crafts · patterns · Sewing

Colette Juniper – assembling the pattern.

Back again – thanks so much for your well wishes on my interview.  Not only did it go well, much better than expected,  but it turns out that one of the positions I applied for earlier this year is open again – I don’t know what happened, but they called me for an audition – yay!

I have been giving more thought to pants, and so I’ve printed and taped the new Colette Juniper Pants, to be made in a wool tweed that I bought a long times ago:

This is my first experience using a Colette PDF file.  I chose to make this first because Colette has awesome instructions, and I wanted help with the construction.  The pants printed on around 40 sheets of paper.  I used leftover cardstock because I wanted a sturdy pattern:
Picture 3847

Yes that is packing tape – I didn’t have anything else!  I taped the sheets the same way I do Burda – I cut the right hand side of each piece off at the line, and the top margin on everything except the top row.  You will overlap the cut end over the uncut end, matching the triangles.  This allows for a sturdy pattern, more than just cutting everything and taping.

Here is my number one tip for cutting patterns.  Buy a second rotary cutter and use it for cutting paper on your mat – so much faster!  I bought a basic cutter when I first started but ended upgrading to a Olfa.  The other one gets used for paper.  It will dull blades eventually, but it’s not so bad.

As is typical for me, I ended up with my pieces a little off at the end – I usually make sure to preserve the cutting lines and don’t worry.  It took about an hour to tape and cut.  It is a lot of work, but I didn’t have to wait for my pattern in the mail!  In addition, I’ve used Colette tissue patterns, and unless they have changed manufacturers I wasn’t thrilled – the tissue was very thin, worse than the big 4!  This way I can put the PDF on my Ipad and not have to print instructions.

I am not making a muslin – I measured the pants against a similar pair and they are close.  I will baste and fit.

Thanks to your suggestions I found a pattern similar to the Papercut pleated trousers I loved – Burda 7250.

burda 7250

I will leave off the cuffs and lengthen instead.  Fabric is technically a denim, but very lightweight with drape – more of a trouser style.  I hope they are cute!
burda 7195

While I was going through the Burda catalog I found these pants – Burda 7195 is an elastic waist pant with a cute little assymetrical peplum.  So unusual!  My husband was sort of horrified by these, but the cutting counter girl assured me that they were stylish.  I will use a drapey, lightweight RPL suiting.   They call for really light fabrics like challis, but for fall I wanted a suiting.  If they work out in my cheap suiting I will make them again in black, so I can wear them for concerts.


crafts · Sewing


I am woefully behind on my coat, but as we seem unlikely to get any cold weather for a month I think I shall catch up!

In the meantime I’ve been constructing an Ikea storage unit for my fabric (Expedit) and washing everything at the same time, so I haven’t been sewing much!  All my fabric is sitting in folded piles in my laundry room, waiting for the shelves to be finished.  Since I’m note sewing, I have spent some time to come up with my next projects, and here they are:
Holiday dress

Did I mention that my husband got a new job?  Because he did, and the new job seems to be rather big on having fancy (ish) parties.  I need a dress for the holiday party (as well as my own work party).  I purchased this jacquard from Sawyer brook ages ago, and it seems appropriate as the Fleur de Lis is the symbol of Louisville, and my husband works for the University.    This vintage pattern is from the early 60s.  I love it – it has a nice vintage vibe without being a costume!
Sewaholic alma

I’m still mad for the peter pan collar, although I’m sure everyone else is tired of it!  I’ve also really wanted to try Tasia’s patterns, so I’ve ordered the Alma blouse to try.  I plan to make the full length sleeves altered to make a bishop sleeve and  (possibly) use this pin dot lawn as the collar for contrast.   Tops are still the most neglected part of my wardrobe, so I hope to make several.

