crafts · fabric · Sewing

Testing… is this thing on?

Self-stitched September is nearly upon us!  I’m planning to do a post every few days with my outfit photos – I know myself well enough to realize that everyday posting is not for me (I like to build up long posts instead.)  I went ahead and bought a tripod, since an entire summer of searching failed to turn up one used.  I’ve been experimenting with taking self photos.

This is the best… and I took a lot.  I like that in my photos (as opposed to the ones my husband takes) I appear to be really tiny, or the ceilings really tall (they are really tall, over twice my height, but I guess I never saw it in photos before!)  It’s worth noting that nothing in this outfit is self-made, but I do get asked all the time if I made the shirt!  I was thinking of reverse engineering a pattern, but I noticed that one of the necklines in Jalie’s scoopeck top pattern is really similar, so I think I’m just going to get that instead (I hear good things about their patterns, and I’m planning to order a few to try.)  This outfit is the result of me trying to dress down for a rehearsal.  I suppose I could have left off the heels and necklace, but oh well… I’ve gotta be me!

The looming deadline has also thrown me into a bit of a sewing frenzy.  The Vogue a-line dress I from earlier this week is nearly complete – it just needs hand hemming, which I like to save for Project Runway on Thursday after my rehearsal (did anyone see last week’s episode?  Dude… Gretchen’s meltdown was the best reality tv I’ve seen in ages.  Personally, I’m rooting for Mondo, just because I love an oddball, and he has a pretty consistent point of view.)  Anyway, the dress  is cute, and I’ll have photos this weekend.  I’ve also decided that I need a few lightweight cardigans – most of my knitted cardigans won’t be wearable until November, when it starts to actually get cold.

I’m the last person in the whole world to make Simplicity 2603, the DKNY cozy wrap knock-off.  I figure that if DNKY is still selling them (and they are) then I’m not too late.  I’m using a bamboo/lycra jersey, bought from Fashion Fabrics club last December.  They don’t still have it, or I would link, because it’s really nice!  It’s slightly slubby, and very drapey.  Too light for a t-shirt, but perfect for something that needs drape.  I bought it thinking, based on the swatch, that it was more purple, but it’s hot pink.  Luckily, my new hair color looks great with this sort of pink, so I can use it up.  I spent an hour tonight crawling around on the floor cutting, since it needs to be cut single layer, and my cutting table isn’t that big.  Those of you who cut without a table have my sympathy – I didn’t even finish before my knees gave up!  I’ll probably finish cutting and then sew it up tomorrow.

Mentioning Fashion Fabrics club reminded me… I’m still working on that online shopping guide, but I got my latest order, and I wanted to link to the fabrics I got, so that you can see what they look like full sized!

Gray RPL Jersey to make a long cardigan.  I’m going to use Simplicity 2417 as a base, but add some embellishments.  This is lightweight but only the tiniest bit sheer – very nice for a cardigan!

Yes, I know this fabric is insane, but I adore it!  It’s a cotton/lycra jersey, not at all sheer and good for a dress.  This fabric was on EmmaOneSock earlier in the month for $18 a yard.  I paid 4, and got enough to make a maxi dress next summer.  I’m thinking one shouldered, if that trend survives.

Cotton sateen in a painted looking print.  Lightweight but not sheer.  In fact, it feels identical to the fabric I used for my 50s sheath dress.  I can’t say for sure they came from the same place, but given the similarity of prints, and the identical feel, I think it’s likely.  I bought it because it was similar to this dress, by Piazza Sempione, from my inspiration folder.

It’s really close.  If it’s like the other fabric it will wrinkle, so I may underline this time.

And finally, I got a wool tweed. The quality is beautiful – I bought it when it was on sale for $8 a yard, and it feels much more expensive.  Good for a skirt or jacket, but a little too heavy for a dress in my opinion.  I’m making Simplicity 2343, and I will certainly be besting the pricetag of Anthropologie’s version of that skirt!

crafts · fashion · Sewing

In which I talk about clothes I didn’t make, and those I haven’t made yet

Thanks to your feedback, I’m writing up an online fabric shopping guide.  It may take a few days, since I want to discuss the things that make shopping online so daunting, such as the myriad of fabric types and weaves.  In the meantime, how about I show you clothes I didn’t make?

