Tuesday, December 26, 2023

2023 - The Year in Review

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

So what did I make this year?

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

The other items are...

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

McCalls 7969 in a black and white border print.

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

Two Knit Wexford Tops from the Cashmerette Club

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

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

                                           * * * * * * * * * * 

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

First a conversation with the Threads team...

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

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

                                                * * * * * * * * * * 

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

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

A few stats...

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

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

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

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

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

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

...as always more later!


Sunday, November 05, 2023

A Woodland Border Print Simplicity 8687 - Part 1

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

Now to the actual blog post...

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

Cutting out the jacket fronts using a single layer of fabric

Jacket front pieces laying side by side

A few other things to note:

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

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

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

...as always more later!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

A Different Sewing Focus

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

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

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

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

Back view

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

....as always more later!

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Hey Y'all Hey...

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

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

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

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

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

...as always more later!

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Slipping into July...

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

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

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

Pieces taken from the fabric collection - all from Fabric Mart

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

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

This is my sewing update as I slide into July...

...as always more later!

Saturday, May 20, 2023

I'm Reading More Lately

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...as always more later!

Saturday, May 06, 2023

A Blue & White Hope

Last year I was on a real tear to purchase blue & white toile type prints. I ended up buying a blue & white print that was similar to a toile and an actual blue & white toile. I was really proud that I only bought two pieces! I'm even prouder that I'm using one for my next Hope.

Of course this is the Hope Dress using the extension pack and it's exactly the same as the funeral dress.  As with all remakes, I improve something with the next version.  For this one, I shortened the length of the elastic I used in the sleeve hems.  I also left the pockets off this one too.

Materials ~

The fabric is a 100% digital linen shirting from StyleMaker Fabrics purchased last year and it's still available to purchase.  

The four 3/4" white buttons are from my button collection purchased so long ago I have no idea where I bought them. 

I used 26" of 5/8" elastic for the sleeve hem casings.  The pattern recommends 1/4" but that would get lost on my body so I changed it.

That's it.  A nice, easy, relaxing sew where I just took the journey.

A Few Pictures ~

(feeling like a matron on an English cliffside with the wind blowing!)

I have fabric set aside for one more version of the Hope Dress using the bias bound, tie front bodice and the original sleeves.  That will be enough for awhile since I will have three different Hopes in my spring/summer wardrobe (not including the funeral dress).  If you don't have this pattern yet, I highly recommend it!

...as always more later!

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

I'm a Fabric Snob

Seriously a snob and if you don't know that you don't know me! LOL! I love fabric and all of it's different fabrications. Now I won't sew it all but I do love it! I also don't like basic fabric or buying fabric that a lot of other sewists use cause who knows when you will see yourself coming or going.

I know I have the luxury of snobbiness because I work in NYC and can visit the fabric shops there anytime. While the garment center has changed, it's still a treasure trove of amazing fabrics that can be touched, purchased and even shipped home from some merchants. I know I'm not limited to "The Craft Store" commonly known as JoAnns.

However, that's one of the things I want to discuss...The Craft Store. It's obviously been upping it's fabric game. Lately I've been seeing fabrics that sewists I admire are using purchased from The Craft Store. Color me impressed! Not impressed enough to give them my fabric dollars but impressed just the same.  

Especially since I understand that not all sewists want to shop for fabric online. Though as an aside, I don't get that since online fabric merchants do a fabulous job of photographing and describing fabrics. They also offer things that The Craft Store doesn't carry. But, if you need fabric, The Craft Store is offering better choices now so bravo to them.

Now back to my snobbery...I'm an old school fabric aficionado. I love natural fabrics. I love types that aren't so commonly sold any more - wool crepes, linen and linen blends like linen & silk, silks of various weights, beautiful challis, jersey knits and rayon pontes. I like a fabric with a beautiful hand that pretreats well and resembles the original fabric after the pretreatment process. 

I love a good print.  A print woven in is always superior to a printed one. However, I will buy a printed fabric if the colors are vibrant and the borders clear. I love, love, love a good panel or border print because the flights of fancy you can take while using them is unlimited.

I'm such a fabric snob that I have a list of online fabric stores that I will always shop. I use to experiment more and try out online fabric stores mentioned by sewists I admire.  Now though I stick to what I know because my list of retailers haven't let me down.

Now my love of fabric is well documented.  But what about you?  Do you love fabric as much as you do patterns? Are you a keeper of many different types of fabric or do you buy as needed? Shop online? At The Craft Store or another local fabric store near you?

Talk back to me because this is "The Question of the Day"

...as always more later!

Saturday, April 29, 2023

McCall's 7969 in Black & White

I loved my first one and understand why there are so many versions on Instagram and Pattern Review. I'd always planned to make another one and when I found this black/white floral double border print I knew it would be perfect. Especially since lately I've really been in a fabric manipulation mood.

Materials ~

4 yards of the black & white rayon floral double border print purchased from StyleMaker Fabrics in July 2022 which of course is no longer available.

Cutting Out ~

As you know the most important part of making a border print stand out is how you use it. A double border print presents it's own unique challenges because technically you only have 1/2 of the fabric to use. I will admit that it took some fiddling to make this fabric sing.

I knew that I wanted the front & back bodice pieces to be floral. The sleeves would also be made from the floral print because I wanted the bodice to pop.  Determining how the skirt would work using the border print was the intriguing part. I was thrilled when I settled on using the borders as the sides of the skirt panels.

