this change and may be what raised the bust dart point a little higher than I thought it was.)
  • I took about 1 inch out of the length of the back yoke piece.  (Above the armpit.)  I often end up with a bunch of fabric pooling in the middle of my back and  I don't have a swayback.  What I have discovered is that the pattern length from my neck to my armpit is often too long for me and causes the back of my shirts to be longer than the front.  Hence the pooling.
  • I made an under collar piece slightly smaller than the upper collar, so it would look nicer.
  • I did not care for either of the sleeve options, to I took the short sleeve piece and turned into more of a cap sleeve shape.  Much more flattering and comfortable on me.

This fabric is kind of an odd color (super saturated in real life) so I thought it would be great for my first prototype.  (It was one of the $2 per yard cotton poplins I got from Fabric Mart.)  Aside from the darts being a little too high and having some trouble getting the rounded parts of the collar just right, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.  It is exactly my kind of shirt, and I will probably make several of them now that I have the fit right.  (I tend to procrastinate on making things with buttons, which is stupid because the machine I have now does great buttonholes.)  I also like the peter pan collar, but am going to play around with some different collar shapes because I can.  Colette patterns tend to skew young, and I might want to age this up a bit by adding a less youthful collar.  (Although I think it looks fine on me.)  All in all, I'd say I am pretty happy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hey! I'm Still Here!

So, I just realized that I have not posted here in like a month.  Oops.  And I haven't sewn anything in that time either.  Double oops.  Well, I have two reasons for that.  One is that I have been trying to improve my wheel throwing skills in ceramics, and in order to do so I have had to put in a lot of time.  Throwing does not come natural to me, and it has taken quite a lot of work for me to get better.

The other sewing preventer is the fact that I have had to change my eating habits again (last time I realized I could no longer eat gluten.  ugh.) and I have been  slowly but surely getting smaller. Although that could change.  I would like my weight to stabilize before I get super busy sewing again.  However, I do need some shirts, so there should be some projects come up.

Mostly right now, I want to step back and think about my wardrobe as a whole and form a loose plan for what I really want it to be.  So for a little while, my posts should be geared around wardrobe thoughts and shirts.  Also bad pictures of ceramics.

Here are a couple of things I've made this quarter that I love.  There is no sunshine in Seattle right now, so these are the best I can do.  I think I'm gonna get my photographer friend to help me take some better pictures eventually.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pretty Skirt

I'm sick today and haven't been sewing this week.  But I did see a pretty skirt on the Talbots website that I might just wanna make for myself.  (I am unlikely to spend $199 on a skirt.) But when would I wear this?  Tea length might just make this more wearable for me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mystery Box Challenge #2: The Plan

So, I've worn my Mystery Box Challenge color block dress a couple of times and I really love it, so I think I'm ready for challenge #2.  I'm gonna use the weird brocade fabric that I had no idea what to do with.

Here is the line drawing for Vogue 8755.

This pattern seemed like a good way to use both sides of the brocade.  Unfortunately, it did not suit me me at all.The neckline was unflattering, the bodice sits up too high for me, the darts are in the wrong place, and it was way too big under the bust (but fine at and above.)  I could totally spend a lot of time working to fit this too me, but I've decided to take my sloper, which fits me perfectly, and adjust it to pick up some of the details of this dress.  I don't have much need for a polyester brocade (I don't actually think it is brocade, but I don't know what to call it) dress, but I don't have any fun party dresses.  Maybe this can be that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Drop Cloth Dress

Another new dress!  I needed something simple to make, and while drafting your own pattern might not seem that easy, it can be a lot easier than trying to fit a new commercial pattern.

I also needed something with very, very simple lines to suit this fabric.  This is a crazy print and no fine details were even remotely going to show up.  (The fabric is from Jay McCarroll's Habitat line.  Yes, it is a quilting fabric.  No, you are not supposed to use quilting fabrics for clothing.  Turns out many styles inspired by the 50s and 60s don't have a lot of drape, and these fabrics can work just fine.)

Since it is hard to see anything because of this print (and if you have been reading for awhile, you know I love a crazy print) I will describe it to you.

