Friday, February 26, 2010

Marie Claire idees

I got my Spring/March/Easter issue of Marie Claire idees in the mail today and wrote about it on my other side.

I wanted to share the pics, though, for any of you crafty types. It's definitely work subscribing for the beauty alone!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pattern exchange

I have an idea I want to run by you guys.

You know how some blogs/sewing sites do sew-alongs? I’ve never participated in one, mostly because returning to sewing as a full-on hobby and then blogging about it are relatively new to me. Oh, and because most sew-alongs have to do with quilting, which I’ve done in the past but don’t really do anymore.

So instead, I’m wondering what it would be like to do a pattern exchange? Here’s what I envision –
  • Some people sign up for it, regardless of skill or years sewing. I’d love a mix of beginners, intermediates, and experts. And quilters who want to break away from the straight seams (you know who you are)!

  • We each pick out our favorite sewing pattern, either one we’ve already made with success or one we’re dying to make but haven’t found time. Maybe even one we’ve drafted ourselves that we need pattern testers for? Something vintage would be cool, remade with modern details. Even patterns for men or kids, whatever it is you’re dreaming about. There are so many patterns I’d love to see made up that I haven’t found the time to do. I could see tracing off the pattern for the other sew-er would be a good idea.

  • I mail my pattern (or tracings and instructions) to someone else in the exchange, and subsequently someone mails a pattern to me, something of their choosing.

  • I make up said pattern in my own size and fabric of choice.

  • We share the projects – successes and failures – when we’re done, and of course, return the patterns to their rightful owner for their future use if they have the original.

What do you think?

I actually think it could be fun to break out of my mold this way. This is because I’m realizing my mold is pretty rigid right now. I was browsing through BurdaStyle’s projects files while waiting for a plane and realized there are so many styles I just haven’t ventured into yet. Full skirts. Dresses with waistbands and pleats. Anything with denim.

One of the goals would be to keep costs as low as possible, from start to finish. It’s easy to make a dress look pretty when you’re using $25-a-yard silk and designer buttons. But can you find something in the bargain bin at Hancock’s and make it look just as cool? Or better yet, can you find fabric to repurpose that doesn’t end up looking (and smelling) like an old bedsheet? I lingered over a white linen-blend bedcover at an estate sale last weekend that had these huge purple cabbage roses on it. I couldn’t decide if it was hideous or beautiful? I left it behind and have kicked myself ever since.

So let me know what you think. Is it a good idea, a bad idea, a stupid idea? Would you participate if we did it?

Thanks, guys ~

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So cute. So so cute.

I love the blog Ravenhill. She is profiling an adorable Japanese sewing/quilting book today, go check it out.

I wish I was patient enough to make those little girls!

Envy. Sheer envy.

A fun giveaway

This one isn't my giveaway, but L'il Miss Muffet. She has a super cool name in real life.

She's giving away a pattern and the supplies to make lingerie! How cool is that? I love her blog and her projects.

Check it out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello love

I went out to my mom and dad's house tonight with my kids. They winter in Florida, so my goal was to water the plants, check everything over, flush the toilets and let my kids play with the toys at Grandma's house.

I decided to go snooping through my mom's pattern boxes for a pattern of mine from high school. I didn't find it, but I did come away with these two lovelies © 1963 and 1964, just after my mom finished college.

I fell in love instantly with the first sundress pattern (McCall's 7208). Except I think I'd like it better with a straight skirt, so here's my attempt at Photoshopping the two together. What do you think? The bodice and skirt pieces of the fuller dress are cut on the bias, so if you had a striped fabric in mind (as I do), the lines would run on an angle up the front, which could be very flattering. But then the skirt lines would be straight? Is that ok?

I have no time to work on this right now, and another totally cool vintage-based pattern project in the works, but maybe after I get back from vacation....

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Look 6937 - featuring Jennifer Paganelli

Uhh, Jennifer Paganelli wasn't interviewed for this post or anything, I hope I didn't give you the wrong impression. I just used her fabrics to make this top to take along on our Florida vacation.

