Thursday, January 22, 2015

Vogue 8933 - Hot pink wool coat

I am not fond of winter. Having lived my entire life in south Texas, I am a winter wimp. The only thing I do like about cold weather is the reason to wear cute outerwear. For the past 3 or 4 years I have purchased a coat in January after they are all put on sale, and have the standard colors of beige, black and white. (Also yellow, but that’s not exactly a standard color.) This year I decided to try my hand at making one in a bright hue. I swatched this bright pink and purple checked wool from Mood Fabrics and fell in love with its texture and weight.

I chose Vogue 8933 because it has simple lines and wouldn’t cut up the large squares of my fabric too much. I really liked the angled fronts of this design as well as the asymmetrical closing and welt pockets. I had to cut the collar way down as I feel chocked in high necklines. The back collar is 2″ high, so I believe it was reduced by at least 2.5″. As drafted, the collar of this coat is super tall. The overlap was also very wide, so I trimmed it down on both sides as well. I did that on the fly, though, and just eyeballed it to what I thought would look good.

Another fun thing about this pattern is the ability to wear it in different ways. I can snap it all the way up on cold days when I want my neck to stay warm or unsnap the top when I want more of a casual look. And I LOVE the pockets! I finally conquered my fear of making welts and am so proud of these. This pattern does include side pockets so you can choose which ones you want to undertake. I chose the welt pockets to add a bit of interest.

I cut a straight size 12, my usual Vogue size, and made no alterations for fit. The only changes I did make, other then the collar, were to interface the welt area on the coat, leave off the interfacing on the actual welt flaps and omit the topstitching. I also added 1/4″ shoulder pads. I cut the fabric in a single layer in order to match the lines horizontally and vertically, and I cut the backs so that they would have the same size squares down the center seam.

Typically, when working with wool fabrics, I’ll throw them in the dryer with a damp towel and dry on hot. I forgot to do that this time until after it was all cut out. Happily, when I tested a square with my high powered steam iron, it did not shrink. This fabric has a black webbing on the underside which makes it not ravel as easily as other textured coatings I’ve worked with.

Dressform pictures:

Here you can see the texture of the fabric better. The website calls the color of the lines grayhound but I found them more of a lavender.

I love the look of these giant snaps but they always take forever to sew on. I did my own thing when placing them on the coat. The directions call for hooks and eyes at the top of the collar which I ignored. Also, since I changed the size of the collar, I had to position the other ones so that the front would fall open nicely when the top snap was undone.

I used a lavender viscose lining for the interior, also from Mood. It’s a little thicker then ambiance and I thought it would be good for a coat. All the hems were done by hand which I actually really enjoy.

This is the first coat I’ve ever made and I’m thrilled with the results. I’m not a huge pink lover but this hot pink is such a happy color. If I have to put up with the cold I might as well do so in something that makes me smile.

Note: Both fabrics were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Outfit of the day - Sweatshirt Saturday

My Saturdays are usually spent sleeping in, having a late breakfast, taxing the boys to their various practices (golf for Nathan, swimming for Daniel), and a family errand or two. I like to look put together, comfortable and casual. This fashion sweatshirt I made while pregnant is perfect for that. I paired it white my red leather jacket, waxed skinny black jeans and metallic wedges.

I was hoping to post the coat I've been working on for the past few weeks but I still have some finishing to do on it and don't want to rush my way through. After wrangling large amounts of fabric around and putting up with the mess of clipped threads and graded seam bits, the finishing of a lined garment is always my favorite part.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

McCall's 3830 - White lace skirt

I have wanted a white lace skirt for several years now. They were all over fashion blogger's websites awhile back and I kept pinning them to my "sewing inspiration" Pintrest board. After swatching several white laces I finally settled on this beautiful white re-embroidered lace from Mood Fabrics. It had the textural qualities I was looking for as well as the large scalloped edges. For the underlining and lining I used a soft taupe silk crepe de chine, also from Mood.

