Thursday, October 1, 2015

I am going to Fredericksburg tomorrow!

I will be attending the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Fredericksburg, VA tomorrow.  I delayed signing up for classes because my in-laws were supposed to be visiting this weekend, and I didn't think I'd be able to attend.  Their plans changed, and by the time I did sign up, the classes I really wanted were sold out, but I was able to sign up for 2 others:  Follow the Lines to Great Fitting Pants, and Perfect Fitting Tee...and Sew Much More.  

So if anyone is going to be there tomorrow, look for me!  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Home Improvements

I am still here!  (Thank you Nakisha for checking!!)  This summer has spent working on making our new house feel like our house.  There has been a lot of DIY projects & painting, and a little bit of sewing.   Here's a recap:

Ugly old fashioned faucet in half bathroom...replaced:

In the same bathroom, I replaced the 1980's Dynasty light with something more modern:

Unfortunately, that wasn't as smooth of a process as I had hoped.  What I expected to be a 15 minute installation turned instead into a Drywall-101 lesson.  When I removed the old ugly light, I had expected there to be a metal box inside the wall to which I could attach the new light.  Nope.  There were just wires coming out of the wall.  The Dynasty light was held up with drywall anchors, no metal box.  Ugh.  After a long conversation with the very helpful Jared, who works in the Lowes electrical department, I came home armed with a drywall saw, the elusive metal box, and an assortment of other electrical bits & bobs.  Long story short, this is what I had to do:  

So much for a 15 minute light replacement!

Next up was the upstairs bathroom which was in desperate need of updating.  I should preface this by saying that the previous owners had the entire upstairs (3 bedrooms & bathroom), the living room, and downstairs hallway painted before putting the house on the market.  They chose Benjamin Moore's Bleeker Beige, for ALL OF IT!:

bleeker beige
This is a greenish beige, and should never ever be used in a bathroom.  Not only that, it's fairly dark, so not only did I need 2 coats of paint, but I had to prime too.  I hate priming!!

Before I painted the bathroom, I took some advice from pinterest and stained the existing cabinets with General Finishes Gel Stain in Java.  It took 4 coats, but it was worth it.

I also replaced that light fixture which again, required me to cut the drywall, install a metal electrical box, and then patch, tape, and spackle.  Ugh.  (The master bathroom has these kinds of lights too...I am putting off replacing those)

The new paint color is Benjamin Moore Yarmouth Blue, which I love!

yarmouth blue

Moving on to the kitchen...It had been renovated probably in the early 2000s and has ginger colored cabinets.  For some unknown reason, the walls were painted yellow which made no sense to me.  After countless color samples, I chose Benjaman Moore's Cream, which is possibly the most boring color name I have ever encountered, but it's described as "This delicious, deep gold is as rich and irresistible as the sugar-coated sweetness of caramel corn."  
I'm not so sure about the "caramel corn" but it definitely relates to the cabinets better.  In this photo, you can see the new color next to the lower part of the cabinet and the old yellow up above.  A subtle difference for sure, but it makes me much happier. 

Cream on bottom, yellow on top
But wait!  I did say there had been some sewing, so lets (finally) get to it.

Our new house has 1 less bedroom than our previous house, so we have lost a guest room (and my sewing space--sniff sniff).  We gave the queen size guest bed to my eldest daughter.  I made the headboard for that bed probably 8-9 years ago using plywood, 2x4's, foam, fabric, and a heck of a lot of staples.  Here is a photo of it before:

After covering up the Bleeker Beige in her new room with primer & 2 coats of "Grape Ice" paint, I got to work on covering the headboard.  I ordered several samples from and chose this one by Premier Prints:
Premier Prints Abigail Lavender

One seam and a zillion staples later, boom!  New headboard:

But wait! That's not all.  My youngest was able to benefit from some straight seam sewing as well:  She has new pink walls (primed of course, and 2 coats of paint), and some new valences:

The fabric is also from and is Premier Prints Dandelion White/Candy Pink.
Premier Prints Dandelion White/Candy Pink

So there you have it, lots and lots of projects, but only a little sewing.  School is starting soon and hopefully I will be able to remedy that.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A New Swimsuit

Here is a quick post showing photos of my latest swimsuit.  The skirted bottoms are Jalie 3023, and the top is  Jalie 2563 (view B).  I used a stained glass patterned spandex from

Here are IRL photos of me poolside in Cancun!

The only changes I made to the bottoms were to raise the waistband and to lengthen the skirt.  The top was made without changes.

Back to vacation!

