Thursday, April 21, 2016


If you are a fourth grade teacher in California,  you know that "Eureka!" means "I have found it!"  And what have we found?  Gold of course.  Well, Eureka is the name of this pattern by The Sewing Workshop, and that is the way I feel about it.  I would have never chosen this pattern based on the line drawing (just kinda blah) but I'm loving this top!  Now, I'm not sure if that is because of the pattern, or because of the fabric, but either way, it's definitely a win!

I was looking to make an overshirt for my Jacqueline slip, and originally I was going to use another knit and another pattern.  But, for some reason, I decided to do this one instead.  The fact that this top only takes one yard of fabric made it a little challenging.  I hate to cut one yard out of a longer piece unless I know something else I want to make out of that fabric.  Do any of you get stuck like that?  It's kind of ridiculous because that fabric is just sitting there waiting to be cut, and yet, I don't want to do it!

Any way, I found exactly one yard of this fabric in a drawer.  It's a beautiful rayon double knit/ sweater knit and I have no idea where I got it!  It looks like something I might have gotten from Casual Elegance, but I really don't remember.

This pattern was fast and easy to make.  I love how the neckline is done, although I didn't follow the directions in the pattern.  They have you mark a line on the band and line that up with something and it just sounded complicated to me and an extra step.  Basically, if you sew the band to the neckline with a 5/8" seam you'll come out with the same result.  I can see why they do it the other way, and maybe if I had done it that way my band would be exactly the same width all the way around, but I'm OK with a little imperfection on something like this.  I still think it looks pretty darn good.

The sleeve bands are sewn onto a kimono/cap style sleeve and give it a nice look.

I did use my serger to put this top together, but on the neckline, I sewed the binding on with the sewing machine first and then trimmed it with the serger.  I'm really loving this top!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tina Givens' Jacqueline

Lately I have really been intrigued with Tina Given's Patterns and the whole Lagenlook trend.  I've steered away from it before because I know someone who REALLY likes this look, but most of the time it looks like she found everything she could and threw it all on at the same time.  Not the look I'm going for.  However,  I've really been liking the looks of Vivid Linen, Eileen Fisher, and a few others that have a little more classic look on this trend.  So, I bought the Jacqueline pattern, which I think is just lovely.

Before summer hits, I would like to make the slip part of this pattern in a light weight linen, as shown.  Since I am doing the endless combinations contest on PR, I wanted to find something that would go with the LH pants I made recently, AND I wanted to use fabric that was ALREADY in my stash.  I found this sort-of batik print rayon challis in my cupboard and knew it would be perfect.  This pattern needs something that will drape and flow, and this fit the ticket.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.  (It was a little windy when I took the picture, so you can see my skirt blowing out on the left or my right)

This pattern is available as a PDF or printed pattern. I ordered the printed because it was on sale. Unfortunately, I still had to tape the pieces together, which was a little annoying. Granted, the sheets were about 3 times the size of regular paper, but still!

The armholes were REALLY low on this pattern, so I basted the shoulder seams 2" lower and recut the neckline, I want to be able to wear this as a top without another top or cami underneath during the summer. I should have made that 3", so I will correct that on the pattern.

The neckline and armholes are finished with self-bias, which is not unusual and my preferred method for finishing. What was interesting is that the hem is also finished with bias binding. I have never done that before, but I like how it turned out.  I have more pictures in my Tina Givens Flicker Set. (Click on the picture of the cat and it will take you there.)

Tina Givens

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Endless Combinations Item #2 - Ascona Cropped Pant

Earlier this season I purchased several fabrics from Casual Elegance in hopes of making a spring wardrobe.  Well, I'm starting to see it come together!  This is item #2 in the PR Endless Combinations Contest.  Item 2 must go with item 1.  Item 3 must go with item 2, etc.  So my first piece was the sweater knit top in my last post, and this is item #2.  I've made Loes Hinse's Ascona Pant several times and really like it.  The fabric is super nice looking and drapes beautifully.  It is a poly-rayon blend, but I don't know the percentages.  It must be more rayon than poly though, because it seems to wrinkle/crease fairly easily.  I'm also loving the carmel color on these.

I tried to hem these pants using steam a seam.  Then I noticed that one of the legs wasn't falling smoothly, so I pulled it apart.  When I tried to re-adhere it, it wouldn't stick, so I used stitch witchery to fix it.  by the time I got home from church, my other pant leg was falling down.  I've never had a problem with steam a seam before, but this time it was just not sticking.  I will probably go back and hem them by hand.