  • Boat neck, but not too wide, because I don't want my bra straps to show.
  • Basic dirndl skirt.  
  • Sleeveless.  (I was going for a 60s look so I did not bring in the shoulder points of the armscye like one might normally do when making a summer sleeveless dress.)
  • Invisible zipper.
  • Hemmed by hand.
  • French darts are not sewn all the way.

See where I've drawn that white line?  That's where I stopped sewing the bust dart.  Instead of having bust darts and waist darts, I moved the bust darts into the waist for 2 giant french darts.  (Just to see if I could.)  As a rule, the bigger the dart, the pointier it is, and let me tell you, this dart was insanely pointy.  Like a paring knife sticking out of my chest.  So, I stopped sewing the dart below my bosom area and pressed the dart legs towards the center.  This creates a little fold above where I stopped sewing that ends at my bust apex, creating a much smoother look.  ( I could not get a good photo.  If I use this bodice pattern again with a calmer fabric, I will try it again.  If you click on the photo, it should get bigger, and you might be able to see the fold.)
  • The arm and neck holes are finished with my combined facing technique.

I am very happy with this dress.  I wanted to see if I could work out a french dart that would flatter my hourglass figure instead of making it scary.  Also, the fabric is crazy and I deeply love it!  Throw a sweater on over this, and I am ready to go!  Also, look how nicely I matched up the back!  Can you tell I am excited! ! !

Monday, October 3, 2011

Simplicity 9825

This post might just as well be subtitled "another navy skirt."  but I needed this one!  My other denim skirt is very old and doesn't really look like denim anymore. This was a beautiful cotton/bamboo mix that I got at my neighborhood fabric store, Nancy's Sewing Basket.

I love this skirt pattern a lot. (I currently have three others in rotation.  It's just a very basic 4 gore skirt, but the shape works very well for me, and I wear all my skirts a lot.)  If I had a uniform, it would be a-line skirt, top, and cardigan.  Pretty standard stuff for me.

Here is a close up of the skirt where you can see the topstitching:

This was the only thing I did that wasn't regulation; I thought it gave it a more dressy vibe.  This is pretty much a straightforward skirt, so nothing much to tell on the construction side.  It doesn't fit quite as well as the other ones (just a little loose,)  but I made the others back in the days before I blogged and didn't take construction notes.  If I did something different, I don't remember what it was.  Grump.  I'm pretty happy with this though.  Time to make something more complicated.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Ralph Rucci makes some of the most beautiful clothing in the world, but you might never know that from the garments for which Vogue makes patterns available.  Example Vogue 1269.  Sigh.  I guess it is his fault for making the ugly thing in the first place.  And this jacket should never be worn with this dress.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Simplicity 1969 (SewSimple)

I, like a lot of folks, have recently noticed Simplicity's new SewSimple line of patterns. Since they are only $2, I thought I would give one a try and settled on this blouse.

Here is my version:

Here is the line drawing.

I like to have an easy project after I make a dress based on my own pattern. It's just nice sometimes to do something uncomplicated. This certainly was easy. It had 4 pattern pieces and the instructions seemed very clear, although I have been sewing for a long time, so I'm not sure how a newbie would judge them. The pattern line seems geared towards beginning sewists, and I think a beginner could very easily tackle this pattern and come away with a wearable top. I used what was advertised as a cotton lawn, although the weave is much looser than my other lawns. I think this pattern works best with a fabric that contains a little drape, so a stiff cotton might not looks so good.

To be honest, this top is not the height of fashion, and there are some changes I would make before I made it again.
  • I would add some length. I have a 3/8" hem on it and it is just barely at wearable-with-jeans length.
  • The armholes are a big and show my bra strap in the armpit area. I need to wear a cami with this version because of the fabric, so it is not that big of a deal.
  • It pools a little in the back. I might just add a little more width back there or take out some length. Not sure.
  • It's pretty shapeless. It looks a lot like a scrub top in this picture, but that might be my fabric. Although I think it is cuter in real life. I could be deluding myself.
Not the most earth-shattering top, but this would work great for a super beginner who wants a successful project. I'll wear my version, although I think it might work better with a skirt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mystery Box Challenge #1: The Dress!!!!

