Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap

I always love doing the yearly review. It makes me feel so productive to see it all tallied up.

This year I made:

Tops - 7
Dresses - 7
Jackets - 8
Skirts - 4
Cardigans - 1
Vests - 1
Kids clothing - 5
Maternity dresses - 1
Knitted garments - 3

That's a total of 37 garments completed! The year before I made 45, but of course at that time was not making baby clothes.

My favorite item from this year was my plum wool military jacket:

Surprisingly, I've made a number of things that I'm just not crazy about. The knit twisted bubble skirt hits me right at the bottom of my thigh muscle and makes my legs look extra wide. The Cynthia Rowley border print skirt poofs out unflatteringly in the tummy area because the fabric I chose for it is a bit stiff. I like the fit and design of my pink zebra print knit top but the fabric is of cheap quality and has already started to pill at the underarms. I also like my white sweaterknit cardigan but it doesn't seem to go with anything in my wardrobe since it's so thin. However, I'm holding on to most of those items for now. They are well made and I'm thinking they might fit differently once I get rid of these extra 10 pounds.

By far, the biggest What Was I Thinking garment was my yellow linen jacket:

I have tried and tried to style this jacket in a pleasing manner. It cannot be done. The sleeves are atrocious! I may decide to redo them at some point, but for right now it'll be living in my "needs attention" area of the closet.

I set some lofty goals for myself last December. Was I able to meet them?

1. Enter at least 1 contest at
No, I did not do this. I am going to stop setting this as a goal since I've yet to follow through with it. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what I think about PR lately. I kind of feel like I am wasting my time writing reviews there. So few people even look at my garments anymore. Are they seeing them here instead? I don't know. I still always look there before I start a new project. But, I digress.

2. Make at least one jacket each month.

Well, I did make 8. That's not one a month but still is a pretty good number. I got a little tired of making them. Some months I was excited to make one and some months I felt pressured to fit it in. I did make more jackets then the year before, and that was really the goal in the first place.

3. Make more knit/casual dresses.
I made 4 casual dresses in 2009. This year I made 3. Boo.

4. Make more pants.

Ha! Now this was just poor planning. I knew I was pregnant in December when I set these goals. What was I thinking? Oh, now I remember. I thought I would find a TNT pants pattern in January and sew several more pants throughout my pregnancy using it. That did not happen.

5. Continue learning new knitting techniques.
Finally, one that I actually completed! I only made three knitted garments this year, but I did indeed learn new techniques with 2 of them: making an I-cord and short rows.

Overall, though, I did not meet my goals. I really should have gone back to that post throughout the year to remember what was written there. Sigh.

Okay, onward and upward, right? Here are the new goals for 2011:

1. Sew more casual knit dresses.
I love to wear these during the summer. It is effortless style, IMO. Throw on a knit dress and some cute sandals and you are ready to go!

2. Make pants.

At least one pair. I mean, really, what am I so afraid of?!

3. Continue making lots of jackets.

I love the put-together feeling I get from wearing a well fitting jacket. However, I'll not be setting myself a number goal this year.

4. Learn some of the sewing techniques included in my new book The Party Dress Book.

5. Continue learning new knitting techniques.

Thanks so much to all you wonderful people who have taken the time to visit my humble blog. It has been such a joy these past two and a half years to be able to share my love and passion for sewing with other like minded individuals. I may not always get back to each question asked, nor have the time to respond to you personally, but please know that I appreciate each comment left. Alright, enough cheese! Have a wonderful, productive and dream-fulfilling New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A crafting Christmas gift and a funny story