I've mentioned this before, but Loes Hinse taught me a cool trick for sewing on elastic when your hips are much larger than your waist.  I use 1/5" elastic and serge it to the wrong side of the pant.  I then fold the right side in and down to bring the elastic up to the fold (This part is all the same as her standard waist finish, except that she uses 1" elastic.

 Now, this is what is different.  Instead of stitching 1 and a half inches down, only stitch down 1"  This gives the look of a 1" waist casing but the added elastic flares out to the hips, but is not stitched to the top layer of the pants.  I'm not sure why this works better, but it seems to work for me.  Also, this time, I used Louise Cutting's stitch through elastic and did the same thing.  BUT, I stitched 1/2" down and 1" down.  I'm liking how this waist band turned out and it's not to gather-y around the waist when worn.
Ascona modified waist treatment

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Out With The Old...

In with the new!  Today is Sunday, so I took a break from Closet Bootcamp, but believe me, I'll be back at it tomorrow.  Now that I have really whittled down my tops and dresses, I realize that I don't have much to wear to church!  I wore a dress today that I made for Uganda, but I like to wear Maxi dresses in the summer, so I'm sure I'll be wearing it a lot in the next few months.

So, in with the new.  A couple of months ago (I think) I planned a spring and summer wardrobe and pulled all the fabrics and patterns.  That's about as far as I got except for one top, The Madagascar Tank.   Well, today I have another Loes Hinse pattern to present - The Bianca Sweater.  I actually did use a sweater knit, too!  This fabric is really light weight and a challenge to work with, but it looks and feels lovely.
Sweater knit for Bianca
Sweater knit for Bianca

My sewing machine did a really nice job on this fabric, but I knew I would have to serge all the seams.  Most knits do not ravel, but this one just falls apart because the stitches are so loose.  So, I took a few practice runs at what I wanted to do.  Here's what I came up with

Side seams - used 4 thread serger only
Setting in sleeves - basted first, then used 4 thread serger
Hems - I just double serged them with four threads.
Sweater knit for Bianca

My serger is really old and does not have a differential feed.  I probably wouldn't know what to do with it if I had it.  But, I LOVE my serger and it has been a workhorse for me for almost 30 years!  I did not like the look of the double serged hem at the neckline, so after double serging it, I just turned it under and stitched it with a narrow zig zag.  This was a quick and easy top!  I really like the (sort of) deconstructed look of it, yet it still has a good shape and I think will hold up well.

This is the first piece I am making for the Endless Combinations Contest over on PR.  I need to sew the clothes anyway, I have everything ready that fits the contest guidelines, so why not?  Next up - another LH pattern - Ascona pants.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Closet bootcamp Day 2

Today was Day 2 of the Closet bootcamp.  (More information at The Capsule Project)  The focus for day 2 is dresses, skirts, pants and shorts.  (this does not include workout wear)  I can't believe how exhausted I am from doing this!!  Here's my method

  1. Pull everything out from the closet, dresser, and anywhere else and lay it on the bed in piles.  Each pile is a category such as dresses.
  2. Take a picture of the huge pile
  3. After everything is out of my closet, I wash down the closet rods* and wipe off all of the hangers.  This makes me feel so happy to have these things CLEAN
  4. Pick up each item individually and ask myself a few questions
    1. Do I love it?
    2. Is it too dated?
    3. Is it too worn?
    4. Do I want to see it again next season?
    5. Does it serve a purpose (example: I have a few items that I wear when I go to Uganda and no other time.)?
    6. Do I really love it?
  5. If I really love it and want to keep it, it gets folded on the bed.  If not, it goes in a bag to go to the thrift store, or it goes in the trash.  
  6. Put away the clothes I am keeping
I have the most awesome cleaner that I use to clean wood.  I used it on the closet rods, wood hangers, and I use it on cabinets and my kitchen table.  It's super easy to make, has no artificial fragrances, and works better than anything you buy in the store. At least in my opinion.  Here it is:

Mix the following ingredients in a spray bottle.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dawn or Castille liquid soap
  • 1 tsp olive oil
Shake well before each use.  

So, here we go:
Before - yes, PotPie has to be in the middle of everything.
Day 2 before shot- dresses, pants, shirts and skirts

and after- Pottie's in the "keep" pile :-)

Day 2 After

I started with 115 and got down to 28!  Woo hoo!! Yes, I admit that I had a few (or more) pair of "someday pants".  Well, no longer!   I know as the weeks go on, I will probably get rid of even more.  Now that I can actually see what I really have, I know exactly what I need. I have a few skirts that I love that don't have good tops to go with them. As I bring (or make) some better pieces into my wardrobe, I will continue to get rid of others.  I did keep a couple of things just because "I have to have something to wear to..."  In fact, what I had planned to wear to church tomorrow is now in the give away bag.  Looks like I'll have to figure out something else!

