Sunday, October 29, 2017

The "How to Machine Sew" Book - Large Format Edition

When Threads Magazine sent me the Sandra Betzina book to review, they also sent me the "How to Machine Sew" book.  

I wanted to review the books separately so they would each get their own time in the spotlight!  This book is one in the series by Susie Johns. Others are "How to Sew", "How to Embroider", and "How to Quilt" - these are basic sewing books, in a larger format with simple projects, easy techniques and great illustrations.  Perfect for beginner sewists.

I'm sure you're wondering why I would be reading or sharing info on a beginner sewing book?  Well these came to me during National Sewing Month and to me one of our responsibilities as sewists is to teach and encourage new sewists. I deliberately held onto it because there were quite a few sewing tools given away and discounts offered during September.  I wanted to save some of the celebration for October too!

Like I said this is a great basic sewing book for a new sewist. It has the obligatory section on how to use your sewing machine, what tools you need to acquire to begin sewing and a short section on how to work with fabric. Then there are nine projects and each project highlights a different technique. 

For example, Project Two is about Place Settings and the technique that's taught is mitered corners. The project has information on making napkins, place mats and tray cloths. The first page of the project sheet gives you the materials you'll need, the finished sizes of the project pieces and the techniques you will use to finish the project. There is even a fabric suggestion made to assist with picking the proper fabric for the project.

The illustrations are large and easy to follow with a written explanation beneath each one. Extra tips and information are in boxes on the sides of the pages to give a little more in-depth information.

Finally the book has a resource list (though the resources are for UK companies), a glossory and an index page. Personally I love index pages, if I need to find something quickly, I can look there. You can find this book at your normal retail sources - Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. 

However, I do have one copy to give away. If you'd like to win a copy, because you need a gift for a sewing friend, a newbie sewist, or for an upcoming Christmas sewing giveaway, this would be a great gift to give! To win a copy, please leave a comment on this post ONLY.  Entries left on any other post or Bloglovin' won't be eligible for the giveaway.

You have until Friday, November 3rd, 11:59pm EST to leave a comment.  The winner will be picked and announced on Saturday, November 4th. I will ship the book out the following week. This giveaway is open to any sewist, anywhere, so leave a comment and I hope you win!

One last thing - the winner of the magnetic pincushion never contacted me, so I picked another winner.  Lisa Laree if you would kindly contact me via email with your home address, I will get this right out to you.

I have been sewing so more clothing posts soon. always more later!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Little Somethin' Jacket

I purchased this pattern last December during my first trip to visit Gaylen at her B&B.  There is a cute quilt shop nearby that sells quilt fabrics and quilting accessories, The Old Country Store. This pattern was one of the things I picked up.

The pattern is called "A Little Somethin' Jacket" and it's produced by CNT Patterns. When I bought the pattern, I thought that I would make a cute spring/summer jacket. Of course I never got around to sewing one ~ so many patterns, not enough time.  

However, I was looking for something quick and easy to sew after the very challenging sew of Simplicity 2894. I'd washed and dried this rayon I purchased during the Jackson Heights Fabric Crawl...

...and it shrunk alot during the process. When I ironed it, the fabric sprung back into shape. I'd originally wanted another pair of wide legged pants but was leery of the fabric's reaction to heat. I could see my butt and knees bagging out unattractively in the finished garment. I set the fabric aside, but it stayed on my mind.

When I pulled this pattern out to use, the fabric was right there, so it was a perfect match. This really is a quick sew and a good palette cleanser. There are only three pattern pieces ~ front, back and sleeve. I lengthened the jacket's hem by 1" to add extra coverage in the back! I also lengthened the sleeve hem by 1". It was totally unnecessary to alter the sleeve hem and I won't do it for the next version.

It goes together easily with only a slight challenge inserting the front collar to the back neckline...just take care when pinning the two pieces together and you will be alright. Otherwise there was nothing else construction wise to note. 

A few pictures of the jacket ~

Only back shot we took because it was 
the end of a long day of photographing garments

I have way more of this type of picture ~
...and this is a calm one!  My daughter is a saint! *LOL*

Conclusion ~
I liked this pattern because it reminded me of all the kimono jackets that are still around. The weather is getting cooler. This is a perfect topper for chilly mornings that will still work when it warms up in the afternoon.  Come late fall/early winter it will work with a turtleneck under it. A perfect transition piece!

This was so fun, quick and easy to make that I will probably make another one, next spring! LOL! I've got a full fall/winter sewing list that I'm very inspired to get off the paper and into my closet.