The pattern is my TNT straight skirt pattern, McCall's 3830, which I have made numerous times. In order to have an uninterrupted scalloped hemline I had to peg the skirt slightly, making it more of a pencil shape then a straight skirt. I used the exact same sewing techniques for this skirt as I did my green lace skirt, so you can visit that post if you want more information. (Also I can't get this skirt over my dressform's hips for any nice interior pictures.)

For this skirt I opted to use some white Petersham grosgrain ribbon for the waistband. This is an easy method for making a waistband that doesn't need any handstitching along the inside. I have done this once before for yet another lace skirt, and was quite pleased with the outcome.

I was careful when cutting out the lace to match the motifs along the center back seam. I tried my best to match them along the side seams as well, but because of the pegged hem there is some slight twinning there. You have to really squint to see it though, so it doesn't bother me. I'll bet you didn't even notice it until I pointed it out, right?

Other then the extra care that goes into sewing with slippery silk fabrics, this was an easy garment to stitch up. I think I have enough lace skirts in my closet now. ;)

This little girl wanted in on the photo shoot!
Note: Both fabrics were purchased with my Mood fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network

Friday, January 2, 2015

Outfit of the day - Casual silk

Happy New Year to you all!

I've done a year end review only once or twice in the 7 years I've had this blog, but honestly this year there's not that much to review. I only made 15 things, a few of which were maternity that never got worn (which is why I don't make maternity) and a few were dresses for my daughter. I was pregnant most of the time and either had low energy or no mojo. HOWEVER, this year I am determined to sew more and try to do a better job of keeping up with this blog.

To that effort, here's what I wore today running around doing errands with my kids. I'm wearing my Vogue 1367 blouse that I made while pregnant, which really is a great item to throw on with a pair of skinny jeans and boots and run out the door.

My 10 year old took these pictures and I think he did a pretty great job.
I do have a new skirt to get pictures in but that will have to wait until the weekend when I have access to a more senior photographer.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vogue 1203 - Fit and flare black w/ red polka dotted wool skirt

First I want to thank everyone who left a kind and heartfelt comment on my last post about baby Joshua. Your well wishes and encouragement really made my week. Adjusting to life as a family of six has definitely had its challenges (the laundry! packing!!) but I am gradually figuring it out.

Understandably there hasn't been a whole lot of sewing going on around here. I have managed to make a skirt out of some lovely Rebecca Taylor wool from Mood fabrics. I’ve been eying this fabric for awhile now but couldn’t quite envision what I wanted to make out of it. It’s been sitting in one of my many Mood boards just waiting patiently. I tend to go for bright/sparkly/interesting fabrics and this black wool is more quiet and subdued. But then I was checking through some of my boards hunting for fabrics that have sold out since I added them – as you do if you are as fabric obsessed as I am – and I saw that it was almost sold out. Ack! Into the cart it went, even though I still had no idea what I was going to do with it. And pretty much right after it arrived I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

This pattern is a Tracy Reese designer pattern that came out in 2010. Sadly it is now OOP, and I couldn't even find it on Vogue's website in their out-of-print area. (Though looking these patterns I see tons that I own and still plan to make. This is what happens when you let things marinate in your stash forever and a day.) One of the things I really love about this pattern is the shaped waistband. You can’t tell from the line drawing on the envelope, but the waistband flares out at the top, giving some nice breathing room to the wearer. I also adore the fit and flare shape. It's a nice change from the standard pencil or A-line that I normally go for.

Since my “print” was at such a small scale, I knew I could get away with a design with lots of pieces. However, I had to consider this fabric a stripe when cutting it out and stitching it up as I wanted all my dots to line up. Most of the work was done while laying it out on a single layer of fabric. I was also careful to pin the lines of dots as precisely as possible before running the seam through my machine.

