Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all. I have had quite the year in 2012. While I did quit blogging for awhile, I didn't stop thinking about blogging. However, there were lots of changes in my life. My son turned 18 and graduated from high school. Most of you know that he is a person with special needs, but has outgrown or developed ways to cope with most of his issues. I'm so proud of him! While he started college, I decided that it was time I went back to college as well.

I have been working as a substitute middle school teacher for the last 16 years, and now it's my time to get my credential. To that end, I started the Educational Specialist Mild Moderate Credential Program at University of LaVerne. I took three classes and tried to work one or two days a week. In a Master's program, three classes is beyond full-time. However, I really enjoyed being back at school and got two As and one A-. I'm not sure why I got the A- so I'm going to be asking about that when school opens back up next week. I know, I really should just let it go, but I worked my butt off and didn't think I lost any points. Anyway, I'm taking three classes again in the Spring semester and will try to work one or two days a week again. I'm so grateful that my husband feels that education is important enough to reduce my income for me to go to school full-time.

While all my sewing friends seem to be losing weight, I gained everything I lost early last year all back again. I wish I knew how to handle stress better. I wish my body handled carbs better too. However, I'm going to be working on finding a balance in my life where I can work, go to school, sew, exercise, and cook. Now if only my son would learn how to drive, that would take one thing off my plate. He has gotten very familiar with the bus schedule, so at least I can decline driving him if I need to.

In the next couple of weeks I am going to have to take a skills proficiency exam which is HUGE and I'm afraid of it. I am going to be cramming for this test a few hours each day, but I think I can squeeze in a couple of hours each day to sew as well. I got one garment cut out and I have some things already cut out. With that ugly task done, I should be able to have some sewing to share with you all this month. I'm hoping to blog 6-8 times a month. So I hope you come and visit me often.

This tunic is first on my list to sew. I cut it out in a brown and cream giant paisley print. I'm hoping it will camouflage my belly until I can get it back under control. I'm making the knot front with 3/4 sleeve length and mid thigh length. I plan to wear it with boots and leggings. My legs are my best feature on my body so I don't mind showing them off. I'm over the, "am I too young for this style?" way of thinking.

I'll be back just as soon as I get this tunic sewn and photographed. Meanwhile, I'm hoping that all of you visit me this year and come back often, and that your 2013 is your best year yet. Happy New Year to You!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend Sewing

I'm dead tired and need to get to bed, but I just wanted to share what I got done this weekend. I know I was going to start on my dress, but I just had my bathroom painted 3 weeks ago and bought fabric for the window 2 weeks ago, so I decided to make them first.


Elizabeth Larsen came to Los Angeles during her Man Forgetting Tour of 2012 and I jumped on the opportunity to show her around. While in the Los Angeles garment district, I picked up this great paisley print at Michael Levine's hoping that the colors would work in my bathroom. Lucky for me they do.

I couldn't go to bed on Saturday until the curtains were hung. Then this morning I started Simplicity 2174. It's an amazing fit pattern, and has lots of opportunities to get the fit right. Obviously on my first try I didn't quite get it right. I cut this pattern out about a month ago and did a bunch of alterations based on a muslin of the bodice. In the fashion fabric, I had a fit that was too big. After several alterations and an almost altercation with the husband--he was wielding the pins--I think the fit looks pretty good now.

I don't look very lovely and the dress has lots more to go, like a hem, for instance, until it is completed. But it's starting to take shape.

I also basted together S2615 to see if it was going to be too big and would have to go to my sister. Nope, it looks like it's going to fit. Keep in mind this is just muslin fabric and may or may not be worn outside the house. Since there isn't much style to this dress, I think the fabric is what is going to make it or break it. I think I know just what it needs from the stash. I'll share tomorrow what I've decided upon.

There you go, my weekend of sewing. Looks like I'm going to be working most days this week, but I hope to get the first dress completed so I can get on to the next project.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

New York City

I've been missing in action lately. I quit sewing for myself for about 3 months. But rest assured, I've been been doing some sewing. Costume sewing that is.

I made the Chip costume for my middle school's production of Beauty and the Beast. I think it turned out fantastic if I do say so myself. I also made the costumes for salt and pepper, but don't have any good photos of those costumes.