Yes. I finally made something! As usual, I am not 100% happy, but that is my problem, not the dress's. I know for a fact that once I wear the dress a couple of times I will forget about its "problems" and enjoy the hell out of it. (Click on the images if you want to seem them in more detail. Cause I know they are that fascinating.)

Here is the head on picture (without the head):

Slightly tilted to the side (Big difference, I know.):

This dress is made from what I think is a brown stretch cotton poplin from my Fabric Mart mystery box and a light blue cotton poplin from (Left over from my first Sorbetto top.) I drafted the bodice from my bodice sloper, and the skirt is just a simple drindl. The neck is finished with made-by-me bias tape on the outside and the armholes are finished on the inside with bias tape, but bought at the store. (The armholes were originally finished the same as the neck, but it looked too much like a basketball jersey.)

There is some bust detailing that is hard to see in these photos, so I lighted one to show them:

This is what the front bodice pattern piece looks like:

If I had it to do over again, I would have made the bodice two pieces (splitting them in the obvious place) and adding a little less fullness. I feel like this makes me look bigger up top than I am or want to look.

All in all, though, I am very happy with this dress. It's a baby-step towards color blocking, and I think it works. Also, I've had issues in the past getting just the right amount of gathering for a drindl skirt, and I feel like I got it just right this time. This is a perfect dress for the summer/fall transition. Yes!

Rear view:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mystery Box Challenge #1: the plan

I was gonna make a lavender linen skirt before I started my mystery box challenges, but really, it's almost September. Linen speaks of spring and summer to me. So, I'm gonna plan some new skirts to go with some seldom worn blouses instead. (But not right now.)

Ok. First challenge from the Fabric Mart mystery Box: The brown stretch poplin. (At least, that is what it seems like to me. It's a mystery.) I am pairing it with a light blue non-stretch poplin for a little color blocking. I've seen a lot of color blocking coming up for fall, and this has never been a trend I've jumped on before. However, I thought I would start out with something not-to-outrageous and see how it goes.

This is the original plan for this dress, and I think I'm gonna make it some day, but I'm kind of getting tired of all of my dresses having the same basic bodice structure with a bust and waist dart. (The only dress where I haven't done this is my red linen shift dress.) I'm gonna experiment with some gathers and yokes today, I think. We'll see.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I have decided this year not to watch Project Runway anymore. Up until last season, I really really enjoyed the show. But the influence of the producers manipulating the show is just right there on the surface now. I understand how reality tv works. I know that it's not really real, but I like the illusion that it might be: that the best person might win. I watched a few minutes of the first challenge episode this year, and realized I just don't care anymore. So I decided to give myself a little challenge.

As you may have noticed, I've not been sewing much lately. Summer is pretty busy for me, and I have some new stuff going on. And I have kind of lost my sewing motivation. Since I love sewing, and it is my only source of new clothing, I needed to come up with something to get the juices flowing. So, I decided to have my own project runway-like challenge. I ordered a mystery fabric bundle from Fabric Mart and decided that I had to find a use for all the of the fabrics inside, love them or hate them. I don't have any deadlines, and I have a skirt that I would like to make first, but I think I'm gonna have fun with this.

Fabric #1: I think this is a stretch cotton twill (dressweight.) This is gonna be a cute fall dress I think.

I dunno what this is, but to me, this is ugggggly. I will make a skirt. We'll see if I ever wear it, but it can work as a prototype for something I might like more.

This is an unassuming brown stretch cotton poplin. I have great dress plans for this guy

This is a brocade of whose contents I am unsure. I have two yards and I'm not sure what I am going to do with it. This is going to be the hardest one to figure out.

So those are my fabrics for the challenge. I'm excited about this one! So excited, I'm gonna show you some new liberty lawns I got awhile ago. Aren't they cute?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Liberty Sorbetto

Yeah yeah, Sorbetto Sorbetto Sorbetto. This is the fourth version of the top I have made, and I actually made it a couple of weeks ago before I got super busy.

