Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Are you a Big 4 or Indie Sewist?

This is a constant conversation in the sewing community.  At times it can be as polarizing a conversation as whether we call ourselves sewers or sewists. There are zealots on both sides of the divide - some sewists swear by an indie pattern for directions, trends, patterns that highlight their lifestyle, easy downloads vs. the Big4 where there's always the "ease" conversation, lack of clarity in the instructions, sizing, etc.

So let's talk about this. First lets define Indie patterns and Big4 patterns ~ the Big4 are Simplicity, Vogue, McCalls & Butterick and I would even throw in Kwik Sew here since they are all owned by CSSI. For this discussion we're just not going to talk about the fact that all of those pattern companies mentioned are now under one umbrella.

Indies are anything that doesn't fall under that umbrella. I understand that since there are so many new indie pattern designers on the market, we sometimes forget that they stand on the shoulders of the indie designers that came before them. Many who are still designing.

If you will allow me a minute, I would like to pay homage to one of my favorite indie designers who has passed on...

Fred Bloebaum who designed LaFred Patterns 

Fred didn't produce a lot of patterns but they were basics with an interesting twist that could be sewn over and over again.  Actually an entire wardrobe could be made from her patterns by choosing your fabrics carefully.

So this is the Question of the Day.  Do you prefer Indie Patterns or the Big4 and why? If Indie, what are your favorite pattern lines?  They don't have to be the newest, brightest and shinest ones to qualify. I mean if you're a Loes Hinse woman for example, speak up and let us know why. Or if you prefer one of the newer indie designers like True Bias, let us know and why? Finally, if you're like me and sew primarily the Big4, tell us why.  Truly I want to know!

This is the Question of the Day so thanks for talking back to me!

...as always more later!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress - Take Two

I knew I was going to make this dress again after I wore the first one. It was such an easy wear and sew. For this version, I made the straight skirt and omitted the pockets.

What makes this version distinctive is that I used a Telio Denim Embroidered Floral fabric that I'd used before.

I bought the fabric last year and made this dress (the StyleArc Marilyn)...

...I really liked the fabric so I bought it again this spring with the original intent to make a version of M7470. I rebought this fabric because I got it in my head to make a shirtdress with an embroidered eyelet border after seeing a designer version. 

I had a totally different piece of embroidered cotton in mind to remake this dress. When I pulled the fabric from the collection, the embroidered edge wasn't as wide as I'd remembered, so it wouldn't work for what I had in mind. My hand touched this embroidered fabric and the search was over.

Additional Pattern Alterations ~
I made a couple of changes to the bodice front. One I lowered my dart by a 1/2". The second change was to add 1/2" to the lower half of the dress front. I mentioned that the bust dart was a little too high in my original dress post. However, I didn't notice that there was a little pull in the button band until I wore it and saw the pictures. I want the button area to lay flat so I added some to the front to achieve that.

The last change I made to the dress was to cut the dress skirt 6" longer.  On the first dress I only added 3" which placed the hemline right under my knee.  This additional 3" makes the dress hit a spot that I'm more comfortable wearing. In all honesty though it changes the look of the dress. The first version looked young and hip, this one looked a little dowdier.  

So after assembling the dress, I went back in and removed an inch from the top of the dress skirt. I also used a 5/8" seam allowance on the side seams of the dress where previously I'd sewn them with a 1/2" seam allowance. After adding the extra to the button band, the top was a little too loose. I liked the more fitted top of the original dress but wanted to eliminate the pulling. I think I accomplished that by sewing a deeper seam on the side seams.

Otherwise there were no other construction changes. I sewed this up exactly as I did the first version just omitting the pockets. 

A few pictures ~

Conclusion ~
I can't guarantee that I won't make another one of these before the summer is over. I keep wondering what it will look like as a maxi dress. Or if I need to make three tiers to make a maxi look work?  So there may or may not be a third version of this pattern.

This version is all about the embroidered fabric. I think it was the perfect choice for this simple silhouette.

...as always more later!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Solid Colored & Sleeveless Katie

I think of projects in threes...so this is my third Katie Dress.  

