Monday, May 29, 2017

Fabric Mart's #sewcoolskirts

Julie from Fabric Mart contacted me late last month and asked if I wanted to participate in Fabric Mart's #sewcoolskirts for May.  Of course I said yes.

Now my skirt isn't made from a current pattern. I have way too many TNT skirt patterns in my pattern collection to reinvent the wheel. However, my skirt is influenced by an ad that was in my email.

Inspiration Photo from

My fabric is a lightweight ponte from Fabric Mart. I purchased it a couple of months ago and while not exactly the same, it is very similar to the fabric in my inspiration picture.

A little more about my skirt ~
I've really fallen in love with the slim fit through the hips yet flared at the hemline maxi skirts. When I saw the ad featuring the black and white maxi skirt, I knew that my TNT 4 gore skirt with an elastic waistline would work to make one of my own. I had to make a few alterations to my pattern piece but that and the ponte fabric got me a new maxi skirt just in time for the hot weather.

Pattern Alterations ~
  • I started by making a pattern sandwich to get a maxi length skirt pattern piece. The original skirt pattern piece was placed on my cutting table. 
  • Then I added the shortened version on top of it. 
  • Finally some tracing paper.  
  • I traced the top and sides of the skirt and added 6" to the hemline adding just enough flare to the sides so the skirt hangs properly.
  1. Four pieces of the pattern were cut out and sewn together. 
  2. I inserted 1" non-roll elastic to the waistline casing. 
  3. After trying the skirt on, it was a tad too long.
  4. So I serged an inch off the hemline. 
  5. A 1/2" hem was turned up, pressed down and then stitched
  6. Walah! An easy peasy new maxi skirt!
A few photos of the skirt in action ~

Skirt worn with my white Concord T

And Another One ~
After I made the first one and submitted it to Fabric Mart, I woke up the next morning and realized that I had a light floral poly crepe in the collection that would make another wonderful version of this skirt. 

So this one came to be ~

I'm wearing this one with a RTW short sleeve sweater
that I've owned forever!

My sewing list is varied for the spring/summer.  There is a little bit of everything on it. A couple of tops, several maxidresses (cause y'all know how much I love a maxidress), some more Concord T's, and a few more maxi skirts. My first Style Arc pattern is also included in this bunch. 

I'm loving the silhouette of a basic tee over a maxi skirt. I can wear it with heels or sneakers and it's the look I'm most interested in this spring/summer. It's interesting because for the last couple of spring/summers I've started out knowing which garment type I wanted to concentrate on sewing and this year, it's that t-shirt/skirt combo.

BTW, this is an easy sew. If you're looking for a great new piece to add to your summer wardrobe you can't go wrong with this style. There are plenty of patterns in the pattern catalogues similar to my skirt. I highly recommend that you pull out a couple of pieces of fabric and make several for yourself!

* * * * *

It's Memorial Day weekend here in the US. Besides going to my daughter's for a barbeque, I have no other plans. Well you know besides spending quality time in the sewing cave with my favorite things! If you're in the US, I hope you have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend! always more later!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I'm Guilty of This, Are You?

I bought my Janome 8900QCP in January 2013 so I've had it four years. Since I went from a Janome 6600P to this version, I took the new sewing machine out of the box and pretty much started using it.

I upgraded my sewing machine because it was always my dream to sew on a TOL sewing machine. Now while I know other sewists prefer the older, vintage, or mechanical machines, I've been sewing since I was 11, and always on a cheaper, lower end machine. In the last decade, as my children got older, I was able to invest in a better sewing machine and serger.

Since I basically "knew" how to work my machine, I did not take the time to learn all of the machine's tricks. It is a TOL machine and has quite a few features. Lately, I've wanted to use some of the features that I was neglecting. This machine comes with 18 feet and the dealer threw in a teflon foot and extra bobbins...cause we always need extra bobbins!

My feet are:
  1. A Zigzag foot
  2. Rolled Hem foot
  3. Zipper foot
  4. Satin foot
  5. Open toe satin foot
  6. Blind hemming foot
  7. Overcast foot
  8. 1/4" seam foot
  9. Darning foot
  10. Convertible free motion quilting foot
  11. Close toe foot
  12. Open toe foot
  13. Clear view foot
  14. Automatic buttonhole foot with stabilizing plate
  15. Dual feed foot and holder
  16. Button Sewing foot
  17. Quilting guide bar
  18. Cloth guild
It has a knee lift and extra wide plastic table. There is also a straight throat plate and a zigzag throat plate.