A couple of weeks ago Beth from SunnyGal Studio did a post on her fabulous new corduroy jacket. She used a velvet board (a.k.a. needle board) to do her pressing so the pile didn't get crushed. I had never heard of a velvet board, and since I have several cuts of velvet/corduroy in my stash that I am afraid to use because of pressing issues, was immediately intrigued. I hunted around the internet and at local fabric haunts. They are hard to find and super expensive. I did find one at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply in NYC that looked decent and was half the cost of the others on the internet, but still pricey at $75 plus shipping. Then when Justin asked me if there was anything sewing related I might like to have as a Christmas gift, I gave him the link. A week before Christmas the package came in the mail. Here's what they sent me:

Um, WHAT?!!! It's a piece of black velvet glued to a board. I suppose one might use this for displaying jewelry or something? It wasn't what I wanted at all and not what they had pictured online. But wait! Since it came in a paper envelope, it was bent. We paid $83 (with the shipping) for a piece of velvet glued to a bent piece of cardboard. And they don't take returns!!!

I called the company immediately and the salesgirl at MWS was really sweet and apologetic. She said I was shipped the wrong item; that they did carry a velvet pressing board and it is never sent in a paper envelope. They rushed me another one which arrived the day before Christmas:

It looks pretty fabulous, right? I love useful tools, no matter if they are power tools or sewing tools. Keep a lookout for some velvet garments coming soon.

Anyone else have a funny holiday story to share?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

January Burda picks

I didn't do any picks for the month of December because there were zero designs from that issue that I wanted to make. Although it does include a pattern for father and son pajamas, which I plan to use, so is not a total loss. However, January's magazine is a different story, offering lots of feminine patterns that I really like.

This first one is blouse 102. I always love a top with a peplum as it gives the illusion of a smaller waist on my squarish shape. The off-center button and loop closure, wide rounded yoke and squared off sleeve insertion are other fun details. I've never been one to love flutter sleeves, but this blouse is so pretty and breezy with them. (Although I could use the long sleeves from dress 104 if desired.)
Have you ever noticed that patterns for long sleeved dresses are hard to come by? Or that if you find one it's almost always for a knit? Every winter I think I'll find one in the new pattern lines, but they are either sleeveless (for winter!) or for a knit. Now I realize the fabric listed for dress 104 is crepe jersey, but since they have the short sleeve top version made out of silk batiste, I don't see why the dress can't be made from a woven as well. This is one darling dress, and I especially love the grosgrain ribbon they used for a belt and tied on the side.

Jacket 106 also has a peplum and interesting shaped yokes. I like the front pockets and blousy effect of the front and back gathers.
Dress 108 is super simple and the blackline drawing looks like a night gown, but isn't this a gorgeous dress all made up? Especially with an obi belt to give it some shape. I really like the sleeves with buttoning cuffs and the front button closure. This design is simple enough to be made in some really busy fabric.

How cute is coat 109?!! It has a fitted shape from the long front darts and cute welt pockets. I love the blousy sleeve bottoms gathered into bands at the wrists. Here's another simple design that would look great in a busier fabric.

Jacket 127 looks pretty plain from the front, but upon further inspection, I noticed the back peplum is actually an extension of the front piece. So if this was made in some sort of stripe, the center back peplum would meet in a V. I'll leave off the front pockets to show the continuous fabric line on the sides. And I just happen to have the perfect fabric in my stash.

Okay, so I don't actually own any leggings. They so remind me of the 80's and elementary school. And even though I know they're back in style, I'm just not wanting to go there again. However, if I ever get the urge to make a pair, these look like some nice fitting ones. (Probably what will happen is that I'll decide I like them right when the style is changing and they're out again. That is usually how it is with me and fads. Although I never owned a pair of Crocks and am proud of it.)

Many thanks for the compliments on my faux leather vest and to you lovely people who are writing nice things concerning my loss of the baby weight. It is so encouraging to hear that!!! However, I am good at camouflage, and still have a ways to go before most of my clothes start to fit properly. Being a square, I carry weight through my mid-section. It is always the first place I gain and the last place I lose. Most of my pants have started to fit again because they don't extend up to my waist, but none of my skirts are fitting nor are the fitted tops or dresses. I have no secrets to weight loss - wish I did! It's never taken me this long to get back to my normal size with any of my other pregnancies, and I'm frustrated that I still can't wear most of the things I made last summer. But, I will get there. Eventually. Probably after Christmas when my house is not filled with cookies. Anyway, I just felt like being honest with you.

