Friday, August 29, 2014


Fact ~
My fat quarter challenge reveal should have happened today.

Reality ~
It will not.  Instead it will happen tomorrow.  I've been granted a 24 hour reprieve by the lovely Oonaballoona because I'm just not making it home in time to finish it. Now granted, this is my own fault.  I did drag my feet on this because I was scared, scarred and without hope that I could successfully meet this challenge.

However, I've had a breakthrough and have crafted "a can be worn to work dress" using pieces from all of my fat quarters.

Here's a sneaky peek...

Definitely revealing tomorrow...and since that Annie song Tommorrow is running through my's the trailer for the new Annie movie coming out in December of this year. always more later!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Refresh

I made this dress back in September 2009 during one of my first sewcations:

It's actually been worn only once or twice.  Why?  Because of that looked great when I was standing still but I ended it in a funny place. So in day to day wearing it was just weird.  Therefore, it sat in the back of the closet.

After I moved, I put it in the sewing cave to be altered...before the flood...then I lost track of it after I put the cave back together.  Moving some clothes around last weekend, I found it again and realized that it wouldn't take much to change it. 

Removing the ruffle and trim was easy enough...

But it meant the dress was kind of plain. To combat that I added some stitching at the neckline and sleeve hems.  It's still a very basic dress but I have several cardigans, along with an assortment of necklaces that will make this sing!

Here are a few pictures of the refreshed dress in action...

Worn with a RTW cardigan

I'm glad I took the time to alter it!  It's been a cooler, less humid and hot summer, so this dress is perfect to add to the rotation. I haven't sewn as much this year as I have in years past. Probably because I have a closet full of beautiful clothing and I keep finding treasures like these hidden in the back of it. always more later!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

McCalls 2014 Fall Collection

Y'all know that I stopped doing pattern release reviews a long time ago. There are so many fresher, newer and better takes on these reviews than I can write so I've bowed to those awesome critiques. So why am I writing one now? Because I was really looking forward to the new patterns by Khaliah Ali.  I loved the line she had for years at Simplicity and was eagerly anticipating some of those fashionable designs for plus size women in the new McCalls line...

So I breathlessly clicked into the McCalls Pattern site when I received the email that the fall patterns were being revealed especially because Khaliah Ali's name was in the tag line.  

These are the three patterns they debuted...

I'm gonna be honest.  I am disappointed with these three patterns. I went back and forth about writing this review because hey, I really like all the things The McCalls Pattern Company is doing to connect with the home sewist these days. But I won't be buying any of these patterns.

You would think that I would at least like the tunic/pants/overblouse & dress pattern...nah not so much.  Especially since I made my own version of that dress using my TNT pattern back in 2008 - actually two different versions with sleeves...

Dang, now that I think about it...I made a version last year too! So I won't be buying that pattern...well actually, I won't be buying any of these patterns...I will be waiting and hoping that the next release will be something that I can dive into! 

If you do like these patterns, please purchase them because I want this line to continue and thrive at McCalls...but could we get a few more seams, maybe some garments that have a closer fit and NO MORE TENTS! Oh and these only go up to a 24W and yes, I'm going to say Simplicity they went up to a 32W...four more sizes for my plus size sistahs that have enough problems getting nice patterns without having to grade them up would be awesome too. 

So thank you in advance because I know you're listening now! always more later!

Monday, August 25, 2014


...Orlando Jones says it all...there are no other words necessary...


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Things I Want to Sew for Fall 2014

Well all of the September issues have landed either in my mailbox or on my iPad - yes, I've gone back to getting some of those issues on my iPad because the amount of paper can be mind boggling!  Sorry to put some of you magazine peeps out of jobs...but it is what it is!

Anyway, People's Stylewatch September 2014 issue, says that these are the Must-Have's for Fall...

1. Plaid - everything
I have several pieces of plaid wools that I bought last year or had in the fabric collection and I want to use them to make a couple of plaid items this year ~ so check, check on this one!

2. Chunky Knits
While this is "new" to the list this year, chunky knits are classics to me.  I already own a few of these, so won't be adding any more.

3.  Bold Colors
I always like to add color to my winter wardrobe - it helps with the dreary blues that occur in Jan/Feb/March when winter sets in with a vengence.

4.  Cutout Heels
I'm passing on this one because it doesn't fit with my lifestyle.

5.  Dark Florals
I have some fall florals but I'm actually on the fence about this trend...I may make something or I may not!

6.  Robe Coats
I just bought Butterick 6107. I have a pretty purple wool that's already backed with interfacing which I bought from Mood Fabrics in November 2013. I thought of the fabric when I bought the pattern, maybe this will be the year that I use it.