Instead of the exposed metal zipper called for in the pattern I used an invisible black zipper. The envelope calls for a 9″ zipper but I didn’t paying attention and used my standard length zipper for a skirt which is 7″. Since this is a high waisted skirt I am sure I will have to wiggle into it. Next time I will use a longer zipper.

This wool pressed beautifully and was easy to work with. I would have been done with this skirt in record time but I at first thought I wanted to use the reverse side for the center front and center backs. It didn’t look as great as I thought it would so I took all the pieces apart and resewed them with the right sides facing out.

I tried really hard to line up my dots across the top of the skirt and waistband, and had to restitch this area several times. Also the waistband was abnormally large for a Vogue pattern. Normally I have to let this area out to accommodate my square shape but for this pattern I had to actually grade down for the waist.

The full lining was made in black ambiance from my stash. One thing to note is turning up the hem of the lining 1.5″ per the pattern instructions did not work very well with the flare of the bottom. I tried several different methods to make it work and finally had to cut off the excess fabric and do a simple 5/8″ double fold hem.

I am sure you are all tired of these dressform pictures. It's just not the same as seeing it on an actual body, right? Hopefully it won't be very much longer until I'm back in my pre-pregnancy clothing and am able to model my sewing creations. Yesterday for the first time I got a pair of skinny jeans on. (Never mind the muffin top covered by my loose blouse.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I thought you all might like to see a picture of my new little boy! This is Joshua Wesley, born October 16th at 8lbs. 7oz. and 21in. long. You might think that's big but I've had two bigger babies (and one smaller) before him! I am up about two times a night feeding him and am pretty exhausted at this point. However, all of my kids have slept through the night at 2 months so fingers crossed he follows the same pattern.

This little man gave us the scare of our lives. Born with the lungs of a preemie despite being full term, he was pronounced in respiratory distress minutes after birth and whisked off to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). My thoughtful nurse encouraged us to snap a quick picture before he was taken away.

He was suppose to be in the NICU for only a few short days until his lungs could adjust to breathing normal air. However, at 48 hours old, he went into a downward spiral. His oxygen levels dropped dramatically because his left lung collapsed. The doctors got that re-inflated and he stabilized, only to have the oxygen start dropping again. This time they inserted a tube into his chest to suck out the oxygen that had leaked into the space between his lung and his lung cavity, causing the lung to collapse again. Once more he stabilized, then again started to drop his oxygen levels. The doctors were scratching their heads about what was causing all this trauma, and were having to resuscitate him in between procedures and bedside x-rays. He finally ended up on an oscillating ventilator, hooked up to a tank of nitric oxide and given a dose of synthetic surfactant. Five hours after the initial lung collapsed he stabilized for good.

Sitting in a waiting room for that amount of time while your baby is fighting for his life is terrifying. It was the darkest night of my entire life, and the only thing that got me through was my faith in God and in his being in control of the situation.

Everyday of his stay in the hospital I got up early, got my kids ready for school, and went to spend the day with my baby. I had no time to heal, to rest at home while my body recuperated, to enjoy the solace of being surrounded by only my family. Every afternoon I had to leave him there in the care of strangers and hope that he would still be there when I returned. If you've never experienced having an infant in the NICU I cannot explain how hard it really is. I was so grateful for the care of the doctors and nurses who saved his life, but I was incredibly sad every night that I didn't have all my children under one roof.

We were warned that Joshua might have a few more setbacks after that really horrible night but he never did. Thanks to the prayers of hundreds of people all across the country, we saw our little man get steadily better and better. I brought him home on October 29, thirteen days after his birth. It was the first time my other kids got to meet their brother.

Going through something like this has a way of putting all of life's experiences into perspective. Five days after Joshua came home a spark plug exploded in our minivan, ruining the engine and causing thousands of dollars of repair work to be needed. We ended up completely replacing the vehicle. Had this happened a month before I would have been super upset. When it did occur, though, I could only be mildly annoyed. The worst thing in my life that could have happened didn't. My baby did not die in that hospital. Every other setback pales in comparison.