Pattern: New Look 6937 - $3.99
Fabric: 100% cotton - Free Spirit - $17.98 total (approx. 2 yards)
Total cost: $22.50 (including elastic for sleeves)
Time elapsed: 2 hours sewing, 1/2 hour cutting
Rating: Eh. Not my favorite but not a wadder either.

I finished my New Look top for our Florida trip.

It's an easy pattern, but there are a few problems with it.

First, it seems to fit too big in the back and I need to pull it off my shoulders to get the back collar/facing piece to lay flat, but in the front it's too big and fits best when I pull them together and overlap them a bit. I have no idea what's the fix for this? Also, it fits fairly tight in the bust but larger up around the neck/collarbone area. Weird.

Also, I made a few mistakes or I was confused on the pattern instructions, either way. They have you sew the interfaced collar band to the shirt. Then when you've sewn on the facing piece, the interfaced piece is what is on top, facing outward. In hindsight I would do it the other way, because maybe it would lay flatter then.

Ew. I don't like two back to back butt shots, makes me want to go exercise or something.

I think a thinner fabric like a voile might lay better?

And I added two inches to the bodice length and I'm still not happy with the finished length. I'd rather it was a little longer so I could add elastic or a drawstring at the bottom to make it kinda bubbly. And two extra inches would hide those two butt shots.

Hey, I just realized something. Look at the girl on the pattern sleeve. She's caving in her chest, too! Her shirt doesn't fit her either. But she looks more carefree than I felt, and of course she has that wicked tan.

Otherwise, I think it's cute and I'll wear it because nobody in the general public will be worried about these things but me.

Weekend sewing

I didn't finish anything this weekend, but I did manage to get a really good head start on a summery top I want to take along on our upcoming Florida vacation to see my parents.

It was inspired by a child's shirt, the Cathy pattern on Jennifer Paganelli's blog. Is that a bad idea? I dunno. I liked the combo.

I found this New Look pattern (6937) that really piqued my interest. I cut it out in version B.

I had the Jennifer Paganelli cottons in my stash - flower power green and mod girls brown zebra.

I hope to finish it tomorrow night so I can share in the loveliness that is Jennifer Paganelli and warm weather.

I hope to be able to have a running Monday post of weekend sewing projects. In its honor, or just because it came to my feeble mind just now, I'll have a fun giveaway in the next few weeks - Heather Ross' book Weekend Sewing.

I have it in my collection, have read it, and would love to pass it along to someone who could really sew from it, learn from it. If you already have Heather's book, don't fret. I'll have a back-up option equally lovely. So check back, say, next Monday?

Happy Monday everyone ~

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I wanna make this ** with an edit

I subscribe to Sew Hip from the UK. I love it for some reason? There aren't a ton of projects that I want to make, but it's good eye candy and makes me feel creative.

In issue 2 from a long while ago they had this adorable cross-stitched wool handbag. I love it.

I don't do hand-stitching things. Not because I can't, I used to. Because I've grown into a raging case of impatience and ADD and I really can't handle it. Buuuuut I think this project might break me out of that mold.

I'm not going to set my sights too high on this one. I hope to have it done for next fall, when it would be appropriate to carry a wool plaid handbag with an adorable terrier on it. I wonder if I could change the colors up to look more like Binnie (our terrierist)?

** I had some great questions and I realize I should have explained more, so here goes... UK readers probably know all about it, but it's fairly hard to find here in the States. Sew Hip is more of a magazine full of random sewing projects and pretty happy pictures than a serious garment construction magazine.

I would say it is a fun, whimsical British version of France's Marie Claire Idees that I also subscribe to. Each month will have a clothing pattern and instructions, along with a quilting project or a softie or some knitting or embroidery projects. Most of them are pretty easy so it's a great magazine for beginners.

I love it for the bright colors and fabric suppliers they list as well as the projects. It's more of a launching pad for me than Burda WOF or Ottobre, which are truly excellent clothing construction mags.

It's also relatively new, so they're now adding pattern reviews from bloggers. I've found more great blogs and books on sewing from this one magazine than anywhere else.

I couldn't find a really thorough official website (the one they have is kinda sparse) but I found a few other links that might help -
An interview in Sew Hip with Heather Ross
Print and Pattern
Blooming Felt feature

Happy hand stitching, all you creative types ~

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Yikes, I needed two more sewing machines? Why, yes, in fact, er, no what was the question?

