Saturday, November 16, 2019

Changing It Up

I made this denim shirtdress in June 2018 during my shirtdress making season.

I wore it a couple of times.  Every time though I felt like a jailhouse matron. When I pulled it out in the spring it just sat with all of the bad feelings attached to it. I thought it would make a great vest. Not something I would wear during the spring/summer months, so I left it to make the alterations in the fall. Then my sewjo went on vacation and the dress sat. 

I'm missing my sewjo. It's my friend and keeps me company...engages me creatively...takes amazing adventures with I want it back.  In an effort to coax it to return, I thought I would do some simple creative tasks. Clean off my cutting table, trace a pattern out that I want to sew and alter this dress.

Alterations to the dress ~

Of course I removed the sleeves first.

Next I cut 7.5" off the bottom of the dress because I wanted a cardigan length vest not a maxi one. As pictured below, I chose to cut it off right before the last buttonhole. It would allow me to have enough space to hem the vest without having to remove a buttonhole.

The hem was topstitched with a 6.0mm twin universal needle using a 4.5" stitch length. This was done to match the existing twinstitching on the garment.

When I was reworking this, I realized that the accents for this dress/vest were made from some of the same blue gingham fabric I used for this shirt (which is one of my faves). So naturally I paired them together for a photograph.  This is how I will wear the vest and shirt over a pair of jeans or leggings.

I won't be taking "modelled" pictures of this alteration.  Just wanted to share how I updated the dress and made it wearable. I'm happy I shortened it into a vest. It will definitely get more wear this way.  Don't know if this actually made my sewjo come home but Imma keep plugging away at smaller sewing tasks so it knows its missed. Though this little bit of sewing felt good and I'm hoping my sewjo will come home soon! always more later!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Sewing Room Redo

As the Christmas holidays approach and I think about how I'm going to spend them, I know that I want to redo my sewing cave. It's overflowing and not functioning well...and I guess I'm tired of this arrangement too.

A few pictures of it in its total disarray ~

Coming down the steps into the Sewing Cave

Looking from the back of the room to the front
Computer Desk and Sewing Machine desk

From the front door viewing the cutting table full on

Storage underneath the sewing desks

Sewing machine & serger on the table

Computer area

It's junky. I have way too much stuff put in there haphazardly.  I need to remove all of this stuff, sort through it and then put back what I want to keep.  The last sewing cave refresh was over 5 years ago so there's five more years of sewing things stuffed into the room. I need to change the storage arrangement and make it more functional and remove the accumulated junk.

Where It's Going ~
A couple of months ago I took a trip to IKEA as a sight-seeing mission and I found a few things I'd like to use to refresh the sewing cave. I've made a list, measured my space and I'm waiting for a bunch of time to take the sewing cave apart and rebuild it.

Alex Desk
(I wanted the drawers so I could remove some of the stuff from the top of my sewing table)

I'm no good at doing things in pieces, like a weekend at a time. I will be off work almost two weeks during the Christmas Holiday so this will allow me to take my time and refresh the room. I might even get some sewing in.

Next ~
Right now my sewjo is gone. I guess I should be concerned but I feel like I've sewn so much in the last couple of years that my wardrobe is everything I want it to be. I've been sewing so many years from NEED that I'm adjusting and recalibrating to WANT. 

Need sewing is right now, hurry up and get it as inventive as possible. Want sewing is figuring it out, developing projects, slow sewing and taking my time. Although, I'm good where I am right now. I'm reading, watching all the shows on NETFLIX I've been putting off watching and coming up with another crochet project.

So there may be little content around here over the course of the next couple of weeks. I mean you have to sew to have something to say, right?! But who knows, my sewjo may come raging back any minute...LOL! always more later!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

A Visit to Urban Sewciety ~ A Local Fabric Store

As sewists we all know local fabric stores that aren't chain stores are few and far between.  I mean everyone can find a Joann's or Hobby Lobby near them. However, most of us can't name a good local fabric store that carries a nice range of fabrics, patterns, notions and has classes.

That's why when I heard about Urban Sewciety on Lauren's IG account, I had to find out about them.  Visited their IG account, Website and Facebook page then scheduled a trip with a local sewing friend because who else to take on a sewing adventure than a sewing friend, right?

