Category Archives: Sewing, etc.

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.

Bugs!

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.

A Few Fashion Things

Are Leggings Really Pants? No they are not! Leggings are not pants no matter what skanky looking teenage girls say. Yes, they are comfortable but if you’re going to wear them at least wear a tunic that’s long enough to completely cover your butt. Is that so hard? Seriously?

Make your own tights. This is something I never thought of doing. They have seams, of course, but those are nifty. The problem would be finding the right fabric – something with spandex but not too thick, which leaves out most cotton because I have yet to find a lightweight cotton spandex fabric. So, I don’t know if I will ever make those or not. I’m not a big fan of being wrapped up in nylon.

Your Brain On Shopping. I do like to shop. Sometimes. I like shopping without a plan – the “just window shopping but I might buy something” kind of shopping. The author of this article says, about shopping for clothing, “I feel overwhelmed by all the choices.” I am the opposite. I make almost all of my clothes but on the rare occasions that I have gone shopping for RTW clothing I always felt disappointed and frustrated that there were so few choices. Oh yes, there are a lot of stores with a lot of clothes but none of them are what I want. It all looks alike to me.

A silly hat. Oh, I don’t know if I’d ever have the nerve to wear this but there’s a part of me that says, “Every woman should wear a silly hat at least once in her life.”

Unembellished

I had envisioned this with rick rack but after much desperate searching I came to the conclusion that the exact color of rick rack that I wanted does not exist. So, feeling quite disappointed, I went ahead and finished it without embellishments. But now that I see it finished I actually sort of like it plain. In fact, I think I might love it.

I used a blouse pattern, McCall’s 6076, view A, as a guide for the bodice, laying the center front line on the fold, and used a skirt and pockets from another pattern. And, as you can see, I cut an appropriate neckline. I finished the neckline and armholes with bias tape. I like that better than facings except that I can never make it lay flat and neat.

When I saw the fabric at Walmart I instantly fell in love with it. The flowers are dandelions!

It’s what Walmart calls “quilting cotton” but it’s actually a lighter weight than typical quilting cotton and, much as I love quilting cotton, this is a better weight for the really hot summer days. I’m going to be wearing this a lot. It could do with some accessories and I quickly tried adding a couple of items that I have on hand but when I saw the pictures I didn’t like the result but I might look around and see what else I can find to go with it. Still, I like it just fine as is.

Blue Is For Girls

This is so unbearably adorable I can hardly believe I made it myself.

It’s just a little big on her, which is perfect. She should be able to wear it for most of the summer. The pattern is Kwik Sew 3776. This is the second one of these that I’ve made. The first one is here.

Wardrobe for the Real World

A couple of weeks ago Jenny posted this excellent advice for wardrobe planning. It’s about sewing but it could be applied to purchasing RTW clothing as well. But I think it is a whole ‘nother level of problem for people who sew. It’s the clothes you imagine versus what you will actually wear.

I am always getting ideas. I get half a dozen or more ideas every day and it actually sort of hurts that I can’t make them all. But I am getting better about making clothes I will actually wear instead of making clothes that I love but that don’t suit me or my lifestyle or that I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing. Recently I actually refrained from buying a gorgeous fabric with pink roses on a white background because I figured it would likely end up being “too pretty to wear”.

It’s harder to get inspired to make the clothes I need, such as a particular color of slacks or skirt to go with a blouse that I made without regard to whether or not I have anything to go with it. Making slacks is rather boring and sometimes it’s hard to find the right color in a fabric that is acceptable to me. So this is sewing that gets put off while I sew more tops that won’t go with anything I already have. This is another great thing about summer dresses. They don’t need anything else. The only thing you have to worry about is what shoes to wear.

Roses and Lace

OMG! I LOVE this dress! I love the fabric, the colors, and I love the lace.

You might recall (if there was anyone actually reading this) last week I gave you a sneak peek of what I was working on. Well here it is, completed.