Friday, April 17, 2015

"I made them"

Yesterday, two strangers made my day.  I was leaving Sam's Club (warehouse club), pushing my cart and queuing up to have my receipt checked on the way out the door, when I heard a voice behind me:  "Excuse me, where did you buy your blue jeans?"   I was wearing my latest Jalie 2908 brown jeans with rivets.  I turned around and 2 women, probably in their late 50s, were smiling at me.  I said "I made them."  A very nice conversation followed between these two women and I, with me smiling like a fool the whole time.  I even pulled out my pockets to show them.  

They totally made my day!

In other sewing news, my Minoru jacket came in 3rd place in the PR Best Pattern contest.  While out of the official prizes, I was fortunate enough to win the Random prize of a pattern of my choice sold by PR.  I chose...the Ginger Jeans!  I wanted the pattern, but didn't want to spend money on it, so this was a very nice surprise  :)

In other non-sewing news, I am moving to the Richmond, VA area at the end of next month.  Our new house won't have a dedicated room for guests/sewing, but...there is an unfinished walk-in attic.  So I have a new project: to finish the unfinished space by adding: insulation, electricity, walls, lighting and storage to make it my own personal sewing room!  I am very excited about that; I am quite handy and love DIY projects, so I have been scouring Pinterest for inspiration.  There's lots of excitement around here, but not a lot of sewing.

If you live in the Richmond area, let me know!  :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My my my Minoru!

I have been very inspired by Pattern Review's contests this spring.  This is the 3rd in a row that I have entered.  This is for the "Best Pattern Contest".  Looking through the best pattern options, I was pleased to see that I already owned several of them.  The only one that really stood out to me was the Sewaholic Minoru.  

I used a gray denim for the exterior and a blue daisy print slippery polyester for the lining, and interlined it with white flannel.  I made a size 12 and did a 1" FBA adding a front dart.  Here is a photo overload:

The obvious and well noted omission of this pattern is the lack of exterior pockets.  I added welt pockets on the exterior, and another welt pocket on the interior as well.  I only need an interior pocket on the left side, so I only did one. 

Using a welt pocket on the interior had one unexpected effect:  I was unable to bring the waist elastic around the front of the jacket very far.  The casing stitching would have gone right across the pocket bag of my welt pocket making it only a few inches deep!  Aaack!  So I simply decided to stop the elastic short of the pocket bag, so it only extends about 1" forward of the side seams.  

Scouring the internet, I found so many great Minoru variations.  After seeing this one from Kristy at Rocket Sews, I decided to add a zipper guard just like hers.  Imitation is the best form of flattery after all.

This is how I did the zipper guard based on Kristy's method:

I love how the zipper shield turned out.  Initially, I wasn't a fan of the exposed zipper on this jacket, but it has really grown on me, and I'm happy I decided not to make additional plackets to cover the zipper.

Thankfully I finished this jacket while it's still cool enough to wear it.  :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Jeans! With Rivets!

Pattern Review is currently holding a Jeans contest.  I love making jeans so I knew I would make a new pair to enter in the contest.  The contest requests detail photos of rivets, topstitching, etc., so this was an excellent chance to add rivets to my jeans!

I used Jalie 2908 again.  I have been tempted by the Ginger Jeans pattern, but it really doesn't seem that different from the Jalie pattern, so I haven't purchased it.  No need to spend money on another pattern when I just spent some on...a new sewing machine!!  That's right, I have upgraded my 17 year old Singer to a new Pfaff Expression 3.5!  Woo Hoo!
Pfaff Expression 3.5
Once I play with it some more, I'll write up a review, but for now I'll say this: it's so quiet and wow do I love the thread cutter feature!

Back to the jeans.  I used a black and tan stretch denim from Fabric Mart.  I think there is 2% lycra, but it's no longer listed on their website, so I can't be positive.  

I successfully installed rivets.  It took a few trials and a trip to the hardware store but I did it!  I bought my rivets from TaylorTailor.  I initially tried to use small scraps of denim as spacers for the rivets as described in this tutorial, but it didn't work for me; there were way too many layers of spacers needed. Instead I used wire cutters like this pair, to nip off the top of the rivet to just above the fabric.  I tried to use a piece of wood underneath the rivet while hammering it on, and it was not hard enough.  The wood dented before the rivet cap attached.  I went to the hardware store in search of a smooth metal plate I could use as an anvil while pounding on my rivets.  Success!  I am thankful that my locally owned hardware store staff is friendly, helpful, and doesn't look at me like I'm crazy when I ask for a "small piece of steel I can use as anvil when pounding on things." :)

Here are my beautiful antique nickel rivets:
The rivets really add a professional touch to the jeans.  All of my jeans from now on will have rivets!

