Sunday, January 24, 2016

Another Wax Print: Skirt for Uganda - S1717

S1717 skirtI've been sewing like the wind the last few days, but not taken time to take any pictures.  However, I did get these today since I wore this to church.  Today we were commissioned out into the mission field by our church.  We leave on Saturday from San Francisco, fly to Dubai, and have an overnight layover.  The next morning we will fly into Uganda.  We will be spending one week with the ladies from the villages and the next week in the city of Kampala.

I made this skirt from Simplicity 1717.  My pattern only went up to a 14, but since I've gained a little weight, I needed to increase the side width even though this pattern has 1" seam allowances.  I don't really think the pattern DOES have 1" seam allowances, because my other skirt was a straight sixteen and it is more fitted than this one.  I love that this skirt has pockets, but next time I would make them higher.  I tried to match the pattern on the skirt and the pocket, and I'm really pleased with how that turned out.

The yoke facing is finished with seam binding.  I was super excited to find this packet of vintage seam binding in my stash.  I think I picked it up at a church rummage sale a few years ago.

S1717 skirt

S1717 skirt

I did a lapped zipper,  Unfortunately, I did not get the seams lined up perfectly.  But, this is POWER sewing because I have so much to do in so little time, so it's staying the way it is!

S1717 skirtS1717 skirt

Friday, January 22, 2016


Just found that this post had never been published.  It's late, but here it is

At this time of year, it seems I am more aware than at other times of all the things I am thankful for.  I have been blessed with a wonderful husband, a beautiful home, great kids, and so much more.  Above all, I am thankful for salvation and Jesus Christ.

I have not been posting much, but have been very busy!  Recently returned from a trip to Greece and 3 weeks ago had knee surgery.  Before that, I have gotten some sewing done.  Currently, I am doing a lot of knitting and crochet, since I can sit around like a lazy person (or invalid) and do that!  Here are just a few highlights. Some things I have not even taken pictures of :-(

Here is the Bolero Jacket by Loes Hinse
LH Bolero

Made some placemats

And - Had a few fails.  This is the CLD A Subtle Twist.  This style is not for me.

Skirt upcycle

Goodwill skirt up cycle
The other day (was it yesterday??)  I had to go to ATT to ask some questions about my phone.  Right across the parking lot is the Goodwill.  I need another skirt for my trip to Uganda, so I thought I would take  a look.  I love how the good will has everything separated by item, color, and size.  It makes it so fast to see what you're looking for without having to plow through piles of stuff.  Well, I scored 2 shirts, a tank, a Tee, and a skirt for less than $20!  Everything looked like new (except the skirt) and will work perfectly for my trip.  The skirt had 1/4" elastic sewn between the lining and the skirt and was all stretched out.
The first thing I did was try to take out the elastic.  This would have been a nightmare because the fabric is really loose weave and thin.  The thread is completely embedded into the fabric and almost impossible to get out.  I decided to just cut it off completely.

Goodwill skirt up cycle

Next, I got some elastic and cut it to fit a little below my waist.  I sewed it in a circle and divided it into fourths.  I pinned it onto the skirt lining up the Front, back, and side seams with the 4 marks on the elastic.  I zigzagged this on while I stretched it.  That's why the zigzags don't look very even.

Goodwill skirt up cycleThen, I folded the elastic to the inside and pinned it. I used a lot of pins so that the fabric wouldn't get off. Both the skirt and lining are cut on the bias, so it's easy for it to warp.
I stitched this down only about 3/8 inch down, leaving the rest of the elastic free. I learned this little tip from Loes Hinse. She said that it works well for those with a much smaller waist than hips, I usually use 1-1/2" elastic for this, but this one is only one inch.

This skirt is really comfortable, and I think I will be wearing it a lot!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

First Uganda Piece finished!

Green maxiI've been working on McCalls 3129 and am finally finished.  I actually finished last night, but ended up taking out the princess seams in the front and doing them over.  I just couldn't get all of the wrinkles out of the upper bodice.  I finally did today and am much happier with it.  It is still a big large (OK, quite a bit large) but I'm going to wait a week or two before I take it in.

Green maxiThere are a lot of things I don't like about this pattern, and I changed as many as I could.  For one, it's just not that pretty.  (Maybe it's this more matronly figure that still expects to see the younger figure in the mirror!)  The neckline was way too high, so I lowered it.  Another thing I do not like is that the princess seams run directly over the bust point.  I prefer them to be off to the side.

