crafts · Sewing

Look what followed me home…

What’s this?

Ah yes… a sign that my pattern problem has finally sent me round the bend!  My Hancock’s got new pattern cabinets (when were Vogues 50% off all the time?)  They were selling off the old cabinets, and my husband bought one for me!  He even knew to buy the Vogue cabinet, because it has room for the larger designer envelopes in the top drawer.

It’s actually in pretty good condition – just the usual dings, and a bit of rust on the bottom around the edges, probably from floor mopping.  I’m planning to remove all the stickers, and repaint it in these colors:

I’m going to sand and prime, and then paint it Gray all over, with pink drawer fronts.  I plan to finish with a coat of clear sealant.  I’ve repainted a ton of similar metal pieces, and this combo makes them super durable.

I have been having a terrible pattern organization problem – I have patterns everywhere, and it takes ages to find something!  Hopefully this cabinet will allow me to be a bit more organized.

What else followed me home?  A new iron!

This is the Black&Decker classic, which several of you recommended.  It was inexpensive, and it weighs a ton (great for ironing, as it takes less work from me!)  I plan to save up for a more professional system (perhaps a gravity feed) and then use this as a dry iron after that.  In the meantime it will work just fine for me!  It doesn’t steam at lower settings, and with an all metal sole it has a bit more drag, but I find that the weight (and, I can’t lie, the vintage charm) make up for that!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Vogue 8728: Finished. Also finished: my iron

Pattern: Vogue 8728

Fabric: Poly charmeuse from Joann’s (in their current special collections) 2 yards

Notions: invisible zipper, solvy stabilizer

Sacrificed: one Black & Decker digital advantage

As you may have gathered, my iron died as I finished this dress.  The temperature went crazy and melted a tiny bit of the hem, and now it refuses to heat at all.  So I need a new iron.  Do you like yours?  Recommend it to me!  I’d like something I don’t have to order (I have all the usual chain stores here.)  I like a lot of steam, and the ability to steam at lower temperatures.  Heavier is better.  I don’t care if it has auto shutoff or not, so long as it doesn’t shut off after a really short time.

Moving on…

Thank you for your votes – I decided to make the Vogue vintage dress first.  Many of you said you wanted a review of that pattern, since it is so new!  I expected it to take me through the weekend, but the pattern was much easier to put together than I anticipated.  Here is my pattern review: 

Pattern Description: MISSES’ DRESS AND BELT: Dress has shoulder pads and side snap or zipper closing.

Pattern Sizing: I cut between sizes: an 8 for the shoulders, 10 for the chest, and between a 10 and 12 for the waist and skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?I’m actually surprised that it does, even though I don’t have 6 foot long legs the way the pattern illustration seems to!

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were great. I am never disappointed in these vintage patterns! It included several techniques that made the dress a little more special, such as lapped seams on all horizontal seams. It also included instructions for using tearaway stabilizer on the neck gathers, which I think is a great tip!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I love the style. 1940s patterns really appeal to me, but I don’t like using the vintage unprinted ones, so I’m really glad for the reissue!

Fabric Used:Polyester charmeuse from Joanns. I expected it to be much worse than it was – all the stabilizing called for in the pattern really helped with the slippery fabric!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:I did not make the shoulder pads or belt. I did reduce the shoulder depth to make up for the lack of pads (I just cut one size down in length.) I could still put them in, but honestly I think it is fine without them.

I used an invisible zipper rather than snaps, and I did stabilize that area before sewing in the zipper.

I removed 5 inches from the length of the skirt, and used a baby hem.  I also baby hemmed the sleeves.  All seams were finished with serging.

The only real difficulty I had was with the bias neck binding. However, it may be due to the polyester – I never get a nice binding when I use a polyester, it always twists on me!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?Absolutely! I think it would look fabulous in a lightweight cotton for summer, or a silk jersey for a more dressy look.

crafts · knitting · Sewing

Decisions (In which I am bad at them!)

I spent Easter weekend in Cincinnati – I was hired by a downtown church to sing their Easter masses, and we stayed with my husband’s family.  I had intended to finish up my Audrey sweater, but I left the instructions at home!  Still, it is nearly finished now (I worked on it last night while I performed my lone Easter tradition – watching Jesus Christ Superstar.)  Here is where I am:

I shortened the sleeves to elbow length – I turned out to be just a tiny bit short on yarn, so I finished everything except the sleeves and weighed my remaining yarn to determine how long I could make them.  This yarn (manos silk blend) is beautiful, but I can’t recommend it because it’s pilling while I knit with it – not a good sign for the longevity of my sweater!  I have not bought buttons yet.  Due to the intensity of the color, I can’t match the yarn, so I’m trying to find some contrasting (likely black) buttons that are unusual.