Why haven't I been sewing for myself, you ask? Because I'm back on my low carb eating plan and losing weight. Since the beginning of February when I started, I'm down about 25 pounds and down a couple of sizes. I've given away all the stuff I made in January, except that olive jacket. I love that jacket and it's ok for it to be a bit large.

Now, about New York. is having their annual meeting in just a couple of weeks and I have nothing to wear! Really, unless I've picked it up in a thrift store, I have no clothes. In order to have something to wear that weekend, I must get back to the sewing machine.

I've decided to do lots of cutting out and then do the sewing. I have three tops and three dresses all cut out and now my sewing room is all cleaned up and I will get the sewing done. Up first will be Simplicity 2174, which is from their Amazing Fit collection with bust cup sizing. If this dress turns out well, I plan to wear it to the Simplicity tour. Some of the reviews of this dress make it look really dumpy but I'm hoping that mine turns out better, especially since I'm making it with a very pretty rayon that I bought in Chicago at the PR meeting last year. The drape of the rayon hopefully will keep it from looking like a hospital gown. I like the sweatheart neckline and I've shortened the sleeves to more of a cap than cut right at the bust line.

I'll be posting my progress as I stitch through this pile and I hope I get something wearable out from it. I'm struggling to decide what size to make at this point.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

TNT T-Shirt - Version 2

I really like my new TNT t-shirt pattern. It will work out just as nicely as a basis for a miriad of t-shirt redrafts as my lost TNT pattern. For my first redrafted version, I only changed the neckline. Pam Erny from Off-The-Cuff wrote a tutorial for a Spiral Cowl Collar and Liana from Sew Intriguing wrote a tutorial for a Twisted Binding. I made my new top with a binding width something in between these two.

I cut my collar 6" wide and the length of the neckline on the pattern. Then without measuring, I just shifted the center back seam of the collar about 2" and basted the collar in half. This left the collar twisted in the same manner as shown in Pam and Liana's tutorial.

I'm not really happy with the way mine turned out. It doesn't drape like Pam's does and it makes the neckline much too high to look flattering on me. This might be a result of the slinky fabric I used. This fabric hangs quite heavy and drags the top down. In fact, it doesn't fit nearly as nicely as the other two t-shirts I've made from this pattern.

While this top wasn't in my original wardrobe plan, the fabric does match and will be a nice addition to the pieces I was already making. I should be able to get the pants cut out today and probably sewn up as well. I will be watching/listening to Season 5 and 6 of Bones while I work today. I've already seen these episodes so I won't have to pay too much attention, but I really love this show and the relationship the main characters have with each other. What do you watch/listen to while you sew?

Friday, January 13, 2012

My New Favorite Attachment

Here's a hint. It comes in this beautiful space age Judy Jetson pink box. I get such a kick out of the box alone. This box came with my first Singer 500a, AKA The Rocketeer. Thanks Donna! Inside is the Singer Buttonholer and it makes the most beautiful buttonholes on the planet! And I've owned TOL Berninas forever and thought that they made the best buttonholes, until now.

I wasn't quite sure how to use the buttonholer, but I remembered that I saw a video that Brian Remlinger from BrianSews put together about buttonholers. It was very helpful to understand the finer points on how to use this attachment.

I'm not sure I would have known to make a second pass around the buttonhole with the attachment to get a very nicely filled in satin stitch without watching his video. This buttonhole was made with just regular Gutermann sewing thread. Doesn't it look nice?

And by the way, if you don't already have one of these buttonhole chisels, you MUST go get one for yourself. Nothing cuts open a buttonhole better and more accurately. I never have any fear of cutting my threads when I use this. I've had it for about 22 years and it is still super sharp so you have to be very careful with it.

 My husband is very entertaining. You can always tell when he takes my picture because, first it's always taken from an angle well above my height--he's 13" taller than I am, second is that I'm usually cracking up and not ready to be photographed. Anyway, didn't this jacket that I almost gave up on come out nice? Everything I used came from the stash including the clashing, I mean contrasting buttons and the thread that didn't match. I'm determined not to buy much of anything for sewing until the New York City get-together this May. That means I need to stay away from the downtown garment district. That place is dangerous for my pocketbook and stash storage space.

