Monday, August 31, 2009

McCall's 5859 - Zebra jacket w/ red piping

Here's my new favorite jacket. It has a lot of piping on it. I usually like to do piping, but on this jacket it got a little tedious. This is a medium weight cotton bought from Hancock fabrics a few months back. The piping is the package kind.

I was worried that it would be too loud or too 80's. But by letting it be the main actor and wearing black everywhere else, I think it works. By the way, I made the skirt as well. It's from this post.

The only alteration I did was a small SBA - I think I trimmed off about 1/4" from each front side for a total of 1/2" off the bust. People always ask about fitting and I just don't usually have a tough job of it. Other then being a bit small up top and not having much of a waist, I'm pretty average.

Here's a close-up shot for you. I completely love the style of this jacket with the separate collar and lapels, front angled pockets, and curved edges of the cap sleeves.

I didn't love the sleeves it came with. They were so poofy and wide. I suppose they might look cute with a more subdued fabric, but to me they just looked clownish. These are the substitutes I cut from Butterick 5331. I had zero fabric left over after I cut this out and when the sleeves turned out so undesirable, I got a little nervous. Thankfully I had the Butterick in my stash and the sleeve height was exactly the same for both patterns. I took a chance - should have done a mock up before I cut the old ones - but they turned out fabulously so no worries anymore.

These little pockets are purely decorative. (My boys want to put their toys inside!) I didn't even see the darts until I cut it out. They are sewn first and slip-stitched to the front before the lining gets attached.

Here's the lining. I wanted to do a pop of red there but it would have shown through the white of the zebra print. I do love doing lining. Other than not being easily laundered, it really gives the insides of garments a beautiful finish.

This is the piping at the sides. It's the only place where it can't be continuous. I pondered at first about how I could change up the sewing sequence to make it be continuous. But I couldn't find a way to do it and in the end it's completely unnoticeable when worn.

Okay, people, tomorrow is the start of the fall wardrobe contest over at I am very excited to get started but a little saddened by all the great things I have for fall that will get put on the back burner. I think I will squeeze in a few non-wardrobe items here and there to keep my eyes from crossing over all the brown and teal.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mail call!

Ever buy vintage? I can't say I ever have before, but check these out!

My mom called me about the one on the left that she found among some boxes. I've been wanting to make some matching belts for dresses but couldn't find the kits anywhere. Well after she called, I did a search on Ebay and found an auction for the other two on the right. With shipping they were under $10 for both. I'm pretty excited about these!

And look what else the postman delivered today - my new fabrics from They just put up a whole slew of ITY jersey knits for $4.45/yard.

The red & white polka dots is for Butterick 5318, view A. The black and white with royal blue print is for NewLook 6429, view A. This will be for winter and I plan to pair it with tall black boots.

The aqua and brown print I was hoping to use for the upcoming wardrobe contest at, but it does not match the fabric for skirt #3. Oh well, I still like it. I planning to make some winter tops with both of these. No definite pattern selection yet.

I'm planning NewLook 6429 (again) for this black and white swirl print, view E. The collar and waist tie will be done in the white.

Still plugging away on McCall's 5859. The sleeves are extremely poofy!!! So much so that I'm having to borrow a sleeve from another pattern and recut them. But other than that I'm having no problems with it. Hopefully it will be completed by Saturday. Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

September Burda picks

First, I want to thank everyone who wrote in about my stiff linen situation. Y'all gave some great advice and I appreciate it. Currently the fabric is washing on warm and I'll dry it on hot. If that doesn't do the trick I'll wash with vinegar and throw a shoe in the dryer. (I think that tip is hilarious but clever.) Then go from there.

So this month's designs were not that inspiring to me. I liked the plus-sized garments way better then the regular ones. I know sizing them down can be done, but I honestly don't want to exert that much effort. Call me lazy if you want.

I did like this coat, 101. It reminds me a lot of a new Simplicity pattern I just bought, 2508. There are elements of both coats that I'd like to combine. I love the sleeve cuffs of the Simplicity, their use of topstitching, and the back button-less band. But I like Burda's overall design better, with the front and back vents, side pockets, higher-set pocket flaps, shorter collar, and non-raglan sleeves.

Dress 111 is my favorite from this month's choices. I have the perfect stretch sateen to use for it. It isn't lined which makes it perfect for more casual wear.

I love the yoke of these simple pants, 113. I'm not sure if I'd make the belt carriers or not.

I'm currently working on McCall's 5859 view A, in a black and white zebra print with red piping. It's looking really cute so far but I have a long way to go on it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Attention linen experts!