Soooooo maybe I have a small collection of sewing machines? But I like them all. I use them all. And today the collection got so much cuter.

I had received an email from a local fabric store that was closing with their list of clearanced sewing machines. On it was a Bernina 65 (bernette) for less than two hundred bucks. I decided to go over and pick it up this morning when they opened, and had my kids in tow. After we left and ran errands, we stopped at an estate sale close to home.

I walked into the basement and there she was! A mint-condition 1956 Singer 99X. One of the cousins of the Featherweights, but I haven't had any time to research the differences yet? It weighs about 30 lbs, so I don't think it qualifies for "featherweight" status. But the rest is the same - small, powerful, beautiful and durable.

She runs like a dream. She just needs a little dusting around the bolts and screws, and probably a nice oiling of the drum.

I'm so excited to make up something with this machine! And the Bernette, although I forgot to buy bobbins and can you believe they actually sold it to me without any??? Rude.

Sorry for the junky photo quality. My husband had taken off with the camera for the day so all I had was my Blackberry camera. But you get the idea, right? I'm so excited. I have a Pfaff of the same era, it would be interesting to line them up together and see how they compare on similar projects? Maybe I'll have to do that.

Happy sewing~

And the winner is.....

After calculating all of the multiple entries for following and linking (thanks, guys) the winner of the Nani Iro side pocket bag is...



Here's her comment...

If I can't email you, Tina, be sure to email me at heathertyfeatherty @ gmail . com (take out the spaces) with your name and address and I'll get the bag in the mail as soon as I can.

Thanks for playing along, everyone! I'll have a new giveaway in a few weeks so check back!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I promised a post on the thickness of thread, and I promise it's in the works.

But in the meantime, I ran across this explanation of thread quality with microscope pictures for your viewing pleasure.

I hope this helps when you're out buying thread? For what it's worth, I never buy Coats and Clark, only Gutermann but recently was cursing a bad spool of Gutermann that kept breaking.

Metrosene is the best I've sewn with, but I can't find it in many local stores?

Hope you guys are working on something fun. I just watched the movie Precious so now I'm sad and traumatized and need to recover! ~

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

need some input

I bet you were wondering why I made you all sign up to follow, weren't you? I had ulterior motives.

I need a little help, a little idea generation.

I have been steadily cleaning up my workspace downstairs, organizing patterns and fabrics and taking a bunch of things to my parents' house for storage (we might be moving this spring so I need to de-clutter).

I managed to tag patterns to quite a bit of my fabric stash, but I have two pieces of fabric with no purpose. I would love pattern suggestions from anyone.

The first is a bright white stretch twill I got for super cheap at Hancock's. It's a really nice, heavier weight and has a little texture to it, almost like a little seed stitch? Does that make sense? So what would I make out of white stretch twill? I have at least three yards, maybe four.

The second piece is a lovely sweater knit, alpaca and wool blend. It's a greenish brown color and so super soft to touch. I thought it would make a nice sweater dress but I have no patterns and have seen nothing inspiring. Does anyone have any pattern suggestions for something like this? It's not very wide, only 44" but it was on super clearance locally and I bought over four yards, I remember that much. It has quite a bit of stretch to it, so I'm kind of scared to cut into it without the right project?

Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sad Parfait

This is such a sad story ~ the Parfait dress that went wrong. I don't even know where to begin.

For starters, I decided the Japanese cotton/linen strawberries print I'd ordered from Hart's Fabric last year was perfect for the Parfait dress ... after already cutting it out for a vintage shift pattern. Oops. That should have been where it all stopped.

But no, I was determined. I cut the pattern pieces out, checked my bust measurement against the instructions, and proceeded to cut as many pieces as I could. All I needed was another yard. So I checked Hart's Fabric's website - no luck. I wasn't dissuaded. I called their store and the most helpful woman on the planet actually tracked down the last two yards in their warehouse. I thought it was meant to be. At $20 a yard, I should have maybe thought a little harder?

