crafts · patterns

Summer patterns

As promised, here are my picks from the summer Vogues (and the summer McCalls for good measure!)

1299 – Rebecca Taylor design.  I love the style of this dress – it looks easy to wear and perfect for summer.  Reading the instructions I realized it actually has 2 fabrics – notice the design on the ruffle is smaller.  However, I think I would make it from a single fabric, as I don’t think I would find such a perfect match!

1298 – Rachel Comey design.  The back of this dress is really pretty, and I like the slightly raised waist and hemline in the front.

8805 – Color blocking!  I’m thinking of a linen for this dress.

1300 – DKNY design.  I don’t like this color, but I think the dress itself has possibilities.  Every year there is a dkny dress that I think looks like an awful sack, which turns out to be flattering to everyone.  This might be this year’s edition, so I think I would make it!

8812 – My vintage Vogue pick.  The other vintage pattern has a really high neck, and I can’t do those.  This one though – love the gathered cups on the bodice!  And it’s not a fabric hog like some vintage patterns, so I could probably make it from fabric I already have!

1306 – Rebecca Taylor.  Three very different summer knit tops – I’m in!  I like this one, which puts lace trim to good use, the best.

8819 – The swing cardigan done in stripes.  Love this!  Of course, I would have to actually do stripes, as I don’t think the lines of the pattern would be as striking in any other fabric.

8804 – Chanel style jacket by Claire Schaeffer.  I actually bought a wool tweed to make a chanel jacket last year, but then I decided I didn’t like the previous vogue version of this style.  Real Chanel jackets have a little shaping and aren’t entirely boxy.  I’m hoping this pattern will go with that style, as the straight boxy ones just don’t work on me.  I’m going to wait for reviews before picking this up.

I also like two new McCalls:

6559: The tank dress I’ve been waiting for!  I have a large scale knit print saved for this one.  I would do the racerback version.

6562: I like the modeled view, although I do hope it looks good when not standing like your spine has been removed!


crafts · Sewing · Thrifting

Ok, point taken!

After you all weighed in yesterday (for the record, no one besides me thought that I should give up!) I decided to continue on with my dress.  I attached the peplum in hopes that it would pull down the wrinkles.  The results?  Success!

(why yes, the sweatpants are part of the outfit!)

I’m feeling much better now that I’ve tried it on.  Sometimes I get a lot of anxiety about how a project will turn out – especially when I haven’t made a muslin, and I can’t try it on yet!  I have made some initial alterations:

I removed 1.5″ at center back (I’m holding it where I want the excess out in this photo)  I’m also going to taper the waist in a little when I sew the final side seams.

I’m no longer planning to use the sleeves.  I really like how it looks sleeveless, so I will finish the armholes and neckline with some skinny red bias binding and call it a day!

I’m not lining it – one of you mentioned that it would be harder to iron after cleaning that way, and you had a point!  I agree with Carolyn that underlining would help.  I still have flashbacks about the time involved in my last underlining project, so I’m going to skip that this time, but I do agree – it’s the best way to avoid wrinkles!

am going to line the skirt.  I’d imagine it will be easier to wear in the winter that way.  I’m also planning to shorten and peg (taper) the skirt, to give it a more vintage feel.

The waist on this baby is super duper high.  I like that – goes with the vintage feel.  This will be lovely for sipping bourbon cocktails on derby day, yes? (Notice I didn’t say mint juleps, a drink which I am convinced someone invented to trick the tourists with something gross!)

Other random thoughts this week:

– I can’t wait for the new Vogue patterns – I’ve seen the line drawings (thread here) and they look good (and yes, there are several peplums in this collection!)  I will post my opinions when they are up.

– I need to clean out my closet for real.  I’ve been doing some thrift shopping, and that means I need to get rid of some dead weight (and donate it back to the charity shop… it’s like the cycle of life!)  My husband wonders how I could need more clothes and… yeah, he has a point.  But!  If I didn’t check often I would have missed out on this:

Yes, that is the faux leopard jacket (circa late 1950s or early 1960s) that I have been dreaming of for years!  I kept wanting to buy one, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay much for an item with limited  usefulness.  So when I went to the shop and saw this sitting with the other coats I grabbed it immediately.  And how much was it?  Five dollars!  And it’s my size, in perfect condition with lining, original label etc (Btw, if you have any vintage labels you wonder about I recommend this resource –  I have found it useful in dating my vintage clothing!)

That’s all for now – hopefully I will be back soon with a completed outfit!


A wrinkle in my plans

I’m about to make a heretical confession, so listen up:

I don’t like sewing with cotton

*Pause for effect*

I know, I know… cotton is the most user friendly fiber that exists.  I love the prints (which are easier to find than my preferred rayons) and it is pretty easy to sew.  I always recommend starting with cotton for new sewers.  So what’s the problem?