I have the hardest time buying jeans.  I have literally not bought a new pair in five years, but it was time – I like to wear jeans with heels for going out sometimes, or to work, and my old ones were just not working for that anymore.  I went to the Gap and tried on literally all of their styles – no dice, I am between sizes there, and I’m pretty picky about styles too.  I went to department stores and tried on really expensive jeans, with no better results.  I walked by NY&Co and saw they were having a pants sale.  I went in on impulse, and found the first pair of jeans in years that fit me!

These are the flares.  I bought a petite size 6, because their petite sizes run true (I wear a 2 in their regular pants, and I don’t think I am a size 2… maybe in the top, but not the bottom. I wore a six 15 years ago, and I have not gotten smaller.)  My fitting issues are: I am pear shaped, and I do have hips larger than you would expect for my small frame (don’t worry for my body image, I’m not saying I’m fat, it’s just how I’m shaped!)  I have very skinny ankles and calves, and I can’t wear skinny jeans at all without looking like a stork.  I like bootcuts because they balance me out, and I like a midrise – not too high or low.  I have short legs, but I’m not a petite – this means that the crotch length on petite jeans is often too short for me, but regular jeans are really too long (and I hate the look of home hemmed jeans.)  These could perhaps be an inch longer, but I like that I can wear them with flat shoes – something I cannot do with my regular jeans.  I also think that we all wear our pants too long – I hate seeing someone’s shoes completely disappear under their pants!

I could perhaps do without the whiskering on the hips, but I’m awfully pleased with these.  They might have a touch of lycra, but they don’t stretch out as much as my stretch jeans do.  I bought 2 pair, since they were buy one get one free.  I had literally not shopped in that store since they were called Lerner’s NY.   I also was able to finally fulfill one of my summer lusts from their $8 clearance section!

Yes, I have a maxi dress, just in time for fall (oops!)  I love this fabric.  Olive or avocado green is one of my favorite colors, and it works pretty well on me (which might be because of the hair, because when I had other hair colors I looked like death in this color… interesting how your hair color affects what you can wear.)  I’m wearing this today with a cardigan.    I never did find either fabric or a decent pattern to make my own, but I’m happy enough with my 8 dollar dress.  I like it so much that I’m making a cardigan to go with it, so that I can wear it during September and not break my pledge – I must get as much wear in as I can before the cold weather arrives!

And finally, I have been sewing.

This Vogue pattern is from the late 60s.  I love the square neckline and the empire lines.  I’m making it from a stretch wool crepe (on the right, the dark purple) from Gorgeous fabrics, and I’m underlining it in a lightweight silk twill (on the right.)  I thought about not underlining, but I think this pattern really needs the structure in order for the a-line to stand out properly.  I also don’t want to wear the crepe right next to my skin, as this one is a bit – not scratchy exactly, just not pleasant!  The silk twill was ordered ages ago from Fashion Fabrics club, and was a disappointment – I neglected to read the part of the description that said it had a sueded finish, and that it was blouse weight.  I know better now, but since it was my fault I didn’t send it back – I’m happy it can get used here, and while it doesn’t match, I think the contrasting purples are rather nice.

I made a muslin of the bodice.  I thought that the drawing was just stylized, but as it turns out the bodice cuts off really high.  It’s not bad, but I’m going to lengthen the bodice to have the skirt start right underneath, at the empire line.  It will be more flattering I think.  Other than that, the bodice fits great.  I love how these old patterns are more reasonably sized – I took an inch out of the side seams, to match my bust measurement (31.5, smaller than the 32.5″ pattern) and it fits perfectly!

Watch for the fabric shopping post in the next few days!

crafts · Life · Sewing

Midweek randomness (my goodness, it’s almost September!)

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a few days – we visited my in-laws in Cincinnati, and I’ve been fighting off a sinus infection.  I’m finally feeling almost better, and I’m anxious to get back to my sewing room!  I can’t seem to organize my thoughts, so here is a convenient list of all the random creative things I’m thinking of lately.

