Sunday, October 31, 2010


We really are not die-hard Halloween celebrators. I don't mind it if it stays fun, but I don't like super scary or evil things. Or trashy costumes, especially on little girls. Last year we went to our church's fall festival and I asked the boys if they wanted to wear some dress-up clothes. They said no, and that was fine with me. This year, things changed. They had definite ideas about costumes.

Nathan wanted to be a spider, and Daniel was content to wear some pirate dress-up clothes I made a few Christmas's ago, provided he received a genuine hat and eye patch to go with it.

Nathan was vexed he couldn't find a pattern for a spider in any of the pattern books. However, all I did was cut the arms out of really stiff felt and sew them into the side seams of a store-bought t-shirt. Then they were strung together and hung from his arms with skinny black elastic. The hood was made from some black polyester knit that's suppose to be part of a summer dress - (I hope I still have enough!) Justin got creative with the glue gun and added fangs and green eyeballs. That boy couldn't have been prouder of his costume!

Friday, October 29, 2010

November Burda picks

After stalking my mailbox for the past week, my November issue of Burda finally made an appearance today. I do look at the new designs online, usually on the Russia sight, but still like to have the magazine to look through before I make my picks.

Up first is this simple little dress, design 103. I actually have the perfect silk burnout velvet in my stash that I've been looking for a pattern to pair it with. The top is suppose to be chiffon with bias bindings around the neckline and armholes. It reminds me a lot of this dress, and those bindings in chiffon were a huge pain in the butt. I wonder if I could use some other material besides chiffon for the bindings, or possibly for the top of the dress as well.Jacket 104 is gorgeous in the magazine. I love the mix of fabrics with boucle being the main body, sequined tulle for the shaded areas, and zipper trim in between. Zipper trim! Does that stuff get anyone else excited? I've been wanting to use it on a project ever since I discovered JoAnn's carried it, and this one looks perfect. So fun!
Blouse 110 is super low cut, but I like it with the sequined cami they've paired it with on page 28. That's actually the dress version, which looks very 20's to me, but I don't think it would look too good on my square shape.
They're calling 121 a tuxedo jacket, I guess because its lapels and pocket flaps are out of satin. However, I adore all the interesting design lines and am not sure I'd distract from them with satin accents. I also think those design lines would be lost in a dark color. Hmmm, I'll have to think about this for awhile. Not that I need to make plans for yet another jacket.
I kind of like top 128, although you can' t really tell how it looks on the model since she's wearing it under a jacket.
Here's the jacket I'd like to do tuxedo style. I love their velvet and satin version, but would use the long sleeve design, 131.
I did start on a silk tunic last weekend, only to stop working on it halfway through since it's totally not fall or winter appropriate. Then I began a quilted vest/jacket but had to stop working on that too in order to get the Halloween costumes completed. Hopefully this weekend I'll have something new to post about. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NewLook 6768 - Zebra print baby dress w/ large yellow buttons

Sewing baby clothes = Instant gratification!

Here's Rachel's first handmade dress. I bought this small wale corduroy a month or so ago from JoAnn's, but had to wait for a button sale before I could make it.

This went together really easily and I had no problems with the construction. The only issue to write about is the sizing. I made the smallest size - newborn. However, this little black onzie is a 1-3 month, and you can see it's pretty big on the sides. I'd say this dress is more of a 3-6 month size. All I can do is laugh about it. As I've been sewing for quite awhile now, I know how to make adult size patterns fit, even with all the extra ease that's allowed for. But I've no idea what I'm doing with baby clothes. Now you know why I didn't make anything for her before she was born.

Hopefully this will fit sometime this winter or early spring. It's made from corduroy after all. That's usually a cold weather fabric.

Up next - a silk tunic for me. I hope you're having a fantastic weekend!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vogue 2734 - Anna Sui brown corduroy jacket

Remember this OOP pattern? Back in April I sent out a request to purchase it from one of my faithful readers. I got some great responses, including a notification that it was currently for sale on Except I didn't check my comments to the post for several hours, in which time it was purchased. (No doubt by someone reading my blog. How mean!) Anyway, a very sweet lady contacted me through to let me know she had it and was willing to mail it to me. For free!!! So a big thank you to Stephaney Thomas, aka mrs quickly. You rock!

I love this design! It has really interesting design lines and is like a jigsaw puzzle to piece together. I cut the pieces out singly to ensure they all were on grain. The sleeve caps have a fair amount of poof to them which balances out the bottom flare from the peplum. (I also made this little white top back in January. It is proving to be a much worn garment.)

Here at the side you can see the fun cut of the sleeve. This jacket has a ton of topstitching, another element I adore.