Well, for me it’s an issue of upkeep.  Truth be told, no matter how good my intentions, I hate to iron.  And I know that anything I make from cotton will require ironing before every wear (and may still give the appearance of an unkempt hobo by midday).   I don’t know if I’m just prone to wrinkles, but nothing stays ironed on me for more than five minutes.

Then there is the issue of weight and drape.  I most often make dresses, and I order most fabric online due to the lack of local sources in my city.  And many sites are remarkably vague about their offerings, leaving off critical information such as “Fabric is sheer.  Must be lined or risk social suicide.” (Ann at Gorgeous fabrics always lists if something is sheer, and I love her for that!)  Not all voiles are equal – some are sheer, others just drape well.  Some sateens are lovely and soft, others stand away from your body like a suit of polka-dotted armor.

Which brings me to my current project.  Yes, I found my pattern, and now I’ve cut the fabric.  I’m in the midst of construction, but I’m having an issue.  This fabric (which is one the stiff side, thus why I chose it for this fitted pattern) wrinkles if I so much as think about it from another room.  It will wrinkle on its way from the ironing board to the machine.  Seriously, it is terrible.  I wasn’t planning on lining the dress, but I will if it would help with the wrinkling.   So what do you say?  Will lining help with my issues, or will I end up with an outfit that can only be worn while standing up?

Please note that it has been carefully hanging over a railing, not crumpled up in a ball under the bed.  I’m also not thrilled with how those princess seams look – no matter how I clip, trim, and which way I press them, they always look wrinkly.  Of course, it will look different with a body inside, but I’m wondering… is it worth it?  I’m considering throwing in the towel on this one, but I need some advice.  I have a really hard time giving up on projects, and I have too many that I never wear!

crafts · food · Sewing

Upcoming plans and chocolate waffles

With spring break over, the end of the semester is so close I can taste it!  Although I don’t take summers off, they do tend to be a bit less intense.  And with the end of this semester comes this:

Yes, I am participating this time.  I kind of burned out on the me-made challenges and didn’t do the last few.  But right now I feel like I need some accountability in how I dress – what with being in class with 20 year olds all the time, I find it very easy to just wear jeans and still feel overdressed (I don’t remember everyone wearing sweatpants when I was originally in school, but perhaps I didn’t notice, as I can’t remember what people wore at all.)

I plan to do weekly posts here, and to post daily to the flickr group.

I have a few things going on in may that I want new dresses for.  They are:

The Kentucky Derby: Yes, it’s true, as a local the derby is pretty unexciting to me.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have things to do!  I’m singing/playing for a fundraising brunch on Oaks day (the race the day before derby, or “derby for locals” as we usually call it.)  I also have a few Derby parties to attend, though those are more casual.  Here is what I’m thinking:

Amity at Amity Originals actually went back and reviewed this pattern for me, years after she made it.  Thank you so much – it did help, and now this is up next!  Assuming, of course, that I can actually figure out where my pattern is.  I think I cut it out, but now it is lost in my house (it’s just barely possible that I am not the neatest housekeeper ever…)  I’m hoping to find it soon so I can get started.  I’m planning to use self-fabric covered buttons up the back.  Don’t you think it will be very “day at the races” with a fancy hat?

Graduation: Next up, I need something to wear when I graduate (well, we are gowned of course, but there are other events!)  I want something fun and summery, but still dressed up:

Simplicity 1803 – As you can see, I was originally planning on this for Easter, but I never got to it.  I’m leaning towards the dots, which is becoming a bit of a theme for me.  The floral is a bit more faded looking in real life, but I like it!

These are hopefully my next two projects.  I should have considerably more free time in May, so I may get some more done (not before though – I have so much to do right now!)

Updates on my other random hobbies:

Yoga: Thank you for all your suggestions for yoga I might enjoy!  I ended up joining My yoga online – it’s only $10 a month, and they have a ton of very well produced practices.  I’m a fan of streaming services (we went all streaming last year, and don’t miss cable tv a bit!)  I hook my laptop up to my tv with an s-video cable, so it’s very easy for me to use these workouts.

Cooking: I’m still making an effort to cook more.  I have several days a week when I have to eat out due to my schedule (and because I want to socialize) so if I don’t make the effort to cook the other days then I never will.  I feel like I’m starting to get better at this!  Here are a few of my recent favorite recipes:

Tahini roasted broccoli over bulgur  from Vegetarian Times – I’ve actually made this twice now.  I replace the raisins with dried cranberries (I don’t like raisins) but other than that follow the recipe.  It seems simple, but it’s so good – and roasting broccoli makes it great even for broccoli haters (my husband calls this “hummus broccoli” because that’s what it tastes like.)  Broccoli is my favorite vegetable, so obviously I like it.

