Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Check In

It's the middle of May and I've completed NOTHING from my "to-sew" list.  Some of it's due to the weather. It's been rainy, dreary and cold off and on here for a couple of weeks. No sun in sight and not feeling much like spring AT ALL.  Some of it is the stress of commuting with loads of unmasked people. Yes, I'm that person still wearing a mask everywhere there are people around in enclosed spaces. Some of it is that while I've been inspired, I'm NOT inspired enough to grab my scissors and cut!

However, I HAVE been fabric shopping. Lots and lots of fabric has arrived in the Sewing Room these past few weeks. The first batch arrived because I got hung up on wanting a Cashmerette Gilmore Skirt. I kept choosing pieces from the fabric collection that were just a tad to small.  

Since I couldn't give up my original plans for some longer pieces in the collection, I fabric shopped to try and solve the problem.

These came from fabric dot com:

I purchased 5 yards of these are rayon/linen blends 

When these didn't work for the skirt, I worked on my Janome project (last post) but nothing else since.  Like who am I? 

I have a theory though. I believe the failure to make a Gilmore Skirt clogged my creative sewing stream.  That until I get that piece made nothing is coming out of my sewing machine...and in the meantime I continued to fabric shop.

These came from StyleMaker Fabrics. But first a disclaimer...StyleMaker offers a birthday discount when it's your birthday month as it is mine. I plot and plan for this month every year. I'm stalking the site from the middle of April until the beginning of May when I get my birthday email. So this is usually one of my largest fabric purchases of the year...

I did a photographic unboxing in my stories on IG so 
I started with how the box looked when I opened it.

4 yds of this digital linen print - Watercolor Butterfly Floral

5 yds of this linen blend - Weather Report Abstract Watercolor

5 yards of Fresh as a Daisy Watercolor Spatter Cotton

and it has the most amazing hand!

Lastly, these came from Fabric Mart's $6 a yard cotton sale and I think I may have FINALLY purchased enough yardage to cut out a Gilmore Skirt. 

There's only 17.5 yards left so if you want it, hop on it!

There's even less of this & it may be 
gone by the time you read this!

I've already washed, dried and cut this out. It's been added to my cut pile for my Memorial Day sew-in.

Of course all of this drama has been recorded in a post for the Gilmore Skirt and as soon as it's sewn and photographed, I will share all.  In the meantime, I have a few days off at the end of May for Memorial Day weekend, so I'm trying to cut as much from my list as possible. That way I can just sew, sew, sew straight into June. So this is what I'm doing this weekend and next...cutting out new garments that have already stimulated me to sew!

That's my update... always more later!

Sunday, May 08, 2022

A Sofa Lap Quilt for Mother's Day

My latest Janome project is all about sustainability, reusing textiles, and remaking older quilts into new projects. I found several hand-quilted pieces when my Mom moved out of her townhouse to senior living.  I held onto them because we do NOT throw out handmade goods.

My Mom took up quilting as a hobby when she retired and she only hand stitched the pieces. I probably should say she took up piecing because while I found several of these, none of them were finished. After starting a few of these she stopped because this really wasn't for her.

So she was throwing out the panels because she saw no value in them. I saw their beauty and knew they could become something worthwhile. I knew I needed to update it to become a sofa lap quilt. That journey is documented below.

First though, let me say that I'm not a quilter.  I didn't use a walking foot or engage in any real quilting techniques. I used my dressmaking knowledge to put this together.  So any quilting inaccuracies are solely based upon user error. 

How to Change the Panel into a Lap Quilt

Materials ~

Found quilted top

2.5 yards of 59" wide fleece

8 yards double fold bias binding

Construction ~

Using a "found" or "passed down" patchwork piece, this should take a weekend to finish.

I re-stitched all of the hand stitching on the panel. My Mom used quarter inch seams so it was really easy to just sew over the hand stitching to reinforce the seams.

After the piece was reinforced, I laid the panel and the fleece out, wrong sides together making sure to leave 2-3" of extra fleece around the panel.

Then I pinned the panel and the fleece together. I stitched around the entire outside of the panel to secure it to the fleece using a 4.0 straight stitch.

