Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Seaside Sue (Stylearc asymmetrical top)

This week I've been working on finishing up my entry for the Endless Combinations contest at PR and getting ready for PR weekend.  I finished the last thing yesterday, which was the Seaside Sue top from Stylearc.  I'm really happy with this top and how it turned out.  Of course, I love wearing rayon jersey and I was desparately needing a couple of black tops in my closet.  So, now I've got one me-made solid black top!

This is the first time I've worked with Style Arc patterns.  I love the look of their styles and since they ship from Australia, I was happy when I found out that I could order PDFs from their Etsy shop.  What I didn't stop to think about was that they use size A4 paper, not 8.5x11.  It does make a difference in printing.  Although it didn't throw the pattern off any, I did make it more difficult to line up the pattern pieces.  As soon as I finished taping that thing together I went on Amazon and ordered a ream of A4 paper!

I love the look of this top.  V necklines are my best look and I especially like the asymmetrical hems front and back.  I used the cover stitch to finish these.

This pattern had VERY FEW directions.  Basically said "Sew the front and back together. bind the neckline.  Finish the armholes and hem."  No how-tos, no given seam allowance, no measurements on the pattern.  There are good registration marks for putting the pattern together and a map, but as far as actually sewing the top - not much.  I had to look up how to bind a V neck since I had not done it in a while.  I wanted to do a cross over binding, but didn't cut my binding piece quite long enough, so I had some problems with that.  Other than that, everything was pretty easy.  No darts, which I could have added, but I think its fine without them.  Linda Maynard's book has some great information on how to bind necklines.  Too bad I couldn't find it when I wanted to use it.  Sigh....

This was the last piece in the Endless Combinations contest. In this contest each piece needs to go with whatever the previous piece is.  I kind of rearranged my order since I incorporated the red jeans, but that was within the rules.  I'm glad to have made all of these pieces over the last 6 weeks.

 I've really been needing a black top and I like the way it goes with the red jeans.  Black tops go with just about everything, don't they?  I also want to make another black jersey top out of the Eureka pattern.  I have lots more to say, but I've got to finish laundry and pack.  My next post will be after PR weekend!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Red Jeans

it is getting close to PR weekend and I’m trying to get some last minute items made up for the trip.  There was a suggestion that we all make red jeans from the Jalie Eleonore pants pattern to wear on our shopping day on Saturday.  I just happened to have some red stretch leopard jacquard that I bought a couple of years ago originally intending to make a pair of Colette Clovers from it.  It is not really my first choice for making jeans, but I didn’t have time to order red stretch twill and our local JoAnns did not have any, so leopard red jeans it is!

I made a muslin first according to my hip measurement and it was too small!  I could barely get those things pulled up.  I decided to try again using a bigger size and adding 1” to the crotch length (depth?  I always get them confused) front and back.  I like the details on these pants and they definitely do not look like pull on pants.

The next size bigger did fit, and it turns out I did not need to add that 1”.  Even though I took the waist in a total of 1-1/2 inches, I still need to take it in more.  I’ve worn these all day today and it seems like I keep tugging them to pull them up.  I’m not sure if they are still to tight in the thighs and that is what is pulling them down, or if it is some other fit issue.  I have had this same problem with RTW stretch woven pants before too.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Tina Givens Gypsy Jacket

The Gypsy Jacket is finished, and I do have a lot to say about it :-)

This is only the second Tina Givens pattern I have actually made, although I own several now.  Her website is like eye candy for me and I love seeing the details (on the ones  you can see) on the clothes.  To really get a good idea of how the garments are worn and accessorized, you want to visit her designer website, and the Facebook page.  That said, you are not going to get any of these directions in her patterns.  In fact, the patterns do not even have the same names as the ones she sells.  However, as many have said on the  SG thread, there are a lot of “design opportunities” in her patterns.  Let me add that there are also a lot of fit and pattern making opportunities.  Hmmmm…..