The difference this time is that I sewed them one right after the other! I am done with this pattern for awhile because I have three amazing dresses/tunics in a sleeveless, short sleeve and sleeved version.  That's not to say another shirt probably won't make it into my wardrobe come fall. I still haven't made the shirting version of this pattern which started this journey...but for right now I am done.

Each version has presented a sewing challenge but in a good way.  Each one has allowed me to use a technique or to change a detail. They've given me design, pattern alterations, and construction challenges which I love. All of which makes a great sew for me.

I chose a solid color with colorful accents for this version because after working with the other very bright & colorful prints, I needed something a little toned down...so why did I choose a bright sky blue linen...*LOL*

Supply List ~
- Linen from Fabric Mart's couture line 
This has been in the collection for a couple of years. They put it on sale one year and I bought all the colors...don't judge! *LOL* However, there is still couture linen on sale at FM so I've linked to one that's similar in color to mine.
- printed cotton fabric from Zooks Fabric in Intercourse, PA
- shell buttons from the button stash
- Fusible Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoller

Pattern Alterations ~
- I added three inches to lengthen both the front and back pieces. My original dress was just a tad too short showing my knees and I wanted a dress that fell in a spot that I liked.

- I also raised the underarm seam a 1/2" on both the front and back pieces. More on this further down in the blog post.

- The front facing also had 3" added to it to lengthen it.

That was all of the pattern alterations for this version.

Construction ~
There were no changes to the construction process...just omitting the sleeves and adding a bias binding to finish the armholes. However, I stretched the armholes out when I was applying the binding and they were too long, exposing my bra under my arm.

*Sigh* I also didn't take into account the linen's qualities when I was changing the underarm. I added a crescent piece of the cotton print to the underarm seams to cover the extra space.

When I first put the crescent in (made by taking the dress, putting a piece of tracing paper in the armhole and tracing the opening, then adding seam allowances all the way around) it didn't fit. It was wobbly and stuck out away from my body. My solution was to take a tuck in the center of the crescent and stitch it down. Now it works and I love that it's made from the accent fabric.

If I were to make another one (maybe next summer) I would make the armhole snugger so that it fit closer to my chest. I like the full shoulder coverage though others might make it a little more cut-in. 

Design Changes ~
I had fun adding details to this dress to make it mine. Of course the inner collar stand is cut from the printed fabric...

as is one of the front button bands...as well as the crescent underarm inserts.

The front and back hem facings were also cut from the printed fabric and where I started this journey. I had it in my head to add coordinating facings to a solid color fabric.

I used shell buttons for the front of the dress. I also left a small sliver of the printed fabric band by sewing the buttons over a 1/4" which exposed the print and added a slimming effect down the front of the dress.

The final addition to the dress front is a small breast pocket with a square of the printed fabric. I wanted to cut down on the wide expanses of blue fabric and all of these details assist with that.

A few pictures ~

Conclusion ~
This is my favorite of the three Katies. I love the flow of the dress. I love the pockets - who is dis woman?! *LOL* Cause I'm so not a pocket person. I love the length and the drama of it...and it was perfect when I wore it on a 90+ degree, hot and humid summer day. I was cool, comfortable and it was so humid that quite a few of the wrinkles fell out as I walked to the bus station to go home.

As I said earlier I'm retiring the pattern for a minute. Though I will admit that I almost went back and added short sleeves because of the underarm issues. I just love that I improvised all of those details. They weren't in my original plan for the dress but they made it perfect...adding drama and interest and elevating the look of it.

Next up on the blog is my denim chambray version of the Myosotis dress. Indie month continues.

...as always more later!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Dark Floral Katie Dress

This was my first version of the Katie Dress made straight from the download.

As originally sewn

Worn with black capri leggings

Supplies ~
The fabric is a cotton/linen print purchased from Fabric Mart last month. It was from a special offering to Premium Members and I bought several of these prints then. They are now online here but the print used in my dress has sold out. 

The black linen is from the collection probably from Ebad Fabrics in the garment district purchased years ago...back when I kept black yardage on hand for basics.

