Category Archives: Sewing, etc.


There used to be this “rule” that you should only wear white between Easter and Labor Day. Now I’m not going to be all judgey about people who don’t follow this rule and talk about how people have no sense of what’s proper anymore; (even though they really don’t) I break a few fashion rules myself. If there are any rules that are made to be broken it is fashion rules, but personally, I like rules like this. It seems to me that dressing appropriately for the season gives a pleasing kind of structure to life. And having a rule that you’re allowed to break adds a little fun to life.

I don’t wear white a lot anyway, though. I’m afraid of it showing dirt and stains. I am, I’m ashamed to admit, a rather messy eater. It’s like I’ve got a hole in my lower lip or something. No matter how hard I try, whatever I’m eating is going to end up on my clothes. So, white? Not a great idea for me. But a while back I got this brain fart idea that I really need a white skirt. Of course I dismissed the idea because it was just too crazy but it wouldn’t go away so I finally decided, just get some cheap white twill from Wal-mart, make a skirt and if I ruin it it won’t be a huge loss. I can always get some more cheap white twill and try again. I haven’t made it yet because I’m planning a button front skirt and I’m waiting on the world’s slowest online retailer to finally send me my fricking buttons! Yes, Wal-mart has white buttons too but I didn’t like the ones they had.

This year Easter was early so I’m not really feeling the white yet but I am also thinking about what shoes to wear with my new white skirt. I have the hardest time trying to find white shoes. Oh, there are lots of white shoes out there but none in a style I like, or can at least live with, in one of my few trusted brands. I own only one pair of white shoes, Dr. Scholl’s mocs, but they’re not really comfortable. They are sort of comfortable but also sort of not. Mostly not.

So anyway… I don’t know about the shoes but otherwise this year I’m going to give this wearing white thing a try.

This Is a Bigger Deal Than You Think It Is

I love sentimentality but I have to admit that it can be a problem sometimes. Some months ago – no, actually more like a couple of years ago – I was in an antique shop and saw a treadle and cabinet, without the machine, just like mine (which you can also see in the picture below) except that it was in much better condition – in near perfect condition, actually. I was tempted. I actually do sew on my antique and the peeling veneer and rough spots can be a problem functionally. It would be nice to have a nice cabinet. But then I thought, “It’s my grandmother’s machine. I can’t swap the cabinet; I can’t do anything to change it.” So I let it go and I sort of regretted that I passed up the chance to get a nice cabinet but at the same time was glad I didn’t because, “I can’t do anything to my grandmother’s machine.”

Well, feeling like I shouldn’t let sentimentality rule me, yesterday I somewhat hesitantly bought this:

Antique Singer Sewing Machines

Antique Singer Sewing Machine

The treadle and cabinet are a different style from my grandmother’s machine but the top, the machine itself, is the same. But see, here’s the thing. From poking around on the Internet trying to figure out what model it is, I have pretty much come to the conclusion that my grandmother’s machine was put together from parts of two different machines. It also has some small missing parts and there is a lot of play in the treadle because it has been “repaired” using a non-original part.

Something I’ve always sort of felt guilty about because of sentimentality is that I’ve always wished I had a prettier machine. I wish it still had the decals and I have always liked the style of cabinet and treadle like the one I bought yesterday. But it’s my grandmother’s machine and I’m supposed to love it and never want anything else. I actually do love it but still, that doesn’t keep me from guilty wishing. I don’t think my grandmother would mind at all. I once heard her say she didn’t even particularly like this machine. Before it she had a different one, a different brand, not a Singer, that she liked better but it stopped working and she bought the one I have now. Later a sewing machine repairman told her that old machines can always be fixed and she really regretted not keeping her other machine. I was pretty young when I heard her talk about this and I can’t remember what brand she said the other machine was. But anyway, it’s not about whether or not she would mind; it’s about having and using the same machine she used and having that connection.

The machine I bought yesterday is in sad condition. The treadle is rusty but it moves smoothly. The machine still has the decals but its parts are also rusty and when I try to turn the wheel it barely moves. Nothing a tanker load of WD-40 couldn’t fix, I’m sure. The cabinet is in worse condition than I thought at first. The center tilt out “drawer” is missing. The bottom piece – I don’t know what you call it – is coming apart. The veneer hasn’t actually peeled off as badly as on my other machine but yet, it looks more dried out, like it could easily peel off.

I’m still considering what to do. At first I thought I might just swap out the treadle but it won’t fit the other cabinet. I would have to swap both cabinet and treadle. But what if I could get this machine working? Why bother to swap anything? Why not just repair and use it? But what about my grandmother’s machine? My grandmother’s sewing machine! Well, do you see the problem?

One thought I have had is that I might use one of these old machines as a stand for my electric machine since I normally just set it on the dining table when I use it. It doesn’t really have a place.