7.  Lug Sole Boats
Again, a trend I will pass on.

8.  Boxy Bags
These are really cute handbags but not something I really need or would use in my everyday life.  I cart way to much stuff daily to me these look like car bags and not commuting bags.

9.  Shift Dresses
Okay really, I sew them, own them and will continue to wear them.

10. Statement Earrings
Again another trend I will pass on.

However, I do want to add a few things...

Color and Fabrications ~
I want another garment or two using the color ~ emerald green. I have a wool and a silk blend print in the collection that I'd like to use. This winter I also want to sew some of the gray fabric I've accumulated since gray is another hot color for fall and it actually works in my professional life. Pinstripes, pinstripes and more pinstripes ~ yes there are loads of them in the fabric collection and I'd like to sew a couple of them.

Pantsuits ~
This category makes my list every fall winter...but last year I made a tunic and pants combination as a pantsuit. Since then I've seen loads of them on Pinterest, magazines and in catalogs. I definitely want to make a couple more.

Slimmer Leg Pants ~
I don't like skin tight pants probably because I have bodacious thighs...but I would like to sew a couple pairs of slimmer legged well as a pair of ponte pants.

Faux Leather ~
There is still alot of faux and real leather in garments for fall/winter, so I will be making a few more pieces with faux leather in them.  This particular dress from Lafayette 148 is calling my name...

As you can tell I'm looking forward to fall/winter sewing and have already started to assemble a list of things I want to sew. Okay honestly, I'm not looking forward to winter especially since for our area they are predicting even more snow for this winter versus last winter...but I so love sewing wool fabrics!

#fatquarterchallenge ~
This weekend I'm working on my #fatquarterchallenge dress.  I can tell you that I went ahead and took advantage of the loopholes provided when we reignited the challenge.  My goal is to get a dress that I can wear to work using all of the fat quarters...however, unless I make a woven top, these little pieces of fabric aren't big enough to go around my bodacious body.

I really wanted to adher to the spirit of the challenge which was to make a wearable I'm using pieces of ALL of the fat quarters in my dress. I've got a name for my dress based upon what my boss called it when she saw the pic of my fat quarters on Instagram.  I will reveal the dress' name and the actual dress this Friday.

Finally, I do have a couple of posts to share with you this week before the #fatquarterchallenge reveal. I didn't plan to not post last week but I was extremely busy and I just never got around to it.  I do have a little more to say this week and since the Labor Day Holiday Weekend (here in the US) is coming up next plans are to spend it in my sewing cave...especially since my annual September sewcation isn't happening this year. always more later!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sleeve Embellishment

The summer version of Butterick 5821 is my favorite piece of all of the garments I've made recently.  It wears easily plus I love the details that I included in this dress. I especially love the sleeves.  I think they really add to the overall look of the dress.

In that post I said that I would show how I made the changes to the sleeves and the process is below.

The sleeve was cut out. Then 2" was cut off of the bottom. Next the piping was basted onto the sleeve, 5/8" from the edge.  

A 2" long by the width of the sleeve strip of the black and white polka dot fabric was cut. The edges were serge finished. 

A picture of all the parts prior to stitching them together.

Pinning the strip to the sleeve with the piping attached.

Stitching the pieces together using my zipper foot. Sewing right next to the piping to enclose it in the seam.

Embellishment stitched to sleeve

Band folded in half. Pressed flat and pinned.

Topstitched the piping close to the seam

Finished sleeves showing piping and black n white polka dot fabric

I've made these types of sleeves before on other dresses because I think they add an interesting element to them.  I hope this process will help you add this embellishment to one of your future garments. always more later!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sewing Miscellany

Just a few thoughts that have been running through my mind over the last couple of days...
  • Do you touch fabric or a completed garment and it's whole history flashes through your mind? Do you remember who you were with when you bought the fabric? If you had to hunt the fabric down and where you got it from?  That happened to me recently and it was such a walk down memory lane...
  • I just donated three large garbage bags of clothing and my closet is still tight...*sigh*
  • I don't do the yearly purge know the if you haven't worn it in a year it has to go. Why?  Because I've now sewn some pieces for the extreme hot and cold weather that I only wear when the temperatures are really, really hot or really, really cold - since I don't wear them every year - because of temperatures - why would I donate them?
  • Do you wear your new makes right away? I use to all the time. Could barely get them off my sewing machine fast enough to get them on my body.  Now, they can sit for weeks before I wear them.
  • Which means that I just wore the Vogue 8895 dress two weeks ago although the Optical Illusion dress made at the same time got worn right away...I think it's just the #epicsews that need a time out.
  • On this timetable, it will be the end of September before I wear The Smugglers Daughter dress.
  • Pinterest is where I learned that my pattern alterations are too simple! Case in point:

  • One of my all time popular posts is "Using my Janome 8900 QCP - 10 Months Later". It's interesting because now - 18 months later - I realize that I still don't KNOW it all that well. I'm still learning all of its functions and capabilities.
  • I want to sew fall. Yes, it's the middle of August and I want to sew fall. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want summer to end just yet especially since this has been a wonderful summer weather wise. But I only have one or two more summer things that I want to I'm moving on after that.
  • This is the first time in five or six years that I won't have a September sewcation.  Things at work changed my vacation schedule so no September sewcation. Don't now how I feel about not having nine straight days to sew yet. I usually sew a large part of my fall wardrobe then - well at least get a good start...
  • I already have a few pieces I want to make for fall...with inspiration from Talbots and Lafayette well as remaking a few patterns that I've recently used.
  • I love pretty sewing rooms. Love, love, love them...especially the ones on Pinterest. Recently I saw this one at Bunny's blog and I was enthralled. Her m'amm cave is so her!  You can see it in this post.
  • Ann of Gorgeous Things recently left a message on my Linings post. Then she wrote a post of her own linking to two of her previous posts on the same subject.  You can check them out here.

"An artist knows how good he or she is but can still appreciate the talents of their peers"

That's how I'm feeling lately about my sewing peers. Thank you for challenging me, encouraging me, and leading the way. I have such wonderful footsteps to follow in because you all lead the way so well.

Thanks so much to everyone who has left a comment on my last couple of garments.  I appreciate them all so much ~ especially that you take the time to leave them.  Thanks for continuing to talk with me...I truly treasure these conversations... always more later!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Lately I've been cutting my linings out after I've assembled my garment.  I started doing this because I wanted to make sure that I captured any changes I made to my garment shell.  However, I've found that while this is practical, it makes me drag my feet when I'm finishing up a garment. I think more than finishing a garment (hemming), I don't like cutting out.  Stupid right? Because you can't sew if you don't cut out...but there it is...I don't like it.

Because of this, I use to cut linings out when I cut out the fashion fabric. Anything to speed the process along and get me to the good stuff ~ which was sewing the garment together!  It did seem to make everything move along faster.  When the garment shell was done, I just reached for the already serge finished lining pieces, sewed them up and added them to my garment.

Somewhere in there I changed this order.  In the beginning it worked for me, but lately when I realize I have to cut and finish lining pieces...I stop. Seriously come to a dead stop.  Because of this I'm reconsidering the order I cut and sew linings again.

So here's the question of the day...when do you cut your linings out?  At the beginning when you cut out your fashion fabric?  Or at the end, after the garment's been assembled?  And why do you do it either way? Is there a "correct" sewing gods approved method?  Did I forget some sewing lesson taught to me years ago?  Talk back to me because this is the "Question of the Day!" always more later!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Smugglers Daughter Dress or Vogue 8972

About two months ago, I eagerly started this dress.  I made all of the pattern alterations which were quite extensive and detailed them in this post and this one. Then there was the post on how to use a border print and how I cut out the border print for this dress, all of which has turned this into an epic sew. I've used three different fabrics for the dress.  Three different fabrics to make the lining. Some silk organza, a picked zipper application and lots of hand end up with this...

The Beginning~
I was gifted this fabric by the Smuggler's Daughter and some is still available on the site. I wanted to make something special with it. I probably should have gone a little less epic but it was worth the journey, even if I had to take a short break to regain my inspiration.

Fabric and Notions ~
The starting pattern is Vogue 8972

The Smugglers Daughter border print
Gray medium weight linen from the fabric collection
Black medium weight linen from the fabric collection

22" black zipper
Lt. Green piping
White cotton batiste for lining
Gray cotton batiste for lining
Dark Steel Gray bemberg lining

