Monday, March 18, 2019


I opted to play the Minichallenge the Sewcialists were promoting this weekend. I love this account because ALL sewists matter, to the Sewcialists. They promote everyone who sews on both their blog and IG account. They fight for diversity of all types and assist anyone who needs a sewing group to identify with. They truly make anyone who sews feel welcome in the sewing community.

To participate in the challenge you had to first take a short quiz on the blog and it gave you a power word.  My word was spicy.  Y'all there ain't nuthin' spicy about me so I was stuck for a minute. SERIOUSLY STUCK!

Then I decided to think about the word literally. Spicy is a derivative of the word spice. So I went looking for some images of spice(s) on the internet. This picture inspired me...

It also reminded me that I had a knit on the shelves that looked like this picture.

Originally I was going to make a high/low cardigan but I didn't have enough fabric. I'd already cut out a Pembroke tunic to sew at Sew Camp which starts on Friday. Since that pattern was already out it was easy to cut another one.

Worn with a Cardigan made in 2012

2.5 yards of Cashmere knit fabric from Emmaonesock purchased in 2008

Besides the strips of Design Plus Bias Fusible Stay Tape that I put in the shoulders there are no other notions in this top.

- The sleeeves are shorter than the pattern and cut on the crosswise grain because of lack of fabric.

- The turtleneck is about 3" shorter than the pattern - again because I was short on fabric

- The sleeves and top's hemlines are sewn with a twin needle

Things I learned from this challenge:
1. I'm much better at the garments I plan out. 
Part of the planning allows me to think through all of the aspects of construction. To allow me to check the amount of fabric that I have and change my plans if I need to. It also gives me enough time to gather all of my materials.

2. Working on a deadline frustrates me.
When I'm frustrated I tend to drag my feet and many times miss the deadline. The only reason I didn't this time was because I chose a very simple garment to make.

3. Even my photo shoots are planned out
Working on such a short deadline, I'm in no mood to photograph a garment on myself. You know hair, make-up, shoe decisions...thank goodness for the dressform.

So I've completed the challenge. Made another Pembroke Tunic which goes with several things in my wardrobe and I will have a new outfit to wear to work this week!

I'm planning for Sew Camp now and my next post will be all about the trip to Fabric Mart (Disney World) and my adventures at Sew Camp! always more later!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Crocheting my Life Away

Last November the grandkids all got new beds.  They've reached the stage where no one needed a crib or a baby bed - so new beds. Along with new beds, my Mom bought each child a new comforter and sheets set. I couldn't be left out of this, so I told my daughter I would crochet each child a new blanket for their bed.

Now that I'm almost done can I just ask why?  Why did I volunteer to do this! *LOL* My first plan was to make four blankets by Christmas but that didn't happen...cause honestly crocheting four blankets during the busiest time of the year...not really happening!

I started the first one during my Holiday Break because I wasn't sewing. Miss Sammy's was finished first in time for her birthday on January 31st.  It was a pink and white granny square blanket.

(pictured in mid crochet)

At that time I decided I would make each of them one for their birthdays especially since their birthdays are mostly in the first quarter of the year.  Miss Aleena's birthday is in June but I made her blanket right after Sammy's because who needs a blanket in June?

(Again pictured mid-crochet)

Joshie's (the youngest) birthday is March 7th which gave me a little breathing room so I started working on it next, especially since Danny's birthday is 10 days later. Also, he's almost the same height as his mother so I would need a full adult sized blanket for him.

(Crocheted all from leftover yarn)

I finished Danny's blanket with a few days to go since his birthday is tomorrow. He will be 10 years old and I announced his birth here on the blog. It's made from all new yarn purchased from Hobby Lobby. It's the only one that's made from new yarn. The rest of them were made either from leftover yarn or a combo of new and old yarn.

...and I'm tired of crocheting. I'm sure that's why my sewing has pretty much been non-existent since I NEEDED to get these last two finished this month.

This weekend I'm cutting out my garments for Sew Camp which is next weekend and I'm making a quick garment to play along with the #SewcialistsMiniChallenge.

So regular sewing posts will be back soon! always more later!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Sew Your View - McCalls 7912

I've followed the monthly "Sew Your View" sew-alongs on Instagram almost from the beginning. Every month I see the new pattern chosen and while I love the finished garments, the pattern doesn't appeal to me for one reason or another.

For February, they chose McCalls 7912 and I thought finally a pattern that fits my lifestyle!

After thinking about it, I pulled a denim and faux leather combo from my fabric collection to make my version. So I'm already ahead because I used fabric from the collection! Yes!!!