I stitched the lines down on either side of the main sashing pieces, also. After all those lines were stitched down, I cut off the extra fleece around the piece to prepare it for binding.

I added bias binding to the edges of the lap quilt. Special care was taken to fold the bias binding in at the corners.

This was a quick project so I didn't do a normal miter at the edges. I folded the fabric over the edges using the steps above. It was quick, easy and served its purpose.

I'm giving this to my Mom for Mother's Day. It's a sentimental gift that I know she'll love. We see these unfinished pieces/panels at thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets. I'm encouraging you to pick one up, finish it and add it to your home decor or give as a gift.

I do have two more panels of hers so sooner or later they will show up here reimagined as something else. BTW, a version of this post has already appeared on the Janome blog. always more later!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Why I Shop Online

I'm a planner but I had to go to one of the big box stores because I needed some supplies in a hurry.  My projects are usually well thought out and everything acquired before I start. However, this project was a whim. See I'm allowing myself a little latitude with my sewing now to make it more enjoyable and less structured.

Anyway, because it was later in the day, my choices are Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby or in my world the dreaded Joanns.  I avoid Wal-Mart like the plague because of the crowds. I'm still Covid shy around a lot of people especially people who are no longer required to wear a mask.  Hobby Lobby comes with so many moral dilemmas that I always feel so unclean after a visit. 

I decided to get over myself and try Joann's online site to see if I could get what I needed at the store closest to me.  I will say that Joann's online experience is why I shop online.  It was easy to do.  Clear about the stock in the store (which I was concerned about) and online, and check out was a breeze even with choosing the store option.  The follow up emails were on time and filled with information I needed.

So I bought the items and choose the pick up in store option. I knew I was going to need to go into the store because I wanted to "see" a few things before purchasing.

My daughter and I got there around 7pm which was perfect because the store wasn't that busy.  Remember my Covid shyness. I wore a mask but there were few people wearing daughter included. This store didn't look like the ones I'd seen on social media.  The fabric selection was small and jammed in with the quilting and home dec fabrics in a corner of the store.  More space was definitely given to crafts and furniture stuff.

Also the service was uneven.  The cutting table person was so-so. We had to find her because she was talking with another sales person.  But the cashier was amazing.  Patient, informative on coupon codes - which ones could be used, and very pleasant.  It wasn't a horrid experience but it was nothing I would rave about and/or tell others to experience...and yes, I shared that with Joann's.

When I got home and laid my purchases out, it really gave me an understanding of why I shop online.

1. My selection online is vast and limitless.

I can literally buy from anywhere in the US, Canada, worldwide actually. I just have to be okay with waiting for it.

2.  I don't have to leave my home to do it.

Anytime, I feel the need I can surf the web for whatever I want. And Google is my sends me in a myriad of directions to find what I'm looking for.  I just have to make time to search.

3.  I don't have to deal with people.

With or without a mask, without their biases and bad day attitudes, the computer doesn't judge me, wonder if my credit card is stolen or not, or if I have enough credit to purchase my items...the computer just takes my information and processes it.  Now this is not to say I'm a fan of non-human interaction or AI, but sometimes not dealing with a human is worth it especially during these endemic times.

4.  I get to decide how quickly I want my purchase.

Do I want to spend extra on shipping to get it faster or not?  Is this shop so far away that no matter how fast the shipping choice, I will need to wait weeks for it. Am I supporting a small business or another big box store?

The caveat to this is that I have to plan my purchases. When I'm making a garment, I either have to have the supplies on hand or make time for them to arrive.  That's even true with my forays into the NYC Garment District.  While I work in the district, I still make a list before heading out to buy.  Even though there are a few stores no longer in business, the selection is vast, and I can spend my entire lunch hour looking at fabric, buttons or notions.

The experience at Joann's only made me long for my computer, phone, iPad even more.  I will continue to shop online and wait for the UPS, FedEx, or mailman to deliver my treasures.  How about you?  Do you shop online or in-person?  If so, why?  Also, do you have a local fabric store that you can shop at to help you get everything you need for your projects?  This is my Question of the Day, so talk back to me.

