Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cherry shorts and a denim skirt

Today was a great day.  A friend of mine and her daughter came over to learn to sew.  My friend Betsy and I teach together.  Her daughter Nikki is a sweet girl, and the one I made the laundry bag for a while back.  Nikki hasn't really done much sewing at all, and although Betsy has done a little, she hasn't really used a pattern.   Last week we picked out these two patterns and some fabric.
Simplicity 1663 and

Simplicity 2224

The shorts were pretty straight-forward elastic waist shorts. First, I had her bring a pair of shorts that she liked.  We measured that inseam in order to know how long to cut them.  I think we cut off about 3" in length.  After tracing the pattern,  I had her cut out the shorts adding an inch to the top just in case.  Then she assembled them up to doing the casing.  Next step, try them on.  We put  band of elastic around where she wanted her waist to be and then marked it with chalk.  We looked at the pattern and saw that there was 2-1/2 inches above the waist marking to the top of the pattern.  We took the new waist marked line and added 2-1/2 (or whatever the measurement was - I'm too tired to remember now!) We made these same changes on her tissue, so now she has a TNT shorts pattern that she loves!  And just look how cute they turned out!!

At the same time, Betsy and I worked on her skirt.  What at first glance seemed to be a simple elastic waist skirt with patch pockets turned out to be more challenging for a beginner than I had anticipated.  Betsy had some experience with the machine already, so that was helpful!  She also is very smart and very mathematically minded, so these things worked in her favor.  This pattern has

  • patch pockets with pleats and a separate top band (which, by the way, are incorrectly drafted in the size small)  we had to fudge pocket placement because the pattern piece barely fit into the seam allowance where it belonged.  I double checked all of Betsy's work and everything seemed right on.  Then I laid the original pattern pieces on top of each other and they did not match up at all!!!
  • a separate waistband with side seams.  The skirt has no side seams.  It also does not have CF or CB seams, so lining up the waist band would not be easy for someone who had never done this before.
  • buttonholes!!  That's right, the tie in the front is actually a drawstring and it runs through buttonholes in the front!  Yikes - what did I get this poor girl into?
  • Not only that, the layout for this skirt requires that you lay part of the skirt out with the fold on one side and selvedges on the other.  Then, you fold the selvedges in to the middle so that you have a fold on each side and cut out 2 more skirt pieces.
This pattern is marked "easy" but I would not call it easy for the above reasons.  Well, Betsy was a champ and her skirt turned out fabulously.  I think they both also have a new appreciation for the use of the iron in sewing, too :-)  I'm so proud of the work they did today!

TSW Mimosa Top

I thought I had posted about this, but obviously, I did not.  Last week I made the Mimosa top and pants from  The Sewing Workshop.

I really like the asymmetrical front on this top.  Surprisingly, the pants turned out to be a winner.  I don't have pictures of them yet, but will eventually.  I made the top out of a quilting cotton.  There are a couple of things I would change about this top if I were to make it again.

The top gaps in the front.  I did not add a dart to this pattern and maybe it needs one.   I wanted to try it as is since TSW patterns have such a huge following, but this no dart top did not work for me.
The other problem is that I made it out of a quilting cotton.  Even though the cotton that I used was soft and had a nice hand, it was not right for this.  They do list cotton as a choice, but really - cotton can mean anything from lawn or voile to denim or duck!  A voile might have worked better.  Anything with drape would have been better since there is NO shaping in this top at all.

One of the reviewers on PR put a snap in the front to avoid the gap.  I may do that to mine.  The cool thing about this top is that you can fasten it in two different ways.  You can make it asymmetrical at the hem (as shown in the line drawing and my picture below) or you can fasten it so that the bottom hem is even.  When I fasten it that way, the top does not gap nearly as much.  But, I like the way it looks better the other way, so now I have gap.   Actually, it's not bad, and it does not gap at all when I am standing.  Sitting is the problem.

 The other problem with the fabric that I used is the color.  It's just too much of one thing.  I really like solids or near solids, but there is not enough detail in this top for it to work well unless you had a beautiful solid color silk or something.  Or maybe it's just the color. period.  I bought some trim that I might add to make it better.