Another thing I did differently was to make a pocket stay.  I used Closet Case File's tutorial and some cotton from the stash:

While I wouldn't describe the effect of the pocket stay as a "tummy tamer" I do like the fact that the pockets always stay in place.  That alone is worth it. :)

As far as fit and construction, I did my usual adjustments:  cut a size AA, used a curvier back yoke, straighter leg (slight flare), and since the denim was stretchy, I cut the waistband on-grain and did not interface.  To prevent the back yoke from stretching out while wearing, I added 1/4" wide twill tape to the top of the yoke before attaching the waistband.  I really really hate it when pants gap in the back, so this eliminates the possibility.  Any stretch that needs to take place around my middle can happen along the front, where my extra fluff is. 
adding twill tape to back yoke
In the past, I haven't been very daring when it comes to back pocket design, but now things have changed!  I took advantage of some of the decorative stitches on my new machine and added some interest to the back pockets:

I used top-stitching thread (Gutermann Mara 30) and let the machine do the rest!  

Here are the back views:

So there you go, another successful pair of jeans!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Travel Wardrobe Tops

To create my travel wardrobe I had 2 colorful skirts and had several color options for tops.  I had a few purple knits in my stash and one of them happened to be exactly the right shade.  It's a lightweight drapey jersey, most likely a rayon blend (which is not my favorite).  Since I did not have a huge piece, I needed a pattern that wouldn't need much.  I decided on Jalie 2794: the Sweetheart top.

I cut a size X and made the neckline narrower as I did in my previous versions.  I made the cap sleeve version and added 3/4" to their length.  Here is the finished top:

Next up was New Look 6470, view D:

Many reviews commented about the neckline being very low so I made a muslin using some purple burnout jersey.  Lo and behold, the neckline was very low and I added a little modesty triangle to cover up more skin:

Much better:

For my real version, I used a black cotton lycra from  I cut a 16 for the front and did a narrow upper back adjustment (ie I cut a size 12 between the shoulders) and graded up to a 18 at the hip.

The fit is snug and flattering.  I normally don't wear black near my face, but this top nips in my waist in such a fantastic way, this top will be worn quite a bit!

Next up is something I won't be wearing much:  Jalie 3245 Racerback Tank:

There's nothing wrong with the pattern, I just didn't like how it looked on me.  I altered the back to be less 'racerback' to hopefully cover my bra straps.  I didn't alter it enough, I'm sorry to say, and my straps are peeking out on both the front and the back.  What is glaring to me in these photos is that my arms look flabby and my shoulders look narrow.  Thumbs down.  :(

In the future, I will avoid the tank pattern and give the raglan sleeve version a try instead.  I am not including this top in my Travel Wardrobe 6 pack since I have no desire to wear it out in public.  It will find a new home in the pajama drawer.

The next tee is also not finding its way into my Travel Wardrobe simply because it doesn't coordinate with both skirts.  This is McCall's 5890 View C, the princess seamed tee.

My pattern started at size 16 so I needed to grade it down.  I made a quick muslin and was pleasantly surprised how nice it was.  I made the back quite a bit narrower, which is a normal adjustment for me, and added a CB seam to conserve fabric.  The fabric was a Leaf Green active-wear knit from Fabric Mart, leftover from my Jalie 2566 cardigan and the green just so happened to match the green in my refashioned Target skirt!

I am very happy with this pattern and love that I was able to squeeze it out of small pieces of fabric.  :)

Last up is a chiffon cardigan made from McCall's 6559, view B:

I was straightening up my fabric closet and discovered a bright pink chiffon saree I had purchased in India.  The color perfectly matched the bright pink in the striped ITY skirt I had just made!

Making a cardigan from the chiffon saree would give me more variations in my Travel Wardrobe, so I popped a brand new size 9 needle in my machine and off I went.  I knew that chiffon was not easy to sew, so I lowered my sewing standards so as not to drive myself nuts.  I knew that my sleeve caps would have visible gathers and I was ok with that.  I cut the pattern pieces on the cross-grain so I could use the selvage at the hem.  I added 2" of width across the bicep.  I needed about an inch of extra room and I knew that any stress would split the fabric so I made it 2" wider.

I used french seams on the shoulders, side seams, & underarms, and a narrow serged seam on the armholes.  To finish the front edges, I used a rolled hem foot and a straight stitch.  My first pass resulted in a slightly wavy seam, so I rolled it again!  The resulting double rolled hem (if that is a thing) was much straighter and firmer than the original.  The bottom hem was folded twice and stitched with a straight stitch.  The selvage was very sturdy and made this very easy.

On to the finished photos: (the color is a little odd in these photos, but it really does match!)

In hindsight, I should have made the shorter cardigan (View A) since I am short waisted.  I am wearing this up at my waistline rather than long.  I found it to look rather frumpy.  See:

Chiffon shouldn't add visual pounds.  For the purposes of the Travel Wardrobe contest, I will keep this cardigan in my 6 pack, but I may shorten it for future wear.

Here is a collage of my Travel wardrobe:

There you have it!

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