I used the bodice of Vogue 8789 and the skirt and pockets from another pattern because I don’t think I would be comfortable with the super-full 50′s skirt. It’s not perfect but the fit in the shoulders is better than my first version of this dress. When I first sewed the bodice front together the top edges of the lace came together perfectly but the bottom edges were about 3/8 of an inch off, which caused me a few moments of minor panic but all I had to do to fix it was pick apart about an inch of the center seam and about the same of the lace and just tugged on the lace a little and sewed it back together. So now it’s almost perfect.

I haven’t used lace very many times and this dress makes me think I should use lace and other embellishments more often. I remember my mother once criticizing someone we knew for not allowing her little girls to have ruffles on their dresses because they were “too hard to iron.” What I got out of that is that pretty is worth a little extra effort. It’s never been that I mind the effort either in sewing or taking care of the clothes. It’s just that I always think, “I never go anywhere to wear anything fancy.” But I wore this dress to Atwood’s and Walmart yesterday. This is not too much for everyday. There is a lot of territory between plain and fancy. And besides… there are no rules regarding when and where we are allowed to wear lace.

This ‘n’ That: Thursday Sewing Edition

[tap tap] Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? [chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp...]

I don’t have anything new to show off this week. I feel like I’ve been slacking off. I don’t have any particular schedule to keep but I always impose deadlines upon myself and end up feeling bad about not meeting them. Why do I do that?

Here’s a “sneak peek” at what I’m working on now. I took this with my phone. I was sewing on this lace and suddenly thought what a lovely picture it would make and I had my phone in my pocket so…

I had a bit of trouble getting the lace to line up correctly and a lot of trouble getting the darts to look just right but I finally decided that “as good as it will get” will just have to be “good enough” but after that I felt less motivated to move on to the next step and the next so I’ve been sewing on it just one little step a day.

I wanted to have another little baby romper, like this one, done by this weekend but I haven’t even started it yet so it’s probably not going to happen. I do feel this one is fairly urgent because babies grow so fast and I don’t want her to outgrow it before I finish it.

Maybe because of my slacking off on the current project, I’m not feeling quite so much urgency to get ten things finished by June as I did a couple of weeks ago but there are two or three more dresses I really want to get done soon. After that maybe I should concentrate more on quilts. Maybe.

Somewhere – I can’t remember where now – I came across a sewing blogger who had made a quilt dress out of scraps. I already sort of had the idea to do something like that. When I was six years old I begged my grandmother to make me a quilt skirt so of course she did. Now, I think about doing something like that but at the same time think it’s too crazy or too silly or too “poor farm wife” or something but seeing that someone else has done it… Well, still thinking about it. I do have a lot of little scraps.

And the ideas keep coming…

Batik in the Woods

I have had a long series of sewing projects that didn’t turn out quite right – that had some little detail, or in some cases not so little, that came out wrong and un-fixable or so much work to fix it didn’t seem worth the trouble. Or maybe my sewing has always been that way and it’s just bothering me more because I’ve been reading so many excellent sewing blogs lately. However, I have heard and read many times that it is bad form to point out all your mistakes and shortcomings so I’m going to try to stop doing that.

I went to the back yard for this modeling session. Yes, this is literally my back yard. (That’s supposed to be a “gazing dreamily into the distance” pose.)

The pattern is Simplicity 2957. I bought the main fabric at eQuilter two or three years ago and this is what I always planned to do with it but I put off getting some contrasting fabric because somewhere in the depths of the black hole (a.k.a. my closet) I have a small piece of solid fabric that I think is the right color. Finally, a couple of weeks ago I bought this dark red-purple batik from a local quilt shop.

(Please note, this might be the only time you ever see my shoes in a picture. My Birkenstocks just happened to almost match the dress so I wanted to show that once in a while I am coordinated even if it is by accident.)

This pattern has a sash in back but I hate sashes so I dealt with that in my usual way – elastic. I made four casings using standard bias tape and used quarter inch elastic. And, of course, I also added pockets because this pattern has none.

