Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If I Sew for Fall Will That Usher It In?

It is so hot it feels like the height of Summer. The official start of Fall is in a few days and I am hoping  the climate gets the news! Fall is my favorite season to enjoy and for sewing projects. I love the cozy pieces, fun fabrics and layers.  


At a recent pattern sale, I picked up Butterick 6388 and was waiting for a change in the weather to get sewing. The change has not come, but I could wait no longer.
                 Image result for butterick 6388
After much deliberation, I decided to use retro double knits from my stash. I made a black/brow version first. After getting rave reviews from my family, I made another in a cream knit of a slightly lighter weight. 

The seam lines, multiple pattern pieces, and many marks to transfer imply a level of difficulty that may be off putting, but need not be. This pattern came together very fast and with great ease. If you make it, be sure to do your stay stitching and carefully clip your curves. This will make the tricky parts go smoothly.

I  made the size Medium based on my measurements.  When I pinned it to my dress form, I found the bodice a bit loose. I stitched the arm seams at 1 inch and graded back to 5/8 at the hips. I am on the fence about the fit now that I have seen the photos. It feels good, but is that too much ease?

If you have been here before, you know I have a thing for a good collar! I love the lapped collar here; it is what drew me to this pattern. The print fabric was firm enough to hold it up with no problem. I should have probably used a lightweight knit interfacing on the cream one as it falls a bit in back.

I knew going in, that the seam details of this dress would probably be lost in this print fabric choice. Luck thing I like the print, so I don't mind.

They are clearly more visible on the plain canvas of the cream knit fabric.

I usually prefer side seam pockets as a rule. I find I can put more in them without the changing the look and flow of the item. These will keep my hands warm, but they will not hold much. Additionally, a pet peeve of mine is seeing the outline of pockets against my skin in light colored garments. To avoid this problem, I used fabric in a brown that matches my skin tone.This color choice camouflages the pockets without distracting from the look of the dress front.

This is the pocket outline if I used white. Above it, is the indistinguishable outline of the brown pocket.

 In addition to this change, I also added more top stitching than the pattern suggested. I carried it down the angled seam

I am 5’8” and like my legs, (it only took a few decades). This is “just” the right length for me. It is borderline too short. If you are uncertain of the length, cut it longer and make a deeper hem. 

I am pleased with these dresses. I think they will transition well into Fall and Winter with some added tights and a coat. The vest and the shirt patterns will be good options as well. If this is on your list, I say grab it and make it.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, August 22, 2016

Jeanius Refashioned Coat Using Simplicity 1254

It is 90 degrees in Texas and I have made my Winter coat! I am so ahead of the game this year! Yay me! Okay, that is not completely accurate. I have finished my Winter coat from last year! 

I began this refashioned, pieced denim coat last Winter using Simplicity 1254 by Leanne Marshall. After spending many hours piecing the coat exterior, I lost my sewjo. All the improvising and auditioning placement of pieces, took it out of me. That coupled with the rapid change in weather, relegated the shell of this coat to my W.I.P. pile.  

I picked this project up again when Lisa over at Pattern and Branch alerted me to the #Refashioners2016 #Jeanius challenge. The Refashioners is a challenge created by Portia Lawrie of Makery that showcases ways to refashion a selected garment. This years challenge is denim from jeans.

To make my coat I pieced 9 pair of men's and women's jeans. After "making" my fabric base, I cut the pieces and sewed per instructions.

The cowl is large and can be used as a hood if you prefer. My choice of denim makes it too heavy for that to be practical. 

The only change I made to the instructions was to add two snaps to the underside of the front facing. This part is made using the waistband from one of the jeans. It it does not lay flat because of its' thickness. The snaps keep it together. 

The inside of the coat is lined with Dutch Wax fabric. As is normal with me and linings, I had some troubles with sewing it. Nothing about the pattern just me and the way my brain works. It required a little more concentration, but I go the job done.

Lining Front

Lining back
It is funny, when I pulled this from the W.I.P pile, I couldn't remember why I lost my sewjo. I expected to see glaring problems to resolve. There were none. It serves as a reminder to walk away from stressful situations and projects if you can. Time away gives new perspectives and can reignite excitement after the love is gone.

How about you think about making a project? The challenge goes until September 30th so you have time. 

