Sunday, March 26, 2017

TSW Alex Top

This weekend I decided to make the Alex tip from the Sewing workshop.  I bought the pattern months ago for the Olive top, but after seeing the Atlanta Fashion show clip on Facebook, I decided to make the Alex first!

This is a rayon ribbed knit that I luckily picked up at our local JoAnns.  I checked the color against my color fan, and it fit right in, so I bought it!  I think it took me longer to trace and cut the pattern than it did to make it!

 I cut a small in the shoulders and tapered out to the medium at the underarms.  Even though I stablized the shoulders with fusible stay tape, I think the shoulders either stretched out, or they were just too wide for me.  Next time I will narrow them by about 1/2 inch.

Other than some gathering stitches and stay stitching, I made this whole thing on the serger.  I could have just serged the hem, but I like the look of turning it under and top stitching, so I did it that way.  I used a slight zigzag to topstitch the hem and sleeve hems.

My serger is quite old, but it works perfectly and I love it.  It doesn't do anything fancy, but it does what it is intended to, and it does it well.  I have a newer Brother 1034D, but I still prefer my funlock.

This is a great pattern and super easy to make.  The only problem I had was with the back.  The back is supposed to be gathered at the top, but my collar lined up perfectly without gathering anything, so I'm not sure what went wrong.  Either my collar stretched out because of the ribbing (most likely) or I didn't cut something correctly.  I plan to make this one again, so I'm sure I'll find out next time.

Oh, also, I ended up cutting 3/4" off the sleeves and hemming them 1".  I could still remove 1/2"  Normally I have to take an inch off of all sleeves, but I had to take a little more off of these.  (The pattern only requires a 5/8" hem, but I used 1"  In knits, I like to wait until the garment is made to hem the sleeves because you never know how much they will "grow" after making it.

All in all, I'm really happy with this.  Now to look in my stash for another knit before I put that pattern away!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring 6 Pac

It's time to start sewing for spring, and this means I need to have a plan.  I've decided to follow the guidelines on the SG site for the Spring 6 pac.  Here is the outline:

  • one jacket or cardigan in a neutral colour
  • a second jacket or cardigan in a second neutral or a colour
  • a skirt or pants in the same neutral as 1
  • a skirt or pants in a second neutral
  • a top in a print mixing neutrals or neutral and colour
  • a top in a neutral or your colour
I've decided to use olive and a copper/mocha/tan for the neutral color (both are kinda neutral)  I'll have to draw up a plan later, but yesterday I decided to start with the Loes Hinse Oxford pants. Years ago these were one of my favorites, so I decided to resurrect the pattern.  I'm using a burgundy and gold herringbone, which looks copperish blended together.

I love the way the pockets are constructed on these pants.

The legs are constructed by sewing the side seams first and then top stitching them (kind of like jeans.)  Then you sew the inseam and put the pants together.  All I have left to do tonight is to put in the elastic and hem them.  Of course, I think I will have to cut about 4 inches off the bottom before I do.  The pants are long enough to cuff, but this rayon fabric has been "growing" and will hang overnight before I put in the final hem.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hot Patterns Gypsophelia top

Yesterday Hot Patterns hosted the event "Sew Something Saturday."  Even though I didn't have any HP patterns in my near-future-line up, I decided to participate.  I looked through my pattern collection and decided to go with the Gypsophelia, which is a free download at  The pattern calls for 2 yards of 60" fabric, but I was able to make it work with 1.5 yards and I think mine was only about 55 inches wide.  I wasn't able to match the pattern, but since this is an uneven pattern, I'm not sure I could have matched it without using double the amount of fabric - and I'm too frugal for that!  I used a rayon challis, which seems to be my favorite fabric to wear these days.

I love the look of this top on the drawing, but it does not look the same on me.  There is too much excess fabric around the middle, the sleeves do not hang the same way, and the keyhole is much smaller than shown (even though I cut my keyhole the next size bigger than the size for my pattern. )  I cut a 10 in the shoulders, and graded out to a 12 at the bust and hip.  I did no other alterations.

