Saturday, July 13, 2024

Rifle & Co. Hope Dress

Okay so I'm back for a minute.  I woke up a couple of days ago and thought I want to sew. I sat down at my sewing machine, turned it on and thought, "YES!"  Honestly, it's been almost a year but yeah, I want to sew.  I think there are several reasons why.  I recently found a church I like and have been going pretty regularly.  Which means I have a new place to go and a new reason to sew pretty things.  

Also, my daughter, granddaughters and I are headed to Chicago next month.  It would be nice to pack a few new pieces to wear...and I still think sew first instead of buy! So, I'm thinking of a few outfits for the trip too.  We will see what actually ends up being made.

This is my third dress from the Hope Dress extension pack.  To say I liked this extension pack is an understatement. 


4 yards of rayon Rifle & Co fabric purchased from my local fabric store, Urban Sewciety in September 2022.

1/2 yard of 1/2" wide elastic


Since this is my third version, I made no pattern alterations since this fits me. I chose this tie version with the banded sleeves because I haven't made it and I didn't want to make buttons and buttonholes which seem to be my kryptonite lately.  I seem to get stuck there and the garment sits unfinished.

Two things to note about my bodice:

1. I made the banded sleeves with the bodice and struggled to get it on when I tried the top on. Ummmm that's a no for me. So I removed the bands (which was a process) and added a 1" casing.  Then I inserted 1/2" elastic in the casing.

2.  The bodice tie gave me pause.  The way the instructions tell you to sew it to the bodice seemed fiddly.  Then I realized that I could use my bias binding tool to make the tie which made the process make sense to me.  Once I made it as bias binding, it was much easier to add it to the neckline.  I did cut mine with a few extra inches and I made a knot at the finished ends.

Otherwise, adding the bodice to the skirt and hemming it was the same as my other versions.  As always, fabric affects how the dress wears.  Since I used a rayon, it seems to fit a little closer but with more drape.

Here are a few photos:

This was my second completed garment.  I've several more in the queue.  Mostly items that were unfinished but I still wanted or cut out and remaining in my cut out/waiting to be sewn pile. It's been an easy way to transition back into sewing. I don't have to complete a project from start to finish. I can finish a garment that I've already dreamed up that just needs a few steps to be completed.

I've also have a few more ideas floating around that I'd like to make.  We shall see what actually makes it from ideas to my wardrobe. always more later!

Sunday, July 07, 2024

Sewing Room Update

In my December 2023 post, I discussed wanting to update my sewing space.  Not so much the sewing loft but the area I sew in.  As I explained, the work/sewing space was overcrowded and had lost much of it's function.  Here is the post that showed my last sewing studio update.

Over the Christmas break, my daughter and I moved everything out of the room.  Then she assembled the desk in the area...

                          We moved the cutting table to another place in the room.

                                                ...added some curtains...

The storage was changed around because the original bookshelf fell apart. So, I salvaged the bottom part for additional space.  Can never have too much storage.

Changed out the tray table for a smaller table to set up the serger station.  Having it catty cornered to the sewing machine really helps with the ease of sewing. 

...but left the sewing machine area the same.  Here's a short video of the updated room. 

More photos of the updated room in use.  Cause pretty clean pictures are nice but "in use" photos are realistic.

And now I'm FINALLY creating in it again.  I have a few completed garments to share with you soon.  Well as soon as it's not so blasted hot and I can get my daughter over to take a few photos! Hopefully will share soon... always more later!

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Well it's been a minute!

I recently looked at my blog and realized that my last post was December 2023!  Wow that was a long minute away wasn't it.  My absence can be chalked up to the fact that I'm just not sewing.  Every time I get an itch, I think why?  I've spent so many years (at least 20) sewing 30-75+ garments a year that I have no need of anything at this moment. Special occasion, yes there's something in the closet. Need a summer dress, it's there. A special shirt or t-shirt, yes I'm covered.

