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.