The machine I bought yesterday also had this stuff in one of the drawers. I have no idea what any of it is or how to use it but I’m sure it could be useful.

Antique sewing machine accessories

UPDATE: Just realized something. The two machines are not exactly the same. The bobbin filler is the same but the tensioner is in a different place. Funny how sometimes it takes a while to see the obvious.

First Attempt

This is my first try at making shoes using the ballet flats pattern from LivingDIYStyle. They’re really just slippers using this sewable soling fabric for the soles. (which, by the way, I highly recommend if you want to make slippers) Everything else was just scraps I had on hand.

Handmade shoes

They don’t look too bad, I guess but they don’t fit. My toes are very crowded. They are supposed to be my normal shoe size. Also, the lining showing… That was not on purpose. It might look sort of cute if it was showing evenly all the way around. But this was only supposed to be a test pair anyway so I’m not terribly disappointed. Back to the cutting table. (I made the jeans too, in case anyone cares.)

This ‘n’ That

I don’t know who created this but it is perfect for me right now.

But, you know… I don’t know why I feel that way because I really only have a few things going on and none of them are a really huge fat hairy deal and there’s nothing that’s, “OMG! Do this immediately!” but… I don’t know… there are just all these things that I need to be sure and not forget and little things I need to do soon(ish) and things I want to do but I’m putting off for no particular reason except that I want to do them but not right now but I still keep thinking about them anyway and it’s just more than I want to have to think about and yes, I know this is one stupidly long sentence but that’s what my brain is like right now so I’m going to leave it this way. Oh, and also… I’m getting really freaking tired of cold, gray weather.

But, moving on…

I had one of these when I was a little kid but not exactly like these of course. I can’t remember what it was. A dog maybe? Mine was just cheap plastic but it’s amazing how much fun such a simple little toy can be to a little kid. It was easy to understand how it worked but I found it kind of fascinating.

Aren’t these beautiful?! Ever since I saw this sad old hand-crank sewing machine I have sort of wanted one. I say “sort of” only because I don’t know where I would put it if I had it. I have nowhere to display it like it deserves to be and nowhere at all that it wouldn’t be in the way. If I were to find one in an antique shop for a really good price though, I might not be able to resist temptation. I don’t necessarily even want a fully restored one, just one that is somewhat functional and not in too bad a condition.

Sew Cranky is another hand-crank sewing machine site. I do love a clever website name. This one makes me smile. And even more.

I love these glass tables. Actually, the tables themselves are really not my style but I love what they do to the room.

And finally… Apology Notes. It would be really hard to stay mad at #12.

Old Friend, New Friend

I posted this on my sewing blog yesterday.

I inherited my maternal grandmother’s treadle sewing machine when I was 18. I had done a little sewing but this is what really kick-started my sewing life. It never occurred to me to keep it just as an antique sitting in a corner, something to set plants on, or turn it into a desk or something. (sacrilege!) It’s a sewing machine! Besides that, I always liked the idea of being different, of doing something almost no one else does.

It’s not pretty. It was already old and beat-up-looking when I was a small child but it sews like a dream. I have sewn everything on it from the most delicate fabrics to some really heavyweight stuff and the things it can’t do, like buttonholes, I learned to do by hand. I am, frankly, quite proud of it and what it can do. I have never felt limited by it at all.

In all these years I have never had any desire to have a modern electric machine. Until recently. A couple of things caused me to change my mind. Last fall I was doing a blanket stitch to finish the seams on a pair of jeans. It’s a fun stitch; I always enjoy it, but, for the first time, I started thinking, “I could get this done faster if I had a modern sewing machine.”

Another thing that happened is that I got older. (Wait! Really?) When you’re in your 20s and you use a treadle sewing machine, exclusively, you might be cool and a bit of a rebel, but when you’re 50+ (No! That can’t be right! I demand a re-count!) and you use a treadle machine, exclusively, you’re just an old woman who can’t handle modern technology. So I hinted that I might like a new sewing machine for Christmas and I got this one:

I like it. It has lots of nice specialty stitches, most of which I will probably never use, and it’s almost as easy to use as the treadle machine. My original intention was to just use it for things like finishing seams and buttonholes but I have made one “outfit” (a set of knit pajamas) on it and I think I might always make knit garments entirely on this machine. The old machine sews knits just fine but it’s nice to be able to finish the seams neatly. I tried using it once to make buttonholes. I think I will probably continue to make buttonholes by hand.

I will continue to use the old machine most of the time. I’m in the middle of making a shirt on it now. But it’s nice to have the new one for certain things.

In a Reading Mood

Since I finished reading Railsea I have already finished another book and I’m more than halfway through another. Wow, must be the weather. At this rate I could read over 200 books this year but I can’t keep this up. I have to come back to the real world and do other things, like sewing. I haven’t really done any sewing since before Christmas and I really need to get back to it. The stash is feeling abandoned. I haven’t even so much as fondled it in weeks. Not to mention that all the online fabric retailers keep having sales. (Shhh. Go away; I don’t need you.)