Fit - basically, there is no fit in TG patterns.  I will have to say that by using her measurement guidelines, I fit into a small and it fits me in the shoulders.  Now, on this pattern, the shoulders go straight across.  No one has shoulders that go straight across, so I had to draw in the slope of the shoulders.  Also , these patterns must be drafted for an A cup, so if you want any shaping at all, you will need to do a FBA.  I did NOT on this pattern because I knew it was so loose fitting.  However, if I want to make it again, I will so that it does not pull up in the front.  Even though this fits in the shoulders, that’s where this ends.  I could wear this if I were 9 months pregnant.  Both the front and the back are way-oversized.  I would have to say that TG patterns are not well-drafted in the least, but I do like her aesthetic.

Sleeves:  There is no notch for the top of the sleeve and there is quite a bit to be eased in.  The shape of the sleeve head is a little odd and caused more curvature in the front and back and less at the top.  I will probably redraw this if I make it again.

Pattern:  These patterns come with minimal and sometimes missing instructions.  For example, there are two bands in the front.  The pattern says to cut 2 on the bias, but does not tell you how wide or how long to cut them.  You have to read the pattern to see where they are going, measure the back facing piece and length of the front piece and go from there.  There was a problem with this pattern, and I understand that this is typical on her patterns.  The side front and side back pieces are off by more 3/4 to 1 inch.  The curved part does not line up at all with the concave curve on the CB and CF pieces.  This is something you would have to measure yourself and see how much you need to adjust.  I added 3/4 to both CF and CB, and could have gone a bit more. Another problem was that the shoulder seams are cut straight across, perpendicular to the CB line.  I added some slope, but I should have done more.

UntitledInstructions:  as I said earlier, they leave a lot out.  Also, things are out of order.  For example, they have you measure and prepare the ruffle before you have even sewn the side seams.  Then you set that aside and sew it on later.  There are hand-drawn diagrams, and sometimes these are helpful, and sometimes confusing.  A lot is left up to your own interpretation.   

Fabric:  This pattern calls for a woven such as linen.  I used a double knit I had in my stash instead.  This also meant that I did not have to cut strips on the bias, but needed to allow enough length to cut them on the width of the fabric.  Instead of cutting 1” strips of self fabric for the ties, I used ribbon.  The ruffle calls for a layer of main fabric and a layer of gauze.  I used lace and tulle instead of the gauze.  
The ruffle.  Be aware if you make this pattern that one 8” cut the width of the fabric will not be enough.  I made the small, and one width did not give me any more than an “ease” allowance,  Not a ruffle at all.  This is good in this fabric since the over layers of ruffle I made are ruffle enough (You cut 2 widths of each of those).  Even though I chose a taupe colored lace, it looked like a bright ivory against this fabric.  That is why I decided to layer it with an dark gold tulle.  This is the first time I have worked with tulle.  Well, I looked like I had a tutu on when I first finished that ruffle!  Not the look I was going for.  The first thing I did to combat this was to hand stitch the seam allowance to the upper part of the bodice.  This helped a lot.  Next, I pressed the ruffle.  Be VERY CAREFUL when pressing tulle.  You need to use a press cloth and low heat.  Even doing this, I did melt a hole into a little piece of the tulle ruffle.  After pressing, I put a couple of clappers on top of the fabric to let it cool completely before removing.

Details:  I added some extra details.  I added some vintage lace to the side front pieces at different heights.

There is hand ruffled tulle with topstitching around the neckline.  I used Coats and Clark button and craft thread doubled and an embroidery needle to do all of the hand stitching.  When I did the hand stitching around the bottom of the bodice, I had to use pliers to pull the needle through all of the layers.

My little bird is sitting prettily on a cherry blossom branch in the back.

As noted before, I used ribbon instead of self-fabric ties.

I wanted this to be a comfy but cute jacket, and I think it is.  I’m not really sure of my choice to use the tulle as I am afraid that it will be too delicate.  If it should rip, I’m not sure how I would repair it as it will be beyond my patience point to take apart the whole skirt on this thing and do it over.

I would like to try this again in linen, but I would make several changes to improve the fit. Even when something is not "fitted" it still needs to fit and not hang terribly.  Even though the fit is not great on this jacket, I think I will still wear it.  I wore it to church today and got lots of compliments.  In fact, one lady (who I don't even know) saw me walk by the kitchen and said "Wow!  You belong in a magazine"  Yes, that made my day :-)
Gypsy Jacket finished

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.