Finally the buttons are from M&J Trimmings.  I bought them after I placed some stash buttons on the dress and posted it to Instagram. Some of the comments made me think, so I went shopping and found some different buttons to use.

A little backstory ~
Before I headed to banking land and an entirely corporate wardrobe, I use to sew ALOT of prints. So much so that my sister, who was a recruiter for a major corporation at the time, told me when I went to her for advice on getting a new job, to lose the bold prints. This was about 20-25 years ago. I was coming out of garment district jobs where I could basically wear what I wanted...trying to move into a corporate job with some serious benefits. 

So I toned down some of my wilder prints. Then I moved into a banking job where I had to tone them wayyyyyy down! Now that I've finally dislodged all of that corporate noise from my creative brain, I'm wading back into the deep with deliciously loud prints. See I'm actually a bold color and print sewist who likes simple shapes. I hate ruffles and ditsy little prints. I love a bold primary color and I also love a great menswear influenced garment. A little contradiction for sure.

Construction Info ~
So this dress...like I said earlier its made straight from the pattern and it worked. One of the things I love the most is the faced hemline. By adding the facing, you give the hem weight so that the fabric hangs the way it's supposed to and doesn't rise up or float around.

The changes I made were creative and not structural.  The front buttonband, collar and sleeve hems were all cut from the black linen. It was to give your eyes a place to rest. It also makes the floral print POP! 

The banded sleeve is a technique I've used over and over again but if you want a step by step tutorial, check out this blog post. Disregard the piping info or hold onto it for a future make! And I omitted the sleeve ruffle because seriously I'm tired of this trend. Can it go away already in sewingland? Cause I hardly ever see it on the streets of NYC anymore and I work in the heart of the garment district!

For the next dress, I'm lengthening the front and back by two inches so the dress front will cover my knees and the back dip will have more drama. You know I LOVE a dramatic high/low hemline!

A few pictures ~

The first photos are of the dress as is...it's a little short and shows my knees...and I'm just not comfortable showing my knees at my age.  Now this is me and says nothing about other women my age...just MY preference.

The next set of photos are of the dress worn with black capri leggings under it...like a tunic...and how I will wear the outfit! 

Y'all Imma be honest, I hate my arm fat pads in this picture...but a friend of mine said I was making my sleeves too long. So I'm including it so she can see why I make them longer. I was doing it to cover these fat pads & Imma go back to making my short sleeves longer to cover that area because I have to be happy with wearing the garment. Sorry...not sorry! *LOL*

This was the first of the Katie dresses but I'm posting it out of order because of the EB post...one more version to come to the blog!

Parting Shot ~
This was my daughter's favorite shot...so I'm including it because she's so patient and giving of her time to take these pics for me. We did these late one evening because with four kids, a full time job, and a partner, I take her when she has time!

...as always more later!

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

A Katie Shirt from Elliott Berman Fabric

This is the second version of the Katie that I'm sharing first because I used this amazing fabric from Elliot Berman.

Now I wouldn't call myself a funky or unique dresser but every once in awhile, I'm inspired to move a little away from my clean-line, unfussy styling and add a little funk.  This is definitely bringing the funk!

After figuring out the pattern I headed over to Elliott Berman's looking for a piece of fabric to use to make it. I specifically wanted this piece...

...but once Eugenia and I rolled it out...it really wasn't me. We walked around looking at other cotton pieces...and I touched some beautiful pieces...but nothing really made me catch my breath until she pulled this piece.

Now I know this looks nothing like what I've posted before, but believe it or not, I own two other pieces like this in different fabrications, because I love this type of design.

Supply List ~
- Red Linen by way of the fabric collection
- Gold Buttons purchased from Lauren Trimmings for this shirt
- Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller
(I ran out of interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply and picked up a couple of yards of this fusible midweight interfacing in the garment district while I wait for my next order to arrive from FSS.)