Happy Sewing,

Friday, August 5, 2016

A New Embroidery Machine For Me!

Thank you to those who voted for my hand-sewn dress! I won second place in the Allbrands Sewing Contest! I won a Brother sewing-embroidery machine. Here are the details of my new toy. I cannot wait to begin playing with it!  

An inspiration to modish mavens and fashionistas, the Project Runway Limited Edition LB6770 PRW sewing and embroidery combination machine brings new creative potential to a designer’s palette. With 70 built-in embroidery designs, five monogramming fonts and 120 frame pattern combinations, the LB6770 PRW imparts style and panache to designer creations. Using the 67 built-in stitches, 98 stitch functions and 10 styles of one-step automatic buttonholes, this limited edition machine brings added dimension, color, texture, imagery and sophistication to apparel. The built-in embroidery card slot allows the use of thousands of optional Brother embroidery designs for greater differentiation tailored to a designer’s unique vision.

Design it with Sewing
  • 67 Built-in Stitches
  • 98 Stitch Functions
  • 10 One-stop Automatic Buttonholes
  • Advanced Needle Threader Saves Wear and Tear on Eyes/Fingers
  • Built-in Variety of Utility and Decorative Stitches
  • Automatic Push-Button Thread Cutter
  • Super Bright, LED-Lit Work Area
  • Super-Easy Bobbin Winding System
Embellish It With Embroidery
  • 70 Built-in Embroidery Designs
  • 5 Alphanumeric Fonts
  • 120 Frame Pattern Combinations
  • Embroidery Rotation in 90˚, 10˚ and 1˚ Increments
  • Embroider Designs up to 4” x 4”
  • Built-in Memory Allows User to Save up to 12 Embroidery Designs
  • On-Screen Editing to Create the Perfect Embroidery Patterns
  • Built-in Card Slot Enables Use of 1000s of Optional Brother Embroidery Designs
Sewing Stitches
  • Stitch Attributes: Mirror, twin, multi-directional, side cutter, satin stitch regulator
  • Stitch Width: up to 7.0 mm
  • Stitch Length: up to 5.0 mm
  • Utility stitch functions: Yes
  • Reinforcement Function: Yes
  • Quilting stitch functions: Yes
  • Heirloom stitch functions: Yes
  • Built-in Decorative Stitches: Yes

Embroidery Pattern
  • Monogramming Fonts: 5
  • Frame Patterns: 10 frames, 12 patterns
  • Decorative Patterns: Yes
  • Media Recognition: Memory Cards
  • Embroidery File Formats: .PES and .DST embroidery data files are compatible with this machine. 

Needle/Thread Features
  • Needle Threading System: Advanced
  • Upper Thread Tension System for perfect stitches on any fabric: Manual
  • Needle Positions: 15
  • # of needles: Single needle machine
  • Bobbin: Top (horizontal)/Drop-in Quick Set™
  • Thread Sensors: Upper Thread and Bobbin Sensors
  • Thread Cutter Button: Push-Button Automatic
  • Bobbin winding system: Super Easy Bobbin Winding System

Machine Features
  • Maximum Sewing Speed (stitch per minute): 710
  • Free Arm: Yes
  • Presser Foot Attachment: Snap-on
  • Drop Feed Function: Yes
  • LCD Touch Control Panel: Backlit, Touch Screen 380 mm x 710 mm
  • Presser Foot Pressure: Auto
  • Maximum Embroidery Field: 4” x 4”

  • On-Screen Editing: Yes
  • Display Control Panel: Backlit, Touch Screen 380 mm x 710 mm
  • Compatible with PE-Design/PED Basic: Yes
  • Design Memory: Yes (sewing/embroidery)

Carton Contents
  • Accessory Storage: Yes
  • In the box: 7 feet (buttonhole, overcasting, monogramming, zipper, zigzag, blind hem, and button fitting), seam ripper, 4 bobbins including clips, needle set, twin needle, cleaning brush, eyelet punch, screwdriver, touch pen, 3 spool caps, spool pin, spool net, foot controller, scissors, disc-shaped screwdriver, embroidery hoop, accessory case, and manual.
I feel like a college Freshman on day one of school. I have no experience with embroidery machines and everything I read is like a new language. There is so much to learn and I am so excited to see what I can do with this machine. If you have any tips, or resources you can share, I would really appreciate it. 