Also one quick note - this was sewn and photographed in August but due to all of the National Sewing Month posts - this is just making it to the blog. It's the last of the late summer sewing...everything after this will be fall garments. always more later!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Butterick 6486 in an Embroidered Black Rayon

As mentioned in an earlier post, I went by Chic Fabrics with Meg & Claire shortly before it closed the old location. Thankfully they have moved just one block over to 38th Street, near SIL Threads. It's sad though because there are now fewer and fewer fabric stores on 39th Street which is similar to what happened on 40th Street. 39th Street now seems like it's turning into eatery row...*sigh*

Anyway, I touched this fabric and knew it had to come home with me especially since it was similar to a voile embroidered piece I purchased from Stylemaker Fabrics earlier in the summer.

It's that time of year here on the East Coast where the mornings start out chilly so you need a jacket/sweater/topper which you remove around the middle of the day. I've found I like nice tops to go over straight leg jeans or leggings, now that the weather is cooling down.

Enter Butterick 6486...

The pattern combined with the black rayon is the perfect fall top!

Pattern Alterations ~
This is a loose-fitting top so I didn't need to make a lot of changes to the pattern pieces except for the sleeves. I added a wedge to the sleeve pattern with it being 2.25" wide at the largest portion.

I made the same alteration to the sleeve ruffle.  It wasn't necessary since you gather the sleeve ruffle onto the sleeve but I wanted to keep the original sleeve design.

Design/Construction Info. ~
I sewed the entire top together and it was huge. I started with an XXL based upon the measurements. I should have gone down one or two sizes because this is a really loose fitting top.

1.  That was just the start of the problems. 
2.  The neckline was too large. 
3.  The sleeves hung way too long.
4.  The top had too much space and I kept longing for a dart in it.

So I started with the sleeves. After ripping them apart I took 2" off the bottom of the sleeve and removed 1" from the hemline of the lower sleeve. Then sewed them back together.  The sleeves were still long but I added an extra deep hem to get them to the length I wanted.

One more thing, the pattern tells you to use french seams to construct the sleeve. I understand why they do...because if you hold your hands up you want a clean finish on the inside of the sleeve.  However, I skipped this step and was so glad I did when I had to make alterations to my sleeves.

To remove the excess space from the sides of the top, I ripped it apart.  Do you sense a theme here?! I then sewed 1" seams on either side of the top and on both sides of the bottom.  The top and bottom were then sewn back together.

Solving the too large neckline meant making a pleat in the front. Then adding a covered button from the embroidered fabric to make it a design decision rather than a fix of the loosey goosey neckline.

Pictures of the top ~


Conclusion ~
To me, it was a lot of work for a fast and easy pattern. I ended up with a wearable top but not without a lot of work. Also, it is a little difficult to get out of. If you already own the pattern and want to make it, I have a couple of words of caution.

1. Measure the pattern carefully and pick the smaller size. This is a very loose-fitting top.

2. Check the neckline. I was so worried about the shoulder seam, which works by the way, that I overlooked the width of the neckline.

3. Make sure the seam for the upper and lower sleeve hits you in the appropriate place. When I made it using the pattern & instructions, the sleeve hem was so far down my arm that it looked weird.  Shortening the upper sleeve by 2" put the seam back in the right place.

4. My version is longer than the pattern because I wanted to include all of the embroidered edge in the bottom. So I added 3 inches to the bottom and then hemmed it using a one inch hem.

BTW, I'm wearing the top with a pair of Spanx leggings. I love these and bought three pairs of them because not only are they comfortable but they suppress. You will see them again with more me made tops. I will wear this top because it's cute and it works but this pattern is a one and done. I have loads of top patterns and am moving on to the next one. always more later!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Do your patterns talk to you?

I'm going to admit mine do!  When I take the tissue out of the pattern envelope (old school I know! but we are not discussing how much I dislike PDF patterns this go round!) I hear gentle whisperings. Do you?

I recently opened a new pattern - Simplicity 8302 - coming to the blog soon - and it whispered so sweetly to me. See based upon the pattern cover photos and the fabric I'd chosen, I had one idea of a dress to make. But once I started cutting out the pattern pieces a totally different version came into view.

A version that I swear was softly sung into my ear. It penetrated my brain and lit a spark in the creativity center of my brain. 

So I wanna know, do your patterns talk to you?  Is it only me?  Does it only happen with paper patterns or can you get this auditory sensation with pdf patterns too?

Talk back to me because this is my Question of the Day! always more later!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Simplicity 2894 - An Out of Print Pattern in Denim

Or as a subtitle ~ "How Carolyn Complicates a Simple Pattern!"