Pattern Alterations ~
My first change was to the front piece.  I had to figure out the best spot to end it on the front to effect the dramatic high/low hem. I did this by holding the pattern piece up to me and marking where I'd like it to end. Then I folded the pattern piece back upon itself to reflect the change. I also changed the front button band to reflect this change too.

Then I got the brilliant idea to add 2" to the back piece...well truthfully I was always going to make that addition...after making the first version. However, I added it much lower than I originally thought I would...and I was scared silly that I'd added it too low. Turns out it worked out alright!

Construction ~
The body of the shirt came together with no problem. Then I questioned using the red linen for the accents but eventually became okay with that. My challenge was the sleeves. In Mimi's shirt, she has long sleeves with cuffs and that was my original intent.  As you can see it's not what I ended up with and I don't know why my original sleeves didn't work.  However, this is my punt and I'm okay with it.

Like I said, it was my intent to make long sleeves with cuffs but somewhere along the way I lost my way and couldn't make my sleeve work. There was a problem with the cuff and then I cut the sleeve too short after I started messing with it. I ended up with the red linen ties to salvage the situation...and now I'm wondering why I was going in another direction because these are perfect for the shirt and for me.

Sleeve Construction:

  • I made a pattern sandwich using the sleeve from the original Katie dress and the sleeve from my TNT shirt pattern to make a new sleeve for this shirt.
  • The new sleeve pattern was cut a little fuller so that I could gather the hem into the cuff. 
  • Since I made my cuff too small and then realized that I'd drawn the sleeve too short, I had to come up with a new plan - thus the tied band.
  • To make the tied sleeve band, I cut a strip 3" wide and 12" long. 
  • Folded the band in half and topstitched it on...leaving about an inch of the sleeve without the band attached. 
  • Oh and I started the band on the underside of the sleeve so that the tie would be on the outside.

It was a simple process and anyone could do this!

A Few Pictures ~

Conclusion ~
This is a statement piece.  You will see me coming and going and it's all because of the fabric. This was an interesting piece of fabric to work with because it's a medium weight fabric with some body and stiffness. When I first showed Eugenia the pattern I wanted to use, she wasn't sure that the fabric had enough drape. However, the fabric got softer with pretreatment.

Now when I picked this fabric I did not realize the price per yard. I actually learned it when I linked to it for this blog post. While it's pricey ~ I have 3 yards of fabric in this shirt.  It means the final cost is over $150 with buttons and interfacing. This is on the high end of costs for me but if you want to own some of this fabric, go for it. It's a quality fabric that will make a very distinctive garment. However, if this is a little rich for your blood, there are more cottons on the site in the new arrivals section that will work just as well.

One more quick thing - this is really not a middle of the hot steamy summer wear. I was DYING taking these pics outside in 90+ degree weather. It will become a staple in my fall wardrobe and yes I'm going to wear those white pants in September after Labor Day! 

I won't have another Elliott Berman sew until late fall...already have the wool for that one! But there are two more versions of the MimiG Katie Dress up next on the blog.

...as always more later!

Monday, August 06, 2018

A Trio of Katies

The first of the Indie patterns I made is The Katie Dress, and I admit it I went a little crazy making Katie dresses...

However, in my defense, I love a great high/low hemline. And if I was gonna tape a pattern together, I'm getting the most uses out of it so I made three versions of this pattern. 

A little backstory ~
I was on Instagram watching MimiG's stories and she posted this shirt.

I've been wanting a shirt like this for quite some time. Just had no pattern on hand to use to start the journey. After a brief conversation with Mimi, she told me she'd modified the Katie Dress and that it was easy to do. I'd purchased the pdf pattern last November during the Black Friday sales and forgot about it...cause honestly pdf pattern.

But that shirt...it would add so much to my late summer/early fall wardrobe and it started to play in my mind...so I printed the pattern out and taped it together.

Yes, I know. *shaking my head* even my peeps on Instagram couldn't believe that I went in! LOL! As I started taping the pattern together, it started talking to me. Whispering softly of the things it could be...