The books I’m reading now are the Extinction Point series by Paul Antony Jones. I’ll have more to say about them later on. I probably won’t review every book I read but I have decided to try to keep track of the total number of books I read this year. I’ve been doing that on Google+ but I might start some kind of list here too. Feel free to add me to your Circles if you like and I will add you to one of mine. (unless you’re a spammer) I’m not trying to be as exclusive on Google+ as I am on Facebook.

One of Those Silly Year-End Review Things

Everybody does it: a big Year-End Year In Review post. Well, I thought about going through each of my categories and picking one favorite post from each but then I thought, “That will take a long time.” So I settled on just two favorite topics: Books and Sewing Projects. Then I thought, maybe a few favorite quotes of the year. And then I thought maybe… but no, I’m getting into too much work. It’s a lazy time of year. So, anyway, here we go.

Favorite Books Read in 2014

When I think about all the books I have read this year I am a little disappointed that I did not manage to read more. I normally spend only about 15 to 30 minutes a day, before bedtime, reading so it takes me a couple of months or even longer to get through a book but in the last few months of the year I have been reading more, maybe an additional hour a day and I hope to continue that trend in the coming year. But, even though there have been relatively few books read, it is still hard to pick just a few favorites. They were all good. But there are a couple or three that stand out.

My favorite books that took me somewhere I was interested in but knew little about was This is Not That Dawn by Yashpal and Daughters of the River Huong by Uyen Nicole Duong.

Well now, if I started listing every book that I enjoyed this year I would soon have listed all of them but there’s one more I have to mention. I read less science fiction and more history and travel books this year than ever before but science fiction is still my favorite genre and of course the book I must mention is the one written by one of my cyberspace neighbors, the closest I’ve come to reading a book by someone I actually “know” – I’m talking, of course, about Stardancer by Kelly Sedinger. Was it my favorite of the year? That’s hard to say; I have a hard time picking favorites and I have read several very good books this year, but this one is definitely good and definitely one of my favorites.

Favorite Sewing Projects of 2014

Oh my! I have made some lovely clothes this year. I love them all. Well, maybe not all. There are a couple that I don’t love quite so much and a few that I really do love but for some reason have not worn very many times but we won’t talk about those right now. I’m here to list favorites. So, first of all, there was this paisley top. Love the colors, love paisley, love the rick rack. In May, I made the lovely roses and lace dress. Then in early June (or perhaps late May and I only got around to posting in June?) was the simple dandelion dress, one of my most often worn dresses of those made this year. In between those I made this adorable romper for my granddaughter. Honestly, I love this so much I have been tempted to make a blouse or something for myself with this fabric and eyelet trim. I bought it at a local store and I know it’s still available.

Oh, so many. You need to just go look at them all again. Okay, okay. Just two more. My true favorite dress to wear, this orange and teal batik dress and my most complimented garment of the year, the brown gingham shirt. (Darn, I wish hadn’t screwed up those buttonholes.)

And finally, Favorite Quotes of 2014

All is well, but nothing is complete. It goes on forever and I can only stand, watch and wonder. (link)

I personally have always considered committees as proof that human beings evolved from animals that had tails and liked to chase them. (link)

My theory with dresses and fashion is all about everyday is a celebration, everyday is worth dressing up for, everyday is awesome. (link)

…“if you cannot walk more than a block in your shoes, they are not shoes; they are pretty sculptures that you happen to have attached to your feet.” (link)

I thought I wanted a pair of trousers with a fly front, but turns out I don’t have man parts that necessitate a zipper in the front. (link)

Why do we want to celebrate our main events with foot sprains and blisters? (link)

If I had a dollar for every time a middle class, white, lesbian with a Women’s Studies degree tried to tell ME how to appropriately respect MY OWN CULTURE AND HERITAGE, I could probably buy a goddamn reservation and turn it into a theme park. (link)

I hope that it’s not just me who thinks that having speed bumps in front of a JoAnns is funny! (link)

Okay, this is getting to be more than just a “a few” and I’m only halfway through the year and I haven’t even had breakfast yet. You people – bloggers – write too much profound and quotable stuff.

Happy New Year everyone.

The Sentimental Brown Gingham Western Shirt

Oops. I was certain I was standing completely in the shade when I took these pictures. Oh well, this one isn’t too bad. (Stop explaining and apologizing for bad photos, Lynn)

This might seem a bit strange and contradictory, given that I am highly attracted to bright colors and I often lament the fact that so many people are “afraid of color,” but I actually do like brown. It might be at least partly because my mother said I look good in brown. It’s not like she always dressed me in brown when I was little though. I have been picking out my own fabric since I was old enough to point. But anyway, I don’t want to be always surrounded by it like in my dull brown living room but for clothes I like brown as well as all those crazy bright colors and sweet girly colors that I wear so much of the time.