Chocolate coconut “luna” bars – I have an obsession with luna bars, but they are so pricey!  This is a great copycat, which I actually prefer to the luna coconut flavor.  My alterations: I used agave nectar instead of the brown rice syrup, chocolate peanut butter (Justin’s brand,) no protein powder, and dark chocolate chips (Hershey’s special dark) instead of the vegan ones in the recipe.  They turned out really well!

I also made up a recipe for chocolate waffles.  I love the chocolate chip pancakes at IHOP, but I prefer waffles, so I used a few different recipes to work with what I had to make my own.  I know the yogurt sounds weird, but I always use it in baked goods – it’s healthy, and it doesn’t alter the taste like applesauce does.  Yes, my parents were hippies, and I picked these things up from them!  My Mom used to make her own yogurt all the time.  I’m not that hardcore, but I usually have yogurt around.  I got so used to eating it growing up that I don’t like to be without.

These waffles are nicely chocolate without being too sweet.  If you like, you can use chocolate chips in the batter instead of mixing them in, to get chocolate chip waffles.

Chocolate yogurt waffles (makes 4)

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

6 oz vanilla almond milk or soy milk

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

5 Tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla milk)

2 oz greek yogurt (I used Stoneyfield farms Oikos chocolate flavor, to give an extra chocolate boost to the batter.)

2 Tbsp chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s special dark)

Powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat dry waffle iron.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside

Whisk together almond or soy milk and vinegar in another bowl.   It will curdle – do not be afraid!  Let this sit for a few minutes.

Combine cocoa powder and chocolate in a bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup boiling water in until melted. Stir milk mix into chocolate.  Add in brown sugar, vanilla, and yogurt.  Add the dry mixture to this bowl and stir until combined.

Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray.  Cook 3 minutes or until done (my waffle iron has a light that goes off.)  Dust with powdered sugar and serve!  These go really well with a berry topping (I like raspberries.)  Mmm… breakfast for dinner.  My favorite!







crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Simplicity 1881: ready for drinks on the forward deck


Pattern: Simplicity 1881, view A

Fabric: Cotton/lycra jersey from fashion fabrics club (long since sold out)

Notions: Bias hem binding tape


My husband was out of town all weekend at a Scrabble tournament.  As any of you with spouses know, a weekend alone can be a great time to hibernate and churn out some clothes in your private sweatshop (literally – my attic is hot!)  Before I knew it, I was finishing this up last night when he got home at midnight.

I bought this fabric a year or two ago.  Initially I was pretty excited by it, as it was a great deal (the same fabric was at Emma onesock for $18 a yard, and I paid considerably less!)  But then I was like “Self, what am I going to do with this crazy fabric?  I like colors, but I don’t want to look crazy!)  So I put it away in a bin and forgot about it until this year.  I’m seeing a lot of these big bold prints right now, so I thought why now?  I love a print maxi!

This is a new pattern – I haven’t seen any reviews yet.  I was attracted to the view with the mullet hem (long in back, short in front) but it wouldn’t work here as my fabric is white on the wrong side.  I almost made the high neckline, as I’ve always avoided halters.  I have always had a bony back and shoulders, and I don’t love exposing that part of me.  But I’ve been working out, and now I have actual muscle tone there (well, and I’m still bony, but that’s ok) so I decided to go for it and take a risk!

The pattern is pretty straightforward, but I do have a few notes.  The biggest is on the way the elastic is attached.  As I mentioned yesterday, it uses a bias hem tape to create a double casing for the elastic – pretty heavy duty!

Even with the elastic, I found that I needed to take the sides in a bit (keep in mind that I lost the elastic guide, so mine may have been too long.)  I cut a 6, which is smaller than I would usually cut, and then took it in more.  This is mostly a result of my desire to make the top secure – I wanted it to fit tightly!  I find that knits in general need to be cut small – the size guide doesn’t always take into account the stretch, and of course every knit is different (mine is pretty stretchy.)

I did not line the midriff.  I just cut an extra out of the fashion fabric and treated it as a sew in interfacing.  I don’t care how the inside looks enough to mess with three layers there!

Here is the back with the extra width taken out:

I am 5’8″ tall and the length is perfect for me without a hem (I don’t hem maxis, so long as they are hanging nicely.)  The cup size of the bodice is fine for my B cup, but would need adjusting for any larger size.  The straps could be longer – I would like a little of the tails to cover the big open space in the back.

I’m very pleased over all.  I can’t really review any of the other instructions because I didn’t use them (though I will say – a zipper?  Not needed.  I didn’t use one.)  I have no earthly clue where I’m going to wear this thing, but if anyone invites me to a tropical luau I am set!