I’m wearing more pants lately.  It’s curious how style evolves – 2 years ago I didn’t wear pants once all winter!  Now I’m about 50/50 with dresses,which is a nice balance.  I’ve only made one pair of pants that I like (my Kate jeans, and oh my goodness those photos make me want to cut my hair again!) and they are dead at this point.   I’m interested in the Colette Juniper and Clovers specifically because I have found Colette to have excellent instructions and I need hand holding with pants (fly fronts still scare me!)  In addition, although their draft doesn’t fit my upper half, it fits the bottom really well (I think they draft for an hourglass, and I am not so busty.)  The clovers are so cute, and I’m really into skinny pants lately.   I’m slightly iffy on the waist of the Junipers – I prefer a thinner waistband.  Vogue 8836 looks like a really great pair of wide leg pants, which I need!  Finally, I adore the Paper Cut patterns pleated pant pattern, but I can’t bring myself to buy it.  It’s a little expensive, and while I’m willing to buy Style Arc, they aren’t quite so much and usually offer a free pattern with each order.  So if anyone knows another pattern that is similar (pleated front, tapered leg without being mom jeans or harem pants) I’d really love to hear it!  I was thinking Burda might have something.  Or, if you’ve tried these patterns and they are awesome, let me know that too – I can be talked into these!

Style Arc Marita


Finally, I want to make the Style Arc Marita dress in green ITY  from Fabric Mart (can anyone name the song I’m quoting, from one of my favorite bands in college?) I bought several Style Arcs this summer, and I’m looking forward to trying them.  If they work out I’m willing to buy more – I hear good things!  I wear knit dresses constantly – they are the mainstay of my wardrobe.  I wanted to use a solid because the front is so interesting, so I picked up this knit (in my favorite color!)

Do you like my storyboards?  I made them using PicMonkey.  I own and use Photoshop, but sometimes I don’t want to deal with it (making rounded corners is an ordeal!) I was looking for a Picnik replacement after they closed.  I’ve found it in Picmonkey – isn’t the craft scissors frame fun?

Tomorrow I have an important meeting – wish me luck, and that I will magically transform myself into someone who is good at making first impressions!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Vogue 8815: Extreme Peplum


Pattern: Vogue 8815

Fabric: Leopard double knit (ribbed, sweater like) from fabric mart.  There are 9 yards left as I write this.


When I was a little girl I used to spend hours  designing pretty dresses for my dolls to wear.  And since this was the 80s, nearly every one of them contained some variation of the peplum.  Apparently I’ve never lost my fondness for the silhouette, because I’m pretty much super excited about the current peplum revival!

I didn’t buy Vogue 8815 right away.  I didn’t like the crew neckline (they make me feel like I’m choking!) and I thought the peplum was skimpy.  But when I wanted to make a sweatery peplum, I decided I could alter the pattern for my purposes and brought it home with me.

First order of business: making the peplum larger and longer.  I specifically wanted to wear it with these skinny jeans, which were made by a designer with a vendetta against stretch fabric.  Since they don’t stretch, I like to wear longer tops with them, as the top view isn’t the best.  I added a wedge to each peplum piece, adding 6″ total to the circumference before I lengthened it.  Then I added 5 inches in length to the peplum (I wasn’t sure I would keep it all, but I wanted to make sure I had enough.  The result?  A lot of peplum!

It is not, I suppose, exactly slimming.  But I find that I don’t much care about that, so unless strangers start asking me when I’m due (note: probably never) then I’ll enjoy the exaggerated silhouette!

I also had to address the neckline.  I took out Butterick 5562 (OOP) and traced off the boatneck.  It basically sits right on my collarbone, so it requires either a camisole or strapless bra, but I’m fine with that.  I finished the neckline with a strip of the fabric (not bias, as this was a knit.)