I was in the little quilt shop in a nearby town and saw that they had some really nice quilting weight gingham in about a dozen or so colors, including this brown and I got an Idea! I don’t usually wear anything western styled, not because I dislike it exactly, but more because I don’t want to be mistaken for someone who is into the whole country and western sub-culture. Not that there’s anything wrong with it; it’s just not me. However, in developing one’s own personal style it’s useful to dip into various different cultures and styles… Oh screw it. I don’t have a “personal style”. I just get lots of different ideas and I make them and wear them.

To make this shirt I used the body of New Look 6078 because it fits really nicely (except for one part which I’ll get to in a minute) and I like the curve of the hem – not too much, just right – and I used the sleeves, front band and collar from McCall’s 4922 and I drafted the front and back yoke from scratch. (very simple, actually) I was a little worried that I would have a lot of trouble making the collar fit because it’s a very different kind of collar from the one in the New Look pattern but it went together perfectly. In fact everything about it worked out beautifully. I’m really, extremely happy with the way it turned out. The only thing that is not quite perfect is that it’s a wee bit snug around the hips. I could probably get an extra half inch if I picked apart the side seams and darts and re-sewed them but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. It’s not like the buttons are about to pop off or anything like that.

Here’s the back view.

And a close-up of the buttons. I suppose an “authentic” western shirt would have snaps but I love these buttons and I wasn’t trying to be authentic. I just now noticed, looking at the picture, that they are a little off center on the band. Dammit! I guess I should have made vertical buttonholes but horizontal ones are less likely to come unbuttoned if you accidentally make them slightly too big.


(I had a much more clever title for this post when I was thinking about it yesterday but I forgot what it was.)

I like plaid but I am a little bit afraid of it. I wasn’t always but then I started reading sewing blogs and discovered that one is expected to match the plaid not only across the front but also the sleeves, at the side seems, and pretty much everywhere. It all seems so overwhelming now. This time I tried, I really did but I didn’t account for the bust darts which make it pretty much impossible to match the sides and the sleeves. Oh well. My experience has been that nobody notices those details unless you point them out, and the sewing bloggers never read my blog anyway so why stress over it.

I have just one comfortable, casual long sleeved shirt made of lightweight cotton that is perfect for days when it’s cool enough for long sleeves but still too warm for really warm clothes. I wear it a lot when the weather is like that so when Denver Fabrics had a sale on shirting I bought three pieces. This is the first one of those. I love this fabric, the colors and the texture. It has heavier threads running through it, sort of like in a “ripstop” fabric but at irregular intervals.

Just for fun I thought I would try a more animated pose than my usual and (unfortunately, perhaps) it turned out to be the best picture.

And here’s a view of the back yoke.

This is another New Look 6963. My third and I still haven’t used any of the sleeves that came in the pattern. (but I will) I love this pattern but there is one thing about it that I don’t like: it has a back neck facing instead of a yoke lining. I made the first two with the facing but I made this one with a proper lined yoke. You can see the first one here. I haven’t photographed the second one. This pattern has two different backs. The bug shirt has a pleated back. This one has darts that you can just barely see in the second photo.

Thank Goodness It’s Monday?

It was sort of a sucky weekend. There was no Big Bad thing that happened, just several small and medium bad things that felt hugely bad for some reason. I guess it actually started the middle of last week with the antique indigo stretch denim that I didn’t get. I did search to see if I could find it anywhere else. I couldn’t but even if I had found some the same color on another website there wouldn’t have been any way to be sure it was the exact same thing. The denim I missed out on had 35% stretch. Most online fabric retailers don’t tell you the amount of stretch and in my experience “stretch” denim is usually not actually very stretchy at all. Maybe 5%?

Anyway, as I said, I did order some of the light blue stretch denim. (20% stretch) It was supposed to arrive via US Mail on Saturday. But Friday, as I was headed out to go buy groceries, I noticed that our mailbox had fallen down. There used to be a huge problem with mailbox vandalism in our area so we made a super vandalism resistant mailbox. It totally worked for vandalism prevention but it weighed well over 100 pounds so I couldn’t put it back up by myself. We decided to buy a new, lighter weight but still sturdy mailbox to replace the old Superbox but didn’t have time to put it up until Saturday afternoon so we didn’t get any mail Friday or Saturday. This is not a big deal. I wouldn’t have got around to doing anything with the denim for several days or possibly a week or two anyway but still… I was expecting it on Saturday.