I like this dress even though, as I hinted above, it’s not perfect. It’s a nice, comfortable everyday dress and it’s just a little bit different (for me).

Some of you might remember that this was one of my unused patterns that I wrote about a while back. That’s two down already so it’s looking pretty good for my lame non-commitment to sew at least three them this year. (The first one is here) Stay tuned, as they say.

Everybody’s Sewing It

I have seen several versions of the Winifred dress from Blue Ginger Doll Patterns but it was Cari’s lovely pink creation that charmed me into buying the pattern. I downloaded the PDF. (my first) I wanted the paper pattern because I’ve never used a PDF pattern before and because it would have been cool to have something shipped to me all the way from the other side of the planet. But I thought, the PDF is five dollars cheaper, not to mention whatever shipping from Australia would have cost and a couple of hours of printing, taping and tracing wouldn’t kill me and best of all I wouldn’t have to wait for it. Well, I underestimated what an ordeal that would be. First my husband had to spend over an hour coaxing our printer to print and then there was the taping and tracing which, like everything else, took longer than I expected.

I wanted to steal Cari’s idea of putting buttons down the front but I already had this piece of paisley fabric, a Walmart impulse buy, that is so busy buttons wouldn’t be very noticeable. It was fall when I bought it so I was originally thinking of a long sleeved shirt but then more recently I started thinking about making it into a dress but did not have a specific idea about what kind of dress. I had three yards of it. Sort of a funny story about that. Usually when I’m planning on a long sleeved shirt I buy two and three-quarter yards but the day I bought this the woman who was working in the fabric department had an emergency and had to leave work suddenly so they had one of the guys from the sporting goods department watching the fabric department. He was obviously confused and didn’t know what he was doing so I decided to make it easier on him and ask for an even three yards. I don’t think it helped much. It took him (I am not lying) 15 minutes to measure and cut my fabric.

It’s a cool, lightweight cotton, perfect for a summer dress. Anyway, here it is.

The auto-focus and the timer on my camera don’t play well together. This was the only one of about ten pictures that was kinda sorta in focus. I added the border at the bottom because it was going to be shorter than I like. Not by any means too short but… it’s shorter than I’m used to and I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing it. I had enough of the paisley that I could have made it longer if I had been paying attention but I think the border looks okay. Almost like I meant to do it in the first place. One other change I made: pockets. I can’t live without pockets. I was worried that the pleats would be in the way so I made them just big enough for my phone.

This dress is very close fitting but it is surprisingly easy to slip on and off and it’s very comfortable. I don’t think it’s the best style for my body type though. It looks okay from the front but the view from the side is not pretty, to put it discretely. I am thinking of making another one anyway though. I still want to make one with buttons down the front. Right now I’m thinking pin dots. I haven’t decided what color. I suppose it will depend on what kind of cute novelty buttons, or just very pretty buttons, I can find.

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My record for consistency isn’t very good but I am thinking about making Thursday sewing day on this blog. I’m thinking that if I have a specific day for it might make it convenient for those readers who are only interested in the sewing posts. (And, I guess, easier for those who are not interested to avoid the sewing stuff.) Anyway… just my thoughts at the moment.

* * * * *

UPDATE: I just realized that in the picture you can see that we never got around to installing the baseboards in the hallway. That’s it! The one presentable spot in my house is not presentable after all.

This ‘n’ That

A couple of weeks ago Number Two Son and I were watching one of those nature shows about wildlife in Alaska. At one point, talking about the approach of winter, the narrator said, in the usual This Is Seriously Dramatic voice, “The temperature can drop as much as 15 degrees in just a few weeks.” And yes, I’m sure we heard him right. He enunciated very well. He said 15, not 50. We were too stunned to laugh. Fifteen degrees in a few weeks? We do more than that in just one day. In fact, I’ve seen the temp drop 15 degrees in less than an hour. Perhaps he meant the high temperature or the low, or the average. If so he should have said that but still, even if that’s what he meant we can still top it here in Oklahoma. Take yesterday and today, for example. Yesterday’s high was somewhere around 70°F. This morning at 6:30 it was only 40°F. Today’s high is supposed to be 80°. I have no doubt it will get there. How about that Mr. Serious Drama Narrator?