I actually had to cut the bodice twice, as the first time I had a serger accident.  Luckily I had extra fabric!  I shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length and removed the shoulder dart before cutting:

After sewing and basting I removed an additional inch from under the arms because I wanted a fitted sleeve.  It looks off in the photo above, but that’s just because I had been moving my hair right before the photo and forgot to readjust.  The shoulders are still just a little bit wide for me – you can see how they extend onto my arm a bit.  I suspect the design is meant to be this way, but if I made it again I would narrow them.

I’m pretty happy with my peplum top, though I’m not sure it resembles the original pattern anymore.  I would recommend this as a good basic!




crafts · Sewing · tutorials

Tutorial: removing sleevecap ease

After much prodding, here is my tutorial for dealing with sleevecap ease!

Before we begin, a question: What is sleevecap ease, and why should I remove it?

Sleevecap ease is the difference in seamline length between your sleevecap and armhole.  Most sewing patterns have a cap that is at least 2″ larger than the armhole.  Most (but not all) garments that you purchase do not.  Not only does the ease make sleeves difficult to set in neatly, it also (for me at least) causes the sleeve to bind under the arms.

I decided pretty early on that sleeve cap ease was not working for me, and it was confirmed when I read this post from Fashion Incubator.  I set about trying to come up with a method of removing the ease that wouldn’t make the sleeve hang wonky.  Here is what I came up with (note: I am not a scientist or a mathematician!)

Here is the pattern I’m going to make.  Vogue 8815 is the popular peplum top pattern that everyone seems to have made!  I’m making mine in a leopard print double knit.  Since I’m using a knit for a woven pattern, I will be removing the center back seam and zipper.   No matter what you think about wovens, knits most definitely do not need sleeve cap ease!  Here is how I set about removing it.


Seam gauge or flexible ruler
Clear acrylic quilting rule
French curve (optional)

A note about materials: You can make due with a seam gauge, and that’s what I’ve used here, since I figure everyone has one.  However, you will make your life much easier if you purchase a flexible ruler – it can stand on end and be shaped to the seamline, making measuring the armhole a breeze!  If you’re going to do this often, you will also want a set of french curves (they’re good to have anyway – I use mine all the time!)

Begin by cutting and pressing your pattern pieces.  You need the sleeve and whatever body pieces comprise the armhole (usually a front and back, but occasionally it also includes a yoke or some such piece.)

Using your seam gauge, make a line on your sleeve piece at the 5/8″ seamline on either end.  You will not include this in your measurements.  Do the same for the front/back pieces.

Now you will measure your pieces, beginning with the sleeve. Place the 1″ mark on the seamline you just marked.   Remember that you are measuring seamlines, not the edges of the piece – you want to measure 5/8″ in from the edge all the way across.  Your seam gauge is 5/8″ and will work.  If I use the seam gauge I like to mark every inch – that way I know I’m being accurate (though it will never be as accurate as the flexible ruler, it’s close enough for most things.)  My marks are shown in pink below:

Count the number of inch markings from seamline to seamline.  This number is the length of your sleevecap.  Write it down, and do the same measurement for the front and back armhole pieces.

Now you will add the front and back measurements together and subtract them from the sleeve measurement  (Sleeve length – armhole length = ease).  I ended up with 1.75 inches of ease in my sleeve.  It may not seem like a lot, but removing it will make my life a lot easier (and give a nicer fit!)

In order to remove the ease you will draw 2 lines on the pattern.

You want to create a line that is perpendicular to the grainline, going between the notches on the piece.  Line the top of your ruler up with the notches (I usually aim between the 2 back notches.)  Now make sure that your grain marking lines up with one of the straight lines on the rules.  Draw a straight line on your piece between the notches.

Now you will need to fold out the excess.  Since we are making a double fold, you need a mark that represents half of the total ease:

I need a mark .875 inches above my original line (making it above preserves the notches for setting in the sleeve.)  I will round that number up and mark:

You can see that my original line is at the 7/8″ mark, marked in pink above.  I’m also continuing to line up with the grain marking, ensuring a line that is parallel to the first.  Draw your second line.  (Not shown above – ignore the mark above, it’s a mistake!)