This Simplicity pattern has been out of print for awhile.  The first review on PatternReview is from 2008 and it's been on my "To Sew List" every summer since Rachelle made her version. However, it really didn't fit my lifestyle when I purchased the pattern...I just loved the style. 

Fast forward a couple of years and I pulled the pattern out again last summer to make a dress. I had the perfect striped linen for this but summer slipped away from me, again. However, this pattern has lingered in my mind and while it didn't get made in a summery fabric, it was perfect for some mid-weight denim for a new fall dress.

Of course I never do anything simple so I had to manipulate the stripes for added interest and I added a white piping to the collar and front opening to bring some definition to it.

Let's talk materials ~
The fabric is a midweight striped denim purchased from Fabric Mart earlier this year.  Since you don't need buttons or a zipper for this dress, the notions I used to make my version of this dress are:
  • purchased white corded piping from Daytona Trimmings
  • baby white interfacing from Farmhouse Fabrics via the notions stash
  • three 1" white & clear buttons from the collection 

Construction details ~
I really wanted to mix up the stripes on this dress. Since the yokes are separate pieces, I cut the yokes on the lengthwise grain instead of the horizontal grain like the body of the dress. What I didn't count on was the difference in color shading that occurred when the two pieces were sewn together. When it was all said and done, I was fine with the color shading because it's a casual denim dress.

I added piping to the collar to bring out the white in the stripes. I went back and forth over whether I should add interfacing to the collar and the front because the denim is fairly heavy and I wondered if the interfacing would add anything to it.  Finally decided on using a baby fusible interfacing that I purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics for the collar and front piece. It stabilizes the piece without adding additional weight to them.

After I added piping to the collar, I decided that I needed some on the front opening too.  So *sigh* I added piping there too. What an ordeal...I was gonna say challenge but I added a couple of hours work to a simple dress adding piping in the front of the dress...and was on pins and needles while I was doing it hoping that it would work the way I wanted it to...breathing a huge sigh of relief when it did work!

The last change I made to the dress was after taking the time to match the pocket stripes to the dress front, I decided to add piping and a large white button to the pockets. Why not just leave them be? I mean they would have been fine but they wouldn't have popped...and I wanted the "pop" appeal for the dress.

Topstitching was the last decorative element that I added to the dress. It's on the yokes - front & back, at the hemline and on the pockets. Again I used the triple stitch with a length setting of 5 on my Janome 8900 QCP.

Can I state yet again what a challenging sew this was. Honestly, I took a very simple pattern and I added a whole bunch of design elements to it. Yes, the design elements did elevate the finished dress, but getting there was a pain!

A few pictures of the finished dress ~

Conclusion ~
I'm glad that I made the dress, it's such an easy and casual wear. I'm glad that I waited to use this pattern because this is the right time for it. I'm also glad that I love the dress now that it's finished! LOL! This was definitely a one and done pattern. As cool as it is and as thrilled as I am to add another denim dress to my wardrobe...I won't be making another one of these.  I'm moving onto my next fall garment.

Finally, it seems like it's become a thing for my daughter to take pictures of me with the grandbabies while they're I'm ending this post with two pics that I liked of the babies and me...

Me and Joshua

Me and all three (Aleena, Samantha and Joshua) walking together always more later!


Friday, October 06, 2017

Sewn Magazine Available November 6th

Sewn Magazine is a new bi-monthly sewing magazine. The first issue will be available November 6th. It is an actual paper magazine that you can hold in your hand and read while laying in bed, riding the bus, or sitting at the kitchen table cooking dinner. 

It is a sewing magazine that highlights sewing, fashion and DIY projects, showcasing multi-cultural talented artists from across the world!  It is a sewing magazine that feels like a fashion magazine for sewists. Featuring at least 10 sewing/DIY projects per issue along with two sewing patterns and the magazine is available for international delivery too!  

So if you've followed Michelle on her blog, That Black Chic or as a Fabric Mart Fabricista, you know that she has an amazing sense of style!  She also has written a few articles for current sewing magazines, check out her bio for the links.

Michelle has rounded up an interesting group of sewists as part of her editorial team. The team is being announced on the Sewn Magazine website, so check in frequently to see who is participating. Believe me, you are going to love this collection of amazing sewists from around the globe!

However, I am also very pleased to announce that I am part of the editorial team for Sewn Magazine.  I will be writing a sewing advice column called, "Ask Carolyn". So if you have a sewing question like how to use a notion, how to do a technique, or how to choose fabrics, send the question over to and it may appear in a future issue of Sewn Magazine.