I have admit, it's really hard to get rid of some things.  I have some beautiful silk blouses, brand new jeans, and a few other things that just don't fit any more.  It makes me sad, but if I ever get back into a size 6 I will celebrate by buying new clothes!

Friday, April 01, 2016


Lately it seems that I never have any thing to wear.  My closet is packed, but yet, I don't like anything and seem to wear the same 3 or 4 things all the time.  Sigh.  I've read most of the Vivienne files, and there is so much good information there. But, I decided that's way too much planning for me.  However, I do like the idea of the basic 5 piece French Wardrobe.  It's kind of a misnomer, because you have to start with about 25-26 things and then you rotate in 5 pieces for each new season.  I started trying to find out more information about this and found the best check off sheet at The Capsule Project.  Their sight is a little clumsy to navigate, but if you scroll about halfway down the page of the link, you'll see a free check list button.  There is a lot of other good stuff at that website too.

Last year I read the Konmari book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Although she has some strange philosophies, I've been able to change those around to fit my life.  For example, she thanks her clothes for giving her joy before she gets rid of something.  I can thank God for giving me the joy of having the item, even if I rarely used it.  It does help get rid of the guilt of getting rid of "perfectly good" stuff.  I do recommend the book - but with a grain of salt.  Anyway, at the Capsule project, they also have a 7 day closet bootcamp on decluttering your closet.  I like the idea of breaking this down into doable steps.  It's the Konmari method broken into a 7 day challenge.

Now, I'm not associated with this website or method in any way, but I'm posting here to hold myself accountable for finishing what I'm starting!  So, here is the ugly truth; my closet:
Closet Boot Camp Day 1
Closet Boot Camp Day 1
Closet Boot Camp Day 1

This is pitiful!  I am blessed to have an extra large closet.  However, that does not mean that I should have it stuffed full!  It's definitely embarassing, but I will say that many of the clothes in my closet are OLD.  Like 10 years old!!  No wonder I never have anything to wear.  I'm sick of my clothes, but it's hard to get rid of that "perfectly good stuff"!  Well, my life has changed a lot and so has my style.  I'm looking for a different kind of clothes now and most of what I have no longer works for me.  That and the fact that I'm 10 pounds heavier and nothing fits!

So, Day one is TOPS.  This includes everything like Tees, blouses, camis, tanks, sweaters, etc.  I pulled everything (in this category) out of the closet, drawers, laundery and wherever else they might be hiding and put them on my bed.  Here's what it looked like.
Closet Boot Camp Day 1

When all was said and done, I had over 200 pieces!  Yikes!  My original goal was to get rid of 80% of everything.  Actually, I started at 85, but realized that was a little ridiculous.  As it turns out, 80% is also way out of my comfort zone and I'm at just a little over 60%  I have 175 items in bags to take to the thrift store, and only put 73 back into my closet and drawers.  This took me a few hours, but I think today will be the worst day.  I don't have any where near that amount of the other categories.  Tomorrow is dresses and pants/ bottoms.  That will definitely be a challenge since I will have to try everything on.  If I can hit 60% again tomorrow, I will be happy.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bundle of Joy

Last month Fabric Mart Fabrics issued a challenge to use all pieces from one bundle into a garment or collection of garments.  I thought it sounded fun to try, so I ordered a small bundle.  This is what I got:
Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.01.04 AM
I changed my mind several times about what I would make and what I would have go with each piece.  Originally, the brown was going to be a pair of pants, but in the end I decided the fabric might drag against itself. If I were to do it all again, I would probably use the multistripe to do the finishing on the jacket and maybe some trim.  Then all of the garments would be one complete outfit.  But, I'm glad I made that top separate, as I can see wearing it with other things.  I've been wearing it with black pants.

This is what I ended up with!  (scroll down for better picture)
Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 9.42.48 AM

I really like how the garments work together, even though I would not have bought these fabrics to go together. It was a fun challenge to break up my normal sewing routine.