The fabric is a Liberty print that I got from It is very faintly directional, and if I had been willing to cut the front and back pieces facing different ways, I would have had room on a yard of fabric to cut out the shirt with the box pleat. (My husband says he cannot even see the fabric has a directional print. I can.) I could have lived with the front right-side up and the back upside-down. Unfortunately, I had already cut out the back piece before I noticed I wasn't going to have enough fabric to do it the way I wanted. Long story short, I left off the box pleat and added a little faux button placket.

Close-up of one of the buttons, which I love a lot.

I think I'm done with this pattern for awhile. It goes great with skirts, but doesn't look so good with pants. I find that when I add length it gets super boxy and doesn't look so good on me.

I'm a little low on inspiration right now, so I'm gonna see what I can do about that. I have some skirts that I should make, but there is a dress I wanna draft. But not so much drive to do any of them. Ah well, it is summer.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Still Alive

Hey all! I'm still alive and kicking, just not sewing or blogging. It's Rain City Rock Camp for Girls Week and I am camp counselor to 4 girls ages 8 and 9. They wrote a break-up song, and their band name is Cool and Random Sweethearts. They are Hi-Larious. Back soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Too Sassy for You: Modified Sorbetto

Inspired by this project on Burdastyle, I decided that I too needed a top that tied at the shoulders. I just modified the Colette Patterns Sorbetto top and had my blouse a couple of hours later.

Here is my modified pattern piece.

Modifications that I made:

  • Took out center box pleat from Sorbetto top. (I just traced the pattern and left off the pleat extension from the front bodice piece.)
  • Extended the front and back shoulder by 11 inches and tapered it at the end by using my ship's curve.
  • Drew a facing piecing for the front and back to cover the armholes, neckline, and ties.
  • I lengthened it a little, but not sure I am going to keep that change.
  • I did not interface the facing.
  • I may sew these knots together and put a little lingerie-strap under the knot. Not sure yet.
The fabric is a stretch cotton sateen that I thought would be heavier when I bought it online. The stripe is a dark olive green. I knew I was gonna like this shirt when my husband said to me "I can tell this is gonna be cute because it looks good even in muslin." (My favorite quote from him is when he looked at me in a self-designed dress and said "The fit on that is amazing!" I love it when he just gets it.)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gaping Armhole Tutorial

So, when I made my first muslin the of the Sorbetto top from Colette patterns, I had a lot of gaping at the armholes.

I notice people taling about this problem a lot on blogs during the summer months, what with all of the sleeveless tops and dresses, and I thought I would do a tutorial on how to get rid that that excess and put it in the bust dart. (You can just make an armhole dart, but I like to move that dart into the bust dart. Just to be tidy.) Since the tutorial was so picture heavy, I decided to upload it onto the burdastyle website. (Also, I just wanted to try their tutorial format.) You can check it out here.

Look Ma, no gaping armhole!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Lounging Dress

I have a new red dress.

I made this from my 3 piece dress sloper (dress front, dress back, and sleeves as opposed to my 5 piece sloper which is bodice front and back, skirt front and back, and sleeve.) See how nicely the back fits?

I knew going into this that this silhouette was not going to be that flattering on me, but I don't always want to wear a fitted dress in the summer. (I am an hourglass and fitted dresses are the way to go with my figure. Otherwise you can't tell how small my waist is and only my widest points are emphasized.) I'm a little underwhelmed, but I know that will go away once I wear the dress a few times. (I've worn my cloud 6 or 7 dress a few times now and feel pretty cute when I do.) This is going to be a perfect dress for climbing into the hammock and "reading." (Do you like how I have convinced both you and myself that Seattle will someday get warm enough where I will need a floaty little dress?)
  • The fabric is a lightweight linen from
  • No closures. It fits over the head.
  • It's loosely based on the deep impact dress from Built by Wendy Dresses.
  • It has very narrow darts in the back to give it a little shape.
  • It has a once piece neck/armhole facing in the front and back.
  • I am trying to put more details on my dresses, but I went super plain on this one because I usually think linen looks best with super clean lines.
  • Because there are no details for distraction, I took special care to make sure the sewing was done well.
  • It's a little low in the front, but I did that on purpose. It is summer after all.
  • It appears to dip in the front hem, but I don't see that in the side view or in real life. I'm ignoring this.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with this. Lately I've been feeling a little let down after I finish a project, which is weird because I have been doing some of my best sewing ever. I dunno what is up with that. It seems to be more prevalent with patterns that I make myself. It may be because I have expectations of what the item will look like, but I am not quite able to get my head and my hands to completely agree. (This happens in my artwork all the time, and there I view it as a plus. I might just need to let go of some of my perfectionism here.) Once I wear the dress a couple of time, I think I forget what I wanted it to be, and am just happy with what it is.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On Cloud 6 or 7