This jacket is very lightweight and won't keep me warm, however, it will help to add a more polished look to my new wardrobe. I had forgotton how much I like this pattern. Does anyone else see a potential blouse pattern from this? Remove the flaps, change the armhole and sleeves, square off the hemline and make a pointed collar, keep or remove the yoke. . . . I see pattern drafting in my future.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sneak Peek

Before I call it quits for the night I thought I 'd share with you what I did today. This is M5191 in a lightweight embroidered suede cloth from JoAnn's. It's 100% poly and shreds and creates static like crazy. My Rocketeer didn't want to sew over the embroidery thread (neither did my serger) so I put on the walking foot and didn't have any more problems. I almost gave up on this project but decided to stick it out for the 2.5 yards of fabric I now get to count towards my goal of 25 yards sewn up this month. It was very time consuming (13 pattern pieces!) but I'm glad I stuck with it. I like the finished product and it will get some wear. 

I have to figure out how to make buttonholes on one of my vintage machines. My Bernina with the fantastic buttonholes doesn't work at the moment. I think I'll pull out the Judy Jetson Buttonholer tomorrow when I get home from work and practice using it. I've never used one before, so this should be interesting.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Olive Wardrobe Progress

Just when I was in my deepest sleep this morning, I got a call asking me if I wanted to work today. The call came in 10 minutes before start time. One of the teachers couldn't figure out how to work the sub-finder system so I was personally called. I got up, took a shower, dried my hair, took my son to school, and got there in under an hour. Amazing! All this is to say why I only got this one t-shirt done today.


I'm not sure I like the one giant paisley sitting right in the middle of my body, but whatever. This is one of the fabrics that started talking to me after I decided on my wardrobe fabrics. The colors will work well with the other garments and now I have another 1.5 yards off my shelves.


This is the Ottobre 3/4-length sleeve t-shirt which is my new TNT t-shirt pattern. I've had this fabric forever. I probably got it when everyone was buying buttermilk fabrics from Emma One-Sock and I bought some too. I made a top from part of it way back then and this is the left-overs. There was barely enough to squeeze this top from the fabric. I couldn't even make a neckband, which is why I just turned under the fabric at the neckline and topstitched it with my coverstitch machine. I was thrilled there was enough fabric to make the 3/4 length sleeve. Since buttermilk is only a cool weather fabric, you might as well have the cool weather sleeves to go with it.

Tomorrow I'm going to get another t-shirt done and I hope to get started on the jeans jacket, which I was supposed to start today.

I haven't posted the gratuitous cat photo in awhile, so here is my little princess named Little Girl sitting on the ottoman with one of the pillows I made to match. I'm looking forward to the spring when we can shave her again. She looks adorable with a lion's haircut.

Thank you everyone who commented on my Lissette top. I wasn't saying I didn't like the top, I am just picky about fit and mentioned some fit issues that I saw. I agree that it fits better than RTW and I will certainly make it again, fixing some minor fit issues, because I can!

Monday, January 9, 2012

First Garment of the New Year

Today was a day off for me because it's parent conference week and teachers aren't allowed to be out. That means no one needs a sub teacher. I'll probably be getting the whole week off which is great because I can sew up all the projects I've got cut out. Up first was Simplicity 2211. I had planned on making this pattern from the striped fabric, but then I remembered what happens to stripes when you have a really big dart. 

While I'm not thrilled with the fit and I can see some alterations that need to be made, I still really like this top. It's loose fitting, and fairly comfortable and will be something to wear while I work on losing weight, because, Dang I need to lose weight.

The alterations I made was to add a 1" FBA, shorten it at the waist 2" and add some width to the side seam. I also gave it a shaped center back seam, removing 1-1/2" and center back at waist level.

After seeing the photos, I see that I should have also done a sloping shoulder alteration, cut it smaller through the shoulders and shortened the sleeve cap, and taken a tuck from the neckline because it doesn't lay flat. I think the sleeves could have been longer and maybe a tiny bit added for more bicep fullness. A rounded back alteration could have helped as well.

Tomorrow I will be working on two t-shirts I cut out of some olive matching fabrics that I discovered in my stash after I posted about my wardrobe plan. Since I'm sewing to use up stash, I went ahead and cut them out of my new TNT t-shirt pattern. After that, I'll be sewing up the jeans jacket. Having the week off is going to be fun!