The pattern pieces for the peplum were actually much more flared, but I didn't think that would look very nice in the thick corduroy I chose. A total of 7" was removed from the bottom hemline. I also had to go up a whole size in the waist, as the pattern is very tiny in that area.

I have to show you this buttoned up on my dressform because it currently doesn't close on my body. However, I'm not even sure it will get worn this way - looks a bit Little House on the Prairie to me.

Okay, I've got to tell you that this was not fun to make. I wanted it to be a casual garment, so decided not to bother with a lining and finished the exposed seams with bias tape. Lots and lots of bias tape. Which alright, that gets pretty monotonous after awhile. But keep in mind this corduroy was thick. That makes trimming it with bias tape harder. And remember all that topstitching I mentioned earlier? I'm kind of a perfectionist and wanted my topstitching right along the edge of my inside bias tape. Since I was not having fun, I didn't want to work on it much in the evenings. That's why this project dragged on for 3 weeks.

I spent one whole evening trying to get the bottom hem sewn down. There was so much ease to work in that I just couldn't make it look neat. I got frustrated and went to bed. The next evening I figured it out. I sewed a gathering stitch close to the edge, steaming it in place along the jacket seamlines, and ran another strip of bias tape along the bottom which was also topstitched down. It worked beautifully!

The sleeves were the perfect length without a hem in place, so I cut a facing and stitched a scant 1/4" seam to attach it. It was too small an opening to sew with my machine, so I whipstitched it down. The construction seams on the sleeves were finished with a zigzag stitch instead of bias tape since they will never be seen.

Oh, and this is my jacket for October.

Baby Rachel is now 7 weeks old and is tipping the scale at 10 pounds. She's such a tiny little thing that I regularly get comments about having a brand new baby. Here she is fresh from the bath, channeling Richard Simmons. Isn't that curly hair a riot? Once it gets brushed it totally flattens out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Hope" in cranberry red - My Christmas sweater a year in the making

I decided to knit myself a red sweater to wear during Christmas around this time last year. I settled on Wendy Bernard's "Favorite Cardigan" from her book Custom Knits. I picked Knit Picks' Andean Silk in cranberry red and got started right after the yarn arrived in the mail. The problems began immediately when I couldn't get gauge. Even though the yarn is advertised 4.5 - 5 stitches per inch, it is more like 5.5 - 6 stitches per inch. Okay, I'll adjust and simply knit a bigger size on slightly bigger needles. I knit until right before it gets divided for the sleeves and realized the big cables running down the fronts looked small and silly because of the size of the yarn. Sigh. Not wanting to waste the yarn, I began looking for another pattern.

One of the neatest things about is the ability to search for sweater designs for specific yarn thicknesses. And that is how I settled on "Hope", which is a pattern from an Australian magazine. I got gauge and began knitting the small. It was looking really nice, but when I was able to try it on a few rows after I divided for the sleeves, it was too big. Aaaaarg!!! Again I frogged it and stared over, this time using the XS. I didn't have any other problems but decided while knitting the sleeves that I preferred them long to 3/4 as per the pattern. I did use an alpaca, wool and silk blend after all. Why be warm only down to my forearms? Problem was, the color cranberry was backordered until May! It was way past Christmas by this point, and even winter for that matter.

If you've read through that saga, you now know why this took me a year to complete. And why my knitting year has not been going so smoothly, as I've previously blogged about. But no matter, it is now finished and I LOVE IT! It's the prettiest thing I've ever knitted and is done in time for this winter and Christmas.

I learned several new and very neat techniques with this design, including the cable cast-on method and using short rows to make the back longer then the front. (Both learned about by watching U-tube instruction videos on the internet.) It is my first round-yoke sweater and first long sleeved FO also. This sweater is knit from the top down, including the button bands. It is a fantastic pattern without one mistake. I really enjoyed making it, despite my many setbacks.

Up next is the popular "Tree Jacket" from I purchased this pattern at least a year ago and am finally getting around to it. I'll be using Tahki Yarns Truffles in cream, bought online from Webs. Hopefully it will arrive early this week. I'm itching to get started on a new knitting project.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Butterick 5283 - Yellow bamboo knit top

A few weeks ago I came to the conclusion that only 3 tops in my wardrobe currently fit. Apparently I like fitted clothing, and as I am nursing my baby, I needed... bigger tops. Enough explanation for you? So, enter this pattern, which looked kind of loose through the midsection.
Well, I suppose it would be looser were it not for the baby weight I still need to lose. But it is super comfortable and I love the fabric. has carried this bamboo knit for awhile now, which I have ignored because it's a little pricey for me for a knit. But they were running a buy $50 worth of fabric, get $10 off deal a month ago, and I had $40 worth of fabric in my shopping cart. It's yellow - which I adore - so I thought why not give it a try? Surprise! It really is lovely, with a wonderful drape and is a little thicker then an ITY knit. Plus it seems to hold up well in the washing machine. I'm planning to purchase more the next time I find some other fabrics to order and they're running a sale.