For my friends in the NJ, NY and PA area this shop is easily accessible by car and by NJTransit trains. It's a five minute walk from the Westfield Train Station and easily accessible from the NJTurnpike & Garden State Parkway. Also, there is plenty of parking which can be challenging in downtown Westfield.

The shop is light and airy, relaxing and comfortable.  It has a wonderful selection of indie patterns, quilting cottons, interfacing, a smaller selection of apparel fabrics and NOTIONS! I love that they realize you may want to purchase everything at one shot to get a project completed.

When we came in there were classes going on in the back which was so cool! There is an extensive list of classes on the website for garment sewing for adults and kids, as well as crafting classes. Most especially though, they do sewing classes for the Girl Scouts. Since I was a Girl Scout, that organization is near and dear to my heart, so was thrilled to see they were assisting the girls with skills and badges!

So how about a few pictures of the shop ~

A view of the classrooms ~

...and this is the Ladies Room...
(don't you just love this!)

Now you know my philosophy, I can't visit a new fabric store without purchasing something.  This time it was two indie patterns I've been wanting.  The Adrienne Blouse by The Friday Pattern Company and The Hinterland Dress by Sew Liberated.  Both are paper patterns (of course) in extended sizes. The Adrienne Blouse is up to a size 4x and The Hinterland Dress to a size 24. Of course a piece of fabric...I chose this one because I don't have much green fabric in the collection (which is relative I know compared to normal people's fabric collections). Someday, hopefully soon, it will be a shirt.

As we were leaving, we saw that there were clipboards by the stairwell advertising upcoming events.  There were two that caught our eye...

Now you know I'm down for a sewing retreat...and as soon as I got home I signed up for the retreat as did my friend Melanie. It's a two day retreat. Saturday from 9am to 7pm and Sunday from 9am to 5pm with all meals supplied. If you're in the area and you're free on those dates, you should sign up and attend with us.  It would be fun to sew with you!  You can sign up here!

Even if you can't attend the sewing retreat, I hope you will visit Urban SewCiety. I'm sure you will be as charmed with it as I was and will visit them again and again. We need to support our local sewing stores if we want them to thrive! always more later!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

How Many Sizes of Gingham Can There be in One Shirt?

I had a bunch of red gingham fabrics in different sizes that I was holding onto to make a summer dress. Maybe a Myosotis or another maxi dress but nothing was working fabric & pattern wise so the fabric sat.

Then I saw this shirt online at Soft Surroundings. This isn't a trendy or fashionable site. It has comfortable clothing for women my age who want to look stylish yet comfort is a huge factor in deciding what to wear.

Since I've been on a shirt making tear and am currently looking for different versions to make, this look caught my eye. I could purchase this shirt because the site does offer plus size garments. However, why would I when I own plenty of fabric to duplicate it?

Since I'm taking creative journeys now the challenge of duplicating it really appealed to me. Working out all of the details, choosing fabrics, buttons, making decisions about the construction and fabric layout is way more enticing to me than loading it into a cart and purchasing it.

Supply List ~
1 yard of 1" red/white gingham fabric from StyleMaker Fabrics
1.5 yards of 1/4" red/white gingham fabric from Fabric Mart
1.5 yards of 2" red/white gingham fabric from
13 - 5/8" white buttons from the button collection

Pattern ~
I combined a couple of patterns to start this shirt's journey.  Vogue 8772's front pattern piece was used for the front. OOP Vogue 7700 yoke and back pattern pieces were used for the back piece. The sleeves and cuffs are from my TNT shirt pattern especially since I chose to make them longer without the roll up cuffs.

Cutting and Construction ~
Choosing how to place the fabrics and cut them out are what determines how and if this shirt works. While the inspiration shirt only uses two different types of plaids, I decided I wanted all of the red/white gingham fabrics I had to work in this garment. That meant taking my time to work out placement.

My first thought was to make it exactly like the shirt. So one front and back each of the larger and medium sized gingham. Sleeves from the larger sized gingham and collar, undercollar, front band and cuff from the smaller gingham cut on the bias.