I have a question for you. A few months ago I bought this cute 100% linen print from I've ordered linen from them before without incident. But this stuff is super stiff!!!

I have washed it in the washing machine on cold and line dried it 3 times now thinking the more you wash linen the softer it becomes. Is this actually true? It is still very stiff. I wanted to make a cute little skirt to match this sweater, but if it won't get any softer I'm going to have to find another project to use it for. I don't like to use fabric softener because my skin is allergic to the perfumes in it. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Simplicity 3775 - Floral dress w/ tummy ruching

I had to sew one final sleeve on the morning we left for west Texas, but I did get it done. This reminded me of a certain someone I grew up with that was always finishing her sewing projects right before we had to be somewhere. But I won't name names.

I completely love the design of this dress. V-necks elongate the body (according to Stacy and Clinton) and tummy ruching hides a multitude of sins. I don't care how thick or thin you feel, every woman, especially those who've had babies, appreciates some camouflage in that area.

The fabric is a thin polyester knit bought from last fall. I was waiting for the perfect fabric for this pattern that I've had in the stash forever. It needed to be a pretty thin fabric for all that gathering to remain flattering. I also thought the floral pattern of this cut small enough for a busy design.

Here is the neckline close-up. It does reveal the slightest bit of cleavage. However, the Modesty Police (aka my hubby) didn't raise any eyebrows, so I thought it safe to wear to an older-crowd family function.

The drafting of this pattern was wonderful. The tummy ruching is actually a two piece construction, with the outer fabric being long and thin and then pulled width-wise and sewn onto the shorter and wider inner fabric.

I used french seams for almost all of the construction. You don't have to do this - knits don't ravel. I just happen to like neat insides, so I spend the extra time. I slip-stitched the neckline binding down on the inside instead of the machine stitching as per the instructions. I also used bias tape to cover the sleeve seams.

For knit dresses with cap sleeves, I like to cut the sleeves double, sew together and understitch on the inside. It's a lining for the sleeve except you use the same fabric. This eliminates any wonky stitches from having to topstitch on knits, and also gives it a nice clean finish when there's no other topstitching present. You can see the same technique used on this dress.

Here are the french seams on the top, middle and bottom sections. I always alternate pressing them to one side or the other, even when there's only two sections present. This causes less bulk and it lays smoother on the body.

In other sewing news, I started on this pink top yesterday from McCalls 5809. I was suppose to match the gray capris made earlier in the month and an orphan white linen jacket. Granted the fabric is not my favorite - no give and resists pressing - but finding the right shade of pink at the end of summer is no easy task. The fit is A-W-E-F-U-L!!! Droops were hanging over the front crossing bodice, even after I took a SMA. I guess I should be happy I got this trial run with the pattern before I cut into my wardrobe fabric I planned to use with it as well. But I'm bummed about this cute design. I had such hopes for it.

I'm not sure what's up next. I'll have to look through my humongous stash of projects and pick something that can be finished before the first of September.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wardrobe Contest - Update

Okay, I've filled in a few question marks. Back in late spring when I bought the coordinating Monaco fabrics from JoAnn's, there was this brown brocade that I thought very lovely. It unfortunately sold out before I could purchase any. I was daydreaming about what I could possibly do for a "topper" and thinking what a pity it was not to have the brown brocade. Then I got a wild hair and searched the JoAnn's website. Low and behold they had some! And it was marked down to $6.80/yard! (Although I don't know how you find anything on their site if you don't know the specific fabric line name.) I ordered 2 yards of it and here's what it looks like:

I'm thinking I'll use this jacket pattern from Burda's May 2009 issue:

And even though I will be dressed in a lot of brown, at least with the brocade there will be a floral pattern to break it up.

As for the border print sequin fabric, I think I'll go with NewLook 6829, view D. For the neck trim and front placket I'm planning to use the satin side of some turquoise crepe back satin. That way I'll have a stable fabric to hold it up and close it. I can't tell if the bottom portion is cut on the bias, but if so I'll simply cut it straight grain and put in a side zipper.

The only thing I'm not sure of is the white stretch poplin. I'm going to have to comb through my Burdas and pattern stash to figure it out.

I'm still plugging away on Simplicity 3775. Hopefully I'll find some time tomorrow to finish it up.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fuschia lace-top sweater

I've finally finished some knitting! I got stuck for a few months on the white sweater at the end of this post. I don't give up very easily so I worked and worked to make it fit. What a horrible pattern. Anyway, here's my latest FO. This brings my project total for 2009 to 2, which is not exactly in keeping with my 2009 goals. I guess I'd better hustle to get them all in. Yea, it probably won't happen.