Self-stitched September is almost here!  Just to review, my version of the pledge says that I will wear something I’ve made every day, but every item I’m wearing doesn’t have to be handmade – I simply don’t have enough basics to make it through a month that way.  It’s going to be hard enough making it with this version (I think that come weekends I will get sad that I never made casual clothes.)

– I’m joining the Lady Grey sewalong at Gertie’s blog.  I’m very excited yet intimidated.  I have an obsession with coats, and the idea of making my own appeals to me greatly.

Fashion Fabrics club has a pretty good sale on right now – most of their wools and cottons.  I find ordering from them a bit like fabric roulette, as the descriptions are lousy and the photos are tiny.  But – if you watch other fabric sites you can often find really nice fabrics for a fraction of their cost elsewhere.  I bought the fabric for Butterick 5490 from them for some ridiculously cheap amount, because they had mislabeled it as a cotton (instead of a cotton/silk blend, which is what it definitely is.)  I ordered 2 knit prints, a tweed suiting, and a nice cotton print for under $60.  We’ll see how I like them when they show up in a month (yes, the shipping is painfully slow, but I can be patient when I’m getting something for $4 a yard instead of $18.)

– I had  a few readers ask me for a review of the websites I’ve ordered from… would that be helpful?  I order almost all of my fabric, since I have no good local sources, so I’ve ordered from a bunch, some multiple times.  If it would be helpful I can write a post.

– I haven’t sewn at all since Friday, since I can’t decide what to make next.  I think I may make the 60s style suit I posted about recently… I just need to get some motivation!

– I have gotten my copies of all the fall fashion magazines, and I must say that I’m glad this is a year where things I like to wear are in style – full skirts, high waisted wide leg pants etc… hooray for that!

– I actually went clothes shopping this weekend – my denim situation was dire, so I forced myself to buy some new jeans and black dress pants at NY&Co.  I also tried on some of the newer pants trends.  Let me tell you, I’m thinking that skinny jeans and jeggings are trends that I will not be taking part in.  Who does this look good on?  Not me… makes my hips look wide as a house.  I’ll stick to my bootcuts, thanks.  I might buys some straighter jeans to wear tucked into boots, but then again maybe not… I have a hard time finding any that I like!

–  More later, when I can organize my thoughts!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Vogue 8667: the leopard print obsession continues

Pattern: Vogue 8667, view B

Fabric: Charcoal ponte knit from Joann (one of their new seasonal collections, this fabric is still available.)


When I was 14 years old or so, leopard print enjoyed a comeback.  I recall at one point having leopard shoes, a leopard purse, and a leopard coat all at the same time.  That must have been a whole lot of look!  I’ve dialed it back since then… one animal print item at a time.  I like this one because it’s gray, which honestly is much better on me that brown.

This was my favorite dress in the Vogue fall patterns this year.  I was attracted to the rolled bias collar and the skirt options.  I found this ponte knit at Joann and thought it would make a great fabric for this dress (which calls for lightweight doubleknits, among other choices.)  Technically, this isn’t a pattern for knits.  It isn’t sized for knits, so I had a to make a few adjustments (this ponte is stretchier than some doubleknits.)  I graded it down a size (to a size 6.)  I usually wear an 8 in Vogue patterns, but because I was using a knit I wanted it to be more snug.

I omitted the back zipper (no need in a knit!) and the lining, making this a really quick project.  I think I was missing part of the instructions in my pattern – it contained no hemming info, and only the barest information on attaching the collar.  I used a sewing book from the 1960s to tell me how to do a bias rolled collar, although I suppose I’m not absolutely certain that it’s the way it’s supposed to be.  I slip stitched the collar down on the inside.  Because this is a knit, the collar has a bit more of a cowl-neckline look.  I’m not generally a huge cowlneck fan, as I think they make my shoulders look broad, but this one is pretty small, and I think it’s pretty.

Most of this dress was constructed using a narrow zig-zag stitch.  My serger doesn’t like double-knits so much, and the machine works fine.  I even machine hemmed it (and you can’t see it – yay!)  I think I would like this with a belt, but I haven’t found the right one yet.