Pattern Alterations and Construction Details~
All of the pattern alterations were documented in the posts mentioned above. However, the construction of this garment is quite detailed probably because I chose to make the dress way more difficult than it needed to be. Let me give you a few details...
  • The black linen skirt front and back had black silk organza basted to each piece...that's seven pieces in total.
  • I tried to use the cotton border print in such a way that it would enhance the pattern of the fabric. I carried it over into the sleeves to give it the greatest impact.
  • The back zipper is black but it was hand stitched in. I knew I didn't want to deal with matching an invisible zipper in two places on the back.  So I hand stitched it using a regular zipper.
  • There are a lot of the bodice and the skirt...a lot of cutting...a lot of seam finishing...a lot of sewing them together.
  • The lining has white cotton batiste for the bodice and gray cotton batiste for the center panel then dark steel gray bemberg lining for the skirt.
  • The lining top is seamed but the skirt lining pieces were cut based upon the finished fashion fabric pieces.
  • I added piping to the neckline.  I wanted to capture some of the green blocks that are in the top piece.
  • I did have some challenges with getting the side bodice and the center front to match. I don't know if it happened during the pattern alterations but I cheated and used a little ease stitching to get them to work together.
  • This added a little gathering in the bust area that the fabric's pattern hides.
  • That was a little discouraging and helped with me putting the dress down for a minute.
  • I basted the sides together prior to machine stitching to insure the sides matched.
  • The sleeves went in so easily! Since that was near the end of the dress' construction, it was really great that they weren't a challenging insertion.
  • The sleeve hem is topstitched using a double needle.
  • The hem on the lining and on the dress are doubled and stitched.  The lining is machine stitched and the dress is hand hemmed.
  • Being anal about thread, I changed the thread for each piece sewn on both the sewing machine and the serger.
  • I omitted the topstitching that the pattern suggests.
  • There was a lot of handsewing in this dress - to match side seams, to insert the sleeves, to add the piping,  to attach the lining to the zipper tape, hemming the dress...a lot!
  • Finally, I used a lot of steam to press this dress.  At one point I had to send Lena, precious grand baby number 2, upstairs because there were clouds and clouds of steam fog!
Construction Photos ~

Back bodice sewn to waist insert

Front bodice sewn to waist insert

Sides basted to insure they matched when sewn

Checking the basted back prior to adding the zipper

Dress shell finished

Lining for the dress

Adding the piping to the dress neckline

More pictures of me wearing the dress ~

Conclusion ~
This dress was a lot of work.  I put it down for a minute because it got to be overwhelming. Even now I'm on the fence about the dress. My daughter and I did two photo shoots to catch the dress just right. (As an aside, lighting in the house, in the evening, doesn't even begin to compare to outside shots anymore!)  I loved wearing the dress during the first photo shoot but hated the pictures. During the second one, I realized that the dress is a little too big. I was never going to make it as tight as the pattern depicts it but I went back in and took in the side seams 1/2" on either side in the waistline area.

See I'm trying to expand beyond the simple sheath silhouette that I love to wear. This dress was suppose to help me step outside my comfort zone. I'm not sure if it accomplished it's goal.  I keep thinking back to the fit and wearing ease of the Milly dress, this one just doesn't have that. However, I would like to try it in a ponte knit for fall, I'm thinking it will fall better than the linens I used for this one...we'll see! always more later!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Pieced Four Gore Skirt

There was a little less than a yard of the black n white polka dot linen, and I didn't want to consign it to the scrap bin.  Especially since the white fabric scrap was still out and I thought the two would make a great skirt.

However, when I went to cut the white linen out I didn't have enough for full size pieces.  I figured I could just add another coordinating piece and after some searching through the fabric collection I found two pieces that I thought would work. So I took to Instagram to ask for assistance...

The most votes were for the combination on the left which actually is my personal favorite too.  I make so many "corporate colored" safe garments that every time I can step out the box a little I'm going there!  As seen above, I had a red cotton pique twinset that worked well with a skirt was born!

Pattern ~ 
TNT 4 gore skirt (also made here, here and here and all still in my closet)

Fabric ~
Fabric scraps from the Summer version of Butterick 5821
Red/black/white linen print from

Notions ~
1" non-roll elastic

  • The most challenging part of making this skirt was making the strips and then stitching them together so that they matched at every seam.
  • There is very little math involved in making the strips/layers because it was based upon the length of the black 'n white embroidered piece.
  • That piece was evened off and then the approximately 4" strips were cut of the white and the printed linen.
  • I stitched the white to the print piece first - trying to be precise.
  • Then I stitched the black 'n white embroidered piece onto that bottom strips.
  • To make the skirt, I matched the side seams that worked together.  This took some doing and I actually "forced" one seam with a little basting and steam.
  • It is unlined.
  • The hem is turned under one inch.  Then it's folded in half and ironed flat then machine stitched.

Construction Photos...

The band pattern piece I created to get the curve right for the printed piece

White and printed linen sewn together with the polka dot piece waiting to be joined

One of the four gores all sewn together

The hem double folded, pressed and machine stitched flat

A few more photos of me in the skirt...

The two top pieces are from QVC from the Denim & Co. collection. However, the tank has been altered to fit me. It arrived with a boxy fit and way too low armholes so I took in the side seams to give me a closer fit.

This is a little funky and fun and I will wear it to work on a Friday.  I usually am a little more fashionable on Fridays because we have a casual Friday dress code in my office.

Next up is The Smugglers Daughter Dress.  I have to admit that I got stymied for a minute. If you follow me on Instagram, you will remember that I posted a pic of where I was headed.  I came to terms with what was bothering me and fixed it.  I really like the dress now so it's up next.

Lastly, the grandkids were with me this weekend so here is Miss Samantha...she's almost seven months old now with a mind of her own! always more later!


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