Also, if you're using ANONYMOUS would you mind leaving your name at the end of the post!  It helps if I'd like to reply to you.  THANKS! always more later!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Spring Sewing for 2022

When the weather gets warmer, my thoughts turn to dresses. At this stage of my life it's long, flowy, dresses that provide a comfortable yet cool wearing experience. So when I was composing my spring/summer sewing list, dresses were on the top of the list. 

I'm also trying to sew more than my TNT patterns. While I'm not out in the world exploring, I am trying to branch out and use more patterns in my creative life.  That means there are an assortment of old and new patterns on my list.  Mostly though my list is driven by fabric. Cause let's be real, I own a lot of amazing fabric pieces and that's what I want to highlight this spring/summer. 

There are 16 garments on my list. Some TNT patterns, some Big4 patterns and several Indie Pattern companies. I believe that if I start sewing spring in April and conclude sewing summer in September that I have enough time to create these garments. It works out to 2-3 garments a month. 

I know you're wondering about the temptation of new patterns and fabrics. Will I be tempted? Who knows. But I know that I need a roadmap to begin this sewing journey or I will be lost and nothing will be created. My old goal was to make a lot of clothing.  My goal now is to create beautiful clothing and to enjoy the process.  THIS is a work in progress. I constantly fight against the urges to sew faster and create more. Because that's how creating has ruled my life for the last decade.

Anyway, wanna know what's on my list?  

There are:

2 possibly 3 Myosotis dresses - I just can't quit this pattern!

Big4 - 4 McCalls, 2 Simplicity and 1 Vogue pattern.

Indies - 2 Helen Closets, 2 Cashmerette, 2 Style Arc patterns

...and fabrics.  I have a beautiful magnolia linen border print...

A beautiful pale blue linen, some printed rayon/linens, a light blue & white gingham, some pretty prints in cotton and poly fabrics.  Like my winter sewing, fabric is driving my decisions. My desire is to have a closet full of amazing and pretty summer dresses.  Dresses that make choosing what to wear in the morning a delight instead of a chore.

I've started a cut pile and hope to share some new finished garments with you soon. always more later!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

An Easter Fuller Cardigan

Easter is such a tricky day.  Some years it's warm and sunny so that spring dress you picked is perfect to wear.  Some years it's sunny but chilly so you need a little more coverage.  This year Easter was on the chilly side.  Sunny but definitely needing a little coverage to stay warm.

I've been working on this Fuller Cardigan since last year. I cut it out at the same time I cut out this shirtdress in February. Finally finished it last perfect time for Easter.

Some background ~

This was one of those bonded cable knits that were everywhere in 2021. I bought my piece from Fabric Mart. There's still a couple of yards left in the fabric closet for another garment.  

The thing about this fabric is that it doesn't like topstitching or button holes. I learned that from making this cardigan. So when planning this sew, I decided no topstitching, no buttonholes/buttons and everything needed to be hand stitched. I'm happy with those design decisions.

Pattern Alteration & Construction ~

The Fuller Cardigan has two views.  A v-neck longer verson and a high u-neck shorter version. I combined the v-neck with the shorter version to get my cardigan. I wanted a neckline that would accent the neckline of the shirtdress.

I used 11/16" gold snaps instead of buttons on the cardigan front. The snaps were purchased online from Fabric Mart.

The facings were from a navy blue ltwt ponte from the scrap bin.

The sleeve hems were pressed up 5/8" instead of adding cuffs. Navy blue Hug Snug rayon tape was sewn to the hems and they were hand stitched. Chosen because I could hide the stitching in the busy knit.

A clean finish and allowing the fabric and design to shine were what this make was all about.

A Few Photos ~

Conclusion ~

This concludes my winter sewing. I know I still have a dress hanging out waiting for buttons/buttonholes and a hem.  However, I've decided to push it until fall. Spring is here with warmer weather and long sunny days. So I'm looking forward to making & wearing all the spring dresses and tops. always more later!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Altered an Oldie but Goodie

I made this shirt back in April 2017 and if you look closely at the pictures, it's quite large on me.  This was back when I lost 35+ pounds and was still learning how to sew for a slimmer me.



Fast forward 5 years and I've gained back the 35 pounds plus some. But this is not a woe is me post. I love the me that I am right now especially since I'm living through a pandemic, the possibility of WW3, had some health challenges and I'm still standing. 