Now, perhaps some of the problems I had were due to the fact that I had already cut this pattern out a few years ago and was trying to make adjustments from there.  But, I gave away the last dress I made from this pattern because I did not like the way the bust fit.  That could be the pattern or it could be that the way I did the FBA just did not come out right.  But, even after I made a muslin this year and tried to make sure it was right, it still came out with a significant curve above where my natural bust is.  Again, this could totally be my fault.

I'm not a big fan of facings, so I found some wide bias tape and used it on the neck.  I used regular bias tape to bind the armholes.

Green maxi

I didn't want this dress to be floor length, but it was still a little shorter than I wanted.  I didn't want to just do a narrow hem because it would keep flipping up.  I had EXACTLY enough wide bias tape to bind the hem!Green maxi

Another thing I did was to narrow the width of some of the panels.  I just didn't want it that full.

I think I could make this look better by tweaking the fit some, but at this point, I'm just glad to be done with it.  What I love about this?  The fabric!!
Bird dress - M3129

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Wax Print on the Table - SWAP 2016

This morning I finished altering McCalls 3129.  It doesn't look like much on the envelope, but I needed something that would work with the wax print (they're kind of stiff), would be long and comfortable.  AND I have this pattern in my stash.  So, this afternoon, we'll give it a shot.  Originally I was going to do sleeves, but I'm going to make it sleeveless, and I'm going to use seam binding instead of facings.  I spent a lot of time on the muslin, but since I don't want to make a second muslin, I'm hoping for the best :-)

This will be the first thing I am making for the trip and the first item in my SWAP!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Marathon Sewing to make it to Africa!

I need to get busy and sew some clothes for my trip to Africa.  I cannot take what I have taken in the past because I have gained too much weight.  I was planning on making a couple of dresses and skirts. I have some wax prints that I have purchased on past trips to Uganda, so I wanted to use those.  I also purchased a couple of fabrics to coordinate.  In the picture on the left, I purchased the brown and the bright green.

Now, it is JANUARY, and that means that the SWAP over on Stitchers Guild is in full swing.  I always forget about this until after the holidays.  I went over to check it out, and decided that I'm going to participate.  I was going to wait and start after I return from Uganda, but then I decided that that was not smart since I have so much sewing to do for my trip.  I knew there would have to be a way to combine the two!

Next, I decided to pull out some solids to see what would work.  The brighter of the greens in the picture below is the same as the one in the previous picture.  Everything else is in my stash.

On the right we have

  • white rayon jersey
  • orange cotton jersey
  • maroon rayon jersey
  • peacock silk noil
  • green cotton Kona solid
  • green linen

I'll be posting my plan and more later.  Right now I'm posting this to make myself even more committed to do it.  Also, I want to start working on my blog again.  I'm so frustrated by the blogs that you have a zillion ads and pop ups that keep you from even reading or finding out what is there.  I don't blog to make money.  I blog because I enjoy it and to share my love of sewing.

This is an African Wax Print that I bought on one of my first trips to Uganda.  I've been wanting to make a maxi dress out of it for years.
I made a handbag out of this wax print and have enough left to make a skirt.

I bought this blue multi print rayon challis a few years ago.  The solid silk noil will work well with it.

The good thing about dressing in Uganda is that everyone mixes prints and wears the brightest of colors.  I'm really getting excited about my trip!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Preparing for Uganda

At the end of this month I am making another mission trip to Uganda. It has been over 2 years since I've been there, so I'm anxious to go! THis year I am going with another friend named Kathryn. I've been trying out different things to teach the ladies to sew. The challenge is always that I never know how many women will be there, how many days each one will be there, and the fact that the treadle machines don't work half the time, if we have them at all! So, I decided that we need a project to make with just hand sewing while they take turns using the sewing machine. On the machines I think we will be making this bag.
Simplicity 1823
There are a few things I will change, but it's a pretty simple pattern. I added a pocket on mine, and if I make another one for myself, I will make pockets on the lining. Kathryn is not a sewer, so she will be my guinea pig as to whether this will be a good project to make!

Simplicity 1823

I'm not really happy with the way the handle is put together, I didn't do the best job, I've done shoulder straps like this before, and they never look very neat.  But for our purposes, I think it will be good enough.