The front twist and asymmetrical neckline is what I really like about this design. I've also used this pattern for the other twisted front view, although that top has the annoying habit of creeping up the bust and needing to be tugged down.

I'm sparing you a back or side view - too many lumps and bumps at the moment.

I did plan to make a few more roomier tops, but when my mom came to visit last week we went to a great resale store. I must admit I had previously turned up my nose to Goodwill. It seemed like a place poor people go. Not that I'm shopping at Neiman Marcus or the like. Really, I'm not a snob. Anyway, they actually had some nice stuff, and it was a very clean store and well organized. Did I mention inexpensive? I found cashmere sweaters, people. For $2.99!!! Also lots of bigger tops, so I don't have to hurry up and crank those out. I hate to sew under pressure.

Here's a picture of baby Rachel, who is now 5 weeks old. Does she have some crazy hair or what?!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Vogues, October Burda picks, and some Q&A's

There are a few topics I've wanted to do a post on, but time is a rare commodity these days. For starters, Vogue surprised me with releasing some fun new patterns. (I always wonder why their winter dresses are mostly short sleeved or sleeveless. Well anyway, I can always save these for warmer months.)

This first one, 1206, is a Kay Unger design. Now I like yellow, but this fabric is not the cutest IMO. I love the fitted bodice, front ruffles, tucked sleeves and midriff band.

Next up is a simple dress by Tom and Linda Platt, Vogue 1208. I like the ease of a pull on bias dress and the asymmetrical neckline, but am thinking of changing the leaf-looking ends of the side shoulder knot to something more squared off.

This jacket from Vogue 8701 is very nice, especially the bias insets at the side front and back. I'm not crazy about the green, but think it looks awesome in plaid. Not that I need yet another jacket pattern.

Moving on to Burda, I must state that this issue isn't my favorite of all time. Actually, I'm not chomping at the bit to make any of these designs. But I did find a few simple ones that might get made if I need something to match an outfit.

Jacket 107 looks cozy and stylish in the brown wool velour they've made it up in. Is this a fabric anyone comes across on a regular basis? I like the interesting lapels and slightly boxy shape for use as a casual overcoat.
Jacket 113 has a vintage shape and simple design. I can see this made up to match a winter dress or as part of a skirt suit as in the magazine.
I like the front slit and bias tying collar of top 118, but not the flipped up sleeve hems. I'm thinking it would be even cuter with the ties extending a bit longer.
The most exciting thing from this month's magazine? The previews for next month! Especially the velvet tuxedo jacket in midnight blue.

So, some of you might have noticed that I am not very good at answering questions. Especially if you asked me a question and it never got answered. My every intention is to get back to you right away. But life with three kids is busy!!! And you know I homeschool, right? Also I'm a bit computer challenged and can't figure out how to email back directly. Anyway, here are some questions from the past few posts:

On Corduroy butterfly baby skirt Sally asked:
I have a question that doesn't relate to this particular outfit and don't see any other way to contact you. This pertains to ITY knits. How do I know it is an ITY knit when I am in the store looking at fabrics? I have checked the ends of every bolt I see and never see that term. I even asked the store clerks and they had no idea what I was talking about. Help!

Um...??? ITY knits are thin and polyester, they don't wrinkle or shrink. I call it an ITY knit because that's what it is described as in the online store where I bought it. I know there's a precise definition out there. Anyone what to chime in here?

On Navy blue wool cropped jacket Catherine asked:
Question - when you fully line a jacket, where do you leave a hole for turning it right side out? Do you leave the bottom edge of the lining loose or do you leave a side seam on the lining not fully stitched? Thanks!

I always leave the bottom edge loose. I enjoy hand sewing and it seems like the neatest method, but I've not tried any of the others.

On Navy blue wool cropped jacket Sally asked:
This is a beautiful outfit! How did you make the jacket so "crisp", was it the interfacing?

I use interfacing on facings and collars. Any other "crispness" you might be referring to is the result of a high pressure steam iron and the use of a natural fabric.

On Gray & purple border print Cynthis Rowley skirt AuntieShel asked:
Thanks for showing us the side with the binding. I will be taking a second look at this pattern thanks to you!! Was it hard to get the length right with the binding and all?

All I did to extend the length was add 2 inches to the top of the skirt directly under the waistband. Besides the waist gathers, there was no other shaping to the skirt. Adding to the top was the easiest way to make it longer.

I wish I could write about some new project that is almost done, but sadly I've only completed a little bit of my next jacket. However, what I do have sewn is looking fabulous, and I'm hoping to find some time to work on it this weekend.