**This is where a rational person would have made a muslin. Apparently, I have lost all reason and like wasting time and money. Although, in my defense I like to say I don't have time to make a muslin as I barely have time to sew in general.**

While I was waiting for the extra fabric to arrive, my son spilled a Sprite all over the cut pattern pieces. Tissue paper and Sprite don't go well together and the pieces that were most affected were the bust and midriff. I have no idea if that's why it doesn't fit me right or not. I managed to dry them and they seemed fine. But it doesn't fit.

I cut it out over Christmas break and finally got around to putting it together this weekend, with both of my kids underfoot.

I don't know where to begin on what's wrong with it? It's a lovely dress. If I had a much bigger chest (36C here) and was shorter and thinner, it would fit. Maybe. There's some weirdness where one side of the front didn't match the back.

I don't know if you can tell from this photo, but the back of the skirt is off-balance? One side was almost two inches wider than the midriff when I went to attach it, so the seams across the back are off balance. I made adjustments to even it out, but couldn't do as much as it needed.

And when I finished putting the midriff/bodice pieces together, the back on one side was notably wider than the front. Odd.
I do love the details, though! I added some ivory piping to the bodice and pockets and I think it adds a little structural detail among all the busy-ness. It made making changes a lot more difficult, though, so this is where a muslin would totally have come in handy.

Part of the problem for me is that I didn't make any adjustments for my height (5'11"). With almost every other commercial pattern there is a point in cutting out the fabric where I add two inches to the bodice for my height. This pattern's pieces never mentioned it, and I must have thought by adding an extra inch to the straps I was making enough of an adjustment.

I was wrong. I should have cut the midriff sections much wider so the skirt started lower on my body. Like where a wasitline would be.

And I should have added a few inches to the length.

I'll probably tackle the Parfait dress again someday. Probably with a much cheaper fabric. And in a much bigger size. With the small bust adjustment. And adjustments for my height. Man, when I write all that it kind of seems like maybe I won't put myself through the agony again?

Oh, well. Live and learn. I should give this blog a tagline - the impatient sew-er who refuses to make a muslin.

Here's to some frustration-free, successful sewing in the future~

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Nani Iro side pocket bag giveaway

I wanted to celebrate the kickoff of my new sewing blog with a sewing giveaway! And what better day to do it than President's Day? It's like the largest, most commercial holiday ever. So in honor of Abe Lincoln, a Japanese pattern made up for you.

The Nani Iro side pocket bag ~

I have a bunch of Japanese pattern sewing books and I've always been too intimidated to try one. The language barrier! I can type Swedish or Italian into Babel Fish for translation but Japanese? No way.

So you can imagine how happy I was to find a free download translated Nani Iro bag pattern on the Magpie Patterns website!

I had this Japanese linen/cotton strawberry print fabric in my stash, and while I cut most of it up to make the Colette Parfait dress (more on that later in the week I hope), I had enough leftover to make this bag.

If you decide to sew your own, here are some tips I can give you -

1) The measurements are in centimeters! I know, you all probably knew that already but after measuring out 25 inches for the height and thinking "holy cow, this is the biggest handbag I've ever seen," I looked at it again and realized 25 cm made so much more sense.

2) I interfaced this bag with regular strength fusible interfacing. If I were to make it again I'd use a heavier sew-in interfacing. It's a soft bag and my preference would be for it to have more body.

3) It doesn't call for any interior pockets so I added an inside pocket with a welt opening. I would have used a zipper closure, but that's where the button was to be sewn on and I wasn't sure if it would interfere.

4) I think this would be super cute as a shoulder bag, too. If you lengthened the handles by another six or ten inches, and adjusted the curves of the lines, it would work. You know, I've come up with so many things I could do differently next time I just may have to make this again some day.
The pleated side pockets would be perfect for carrying a diaper case, or a book or Blackberry.

It would make a great bag for carrying knitting/crocheting/embroidery projects with you.

Here's how to enter the giveaway and win the bag:

1) Simply leave a comment here for one entry.

2) If you leave a link to this blog or this post on your own blog, and copy your link in your comments you'll automatically get three entries to win.

3) If you are a follower and comment, you'll get another entry.

I hope that's not too confusing? So one entry for comment, two entries for followers who comment and three if you mention this post on your own blog and link back to it.