I had a ton of plans for things to make for Christmas gifts, but of course I hardly got any of them completed. Why don't I learn my lesson and start in November?! This will probably be the last post for awhile. I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I pray that you'll remember the best Christmas gift ever given, and that was the Father's gift of Christ:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not parish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Saturday, December 11, 2010

10-2008-123 - Faux leather quilted vest

If you'll recall, I attempted this design last month, but it turned into a wadder because of poor fabric choice. And my zipper insertion looked horrible. And the collar was too tall, making me feel somewhat choked. I'm calling that first try an expensive muslin, because this one I'm actually really pleased with. Here's the drawing again to refresh your memory:

Ta da! You might notice right off the bat that my version has no sleeves. I thought them a little strange but edgy at the same time, and couldn't make up my mind if I should include them or not. As it turned out I needn't have concerned myself; there wasn't enough fabric anyway. I barely squeezed out the inside facings, and had to cut the undercollar with lining fabric.

This time I cut 1.25" off the height of the stand collar and now it is the exact height of the shawl collar, totally eliminating the choking feeling. Isn't this fabric so fun? I bought it a year or two ago from Hancock's for a vest I decided not to make. The front side looks like quilted leather and the back is actually fleece. It's thin enough not to add a bunch of bulk but warm because of the fleece. I was concerned the leather-like layer might melt when being ironed or act willy nilly but it was very easy to work with and pressed like a dream.

I added this 1" elastic casing to the back to give it some shape.

I did include the working front pockets, even though they are tiny and I'll probably never put anything in there. The welts were turned on an angle and have vertical and horizontal "quilting lines".

This project stressed me out because of the silly front zipper. On my last attempt, the zipper was wavy and didn't meet exactly at the top or bottom. However, this one went in with relative ease and didn't have any waving issues. I love the contrast of shiny gold metal and matted black leather. I see lots more exposed metal zippers in my future.

Also, I cut each piece out individually so that all the quilting lines matched up horizontally across the front and back.

The second shawl collar is simply stitched on top of the vest and then zigzagged at the edge. I had to do a bit of handstitching where the tip of the collar overlaps the zipper. Here's where you can see the undercollar cut from lining fabric. This was a happy accident as it cuts down on bulk and never shows anyway.

The elastic casing was easily made by stitching the lining and vest fabric together at the top and bottom of the casing. Then I inserted the elastic and closed the ends.

Even though I live in Texas and we have very mild winters, I get cold often. (I must have cold reptile blood or something.) I think this vest will see a lot of use as a warm layering piece.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Simplicity 2572 - Black baby pants w/ cuffs

I'm using this pattern again for another pair of little pants for Rachel. She has several tops in black but nothing to wear them with. I cut these the same as the last pair, but with a little more fabric in the width of the waistband. (The last pair are a tad bit difficult to pull up over her tiny bottom.) Isn't she darling striking a sassy pose here?!

I topstitched in white and added cuffs to the hems. I also put some patch pockets on the sides, but the scale was off and they turned out way too big. Off they came.

This should be it for awhile for baby pants. I still want to make her a pair of denim overalls this winter, and I have several more dresses with fabric already purchased. My faux leather vest was finished up Sunday night, and I'll definitely get some pictures of it tomorrow.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Updated pictures of my gray wool jacket

I made this jacket back in July when I was still pregnant. I wore it to church this morning before a cold front blew in. Brrrr, it's cold now. The weather doesn't seem to bother our cat, who just had to get her furry rear end in all my photos.