Four years in, I've just started sewing buttons on using the button hole foot...probably because I normally sew on only a couple buttons, not 8, 10, 12 at a time. Now that I'm sewing more button downs and exploring shirtdresses this spring/summer, hand sewing on that many buttons is daunting.

The other thing I've recently started using is my straight stitch throat plate. No more lightweight fabrics getting caught in the wider opening. And my sewing machine is so calibrated that once you change stitch plates, the display on the side changes too.

My machine with the straight needle plate 

Side view showing info for straight stitching

Listing of stitches on sewing machine lid

Next up is putting my knee lift in and using it. I know, I know but I just didn't see the point of it when I first got the machine!

Which brings me to the Question of the Day.  Do you use ALL of the features on your sewing machine? Even middle of the line and lower range sewing machines have more features on them than they use to. So do you use them? If so, which features are your favorites? If not, why not?

This is the Question of the Day so talk back to me people!

Also, please note that I'm a guest blogger tomorrow on Fabric Mart's blog ~ "Fabric Mart Fabricistas!" I participated in their #sewcoolskirts challenge for May. So please hop on over and check out the blog post! always more later!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

And the winner of the Cashmerette Pattern is...

I'm not going to prolong this, cause y'all just wanna know who won the patterns right?!

I went old school with this one.

I cut all the responses up...

Folded them and put them in a plastic bag...

...and picked the winners from the bag.

There were 130 entries so everyone had a 1 in 130 chance to win! 

So The Winners Are ~

Astex and sewmyown, please contact me at cnorman underscore 98 at yahoo dot com with your preference - paper or PDF and Jenny will get the patterns to you.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment and read the blog post! If you didn't win a copy of the pattern, I really hope you will consider purchasing a version for your own pattern collection. It makes a wonderful dress ~ look for another one here soon! always more later!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I Love Fabric!

I make no apologies for loving fabric as much as I do. To me, fabric is like paint to a painter.  How do you create a masterpiece or a basic without resources? Now I know there are multiple ways to acquire "the raw material" or fabric. I also know that some of us obviously don't need as much variety to create with and to them I say brava.  However, I need more choice plain & simple AND I like having that choice.

It's also been brought to my attention that when I used the word "orgasmic" to describe my feelings about my fabric collection, some thought that I used the word incorrectly. Not to lecture but I like words as much as I like fabric...and I like the various definitions of a word.

Here is how google/ describes "orgasmic":
informal - very enjoyable or exciting. Intense or unrestrained excitement.
e.g. "the album is an orgasmic whirl of techno soundscapes"

To me this definitely describes the feeling that fabric ~ the buying of, adding to my collection, and even the using of, gives me which finally brings me to the purpose of this post.

I've been attempting to decrease the amount of fabric I purchase, being fully aware of just how much I have. I'm also aware of how much storage space I have to store it in and that my collection is approaching the limit of my storage capabilities. So my purchases are definitely more well-thought out now and there are less of them. With those thoughts in mind, here are some new additions to the collection:

One of the fabrics that I don't own much of is denim. I didn't really need it in my previous life so I had only a few pieces in the collection. Those pieces were quickly sewn up once my lifestyle changed. Therefore, lately most of my purchases tend to be denim related.

It's easy and quick to collect the basic denim colors - shades of blue, black and lighter hues and I have quite a bit of that. However, I also like the prints, stripes and patchwork pieces of denim, too. So here's what I recently added to the collection.

I bought 4 yards of this and it's on sale this weekend - 60% off!
It's a stunning piece - IMHO!

This was from the StyleMaker Fabric's Selvage Yard Section
It's a 1 yard piece of a Corded Floral Lace Denim - that I want to use for accent pieces 

I've linked to the pieces that are still available for you to purchase. I mean if you're interested in adding a little more denim fabric to your collection. *LOL* However, I'm thinking I need to rearrange a shelf in the fabric wall so that I can display all of the denim fabric I've bought lately and make it easier to find.

I'm finishing up one more button down using my TNT shirt pattern and made from a ltwt. cotton floral fabric recently purchased from Fabric Mart's brick 'n mortar store...I just got distracted by the amazingly Julyish weather we had here in the Tri-State area this week!