I thought I was going to have another new dress to show off today (Wow! Two in one week!) but it’s not going to happen. The pattern is very simple and I was sure I would finish it in one or two days but I kept taking breaks after each little step and the breaks kept getting longer and so it’s not finished yet. I really have no reason to rush but I’ve been feeling like, “Hurry! Get this one done! Start the next one! Get it done! On to the next one!” and so on. I have a bunch of sewing projects that I want to get done so I can wear them but I don’t really need to rush. I should just slow down and I will have enough things to sew to last all summer. But still, I keep feeling like I need to get all this stuff done. Almost like it’s a job.

I also have some outdoor things to do. Especially weeding! Yikes! Too bad I don’t feel motivated to rush to do that. And soon, planting. We tend to hold off until nearly May because late freezes happen, even hard freezes sometimes. But it is nearly May. Time to start playing in the dirt.

I didn’t manage to collect any quotes for this week. Maybe later I will look around and find a few. No promises. Some weeks they just appear all over the place and other weeks I have to work to find them.

I saw this on Facebook. I’m going to watch it over and over again until I can remember these. Well, most of them. Okay, maybe some of them. (And I did already know a few of them. Two, I think.)

Dressing Ethically

Today is the one year anniversary of the fire that killed 1,133 workers in a Bangladesh garment factory. “Who makes your clothes?” As a person who sews I am tempted to feel smug and proudly answer, “I did.” But who made the fabric? The buttons? The zippers? The needle on my sewing machine? I don’t know.

Living ethically is a lot of work and I’m lazy. I care. I really do, but I don’t even know how to find out these things. I have to rely on the media to tell me about things like the fire in Bangladesh so I will know which clothing not to buy. But things get really complicated. Look at the labels. It’s all made in Bangladesh or some other place where children work 16 hours a day for fifty cents and are beaten for complaining. It makes one want to throw up one’s hands and say, “Well, sheesh! Why don’t we all just start sewing together leaves from the plants in our back yards and wear those?”

Thanks to the demand, there are now a few companies producing ethical clothing. (There’s no way I can write that sentence that doesn’t look weird.) If you work at it you can live ethically. But can you trust the claims of people who are trying to make money? And if you buy clothing that is 100% made in the USA are you starving some orphan in Bangladesh who was counting on that fifty cents a day, however hard earned it might have been?

I do appreciate that there are people out there keeping a watch out for this kind of thing. Just by reporting they can force manufacturers to clean up their acts. So keep reporting and I will shop ethically when I can. Just don’t expect me to go nuts about something over which I have no control.

Easter Earth Day Dress and Perky Young Girls From the 60′s

Here is last week’s sewing project. I did not originally plan this as an Easter dress but as I was working on it I thought about wearing it on Easter but I changed my mind because the weather was a bit cool. To start with, I must say that I do like it even though I’m about to complain a lot.

The pattern is Simplicity 1882. It’s one of their “Amazing Fit” patterns. The fit is not amazing. I can accept partial responsibility for that but not the entire responsibility. It has separate bodice pieces corresponding to different bra cup sizes so I used the one for my size and it was too big. I made some adjustment but size wasn’t the only problem. I have seen tutorials for full bust adjustment and for small bust adjustment but I have never seen a tutorial for how to adjust princess seams for girls that live a bit farther south than the girls the pattern was designed for. (if you know what I mean) With most patterns this is not much of a problem for me but this pattern was designed for exceptionally perky young girls that live way way up north. (if you know what I mean) I had an epiphany (I like that word, “epiphany”) to try it with the weird, pointy bra that I never wear because it looks too 60′s. That actually did improve the fit, somewhat, and doesn’t make this dress look too terribly pointy.