I’d like to make it again using a woven, so that I can get the collar to stand up a bit.  It’s an excellent pattern, and I recommend it – I’m looking forward to wearing it in the fall (well, I’m wearing it today, but I think it looks more like an early fall dress.)

crafts · fabric · Sewing

The importance of a swatch

I pretty much do all my fabric shopping online, excepting the occasional good fabric at Joann or Hancock’s.  And I am often guilty of buying without asking for a swatch, even though I’m pretty sure I could save myself trouble that way.  I’m just impatient, you know?  I make allowance for color difference – nothing is ever quite right on my monitor, and that’s ok.  But sometimes?  Things just aren’t as they seem.  Last week I ordered some fabric and swatched from Mood.  Here is the photo of the fabric I bought from their website:

And here is what showed up at my house:

You see what’s going on here?  Someone photographed the wrong side of the fabric!  Luckily, the back side is just as pretty, so I get to make my black and red suit anyway. I’m looking forward to wearing this in the fall!

I also ordered some swatches, and for 50c each they are nice and big.  I’m glad I did, because it helps me to decide.

Purple wool crepe for this vintage vogue suit.  I’m glad I got a swatch, because I feel like the fabric is too thin, and the color a bit too harsh for my plans (it’s lighter and brighter in real life, though on my monitor this photo looks like the colors I actually wanted… I will have to try again.  I love this pattern!)

Wool tweed, for this vintage pattern.  This is actually darker than I thought, and while it is blue technically, it’s so dark that it might as well be black.  I am undecided as yet… I may want to try again for something that has a bit more color to it (I do love black though…)

I also ordered some random swatches, and I’m going to be ordering a few of those.  I want to make a Chanel style jacket (possibly Vogue 7975, though I would love imput if you’ve ever made this sort of jacket.)  One of the swatches is a boucle that I love for that.

So what does this teach me?  Order swatches.  It’s not as though I don’t have fabric for 90 projects lying around anyway (ok, not quite that many…) so I shouldn’t be in such a hurry.  Almost everywhere I shop offers swatches, and unless I think it’s going to sell out, or it’s super cheap, I’m going to try (I’m actually quite happy with my suit fabric, once I figured out that I needed to use the wrong side… luckily that has a happy ending, unlike the time I ended up with 4 yards of Barney the dinosaur purple silk twill (still unused, but I might turn it into a tunic… it’s not so overwhelming that way.))

Do you order swatches?  Am I the only one who is so impatient?

crafts · fabric · Sewing

Greetings from Waddersville

Yes, it’s true… things have not been going well with Vogue 1192, and the time has come that we must part ways.

From the envelope photo, I thought that the side pleats would be lovely and elegant.  In truth?  Side pleats=an instant extra 10 pounds on me.  I don’t like ruching or wrap waists, or anything really that adds bulk and folds of fabric around the midsection, a fact which I conveniently forgot.  “But it’s a mock wrap style,” I thought, “Surely that’s not the same!”  It’s possible that a lighter fabric might have less of this effect (this is a medium weight,) but the extra fabric for the tucks has to go somewhere.

In addition, it’s rather large through the shoulders.  And I think there might be an error with the largest front lining piece.  Mine did not come out the same length as the back pieces (but I suppose this could be operator error, I’m not making it again to find out!)  And the fabric is rather icky.  Does anyone else hate the smell of polyester when you iron it?  It reminds me of choir robes… so many memories of overheated Sundays.  So oh well – I will rescue the zipper for another project.  This was at least not fancy fabric, so I consider it a lesson learned!

I am instead going to start Vogue 8667, since my knit tricot lining fabric arrived today.  I can’t wait (I know this style will suit me!)  I ordered a few new pieces from (love them!)

The fabric on top is rayon challis in a lovely raspberry.  I will say that this is not the same challis I bought from them in the summer… it’s thicker and perhaps a bit more rough.  I will have to wash it to see, but I think it will work for a 1940s pattern (I was going to use the Vogue reissue 2876, but since I note that it has a side tie I think I’m switching that… I have a ton of 40s patterns and I’ll go through them.)  The printed fabric is from Patty Young’s new collection of interlock knits, and I’m going to use it for Vogue 8593 (the Michelle Obama dress.)  Interlock is one of the recommended fabrics.  I love the print!