I'm sure it doesn't help that I work in NYC maybe two days a week.  NJTransit is giving me such anxiety at the moment, that I've gone back to the required 4 days a month my company asks of me.  Getting stuck in NYC is no longer fun for me!  So, what have I been up to?


Reading has become my safe space from the world.  As of January 1st, I've read 125 books.  I spend a lot of time reading! 

My Birthday:

I turned 65 this year.  I decided it was the perfect time to celebrate so I did.  

However, I had two parties that day.  Before the main celebration, I decided to have a pre-party with local sewing friends. I've talked about this before, the need to divest myself of some of my fabric. I mean I'm not really sewing much and I'd rather it go to sewing friends who will use it now instead of having my daughters have to dispose of it when I pass.  So I'm sharing pieces from my vast fabric collection.

I did have rules.  No wool crepe was to be taken.  It took too long to collect and I paid some amazing prices for most of it.  Prices that are way cheaper than what it's presently going for.  I have two tables of recent purchases.  They were also off limits. Also I had right of first refusal. Even with that 10 women rambling around in the collection and taking huge shopping bags away, there is still a lot of fabric remaining in the sewing loft.

A few photos from the pre-party and of the sewing friends who attended:

Lastly, I've recently gotten the desire to travel by train! My daughter, granddaughters and I have a trip planned to Chicago via Amtrak and I'm so thrilled. I have other trips planned in my mind traveling via Amtrak also.  I can't wait!

So there's my update. I want to say that I will update more frequently but honestly I don't know.  I don't want this to turn into a book blog but I have sewn so little recently that it will probably be more like drop ins when I have something to share.  I do post sparingly to Instagram still so you can follow me there.

Hope you're all well... 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

2023 - The Year in Review

I haven't posted much this year because I haven't sewn much this year.  I haven't even purchased a lot of fabric...probably the first year in a long time that I haven't worried about my yardage in/yardage out counts. I just haven't had a great desire to sew or a need.  Years and years of sewing so many garments have paid off with a very full wardrobe.

So what did I make this year?

I started the year with my last make as a Janome Maker.  It's the Athena Blouse made from quilting jelly rolls. Read about it here.

The other items are...

My first Hope Dress which I made as a Funeral Dress and sadly wore twice this year for that reason.

McCalls 7969 in a black and white border print.

A MimiG Katie tunic in a Julia Allison Cost bold sunflower print.

Two Knit Wexford Tops from the Cashmerette Club

I had one failed Wexford top that inspired the next two.  And I have three unfinished items...The Woodland Jacket, a border print Myosotis dress, and a 1/2 finished Hope dress that I don't think I even documented here. My goal is to finish them in 2024.  The Myosotis dress just needs buttons and buttonholes.  The Woodland Jacket is halfway done so I'm sure it will be finished in time to wear this winter.  The third Hope dress is a spring/summer dress so I will bring it back out for spring/summer sewing.

That's the extent of my sewing in 2023.  Which is amazing in how few pieces it is since for years I've churned out garment after garment. However, this year I've never felt like I didn't have something to wear because my closet is very full.

                                           * * * * * * * * * * 

To my unbelievable honor I had two amazing things happen in the sewing community:

First a conversation with the Threads team...

Second I was named one of the Top 5 Innovators of 2023 by Sew News.

Both of these honors were unexpected.  Both definitely made me feel very seen in the Sewing Community.  Both were a culmination of years of sewing, years of sharing and years of developing relationships with other sewists.  So I thank you for ALL of you who continue to follow me and root for me in all of the rooms where these discussions take place.

                                                * * * * * * * * * * 

What I did do this year is READ!  
I read to hide from the issues of the world. The incidents that have sucked the creativity right out of my body because there is nowhere to escape the horrible things that we as human beings do to each other.  