Here are links to more information about each fabric used and the garment:

Dark Brown Raincoat fabric - TSW Tremont Jacket
Black and White Stripe - Pattern Review Ina Skirt 
Multi stripe crinkle georgette - Cutting Line Designs Light and Shadow remake
Lavender burnout print knit - Vogue 8636 Marcy Tilton Raglan Tee

I'm not happy with the collage picture above since it is not clear.  I tried doing it by making a card in iphoto and then taking a screen shot of the photo.  I'm going to try to do it over by using keynote.
Here is a better picture!

Tremont Jacket - TSW

Tremont Jacket

Ta-daa!  I finally finished the Sewing Workshop Tremont jacket.  I have been working on this thing for several days.  Actually, it would be a pretty quick jacket to make if I had serged all of the seam allowances, but I decided to do Mock Hong Kong finish on all of the seams.  Several years ago, I purchased a silk tie left-over bundle from FMF.  I didn’t realize how great these would be for seam binding until I started using them.  Most of the pieces are already on the bias, so it’s pretty easy to line up those strips.  I cut the strips 1/25” wide, the stretched them as I pressed them (learned this trick from Lynda Maynard at a PR training).  You sew them to the edge of the seam allowance, press toward the edge, then wrap the raw edge and stitch in the ditch.  I’m not great at stitching in the ditch, but I still got a nice finish.  On some of the seams I needed to trim the excess silk fabric from the underside of the seam allowance.  

The one thing this jacket does not have is a pocket.  I don’t know why, but I love pockets.  Maybe it comes from all of those years of being a teacher and always having too many things in my hands.

This pattern has only 4 pieces.  Left front, Right front, Back and Sleeve.  The back neckband and facings for front are all cut onto the front.  It’s a little bit tricky to sew correctly, but it makes a nice finish.  
Another great thing about this pattern is the way the points are finished.  It is not easy to get a good finish on uneven corners, but Linda Lee's directions help you to get a nice finish like this:

This fabric did not have a lot of body, so I knew I needed to so something to keep those sleeves up.  I cut strips of fabric 2.5" wide and 6 or 7 inches long.  Sew up the long edge and press the seam allowance open.  Turn the tube so that the seam allowance is in the middle.  Do not press, but mark your point.  I drew parallel lines 1/4" and 3/4" down from the edge.  I then drew from the edge of the seam allowance out to the corners to make the trapezoid shape.  I then stitched on the 3 lines that would make the shape.  Trim and turn right side out.  Make the button hole on the right side and slide over the button.  Pull up the sleeve to have the amount of folding you want and trim and hand sew the straight edge of the tab to the inside. 

I like the length of the jacket because it falls right below the butt.

This pattern has a lot of topstitching.  If I were using a fabric with a little more body, even a quilting weight cotton, it would be fun to do some decorative stitching.  The straight stitch worked well with this fabric.

The fabric I used for this is the last of the FMF bundle I bought earlier this month.  I’m not thrilled about the color of this fabric, but I like the way it feels.  It is very light weight and probably a rain coat fabric.  When I took it out of the washing machine, the water just fell off of it.  It has sort of a sueded front to it.  I like how this jacket turned out and I'm really happy with all of the pieces that came in my bundle.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mystery Raglan Tee Vogue 8636

When you order a mystery bundle, you never know what you are going to get.  I hadn't ordered one in years, but was prompted by an email I received from Fabric Mart a few weeks ago.  I went ahead and ordered the 6 yard bundle for $10.00.  I figured that even if I only liked one of the fabrics, I would still come out ahead.  Well, this is Fabric #3 out of the bundle, and I love it.  I originally was going to make a pair of pants out of piece #4, but changed my mind this morning.  This was going to be the top to go with it, but it will still go with many things that I have.  The background is gray with a black burnout, but for some reason, it seems to read "brown" so I think it will go with either brown or black.  

The pattern I used, Vogue 8636
is a Marcy Tilton from a few years back.  I really like the basic raglan T shape.  This time I used a tissue knit burnout.  Since handling this fabric can be tricky, I decided to share what I did (and didn’t) do.

Since there was nothing that needed to be matched in this fabric, I didn’t use a single layer layout.  I folded both selvedges to the middle so that I had two folds, and cut out the front and back on these fold.  Then I folded the rest in half and cut out the sleeve and neck pieces.  Since I had made the pattern before, this was quick as I had no alterations to make.  (Another reason I chose this pattern!)

When I made my Bianca Hack, I also used a tissue knit.  I fought this thing on the serger as it kept eating the cut off part into the seam allowance stitching.  It was kind of a pain.  On this top, I decided to NOT use the serger.  At All.  