Saturday I went to a local quilt show. That should be fun, right? Well, it was nice. I did enjoy seeing all the gorgeous quilts. But there were two things that partially spoiled it for me. First of all, it seemed like I was the only person there who didn’t know anyone else and I felt alone, left out, and a little like I didn’t belong there. There was one woman there who started a conversation with me but she saw someone she knew and abandoned me mid-sentence. I can understand that. I really can. When you see a friend in a public place you don’t want to let her get away without talking to her, but still, it sort of made me feel like I was still that little girl who was only good enough to talk to if there was no one else around.

The other thing… I’ll be honest, a big reason why I even went to the quilt show was that a local quilt shop that I’ve been to a couple of times said on their Facebook page that if you stop by their booth at the show you could get a 25% off coupon for their store. 25% off? That’s huge! Well, I stopped by their booth and I didn’t see any coupons. The person attending the booth was talking to someone and I didn’t want to interrupt so I walked around a bit more and came back and she was still talking. I hung around for a bit and finally gave up and left without a coupon. It’s just as well. I certainly don’t need any more quilting cotton and yet I’ll probably buy some from eQuilter pretty soon because they have several fabrics that I’m finding particularly irresistible right now. But you see, this was a multi-level disappointment. Thursday I went to visit my brother for a while and I refrained from going to the the quilt shop over there in his town because I knew I was going to get a 25% off coupon from this quilt shop over here. And I like the selection of fabrics at Sager Creek Quilts better. (I don’t like their website and have never ordered from it because their images are too small and I can hardly see what I’m getting.)

The people who work at the local quilt shop are all very nice and one lady in particular is especially friendly and always seems so happy to see me, it makes it a pleasure to go there. Without the coupon as an excuse though, I probably won’t go there at least until next spring. Sager Creek Quilts, while they have a better fabric selection, the guy who is usually working there when I go there (I think he is the owner or is married to the owner) is sort of dour and reserved. Not really unfriendly but not fun and makes me a little uncomfortable to try to talk to him so it’s usually all business when I go there. It’s almost an hour and a half away so I probably won’t go there again anytime soon either.

Finally, to top off this less than fun weekend, my granddaughter was sick yesterday. She was supposed to have her 1st birthday party. I wasn’t excited about the party itself. There would have been a bunch of people there I didn’t know or barely know but I’m disappointed for her sake and sorry she’s not feeling well.

So that was my weekend. I’m actually glad it’s Monday but I’m a little nervous, wondering what else can happen.

She Who Hesitates Doesn’t Get the Fabric

I have been looking for some stretch denim that is actually noticeably stretchy for ages. I found some black denim and made an amazingly comfortable (if not exactly fashionable) pair of jeans but no one ever has any faded blue stretch denim. But finally I found it! [rays of heavenly light, angels singing] Girl Charlee, which very helpfully gives the percent of stretch, had two nice stretch denims: one, a “light indigo blue” and the other one “antique indigo”. I really wanted the antique indigo but I waited several hours trying to decide whether I wanted to get some of the light blue also or only the antique indigo. I decided to get only the antique indigo but when I went to order it they only had one yard left! (Oh the humanity!)

Naturally, I was devastated but I ordered some of the light indigo denim. I will keep checking. Maybe someday they will get some more? I have one big complaint against Girl Charlee. They are one of those online fabric retailers that only sell in whole yard increments. I am sure that this contributed to my not getting the fabric I wanted. How many of the people who ordered the antique denim had to order more than they actually wanted? 3 yards instead of 2 1/2 yards, for example. Perhaps there would have been enough left for me if other people hadn’t been forced to buy more than they needed. I have learned my lesson though. Never hesitate to buy fabric.

Showing Off the Sewing, Worthy or Not

For a couple of weeks I was feeling uninspired and didn’t know what I wanted to sew so I decided it would be a good time to sew something boring and practical: a denim skirt. I know you can’t see the whole skirt – not a very good way to show it off – but in the pictures it looked a lot longer than it actually is so I cropped off the bottom of the picture. It’s actually about mid-calf length. (I would rather have taken these outside because the flash does me no favors but the neighbors are putting a new roof on their house and I could just imagine them saying, “What’s that crazy lady doing over there taking pictures of herself?”) Anyway, here it is:

I made the blouse about three or four years ago. It’s a Kwik Sew 3511. I never go tucked in because that emphasizes the granny gut. (which I’ve had all my life and I hate it now as much as ever but somehow it is a bit of a relief to be old enough to refer to it as a “granny gut”) I really like the way the whole outfit looks.

Here’s a detail pic. (The color of the denim is more accurate in the first picture.) I’m not happy with the buttons but I wanted to get it done and not go on a long frustrating search for “exactly the right buttons” so I just used a couple of leftover 5/8 inch shirt buttons I had, thinking, “I can always replace them with some nice ones later,” but I probably won’t bother.

And the pocket with the hidden opening. I’m always very afraid to show the insides of anything I sew. This is really a leap for me so be kind. (Yes, those are hand stitched buttonholes. Because I can. And it’s fun.) (I did not make the quilt.)