Supplies ~
Denim from the collection
Faux leather purchased from Emmaonesock December 2015 (you can find other faux leathers here)
Denim bias binding from Pacific Trimmings

Pattern Alterations ~
I didn't have to make a lot of alterations to the pattern.  The finished hip measurement was 57" and this would close on me standing up but pull on me sitting.  So I added some space from the waistline down. 

- added 1/2" to the front side seam
- pivot and slide to back piece to add 3" at the hipline
- then added 1/4" to the back side seam.

This gave me a finished hip measurement of 65" which is more than enough room.

Construction ~
The construction changes I made were:
1. I used bias tape on the armholes instead of turning under and stitching down as the pattern instructs.

2. I added bias binding to the side seams and hong kong finished them.

3. Bias binding was also added to the hemline.

4. Topstitching was put in a lot of places to add some interest. The only thing is that I topstitched in navy thread because I didn't want to take away from the faux leather accents.

5. The faux leather accents were used on the pockets and upper collar.

6. I used the teflon foot for my sewing machine when sewing the faux leather to the denim.

Sequins are currently the rage in the online sewing community. Sequins are right up there with ruffles for me, not my thing. But give me a good faux leather and I'm a happy sewist! So my vest is a faux leather, denim and lace thing because I added the pinstriped lace shirt I made in 2017...which is so my jam!

A few sewing tips for sewing with faux leather ~
- I used a teflon foot to sew the pleather to the denim pieces. The teflon foot glided over the fabric so easily.

- Also I used pins all the way through. If a pin leaves a hole, I just smooth it out by hand. 

- And I use a steam iron to press the seams open and flat. However, I do use my organza press cloth folded over several times so that I don't melt the faux leather...but the steam does make the faux leather pliable so I can manipulate if if need be.

- The clapper was my friend. Again used the organza press cloth to protect the faux leather when using the clapper on the lapel.

A Few More Pictures ~

It took me awhile to take photos of this make because while I thought the crud was gone, I was still coughing and feeling lousy. Also as you will see in my next post, I've been crocheting my life away.

Finally, I'm not sure about this make.  One, I hate belts on me. I know others probably have a different take but this is my personal view. Alongwith that I didn't make the belt from the pattern. I've taken the belt from my denim coat because I'm not sure about the belt.

Two, I'm not sure I really like this style. I'm more a set in sleeves girl and the sleeve flanges kinda irk me. I will probably wear it and with another shirt because I think there's just too much going on in these pictures. But this vest won't be a favorite. It was fun, however, to work with the faux leather, which I have ALOT of in the collection.

So next up on the blog is my discussion of how I've spent the last three months crocheting... always more later!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

February 2019 Round Up

First this round up is late because I've caught my annual case of the crud. I've spent the last few days sleeping and hydrating and am finally starting to feel human again! 

Second this post is all about my unabated fabric addiction. See February is a cold, dark and dreary, short month to be creative in...well at least here in the Northeastern US it is. I have ideas but I don't feel as if I executed them well soooooo I bought fabric instead. Which is an anomaly for me because in the last couple of years I've managed to keep my fabric buying to a minimum in January and February...but NOT this year!

I started February with an 11 yard overage in the collection. I've added to my overage this month by adding another 9.5 yards more than I sewed. While I've rearranged things in the sewing cave to make room, I still own a lot of fabric. This is discouraging to me. Mostly because I'm usually better at quelling the fabric buying genie at the beginning of the year.

This month is Sew Camp and the sojourn to Fabric Mart - my Disney World - so fabric will be bought. Just how much fabric remains to be seen. All this to say that my in and out totals for February suck! *LOL*

YTD In:  60 yards - MTD In: 21 yards
YTD Out: 39.5 yards - MTD Out: 11.5 yards

Garments sewn ~
I completed three garments:

2 Dover Jackets

...and an embroidered vest

These were involved sews and February is short. I did start a pink linen shirt which will definitely make an appearance in March...

(Sewing room realness in the background!)

...the Simplicity 8265 vest is finished and waiting to be photographed since I decided to work on the "Sew Your View" pattern this month.

My sewing is pretty planned out from March to June (I have several events to attend this year) and a lot of that fabric is already on hand. The key will be not to buy a hellavua lot more...and in that is the last 9 yards that came in from Fabric Mart before the month was over. I just couldn't resist the $3.99 per yard pontes/doubleknits.

I'm beginning to think that 2019 is going to be "The Year of the Fabric"... always more later! 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

And The Winner Is...