The keyhole with binding was easy to execute, but if I make this again, I would consider using self-fabric for the binding.  Prepackaged binding is usually stiff and not as pliable as I would like it to be.
The sleeves are also gathered and finished with binding.  I am going to cut my binding off and re-do the bottom of the sleeves.  I like the treatment, but although I used the measurements as given, mine are too big and fall down below the elbow.  If I have some black FOE, I will use that to finish the sleeves.  I am also going to re-do the hem because I did a lousy job at 10:00 last night and I know parts of it will come undone and fray.
As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on the dolman/kimono sleeves.  I'm just not sure if I like them or that they are flattering.  I did wear the blouse to church this morning and got several compliments on it, so maybe I'm over-thinking it.  I do think it is quite comfortable, and definitely fits a need in my wardrobe!  I felt like a big sack in this top (I wore it with a skirt) and so I belted it.  I like it better with the belt, but for casual wear, I'd like to not have to deal with the belt.  There are princess type seams in the front and back so I may play with bringing them in at the waist or else adding an elastic casing inside.  But for now, I'm wearing it as is!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Tobin James Dress

It's raining and drizzly outside, and I have another hour until I need to leave for Sunday School.  I realized I have not written on my blog since before my trip, so it's about time!  I will be catching up with Uganda pictures, but that will be another day.  Today I bring you my Tobin James Dress!

This is the Etra Pattern from Tina Givens.  I don't usually make something in exactly the same colors as the envelope, but this time I was falling in love with that mustard linen.  When I saw the similar color at Joanns several months ago, I had to get it.  I decided to use an eggplant color (actually more of a dark red violet) for the trim.  So in that respect, I guess I did not use EXACTLY the same colors.

TG patterns usually leave a lot to be desired in the drafting department, but this one had no problems.  Well, I say no problems if you don't count the bottom trim.  Since the sides of the dress end at an angle, it's better if you cut the joining part of your strips at an angle as well.  Of course, if you don't, it gives you a different look, which might be your preference.

The one thing I always change in TG patterns is the pocket. I don't like her pocket shape since the top of the pocket seems to flap over.  If you are stitching the pocket to the front fabric as a design feature, then this shape of pocket will work, otherwise, I trim off the top "hump" of the pocket.

When I first saw the picture for this dress, I thought the black part was an underskirt or separate layer.  It is just trim sewn on, so the picture is a bit deceiving.  Also, the picture looks like it has an asymmetrical hem, but in reality, the hem is straight.  There are strings on the inside so that you can draw up one or both sides to get a different look.  Maybe that is what they have done here.

I'm calling this my Tobin James dress because I got this little sun emblem last year when we visited Tobin James Winery.  It is their logo.  When I decided to make this dress, I knew I had to incorporate it somehow.  I love how this design feature turned out.

I really like how comfortable this dress is and the sleeves really do fit well.  I often have trouble with sleeves being either too tight. or too loose at the lower arm.  These fit the way I like.  The neckline was too low and I raised it about an inch or maybe more.  I will raise it even more next time.  This fabric is medium to heavier weight linen, so I think I will use a lighter weight linen next time.  It is a lot of fabric.

On this pattern I cut a small at the shoulders and drew the underarm seam out to a medium.  I made no other fit adjustments.   I did try to add a dart, but I did not leave enough room for the dart leg, so I ended up easing in an extra inch of length in the front.  I'm not sure if it is needed, but next time I will try for the dart.

In addition to raising the neckline, I thought the neckline was too plain, and the gold, even though it is in my color pallet,  looked too blah against my skin. As an afterthought, I added a bias binding inside the neckline.  The inside edge is stitched, but raw.

I used the same finish on the hem strip.

Here is the dress with the ties done up on the sides.

I'm wearing this dress to church today, but when one of our friends came to pick up DH this morning, he commented "nice nightgown."  Hmmm...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Now Shirts

One of my favorite patterns is the Sewing Workshop Now shirt.  I have made a couple in the past, and although I didn't think I would wear them, they ended up being one of my favorite garments.  I wanted to make a couple of lightweight shirts to take to Uganda, and also wanted to teach my friend Sylvia how to make a shirt.  She did GREAT with this pattern.

The first one I made out of light weight Merlot linen from Fabrics Store.  The next one is a sheer crinkled georgette type fabric, probably polyester.  I changed the sleeve length and overall length of the shirts.

One of the things I like about this shirt is the unusual collar construction.  You kind of use the burrito method to put it on, so there is no hand stitching or stitching in the ditch.  Another nice thing is that the entire shirt is constructed with French seams.  This makes it perfect for a ravelly or sheer fabric.  On the sheer shirt, I used baby hems for the bottom and turned up a double hem to the outside on the sleeve.