These are both Sophia doubleknits.  A few of you told me how nice they were, so I had to find out for myself!  The green (which in real life is a gorgeous dark teal) is for Vogue 8413, because I love the stand-up color that looks very 60s.  I bought the gray for a jacket, but it’s a bit too light and drapey for that – it will also be a dress, I’m not yet sure what.  I bought all these knits because I really want some knit dresses to wear for self stitched september -I love my ponte dress!

I’ve worn that dress 3 times already.  I wore it yesterday to get my hair done:

I went a bit shorter – it’s shoulder length with an angle in the front, and should be great for lots of hairstyles.  It was getting a bit too long to do what I like with it.  The color is a cool mahogany.  It isn’t this bright in normal light, but I love how it looks in the sun.  In normal light it is dark.

Closeup of the color: I love it!  My hairdresser is so great, I wouldn’t trust anyone else to deal with my frequent color changes!

I’m off to cut some patterns… my left thumb still isn’t 100%, but luckily I don’t need it for that!

crafts · Sewing

Ok, one more…

warm weather dress, that is!

This is Vogue 1192, an Anne Klein design from the new fall collections of patterns.  I hadn’t originally intended to buy this one – I like it quite a bit, but I thought I must have another dress pattern with this side pleating, as they are quite trendy lately.  I don’t, it appears, but what I did have was this great matte charmeuse, which was crying out to be a sheath dress:

It’s heavier than regular charmeuse, it feels more like a matte satin to me.   It’s some sort of synthetic with stretch (though I’m negating that by using a non-stretchy bemberg lining.)  I’m making this dress for a late summer wedding.  The pattern itself looks really simple – only 5 pattern pieces, and that includes the lining being separate pieces.  Going by the numbers printed on the tissue I’m cutting an 8 for the bodice and 10 for the hips.  No muslin – I’m using the lining as my muslin, and I’ll cut the fashion fabric after I fit that.  I love the colors of this print, and of course I love this sort of brush-stroke print.  Wish me luck!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

My first jacket! (Simplicity 2443)

Pattern: Simplicity 2443 by Cynthia Rowley

Fabric: 2 yards of lightweight denim, leftover scraps of polka-dot stretch poplin for facings

Notes: I know I said I was going to wait on this one, but I loved my dress from the pattern so much that I had to make the jacket right away!  I was a little bit intimidated, because I’ve never made a jacket, but it all went fairly smoothly.

I have a denim jacket, but it’s a traditional levi jacket with the heavy hardware, long sleeves etc.  I wanted something dressy, so I picked out this lightweight denim (think trouser jean weight.)  The color is most like the close-up photos, not nearly as blue as it looks full length.

This is the actual color of the jacket.

I made several pattern alterations before I cut my fabric.  First of all, I didn’t want the jacket to be as boxy as it appears on the pattern, so I tapered in towards the waist, ending at the top of the waistband.  In all I removed 3 inches of width from that area.  I only adjusted the sides, since it was the shape I was concerned with, not the width of the front or back pieces.   I also removed most of the ease from the sleevecaps – about 3/4″ worth in this case.  I did this by drawing a horizontal line across the pattern piece right above the notches and folding a tuck to take out the depth.  That way the cap remains basically the same shape.  I have read a few articles about sleevecap ease, and most agree that you need far less of it.  I find easing sleeves frustrating, so I’m more than happy to remove the excess – and it fits fine.  In fact, I think the fit is better on me, not so puffy (but I do have small shoulders – not narrow, just small – so YMMV on that.)  The sleeve went in with no ease stitches at all – a miracle to me!  You may notice that I left the center decorative bars off – I thought there was enough going on, but if I made it again I might add them to hide the topof the darts!

I thought the directions were truly excellent – there were many new to me techniques, but they were all well illustrated and explained.  I did have some trouble with the placket, but I’ve never made one before – in fact, I had to go look through my closet for examples before I could even understand how they were meant to look!  I installed one placket by the instructions, and one with a one piece placket method I found online.   The one piece is easier, though a bit thick for my fabric.  I would certainly use it for a shirt!