While in Cincinnati, I visited my favorite yarn store there (Knit On in Newport) and bought some yarn for my next knitting  project:

I’ve never used this yarn (Cascade Ultra Pima) but it has the most beautiful shine!  I have wanted to make this sweater forever, but I’m just now getting to it.

Obviously I haven’t been sewing, since I’ve been away from my machine, but I am ready to start my next project tomorrow.  The problem?  I can’t decide which of these dresses to make!  The first:

Vogue 8728 in poly charmeuse.  This pattern had a rather bad review posted to Patternreview the other day, which only makes me more anxious to try it out.  I read through the directions, and they are definitely vintage – the dress uses lapped seams, and sew-in interfacing.  It also has an unusual method of gathering the neck, involving tear away stabilizer.

Butterick 5600, which I mentioned last week, in chambray with pink buttons.  I would probably use the little puffy sleeves as well, but that’s not certain!

So… what say you all?  Which one should I make next?  Otherwise it will probably take me all week to settle on one!

crafts · finished objects · outfits · Sewing

Butterick 5491

Pattern: Butterick 5491

Fabric: Rayon/lycra jersey from Joann’s (current season,) 2.25 yards

Shoes: Chinese Laundry (the blush color is the perfect nude shoe if you are pale and cool toned like me!)


This dress took me much longer than I thought it would!  It is, of course,  entirely my own fault.  I really wanted to use this rayon jersey, because I thought the print would play nicely with all the gathers in the dress.  Unfortunately, I had enough fabric to make the dress, but not to line.  I don’t like to use separate lining fabrics in knits, because it changes the stretch factor (even with a knit lining.)  I managed to cut the bodice lining (although I did have to make one piece backwards, but oh well… who is looking in my dresses?)  I eliminated the front underlining entirely.  This turned out to give me a few headaches, but I stand firm with my decision that three layers of fabric in the front is too much!

Rather than basting the gathers to the underlining, I sewed them to the lining.  I did underline the waist piece (which is only in the front) but did not line it.  The waistband I cut on the straight grain to save fabric.   Since it wasn’t overly stretchy that way (though it stretches enough) I was able to skip the handsewing called for on that piece (tacking the pleats down.)

I  cut a size 8, but I ended up removing about 3″ total from the side seams at the end.  I like a knit dress to fit tightly on the top!

At first I wasn’t sure… should I use the neck piece called for?  I was worried about it stretching out, and the casings were giving me fits (since I had not underlined, it was difficult to sew them evenly.) I did end up using the piece, though my method of attaching was complicated.  I did this last, after constructing the entire dress.  First I threaded the neckband between the fashion fabric and lining (at this point I had not sewn the second line of stitching to make the casing, so it was loose.)  Then I tried it on, adjusted the fabric, and pinned it where I wanted the band to meet the dress.  At this point I removed 3.5″ total from the center back neckband, because it was big on me.  Then I basted the neckband in place.  I still had to sew the casings, and I had a stroke of inspiration – what about using a zipper foot to get close to the neck facing?  So that’s what I did, using a long straight stitch (3.5 mm) and adjusting the gathers by hand as I went (I had to lift the presser foot every few stitches.)  That worked great – they don’t look uneven, and the stitching isn’t crooked the way it was with my normal or walking foot.

I trimmed 4 inches off the bottom of the dress, and then took a 1″ machine hem.

I am totally thrilled with this dress – it looks just how I pictured it!  It did take a long time, but I’m pretty sure that was my fault for trying to squeeze it out of this fabric.  I did not use a zipper, which is fine (the only tight part is the neck, which is my fault for shortening it!)  At this point I have not sewn in the bra cups.   Because it has two layers of fabric and a high waist (and I have no real bosoms to speak of) I’m going without (sorry for the TMI!)  The sides are too low for my strapless.

I recommend this pattern – just follow the instructions, and watch that you don’t cut it too big!  Here is how I’m wearing it today:

Cardigan: NY & Co

Shoes: Mia

Purse: Dooney and Bourke

I’m wearing it to teach with the cardigan, and when I go out with friends later I can take the cardigan off and have a nice going out dress!  It’s 80 degrees and muggy today – I’m a little worried about rain, so I changed into these shoes (which I care less about.)  You can’t see it well in the photo, but this is my new bag for this spring/summer.