Life is precious.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vogue 1200 - Black + white houndstooth jacket w/ black leather inserts

I am on an outerwear kick. There is a whole pile of these types of garments in my queue that always gets shoved to the side for pretty dresses or simpler patterns. No more! I love outerwear and can't currently make fitted things anyway. Might as well stitch them up. This particular pattern is an Anne Klein design that came out in 2010. I purchased it right when it was released, decided on the fabric, and placed them both in my "winter planned garments" bin. As far as I know nobody ever made the jacket and blogged or wrote a review about it, and the pattern went out of print. Which is really too bad because it is a great design with some lovely details.

The design details I liked include the over-sized collar, bias sleeve and hem bands, bias sides (although I ended up changing those), two-piece sleeves, snap closures and topstitching. I decided to change the sides and undersleeves to leather for an on-trend look. In the end I had barely enough houndstooth for what you see, so that decision saved me from wasting my fabric.

The fabric is a woven houndstooth of mystery content purchased locally, most likely from Hancock fabrics. It is really thick but has a loose weave, so that it shed like crazy and had some drape. It did iron well, though, so there must be some cotton or rayon in it. It does not feel like polyester. I am not sure how insulated from low temps I am going to be wearing this jacket. However, because I live in southern Texas, I still think it will get plenty of wear.

Cutting this jacket out was almost the death of me. There are 19 pattern pieces, most of which are cut twice. Then, because the jacket is almost fully interfaced, you cut them all again in interfacing. I matched the houndstooth print across the fronts and made sure each side mirrored the other. This all had to be done on a single layer of fabric, and I used my triangle to make sure everything was square before I cut into it. I spent 4 days cutting it all out and really sweated those last few pieces fearing I wouldn't have enough fabric.

I was a little fearful this big collar would obliterate the shape of my shoulders, but it sort of curves up at the edges. I'm not sure if this is by intention on the part of the pattern designer or is caused by using a really thick fabric, but I really love the playfulness of it. Besides changing the sides to leather, the only two other deviations I made were to leave off the interfacing on the undercollar and omit the shoulderpads. With a collar covering a good bit of the shoulders, I didn't feel them necessary.

The lining is black Ambiance bought from JoAnne's. A nice thing about this pattern is the facing and lining to not meet up over a bust apex. Lots of big 4 patterns do and you end up with a seam right over the bust, which isn't too flattering. I also appreciate having a back facing.

You may notice something a bit different going on at the bottom of the lining. It is actually finished with a piece of grosgrain ribbon as per the instructions. This was my first time doing anything like this, and it really gave it a nice finish without the need to handstitch the bottom lining to the jacket.

I used large brass snaps from my stash for the closures. These use to come in black as well, but I thought the brass a nice change from all the black and white already present on the jacket. I went to replenish these the other day and they were no longer carried at Hancock fabrics. Hopefully JoAnne's still has them or I will have to find an online source instead. Sewing on these snaps really takes some time since I like to make sure all the snap holes are consistently the same along the entire edge.

The leather I used was purchased years ago from They use to carry leather skins every fall and have a half off sale around Thanksgiving each year. I have a nice collection of colors and weights now that I'm slowly working my way through. I did interface the leather on the body to give it the same weight as the houndstooth body fabric. The sleeves were left un-interfaced, also per the instructions, so that they can bend easily and not look stiff.

Topstitching through two layers of thick fabric and two layers of interfacing was a bear. I had to stuff everything under my machine foot and the thread broke over any seams. I also broke at least 4 needles before wising up and using a more substantial leather needle.

Dressform pictures:

This project took at least 2 weeks to complete because of all the steps involved, but I had a lot of fun making it. The fabric behaved itself nicely and once I saw how flippy the collar was I got really excited. I'm extremely happy with the fit. I did not muslin since this jacket is suppose to be somewhat loose fitting, and I love how it skims the body without being overly boxy.