My friend Jonathan sent me some fabric from Tokyo for my birthday. I took my pink birthday dress and modified it into this little number. Since I stitched it for Faye's latest challenge, you can get the details over there, if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sorbetto II and Arm/Neck Facing Tutorial

Hey! I hope everybody had a great weekend. Monday was Memorial Day for those of us in the U.S. and I hope everyone had the chance to do something fun. I gardened, sewed, and made up another Sorbetto top from Colette Patterns.

My camera really hates this fabric and (something I did not notice in real life) the fabric on this version is so thin it tends to hang out on the top of my bra. Oh well. It's still pretty cute. The fabric is some kind of poly/cotton blend that was pretty fun to sew with. The main modification here is that I decided that instead of finishing the neck and armholes with bias tape, I would make a facing for a cleaner look. I am not a facing lover, but I decided to make an old-style one that uses one piece to deal with both the neck and the arm hole. You can tack it down under the arms and it will not flip up at all. I made a little tutorial in case anyone else wants to try it out. (I'm gonna use this a lot with all the sleeveless dresses I'm making for summer.)

Tutorial: One piece neck and armhole facing.

1) You are going to need some stuff.
  • pattern pieces (front and back)
  • tracing paper
  • pencil (I used a sharpie for this tutorial, but I usually do everything in pencil.)
  • ruler
  • french curve (you could do without, but I like to use them.)

We are going to start with the bodice front because it is a little harder.
  • Trace your tracing paper over your pattern piece. I am using a jar of screen printing ink to weight the paper down.
  • Trace over the top part of the pattern. (Neck, armhole, shoulder etc.)

It's when you get to the bust dart, that things get a little tricky. Stop at the dart and follow the dart leg for just a little bit.

Move your tracing paper down to the other dart leg so that the lines match up exactly. (Basically you are closing that dart.)

Continue the line down the side seam. I am making my facing 2 1/2 inches deep, so I made my side seam that long. (I am using the 1/4 inch seam allowances already on the pattern, so the final depth of my facing will be 2 1/4") I also drew a 2 1/2 line down center front. You'll notice that there are two center fronts on this pattern because of the box pleat in the front. Your facing knows nothing about any box pleat, so leave the pleat extension out! Stop at the first center front: also known as the stitching line.

Then I take out my ruler and start drawing the bottom of the facing. I just make a straight line that is perpendicular to the side seam and center front line. You can just eyeball it lengthwise. Now, see that crazy red circle? Inside that circle is a dot, and that dot is 2 1/2 inches out from the armhole. When you fill in the rest of that line, you do not want to go higher than that dot at that area when you join those lines together.

This is when you bring out that French curve (or whatever) to finish the bottom of the facing. I like my bottom facing edge to have gentle curves because I finish the edge by serging , and I don't want any sharp corners for that. (Plus it looks nice.)

Voila! Put all your makings on it and cut it out. (Remember that the center front goes on the foldline.) You now have a front facing piece. The back is done the same way, but easier because there is no bust dart.

Now how do you sew this to the garment? You can't just sew neck to neck, armhole to armhole because it won't flip out. I have a great magazine from the 60's by Enid Gilchrist (she's going to get her own post soon) that shows you how to attach this type of facing to a sleeveless garment. It's super easy. (I'm sure tons of people already know how to do this. I didn't and it was awesome to have an example.) (Clicking on the photo should make it bigger.)

Just tack the facing down at the side seams and you are ready to go. You can understitch or topstitch if you want. Do what you gotta do. I'm pretty happy with this technique and will be using it a lot this summer!