Straight hair today – different!

As you can see, no buttons yet.  I’m not sure yet how I want to handle it, and since I’m not closing it anyway I’m not too worried.  I’ll figure something out.  And that didn’t stop me from wearing it out to my birthday dinner!  We went to Proof, which is located downtown on Main at 21C.  21C is an art gallery hotel, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone visiting Louisville – we stayed there for our wedding, and it’s wonderful!

I guarantee you will see this jacket plenty for Self-Stitched September – it’s going to be great for turning my summer dresses into garments appropriate for early autumn!

crafts · patterns · Sewing

Sewing ergonomics and new Fall patterns

Threads magazine has an article this month about setting up your sewing room for proper ergonomics.  My wrist scare – which brought up fears of carpal tunel or worse –  has made me think about updating my furniture.  I have the big cutting table from Joann, and it’s ok, but I think I need to raise it up a bit (I’m a little taller than average.)  I need a new chair, because I am using, no joke, one of the vinyl covered chairs from my 1950s kitchen dinette set.  It’s way too low, and it doesn’t have wheels.  But I’m starting to think I need an actual sewing table for my Bernina, and I’m stumped.  I know I want to be able to recess the machine.  And I don’t want anything too flimsy.  But I also don’t want to spend a fortune.  Do you have a sewing table that you’re happy with?  Any recommendations for me?  I’d really appreciate it!

Simplicity has released the rest of their fall patterns (why do it in 2 pieces?) and the Buttericks are out as well.  I only like one of the Simplicity patterns.

The purple ruffled jacket is very Anthropologie-esque I think.  I would not make it purple.  I also like the leather with the ruffled neck.    The less said about the giant elastic cuffs on the bottom two the better.  They also released a new PR dress, but I will have to see it made up… I don’t like the envelope photos very much at all.

Butterick had a few cute patterns this time.  I’ve only made one Butterick pattern before, but sometime perhaps I will get to more.

I like this a lot.  It does look a bit like a coat in the back, but that’s ok.  On that point, whatever happened to the coat dress?  I come across vintage patterns for coatdresses all the time, and to the modern eye they look strange – like you wore your coat indoors to a party or something.   The neck and empire waist of this pattern would work for me.

Cute.  Very dramatic, but the sleeves are long enough to not get in my way.

I like the seaming, and how that top piece stands away from the body a bit.  I’m not sure I would make it, but it does make it more interesting than the standard sheath.

I love a peplum.  I spent an hour last week going through every pattern tagged “peplum” on Etsy.  I also like the sparkley shoulders, which remind me of last week’s Project Runway winning dress.  I’m not sure I like how high the neck is, at least not for me.

The rest of the patterns were ok (really, how many versions of the waterfall cardigan do we need?  And I like them, but still… too many!)

I’m going to finish up my jacket this weekend and get a start on another dress – I’m not sure what yet.  I’m also contemplating placing an order from Fashion fabric club.  I’ve ordered twice before, and it’s sort of like playing fabric roulette – you never quite know what you’re getting, but overall I’ve been pleased.  I need to get some fabrics for the fall projects I have planned (I am in denial about the 100 degree heat today.)

Let me know if you have a sewing table you would recommend!

crafts · Sewing


Thanks for the concern on my hand – it’s on the mend, but not all better yet.    I’m probably going to need to go to the doctor… ugh.   I’ve been teaching one handed all week!  I’m becoming adept at sewing with one hand too.

I was able to make a start on my jacket.  I made several changes without a muslin, which I know is like playing with fire, so let’s hope that it goes well!  Here’s where I am now:

I’m still deciding on the ribbon issue – I’m actually thinking I will use buttons instead.  I’m not going to fasten it anyway, so it’s just for show.  I’m very pleased with my pockets.  I’ve never done patch pockets before!  The directions said to topstitch 1/4 inch away from the edge, but that looked awful so I just topstitched close to the edge.

I’m using my leftover polka dot poplin (from my Rooibos dress) to do all the facings, in order to reduce bulk.  I love the peek of dots inside the pocket flaps!

That’s all for now – my workweek is over, and I’m off to have rehearsal and mexican food.