I’m always attracted to the wrap style, but I’ve never really seen it work well without a little help from a snap or a pin.  On this particular top, you would not want to change the curve of the front, because then you would have to totally redraft the front band, and that’s one of the cool things about this - the way that band is made and put together.  

Even if I never wear this top, it is the most “fun” I’ve had making a pattern in awhile.  I’m not sure why that is, but there was just something about it that was clever and interesting.  I used to always feel that way when I made BWOF patterns, back in the day before BurdaStyle.

I’m hoping to have a fun sewing day today.  A friend and her daughter are coming over and I’m teaching them how to sew.  My friend is making a skirt, and her daughter shorts.  The thing is that I woke up at 3 a.m. and haven’t been able to go back to sleep.  I’ll probably take a nap after they leave today!  Wish I could sleep now instead!!

As I said earlier, the pants turned out really well as far as fit, so I will write about those when I take pictures.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pet Peeve: Curvy Does Not Mean Plus Sized!

Maybe it's me, but I get so frustrated when it comes to fit.  I hear something about "Curvy" sewing or curvy crochet, or curvy clothes, or curvy wardrobe planning and get excited to read all about it.  Then deflation hits - it's all about being plus sized.  Those challenges aren't necessarily mine.  I am curvy, but I am not plus-sized!  (Well, after my cruise, I may have to change that statement if I don't make drastic consistent diet changes.)

I'll tell you that Levi's got it right with their  bold curve jeans.  It is almost impossible for me to find jeans that fit - especially fitted jeans.  Skinny jeans (and believe me, I've tried numerous brands) will not fit me.  If I finally get them to go around my thighs or calves, I am actually looking at something like a 16, and then the waist is way too big, the crotch length is wrong, etc.  Levi's bold curve fit me perfectly!  No gapping at the back waist, no tugging on the thighs, and they actually make my butt look good!  Too bad is too hot to wear jeans :-(
But seriously, I'm so happy about finally finding jeans that fit. I was actually looking for skinny jeans, but the guy in the store was really helpful.  When I told him that skinny jeans strangle my calves, he suggested the "slim fit",  These were exactly what I wanted! The first time I bought a pair of bold fit (they were straight leg), I got the 6 regular.  They have changed their sizing now, and I wear a 29, which I think is equivalent to an 8.    The problem is, these jeans are not readily available in many departments stores.  Luckily for me, there is a Levi's outlet not too far away.  They are also available online if you already know your size, but I ALWAYS try on pants.  Uh, that's the model to the right, not me :-)

 Now, back to the issue that brought this up.  I was reading Sham's website, Communing With Fabric, and I saw a link to Curvy Sewing.  This is a new website that targets "curvy" women.  However, when I looked at their tag-line, it said "a plus sized sewing community".  I did sign up to be a member of the site, because it looks like there may be some good information coming through there, but I was disappointed.  Then I found this on the web. Curvy Does Not Mean Plus Sized.  Gotta love Kathleen Fasinella.  Her book has been on my wish-list for years.  One of these days I'll have to give up the cash and get it.  Here's the definition of curvy:   

 The technical definition of curvy refers to a waist-hip differential of .75 . For example, a woman with a 36″ hip is curvy if her waist is 27″ or less. This is a nine inch difference but does not hold true for all dimensions because curvy is relative. It’s math, not opinion. By way of comparison, a hip measure of 46″ is only curvy if her waist is 34.5″ or less, a difference of 11.5″. 

Check this out.  According to the definition above, the girl on the left is curvy, but the girl on the right is not.  Each model was measured at the waist with a green line and that same green line was copied and pasted onto different areas of the body.  You can see the difference!  Of course, the true measurement needs to be all the way around, but the lines are drawn just for a visual.