Happy Sewing,

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer is for Maxi Dresses


I love an airy maxi dress for hot summer days. I recently made Mccalls 7121 in a rayon jersey from Fabric Mart. This dress was fast to sew and feels fantastic to wear. 

I love this easy pattern and fun fabric options on the pattern cover. When making my dress, I opted to skip the instructions and sew the dress to include an all-in-one facing for the shoulder and neck edges. I wanted to have a clean finish on all the edges and not fiddle with hemming them. To do this, I sewed the front bodice to the front skirt, leaving the center seam unsewn. I then sewed the front to back at the shoulders.

Dress back at the bottom of the frame and the separate front pieces are at the top. 
I made the facing by copying the bodice front and back pattern pieces so the top is a double layer. My fabric is very light so it is not bulky. I then sewed the shoulder seams together. I pinned them right sides together to the dress and sewed the neckline and armholes leaving the lower portions open for turning. My Afro Diva Pincushion is supervising every step of the way.


After turning, I opened out the seams and sewed them right sides together, end to end closing all the seams. I tacked the facing to the dress at the side seams and a few places along the waist seam to prevent rolling.

At this point, I tried it on and liked the fit without the elastic casing so I left it out. I liked the slight nip at the waist without the feel of the bunching there.


I have littles who love leg hugs and cuddles. a center front slit is not a good idea. I shifted it to the right side and hemmed it with a twin needle.


I love a racerback and this one is defined, yet provides great bra coverage.


This fabric is luscious and feels wonderful! Thank you to those of you who voted for my bias strip skirt in the PR contest. I used my prize gift certificate to purchase this and 17 pounds of wonderful fabric from Fabric Mart.

It is my first purchase from the site and I am pretty pleased. The fabric quality, shipping and customer service was all great. With the end of Hancock Fabrics, this is a welcome find.


While I have your ear, I have entered a Facebook contest that is based on "likes". Why as an introvert I would enter a popularity contest is still nuts to me, but I am stretching myself. Anyway, I would really appreciate it if you would risk the political and racial posts of friends and acquaintances and vote for my dress by "liking" it. 

This is the link to make my day :) by voting for my Alabama Chanin Handsewn dress.

Thanks and Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Playing Around With Bias Strip Applique Again

So, I was stumbling over my spools of bias trim wondering what my next project with them would be. I loved the skirt I made for Little Miss and decided I wanted one for myself.

This time, I decided make mine a bit different and used out of print McCalls 4457 pattern as my base.

I cut the pieces for cotton in my stash. I chose fabrics I would likely not use for anything else because they would be covered by the bias strips.  After sewing the long seam, I drew lines 1" apart and applied the strips 1/4" from the the edge of the strip. For this skirt, I only sewed one end of the strip down allowing the other to hang free. I began sewing at the bottom of the skirt allowing the succeeding strip to overlap the one before. 

I sewed past the edge of the fabric and serged them down when they were all done. 
I even like the stitching on the flip side.

Overskirt and underskirt
I got to this point of the construction and did not know what to do with the upper portion. I thought going in the opposite direction would be interesting so I changed direction. It was distracting to look at so I unpicked it all. I decided to continue on the same path as before using the color from the bottom.

I joined the underskirt to the outer skirt allowing it to be lined with wrong sides together. I installed an invisible zipper and applied facing to the waistband.

The last thing to be done was the hand-sewing of the hem. I slip-stitched the entire length of it by securing it to the lining. This was a tedious, but worthwhile task to not have any stitches show on the outside. 

For a project that I started without a complete vision, I am very pleased.
This skirt by the numbers:
✂ Base fabric: 3 1/8 yards 
✂ Rows of bias: 54 
✂ Shortest length: 2.5" 
✂ Longest length: 47"
✂ Total length of bias: 47 yards. 
✂ Length of hem to hand sew: 5.5 yards 

I love the lines of the bias and the texture it gives. The unfinished edges will weather with time, wear and washing. I am excited to watch this fall apart in the best way.

The completion of this shirt coincides with the PR Skirt contest so I have entered it. We will see how that goes.

I have yards and yards of these colors of bias as well as green and blue still. I am excited to see how I use them next.

Happy Sewing,