My Babylock Ellageo was giving us fits with the buttonholes, so I dug out my trusty Pfaff hobby machine.  We could have made the buttonholes on the Aria, but I wanted Sylvia to learn how to make a 4-step buttonhole.  These buttonholes turned out perfectly every time!  (I'll have to snag a picture next time she comes over.)  Now she knows how to make great buttonholes on a four-step machine.

She has a really cool vintage Nelco machine (sz217) and we just got it back from the repair man in Fresno.  Going into his shop is like going into a sewing machine museum.  There is every make of old sewing machine and every type you've ever seen.  He is very knowledgeable about every little detail of sewing machines.  We were just getting her machine out of the case to show him and he knew the model number  before we even showed it to him.  He said the machine is well known for its quality among the sewing repair community.

The next few days will include very little if any sewing.  After that, we will be sewing maniacs getting ready for our trip to Uganda.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

It's time for SWAP

Every year I want to do the SWAP, and many times I fail to complete it.  (I have actually finished by the deadline once or twice.)  This year I think I have a plan that I can actually complete.  The SWAP officially begins December 26, but between now and January 12, I will be busy sewing for my trip to Uganda.  Then I will be gone until February 5, so my start date will not be until the middle of February.  I will try to get 2 items completed before I leave - and hopefully these items will make it into my suitcase for Uganda!  It's hot and humid there, so cool clothes are definitely what is needed.

On the other hand, it is cold here now and long sleeve tops are what I really want to make.  I'm afraid that will have to wait until I return from Uganda.

So the rules for the SWAP are pretty flexible this year.  You can see them here.  This is the plan that I have come up with that I think will work for me.

I have 2 "overs" - a purchased cardigan and faux leather jacket
3 bottoms - knit skirt, woven pants, and stretch jeans
6 tops - 2 blouses, a shirt, and 3 tees.  I may change the tee pattern, but I'll do a test one first.

The patterns I'm using are
Silhouette patterns Max's jacket
Simplicity 1253 - for 2 blouses
TSW Now and Zen - linen shirt
Loes Hinse Ascona Pant (and I'm adding the pockets from the Oxford Pant
Jalie Stretch Jeans
and Christine Johnson's Basewear Two  knit skirt.
I've chosen the Jennifer Stern Tee shirt pattern, but since I have never made it, I may substitute something else if I don't like the way it looks.

But for now, it's time to start making the apple and pumpkin pies!
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fall creations and more

I haven’t been sewing as much as I’d like to, but I’m getting back in my groove.  I’ve been working on Christmas presents for my family and just finished this afghan for my son.  It was supposed to be his present last year, but oh well!  I do love Tunisian Crochet.  This pattern is from the book, Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies.  I really love this book.

I have done a little sewing, and made this outfit for the grand daughter.  She has been asking for a gold skirt forever.  Well, she finally got it!  This was her birthday outfit. 


She also got THIS little thing for her birthday (from me of course!)  I LOVE It.  She really can use it and made a little simple felt purse on it (but I forgot to take a picture of it.)  Next I want to teach her to make a skirt.  She is only five, but doing a great job!  I've read lots of good reviews about the durability of this machine, so I couldn't resist.  Plus, since it sits in my sewing room, it's like having a new toy myself!

I have been busy preparing for another trip to Uganda.  This year my friend Sylvia is going with me and we will be going for 3 weeks in January.  The ladies have requested to learn how to make panties and menstrual pads. After combing the internet and pinterest, and making a few different samples, we finally found our “winners.”

The panties will be made from this pattern.  The only thing I don’t like about it is that the crotch lining is too small.  I will add about 1” to the length of the lining.  These panties are easy to make and fit will.  They are the winner in my book.

We sort of came up with our own design for the menstrual pads.  They will come in 2 parts.  The outer piece is the one that will snap around the crotch of the panties.  The “pad” part is actually 2 layers of flannel fabric (7 inch square) sewn together.  This is folded in thirds, giving six layers of absorbency.  

The advantages of this design are
  1. They can use more than one liner if needed for heavier days or night time
  2. The cotton outer fabric is comfortable and pretty
  3. The snap design is clever, but a safety pin can be used if they don’t have access to snaps
  4. The inner layer will dry quickly when washed and unfolded to dry.
We are also blessed that a couple of the teens at our church are willing to do a test run on these for us.  We want to make sure they work well and there are no problems that we didn't foresee.  I'm way beyond the point of being able to test them out myself!