So it became a dress as the trial run of the pattern ~

Then it became the Elliott Berman show stopper with a few pattern alterations ~

Finally with a few more alterations it became a sleeveless dress with a longer hemline ~

This is the preview before each post which will detail what I did and why. I'm starting with the Elliott Berman fabric post because there is a link to the fabric in it if you'd like some of that amazing cotton fabric too.  Then the other posts will follow.

Conclusion ~
  • Let me just say that I love this pattern. The pdf was easy to assemble which is a MUST for someone who loathes pdf patterns as much as I do and it didn't have a lot of pages to tape together! 
  • Then it was an easy sew because the instructions are fantastic and I love that at every step it reminded me that I was sewing with 3/8" seam allowances instead of the 5/8" ones I'm use to!
  • Pattern alterations were easy to make to my traced pattern pieces. Mimi you were right!
  • It IS the perfect shirtdress and shirt that I've been looking for to wear this summer! The.PERFECT.shirtdress pattern!
This pattern is still available to purchase.  If you want an easy wearing, perfect fitting shirt or dress with a great fit through the shoulders and bodice but with a abundant flow in the skirt for those sultry summer days, buy this pattern! Especially since it's sized up to a 2X and y'all know that's my pet peeve about some of the indie designs.

Lastly, I was only given the fabric for the Elliott Berman post. Everything else is paid for by me so ALL opinions are mine...plus y'all know me. I'm only effusive about things I really believe in whether it was given to me or not. So go and buy this pattern...it was worth taping it together...SERIOUSLY! LOL!

...as always more later!

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

August is Indies Month

I have a couple of Indie Patterns that I've wanted to sew for a minute and I kept putting them off. Since I made a Deer & Doe Myosotis, loved it and wanted to make another one, I've decided that I would make August's theme, "Indie Month."

These are the Indie Patterns I plan on sharing this month:
Now did you see that?  There are two pdf patterns on that list. I have to say here that as much as I hate taping patterns together both of these count as exceptional designs worth the angst! LOL! Especially since I've already used a SewSewDef/MimiG pattern when I made The Saldana Dress - so while I hate the taping process her patterns are tiled so well and the landmarks to put them together are easy to follow. Also constructing it was a breeze with great instructions.

I also need to state that all, except for The Perth Dress, have been sized up for the plus size sewist. I'm making an exception with The Perth Dress because I like the style, I adore Carolyn and I believe the style is simple enough to upsize. Also, I know Carolyn is in the process of adding plus sizes to her pattern.

The other reason I've purchased a few Indie Patterns is because my lifestyle changed. No longer working in Corporate America has allowed me to explore styles and fabrications that I wouldn't have worn previously. I mean I own 2 pairs of cropped pants. Like who AM I? LOL! Oh I'm digressing, these aren't the only Indie Patterns I own, I mean besides Cashmerette Patterns (card carrying member here!) so sooner or later some of those styles will make their way to the blog too!

Now you know what I'm sewing for the month of August so a finished garment is up on the blog soon...weather permitting because it's rained enough here on the East Coast that we should send some of it west!

Oh and one housekeeping note:
I know that bloglovin allows you to leave comments but if you leave one there instead of on my original post on Blogger, you're not really talking to me.  Today is the first time I've been on bloglovin' in weeks and noticed there were comments on the Destashing post. So let that be your guide when leaving comments or questions there.  Thanks!

...as always more later!

Monday, July 30, 2018

And The Winner Is...

The LUCKY winner of Kate's book "Making Life More Beautiful" is...

#19 - Maria!

Maria - would you send me an email at cnorman underscore 98 at yahoo dot com and I will forward your information to Kate. She will contact you and get the book delivered to you.

Thanks to everyone who participated and if you want a copy of Kate's book, please use this link to purchase it from her blog!

Saturday, July 28, 2018


As noted in the Baltimore DeStash blog post, I gave away 45.5 yards and as a I rumbled through my fabric collection, I realized that I was ready to let go of quite a bit more of my collection.

There are several reasons for this:
1. I've run out of storage space.
2. My daughter who has always eagerly anticipated getting my fabric collection looked at me a couple of weeks ago and told me that this was too much for her to handle getting rid of...what?!
3. I've admitted to myself that I'm NEVAH going back to Corporate America especially since I love my day job and hope to retire from this amazing workplace.