Another thing about this pattern… The description on the front of the envelope says, “Softly Pleated A-Line Skirt.” This is beyond misleading; it’s an outright fib. The skirt has no pleats. It has darts. No problem. I made an honest pattern of it and sewed the pleats I expected in place of darts.

Now for the good points. I love the pockets. The yoke and pocket is a single piece that folds. Now I know how I’m going to add pockets to the fake pocket Vogue. It was worth getting this pattern just for that. I did have to add a couple of inches of depth to these pockets because they would have been too shallow to be of much use but that was very easy to do.

The fabric is quilting cotton, which I use for dresses all the time. It worked okay but I wouldn’t recommend it for this pattern because the extra thicknesses of fabric for the collar and pocket trim make the seams in these areas rather bulky. It’s okay but I think most seamstresses would likely prefer a lighter fabric.

I put the zipper on the side instead of the back, which means I could have eliminated the center back seam but I didn’t think of it. This is the second time I’ve done a side zipper and I’m totally sold on them.

Overall, I really do like this dress though I think my favorite parts are the fabric and the pockets. I don’t know if I will use this pattern again or not. Aside from the fit issues I really prefer a bit fuller skirt. That of course is easy to change and perhaps I could figure out how to fix the fit but why bother? There are so many other patterns waiting for my attention.

A Little Sewing

Finally, I have something cute to show off. The lovely young lady for whom I made this (my granddaughter) is not available to model it right now. I’m not even sure if it will fit. It is 6 to 12 month size so I’m hoping it will fit sometime this summer.

The pattern is Kwik Sew 3776 and the fabric was a piece that I have had for a really long time. It was almost a yard that I had left over from something else. I liked it a lot and had planned to get a coordinating solid to go with it and make something for myself but I had no idea what. I’m glad I did this with it. It’s the right thing for this fabric and I hope she gets to wear it a lot this summer.

I actually finished it a week ago but only put the snaps on it this afternoon. Kind of a funny story about the snaps. Ages and ages ago I put several leftover snap sets into an odd little glass vial with a plastic stopper. It’s slightly smaller than a 35mm film canister. I have no idea where it came from or what was originally in it but at the time it seemed like the perfect thing to put a few snaps in and it’s been sitting in one of my sewing machine drawers for literally decades. So I had snaps for the little romper. But when I poured them all out and sorted them into the different pieces I discovered that they weren’t all the same and I did not have four complete sets of one kind, which is what the pattern called for. So I waited until today and bought a package of snaps. Then when I started putting on the snaps it looked to me like there wasn’t really enough room for four so I only used three. And those old leftover snaps? Still in the drawer. It would make sense to just throw them away but they’re perfectly good snaps. “I’ll find a use for them someday.”

Yeah, More Sewing Blogs

See, here’s the thing. I’ve got these in my bookmarks and I can’t remember if I’ve linked to them already or not so here they are, possibly again. I need to just add them to ye olde links page but I keep telling myself, “You can’t keep them all.” Packrattery happens in cyberspace as well as realspace which is why I have a links page instead of just a few links in the sidebar. (And yes, Firefox spellchecker, “packrattery” is a real word and I spelled it correctly. I should know because I just now made it up myself.)

Anyway here are the sewing blogs, each with an additional link to my favorite recent(ish) post.

Wanderlost – Ooooo! 40′s

u&mii – Nice! An American dress in Britain

Lucky Lucille – And more 40′s fashion and fabrics appropriate for sewing them.

Cashmerette – It’s tea time dahlings. I think I’m really going to like this post if I can ever get all the photos to fully load.

Seamstress Erin – Wow. She sews, she knits, she even strings pearls.

Lin3a Rosa – Ah, you know I can’t resist sewing links.

Inside Out Style Blog – Actually not a sewing blog and not really a blog. It’s all about style, like How to Style Print Pants. I don’t know if I could ever do print pants myself but I do sort of like some of those print pairings.