I got some very interesting blog comments on my sewing room post. It was nice to hear that you don't see a cluttered room, but a functional one. It is very functional for me, and yes, the two machine cabinets that sit side by side both have Singer Rocketeer 500a's in them. They are the ones I want to keep. I really liked the comment from Rebecca Clayton who said, "As long as a work room is functional, with adequate workspace and organized materials and tools, it shouldn't be compared to interior design photos of rooms where no one really lives or works." Interesting that I think I might just be comparing my room to a room that might be found in interior design photos. I know that I don't want to put curtains up around my stash. I love, love, love to look at my fabrics all the time. I sit and daydream about what can be made from individual pieces and just enjoy the explosion of colors. I think I'm going to concentrate on cleaning out the rest of my house and then see if I need to do any ditching of things in here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Daily Ditch - A Borrowed Idea

Since I didn't get any sewing done this week (cutting yes, sewing, no), I thought I'd share with you my new obsession. Peter from Male Pattern Boldness has instituted the Daily Ditch as his New Year's resolution. I think it's a brilliant idea and have decided to incorporate it into my life as well. I may not ditch something every day, but I think I can work on getting rid of many things throughout the week. Some things will be donated, and others just put into the trash. This week I donated 6 old blankets, recycled 4 old phone books, donated some items from my utensil drawer in the kitchen and ditched about half the pens and pencils in my pen cup by the phone which either didn't work or had unusable erasers. My goal is to get rid of 365 items from my home this year.

Yesterday I worked hard and got my sewing room cleaned up and things put away. However, it still looks very, very cluttered. I'm having to think about incorporating the daily ditch to this room as well. My first reaction is that of course I need everything in here. After all, I've spent the last 10 years seriously collecting all this stuff. How could I possibly do without it?

I have a friend that has a policy that she obsessively adheres to. OK, she definitely has OCD when it comes to keeping her home clean. Her policy is that if one item comes into her home, one thing needs to go. She even keeps one cabinet in her home empty so as not to feel like she has no room to put things. She also lives in a small two bedroom town home with two other people while I live in a four bedroom single-family home with two other people. I'm sure if I asked, she'd be deliriously happy to come over and help me throw things away, and of course I won't ask. She might get rid of something I need, but she's not a sewist and wouldn't understand why I need these things.

So far, I haven't been able to throw away anything from this room, but just look at how cluttered it is, even though it's clean and everything is put away. How about it? Is there a point where every little nick nack and dodad that you've collected over the years needs to be cleaned out? Do I really need 7 or 8 seam rippers, 4 hem gauges, and 4 yardsticks, 2 metal and 2 wood? Do I need 4 Singer 500a vintage sewing machines? How do you decide what to keep and what to donate or trash? Please, if you have any advice for me, let me know. There isn't any room left in my house so things have got to go.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kaitlynn Blouse - What's Wrong With This Picture?

I shared in my last post that I needed to do a muslin for this Silhouettes pattern. Of course I need to use the plus size. Since this isn't my first Silhouettes pattern, I kind of knew what to expect. Here's the line drawing for all the pattern pieces:

This is what you'd typically expect a princess seamed pattern to look like, right? Well, if you're not using the Women's sizing for your blouse, that's great! If, however, you are plus sized, which means you have larger hips than the skinny women, than this is what your pattern pieces look like:

Everything in green is what I have added to the pattern to make it fit me. Why in the world would Peggy draft a plus-sized pattern without any space for hips? It just doesn't make any sense to me.

It was this Sonya's Blouse that I discovered this very same issue when I attempted to make it three years ago. The plus sized patterns are drafted much shorter than the regular sizes and have the hip measurement 2" smaller than the bust measurement. In what world are plus sized women shaped like that? Did I mention that I also had to add 4" to the length as well? If you want to  read about the drama several plus size women had with this problem on the Sonya's Blouse, do a search for this pattern in and read the plus-size reviews. I know I wasn't the only one who had this issue so I emailed Peggy about it. She complely disregarded my concern. I got no help whatsoever from her. I am not the only one who tried to contact her about it either. One of the reviewers also tried to ask her about it and got no satisfaction about this issue so I know it wasn't just me. In fact, I think that Kathleen from Fashion Incubator did a blog post about this very bad draft, but I can't find it now.

After adding to both the front and back at the hip line on the side seam, I got close to a good fit. In fact, I think if I add about 3/4 inches more at the hip on the front and back, do a swayback tuck and shorten the bodice above the bust, then this might be a very good pattern for me.