Here are photos from the first arrangements...

Just ignore the junky sewing cave in the background
I was too lazy to stage this shot...

The back as I originally envisioned it...didn't work for me

After this I got discouraged. But isn't that the way it always is in the middle of a challenging project?  Whenever you're stepping out and going your own do start to wonder what the heck? Changing out that back piece and making a couple other changes, got me to the finished shirt. 

BTW, I wasted quite a bit of fabric making this shirt. I cut the sleeves twice...once from the largest gingham and again from the smaller gingham. It wasn't my intent but as I worked with the elements of the shirt, I kept changing things until they worked to fabric waste.

A Few Photos ~

I honestly went back and forth a couple of times on whether I liked this shirt while I was making it. But it is me...definitely me and by the time I was done I knew it would work for me.

This is one of those I had some fabric, I choose some patterns (not worried about whether they were current or not) and made a shirt that I wanted to make. This is my sewing now because this is how I dress daily. A shirt, a pair of jeans and when it's colder a cardigan, sweatshirt or hoodie to go over everything. I'm finally content with my wardrobe. always more later!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Style Sew Me Madison Cardigan

In my continuing quest to have different cardigans and toppers, I've wanted a Madison Cardigan (Style Sew Me Patterns) by Eryn since it first came out.  But y'all know my rules, no PDF Patterns and no patterns that aren't graded up to my size.  While Eryn originally offered this cardigan as a PDF pattern with larger sizes, the minute she started to sell them as paper patterns, I was on that!

...then the pattern sat. Cause with all things, I can buy it faster than I can make it! However, now that the temps are changing, this will be a great sweater jacket for this season.

Supplies ~
3 yards of polyester open weave knit from Fabric Mart
1 yard of black pleather from the collection via Emmaonesock
5 yards of black pleather binding from Pacific Trimmings

Pattern Alterations ~
I heard on the interwebs the sleeves are a little tight which was posted by someone slightly smaller than me. Ok alot smaller than me *LOL* but I always check sleeve width because of my bodacious biceps. 

I knew I wanted to change them up a little to make them work better for me. The cardigan has a two piece sleeve which makes it special but I will admit that at 16" wide at the biceps it was too small for my arms. Also I'm lazy and didn't want to figure out how to alter both pieces so I taped them together and made one sleeve piece.
  • I proceeded to make alterations to the one sleeve piece by slashing and spreading up the center of the sleeve.  
  • That gave me some more space but I wanted several more inches than that provided. 
  • Then I added a 1/2 inch to either side of the sleeves body which will make the sleeve wide enough to wear a full sleeved shirt under it. 

This was my final sleeve piece ~

While it keeps the original sleeve cap shape, I've widened it to encase my arms. Now I'm not a pattern drafter and this may not be the correct way to add width to the sleeve...actually I would bet that it's better to adjust each sleeve pattern piece...but I wanted this finished sleeve...

Back Body:
I did a pivot and slide on the back piece which is supposed to be on the fold to add additional inches to my abdomen and butt area. Again while the largest size will "fit" around my body I wanted a little ease so that it would move with me.

Construction ~
This is an easy pattern to sew.  There are no funky instructions and the instruction booklet is clear cut. I LOVE that the seam allowance is printed clearly on the first sheet. It was easy to highlight so I wouldn't forget that I wasn't sewing with 5/8" seam allowances.

I changed up the order of construction where the sleeves where concerned. I sewed them in flat to insure that I hadn't altered the sleeve cap too much when making my alterations. I also added some seam tape to the shoulder seams to stabilize them - this isn't mentioned in the instructions either. Otherwise, I followed them as written.

Working with Pleather ~
My challenge came because I added pleather bias binding and used pleather for the sleeves.  This caused me to sew slower, use different feet and pressing. I don't follow "the rules" when working with pleather.

1. I pin it - making sure to pin within the the stitching line
2. Use a silk organza pressing cloth folded several times to press open seams
3. Press it with steam just on the lowest setting possible.

Two things I DO NOT do ~
   - I don't press directly on the pleather, sure way to ruin it
   - I don't remove stitching - those holes remain - so stitch purposefully.

