Sunday, August 31, 2014


My apologies that this is a day late...but peewee football season has started and my daughter, my photographer, spent her morning and afternoon at a football game.  When she arrived late afternoon to take photos, there were three tired and cranky grandchildren accompanying her...not a good combo for we waited until today.

The Introduction ~
In a previous post I stated that I've decided to be very liberal with the requirements of this challenge, because my point was to get a wearable garment out of those fat quarters.  I have to admit that this was a very hard challenge for me.  I will remember that the next time I'm out to dinner with a bunch of women, and there are quite a few pitchers of margaritas on the table, before I sprout off at the mouth!

My first attempt at making a dress was so horrible that one - I refused to take pictures of it beyond the pic I posted to Instagram early in the process (dayum that was four months ago!) and two - my daughter took one look at it and said trash it. That scarred me. Seriously...and I hid the fat quarters in the sewing cave so that I could not see them mocking me.

Then the dayum challenge came back up and I had to come up with something...anything...wearable.

The Idea ~
From my internet travels, I saw the pictures in this blog post and they triggered something in me creatively. Gave me a new perspective and a different way to go. So using it as my basis, I worked from there on a new idea.

I have to say that my first idea was for smaller stripes from the fat quarters - about 1" wide...but because I wasn't sure if this idea would even work...I didn't want to invest that kind of time on cutting and sewing smaller stripes. So I went with the larger ones using my altered TNT pattern, used here.

Construction ~
Of course making the stripes and sewing them together so that they used the majority of the fat quarters was the most important part of the challenge. 

As I stated above, I originally wanted 1" strips as the finished width but settled on 4" strips, that when sewn together made 3" strips. I used 1/2" seam allowances, not the normal quilters 1/4" SAs.  Mostly because I think you need to be really precise with 1/4" seams and I'm just not that precise. Also, I figured out the math better using 1/2" seams! *LOL* Another consideration was that I didn't want this to have a "quilting" feel.  I wanted it to look like a "professional" dress that I would wear to work.

Of course the stripes took a fair amount of time ~ cutting out, sewing, and pressing. One more note, each fat quarter I received is represented, but I added some solid pieces of linen to help with the look of the stripes and erase some of that Hobby Holly Dress look. What my boss called this picture from Instagram.

My only other challenge was to insure that the side seams matched where the stripes joined each other AND to insure that the fat quarter stripes were on the same side front and back.

The rest of the dress was actually a breeze after the stripe placement was determined and worked out. I have to tell you that I was shocked when I got the dress shell together.  Seriously shocked.  My idea worked and it didn't look bad. To make sure that I wasn't just placating myself, I sent a pic to my daughter. After she declared it a success, I forged ahead to get this finished.

We Interrupt this Process ~
However, I'd danced around the process so long that I didn't have time to finish it during the week.  To make matters worse, after a few days I noticed that the fat quarter side of the dress was hanging lower than the linen side. This was because of the weight I added when I used fusible interfacing on the back side of each stripe.
Now somewhere in this process I told myself that I should underline the linen with silk organza.  But being wary that the idea would work, I didn't want to invest that kind of time and resources in a dress that might end up as a wadder.  

Once I realized that the dress worked, I very reluctantly decided that I needed to add the silk organza to it so that it would hang correctly.  So I took the dress apart, cut pieces of black silk organza and basted them to the linen pieces. Then sewed the dress back together.  Do you understand now why I didn't make that Friday deadline?

Back to Construction Details ~
I added a navy blue bemberg rayon lining to the dress.  

Thank goodness that was in the notions stash!  I also broke down and added navy piping to the neckline.  Seriously if I blew past the deadline, I was going all in on this dress.

Somewhere in the construction process, I decided that it was a good idea to make bias binding from some of the remaining pieces of fat quarters to bind the armholes. 

Yeah I was wading deep into the pool of throwing every technique I knew into this dress...or is this just the way I sew now?  Who knows...but what is truth is that there is self made bias binding in this dress also.

Some hems, okay not just some hems...I added navy blue rayon seam binding to the dress hem and a beige lace to the lining hem and the dress was finally done...

...just in time for some photos before it started to rain!

A few more pics of "The Fat Quarter Challenge" Dress...

In Conclusion ~
I can honestly tell you that I won't be doing one of these challenges again! *LOL* What a wonderful way to inhibit my creativity!  I know some people flourish and thrive with these types of deadlines producing amazing garments but me...ummmm not so much!  I have learned several things from this challenge...

  1. You can make a wearable garment for an adult using fat quarters. Just next time I'd like to pick my own fat quarters!
  2. I don't sew well with a deadline (okay I already knew that one it was just reinforced!)
  3. I am incapable now of sewing something simple...seriously, silk organza underlining, piping at the neckline, self made bias binding...I got problems y'all! *LOL*
  4. Never open my big mouth saying I can do something with liquor on the table...

Finally, I have pieces of fat quarters remaining that may show up in the days, weeks and months ahead in the granddaughters have been forewarned! always more later!

Friday, August 29, 2014


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

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

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

Here's a sneaky peek...

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Refresh

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

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

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

Removing the ruffle and trim was easy enough...

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

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

Worn with a RTW cardigan

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

McCalls 2014 Fall Collection

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

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

These are the three patterns they debuted...

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 25, 2014


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

The video has been removed but you can see Orlando Jones interviewed here on MSNBC.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Things I Want to Sew for Fall 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sleeve Embellishment

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

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

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

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

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

Pinning the strip to the sleeve with the piping attached.

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

Embellishment stitched to sleeve

Band folded in half. Pressed flat and pinned.

Topstitched the piping close to the seam

Finished sleeves showing piping and black n white polka dot fabric

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sewing Miscellany

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 15, 2014


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Smugglers Daughter Dress or Vogue 8972

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

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

Fabric and Notions ~
The starting pattern is Vogue 8972

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

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

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

Back bodice sewn to waist insert

Front bodice sewn to waist insert

Sides basted to insure they matched when sewn

Checking the basted back prior to adding the zipper

Dress shell finished

Lining for the dress

Adding the piping to the dress neckline

More pictures of me wearing the dress ~

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

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


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