It’s the Nina by Dooney and Bourke.  I am slightly obsessed with the color (the perfect tiffany blue!)  I don’t usually get expensive purses, but this one was on clearance (maybe most people don’t want an aqua bag?  I do!)  I’m actually experimenting to see if a nicer purse lasts me longer.  I tend to buy cheap ones, and run through them like crazy.  If this holds up I may adjust my strategy, since after buying 4 cheap purses (my average for a year)I might as well buy one nice one.  This color goes with most of my wardrobe, which is predominantly blue and gray.

crafts · knitting · Sewing

WIPs and future projects

Well, it looks like my sewcation ground to a bit of a halt there at the end!  I had a nasty dentist appointment (having the crown I chipped in Italy replaced,) which took me out for a bit, and then there were actual social obligations – family visits, birthday parties etc – to attend.   In the middle of all that, I had to show our condo for rental (our great renters are finally moving out!) Luckily, it was rented very quickly!  In addition, I’m experiencing a bit of frustration with my current sewing project.

This is Butterick 5491 in rayon jersey from Joann’s.  I had enough fabric to line the bodice, but what I didn’t realize was that it also called for underlining to bodice – that’s 3 layers of fabric in the front!  I didn’t have enough, and I wasn’t going to buy more, so I decided to take away the underlining and just line the bodice normally.  That’s gone fairly well.  The problem I’m having has to do with the neck binding.

The patterns calls for topstitching through the lining and fashion fabric to make the casing for the binding, after the lining has been sewn to the fashion fabric (the gathers for the shoulders are in place at that point.)  I can’t get to look nice at all, which frustrates me.  I think it’s my fabric – the print has so much contrast that I can’t get the topstitching to be invisible, so any unevenness shows.  In addition, the dress is really heavy with all the gathered fabric, and I worry about stretching.  I’m seriously considering creating a tie neckline (as I did in Vogue 8380.)  I think a black grosgrain ribbon would look really good there, and it would provide more support for the dress (I’m glad I left out that other layer – it’s so heavy already!)

But on the bright side – I think the dress is really cute! This photo is a few days old – I’m actually to the point of sewing the side seams (the last thing before the straps!)

I also thought I would show you where I am on my cardigan:

The color is so pretty… I can’t wait to wear it!  I’ve been a bit hung up on winding the yarn.  Usually, when you buy a yarn that isn’t wound into balls, it will be looped in a circle, which you can put on a swift (or some nice person’s outstretched arms) and wind into a ball.  This yarn seems to be wound back onto itself, and it’s taken me over an hour to wind each ball, most of which is spent swearing and untangling.  I have seen some tangled skeins, but never anything like this (the yarn is Manos Wool/silk blend.  Beware!)  I’ve gotten my husband addicted to watching Turner Classic Movies with me, and that’s what we do while I knit.  We just got the channel – where has it been my whole life?  Love it!

I hope to finish the dress this weekend, assuming I can work through my issues.  I do love the crazy fabric!  I have a few fun projects coming up, including a shirt for my husband!

I left him in the pattern section at Joann’s the other day while I was shopping, and he requested a shirt with long sleeves (he can never get long enough sleeves!)  I let him pick out this poplin fabric, and I’m planning to make a muslin this weekend.  I’ve made shirt-like things for me, but I’ve never sewn for anyone else before.  I’m looking forward to it!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Simplicity 2219

Pattern: Simplicity 2219

Fabric: Rayon jersey from ebay, 3.5 yards

Notions: 1/4″ elastic.  I did not use any interfacing on this dress… though I did put twill tape in the shoulder seams to stabilize.


I have an odd fondness for maxi dresses.  When I was in high school in the 90s, I had a whole wardrobe of them.  Until recently, I hadn’t worn one in ten years.  I’m so glad they are back in style again!  When I saw this pattern I knew it was perfect for this rayon jersey (one of my favorite ebay finds!)  I had 3.5 yards, which is actually more than the pattern calls for.  I managed to self-line the entire bodice and still have some left over!  I was attracted to this dress by the empire waist and the thick straps – it looked like you could wear a bra, unlike some maxis!

I cut a size 8, and I could have easily sized down to a six.  I considered leaving out the elastic on the empire line, but I really needed it to take in the extra fabric.  In a size 6 I think I could have left it out.  I’d recommend a little bit of negative ease for the bodice on this dress (ie, a bust size about 1″ smaller than your actual bust.)

The instructions were excellent – I don’t remember having any real issues.  This dress took 2 days to complete, which isn’t bad at all!  The neckline of the dress is low, but not really low enough to be worrisome (YMMV of course, as I don’t have any cleavage to speak of anyway.)  The finish of the lined bodice is very professional!  I am very happy with this dress, and I’m planning to make the shorter version (with the cape sleeves) as well.