First ~
I will be watching the Red Carpet Arrivals for the Oscars tonight.  I love awards season just for the beautiful gowns & dresses the actresses wear. So I will be planted in front of my TV watching the parade.  I'm also kinda invested in some of the award categories and will be waiting to hear..."and the winner is?"

Second ~
Seguing into the winners of the two pdf patterns for the Dover Jacket..."AND THE WINNER IS!"

Diane who owns the blogs SewInspirational and Quilt by Design


Mary Jackson

Please send me an email at cnorman underscore 98 at yahoo dot com. I will forward your information to Diane at Blue Dot Patterns who will work with you to get your patterns.

Third ~
I have been crocheting way more than I've been sewing. But I do have this cut out waiting to be sewn...

...and this on my dressform waiting to be finished

(a little sewing cave realness in the background)

I don't know how much sewing I will be doing today because Academy Awards! *LOL* Will you be watching? always more later!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Reflections late in February...

These are just a few thoughts that have been rambling through my mind. There's nothing that's enough for a blog post, so I'm putting them all together here.

First Fabric ~
I bought fabric. Well of course I did! *LOL* But continuing with my goals of 2019, I'm documenting all of my purchases here.

This first one was the deal of the day at Fabric Mart. It was $1.99 per yard and I bought it to see if it would make a pair of PJs. While I love the piece that showed up it is a little too sheer for pjs. I'm sure I have something else on the shelves that will work instead. I think I will use this for a summer dress/shirtdress.

The next three were Premium Member offers - linen/cotton blends for $5.99 per yard. I might not buy a lot of the regular deals but send me a Premium Member deal and I'm all over that! I used this type of fabric in my first Katie dress last summer. So when the email came through announcing the fabric sale, I showed some restraint and only added three pieces to the collection. The pieces currently aren't on the site but I will let you know when they show up.

Then there's this piece from Emmaonesock that I just had to have...

...and do you know that EOS has your entire buying history online? I found out tonight that I've been buying from them since 2005! And they have a listing by year of each piece of fabric I purchased from them.

That's how I found out that my Isaac Mizrahi shirt fabric was NOT from but from EOS. I've updated my blog post to reflect that fact. Also three of the pieces pictured above are still on my shelves...*sigh* And there are two twinsets made from Burda 8869 using fabric purchased from EOS that are still in my closet.  The knit at the top (partially cut off) was made into this twinset and another twinset using the Jones NY bordered medallion print. I made a dozen of these twinsets in a variety of fabrics. I've sewn ALOT of garments!!! Thank goodness most of them have been memorialized here on the blog because they're no longer in my wardrobe.

Vogue Pattern Magazine ~
I'm sure all of us know that the McCalls Pattern Company and Simplicity Patterns was bought by CSS Industries a couple of years ago. Well besides good friends losing their jobs, now CSS Industries has decided to stop publishing the magazine. I found out on Ann's (Gorgeous Fabrics) Instagram post.

There was no notification given to subscribers. If you have a subscription and want your money refunded, you will have to contact them. I spent 20 minutes on the phone today, waiting for someone from Customer Service to speak to me and refund me my $25. One more thing, the refund is by check and the very curt rep could not tell me when the check would be cut and mailed. 

If you want to contact customer service, here's the number 833.260.3378. Call and take the time to get your refund. BTW, I'm a little perturbed with this company right now and will be a lot more discriminating on sharing my dollars with them. Thanks Ann & tcsewhat for the information about this! 

When did we stop using buttons and buttonholes?
I'm starting to think there's something wrong with me that I want a cardigan to close over me and to be secured with some buttons and buttonholes. I hate putting a heavier coat over one of these type cardis because it slides around and gets caught up in the layers.

This isn't just happening with sewing patterns. I've noticed it in RTW too!  I mean the way the garment is photographed makes it look all cool and sexy...but am I the only person that has difficulty wearing them? So am I missing something? Can someone explain this look?

BTW, this isn't a condemnation of any pattern or RTW line. I'm just wondering why this is a popular look!

Pattern Giveaway ~
Finally, don't forget to enter the giveaway to win one of two pdf copies of the Dover Jacket from Blue Dot Patterns. Leave a comment on the last blog post. You have until Friday, February 22nd at 11:59pm EST.

I haven't been sewing much lately because I'm trying to finish up the last of the crocheted blankets for the grandkids. Three down and one more to go!  That's what's been going on in my world... always more later!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Dover Jacket ~ The Third Version in Embroidered Denim

This is my last and most elaborate version of the Dover Jacket.