Adding the Binding ~
I really had to think about how to add the binding without totally making it look wonky and handsewn.  After thinking it through, it became a multi-step process to add it to the cardigan. The thing I need to stress is this is a SLOW technique. If you rush this stitching it will show.

     * I added binding to the neckline area first. Making adding the binding a 2-step process.
     * First I added the binding to the back of the neckline, pinning it to the mid-point of the binding.
     * Stitched it down the center of the pleather binding.
     * Then folded the binding over and pressed it close to the edge, using a teflon foot.
     * Stitch setting was on 4 to give a looser stitch look.
     * Pressed it down using my clapper to make it as flat as possible.
     * Repeated the same process for the side and back of the cardigan.

This was not a fly by the seat of my pants sew. I thought everything out carefully before I started working on it. There were quite a few things that could have gone wrong to send this project south. The sleeves and the bias binding were the most complicated portions of this make...and I need to say this was a very SLOW sewing process. Oh and I left the sleeves unhemmed.

Finally that question everyone asks when I sew with pleather.  How do you launder it?  With this one it will be washed on delicate in cold water on a very short cycle then laid out to dry.

A Few Pictures ~

I could see adding another one of these to my wardrobe in a really interesting sweater fabric.  Otherwise, I probably won't make this again - more because I own a lot of cardigans and this one is very distinctive. I got a compliment from one of the neighbors on it as we were taking pictures so I think one is enough for now. 

Would I recommend you purchasing this pattern?  
Yes definitely. I think it's important to support indie pattern designers of color especially when they make patterns in my size and PAPER patterns.  Grab a copy of yours here.  You won't be disappointed with your finished garment! Oh and this isn't a sponsored post, just a happy customer posting about a great new piece. always more later!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

I'm All Good

I know it's been over 20 days since I posted to my blog and about 7 or more days since I posted to Instagram...and it's because I've been working.  October has been extremely busy at my day job so I haven't been sewing. I've been sleeping, reading and watching Netflix/Amazon Prime on the weekends instead.

The last weekend of September I flew to Houston to stay with one of my bestest friends who is recovering from breast cancer. So just drips and drabs of sewing here and there.

The last shirt I worked on still needs buttons...

...and the sweater & pleather Madison Cardigan that needed the sleeve hems is still waiting to be finished.

I started another shirt...

...and I promised a friend at work a dress to use as the basis of her Halloween costume. It's been made and this weekend I will work on the fit and finishing...

So there is some sewing going on but nothing cohesive, bloggable or instagrammable.

Thank you to those of you who reached out to me. Honestly if it was something more than work, I would have posted about it on the blog. So if I disappear for a couple of weeks in the future and don't say anything - don't worry it's definitely work related. LOL! always more later!

Sunday, October 06, 2019

September/End of Summer Sewing

I do these end of month updates mostly to remind myself of what I've sewn and to keep track of my fabric in/out totals.  I'm late this month because I haven't felt much like sewing or doing anything sewing related...and surprisingly I'm good with that.

I accomplished my summer goals of adding more maxi dresses and a couple of maxi skirts to my wardrobe. I was thrilled that I was able to use a TNT pattern to get the maxi dresses I wanted. And my Doctor changed my medication so that by the end of the summer, the swelling I was experiencing went away, I lost a few pounds, and I was finally able to wear some of the knee length dresses I'd made in summers past.

Overall a good summer of sewing. 

Now to September totals...
I did buy fabric in September though it was my intent NOT to do so.  

I bought 24 yards of fabric from Chic Fabrics (NYC), and Fabric Mart.

I cut out 26.5 yards of fabric so while I had 2.5 more yards out than in, my YTD totals still need some work.

Total In YTD:   289 yds
Total Out YTD: 237.25 yds

The only good thing here is that those numbers are close. At the rate I'm going I'm not sure I'm closing the gap by the end of the year. It is what it is because honestly I love fabric and I'm thrilled that I'm being much more conscious about what I purchase instead of just purchasing everything.

Garments Made...
I made four garments in September and finally shared the Mysotsis Maxi Hack that I completed in August. A garment a week works out about right especially since I spent one weekend altering a pattern and cutting out pieces for future sewing.