Construction ~

The only change between this one and the first is the sleeves. I really like the flare sleeves on my first dress. It's airy and easy to wear plus it covers my larger upper arms. However, there are so many sleeves with elastic hems being shown now that it seemed an easy adjustment to make. I added a casing and some 1/2" elastic to make the hem elasticized.

One more thing to note. I didn't adjust the neckline so that it would sit closer to my body. I like wearing a tank top under the dress. Especially since for this one I can use the solid color as a focal point for this very busy print. 

A Few Pictures ~

As of right now I have no plans to make this pattern again...but never say never! *LOL*

...as always more later!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

A Follow Up to "My Fabric Collection is my Retirement Fund" Post

I wrote this post, My Fabric Collection is part of my Retirement Fund, back in March 2016. I was about 10 years out from retirement then. I'm now three years away from it. My retirement date is on record at my company that's how close it is.

After rereading the post and the comments which are so interesting, I wanted to do an update to this post for a couple of reasons:

1. Covid

Covid changed everything in 2020.  The way we work.  The way we shop. How we live.  When the world shut down in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, it caused us all to reassess so much of our lives.  That reassessment affects us all to this day.  It also made me very grateful for the fabrics, notions and patterns I had stashed. I sewed without challenges when it seemed like the world was coming to an end.

2. Moving & Changing Lifestyle

I've lived in this apartment for three years now. I packed, moved, unpacked all of that fabric in the midst of an illness.  An illness that caused me to re-evaluate a lot of what was important to me.

Also, I no longer work in an office four days a week. During the spring until the end of the year, I go in two days a week which changes what I need to wear and sew. Hybrid work arrangements are more the norm since Covid.

My lifestyle is slower now. I'm happy spending time with a good book or a good TV show cause Covid even changed that! There are so many streaming options and movies released to TV.  TVs are larger, less expensive (relative to the inflation we're presently experiencing) with more options to give you that movie theatre experience at home.

3. Balance

My life is more balanced now.  Back in 2016, I worked, sewed, and hung out with friends/family a little. It was like a 50/40/10 split. I read a little but since commuting took up so much of my time, I used my commuting time to do several things.

Now since my commuting time is greatly reduced and even though I have more responsibilities at work, my life seems more balanced. I'm working on spending time equally between sewing, reading, time with my grandchildren and making sure I'm available for my friends. This seems a more realistic picture of what my imminent retirement will look like.

Now let's discuss the main topic of that post - my fabric collection. If you've been reading along, you know I want to reduce my collection by about 20%. That reduction that was discussed some in the comments due to retirement is in full affect in my life. I have several reasons for wanting to lose a portion of it:

  • I want some of my living space back in the Resource Center. I want to reuse some of the wall space currently holding fabric.
  • There are pieces I know I won't use and I want them to go to another sewist who will enjoy them.
  • I've been culling my collection all along but the thought of having to move this much fabric again gives me the heebie jeebies.  And who knows when or if I will need to do so.  Making plans ahead of time just seems wise.

While I'm not concerned about my fabric collection in the event of my death, my daughter has a list of sewists who live nearby who can have dibs to my collection.  She has first rights to everything and the sewists on the list know who they are. This allows for a smoother transition of my things for my daughters. Yes, I thought up this plan when I got sick in 2020.

Finally, while I didn't purchase a lot of fabric in 2020, I did start buying in large amounts again in 2021 and 2022. I've slowed down buying fabric in December 2022 and this year so far I've only purchased a few pieces. My purchases are more well thought and creative driven now. I've been using my fabric money for books.  

However, I also want to use some of those beautiful fabrics I've accumulated. I want to make amazing garments to move around the world in.  Pieces that won't be seen on anyone else. I want to take those sewing journeys while I can still enjoy them.  I want to enjoy the sewing while I can.

That's the update to my post. How about you?  How have your attitudes changed towards sewing in the last seven years? Did Covid affect you? Did the supply chain shortages from Covid cause you to keep more sewing related items on hand? Do you still work 5 days a week at your job's location? Or do you work from home now? Have you retired or is retirement imminent?

I want to hear your thoughts, so talk back to me!

...as always more later!

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Dueling Wexfords

As I stated in my fabric fail Wexford, I was definitely making the pattern again. While the fabric shred as I wore it, the silhouette held up really well.  So I made 2 more unintentionally making them both in the black family.

In the first post, I didn't talk about any of the changes I made to the pattern or the size I used. I cut a size 24 and added 1" to the hemline...though I may add another inch for future versions.

While I've only used this pattern as a top, I will be making the dress portion later this spring. It's such a relaxed and comfortable wearing garment that I can see a longer version of this for summer wearing.

Wexford One:

The first Wexford is made from a black & white rayon knit purchased from Fabric Mart's brick & mortar store.  The changes to this one are that the neckline and sleeve hems are bound in some black knit scraps. As with the first one this is an easy sew. 

Wexford Two:

The second Wexford is made from a luxurious rayon knit that was purchased from Elliot Berman's shop pre-Covid.  This means that it was from the old place and not the new one.  Also the hand on this fabric is lush. I chose this fabric in an attempt to replace the pleather version.  

For this one, I used a black fold over elastic trim instead of the binding piece included with the pattern.  Other than that there were no changes.  Again a quick sew that let the fabric do the talking.

Besides making the dress version of this pattern, I have a few more top versions floating around in my head - a lace one, maybe a mesh one and finally I have several cool knits that would look amazing in this silhouette.  So sooner or later more of these will show up here.

Don't forget this is a Cashmerette Club pattern so if you want a copy of the pattern you will need to join the club either monthly or yearly. Oh and they're PDF only patterns...

...as always more later!


Related Posts with Thumbnails