This is the Green Gable from It was started July 4th and completed on Friday, so took a little over a month for me. I used the recommended Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, which is 80% cotton and 20% merino wool. Granted I have sensitive skin, but it feels just a bit itchy to me. I'll definitely wear it, but I think I'll be staying away from any wool for sweaters next to my skin.

This is a very simple design, and great for beginners.

I love the lace at the neck. It was just a little challenging and gives some interest to the neckline.

I just purchased a yard of this stretch sateen from and plan to make some type of matching bottom.

Next up is Rusted Root, also from, in a beautiful light purple. I've opted for a yarn that's 80% cotton and 20% silk, and have already gotten to the bottom of the sleeves. I'm so inspired by this challenging pattern that I want to keep going and going. Maybe I will make my 6 FO goal for this year after all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vogue 1051 - Gray penstripe capris

I'll bet you were expecting actual pants, right? Me too. Unfortunately, while I was cutting this out one piece at a time to ensure the pinstripes lined up perfectly, I somehow ran out of room for the bottom of the last leg. Because I love this fabric sooooo much, I decided to cut off the other legs and try for a pair of capris. They were suppose to match a shiny pink long sleeve top that is currently an orphan. Well, now I've got two orphans, because nothing in my closet matches this except a boring white shirt. It's kind of a yawn of an outfit. By the way, this fabric is a thinnish stretch suiting from Hancock's that I bought last fall.

I'm still working out a few fit issues with this pattern, but not bad for my first pair of pants! Oh, I've made others years ago, but the fit was always so poor they never got worn. I think the back is a better fit then the front. These are also my first ever welt pockets, which I found very easy to complete.

I decided to use pink contrasting fabric for the inside waistband. The problem was the pink could be seen when the pants were fastened. So I went back and put a bit of gray at the front fly. But that seam adds a bit of bulk to the front and can be seen in my picture if you look for it.

This is the side waistband where I matched up the pinstripes:

Here you can see my welt pockets and matching pinstripes on the derriere. (I thought you'd prefer it this way and not a close-up butt shot.)

Instead of turning up the inside waistband and slip-stitching it to the outside waistband, I edged it with bias tape and stitched-in-the-ditch on the outside. I used gray thread for the machine and pink thread in the bobbin so it would look nice on the inside. I also *gasp* used the zigzag stitch to finish the pocket edges and pants legs. I usually try my hardest to avoid zigzagging, but I think it was appropriate in this situation.

Things I'll do differently on the next pair:
1. Interface the inside and outside waistbands, especially when using this thin of a fabric.
2. Not use a contrast fabric for the inside waistband.
3. Allow more fabric in the front crotch area and inner leg both front and back.
4. Make the front fly longer. It seems to end really high up on me. But now that I'm studding the pattern envelope, it doesn't look too high on the model. I'll have to review this again.

Next weekend we'll be attending my husband's grandfather's 100th birthday party in a small map dot town in west Texas. (Anyone ever heard of Plains?!) I feel I must have a new dress. Simplicity 3775 is my next project - view D. As it's a simple little knit dress, I'm hoping to have it whipped up by Sunday. Have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pattern Review's Wardrobe Contest - Plans

The wardrobe contest at is coming up in September and they have just posted the contest rules. (Go to the message boards and click on contest discussions.) It sounds pretty straightforward. Ten items needed: 5 tops, 4 bottoms and one "topper" (as in jacket/cardigan/cover-up of some sort). All the tops must match all the bottoms. One dress is allowed to replace either a top or a bottom but it must be worn with either all the bottoms or all the tops - it is a layering piece and can't be worn alone.

I have been wanting to participate in a contest for the longest time and so am super excited to plan and get started. This past spring JoAnn's carried a line of fabric they called "Monaco" or something like that. I loved a bunch of those coordinating fabrics and snapped them up when they went down to 60% off. A few other matching fabrics were added here and there, so I pretty much have everything I need.