Doesn't it look way better on an actual body instead of my dressform? I really love this jacket, although it's not at all warm so I am doubting the wool content printed on the bolt when I purchased the fabric. I also made the dress I'm wearing in August 2009.

I am nearly done with an awesome little faux leather vest, although Justin has to head into work this afternoon so I'll likely not get any pictures of it until next weekend. Arg to you winter time change!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Simplicity 2572 - Skinny jeans for a skinny girl

My first son was a big baby. He was born at 9lbs. 2oz. and just got bigger and bigger. People use to stop me and say, "Wow! He's healthy!!!" And I would think, "Shut up! He's gorgeous!" Now when I look back at his baby pictures, I realize he really was a chunk. With huge baby cheeks. He was always in the 95th percentile for height and weight compared to other babies his age.

My second son was born at 8lbs. 11oz., and was a very average size baby. He wore the same clothes that his brother had worn 2 years earlier, but they usually fit him for a little longer. I never made them anything because sewing boy clothes didn't seem very interesting, and there were hardly any cute patterns for boys.

Now this new little person has been an adjustment. She started out tiny - 6lbs. 7oz. - and hasn't grown much in the 2.5 months since then. At the doctor's office for a checkup last week, the nurse put her on the scale to weigh her - 8lbs. 14oz.! I was shocked! My home scale read at least 10lbs. I had them reweigh her, thinking surely there had been some mistake. No mistake. She's in the 5th percent for weight and the 10th percent for height. It looks like she'll be a petite girl, and it's a good thing I know how to sew.

Making pants was not high on my list of cute baby clothes to make, but they are now a necessity that I can't find to fit her. We have a few pairs of leggings that don't fall off when I pick her up. Dresses aren't too bad since they don't have to fit in the waist, but no tights fit and her legs get cold. So, I guess I'll now be making lots of bottoms.

These little jeans only took a day and a half to whip up. I used the same pattern as this skirt, which I now realize will never fit. I love the bottom ruffles on this design and decided to do topstitching with orange thread to break up all the denim.

I also added a little heart pocket to the back. Originally there were two hearts on the back, but since her bottom is so tiny, two was too much. I made the XXS. In order to get these to fit, I cut 1" off each side pattern piece, resulting in pants that are 4" narrower then designed. I've compared the original pattern size to other RTW 0-3 months pants, and it is spot on. So other then being off by calling this a newborn size, this pattern should fit other babies with no problems.

This fabric is a cotton denim I've had in the stash forever. I'm not sure what I originally purchased it for, but there's enough of it left over for some baby overalls. These were so easy and such a success that I'll be making a black pair next. I'm thinking side cargo pockets and bottom cuffs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butterick 5454 - Black floral knit wrap dress

Hello! I finally have a new FO to show you. This is a simple wrap dress design that I usually wouldn't have looked twice at (too simplistic/non-challenging) except that I kept seeing it pop up over at And as I am attempting to use simple patterns for busy fabrics, it was perfect for this border print ITY knit.

I wish there had been enough fabric to cut the sleeves and bottom tie on the border as well. That would have been so eye-popping. As is the ties get a little lost with all the busyness of the print. With such a short amount of yardage, I was squeezing in pattern pieces wherever they would fit. I did try to match up the skirt and bodice pieces where they intersect at the waist. However, it was a total fluke that the sleeves match up perfectly to the front and back bodice! Honestly, I'm not sure I could have pulled that off if I'd had 2 extra yards and the willingness to try.

At the moment, the girls are pulling the neckline out and the waistline of the skirt up slightly in the front. This is how the dress will lay once they go back to normal non-nursing size. It's a rather low neckline for me, and will still require a cami underneath.

I did make the effort to match up the border motif at the hemline. Oh, and I took a 1.5" hem instead of the 5/8" per the pattern instructions. Otherwise, no other changes were made.