As you know I'm back to work in my office several days a week.  So I've been going through my shirt collection to see which ones still work for my body now. What I found is that all of the shirts with the back yoke and gathered lower back still fit fine.  It's the sleeves that don't fit. I've been going through choosing which ones to alter and which to donate.

To me this designer inspired shirt just needed new sleeves. I didn't want to lose the lacy effect of the original sleeves so I replaced them with full lace sleeves.  The lace of course came from the vast collection of fabric in the Resource Center. I actually had three pieces to choose from and went with the floral lace because you know stripes and floral lace. I love it when I can update a garment and definitely need to do more of that this year!

After prepping the sleeves, I tried the shirt on and while it fits, I wanted an even more relaxed fit. So I took the time to alter all of the seams on the shirt to give me another 1.5" of room.  I'm glad I reworked the shirt because I'm much happier with it now. It's going into the work garments rotation soon.

A few updated photos...

I have another two shirts that I want to make revisions to also.  They will be done as the spirit moves.  I want to save anything I've already created because so much time and effort went into making them.  Not everything should go into the donation pile, right?!

So do you save, recycle or donate?  Just wondering... always more later!

Saturday, April 02, 2022

In Unity There Is Strength - A Shirt

I purchased a cotton wax print bundle from Sew Creative Lounge in the spring/summer of 2020.  There were three prints included in the bundle and since there was yardage of one of the prints in the online shop, I bought 2 more yards.

When the fabric arrived, I noticed there was some writing on the blue/white floral print at the bottom of the picture above. I'm not a fan of sayings on my clothing and was concerned about what this meant.  However, this saying, "Dua kur gye enum a obu" is Twi proverb which means "In Unity There is Strength." 

BTW, Twi is also known as Akan kasa, or Akan-speak, is a dialect of the Akan language spoken in southern and central Ghana by several million people, mainly of the Akan people, the largest of the seventeen major ethnic groups in Ghana.  Yes, Google is my friend. That's how I learned what the proverb meant and about the language.

This was one of the last pieces from my winter cut pile. Constructed in December during my winter break and finally the buttons were sewn on in March - the end of March. I really need to hang my head in shame on this one! *LOL* However, it's a lighter weight cotton so it will be perfect with jeans and a cardi or sweatshirt jacket headed into spring.

The most important part of this shirt is using the border print to it's advantage.  To me that's all done in the planning and cutting stage.  Here's a photo showing the shirt layed out on my cutting table to check the print across the front.

The most important construction tip is related to the border print. I really wanted the flowers to run all the way around the bottom of the shirt. To achieve this with my pattern pieces, I cut them a little longer and ruched/gathered the side seams at the bustline. 

It gave the bustline some interest and allowed the borderprint to work the way I wanted.  Now I don't know if this is the "proper" way to handle this but it worked for me so I went with it. Also it gave the shirt a design element that I like making it a little different from all of the other shirts I've made.

During the construction, I also used a dark blue & white small gingham as my inner yoke. I just wanted something a little different to go with this very distinctive shirt.

Boy do I need a new ironing board cover!

I added some dark blue shirt buttons purchased from Lancaster, PA to close the shirt. I chose them because I wanted them to melt into the background of the print. The shirt also closes left over right instead of the traditional right over left for women. This is because I liked how the print looked left over right better. It makes the shirt front pop!

A few photos ~

I was very pleased with how this shirt turned out and how it showcased my love of working with border prints. This was the last of my Christmas sewing. It took awhile but it's finished and ready to be worn. always more later!

Sunday, March 27, 2022

It's been a minute...

It's reached that in-between time of the year where I no longer want to sew winter but it's not warm enough to sew I sit in suspended animation waiting for warmer weather and more light.

I have been piddling around...

A spring suiting version of the Myosotis

Altered a shirt made in 2017

Front of the last border print shirt

Back of border print shirt

...but not really dedicated to sewing. I don't "produce" sew anymore. I sew when I feel like it. Sometimes that's for 8 hours or more during a weekend and sometimes it's just 2 hours.

I'm sure the fact that I'm only in office two days a week factors into it. I mean I have plenty of warm clothing to wear the two days I must dress.  After adding three new housedresses to my wardrobe, I now have one per day to wear at some variety. Though there will be more come fall.