And finally, a less “dressed up” look with the skirt and a top I made a couple of months ago. I didn’t show off the top when I first made it because I felt like it was a FAIL. The fabric, a cotton/rayon blend knit, is sort of twisty and it made the hem uneven, but I sort of like it anyway.

I am now back in a sewing mood and want to make 10 things at once. I just finished a blouse this morning. It has long sleeves so I’m going to wait until the temperature drops a little before wearing/showing off that one. I am getting ready to start a rain poncho, which I will need soon. After that more long sleeved shirts, I think. I have some plaids that I am eager to get into.

Not Sewing


I have not done any sewing (not counting a little quilting) in more than a week. In my entire sewing life that’s not unusual. There have been times when I went for several weeks without sewing. When I had what people like to call “a real job” there may have been months long sewing droughts. (I really can’t remember.) But now, having spent many months of always having at least one project in progress, and having not done everything I had in mind to do this summer, it’s a little disturbing to not be working on anything.

I am in that confusing between seasons phase. With temps still in the 90’s F, I have been in the mood to keep on sewing summer dresses but because I know it won’t last much longer I don’t want to sew something I might wear once and then put away for six months. Today it’s cool and feels very much like fall so I should be inspired to start fall sewing but still, I don’t know what I want to sew next. The cure for this of course is more shopping and I have a couple of ideas – things I could get excited about right away – that would require purchasing more fabric but I grew up in a penny pinching household and I still have that instinct. I feel guilty about every purchase, even necessary ones. Besides, I have extremely limited storage space for fabric.

So maybe I should just forget it for a while and spend more time working on the quilts, one of which I really, seriously need to finish because it was supposed to be a Christmas present two years ago. I lost my enthusiasm for it because it’s not looking as great in reality as it did in my head. But I will finish it. Other than that, I’m working on a baby quilt that is coming along pretty fast and I have a couple of tops planned (one already started) that I could work on. So it really wouldn’t hurt to just work on nothing but quilting for a while but there’s still that voice in my head saying, “Sew something. Come on, hurry up and start something else – a dress, a blouse, pants. Come on, sew, sew, sew!”

UPDATE: Forgot to mention, I just found out about the Cat Lady Sewing Challenge yesterday (Thanks Rochelle) and it just so happens that I do have cat fabric in my stash – two pieces, in fact. One is from my mother’s stash. I’ve already cut up part of it for a quilt top but there’s about a yard left and I want to match it with something else to make something to wear but I want it to turn out to be something I love so I’m not going to rush into it. The other cat fabric is some I purchased this year and already know what I’m going to make with it. The colors are spring not fall but I’m thinking of making it for the challenge anyway.

The Last Dress of Summer?

I took a whole bunch of photos using the timer on my camera and most of them were too close and I don’t want to go back out and set up again. So, here’s my close-up.

And here’s the one halfway good picture that shows almost all of the dress.

This is another Simplicity 1882, my second and probably last. You can see the first one here. I wanted more skirt so I cut it a little bit wider and added pairs of pleats to both the front and back. I still didn’t get the fit of the bodice quite right. Overall though, I like it.

This fabric – the abstract print and the color combination – is a little different for me. It’s funny how we occasionally find ourselves attracted to something that we normally think of as “not my thing”. I was originally thinking of having the trim match the lighter green but I couldn’t find that exact color. I still think it might have been better with the lighter green but I’m satisfied with the way this turned out. This was one of the older pieces of fabric in my stash. There’s something especially satisfying about going to the “bottom of the stash” and finally finishing something I bought a long time ago.

I have three more dress projects that I had planned to make this summer but now it’s September and, as always, I’m torn between making “one more dress” (because, after all, it is still in the upper 90’s and will be for at least another week or two) or moving on to the fall sewing. I know I have some fall and winter fabrics in the stash but right now I can’t make my mind focus on them and think about fall sewing. Hmmmm… maybe a multi-season top…

Tiny Top

A little top I made last week. The pattern is Simplicity 2668.

The pattern shows it as a dress but made it a little shorter and when I saw her crawling around in it I’m glad I did. A dress would be a problem for a crawling baby. This was a very old (20+ years) scrap of fabric. I was disappointed that I didn’t have enough to make matching bloomers. I still do have a small strip of it left but not enough.

Here’s a picture of her wearing it. (with her mom, my daughter-in-law) She was happier than she looks in this photo. She was smiling just a second before. The colors in the first photo are more true. The colors of the little top are washed out in this photo, even though everything else looks fine.

I Don’t Have Anything To Say But I’m Going to Talk Anyway

Some days I have absolutely nothing to say and other days I have too much to say and no energy to say it and I start to think, “Why am I still doing this? How much longer will I keep doing this?” If Blogger would make one or two more little improvements I might switch back to that. I would miss my links page though. But I need to work on that some so, I don’t know… maybe I’m just getting tired of the whole thing. On the other hand, I want to have something for those times when I do really have something to say. And I like being part of a “community” even if I am destined to always be the weird, lonely girl that almost everyone ignores.