I finally decided to give the Sewing Workshop Sew Confident a try.  I started with year 3.  One of the lessons in the series is on tricky knits.  So, I did learn one thing.  Using a double stitched seam and trimming close to the second stitching will give you a flatter seam allowance, stop the curling, and be less bulky than a serged seam.  I’m a little bit underwhelmed with the Sew Confident so far, but I have only read about the first 4 lessons.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but we’ll see how it goes.  Have any of you tried it?  What do / did you think?  I have not yet received the 3 patterns that go with that year, but I am anxious to get those (although purchasing the patterns is optional.  However, you get 3 for the price of 2, so that’s definitely worth it!)

Another thing I did because of this tissue knit was to use left over tissue paper to start and end my seams.  My sewing machine does not have a single needle sole plate, so the tissue tears away easily enough and solves the problem of the fabric being pulled into the feed dogs.  I usually use medical exam paper to trace my patterns and I just use left over pieces to do this.  I keep them in a little plastic container by my machine.

The two times I made this top before, I used darts in the neckline.  This time I used the pleat and button method.  I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.
... And here I am with the requisite tree growing out of the top of my head. (Since I use a tripod and delay switch on my camera to take pictures, I really need to think about this in the future!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

PR Ina Maxi Skirt

Women's Club Dinner

I have admired the Ina maxi skirt from the first time I saw Deepika wear it last year at the PR conference in LA.  Last week I received a mystery bundle with this sparkly black and white stripe, and of course, that Ina skirt came straight to my mind.  I had already bought the pattern, so I downloaded that puppy and cut it out.  I sewed it together this afternoon to wear it to an event tonight!

steam a seam hemThis fabric is a little bit spongy and thick.  It’s kind of like a ponte, but a lot more stretchy.  The pattern calls for 2 yards, but I was able to squeeze it out of 1 and a half.  I really like how easily this went together.  The pattern is drafted very well and everything just works.  

I didn’t really know how I wanted to hem this, and since I was leaving for our event in 15 minutes, I didn’t even want to take time to thread the coverstitch!!   I had to cut off 1/2” first.  Then I grabbed that 1/2” wide steam a seam and pressed that hem up.  done!

My skirt was a hit.  I love it and got lots of complements.  Definitely going to make this one again.

PR Ina Skirt

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wild Print Light and Shadow

I’ve always liked things that are asymmetrical, and clothing is no different.  I’ve been inspired by a lot of the layered and asymmetrical designs lately, so I decided to try something different.  Also, I recently received a bundle from Fabricmart Fabrics and am trying to make something out of all 4 fabrics.  Here are 2 of the fabrics.

With the stripe, I am going to make the Ina Skirt from Pattern Review.  This seems to have the sponginess of a scuba knit, the stretch of a jersey, and the weight of a ponte.  I have no idea what it is. It does have a little sparkley lurex thread running through the white stripes.

I decided to make a top out of the print that would work with the skirt.  I think this fabric is a rayon crinkle. It's kind of sheer like a georgette.  
It came out of the dryer perfectly like a polyester, but takes a press beautifully like a silk or rayon.  The first thing I did to make the top was to find a basic pullover top made for a woven.  I had the CLD Light and Shadow pattern and decided to start with that.  I traced the front and back as full pattern pieces first.  Then, I redrew the hemline to be above on one side and below on the other.  I laid the front over the back and traced the same line.  (Turning one piece upside down so they would match.

UntitledI sewed the inner black top first. I did a baby hem at the bottom, but left the arm holes and neck edge unfinished.

I had drawn a line on the pattern to make the shorter top piece, but I didn’t want to cut my pattern.  Instead, I folded out 3 inches on the front and back in order to raise the hemlines.  Then I sewed the shoulder and side seams.  I basted the neck edge and armholes together, and cut the neck edge down to 1/4” seam allowance.  I made a 1.5” strip of bias fabric from the black and folded it in half to make the bias binding for the neck.

This pattern has flat sewn sleeves, but because of the way I was making this, I had to do them as set-in.  I was surprised at how much I had to ease in, and after a couple of tries, they worked out beautifully.

I’m really happy with the way this turned out, but I still don’t have the fit down on CLD.  When I see the patterns on the models, they always fit beautifully.  On me, they are too big in the back, to wide in the shoulders, and they have no darts.  I really love the designs though, so I’m determined to get the alterations down.  It seems they are really perfect for someone with an apple shape, but I am between a pear and and hourglass.  I cut an XS at the shoulder, S at the bust, and M at the hip.  I am still needed to narrow the shoulders and back, but I really would like to try this top out of a woven linen.