I'll be traveling this week for work, so the contest ends on Friday, February 19, 2010 at 5:00pm CST. I'll post the winner on Saturday morning, cause it might take me that long just to figure up the entries! Yikes, how do people do this? If you're from outside the U.S., don't worry. I'll ship it to you, too.

Thanks for your support and happy sewing ~

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I got the new Spring Boden catalog this week, and it has totally awakened my hibernating sewing monster! You know the one, it's the one that says "oh, I could make that" when you see something totally cute.

I am dying to make this coat. I stopped by Hancock's this week and found some nice stretch twill that is lined up for this coat project.

I plan to use this Butterick pattern and modify it slightly. I probably won't put the piped loopy loops at the top, but the contrast piping and pockets plus oversized buttons will definitely be on the bill. And I love the longer cuffs with the contrast.

I also love love love this dress! I am afraid I'd have to order it to see the detail of the bodice up close, but I think I can improvise and make something close enough?

I love this Kwik-Sew pattern (the green version) and it's really similar to the styling in the Boden dress. I have a Simplicity pattern that is nearly identical, so I think I'll use it and modify it to make it. I'm in love with that whole tuxedo-bib look so I think I need to get it out of my system and make something with it.

I have so many tunic projects in the To-Do pile, it's a little embarrassing. But what's one more?! I love the appliqued circle detail around the collar of this shirt, it's different than anything else I have.

I have ordered shorts and tees for the boys from them in the past and they hold up really well and look cool. In fact, it was Boden's knit board shorts that I tried to replicate with a re-purposed rugby shirt last year. The idea was good, the fit was not. I hope to have better luck this year.

I've not yet found a good local source for nice knit fabric in stripes? Does anyone have an online source they've had good luck with that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? I'd love any suggestions.

I just finished the project (it's a secret...) for the first giveaway of this new blog, so check back on Monday. I'll be posting pics, instructions and of course, your chance to win it. If you like Japanese prints, and have always wanted to tackle a Japanese pattern but were intimidated by the language barrier, this one's for you!

Happy sewing~

Friday, February 12, 2010

love your friends

Today my sons have their pre-school Valentine's Day parties at school. Usually I'm kind of lame and bring cookies or something.

Not this year! This year I totally rocked the Hallmark holiday. I saw these bracelets on katie did and made up a bunch for the kids at school. Blue and purple for the boys, pink and red for the girls. I think the entire project cost $1, plus the leftover buttons from my button box.

Then while I was on motivation overload I decided to make some theme shirts for the boys. I wanted the shirt to speak to the things they love.

Cooper loves his friends (and the money he got from Grandma in his Valentine's Day mail).

Griffin loves juice.

I absolutely love hand embroidered blanket stitching on appliqued clothes like these, but there are two problems with that -

1) I don't have that kind of time, and
2) I don't like to hand sew things.

So I used one of my machine's overlock stitches with contrasting thread and I think it turned out ok. Then I used my freehand quilting foot for the first time and freehanded the lettering, which is so fun I think I'm addicted to it!

Instead of using Steam-A-Seam to adhere the felt to the t-shirts, I sprayed the backs of the pieces with a little quilting basting spray which works awesome. Here are some words of advice if you've never used it before - it comes out strong! And it's very sticky. A few short bursts of spray was plenty, and I sprayed it inside a cardboard box that can be thrown away. I also wore a disposable plastic glove on my left hand (the hand I held the felt pieces).

Here are two things I'd do differently next time (wow, I'm on a twos theme, huh?) -
1) I would not use felt. I had a bunch of felt and used it for the bracelets so I just kept on with the felt. My machine wasn't happy about that when I went to freehand the words. The thread kept gumming up and breaking. I should have used sweatshirt fleece. Still, the effect is pretty cute.
2) I would use thicker decorative thread. Not heavy-duty thread, which is too thick, but a decorative top-stitching thread. One of these days I'll put up a post explaining thread choices and what they look like stitched.

The t-shirts cost about $5.50 a piece. $5 for the Target t-shirt and fifty cents for felt.

I have a giveaway in the works, so stop back soon. Can't give away what it is going to be just yet, but hopefully you'll like it.