I am 5’8″ tall, and I ended up taking a 2 inch hem, rather than the 1.25″ hem called for in the pattern.  My knit is quite heavy, so that might have something to do with it.  I only plan to wear this dress with flat shoes.  Here is the view from above, which I find amusing for some reason… I can just barely see the fronts of my feet, which is the length I prefer for a dress like this.  Too short is unflattering, and too long is a safety hazard!


crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Butterick 5603 – now with modeled photos!

The weather actually decided to warm up, so I was able to get modeled photos of the Butterick vintage pattern.  I find that a few days distance does wonders for my opinion of a pattern, and this is no different.  I was a little lukewarm at first, but now I love it!  Even the shoulder ties look nice to me now.  Of course, it helps that I bought shoes to go with the dress (shoes are my lone shopping indulgence!)  These are called Kendale, and they are from Jessica Simpson.  Are they comfortable?  Not exactly, but they aren’t uncomfortable either!  They are a bit stiff, but I expect they will break in nicely.

The low back is really nice.  What I really love is that you can wear a normal bra with this dress, but it gives the illusion of being bare.

Without a crinoline is still hangs nicely, as you can see above.  The linen is very cool to wear, and with the addition of cotton in the blend it doesn’t wrinkle much at all.  I think I could have actually made the waist an inch smaller, but I’m happy with it – I don’t like a tight waist!  Once again, this pattern is highly recommended – it’s really easy for a vintage pattern, and the directions are excellent!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Butterick 5603

Pattern: Butterick 5603, view B

Fabric: 2.5 yards linen/cotton blend from Joann, cotton batiste for bodice lining

Notes: The first dress of my sewcation!  Actually, the maxi dress is also finished, but I am not really photo ready today, and it’s much too long for the dress form.  This dress is pretty much the same color as the wall I usually take photos in front of, so until it warms up enough to wear it outside I’m going with dress form photos.

I’m fairly happy with this dress – the fabric is so pretty, and it’s nice and light.  The only thing I’m not happy with is the number of pattern alterations I had to do in order to fit myself.  I did not make a muslin – with a simple dress like this I’ve gotten pretty adept at fitting as I go.  In this case, I had a few more issues than I expected!  My pattern review is below:

Pattern Description: Fitted dresses A, B, C with flared skirt, below mid-knee, have lined bodice, princess seams and side zipper. A: bateau neckline with band and bow at upper and lower bodice edges. B: tie wrapped around each shoulder and knotted forms bow. C: bodice crosses at front and back. Purchased petticoat.  I made view B.

Pattern Sizing: Based on the measurements printed on the tissue, I cut a size 10 in the shoulders and chest, blending to somewhere in between a ten and twelve in the waist.  This is not the size I ended up with after alterations though!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, after my alterations.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were excellent.  They were totally clear, even for the lining.  Each bodice variation has its own set of instructions, and all three share the skirt.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I thought the tie shoulders were cute, and I always love a vintage reprint.  I was looking to make a nice summer dress.  My favorite thing, as it turns out, is the v in the back.

The back v is the perfect depth, now that I’ve removed the extra shoulder length.  It doesn’t show my bra.  The front v I don’t like as much – to be honest, it’s a bit high for my taste, but again that may be due to my alterations.

Fabric Used: Cotton/linen blend from Joann’s.  I did not attempt to match the pattern at all – the repeat is large, and to be honest I’m not sure you can tell that much anyway.  I lined the bodice with a white cotton batiste.  I love to use batiste to line summer dresses – it’s so lightweight and cool!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I originally sewed the pattern as drafted, with the only alteration being my two blended sizes.  The bust should have come out at around 35″, which is my normal size for this sort of dress.  It came out a bit large (which may be partly sewing/cutting error,) but the big issue for me was the shoulders.  As drafted, the shoulders are really long.  I don’t have a lot of depth there, and so I had to fix that.  I was sad to have to rip open my pretty lining finish, but it had to be done – I removed 2″ total from each shoulder.  Then I slip stitched the lining where I had opened it to make my adjustment.  I was sad, but as it turns out that seam is covered with the ties, so you can’t see it!

I also took 1.25″ total out of the side seams to fine tune the fit.  Finally, I trimmed five inches off the length before doing a baby hem.  As drafted, the pattern is tea length (not a surprise in a vintage pattern, but I like my skirts shorter.  It falls right at the knee on me.)