Sorry about my rant, but it frustrates me that a pattern designer would be so careless with her patterns for women who already struggle endlessly to get a good fit. While I really appreciate Peggy and her teaching skills and the lessons I have learned from her classes that I have attended, I wish she would be more responsive to women who are size challenged. (meaning that it's a challenge to fit the plus-sized woman.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter 2012 Mini-Wardrobe

One of my goals for the new year is to sew more capsules. This is where I make 5-6 items that all can be mixed and matched to make several different outfits. I like sewing these groupings because they always get lots of wear. Nothing is an orphan, each piece has something to go with it. I usually like to make two pair of pants, two tops, and a topper (jacket) of some sort. For this wardrobe, I've chosen to make three tops.

Another one of my goals is to sew up 25 yards of fabric for the stash contest. So, by combining these two goals, I have chosen some stashed fabrics that work well together and pulled out patterns to make each fabric into something that can be mixed and matched. Not pictured is some black ponte roma knit.

The first piece is the jacket:

The pattern is McCall's 5191, which is a jeans style jacket that I've made before. The fabric is an embroidered moleskin that I bought at JoAnn's long enough ago to not remember when I got it but I know the store I bought it from has been closed a long, long time. The first time I made this jacket, it turned out fantastic. Then I lost weight and I must have given it away, because I can't find it. Then I gained weight back, and I want a new one. The fabric I used the first time was a stretch denim and the moleskin isn't stretchy so it might not fit well right away. But if I work on my goal of getting fit, then maybe a few pounds might disappear and fitting won't be such a problem. Anyway, this jacket is the backbone of my new mini-wardrobe.

Three tops:

This first top is one I haven't made before. I still have to make the muslin before I cut out the pictured fabric. I always have lots of problems with Silhouette Patterns, but maybe this one will work out. I've altered the pattern in ways that I think will work for me. For some reason on the plus sized patterns, Peggy drafts the side seam without any hip shaping. The side seam cuts into the waist from the underarm, but never goes back out for the hip. She does give the smaller sizes hip shape so I don't understand her reason for drafting the larger sizes like this. Doesn't she know that us larger girls have hips? Anyway, this fabric is a thin cotton knit I think I got from in the first half of last year. I didn't think it was going to be so thin, and I expected it to have some stretch since it's a knit, but it hardly has any. So, I think it will work out well for this top since it does have nice drape.

This second top is another new to me pattern. I still have to muslin it as well, but I think it's going to work out great. The stripe will be the body of the blouse and the green solid will be the outside facing/trim. I still need to pick out the buttons that go down the center tab. I'm thinking of using some shirt buttons that my mom had. There are six buttons in various shades of green in different sizes. I'll have to see how they look when the top is done before I decide. I bought these cotton fabrics to make an Indian designed tunic back when they were all the rage, but I think I missed that boat. This pattern is very popular on I hope the stripe works well for this pattern.

I have used this pattern before, except this time I'm making long sleeves and cutting it tunic length. Just in case one of the other tops doesn't work out, my mini-wardrobe will still have enough tops. You might recognize this poly lycra knit fabric from a Coldwater Creek knock-off top that I made a couple of years ago. I gave that top to my niece when I lost weight and she loves it so I won't have two tops with the same fabric in my wardrobe.

Two pair of Pants:

This is my TNT pants pattern, Burda 2569. I've made this pattern at least a dozen times and have loved each and every pair of pants made from it. My last olive pair has very worn out elastic, so it's time to make a new pair. The fabric is showing some wear also, so a new pair is needed. This fabric is a nice RPL that I can't for the life of me remember where I got it. I have enough to make a top or jacket from it as well, and might do that at a later date. I'm also going to be making a pair of black Ponte Roma knit pants from this same pattern. They will be more of a yoga style with the softer knit, but I think will still work with the other garments. It's a rather casual capsule that I can wear to work. Really, anything goes at work. When I sub teach in the severely handicapped classrooms, I like to dress more casual than usual, so this is a casual weekend/work wardrobe.

This plan should take me up to around 12-13 yards of stash fabric used in January. That's about half my goal so it will be a great start. I already have the jacket cut out and hope to get the rest cut out before the weekend, including sewing up muslins before cutting into the good fabric for those two blouse patterns. I sure don't make things easy for myself, do I?