Mostly I've been looking forward to spring. I have new spring garments I want to complete. Since I'm the sewist that sews best in the actual season I will wear it, that means a lot of planning has been going on.  Making a list of garments I can actually sew and wear this spring/summer season. Trying not to over exceed my actual desire to create, I have a list of 16 projects to make from April to September. Which works out to be about two or three projects a month, something that seems doable.

I'm planning on taking photos of the garments pictured above to memorialize them here on the blog.  Those blog posts will follow soon. Otherwise, I'm moving on to spring sewing.  Gonna start batch cutting so I will be prepped and ready. How about you?  If you're in the Northern Hemisphere are you still sewing winter? Or have you moved onto spring sewing? always more later!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Who Am I?

Hi, my name is Carolyn, even though my online name for the last 16 years has been Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. It's not Caroline, Carol with or without an e, or Carolyne...but most especially it's not Caroline.  I was born the year after Caroline Kennedy was born.  At that time, the Kennedys were a beloved family.  Many people thought I should be honored to be named after Caroline Kennedy. But my parents didn't name me that, my name is Carolyn.

I love three things - sewing, reading and Barbies.  I've been sewing for 52 years and my love to sew has been well documented here. During that time I've sewn everything...coats, lingerie, wedding & prom gowns, tops, pants, tees, jackets, clothing for my children, grandchildren & ex-husband, and loads and loads of dresses.

While I can sew well, I do not tailor.  Nor do I care much about patternmaking/design, draping or quilting.  I just like to sew clothing.

My First Love is Fabric...

The thing I absolutely love the most about sewing is fabric. I'm sure my grandmother, who sewed herself and taught me to sew imbued her love of fabric in me.  My first sewing projects were Barbie clothes. The fabric I used was one of her recycled Church dresses. I still remember that fabric 52 years later because it was so amazing.  It was one of those early 60s dresses. A basic sheath dress made from a beautiful navy blue silk.  The overskirt was a beaded and embroidered navy silk overlay. 

I knew she'd outgrown the dress but didn't know why it was in her recycle bin. Her recycle bin was full of everything in the house that no one wore anymore. All of that was cut up and incorporated into the quilts and throws she made for the household.  Everything was reused.  Nothing was thrown out.

Every summer until I was 12 was spent with my grandparents on their 5 acre farm in South Carolina.  When I came home from that particular summer my Barbies had an amazing wardrobe that I'd hand stitched using the remarkable blue dress as my fabric.  Barbie's wardrobe had dresses, pantsuits, a jumpsuit and an amazing duster from the embroidered overlay piece.  My love of sewing, fabric and collection sewing was born.

Seriously, fabric is everything to me as evidenced by my collection.  I understand that to some it could be overwhelming to own this much.  But to me, it's my comfort creative outlet...the place where I begin my sewing journeys and what I continually add to.  My fabric buying did decrease some in the last couple of years. Moving, packing and unpacking, will do that to you. However, I still love my collection and now I add special pieces to it, trying to buy more discriminately.

The Resource Center houses not only my fabric collection but also my notions,  button & trim collection, as well as, my pattern collection. Honestly, I have a hard time giving away patterns. It's like I'm giving away hopes & dreams and creative possibilities. Now this doesn't apply to fabric or trims. Those I willingly share. I just tend to hold onto my collection is DEEP!  

Also, I use to sew ALOT.  Turning out 50-60 pieces a year.  I don't sew that much anymore.  Some of it is circumstance. Some is I no longer need to fill my life with sewing to dispel the things I didn't like in other areas of my life. Some is that the pandemic has reduced the amount of time I spend outside my home. As we're moving forward now, I'm living a hybrid life.  Time at work and time at home so my clothing needs have changed. 

Books are my Second Love...

I love a good sewing book! I've collected quite a few of them and still reference them when I need to solve a sewing challenge.  There are multiple ways to learn to sew now but books are my touchstone.  It's the way I learned and what I still reach for when I need something.


I'm on vacation until March 1st. I'm really tired since I'm finishing up two large projects at work.  Also spending a lot of time commuting to NYC is draining. I've definitely lost my commuting chops.  