This week is the hottest this year so far. They are forecasting triple digits for this weekend. Everyone is complaining and yeah, I am too a little bit, but I really don’t mind all that much. Now I feel like it’s really summer, not just a perpetual spring. I know I’m making that sound like a bad thing. Of course I am more comfortable when the temps are in the 70’s and 80’s, but it’s August and it’s supposed to be hot. It’s hard to explain. I guess I’m more comfortable (in a different sense) when things are the way they are supposed to be.

I have really slacked off on sewing. I haven’t started one of these yet like I had intended to do. I have been working for over a week on a baby dress that I could have finished in a day. But you know, it’s like that sometimes. Sometimes you feel inspired and feel an urgency (which in my case is almost always imaginary) and other times you just can’t stay interested. Maybe it’s because it’s August. Is this the lazy month?

It’s also the month that school starts. Not something I have to deal with anymore, thank goodness. It always seems wrong to me that school starts in the middle of August. It’s supposed to start in September, the day after Labor Day. Anything else will always be wrong.

We started watching The Strain. I have mixed feelings about this show. It has a little too much “gross horror movie” stuff for my taste but it is also interesting enough that I want to stick with it to see what happens next. The new season of Haven starts soon. I’ve been seeing ads for it. I sort of feel like they started to lose me last season but not completely. I still want to keep watching.

By far my favorite series that’s on right now is Defiance. Here are two behind the scenes videos.

A Stashing Good Time

Back in April I had about a dozen projects that I had decided I absolutely positively must finish by the the end of May, or the middle of June at the latest. I had no real need to have them all done by any particular date. I just decided that I wanted to and somehow “want” turned into “have to”. Well, you know how life goes. Actually, looking back through my archives I see that I got five of the things done by the middle of June and one more by the end of June. I’m going to call that “not too bad” for an overly ambitious goal.

Funny thing though, after my self-imposed deadline had passed all sense of urgency left me. I relaxed and slacked off, and sewed a few things that weren’t on my original “list”. Now I’m thinking about those things a little bit now but also thinking, “It’s the middle of August. Does it make any sense to sew a bunch of summer dresses right now?” Well… maybe one or two.

Here are the ones that did not get done.

The brown fabric is destined to be a Vogue 8577, which I talked about a little bit here. That would be a good one to make right now. The colors are more fall than summer anyway and with a cardigan and tights I could wear it until late in the season. (I don’t have a cardigan of the right color though so that would mean more shopping.)

The lovely yellow and orange floral is going to be similar to my most recent dress. The aqua polka dot is going to be a blouse. This and the piece directly below it, which is also going to be a blouse, were not really on my “must get done” list but I was thinking about them and when I was feeling very ambitious I thought maybe I would sew these too if I got all the other stuff done.

The fabric on the lower left is printed with antique sewing machine and sewing related ads. Isn’t this the most awesome fabric? I think it’s going to be a Vogue 8811. (also mentioned in the first linked post) This could also go into the fall. The green and orange fabric, lower middle in the picture, I have had for a number of years. Originally it was going to be a Simplicity 2957 but after using it for the batik ferns dress I have changed my mind. I like that dress okay but not well enough that I want to use the pattern again. So now I’m thinking Simplicity 1882, with a little tweaking. I’m feeling rather strongly about doing this one next simply because it’s been in the stash for so long.

And here’s one more:

These all go together. Or maybe not? I was planning another New Look 6209, sleeveless this time. The print would be the front panel of course, the dark fabric for the main part of the dress and the dark orange for the yoke. But then I started feeling a little chicken about it – like this is going to look all wrong. Then this morning when I got the fabric out to photograph I started thinking again, “This will work.” Then, “Wait! Will it?” So indecisiveness. Big time.

But that’s not all. I have recently become aware of a couple of needs (Yes, actual needs) that I do not have fabric for. I also have a $10 off coupon for eQuilter that expires at the end of the month. But, eQuilter does not have the right kind of fabric for my two needs. I do hate to let that coupon expire though…

A New Favorite

It seems like I always start these posts apologizing for the photo. This one isn’t bad but I wish it was better. The one that would have been the best was out of focus. In this one the breeze is blowing the skirt around and it’s a little far away to see details but other than that I guess it’s okay.

This is what they call a Frankenpattern – bodice from one pattern, skirt from another. I keep making this same basic shape of dress (which is probably why all the sewing bloggers ignore me) but these are the dresses that I wear the most so it makes sense to sew more of them instead of something fashionable that I wouldn’t wear as often. Overall, I’m very happy with it. It has a side zipper and it’s one of my all time worst zippers but I never re-do zippers because I figure there’s a one percent chance it will be any better after the second try and a 50-50 chance it will be worse.