Supplies ~
- Embroidered Denim from Mood Fabric - purchased at the NYC store late last year 
- (5) 7/8" flower buttons from the button stash
- Flat Bronze Piping from Joyce Trimmings
- Navy blue snug hug rayon seam binding
- Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller

Things to note ~
1. There are no new construction techniques in this version because it's the third time I've made this jacket.

2. The distinguishing factor of this make is the flat piping I added to it. 

3. This version doesn't have pockets either.  I cut some out and was going to do a funky little pocket but after wearing my first jacket, I realized that I don't need them.

4. I omitted the topstitching for this jacket due to the elaborate embroidery on the fabric. I think the topstitching would take away from the embroidery so I hand tacked the facing down in key points.

5. Rayon seam binding was added to the hemlines and I hand stitched the hemlines down. Again to avoid stitching through the embroidered fabric.

6. I made corded buttonholes using embroidery floss as my filler for the jacket front. I needed bold buttonholes because in several places I had to sew through the embroidery. I wrote a "how to make corded buttonholes" in 2012.  Here is the link to that post.

7. My jacket front buttons left to right instead of right to left because I liked the way the pattern on the jacket flowed better. 

A Few Pictures of the Jacket ~

A Special Offer ~
I love this pattern! While I'm not a pdf pattern fan, this one was so easy to assemble and used very few pages. While it's not a plus size pattern it was easy for me to alter to fit my body. Now if you've a bodacious bustline, you will probably need to make an FBA to make it work for you, but I believe it can be done. Me being more modestly busted for a plus size woman, I only made a few alterations - see the first jacket post.

All this to say that Diane of Blue Dot Patterns has graciously offered not ONE but TWO pdf patterns to the readers of my blog! So if you'd like to make one of these amazing jackets too, please leave a comment below telling me what fabric you'd use to make your version AND of course how much you like mine! *LOL* You have until Friday night 2.22.18 at 11:59pm EST to leave a comment. The winners will be announced on Sunday, 2.24.18.  Good luck!


Conclusion ~
I've given this jacket pattern a work out. I have three wonderful versions to use as layering pieces for the winter. It gives me a refined look but works for my lifestyle. I won't be making another jacket this season. However, you may see it as a dress with 3/4 length sleeves come spring/summer.

This is a simple silhouette. I loved working with the pattern because it allowed me use fabric and embellishments to make the silhouette sing. It's the kind of sewing that I love best and it's the essence of the sewist I am. Taking something and adding my stamp/personality to it to make it my own. And isn't that why we all sew?!

So don't forget to leave a comment below to win your own pdf jacket pattern!

BTW, I have two more outfits left in the last batch of garments I cut out. Look for those and some crocheting that I've been doing for the grandchildren to come to the blog sooner or later! always more later!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

McCalls 7481 ~ An Embroidered Denim Vest Hack

I decided that I wanted a couple of casual unlined jackets to wear this winter. I started with the ponte and lace version using McCalls 7481 and moved onto the Dover Jackets. I wanted to make another M7481 because I like the silhouette of this pattern and it's very hackable. 

So for this hack I've added the inseam pockets to the front. In my mind I call them the Rachel Comey pockets which makes it reminiscent of this Jacquard & Ponte Jacket. The thing that challenged me about that jacket was it didn't close and it fit closer in my upper body and looser in the bottom. That's because I basically used the dress pattern for my topper pattern.

For this version I added the pockets to the front which is easy because this pattern already has separate pattern pieces for the top and bottom.  So here is a picture of the completed garment...

This started as a jacket but now it's a vest. I got the jacket cut out and started to assemble it - went to add the sleeves and no bueno. The suckers just don't fit my arms...and I have no idea why. I measured them before cutting them out but they're just not working in this fabric.

At first I thought I would recut them from the fabric scraps and even came up with a plan to do so...but I kept dragging my feet. That's a sure sign this garment was done. So I finished it up and moved on. I'm wearing it above with one of the white shirts I made last spring.

Listed below is the supply list and techniques I added to make the inside as pretty as the outside.  

Supply List ~
- Embroidered Denim purchased from Metro Textiles (from the collection)
- White Piping from Daytona Trimmings
- White bias binding from the collection
- Black fusible interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller
- (3) 1" white buttons from the notions collection

Construction Techniques ~
I chose a very busy fabric so there were a few techniques added to it to make it work...

1. I hong kong finished the side seams, the facings and the hem.
2. The facings were cut from leftover regular denim scraps to make the fronts less bulky.
3. I added white piping to the front to give the eye a place to land and enclose the design.
4. The back was cut into three sections to break up the pattern a little but it's only noticeable at the first seam.
5. After I omitted the sleeves, I used a smaller white bias binding to bind the armholes.
6.  I decided to only add two buttons at the top because after all that work, the vest barely closes around my hips. The two top buttons allow me to close the vest without straining it over my bottom.
7.  Because of the dense embroidery design on the denim, I had to sew over the buttonholes twice to make them visible. The stitching was getting lost in the embroidery.