What I’m working on, plus general updates

Thank you for your comments on my ruffled dress – I haven’t gotten to wear it out yet, but I’m planning to wear it for one of the Easter masses I’m doing this weekend.  It’s been super warm here, so I’ve started on a maxi dress (the first of several this year!)

I spent several hours last night constructing the bodice of Simplicity 1881.  I was watching Downton Abbey at the same time, so I was a bit slow.  This pattern uses a method of attaching elastic that I’ve never seen before – you use a piece of bias hem tape to create a casing on the back of the dress.  This is necessary because there are two pieces of elastic holding the dress up, so you need a double casing.  Ordinarily I would just use the seam allowance, but because of the extra elastic I’m trying it their way!  The fabric is kind of crazy, but I’m ok with that – I will be ready for my hypothetical tropical vacation that I’m not taking!

Speaking of maxi dresses, I’ve neglected to talk about the summer Simplicity patterns.  I was able to pick them up for 99 cents in the Joann sale yesterday, which was exciting! I especially love this one:

Simplicity 1804 calls for a knit and has lots of great options.  I plan to make the version photographed in the top right, and I’m considering the crossover halter as well.

Simplicity 1801 is a really cute dress by Cynthia Rowley.  I like the sleeves on the pictured version.  I think this could be cute in several different types of fabric, including  a knit (even though this is not listed in the types, I think a thick-ish stable-ish knit would work and have a nice drape.)


Simplicity 1803 and 1799 are both cute summer dress patterns.  Not breaking any new ground maybe, but they have potential (if you can ignore the awful shiny poly charmeuse on the right.)  I have a ton of fabrics that could work here – I have bought way too many summer prints over time!

Fitness update:

I completed Chalean Extreme (well, I stopped 2 weeks early… the last phase did not agree with my knees) and now I’m doing a modified version of P90x.  I know, I know… I feel silly telling people that, because it seems so macho in the commercials, but it’s not that macho in the dvds, and I’m really enjoying it!

Here are my modifications: basically, I’m doing all the strength training dvds (3 workouts a week) as prescribed in the plan.  Then the plan calls for two days of cardio (a plyometrics dvd and a kickboxing dvd.)  Sometimes I do the plyometrics (I like them) but mostly I’m doing whatever I want on those days.  Right now that’s taking walks, since the weather is so nice!  It’s too hot to do cardio on the 3rd floor.   I am not doing the ab workout, because that takes the workouts to over an hour, and that’s too long for me right now.  Besides, I feel like I get enough ab work in the other dvds and the yoga.  Speaking of…

But the biggest revelation to me has been the weekly yoga.  I’ve never liked yoga – I’ve always found it slow, and sometimes the new age talk is too much for me.  It turns out, what I wanted was a different type of yoga!  The yoga in P90x is Power yoga – it’s not slow and it’s not easy.  I enjoy it, but I went looking for other options and bought some dvds (I love my dvds!)

I watched clips and thought I would enjoy vinyasa flow yoga.  I bought Flow Yoga for beginners by Shiva Rea and really loved it – it’s long, but it’s all doable, and I even was able to enjoy the meditation!  I went back and got her Yoga Shakti, which allows you to design your own workout using a menu system.  Some of it is too advanced for me right now, but I can slowly work my way up to things.  I can’t explain why I suddenly like this sort of thing, but there you go.  The music is pretty, and her speaking voice is pleasant.  The yoga is constantly moving (I guess that’s the flow) and it’s tough.  I try to never say I wouldn’t try something, because I always end up eating my words.  Oh well!

Other random drabbles:

– It’s almost spring break – I plan to make it a sew-cation!  I’ll need the relief after 5 masses easter weekend (luckily that money comes at a good time to make up for the entire week I took off this past week because of my flu!)

– I had dinner off the salad bar at Whole Foods today, and now I must try making my own grilled tofu.  I would not have thought it would be good, but there you go!

– UofL and UK played each other in the Final 4 yesterday.  I’m not a sports fan even a little, and maybe it makes me a bad native, but I was hoping UofL would lose, because I was seriously worried about rioting if they won.  People who aren’t from here just don’t understand the depth of hatred involved in that rivalry.  (and yes, UK won, followed by rioting in Lexington.  The news article I read included the phrase “burning sofa.”  Stay classy, sports fans.)

– One more month before I graduate!  I have my cap and gown and everything.  After all this time it almost doesn’t feel real!

– My friend who I’m teaching to sew sent me a text this morning that consisted of a photo of her new sewing table.  I’m so happy that I’m no longer the only person I know who gets excited by things like that.

That’s all for now!