Oops, almost missed one…

Sew Smitten – She finds wisdom from a tea bag.

Something Neue

I just got my first Neue Mode pattern and there are a couple of surprises. First, the envelope is huge. It doesn’t fit in the little plastic drawer/bin where I keep my patterns. The other surprise is that there are no directions. That wasn’t a total surprise because the order confirmation email said that I would have to download the “sewing guide” and included a link to this PDF. That’s it. One page.

I’m not worried about it. I’ve been sewing a long time and rarely look at the directions anyway. I’m sure I can figure it out. But if you’re new to sewing and are not particularly adventurous you might want to hold off a while on trying Neue Mode patterns. One thing – it doesn’t say so directly but I’m getting a feeling from this “sewing guide” that this pattern is intended for knits only which is not what I had in mind for it. I really just got it for the asymmetrical yoke and had radical plans that would end up with a dress that looks almost nothing like the cover picture. Oh well. I’m still confident that I can work it out somehow.

Spring Miscellany

Today is a big day. Well, not really. Today is the first time this year that I am wearing a spring/summer dress. It’s this one, since I’m not planning on going anywhere today. I briefly considered wearing the crazy pink one. Anyway, I love dresses. They feel so free. That’s why this is sort of a minor big deal to me. It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow though so it’s not quite time to put away the slacks yet.

It is definitely time to start summer sewing (I’m almost finished with a long sleeve cotton blouse, which I hope to be able to show off tomorrow but probably won’t get around to until early next week.) but I just realized that I do not have anything to sew that does not require some notion or trim or lining or something that I do not have yet. So I will have to either go to Tulsa in the next day or two or order stuff and wait a week. The latter is probably what I’ll do. I suppose it’s not a bad thing to take a short break from sewing. I can still work on that darned quilt that I’ve been stalled on for what seems like forever and I’ve got a couple of quilt tops I could be working on. But I’ve got the bug. I have pretty pieces of fabric that I want to sew now.

Remember I was talking about homemade shoes yesterday? Well, I was looking for the soling material and found these Xero Shoes kits. They’re very minimalist sandals. I don’t know… I don’t really like the look. I did also find the Vibram soling sheets at Amazon. That stuff is EXPENSIVE but there are some other brands. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to jump off into shoe making yet but I’m thinking about it.

Interesting article about the Hobby Lobby case. I don’t know what to think about this. I’m not familiar with the site but I’m sure it’s not exactly unbiased. (I saw this on Facebook) I’m not normally a very politically committed person. I don’t make purchasing decisions based on politics. It just gets too complicated. But I have to admit this thing with Hobby Lobby has really bothered me and made me not want to go there anymore. I don’t shop there very often but they have a small sewing department that is a little better than Walmart’s and there’s one closer to me than Tulsa. If what the article says is true it’s still not enough to make me completely change my mind about the case but it goes to show that the issues are more complex than the talking heads make them out to be and people on both sides of the political fence ignore anything that is inconvenient for their side.

Well, I don’t want to end on a political note but I’m fresh out of relevant and interesting [/sarcasm] things to say at the moment so how about a couple o’ cats. All together now: AAAWWWWWWWW….

Handmade Shoes

More than 20 years ago, probably closer to 30, (damn!) I bought a book that told in detail how to make shoes. I really wanted to give it a try but it seemed like too much messy, tedious work and, since this was before the Internet, even obtaining all the proper supplies would have been a bit of an ordeal so I never got around to it. But lately I started thinking about it again and, of course, did some googling.

Here is a serviceable pair of hiking shoes. The exciting thing about these, for me, is that you can buy Vibram soling by the sheet. I’ll have to look into that.

Of course, if it can be imagined someone is already selling it on Etsy. Those are quite nice and very professional looking.

Instructions for making your own shoes. This is pretty close to what I remember from the book. For some reason the idea of making a custom last is the most off-putting part.