I've made my list of items I want to sew for the fall/winter season wth a theme - "Comfortable and Warm!" I have a couple of new patterns to use, a couple of RTW garments to knock off, and a bunch of shirts to sew! I even plan on sewing some solid color shirts...y'know some basics.

Here's what's been hanging out on my dressform...'s almost finished 'cause like I said earlier my sewjo is on hiatus. I do have a cut pile for when it returns so I will be ready to dive in and continue making... always more later!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Print Mixing Simplicity 8984

I'm trying to be more specific in my pattern buying.  Not just buying patterns because they're on sale, or I might want to make one because of how it looked on another sewist, or I want to read the instructions. So from the latest Simplicity Fall offerings I only bought three patterns.

All of them are on my fall to sew list. As I was choosing garments to add to my cut pile, I thought it would be great to add one of the new patterns. This one really jumped out at me.

I chose a lightweight pinstriped denim shirting purchased from BlackBird Fabrics last year for the tunic's base. Originally I was looking for a pleather scrap to add as an accent but touched the leftover scraps from this shirt and an idea was born. I love a floral/pinstripe match and there's just enough white in the background of the floral to "tie" both fabrics together. 

That was the genesis for this project. However, this is a new pattern so I'm sure you're wondering about pattern alterations. I started out by measuring my pattern pieces and cut a size 22. Got the top put together and realized that my head would never fit easily through the opening. Tried the top on and struggled to get it on and off. I needed an opening in the back so it's not such a struggle to get the top on.

I had to figure out how to make it work cause I wasn't giving up that print mix! I ended up adding strips that were the length of the bodice and 1.5" wide. Then I added a 11" invisible zipper which opens up the back and allows me to put the top on easily.

The raglan sleeves were wide enough for my bodacious biceps so no alterations were needed there. I didn't need to worry about a waistline since it's gathered. It is a relaxed fit pattern and one of the reasons I chose it.

(Just excuse the junky sewing cave background photos)

I was sure the tunic would fit now...ummm no!  This is how it looked on Daphne, the dressform, because I'm not putting a picture of how it looked on me on the interwebs. It was tight...a little too tight for my comfort. I was pissed! Pissed I tell you. I used good fabric and the last of my floral scraps to make this and now it wasn't wearable. 

So I folded it up and put it on the edge of my cutting table. As I was turning out the lights to go upstairs for the night, the pattern starting whispering to me to not give up on it. Long story short, I pulled another piece of fabric and decided I would make pattern alterations and remake the tunic. However that was the last night of my short vacay and the tunic/fabric/pattern sat.

Last weekend, I picked the tunic up to move it from the cutting table. I needed the space and realized maybe I didn't have to ditch it. Maybe it could be saved. I removed as much as I could from the side seams and the piece I inserted into the back. It gave me an additional 2" and took the bodice from tight to looser fitting.

It meant that I had to take the tunic apart...
- open and resew the side seams with a 3/8" seam allowance instead of 5/8"
- rip open the back side inserts
- reinsert the invisible zipper
- resew the seams with 3/8" seam allowances instead of 5/8"
- added the skirt back but put in small pleats instead of the gathering and like it so much better!

Tried it on and yes it works. It's not as loose as I've been making things (well in my head cause when I look at my back pics my dresses are fitted) but it works.

A couple more things...
* I omitted the pockets. I cut them out but it just seemed like too much on the tunic front.
* The back facings had to be recut since I changed the back opening. I made them longer to cover the zipper.
* After the facing was added, I topstitched it down.
* Two inches were cut off the bottom of the tunic and it was machine stitched with a one inch hem allowance. 

A Few Pictures ~

I'm glad I took the time to alter it and make it work. Honestly, when I finished I wasn't loving it. Though after my daughter photographed it, I was a lot happier with the top. I probably won't make this pattern again. There are just too many patterns and shirts to be made to work on a pattern that I'm only so-so about.

Along with finishing this up, I washed, dried and ironed a pile of fabric that will become more shirts and tunics. They will be coming to the blog soon. always more later!


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