...then I'm using this denim combination to make another Lenox Shirtdress.
The white selvage denim with the floral denim 

That's what's been added to my fabric collection and what's on my sewing table. What's on yours?

P.S. ~ Don't forget to leave a comment on the Lenox Shirtdress post, if you want to be entered in the give-away for either a printed or pdf pattern! always more later!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cashmerette's Lenox Shirtdress

I really like this dress especially since I've been on the hunt for a summer shirtdress pattern. This is The Lenox Shirtdress by Cashmerette Patterns.

Cashmerette Patterns addresses all of my needs for a shirtdress in a pattern without a million and one pattern alterations. Believe me, I know I'm lucky that I pretty much fit them out of the envelope, but dayum it feels good to type that sentence.

One administrative detail, I pattern tested this for Jenny, and this is my pattern test version. A few subtle changes have been made to the pattern that's being offered now. 

So a few things first ~
Fabrics used:
- Ltwt printed denim that I bought from Emmaonesock but you can also find here on for the dress body
- Denim from Stylemaker Fabrics for the collar, sleeves, waistline and buttonhole placket

9 silver buttons from the collection instead of the 12 recommended. My buttons are a little larger so I spaced them differently.

Construction ~
As I stated before, I made no alterations to the pattern during the construction of the dress. I sewed a size 24 right out of the envelope. If you've been reading here for awhile you know that I really don't like waisted dresses with wide skirts on me. But I really like this one! Probably because I chose the pleated version and not the gathered skirt version.

I did do two things differently than the pattern tells you to. One, my sleeves don't have a cuff on them because I wanted the coverage for my bodacious biceps. Two, I omitted the pockets on this version. Although I reserve the right to use them in future versions.

Other than that, I cut this out and sewed this up in one day. Seriously, one day. So I have no construction pics to share because I just sewed.

Here are a few photos of the dress ~

I will make more of these. Also after seeing the finished dress in pictures, I will probably lower the hem by about two inches. I'm eyeing a yellow striped shirting fabric from the collection that will be perfect for those hot & humid summer days! I highly recommend that you get a copy of this pattern and make one yourself. 

To help you along, Jenny has graciously given me two copies to give away. One is a printed copy that will be sent anywhere in the US and Canada. Another is a pdf copy for anyone outside of the US & Canada. So drop me a line in the comments section of this blog post ONLY (comments left on bloglovin' will not be considered for the drawing) by Monday, May 22nd at 11:59pm EST. I will pick two winners and announce them on Tuesday, May 23rd

Hopefully you will be a lucky winner! always more later!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Blog Photography Update

I wrote a post about photography and me in December 2013. After someone mentioned the post at Carriage Corner Sew Camp, then someone left a comment about it in the comments on my Saldana Dress, so I've been gathering my thoughts to post here.

First, I've had to up my photography game. No matter how much I complained about it in the original post, I had to get better. Okay I guess I didn't really have to but I wanted to. Admittedly my photos aren't on the same level as some other bloggers but they have gotten better.

I've learned to use my camera. I understand more of the functions and can manipulate it now knowing which settings will get me what look. I'm definitely not a pro and wouldn't be able to give lessons but I can get a decent photo out of my camera. It also doesn't hurt that I bought a better DSL and stop using the point and shoot.  

I bought a tripod and a remote so that I could try taking my own photos. I've gotten comfortable with these items and use them inconjunction with my camera in my living room, no problem. I'm just getting up enough courage to take the camera and tripod onto my deck to take photos.

The most important change though is my own. When sewing a dress or when it's done, I think of how I want to frame the shot. This was the creative sense that needed the most developing. When shooting inside, I stick to the fireplace backdrop because it's white with some interesting dimension and works with the lighting. To get that lighting, I only shoot during the day, either early morning or late afternoon and all the windows in my living room are open so that light floods the room.

When shooting outside, I've now taken enough pics on my balcony that I know what looks best. In the Saldana picture, I knew the tree was blooming and that the purple on the tree would work with the purplish hues in my dress. So I shot there.

When my daughter takes the pictures, we use the greenest areas in the complex to get interesting shots.  Sometimes, we venture to the playground but I hate shooting there when a lot of kids are present. For the McCalls 7542 dress, she picked a square and wouldn't let me move from there because she liked the flowering tree in the background.