So I read last count 240 books. I started reading a new genre - romance books. I read from a lot of the substrates and found a few that I really loved.  Contemporary Romance Novels and Dark Mafia Romance are my new jams.  I found authors that I enjoyed and read as much of their back catalogs as I could cram in this year.  More of those back catalogs will be read in 2024.  I've read some popular authors but a whole lot of less promoted authors, often times finding their books more interesting than the "popular" authors.

A few stats...

Final thoughts...
I really want to make some new crocheted lap blankets for the couch in 2024.  My grandchildren and I use them often and the originals are looking a little ragged.

I'm planning to revamp "The Sewing Room/Office" because it's junky and hard for me to sew in now. I've plans to do that this week while I'm on vacation.  The new furniture is here.  I've roped in my daughter and granddaughters because I'm hoping that by giving myself a better space it will jumpstart some of my creativity.

I will sew in 2024.  Sewing is the essence of who I am and while I haven't watered it that much this year, a seed of it still remains in me. However, I'm sure that I'm not going to turn out tens of garments anymore because that stage of my life is gone.  It will be on a need basis - both a creative and wear based need.

I will keep blogging.  I can't promise how frequently it will be. I'm not ready to stop documenting my sewing journeys even though they've become fewer and farther between.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have followed my sewing journeys all these years.  You are appreciated more than you know.  Thank you for continuing to hang with me. 

I'm wishing you all a very happy and joyous Holiday season.  May 2024 bring you peace, joy, contentment and many hours to sew, create, craft or read! always more later!


Sunday, November 05, 2023

A Woodland Border Print Simplicity 8687 - Part 1

First, I'd like to say thank you for all of you who still follow my sewing adventures and leave a comment.  I so appreciate you! Just one quick thing ~ I know blogger has made logging in more challenging so if you use "Anonymous" would you mind leaving your name at the end of your comment.  Thanks again!

Now to the actual blog post...

I use to write progress posts all the time for my makes.  Somewhere in the last couple of years I stopped. I'm changing it up again and going back to writing progress posts.  I appreciate being able to scroll through those old posts and see what I did and why.  Since I'm not sewing as much these days, I feel like I need to share why I make decisions as I'm making them in the moment.  My sewing decisions are primarily based upon my experience. The experiences that affect how I'm sewing going forward.

I purchased a bunch of Julia Cost's fabrics a couple of weeks ago after not buying fabric for almost six months.  That's a LONG time in my world!  However, purchasing it really jumpstarted my mojo which has been vacationing.  I want to use all three of the fabric pieces I purchased taking my time to make them sing.  I also know I want to use TNT patterns for these garments.  I want to manipulate the fabric not fiddle around with fit.

Also, I feel like I haven't been walking in my essence for the last year.  I create that's who I am. Ideas come to me, fabric is purchased or chosen from the collection, a pattern picked and I make garments come to life. Various factors have squelched my creativity but I'm reclaiming it with both hands and leaning into it. Because this IS who I really am.


I'm using Simplicity 8687 again. This will be my fourth version although it wasn't a very popular pattern in the sewing community.  PatternReview only has 7 reviews of it.  The hashtag on Instagram has 13 photos under the hashtag...and several of them are of my toppers. I think I saw something in the line drawings that no one else did.  I've also used very distinctive fabrics to make the jacket pattern sing which definitely changes the finished garment's appearance.


I purchased 4 yards of 55" wide lightweight cotton corduroy border print for this project. While I only needed 3 yards to make this topper, I like an extra yard of fabric to match the border print across the seams. I believe this is necessary for a good border print match.  Trying to be stingy with layout on fabric hurts the look you're trying to achieve.


In my sunflower version I bound the hem facing and the hem with bias binding. I'd really like to do the same for this version. I also want to add green buttons for the jacket front.


When I tried on the sunflower version, I can close it but my extra weight gain the last few years makes it a snug fit.  Not an obnoxiously too tight fit but I wanted the slightly looser fit of the originally sewn jacket. To achieve this I decided to cut the lower back pattern piece out with a 2.5" pleat.  This gives me the added space I need by adding a cool design feature.