For this sewcation, my intent is not to pump out a lot of garments. Since going back to work, I'm discovering pieces I haven't worn in the last two years that still fit (Praise God!) and some that don't.  Those pieces will be donated. I don't have this great need to add a lot of winter pieces to my wardrobe. I want to use this time to sew whatever comes to me...well to me from my list of course! LOL!

I also have two shirts that need to be photographed and blogged. I was so busy and tired that I was vegging on the weekends instead of spending quality time with my sewing machine.

Finally, is it just me, but the desire to sew lovely spring dresses is strong with me. The days are are starting to get longer and it's not pitch dark at 5pm anymore. This year we seem to be having more warmer days interspersed with cold ones. So my thoughts are turning to spring sewing.  How about you? If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, are you still sewing winter or are you thinking about putting the heavy fabric pieces away and delving into those frothy, light fabrics for spring? always more later!

Thursday, February 03, 2022

A Mood Borderprint Shirt

If you're on IG you know ads and reels rule our feeds. Whatever you show the most interest in, IG aka Meta aka Facebook picks it up and sends it back to you in a multitude of ads. I've learned not to click the ads because then one ad begets another ad and it's like rabbits multiplying.

I will admit that I don't mind the online fabric company ads, though. While 90% of the time I don't click through or make a purchase, this fabric is the direct purchase of an ad and a fellow sewist, Karon. Her IG handle is Cookeka. Yeah, y'all inspire me with your makes too! 

The Fabric ~

This borderprint showed up in my IG feed as a sponsored post. I was really intrigued by it but when I clicked in the blue that enticed me wasn't available. So I clicked out but every time the ad showed up, I checked to see if the blue was back in stock.

When it finally was in stock, I purchased four yards to make a shirt. I always buy more of a border print than I need for a standard garment. You never know how much you'll need to get the design idea you imagined.

Pattern ~

I started with my TNT shirt pattern back yoke and gathered lower back (Vogue 7700). The fronts are from Vogue 8722 (which I've used before) because I wanted solid front pieces that wouldn't interrupt the print. Collar, under collar and cuffs are from my TNT pattern which started life as Butterick 5678

I'm definitely pulling from patterns I've used before to get new looks. While I know there are new shirt patterns out there, I'm not trying to refit new patterns, especially when I know these pieces all work for me.

Cutting out the Fabric ~

As you know, cutting out a borderprint is the most important part. So I took my time to get the look I wanted. Using Karon's shirt as an inspiration, I cut the main border piece down the front so it would match at the center fronts.

Then since I was using the yoked back and gathered bottom for this shirt version, I cut the on the fold piece by centering the fold on the fabric.
o Pinned it on the fold line. 
o Drew around that piece.
o Then flipped it and drew around the other side before cutting it out. 
o This way I made sure the border print was perfectly centered in the center back of the piece.

The sleeve was cut with the border print down the center of the sleeve.  While the yoke, collar, under collar and cuffs were cut on the yardage featuring the the border print.

Construction ~
There are no new construction techniques used in this shirt. If you need to know about how I sew these shirts, all of the links above will take you to posts that detail my shirt construction.  The only thing I did do was change the thread during construction.  Dark navy blue in the border print areas and ivory in the other areas.

My buttons are dark navy blue purchased from Cedar Goods Dry Lane in PA during the last Sew Camp.  I deliberately chose such dark buttons so they would melt into the print. I wanted to highlight the border print.

A few photos ~

Conclusion ~

This is the first of three border print shirts I worked on during my holiday break. I know at $17 a yard that this is bordering on the high end of what I normally pay for shirting fabrics.  However, this shirt was worth every penny for the drama and affect it's giving.

I am culling, as in giving away, and altering some of my older shirts.  The more traditional closer fitting ones are going.  A few of the gathered back ones, need arms enlarged because everything about me is bigger since Covid. This go round I want more interesting shirts, different fabrics, larger more vibrant prints, nothing totally traditional since that's not my lifestyle any more.

I'm also going to make several different types of shirts, tops and blouses.  Things that will work over leggings, jeans and capris for summer.

One more cause I love this one ~


Another border print shirt is up next... always more later!


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