For subscription information, go to the website and pre-order your copy.  During the month of October, when you sign up for the yearly subscription (6 issues per year), you will receive a discount of 10% off the subscription rate.

I really hope you will give this new sewing magazine a try AND send me a question! always more later!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Out of Print Vogue 7271 - Fall 2017 Version

This was one of my favorite maxidresses to wear last summer and I've worn it a couple of times this summer too. It's such a comfortable dress to wear that I wanted another one. 

I've had this red floral poly crepe in the collection for long that I don't even remember where it came from. However, since it's more of an autumnal red, I thought it would make a great fall maxidress. Now that I can dictate what I want to wear and when, I've been longing for a fall maxi and this one fits the bill.

This dress was made twice last summer ~ the original and the maxi edition. While I love the short one, it is a bit fancy so I don't wear it as much.  Where the maxi version is more practical, so of course, it has been worn more.

The Materials ~
3.5 yards red floral polyester crepe
14" red invisible zipper - cut down from a 22" zipper
red/white striped cotton bias binding

Construction Info ~
I used the exact same construction for this as I did the first maxi. Except after putting the dress together and trying it on for fit, it was too close fitting. So I opened the side seams of the bodice and sewed 3/8" side me just enough wiggle room. The dress is still close fitting but it doesn't feel like it's pressing in on my ribcage anymore.

To give the dress a little zing I added the red/white striped cotton bias binding to finish the neckline and the armholes. On my last dress I added darts to the armholes to remove the excess space. For this version, I added a row of stitching and eased the extra in at the neckline and armholes. Due to the fabric type, there wasn't as much excess fabric.

I added some stitch witchery to the hemline, turned it up 5/8" and machine stitched it. That's it...the dress was finished!

A few more pictures ~

...and worn with a cardigan

It's a perfect dress for fall.  While its still warm it's great with some heels and a short sleeve cardigan.  When it gets a little cooler, I will add a denim jacket, shoe booties and tights. It should take me through to the end of the year and that's what I wanted in an autumn maxi.

Finally, two of the grandbabies (Samantha & Joshua) joined me on the stairs for photos. always more later!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Thank Yous and Winners

The last act of celebrating National Sewing Month is to announce the winners of the giveaways. However, before I do that I need to thank everyone who participated in the giveaways and fabric discounts.

To all of the online fabric retailers who gave a discount to my readers this month I truly thank you!  I hope that my readers took the time to visit your sites and use the discount. I think all of you are retailers with integrity, amazing customer service and a great eye for fabric. I hope that if you didn't use the discounts (Why???) that you will remember each and every one of them for future fabric purchases.

So thanks to Emmaonesock, Stylemaker Fabrics (please look out for the Fall Fabric Tour that's presently happening), Smugglers Daughter and LAFinch Fabrics. Thank you soooooo much!

There were two very generous indie pattern giveaways this month - Jenny at Cashmerette Patterns and Trudy & Jeremy at Hot Patterns! Thank you for offering pdf patterns for the giveaway. I hope that if you weren't a winner of the patterns that you will check out both online pattern retailers. If you haven't had the chance to use a pattern by either company yet, please give them a try!  You will be very happy with your finished garments!

BTW, if you entered the giveaway for a pincushion you had a better chance of winning than if you entered the book or clapper giveaways. There were way more entries for the clapper than for anything else. So if you're interested in buying one if you didn't win one - check out GMarie's site here. She ships internationally!

So without further ado the winners are ~

Sandra Betzina's - All New Fabric Savvy Book
**Lamar Meniola from Texas**

Clapper Presser 
**Jeane Quilts**

Magnetic Pincushion
**Ramona Moreland**

Congratulations to the winners!  For the winner of the Clapper please send an email to gmariesew at gmail dot com. For all other winners, please send me an email (my email address is in my bio) with "Winner - Sandra Betzina Book" or "Winner - Magnetic Pincushion" in the subject line.  Also please include your home address. I will confirm receipt of the email and let you know when I'm mailing your prize.

Thank you to everyone who read all the posts, entered the giveaways, and/or used the discounts. I appreciate your continued support!  

I have been sewing during September, so new garment posts will be up shortly on the blog. I've started sewing for fall and am pretty excited about the changing season, although summer is hanging around here in the tri-state area!

...and finally there has been so much happening in the world lately that I want to add my condolences and well wishes to every person, family member, friend and survivor of the shootings in Las Vegas.

I also hope that aid comes soon to all those in need in Puerto Rico. It's been a rough hurricane season and I'm truly sorry that 45 has left the American citizens in Puerto Rico hanging. always more later!


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