The lining has a velcro closure, which is fine.
All in all, it's not too bad of a bag.  I'm thinking it will be great for carrying around knitting projects, but I will have to exchange that velcro for a snap.  Yarn always snags on velcro
Simplicity 1823

Simplicity 1823

Friday, August 28, 2015

Minimalist Wardrobe or Wardrobe simplified - Concepts

found on

If you go on Pinterest and search "minimalist wardrobe", you will get hundreds of results.  Now that I am no longer a slave to the clock (aka retired), my lifestyle is different, and my wardrobe needs have changed.  But, working or not, minimalism is a reality that many of us are beginning to embrace.  Less is more (I'm trying to learn)  Granted, I'm not ready to whittle down to the bare minimum in clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, and go live in a "tiny house", but I find all of those things inspiring.
I live in a relatively big house, stay active, and love to travel.  This means that I want to keep things as simple as possible.  This means that I need to get rid of A LOT of STUFF!  I've noticed that I have certain favorite things that I wear over and over again.  I also have a few things that I want to grab, but never seem to have in my closet.  Of course, it is summer, and clothing needs will be different in the winter.  We basically only have 2 seasons here: summer, and a fallish-winter.
So first, the things I wear all the time (this summer)

  1. capri jeans
  2. beige denim shorts
  3. *black hand-sewn cotton jersey skirt
  4. *black and white yoga skirt
  5. white knit short sleeved top
  6. chambray long sleeved shirt
  7. *orange 3/4 sleeve "Now" shirt
  8. *red linen dress
  9. *black rayon simple dress
  10. *floral linen simple dress
  11. *linen gauchos/coulottes
Then there are things I always seem to reach for, but either don't have, or don't have enough of:
  1. white sleeveless top
  2. black sleeveless top
  3. lightweight jacket
  4. another comfortable dress (my red linen one has about bit the dust.)
Of course in the winter, there will be more long sleeves, pants, and sweaters.  And, you're going to have "special" clothes, like special occassion, work-out, gardening/cleaning/painting clothes, etc

What I'm looking for is to build a CORE wardrobe.  Something so that I'll always have something ready to wear.  Of course it's fun to sew lots of colorful things and use prints, but those aren't the clothes I wear most often.  Also, this will make it much easier for packing for trips.

I'm formulating a sew-along, so keep watching!
found on

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cupcake Wars

This summer I've decided that I want to find the perfect cupcake recipe.  This is not so good for the waistline, but I have to say the DH is pretty happy about testing these out!

Last week I made some amazing lemon cupcakes, but did not take any pictures.  I will have to make those again now that I have something to compare with and post on the blog.

This morning I made what I'm calling Nancy's Simple Vanilla Cupcakes.  OK, not so original, but it will help me keep track of the recipes!  I looked at several recipes, found what was the same in each, and then adapted the amounts in the other ingredients.  (Same thing for the frosting.)

This did make 12, but we ate some...
Here's my version:

Nancy's Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

1/2 cup softened butter
3/4  cup sugar
2 xlg or jumbo eggs  (we buy local and organic, so it's hard to judge the size.)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk ( some recipes said "cold", others "room temp".  Mine was close to room temperature.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.
  • Using an electric mixer (or by hand), cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat after each. 
  • Add vanilla and milk
  • mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and add slowly to mixer bowl.
  • beat until smooth.
  • Use icecream scoop to fill 12 muffin tins 2/3-3/4 full
  • Bake at 350°F 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden, and knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (I used convection, so it only took  10-12 minutes.)
  • Let cool in pan about 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool
  • When completely cool, top with Amazing Cream Cheese Frosting
Amazing Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) softened butter
  • 2-4 cups powdered sugar (I used about 3)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  1. cream together cream cheese and butter. 
  2. add vanilla
  3. Gradually add in powdered sugar until you have the desired consistency.  I used about 3 cups
  4. put about 1/3 of the frosting in a pastry bag and cut off the tip (I have these, but I'm sure you could use a quart size ziplock and cut off one corner.  The pastry bags are really worth it though IMHO)
  5. Squeeze frosting onto the top of each cupcake (I used about 2/3 of the frosting I made.  I put the rest in another pastry bag and used a rubber band to close the open end.  This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  Let it come to almost room temp and knead it before using again)
  6. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles if desired.
*cupcakes frosted with cream cheese frosting should be kept in the refrigerator.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Shirr Delight

I solved my shirring  problems, and this is how...
Shirr Delight - Emma's maxi

I bought this machine online several months ago online and was really disappointed.  It had missing prices, broken parts, and was lopsided.  I fixed what I could and put it aside.  Well, I pulled this baby out, loaded a bobbin with elastic thread and did a test run.  Perfect results!

I didn't have to adjust tension or anything.  I just used the longest stitch and used the edge of the pressed foot as a guide for spacing.
Here is the front
 and the back

It's important to keep the fabric flat / stretched out as you stitch.