The back and collar pieces are the only pattern pieces I cut on the fold.  Here are a few photos of the cutting out process. 

Cutting out the jacket fronts using a single layer of fabric

Jacket front pieces laying side by side

A few other things to note:

- Corduroy has a nap.  While I cut the pieces on the wide width I made sure the tops of the pattern pieces all faced one direction.  This was so the nap ran the same way on all of the pieces.

- Always, always, always purchase at least an extra yard or extra panel when working with border prints and panels.  It allows you room to experiment, match borders across all the sides and even recut if there is an error.

I'm well into constructing and making some design and trim options for the jacket.  That will be in the next post. always more later!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

A Different Sewing Focus

I needed to write a "biography" to share my sewing background. I honestly can't remember all of the stuff I've done since it's been awhile. So I googled my name plus Diary of a Sewing Fanatic and EVERYTHING I've done in the last 20 years came up...that was truly a little overwhelming.

However this article I wrote in August 2017 really struck me. It was on The Curvy Sewing Collective blog called, "Does Your Pattern Speak to You?  Or why I Pattern Hack!"  At that time, my sewing was all about pattern hacking. The article even links to some of my greatest pattern hacks. Then my TNT dress pattern was the gateway to fantastical journeys I made using fabric, scissors, pattern paper & tape to end up with garments that no one thought a plus size woman should wear.

Seven years later, I can say my sewing journey is all about the fabric! I don't create nearly as many garments as I made in 2017-2018.  Now I really like challenging fabrics.  Fabric that makes me think about how to cut it out so that it speaks effectively to the garment's design. Fabric that's different and unusual - not something you'd find at JoAnns. Now while I own a lot of fabric (understatement of the year!) I'm always on the lookout for an amazing panel print, border print or combo of fabrics that are unusual and unique.

Here are a few of my border print/panel creations from the last two years. Garments I'm particularly proud of since they represent my love of taking a flat piece of fabric and making it into something distinct.

Back view

I'm in the midst of making an amazing topper using a TNT pattern and a border print in a fantastic cotton corduroy. More details about it will be shared shortly.  I just needed to record here what my sewing focus is now and how I will be moving forward. I love fabric especially the different and the strange. always more later!

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Hey Y'all Hey...

I'm dropping in to say hey, I'm still alive...just not sewing.  I've spent the summer reading.  However, as I read the words an author's put on the page and recognize their creativity, my own creative urges are stirring.  Maybe it's the seasons changing, or allowing a friend to root through my fabric collection and liberate several yards to take home with her...or even just my creative season changing.  But I have an urge to create a few new pieces.

One thing I've realized is gone are the days where I will make a new creation every weekend. I no longer live that life.  I've made a lot of clothing, items that I can still pull from my closet and wear.  As a matter of fact I wore this jacket to dinner last night with a sewing friend...

It was thrilling to pull it out and pair it with a sleeveless top I'd made and a pair of black knit pants. When I looked at the innards, I was pleased to see all of the work that I had put into it and shared in my blog post.  This is the kind of sewing I want to get back to. Where I pick a distinctive fabric, take a pattern and use the best sewing techniques I know to end up with a unique garment.

Plus I knew my sewing drought was ending when I purchased several yards of fabric from Julia Cost. It's been over five months before I thought about using my credit cards for something other than a book!  Don't know when my next post will be but the creative juices are stirring.  Fabric and patterns have been pulled and placed together, inspiration is talking to me, so we shall see what comes of it.

If you're reading this, thank you!  I think this is the longest I've ever gone without sewing, posting or discussing sewing and if you're still reading I appreciate you! always more later!

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Slipping into July...

Interestingly someone on Instagram said that I'd abandoned my blog, which I thought was fascinating since I have posted blog posts in 2023. I do try to post monthly, however, if I'm not sewing much there isn't much to share.  Especially since I'm slowly stepping back from the sewing community on social media.