More shoemaking instructions. This might be the author of the book I bought years ago (I’m sure I still have it somewhere) and these are more like the kind of shoes I had in mind (the flats of course) – something cute and comfortable to wear with dresses.

And more instructions at WikiHow

Finally here are the results for “homemade shoes” on Flickr. (Quite a few of the photos that came up are NOT, in fact, homemade shoes.) There are a lot of people out there doing this. I’m not confident in my ability to end up with shoes I would actually be willing to wear out of the house but I am getting closer to making an attempt.

Sewing Things

A long, lovely yellow skirt – I love it but that much yellow on me is probably not a good idea. I might have to get that pattern though. It looks interesting.

Lampshade – Love it!

Flowers and Frocks – A San Francisco Opera costume sale. Lovely! I would love to be an opera singer just to get to wear these things in public.

Windows 2 Wearables – an excellent sewing blog I recently discovered

Fat Quarter Challenge – Make an adult garment using 9 fat quarters. Wow. I kinda want to be in on the fun but I already have more than half a dozen projects screaming, “Make me next! Make me next!” and the whole idea is sort of making my head spin.

Pattern Impulses

At the beginning of every year I see a lot of talk about “stash busting” on the sewing blogs, and I’ve seen some really incredible stashes out there. I’m not even in the running for the “She Who Dies With the Most Fabric” prize. But what about patterns? I haven’t seen as much about this. Sewing people, do you have a stash of unused patterns?

I have a bad habit of using a few TNT (tried ‘n’ true) patterns over and over again and making little changes or combining parts of different patterns to make frankenpatterns, while I have unused patterns that I could not resist but haven’t got around to using yet. Below are a few from my collection followed by explanations and excuses.

From the top, left to right

Simplicity 1882 – This is a very recent purchase and I have fabric for it. I just need to find some fabric for the contrasting trim. I am confident that I will get around to this one this year.

Simplicity 2957 – I’ve had this one several years and have had fabric for it for over a year. I also need to get some contrasting trim fabric for this one.

Vogue 8577 – I also have fabric for this one but when I started cutting out the pattern pieces I got a little discouraged with it because the pockets are not real so I need to figure out some way to add real pockets, which I know I can do but when I discovered that I just decided to put it off until “later”.

Simplicity 2363 – It was love at first site. Then, sometime after I had purchased it, love turned into “What was I thinking?” But now I do have a piece of fabric for it and I’m inspired again. There will be some modifications though.

New Look 6963 – A couple of years ago I thought it was past time to get a new big shirt pattern but then I started wearing more fitted tops and I’m not so fond of big shirts anymore. I think I will use this pattern eventually. One cannot totally give up big shirts.

Vogue 8811 – I love this pattern but haven’t bought any fabric for it yet. I want to make a plaid one. This week I saw some pale blue dotted Swiss at Denver Fabrics and my little girl heart started thinking fluffy thoughts but I’m trying to resist because I’m not sure I would regularly wear anything so delicate.

McCall’s 6279 – I saw this on one of the sewing blogs and loved it but now I’m not sure what I want to do with it – what kind of fabric, what color, etc. It’s a little short for me. I would have to lengthen it quite a bit. How would it look then? I do still like it and want to make it eventually but it probably won’t happen this year.

New Look 6950 – I bought this one because of the curved pocket opening. The pants look really baggy though. Okay for lounge pants maybe. I might make the skirt someday. My daughter-in-law liked the top (A & B) so I might make one of those for her. I like it too but the neck opening looks way too wide. How are you supposed to find a bra to go with something like that? Anyway, I don’t have any immediate plans for this one but it still seems like a useful pattern to have.

Simplicity 9403 – This is a very old pattern. It includes only sizes 6 and 8. I never got around to making it because I couldn’t decide what colors I wanted for it. Now… well, size 8 was about 3 sizes ago and I have no idea how to upsize this pattern with those weird curvy pieces. I should just give it up but darn it I really liked it and wanted to make it and I keep thinking, “There’s gotta be some way.”