Finally I take a lot of pictures.  You wouldn't believe how miniscule movements can ruin a shot - okay maybe you can! *LOL* I take about 100 photos. My camera is automatically set to shoot anywhere between 2-5 pictures at once. My daughter takes 100s. She picks up the camera and starts shooting from the time I move out of the house, catching some very interesting aspects of the garment and me.

I also find that I don't like the posed pictures as much as the sponteous ones...easier with my daughter than myself.  However, allowing the camera to shoot several times, gives me the opportunity to get more sponteous pictures. It takes a while though to wade through all those pictures cause I'm vain and I delete ALOT of pictures.

Although a lot of sewists use PhotoShop, I still haven't taken the time to learn it. I use the photo software that is included with my desktop to crop and change exposure on pictures. Again the pictures taken by my daughter aren't cropped as much as the ones I take inside. But that's because I'm trying to exclude everything else but me and the backdrop. It also depends on how I feel on whether you see more of the garment or more closeups of my face. Many times I want to emphasize the garment and not me so I will use longer range photos.

My newest learning curve is taking pictures with the timer on my iPad. This is becoming quite an adventure! But no daughter means that I need not only photos for my blog posts but one or two for Instagram also. Using the timer on my iPad means that I can take them without assistance now.

This is my photography update. I can definitely see the difference in the blog pictures in the last three years. I hope you can too.

Next on the blog is my latest garment - another button down shirt which is not on my sewing list. I went a bit rogue. I'm presently working on a garment that is from the list, a newly issued pattern with more fabric from the collection. always more later!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The New Sew Sew Def Magazine

Let me state up front that I have no part in the publishing or marketing of this magazine. I was not offered a free copy. I paid for it myself because I was intrigued by the concept and frankly because I'm nosey and wanted to see what was going on. Also, two of my sewing friends were featured in the first issue, so I wanted to support them.

A few basics - this is a digital/online magazine. The cost per issue is $9.99 and $119.99 for the year. The magazine has a very diversified editorship and is geared to women and men sewists. It also tries to encompass ALL sewists. By that I mean, not only are young and thin women highlighted, but plus size women, men who sew, sewists of color and sewists who make children's clothing.

Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow asked what I thought of the magazine in the comments section of my Saldana Maxidress post. I thought it was a great idea but wanted to wait until the second issue came out before I posted a review.

Here are my thoughts ~

1. It is a well photographed magazine. I love the tie in to YouTube, so that you can see more in-depth interviews. That was a great step beyond and a wonderful use of the digital platform.

2. I like that there are at least two free patterns included with the issues. Two that are available for download in the first issue. The second issue has three and one that you can download from Thread Theory, so four in total. 

3. The menswear patterns are amazing and like nothing that's currently available in the Big 4 catalogue. Also the emphasis on mens sewing is awesome. Again like nothing that's presently being shown in any of the other magazines or online right now. If I was a male sewist, I would be purchasing this magazine!

4. There is an interesting mix of articles that highlight all areas of apparel sewing - menswear, women (plus and regular sizes) and children's wear. Trends (fabric and patterns), indie patterns and patternmakers and sewing suppliers are all featured in-depth.

5. I don't have to dispose of this. Weird comment right? But I have to recycle every piece of paper in my house, so I've cut back on the number of paper magazines I purchase/subscribe to. I also find that I like having digital magazines because I can access them anywhere on my iPad.  So it's very convenient.

I have less cons than I have pros.

1. The first is the cost. This is an expensive magazine. However, I understand the cost. There is a high quality look to the magazine, there are the filming costs for the YouTube tie-ins and then you do get two free pdf pattern downloads. 

Now I've already read some criticism online about the price of the magazine and honestly with the first issue I wondered about that too. However, after I made the Saldana maxidress, I realized that the cost of the pdf pattern, plus the magazine was worth the investment...well at least to me.

2. I thought there would be more in-depth construction articles, or how-tos, I mean it's MimiG and this woman can sew! The first issue has a lot of interviews in them. Now while these are very interesting interviews, we are sewists and you know we like to see how things are made! 

The second issue definitely has more how-tos in it for both men and women. Although since Mimi is a master of the YouTube video, I think tying some of the techniques to YouTube videos would be very helpful. Maybe something for future issues. So I guess that's not really a con is it?! *LOL*

Conclusion ~
So I was okay with the first issue of the magazine and wasn't quite sure I would continue with it. But then I wore my dress, got several compliments on it and decided that I would hold judgement until issue two. Hey I'm honest! *LOL*

If Mimi continues to offer the opportunity to purchase single issues, I would go that route. Picking the ones I like by the patterns offered (cause the swimsuits for men and women offered in the last issue aren't my thing) and the articles would determine which issues I buy.