So while I only donated 45.5 yards to Baltimore Destash, I made arrangements with someone from a local high school to donate 150 yards of my "corporate fabrics." I did make sure to include some knits, poly blends and shirtings, fabrics young people would like to sew.

The bags sitting in the dining room waiting to leave!
One of the fabric shelves rearranged and with room on them!

Honestly this was a larger task than I'd anticipated. While I thought I would be ruthless going through the shelves, I was actually more attached to some of the fabrics than I realized. *sigh* So initially it took a lot to comprehend that even though it's beautiful fabric and I love it...it needed to go. As I said, I love my fabric collection but it's supposed to be a resource that I use and am inspired by...not just a place for fabric to come and die.  

First bag of donated fabrics

Now I know some of you have never understood the collection and why it was necessary to my creative well-being. I'm sure you're also thinking you were right about me having too much but in all honesty, the bulk of the collection is going nowhere. I'm just pruning and making it more usable for me and future sews, sorta like what a good plant owner does to their plants. I'm also determined that I can access all of the fabric that presently lives here which I was unable to do before losing the 200+ yards from the collection.  As I type that I totally understand that this is the amount of fabric in some sewists stashes.

Second bag of donated fabrics - including some 
beige/brown fabrics not shown

While I was determined to get some of my fabric piles from behind the cutting table onto the shelves that didn't happen. I did gain a lot of space on the shelves but not an entire shelf as I had envisioned.  I've had denim sitting in a corner on a box that I would rather have shelved, so I know what I have. While that didn't happen, I think I've found another portion of the cave that I can clean up and move the denim. Now to take some precious sewing time to make it happen.

Last pile of fabrics before bagging

I wanted a shirting space since I'm inspired to sew more shirts and shirtdresses now. I would like those pieces to be more visible and not scattered across the shelves. I did manage to accomplish that!

Included in the donation bags are some ITY knits because I'm admitting that I truly hate ITY knits on my plus size body and am donating quite a bit of them.  See this is about knowing who I am at this stage of my life and doing something about it...hahahahaha!

My challenge going forward is not to add huge amounts of fabric to the collection. I need to seriously use what I have on hand because there is some beautiful fabric on the shelves. Now I'm not saying that I won't buy pieces, I'm just not buying because it's pretty, because I'm emotional (mad, sad, stressed out), because there's space on the shelves for more or just because. 

I want my fabric buying to be as strategic as it's been in the last 18 months, things that I want in my wardrobe now...not in the future. So not only am I pruning the collection but I'm changing my buying habits too. My goal is for the collection to be a third to half less of it's present size by the time I retire. Long term goals yes but still in line with this post I wrote several years ago. 

Here are my monthly fabric in/out totals for June and July:

Fabric in 35 yards
Fabric out 53.5 yards
As of June I had 16 more yards out than in 

Fabric in 13 yards
Fabric out 169.5 yards (153 yds donated + 16.5 yds sewn)
Total yards out for July = 156.5

Finally I'm 172.5 yards more out than in for the year - thank goodness for that donation! I've given away 200 yards of fabric this year and am looking at another local high school to make another donation too. One of the things I loved in high school was the fabric pile that was donated for when I didn't have money to buy fabric. Hopefully I can provide that for another budding sewist.

Now I just need a couple months of no fabric in with only fabric out stats and I will feel like I'm truly accomplishing my goal of sewing down the collection. Here's hoping I can accomplish that since I truly love fabric sooooooooo much!

BTW, I'm also letting go of about 30 pairs of heels that I couldn't release earlier too.  I wear heels to church only so I just need some basic pairs. Plus my sneaker collection needs somewhere to rest besides my bedroom floor...life changes, y'know. 

So how about you? As your life changes does your fabric or pattern collection? Do you hold onto fabric or patterns that you're no longer sewing? Have you thought about donating these to others?  This is my Question of the Day...so talk back to me and tell me your thoughts!

...as always more later!


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