Now your will fold a crease on the top line:

and then you will crease on the bottom line, folding the top line over the bottom:

You have now folded out the sleevecap ease.  The fold will only appear to be 1/2 of your ease measurement, but as it’s doubled over the entire amount is folded out.  Pin the fold in place and prepare for cutting.  In order to cut you will need to recreate the sleevecap curve.  Here is where your french seam will be handy!

Pin the piece to your fabric and trace around the new curve with chalk.  Now you can cut, being careful to follow the chalk lines.  This bit is optional – if I’m being honest I often just eyeball the new curve and it turns out fine, but the french curve is useful when you are new (or if you want consistency!)

Now you can sew your sleeve to your bodice.  I generally sew in sleeves after sewing the shoulder seams, but before closing the bodice side seams.  This allows me to fit my garment at the end, and I find sewing in sleeves flat to be much faster!  The only exception is for a tailored garment (jacket etc.)  For knits and casual garments I think sewing flat is just fine.  You should be able to match your notches and center sleeve dot to your pattern as usual.  The only difference is that you will not need to run a line of basting stitches – it should line up!  If you measure wrong and wind up with a bit extra you can adjust this in sewing – just allow the top of the cap to extend over the armhole and sew on the armhole’s 5/8″ seamline.

I hope this tutorial is helpful!  I know it looks like a lot of steps, but after doing this repeatedly I can now manage it in five minutes – worth it to avoid the headache later on!

crafts · Cross stitch · finished objects · Sewing

Finished stitching: Garden of Eerie (and a coat update!)

Design: Garden of Eerie by Plum Street Samplers

Fabric: 32 ct Belfast linen in natural

Threads: DMC (conversions were provided with the pattern.)

Just in time for Halloween!  I loved this sampler because it looks like a traditional Adam and Eve sampler until you get up close.  I’m going to frame it, and then leave it up for the whole year (I have a themed collection of monsters/skeletons on one wall.)

It’s easy to stitch, as it has no fractional stitches at all and just a tiny bit of backstitching at the end.  I left off the leaves on the trees because it would have taken ages – and besides, I like the way it looks with the bare trees better.

I’m very proud of the back:


It’s much neater than my backs used to be!

I stitched this while watching the first season of the Vampire Diaries on Netflix (I am vaguely ashamed of this, but whatever… I’m out of shows to watch, and I like this one!)  My right hand was fine with the stitching, but my left thumb is a little sore from holding the hoop – I think if I want to do more embroidery (and I do!) then I need to get a lap stand so I don’t have to hold it up.

I’ve been hibernating and working on my coat all weekend.  I’m caught up with the sew-a-long.  I made bound buttonholes for the first time, and they aren’t perfect but I’m pretty proud!


The collar is interfaced.  I bought actual nice interfacing and I am truly shocked at how much nicer it is!  I generally use sew-ins on everything because all I can buy locally is pellon, and I think it’s awful.  This stuff (bought from fashion sewing supply) is amazing!  I think I will turn over a new leaf of using fusibles after this.

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Vogue 8827: recital dress


Pattern: Vogue 8827

Fabric: Polyester Peachskin, 3 yards

Notions: Grosgrain ribbon (for ties


This was not a fun project at all, but I must admit that I love the results!  8827 was my initial favorite from the fall vogue patterns – I like the loose silhouette and the asymmetrical drape.  It looked very modern, and I immediately pegged the long version as a great informal recital dress.  I’m going on tour again this spring (in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) and I need dresses that look elegant but will not wrinkle.  To that end I picked up a polyester peachskin.