The tops:

(From left to right) -
1. Aqua crinkled polyester chiffon with small aqua sequins and gold threads running along grain. This will be Simplicity 2614 - either view D or E.
2. Shades of blueish-turquoise and brown floral polyester charmeuse. I'm planning Burda's 10/2008/113B top for this.
3. White cotton poplin. I can't make all my tops in either aqua or turquoise, and I can't think of anything else besides white that will match my bottoms selection. I currently have no pattern picked out for this one.
4. Shades of blueish-turquoise and brown floral semi-shear polyester chiffon. This floral is a smaller print then #2, and although they have the same colors, they look totally different. I'll be using McCall's 5809, view B with slightly longer sleeve ruffles.
5. Aqua shear polyester charmeuse with gold embroidery and turquoise sequins. This is a border print and has a scalloped edge on the bottom. I don't have a pattern for this one yet, either. It needs to be simple because the fabric is so busy, and empire-waisted so I can show a lot of the floral design off with being fitted at the same time.

The bottoms:

1. Dark brown stretch suiting. This will be Burda 11/2008/117, only shortened to the knees. I want to keep the design lines of the top and also the flared bottom, so will be taking a lot of the length out of the middle.
2. Brown stretch suiting with turquoise and white pinstripes. The turquoise pinstripes go with both the aqua and blueish-turquoise of the other fabrics. I've picked Vogue 1051 for this one, of which I have just completed my wearable muslin of (and will hopefully have some decent pictures to show tonight or tomorrow.)
3. Tightly woven boucle-looking suiting. It has brown, aqua, turquoise and white strands. This will be some sort of skirt as I only have a little over a yard of it.
4. Brown stretch denim. This will be McCall's 5633, view B.

As for the "topper", I have no concrete plans. A fitted jacket would be nice but it would have to go with casual pants #4. Then I was thinking the Simplicity 2603 cardi-wrap might work, but tops #2 and #4 would look a little lumpy underneath. No clues for fabric either. I don't really want to be dressed from head to toe in brown.

Anyone else as excited about this as I am?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Stick a fork in me...

I'm D-O-N-E done. What do you think? Much of a change? There are still a few wrinkles back there, but I just don't care. I love this dress and know I've given it my best. Next time I do bias it darn sure won't have a center back seam.

Next up is Vogue 1051. This will be my first attempt at pants in years. What can I say, I seem to be a glutton for punishment.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update on NL 6438

Okay, people, I have decided to try to fix the butt wrinkles. I have just enough fabric to cut out one back skirt piece. When I took it apart this morning, I noticed the back right piece got cut off grain somehow. It is longer and skinnier then the left side, and I think it's causing the rippling. SO, I will be recutting and resewing for the next few days. But first I must go buy more light gray thread and find my dumb tape measure. I am always loosing that thing!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NewLook 6348 - Gray floral dress w/ piping

Okay, finally done with this dress! I had some fit issues, one that's not resolved. But I'm calling it finished unless you can help me with my problem. More on that later. I love bias cut garments. Love them. They look great on and are very comfortable to wear.

I think this dress was made for a large C cup, possibly even a D. When I sewed the bodice to the skirt, the boobs were incredibly saggy. So I ripped that seam out and trimmed off 1/2" from the bottom curve of each bodice tapering off at the sides.

Sorry for the crazy eyes. I need to put a stitch in the front, apparently, because I was flashing some cleavage in the other side pictures and this is the only decent one. This fabric came from JoAnn's and I think they call it "Simply Silky", whatever that means. It's a really slippery polyester something or another. Slippery and bias cut do not make a garment easy to sew.

I'm pretty proud of this piping. I made it all myself since I wanted to use that specific turquoise color. It really wasn't difficult, especially with the piping foot that came with my new machine. One trick I figured out is to cut off the inside cord where you want it to tuck into the seam. This eliminates a lot of bulk.

Here's a shot of it not on me:

This is the underarm where I tapered each side of piping to get a continuous look:

Here's the full lining. The fabric is newberg, which is more expensive than the cheaper stuff I usually purchase, but it just feels so much better on. It is very slippery as well.

And here's the back. Do you notice any problem?

Darn those butt wrinkles!!! I'm telling you, I have tried everything possible to get rid of them. At first I thought it was the zipper, so I shorted it to just below the bodice. No dice. I have sewn the back seam longer. I have sewn it shorter. I have applied fusible interfacing to the seam allowances. I have applied interfacing to the back dress instead - that looked awful and was removed immediately. I have soaked it with a squirt bottle and thrown it in the dryer on high. Anybody have any ideas? I love this dress so much that I'm still planning to wear it, but if it were perfect I would be so much happier.

This has been a very frustrating item to make, but I have learned something. I will never put a back seam in a bias dress again, at least not when I'm using such slippery fabrics. I will move the zipper to the side seam and eliminate any future butt wrinkle problems.