In Uganda, will be working with about 20 ladies at a time who do not speak English.  We will only have a few sewing machines, so much will be done by hand.  This will be a challenge.  Also, the panties will have to be sewn by hand because the treadle machines only have straight stitch and the panties will be in a knit fabric.  Sewing on the elastic really needs to be done with a stretch stitch.

Going to Uganda to work with these ladies is an experience like you can never imagine.  I am so thankful to be able to share it with someone new this year.  It takes us months of preparation to go - shots, fundraising, coming up with workable sewing projects, making prototypes, tracing off patterns, gathering supplies, and preparing bible studies.  There is much communication that must go on with the sending organization as well as making arrangements with the people we will be staying with in Uganda.  This is why we start preparing in October for our trip in January!

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Sequoias and Mix It Top

Yesterday, Andy and I took a trip to Sequoia National Park.  If you have never been there, you need to put it on your bucket list.  I have been to a few National Parks, but I really think Sequoia is the most beautiful.  We had perfect weather and it was a wonderful day.  We only live about 10 minutes from the park entrance, so I think we sometimes take it for granted.  It is so gorgeous and I always wonder why I don't go more often.  Well, one of the reasons I don't go more often is that once you get in the park, there are a lot of winding roads and hairpin turns to get to the big trees.  But, the road is good and well-maintained, so it's not that bad.  I just hate driving, especially on wind-y roads.

The giant Sequoia Trees are the largest (in mass) in the world.  The General Sherman tree, is the largest living thing in the world. I didn't take a picture of it this time, but it has lost 40 feet off the top of it due to lightening.  It also lost a large branch.  The branch is still on the ground and is as big as many trees.  Even with losing all of this, the Gen'l Sherman is still the largest living thing!

 The coastal redwoods are also beautiful and they grow taller than the Sequoias.  However, the Sequoias are very fast growing, live to be thousands of years old, actually thrive with some forest fires and have huge bases.

Here we are standing in front of a fallen tree and you can see the amazing root system. Sometimes the Sequoias just lose their balance and fall over.  They have very shallow root systems.  This particular tree, named the Buttress Tree is about 272 feet long and the base is over 20 feet in diameter!  The tree was estimated at 2300 years old when it toppled over in 1959.

 No, I'm not wearing white socks.  My legs are just that white.  :-(

 And another view from inside of a dead tree looking up to the sky.  You can tell that I just LOVE being in the park.  It's kind of like a magical fairy-land.

We got home late in the afternoon, so I did get some time to finish up a sewing project.  This is the Mix It Top from The Sewing Workshop.  Normally I do not like things up close to my neck, and this is no exception.  Although this top does button, I will be wearing it unbuttoned.  I really do like the Sewing Workshop patterns.  Sometimes they don't look that great on the envelope, but I usually end up really liking the patterns.  The instructions are always well written, and there are usually some interesting applications.  I don't have a picture, but this time it was the way the neckline facing was done.  I like the way it came out and it was easy to do.  

I do like the little button closure in the front, but again, I will not be wearing it like that.  In fact, if I make this again, I will change the neck treatment.  I found a cool vintage button, so that's what I used on this one.  
This top is basically just straight.  There are horizontal darts, but I still did a FBA.  Next, I added vertical darts in the front and back.  I could have taken even bigger darts, but I've found that blouses that are that fitted are difficult to iron, and I like to iron my tops.

I'm really liking the color of this top.  I never used to like orange, but lately I've been into it.  This is a good thing since this shade of orange is right in my color fan.  
Another thing I like about this top is the back.  It has a yoke.  I think I need to lengthen the top of the back because it wants to fall back on me.  This is something that always happens with me and blouses.  I do not have a rounded back, in fact, I usually have problems because my back is erect.  However, I do have a forward thrusting neck, so I think that is what causes my collars to fall back on me.

I've been wearing this top (and the skirt is the Saltmarsh Skirt from the Merchant and Mills Workbook) all afternoon and evening, and it is very comfortable.  I like it a lot more than I thought I would.  This one is just made from quilting cotton.  I love the look of all the poly slinkies that are available, but I just can't wear polyester for more than a couple of hours.  I have some silks in my stash that I've been experimenting on with dying.  I'm sure one of those fabrics will make its way into this pattern!