I used bias tape to finish off the neckline so it wouldn't stretch out. I liked the idea of using clear elastic instead, but couldn't figure out how to attach the ties with it and still have neat insides. French seams were used throughout. As I've written before, I have nothing against the use of a serger to finish off seams, and would certainly utilize one if I could. But my sewing space is in the corner of our master bedroom, and I only have room for one sewing machine.

That's it for now! Rachel is in desperate need of some pants that fit her super skinny waist, and I've got another knit dress already cut out. Hopefully it's a productive week. If I don't get another post done before then, happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Simplicity 4243 - Maroon print w/ zebra corduroy baby dress

This one actually fits! Doesn't she look like a little doll?

I originally bought this pattern for the gingham dress on the cover and never thought to use it for winter. But of course you have to get creative when you've only got a handful of patterns to work with. I'm still planning to make the gingham one this summer.

Both of these fabrics are thin wale corduroy; the maroon print is from JoAnn's, the zebra print from Hancock's. I added pink piping to the neckline, armholes, and between the fabrics at the bottom. It is not easy to do this on such tiny openings, especially the armholes. What a pain! But it makes for a super cute dress! Aren't the little pleats at the neckline a fun touch?

I used an invisible zipper for the back closing and tapered the neckline piping into the neck seam right before the zipper. The maroon topstitching you see is from the bias tape finished edges.

Here you can see the bias tape around the neckline. This is per the pattern instructions, but of course you already know I like this method of finishing and use it quite a bit. I topstitched with black thread in the top of my machine and maroon in the bobbin.

French seams were used for the shoulders and side seams, bias tape finished off the armholes and center back seam, and I slipstitched the bottom band up.

It was really fun to make this little dress, but not nearly as much instant gratification as the zebra print I made before. Incidentally, this is the last of the zebra print, in case you are worried I'm making a wardrobe full. It was the only corduroy print I could find that went with the maroon. Oh, and I made size XXS, which I'm happy to report fits like a 0-3 month RTW size. I've fabric for one more winter dress from this pattern, so expect to see it again soon.

But up next, a knit dress for me. Can you believe I'm completely tired of making lined jackets?! Well I am, and gave myself permission to make whatever I want for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Check out the new Buttericks!

Lately I've been stalking the Butterick website. They are always the last ones to put up patterns for the coming season. They finally posted them today and I LOVE this new lineup! Usually I find only one or two that I like (except for Vogue) because pattern companies like to repeat themselves a lot. Surprise! These new ones seem fresh and interesting and even a little challenging!

This first one is dress 5554, and yes, I have seen this color blocked design before. The pleated sleeves are what make this special to me, especially since they attach right where the front and back princess seams meets the sleeve.

I really don't know why I like this next one, 5555. It's not that new or different. I guess because the sleeves have a lot less poof to them then I normally see. And the fabrics listed for it include stable knits. And it doesn't look like there's a ton of fabric gathered up in the waist area. Something is appealing about it...

I really adore this next one, 5558, a Maggy London design. Check out the blackline drawing - there are pleats around the entire midriff. Fabric choice will be crucial to get a nice drape below the pleats.

Okay, love love dress 5559. Those lines are tucks sewn on the outside of the fabric. Plus they are present on the front and the back. This is another design for stable knits. It's fun and interesting. Did I mention I LOVE it?!

This is a fun little knit top pattern, 5561. The front line is actually a deep pleat, and I really like the short sleeves and cowl neckline on the top left example.

This next picture is from top 5562. It's pretty simple, but the sleeves are fun.

Check out the outside pleats on the bottom two drawings of 5566. Don't they look very Anthropology to you? I also like the top right two fabric combo. Very nice!
I like the shawl collar long sleeve jacket of 5568, but would probably add the front breast pockets and use the plain sleeves. It has interesting front tucks and a pleated back peplum. Hmm, it snaps closed. That's a little weird. I might be adding some front buttons as well.

What do you think? These are cute, right? Hooray for Butterick, they finally put out some patterns that I'm excited about!