The buttons are from this bag o’ buttons. This bag had a lot of one of a kind and two of a kind buttons and it turned out that there was only one of the buttons I originally had in mind to use and only two of my second choice. The only ones of which there were three were the ugliest ones, so I pouted for a while and thought about buying buttons but I finally decided to just use the ugly buttons. I quickly got used to them and now they don’t seem so bad.

As I was starting on the buttonholes I realized that, since there’s a side zipper, these buttons don’t actually need to be functional but it was too late and it’s okay. For some reason, I like that they’re real even though they don’t need to be.

The fabric is lightweight and crisp with a nice tight weave, which I find to always be the case with batik fabrics. I like batik prints but it’s the fabric itself that I love and I wish I could find traditional florals and fun novelty prints printed on the same kind of fabric but that seems to be very rare.

So, bottom line, I love this dress. It couldn’t be more perfect for hot summer days. If we ever get any of those again.


If you hang out here a lot you might have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for bugs. Oh, I have no desire to get up close and personal with them but I do find them quite fascinating. So I had to have this fabric from eQuilter. I am in dress mode this time of year but I almost immediately knew this fabric had to be a New Look 6963. (I wish I could show you what the background color really looks like. It’s an amazing color that you just can’t see in a photo. It’s bright but not insanely bright. It’s just a really interesting color.)

NL 6963 is one of my unused patterns that I wrote about earlier this year, one that I didn’t think I would get around to using anytime soon. Surprise! It’s my new best friend. (Well, among patterns anyway) It was fast and easy to make and it is loose fitting without looking like a sack. Well… everything loose-fitting looks somewhat like a sack on me but it’s much better than my former best friend big shirt pattern. (What did I ever see in that thing?) And I love love love this shirt!

Instead of going on a long frustrating search for “the perfect buttons I picked some navy ones from my button stash. I cut some bias strips to finish the armholes and they turned out better than my usual. My only disappointment is that identical bugs ended up side by side on the front. I would prefer that they were more random.

(The pants are new also but they’re kind of awful and I’m glad you can’t see more of them in the photo.)

Red, White, and Blue… and Some Other Colors

Even though it’s not patriotic themed fabric and not only red, white, and blue, ever since I bought the fabric I have been thinking of this as “the 4th of July dress” but I could just as well call it “the angst dress” because I have had several “issues” with it that have caused me a bit of angst.

First of all, I mostly avoid white and very light colored fabrics. I would love to have one of those lovely white peasant/hippie dresses but I’m always imagining clothing disasters involving massive quantities of barbeque sauce or blueberry pie or the like. I haven’t ever had a huge clothing disaster of that type but if I ever did it would happen to a beautiful white or delicate pastel dress that was my favorite. Another issue with the light colored fabric is that I felt it would need a lining but extra layers are to be avoided in Oklahoma in the summertime. (In an age when girls are wearing see-through leggings as pants is it terribly old-fashioned to worry about back-lighting?)

I originally planned to do an asymmetrical top thing with this fabric but, since I had never done anything like that I decided I needed to make a test dress first – what most sewing people call a “wearable muslin” but I just call it, “trying out a new pattern or idea with cheap fabric before I risk the precious fabric.” Well, the test did not go well. I can probably fix it so that it will be wearable, at least as a house dress that will never be seen in public.

I was still going to do the asymmetrical thing with this fabric but at almost the last minute I sort of panicked and decided to do something safe. I got out dear, trustworthy, tried and true, Kwik Sew 2671 and made some modifications to the bodice and added elastic to the waistline. And, here it is. (All fashion photos should include a cat’s ass, don’t you think?)

It’s not the most flattering thing I’ve ever worn but I actually like it when I’m just wearing it and not looking at pictures of myself in it so I guess it’s okay. I did line the skirt with white cotton batiste. I had originally planned to use cotton lawn but I waited until I was almost ready to start sewing it before I went shopping for it and my source for discount cotton lawn was sold out and all I could find was $13 a yard and my inner cheapskate had a panic attack. The skirt with the lining is heavier than I’m used to and I keep thinking maybe I should have done something different – something with less fabric in the skirt but really it’s not bad.

Here is a close-up of the fabrics (from eQuilter) and trim. (There is a center back seam because I didn’t have enough of the button fabric to lay both pieces on the fold.) The rick-rack was a last minute inspiration. The fabrics told me they wanted rick-rack.

I don’t know if I will actually wear it on the 4th of July, as I have been planning to do for months. We’re not going anywhere so I don’t know if I want to wear it just for hanging out around the house. If we have chili dogs, like I’m thinking about doing, then no, definitely not.

UPDATE: The background on the lighter fabric is a very pale aqua, not white.