I’m reluctant to make any kind of pattern stash busting commitment but I’m tempted to say I will make at least three of these year. So stick around and see how I do. What about the rest of you sewing people? Anyone want to talk about pattern stashes?

Colorful Paisley With Rick-Rack

The delightful Anne of Pretty Grievances came up with my new favorite neologism (I first saw it in the comments on a recent post. I’m not going to look it up.) – gaudiflage – bold, colorful clothes and accessories used to conceal or divert attention away from one’s physical imperfections. Skeptical? Seriously, here’s how it works. You dress so that instead of having people say about you, “Does she really think wearing black will make that huge butt look any smaller?” they will say, “OMG! Quick, where are my sunglasses?” (Or perhaps, “Who sent in the clown?”) Well, anyway, I was using gaudiflage before it was even a word.

Here is my recently finished creation.

This is Simplicity 5346 with a little sleeve modification and lots of pink rick-rack. I am mostly pleased with the result. Comfortable and colorful. What more could one want? The sleeves aren’t quite the length I was going for but they’ll do.

I just happened to have the perfect button in my leftover buttons drawer. I only had the one so I’m probably going to be slightly paranoid about losing it even though I rarely lose buttons off clothes I make.

My history of making button loops is not exactly filled with honor and glory. (i.e. They usually turn out ugly and the wrong size.) So, I thought, what I really need for the loop is some small, round black elastic. Of course the local Wal-mart didn’t have any but while I was looking for it I noticed a card full of colorful ponytail bands. (Yes, in sewing notions; no wonder some people get confused about where to find things) The bands gave me an idea but they were too thick so I rushed back to the hair products and found these little black ones.

And it works perfectly. I left it whole so there will be no problem with it fraying. The hidden part of it is about the same length as the half you can see. I still have 35 small black ponytail bands, which should be enough to last me a lifetime if Number Two Son doesn’t find them.

* * *

More rick-rack, in case you missed it.

Respect the Whimsy

I haven’t used rick-rack much until fairly recently. Not that I disliked it or thought there was anything wrong with it. If I thought of it at all it was as a whimsical, old-fashioned trim that my mom used to sew on some of my dresses when I was little. But then I noticed a few people on the Internet hating rick-rack. I’m not talking about people simply saying they don’t like it or that it’s not for them. That’s perfectly fine – different strokes, right? But I mean hate – people seeming to be offended that it even exists. Well, fortunately, I’ve seen only a few of those but such is the way my brain works, when I see someone hating something that I like my fondness for that thing shoots way up. Suddenly I go from fond memories of my mother sewing rick-rack on my clothes to actually wanting to sew it and wear it now, as an adult.

In this first picture I was about six years old, I think. I don’t clearly remember the color of the dress. I think it was some kind of off-red or red-brown. I don’t remember the color of the rick-rack at all. It was one of my favorites at the time though.

Here’s a dress I already showed off last year. Two rows of white rick-rack around the neckline and one on each pocket. So perfectly summery.

I made this top several years ago and it was the first time I had used rick-rack in a long time – actually only the second time I had ever used it. I just had a sudden epiphany that this print needed a bit of red rick-rack.

This is a very old top. It must be at least 20 years old. This is a nifty thing to do with rick-rack – two different colors wound around each other – a bit tedious but not difficult. My mother got this idea from a tip on a package of rick-rack in the late 60′s.

Finally, here is a sneak peak of my latest project, which I will be showing off soon, probably early next week.

This is almost everything I have ever put rick-rack on. The only thing not included is an aqua and pink house-coat with pink rick-rack. So you see I haven’t used it a lot. I don’t plan to go crazy with it but I will use it again. It’s not to everyone’s taste but if you haven’t used it yet and would like to don’t be timid. It’s actually very easy to sew. It goes around curves like magic. I would recommend that you do not pin it in place. I tried that and it did not work well for me. I just take it completely off the card it comes on and hold it by hand as I sew, following a seam or a line drawn with a fabric marker, then cut off the excess when I’m done.