However fellow sewists, before passing judgement, I would buy at least one issue. Why? Well it's supporting a fellow sewist for one thing cause our dollars are the only dollars keeping this industry alive. Two, let's face it digital is the future of sewing. As much as I hate pdf patterns, they are only becoming more popular not less.  

As an aside, I was in the grocery store in the middle of the day last week and I noticed it was mostly older people shopping. We all used the check out with the cashiers, there was hardly anyone at self serve. But when I go to the grocery store after work with shoppers my daughters ages, the self serve check-outs are busy and there are only 1 or 2 cashiers. There is a segment of the population now that is very comfortable with computers and have no problem dealing with them on a day-to-day basis.

So no matter how much I like paper patterns, pdf patterns are the future, just as digital magazines are becoming the norm. I honestly read my Threads and Vogue Pattern Magazine on my iPad and only refer to my hard copy versions when I need them for sewing. I'm sure with time, I will start to use my digital versions more when sewing too.

So give the magazine a try!  My only other suggestion would be if Mimi could develop an app that I could download so my issues could go in my Newstand folder on my iPad. It would make it easier to find my issues, rather than rooting around in my email for a link.

I hope you give the magazine a try because I'm sure more sewing magazines will be going the digital route in the future! always more later!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Another Border Print Turner Dress

This fabric begged me to turn it into a Turner Dress - begged people really!
So I was obliged to do so! *LOL*

Construction Information ~
On my own I seem incapable of following the Turner Dress instructions. I really wanted a maxidress so I used up all of my extra fabric lengthening the skirt pattern. Fabric which should have been used for the bodice lining. 

I thought I would be able to make the lining from the leftover scraps but when I sewed the outside to the inside, it pulled funny.  Probably because I cut one front & back piece on the lengthwise grain and one front & back piece on the straight grain. You would think that it wouldn't matter with a knit but it I unpicked ALL of the BLACK stitching and topstitching.

At first I thought I would add black foldover elastic to the neckline because it's a great finish and it worked for my Turner Tunic which has the same neckline. However, after sleeping on it, I decided to stabilize the neckline with a bias iron on tape and fold, press and stitch. A cheater neckline and not at all what Jenny designed but hey when do I follow pattern instructions?!

For the dress skirt, I added 5" to the lengthen and shorten line and another inch at the hemline. I really wanted a maxidress but I only had three yards and the skirt width takes up a large amount of fabric. 

After trying it on I removed about 1.5" from the center front where the pattern dips. The ITY knit was causing it to hang funny so it had to go. Originally I used 3/4 length sleeves but after adding the sweater it didn't work. I removed a couple of inches from the sleeve so the dress would work better with the sweater. 

Fabric Used ~
I used 3 yards of an ITY knit that I bought at Fabric Mart during Carriage Corner Sew Camp. It was a find because it was only a dollar a yard. It's interesting that I bought this since I'm not a huge fan of ITY knits. I love the way the fabric takes color and the amazing prints that are available. I even like the stretch but sewing it...even wearing it because it's such a thin knit...not a big fan at all.

Several pictures of the dress ~

Conclusion ~
After constructing and putting it on, I wasn't that thrilled with the dress. I thought the print would pop more. It's nice and I will wear it especially since it cost me about $5 to make but I don't love it.

This is how I will actually wear it ~

RTW short sleeve cardigan, dress and slip on sneakers

Finally, this is a simple sew and an easy to wear dress so there will probably be more versions sewn in the future, just in a heavier weight knit. I really want to make a maxidress version. But if not, then definitely this fall, it will look great in a ponte with tights and shoe booties.

A Photography Note ~
I took these myself. My daughter had some other plans this weekend and since the grandbabies are getting older and have more activities, her weekends are pretty busy. Even though I love taking pictures outside, I'm a lot more comfortable inside with the camera. I will wait for my daughter on really special makes because I love the greenery in my complex and how they frame my summer makes. 

Next on the cutting table is another button down. It's going to be March kinda spring not May kinda spring for the next two weeks so summer dresses aren't appealing to me right not. So I thought I would work on another button down. That's what's I'm sewing now. always more later!


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