Peachskin isn’t exactly fun to sew, but it is better than most polyester fabrics IMO.  My advice for sewing peachskin:

1. Use a Microtex needle (to avoid skipped stitches)

2. Pin Sparingly (because pin marks are permanent!)  

3. Best for drapey styles (does not really hold a crease).

4. It will pucker when you sew, but it goes away with ironing (use steam!) Works better with the serger.

5.  Attracts static like mad!

I constructed most of the dress on my serger.  As I said above, the fabric puckers, but I had no issue pressing that out.  I had a little more trouble on the seams that had to be sewn on the machine.


I had issues with the pattern.  It’s fairly well drafted, but the instructions are a bit nonsensical.  I would not recommend, no matter what it says, making this from a jersey – there is a lot of hand sewing and pressing that will not work!  I topstitched the front edges to attempt to keep them in place – between that, the belt, and being caught in the hem they stay well.  The pattern wants you to slip stitch them to the dress, which might work on the short version, but there’s no way it wouldn’t pull at this length and weight.  I removed a good 2.5″ of ease from the sleeve caps (peachskin does not ease, nope.)  My belt is quite a bit longer than called for – I wrapped it twice and tied in the front like an obi.  This keeps it secure without the need for a closure on the outside (the insides are closed with a piece of ribbon sewn to the seam allowances.

You can see that it has a little static issue above – it’s better with tights.  It seems to be a time of conquering fears – both this and my coat contain my biggest sewing issue, the inset corner.  I found this video from threads and want to try it, but I can’t buy cotton organdy locally.  I will have to get some and try it out!  This time I managed, but it isn’t the best looking collar ever.

I do recommend the pattern, because I love the style, but it’s probably good to be forewarned that the directions aren’t the greatest.  I’m very excited to wear this to sing!

crafts · Sewing

Coat sew-a-long: muslin

I had to take a break from my performance dress – on my way home from mass to finish it Sunday I managed to lock myself out of the house (with my husband in West Virginia!)  I took this as a bad sign, bought an emergency dress at Target and called it a day.  I’ll go back to the dress later.

I stayed home sick today (as did my husband; we are very pitiful.)  I managed to get my coat muslin for Butterick 5824 sewn, and I’m pleased.  I apologize for my sickness hair bun and kitty pajamas, but here you go:

Butterick 5824 muslin

I’m pulling down to simulate the weight of the skirt.  Without pulling, here is the back:
Butterick 5824 muslin

I’m not concerned about that single wrinkle, as I don’t think it will hold up to the skirt.  Do you think the collar is standing up too high?  I think it looks ok, and it may just be that I have narrow shoulders for the size of the collar.

I tried to make a traditional toile – I thread traced all the seam lines and used a similar weight fabric (this is an upholstery fabric I think – I got it in a bundle.)  I find it hard to muslin a coat with light cottons, as it just doesn’t look the same.

Other things that are helpful:

– Clip to the seamline at the waist.  Otherwise you aren’t getting an accurate idea of either the waist size or where it lies on your body.  This pattern hits right at the high natural waist, and I know the skirt will drag it town a tad.

– Draw the seamline where your collar actually ends.  Mine will end right at the shoulder, not hang over the edge the way it looks in the muslin.

– Kimono sleeves are always going to have that little bit of underarm wrinkle.  Don’t stress about it.  Personally, that’s made up for by the fact that I don’t have to set in a sleeve!

Here is the front:
Butterick 5824 muslin

The reason my collar looks uneven is that I sort of failed at sewing back there.  The pattern has a dart/pivot point combo that really threw me off – I sewed the dart first, and should have done the opposite, so it isn’t lying correctly.  I’ll fix it in the final coat.

I can also never figure out where to pin coat muslins in the front.  I thread traced the center fronts and matched them, so I figure that’s close enough.  I think the waist size is fine, although my husband seemed worried that it was too small (I have 3-4 inches ease.)  Sleeve length is slightly short – I’m planning to add 1/2 inch there (I have long arms!)

That’s that – once I get my alterations figured I’m going to cut my fabric and lining.  But I’m not sewing that collar on again until Gertie puts up her tutorial on that step – it’s the only tricky bit!