Otherwise, y'all this is a really simple silhouette that I changed the pockets on and then bound the heck out of the interior.

My other concern is that even though everything was pretreated, you know denim can still sweat dye in the wash. So will all my pretty white bias binding be a muddy blue after a wash? Who knows...and of course I thought of that as I pressed the last of the bias binding into place.  I think I just got excited about how great the bias binding looked on the insides without thinking about the care of the jacket until it was done.

A Few Pictures ~

Conclusion ~
This was the second garment I started during the Winter Holiday sewing bust. I did like taking my time and adding in the extra elements. As each technique was added to the vest, I got happier and happier because I'm no longer sewing to have something to wear. I'm now sewing because I like creating beautiful clothing...but it did take me until last week to make the final changes, finish it and get it ready to be worn.

It's a great vest. I love it paired with the white shirt or when worn with one of my cashmere turtlenecks on a cold winter day (not these minus days we've experienced lately). While the jacket idea didn't work out, the vest has more than surpassed my original idea. I really love this piece. It has an art teacher chic vibe. I'm thrilled I worked through the garment's challenges to add it to my wardrobe! always more later!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Dover Jacket in Flocked Glen Plaid

I knew right after I'd finished my first Dover Jacket that I would be adding more of them to my wardrobe. It's exactly the type of topper that I need and want as a layering piece. All I had to do was figure out what the next fabric should be. I settled on a flocked glen plaid suiting and an embroidered denim. One piece is deep stash and the other is new to the collection. 

At first I was going to put both jackets in the same post but there is so much detail to each one they deserved separate blog posts. 

Flocked Glen Plaid Version ~

This version was inspired by a picture I saw on Marcy Tilton's site. Yes, I get her emails. Yes, I cruise her site 2-3 times a week. No, I rarely buy anything but her fabric selections are so inspiring. The picture above inspired me to look in my fabric collection, because I KNEW I had a flocked glen plaid on the shelves. I know Marcy's picture is about denims (and boy do I want the one on the far right!) but it did strike a memory.

Upon finding the fabric on the shelves, I was thrilled to realize it's the right weight to make the Dover Jacket. Since it's such a distinctive fabric, I knew it would make an interesting topper. A note...when choosing fabric for this jacket...make sure it's a fabric that gathers easily since the gathering is an integral part of the design.

Supply List ~
- 3 yards flocked glen plaid from deep stash
- (3) 1.25" buttons from notions collection
- leather binding from the notions collection
- Black fusible interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller

Pattern Alterations ~
This is the only additional alteration I did to the pattern for future makes ~
  1. I added 1/2" to the front and back of each sleeve from the shoulder curve down. 
  2. This enlarged the hemline considerably. 
  3. At 4.5" from the hemline, I sewed on an incline decreasing the hemline by 1.5" on each side.
  4. I also lengthened the sleeve by one inch.
  5. This allowed made sleeve hems circumference smaller and stopped my very small wrists from looking like they were floating in a too big sleeve.
Construction ~
Because the fabric is very busy, I added some accents to make the design work. I chose a very large button from the collection to add to the jacket front. I have no idea how long I've had these buttons or where they came from in the garment district. Just know that my button collection is as extensive as my fabric collection.

Due to the size of the buttons, my automatic buttonholer wouldn't make buttonholes. Honestly, I haven't made a 3-step buttonhole in about 20 years. I went to my copy of the Vogue Sewing Book to figure out how to make them again.

A few samples later and I had buttonholes large enough for my buttons. Though I'm glad I only had to make three of them.

I also added some leather binding leftover from other projects to the front edge of the jacket. That wasn't planned. I was looking for some buttons and found the leather binding in a plastic bag with the buttons I chose. I'd probably planned on using them together for another project that didn't happen. They were, however, perfect for this one.

Lastly, I omitted the front pockets from this version too. After wearing the original jacket, I didn't miss the pockets so left them off.

Some Pictures ~  

Conclusion ~
I'm glad that I used this fabric from the collection to make my second version. While it's not a heavy fabric it will be a good layer over a cashmere top for the coldest days or a cotton jersey turtleneck. It's casual enough for the office but funky enough to satisfy my creative needs.

This is the second jacket from the Dover Pattern.  My final version is coming soon! always more later!


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