Monday, January 12, 2015


In November Pattern Review ran a contest for making a handbag. I've never made a handbag before, but I wanted to try, so I bought a pattern (it cost $10!) and looked through my remnants that I've been stocking up on, and this is what I came up with:
I sent away to China for the oval rings to go on the sides where the straps are, and it took a few weeks for them to arrive, so I didn't get the bag done in time for the contest. But that's okay. I now have a new purse. I love the four outside pockets--two on each side, and the inside pockets in the lining, and the zipper top. I love the colors. I learned about interfacing a purse, including using iron-on fleece to give it some body. I learned about making your own piping. All in all it was a good experience, and I'm thrilled with my new purse!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Style and Sew an A-Line Skirt

That's the name of a Craftsy class taught by Deborah Moebes. Or maybe it's Design and Sew. Anyway, here is my first "muslin," or practice skirt, made to fit my own measurements:

From the front it looks fine, although the sides kind of stick out. From the side, though, it looks almost like a pencil skirt, with no shape in the back. Or, wait! Maybe that's me that has no shape in the back. :-)

So after I tried the first version, I followed her directions for "slashing and spreading" the pattern to make a fuller skirt. I cut six slashes from the hem to, but not through, the waistline, and then spread each one by half an inch at the hem line. This added three inches to this quarter of a skirt, or twelve inches total to the hemline of the whole skirt.

So now I've got a skirt shaped more like I had imagined that I'd like it to be. In fact, it's really similar to my favorite grey wool skirt that I wear so much. Except that this one is blue and made of cotton and doesn't have six "gores" in it. But I mean, you know, similar shape.

And the side/back seems to work better now, too.

So after I made the practice versions, I made a "real" version out of this blue cotton "jacks" fabric that I bought a few weeks ago in order to build up my stash for the Style the Stash Sewalong. I used the practice skirt, above, as the lining.

And.... I like it! One thing's for sure, it's very comfortable. And it fits me.

I put in an invisible zipper for the first time using an invisible zipper foot, and it worked! I was so tickled with myself. Mixed in with all the metal attachments that come with my sewing machine from my mother was a baggie that had these plastic invisible zipper foot attachments. Two years ago when I made Melinda's wedding dress, I had no clue how to put in an invisible zipper. Now, thanks to Deborah and also Sunni Standing (with her free zipper class, also on Craftsy), I knew what to do.

I didn't tell you then, but I'll tell you now, that I had actually tried to insert an invisible zipper into that dress that I made in May. Deborah says you can just use a regular zipper foot to do it, and that's what I tried to do, but it didn't work so well. You can see the zipper in several places. I could have unpicked it and re-did it, but it's behind me where I can't see it, so it really doesn't bother me. :-)

I've had people ask me why I'm so determined to learn to sew my own clothes. One reason is because it's helping me be more aware of my body and its shapes and sizes, and hopefully to help me appreciate it as is, even as I'm working on getting healthy and strong again. And another reason I'm working on sewing my own clothes is because I'm loving the learning process.

I'm really excited about trying some more skirt variations. This could get addicting!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Knit top

Simplicity 1716 is a pattern that got high marks on Pattern Review. I made it with a lightweight cotton knit fabric. I started it yesterday and finished it today. I like the interesting and modest neckline. It was fun to figure it out.

The sleeves were fun to make, too, and I like how they cover my upper arm.

As long as the fabric holds up alright, this should be a functional and cool top to help me get through these hot summer days.

Ruffling foot

Things have been a bit hectic since the wedding, but are starting to settle down. Two days ago I was ready to get back to sewing things for myself. We had moved my machine and other sewing essentials to the attic where I could have some space to finish up the wedding sewing when children and grandchildren were filling our home. Advantage: great escape. Disadvantage: hot attic. So before I could start sewing on a top that I wanted to make, I decided to make some curtains to cover the south-facing window.

I use my mother's "vintage" Singer sewing machine, model 15. It's the one I learned on, and I love it. The only thing it can't do, I think, is zigzag. It has an amazing buttonhole attachment that makes perfect buttonholes every time. And it has this ruffling foot.

I had never tried it before, even though many of those little girls' dresses that I made had to have gathered skirts, basically because I wasn't sure how much of them would gather and whether or not the gathers would be adjustable to make the skirts fit the bodice.

But, curtains--that would be a great opportunity to just ruffle up some strips of fabric and sew them around the edge.

And I did it.

Okay, don't look too closely, as they are by no means perfect. But they are functional, and kind of pretty, I think. I lined the fabric with that blackout lining in an effort to keep some of the heat out. And I used the top ruffle as the curtain rod pocket--probably a real no-no. But, hey, they add color and functionality to my new room, and I think they're kind of fun.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Big Girls' Dress

This is my oldest granddaughter, and she's modeling Butterick 3714, made of pink satin Casa fabric from JoAnn's, fully lined. I haven't reviewed it yet on pattern review, but I need to, as this is the third time I've made this dress, and I love it.
The bodice and sleeves are overlaid with matching pink sparkly organza

It's a pretty good dress for twirling.

The lining supports a tulle ruffle that helps the dress stand out away from the body.

I made two of these dresses, both size ten, but one for each of two very differently-shaped young ladies. For this one, I did the size ten for the length, but cut the size eight for the width, and  it is still a little loose on her. For the other, I took some length out of the bodice and the skirt, but added width to the waistline. When I get a picture of the other girl modeling hers, I'll post it as well. Between the satin, the lining, the organza overlay, and the tulle, each dress probably took, oh, about six yards of fabric.

Wow! I hadn't stopped to realize how much fabric each dress takes. Oh, my.

Stay tuned for the middle-size girls' dresses, to be posted sometime in the next couple of days.

Baby's dresses

This little girl is the youngest of three little granddaughters who were born into our family last year. The dress she's wearing is made from McCall's 2053 out of primrose pink Casa satin, lining and organza from JoAnn's. Her two cousins have similar dresses made of the same fabric. I used a grey satin ribbon and sewed it just under the bodice in the front, with ties for a bow in the back. Her mama made the roses for the hairpiece in her headband. There is also a matching set of panties to go with each dress. Total yards? I don't know. Probably a yard each of the satin, organza and lining, plus an additional half-yard or so for the panties, for each dress. 

Shark fin


Here's the skirt and blouse that I made/am making for the wedding. I think the skirt needs some pressing. When I look at my profile in the mirror, all I notice is the gusset sticking out the back, just like a shark fin. I hope I can get that to relax into place!

Obviously the fabric does not have the drape that is needed for this pattern!

Okay, so I cut a triangle out of the back.

And it worked!

It doesn't have as much movement, but it's not really restrictive, either. so it works.

Shark fin is gone.


I forgot to mention that the skirt is made with McCall's 5523, and the blouse is my second version of McCall's 6035. The first has roll-up sleeves and a collar; this one has short sleeves and just the collar band. I really like this pattern as it is comfortable and it fits and it feels good to wear something that I made and like!