Lets do the math.  My measurements (as of yesterday) are 36-29-40.  Using the formula above, .75 X40 =30.  Since my waist is only 29, this qualifies me as curvy.  Now, let's look at the bust measurement.  36 X .75 = 27.  Since my waist is over 27", according to the forumula above, I am not curvy.  However, I wonder if there is a caveat.  My upper bust measurement is 31.5 and my underbust is 30.5.  Visually, I am very curvy on the upper part of my body.  There is a 5" difference  (averaging upper and lower bust measurements) which is almost 14%.  I wonder how/ if this factors in.

 So, what I really want is information on how to look best for the true curvy girl, fitting tips, wardrobe ideas, etc.  It's hard enough to decide what is stylish and appropriate to wear when you're 50+  Most fashion magazines, patterns, etc., use very young, very thin models.  I want to be stylish, but not look like I'm trying to look 20.  I also don't want to look like a frump.  My style is changing now that I live in a foothill community, but I still work and want to look well-put together, but be comfortable (shoes are always an issue.  Stylish and comfortable just never seem to be in the same arena - but that's another post.)

So, are you curvy but not plus sized?  How have you met the fashion challenges?  What resources have you found valuable surrounding this issue?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Dresses - lost pix

Well, I took lots of pictures for the 2 dresses that I made, but my computer ate them as soon as I deleted them off the camera!  Talk about aggravating.  That was the night before our trip, so I did not go out and retake the pictures.  I did get one picture on the ship of the long dress I made using McCalls 6725 for the top and CJP Basewear 2 for the skirt.  I had lots of pictures taken in the other dress, but I looked like a crazy lady with crossed eyes in those for some reason!  I will have to retake a picture in that dress because it did turn out nicely.

We had a great time on our Alaskan cruise.  I was mostly fascinated with the ice floes and glaciers.  These chunks of ice ranged from the size of an ice cube to the size of a small island.  The one below was about 20 feet across.  That dot on top is a bird.
Just to give you an idea of the size of the glacier below, look at the black dot in the upper right hand picture.  That is actually the boat pictured below it.  We were fortunate enough to have a balcony room, so we were able to take these pictures of Sawer Glacier from the balcony!  It is amazing how blue the glacial ice is.  We were told that when it is sunny, the glaciers are so glaring that you cannot see the color.  It rained almost every day of our trip and was overcast, so we really did get the best views.

I loved the excursions we took, and I think what I loved about them was that they took us outside into nature.  I especially loved the Alaskan Rainforest Sanctuary in Ketchikan.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Bullet Journal - One month in

OK, it hasn't been a full month, but it is the start of a new month.  So far, I am loving the bullet journal.  I thought I would recap what I love about it and how it is working for me.

Here is my last post on how to set up the bullet journal.

You can also see the "official video and info" at


  • I'm loving that this is an All-In-One place for everything
  • The portable size - It's big enough to write and draw and keep track of everything, but small enough and light enough to fit in my purse
  • I'm finding it very helpful using the bullet journal symbols and system.  It is really helping me keep track of what I have accomplished and what I still need to do.  I'm finding that I'm not "forgetting" about things I need to do.
  • I didn't think I would like having all the dates in list form, but I really do like it.  I color in the weekends so that I can easily see a week at a glance.  I use the calendar pages for future months, but this works for me as I am in the current month

  • Lists!  I keep all kinds of random lists, but I have started keeping a master list of my patterns from independent pattern companies.  I put a dot next to the ones I have actually made.  This is helping me see that I need to make up more of these patterns!!
  • I have a "diary" of sorts - at least a record to look back and see what I did when (The old noggin doesn't keep that data anymore!
  • Doodles!  I have a place to keep my doodling.  Some are good, some are not, who cares?  It gives me pleasure to look at something creative.

    • Simplicity.  The journal can be as utilitarian or creative as you like.
    • Book mark!  OK, it didn't come with a book mark, but it does come with a ribbon to hold your place.  That wasn't working well enough for me, so I added a book mark with a little washi tape.  I like how it sticks out and keeps my place, but now it won't get lost because it is taped in.

    Cons:  well, there aren't any really, except for the fact that now I have a new Washi tape habit LOL!

    Finally I think I have found a system that is really working for me.  It is not so regimented that I cannot stick with it, but it is structured enough that it helps me stay organized.  I think I'll be loving this for a while!