For this dress I used a narrow serged hem on the top and bottom edges,  using embroidery thread in the upper looper on the hem.

The fabric is left over from a dress I made several years ago.  It is a rayon crinkle.  It has so much crinkle that it acts almost like a knit.

My little 3-1/2 year old granddaughter already has her own sense of style.  She loves maxi dresses, shirring, and drapery fabric, so I'm pretty sure this will be a hit.  As soon as I see her next, I'll take pictures of her in it.  I sure hope its not too long.  I used another dress of hers as a guide, but it was a little short.  I estimated how much longer I needed it to be.  Hope to find out soon!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Emma Dress

It started out as the Emma dress, but after I realized how short it was, it became the Emma-top!  I've been wanting to do some elastic thread shirring and even bought a big cone of elastic thread.  I looked at all kinds of tutorials on line.  I have done this before, but on a different machine.  It was a whole different story.  With my top loading bobbin on the BabyLock, I had to take the needle plate cover off every time I had to change the bobbin.  And for using fabric 44" wide, I could do about 2 and a half lines of stitching, and then I would have to change the bobbin.

Another alternative would be to zigzag over the bobbin.  I found a cording foot in my arsenal, and this really helped make that job easy.  But of course, then you have to try to pull all the elastic threads evenly to get the gathering even.  Although I eventually got it done, I think next time I will try doing it on my other machine and see if that works any better.  Here is how I made the dress.

  1. Cut the fabric 2X the desired width (chest circumference X2)  You could go 1.5 X as much and use a smaller stitch.  Cut the fabric the desired length.
    1. I originally cut the fabric about 1 yard long.  Since I did not have GD here to decide what length to make it, I was worried that it would be too plain as just one piece, so I cut the bodice part about 16" long
    2. I decided that I wanted ruffles, so I cut the first tier 2X the width of the bottom edge of bodice and the next layer 3X .  So, I cut 5 strips 4" x 44"
  2. Sew 2 of the 4" strips together to make a loop and then sew the other 3 together to make another loop.  On both of these loops, mark at 4ths to get your 2 side seams and  CF and CB
  3. Use a narrow hem or rolled hem foot (That's what I did) to finish the top edge of the dress, and bottom edge of the largest loop.
  4. With elastic thread hand-wound in your bobbin and a longer stitch length (I used a 4), stitch parallel rows 1/2" apart (I just used the edge of my presser foot as a gauge.)  Leave long tails on the edges in case you want to tighten up the gathers when you are finished.  I ran rows of shirring for about 3-4" parallel to the upper edge.  **Be sure to practice this first on a scrap of fabric, since all machines and fabric are different, you will get different results.
  5. Since my machine was not pulling the gathers tight enough, I adjusted them by hand.  This is not easy to do and get it even.  I did not think of the zigzag thing until after I was finished. 
  6. Run 2 rows of long stitches along the top edge of both loops in order to gather.  I stopped and started stitching at each of the seam allowances to help with the gathering, but do whatever works for you.  It's a lot of gathering!
  7. For the straps I cut one piece 22x3.5"  I folded it in half, opened it out and folded the edges into the middle.  I then folded it in half again so that the raw edges were enclosed and stitched along the edge.  I cut each strap at 11" and marked 1.5" from each edge.  This mark was set even to the top of the bodice.  You can play around with this and put the straps as far apart or close together as you want.  
After I finished the dress (DGD was still not here) I realized it would be way too short.  As soon as she got here, I tried it on her.  I ended up making a pair of shorts to go with it.  All in all, this little outfit was cut and sewn that morning, and then I cut and sewed the shorts after lunch.  She wore her new outfit that afternoon!  I'd like to make her another dress with shirring, but I'm going to practice on one of my other machines until I get it with the right amount of gathering with the least amount of effort!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Retirement Party dress on the move

As I drove up to my driveway, I smiled to see the stop sigh that said "Stop! Party here!"  Then I saw this

It was a great party!  
There were about 25 people, so just about the right size.  I think we had enough food to feed four times that many people!  The beat part was that I didn't have to do any of it.

After I got dressed, my daughter was shocked that my dress was too low cut.  Fortunately I had e trap fabric, but no extra time.  The magic of safety pins!  Here's a shot of me with my two wonderful kids
And, a full length shot of the dress with Andy, the DH
  I can see there are still some things I Need to tweak on the bodice of this dress to get it to be the most comfortable and fit the way I want it to, but all in all, I was very happy with how this dress turned out.