My blog has primarily always been about my sewing journey. I mean over the years I've thrown in some politics, books, museum trips and sewing/fabric shopping adventures. But sewing is my blog's focus and if I'm not sewing, just what is there to say?

Also I was primarily a sewist that made garments to wear to work. Now that I only go into the office twice a week, I have MORE than enough items to choose from to wear.  And for the first time in my 50+ years of sewing, the amount of sewing items I own start to overwhelm me if I think on it to hard. So I purchase few new patterns and even less fabric yardage.

Pieces taken from the fabric collection - all from Fabric Mart

However, my sewjo has flared it's head. Since it's a 4 day weekend and I'm off work to celebrate the 4th of July, I've decided to balance my reading with a little sewing.  I pulled the fabrics above because I want a couple more Wexfords and an eyelet Vogue 9299 to wear with a pair of white capris.

I also have a Rifle & Co Hope dress using the extension pack dress cut out.  There's also a very complicated border print Mysostis dress in pieces waiting to be completed. I started this in early June but since I complicated it, I got stuck with the button front panel. Hopefully I will be inspired to work on it this month and finish it up. I think it will be distinctive when it's finally done!

This is my sewing update as I slide into July... always more later!

Saturday, May 20, 2023

I'm Reading More Lately

As I've stated in several posts, I'm sewing less. And I'm okay with that because I create as I need now and it's enough.  So I've filled the sewing time with reading. If you're only here for the sewing tap out now. Cause I have lots of thoughts about the books I'm reading and how it's different now.

I believe the biggest difference is social media. Between BookTok and Bookstagram, I'm finding authors I never knew about. I've also changed the genre I'm reading. I was primarily a true crime, mystery/thriller, lifestyle, best seller novels reader. I've totally gone in the opposite direction.  Where before I maligned romance novels, now I'm chest deep in them.

I need the escapism they provide.  The world has been through so much in the last 3 years that escapism fare provides the perfect backdrop to the sh*tty things that we humans continue to inflict upon each other...without adding a global pandemic into the mix.

When I was younger romance novels were those little Harlequin Romance books with some bodice ripping, unbelievable characters and situations. Well things have changed in that genre. Not only are there a ton of new authors but the niches have changed too.  Fantasy Romance (vampires & werewolves & fairy lands), Magical Romance, Mafia Romance, LGBTQIA romance, Interracial Romance tales, Plus size Romance's enough to make your head spin.

There's also a ton of new authors with a myriad of writing styles, choosing to write about sex in a variety of ways. It's inspired a lot of conversations with my daughters. LOL!

Anyway, my reading has exploded.  I've read 63 books since January. I read when I commute, waiting for the doctor and dentist, and instead of spending evenings in front of the TV I'm curled up on the couch on weekends...pretty much all the dayum time.  One of my daughters said, I always have a book in hand now and that's true.

Who am I reading?  After 6 months of serious reading I've developed some favorites, Kennedy Ryan, Lucy Score, Talia Hibbert, TL Swan, Lauren Asher, Beverly Jackson, Brenda Jenkins and Taylor Jackson Reid. Though I have a few other new faves too. 

I follow quite a few bookstagrammers on IG as well as Oprah's book club, the Good Morning America book club, Amerie's book club and Reese Witherspoon's book club. I'm also on GoodReads with a small circle of friends. I like variety and it's nice to see so many books available and what my friends and others choose to read. 

Lastly, I purchase most of my books from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, because there is nothing like walking into a bookstore and perusing what's there! Sort of like fabric shopping in a bricks & mortar store! I'm also reading off my Kindle App on my iPad which offers even more books!

That's what I'm doing instead of sewing. How about you?  Do you read?  If so, what genre do you like?  Any fave authors or books you'd like to share?

I promise more sewing content is coming because I've paired some patterns with fabric for a few new pieces to be sewn when I'm not reading! LOL! always more later!


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