Let’s talk about the ties.  To my surprise, the ties are merely decorative – rectangular pieces that are knotted over the shoulder seams.  I’m not sure if I like them – I feel like they look a bit messy, but that may be just me.  I might remake them a bit larger, so they don’t stick up so much.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I wouldn’t, because I only need one,  but I am going to recommend it.  It runs a bit large in the bust, typical for vintage patterns of this era (I can’t say if it’s been modernized, but I would suspect so – the waist measurements are too large for vintage.)  Watch the armhole depth.  Be aware that each bodice version has its own pattern, so this review really only applies to view b – views A and C are different.

Conclusion: As always, I’m glad to see these reissues.  I think all three versions in this envelope are lovely.  For me personally it’s not my absolute favorite style – I have a pretty high hip, so I like a skirt to flare out right away, rather than gradually the way this one does.  Even so, with cute red shoes and jewelry this will be great for warm weather.  As soon as the weather improves I will get some photos on me!

crafts · Sewing


I’m off this week, due to the public schools’ spring break.  I feel like I was just on vacation (because I was) so I didn’t have any real plans for this week.  Inspired by Carolyn, I’m declaring this week to be a sewcation!  I’m hoping to get to three garments, and I’ve already begun a spring maxi dress (above.)

I haven’t seen anyone else tackle this new Simplicity pattern (2219.)  So far it’s been lovely to sew, though the corners do require a bit of thought.  I’m doing a self-lining, as I do with almost all lined knits.  I bought this fabric on ebay, my number one source for nice knit prints.  It’s a really nice quality rayon with a bit of a textured appearance.  I don’t own any knit maxis, and this is the first of two I’m planning for warm weather.  It should be finished today (the skirt bit is not complicated.)  What else am I planning?

Butterick 5603 (another new (well, old pattern, new reprint) pattern) in this cotton/linen print.  I love the tied shoulders.  Here’s hoping it looks ok, since I know I won’t be able to match the print at every seam.

Butterick 5491 in rayon knit print.  I used to own a dress with a similar cut, and I wore it until it fell apart.  Hopefully I will have enough of the fabric to self-line, because my Joann’s is already sold out of this print!  If not I will pick up some cheap, thin knit to line (I dislike tricot, which is what people usually recommend to line a knit.)

So… wish me luck, as I turn my third floor sewing room into my personal sweatshop this week!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Simplicity 2281

Pattern: Simplicity 2281, Cynthia Rowley design

Fabric: Rayon challis, bought off ebay, possibly vintage?

Notions: 22″ Invisible zipper

Notes: I have mixed feelings about Simplicity’s Cynthia Rowley line.  One one hand, it’s a lovely line with some fashion forward designs.  On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Ms. Rowley is designing for someone who does not have my body type.  Simplicity 2443, for instance, is one of my favorite patterns, but I had to alter the dress to get it to suit me.  Specifically, it seems as though most of the designs in the line are long waisted, with a gathered (but not flared) skirt.   I look best in dresses that are higher waisted, with flared skirts.  I don’t like too much blousiness in a bodice.

I was attracted to the neck/shoulder treatment on this dress.  And, indeed, it is lovely!  It’s certainly my favorite thing about the dress.  One bit of oddity – I thought the neckline would be a drawstring halter, because of the ties, but as it turns out the entire thing is sewn in place with binding.  It fits me fine, but I feel like it would be easier to fit the pattern with a drawstring.  The directions at that point were odd also – the illustrations showed the view without the open shoulders, forcing me to guess on exactly how to do the neckline.  At that point, I stopped using the directions entirely, and sewed the rest of the dress without.

The skirt is tulip shaped, which isn’t apparent from the envelope.  I do like a tulip shape, but I think I would like this dress more with a flared skirt.   I left off the pockets, because I didn’t want to add bulk to the skirt.  Be careful when choosing the skirt size to cut – the hip measurements are correct, but the hemline is much more narrow.  I can just fit mine over my hips.  The dress has to go over your head because of the neckline – no stepping in!

My fabric was printed a bit off grain, which isn’t too apparent, but it does bother me a little.  If I were to make this dress again, I would reduce the width of the midriff piece by half.  It’s true that I do have a long torso, but my actual waist is pretty high, and I prefer to emphasize that, to keep my legs from looking short.  I would also switch out the skirt.  I do like this dress – I think it’s very cute for spring, and I really like the blue polka dots!  And I really love the shoulders.

I’m off today to the Simplicity sale at Joann’s – I have a few new patterns to pick up. I will write about my next sewing plans later!  BTW, if anyone saw a weird post from me earlier… that was my husband’s attempt at an April Fool’s day joke.  We have had words about how utterly unfunny I find April Fool’s day, and I do not think he will be posting anymore old, unflattering photos of me.  Just in case you were wondering what was up with that!