Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sewing is my Superpower!


I love Enda Mode and I love the Incredibles.  Jess from The Sewing Rabbit has made a list of 10 things we have learned from Edna Mode.  Check it out Here !

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Doll's Dresses

I made 2 really cute dresses for my daughters' friend's birthday.  They are made to fit an American Girl doll or any other 18" doll.  The pattern is Butterick 5553, a See & Sew pattern.

 It is a simple pattern and I made 2 versions, both of which are adorable:

The one on the left is made with some block printed fabric I bought in India.  It has been languishing in my stash for years and I have been looking for a suitable pattern.  Who knew it would be so cute on a doll?  I omitted the yoke pieces and cut the front and back from the lining pieces.  Yes, the bodice is lined on a doll's dress!  The hem band was made from the border on the fabric.  Indian fabrics typically have a fancy border which will be used to dress up necklines and sleeve hems.

The dress on the right uses a cotton with purple, pink & red flowers and a matching purple cotton for the contrast yoke and hem band.

For both dresses, I used sew on snaps rather than velcro for the back closure.

They were so cute, I almost hated to give them away.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tis' Not Quite the Season

January in the northern hemisphere isn't the normal time of year to make swimwear, but that is what I have been doing.  It started because a friend called me up to ask if I could make her daughter 2 new swimsuits since she is doing winter swimming and is in desperate need of a new suit.  I whipped up 2 new Jalie 3134 racerback suits, and since the swim elastic was out, and the stretch needle was on the machine, I figured that was my sign to work on a Jalie 3350 for me.

Jalie 3350

I made view A with the open back and sweetheart neckline.  I made a straight size Y.  I initially did a FBA on the cups, but I wound up tearing the whole thing apart when the cups were WAY too big.  To conserve fabric I re-cut the same pieces to be a straight size Y and they are fine now.  If you are small busted, you might find the cups to be very roomy.  I would have preferred the straps to be wider and firmer to give more support.   That's a change that can be easily implemented next time.

I added sew-in swim bra cups and hand sewed them in.  

It has been a while since I have worn a 1 piece swimsuit, and to be honest, I'm not sure how much I will wear this one.  There's nothing wrong with the suit itself, it's just how I feel in it.

This suit is not the only thing I have been working on.  I have made a few more versions of the Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra.  My reason for learning how to make bras was to incorporate an underwire into a swimsuit.  I have been working on a bikini top with an underwire and a foam cup!

This is highly experimental and is very much a case of sewing by the seat of my pants, but I am learning.  I have purchased 2 book on bra making and I'm hoping to devour all of the information in them and apply it to swimwear and bra making.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Sewing for kids

I managed to do a bit of sewing for my girls this Christmas.  First up is a blue corduroy skirt that I made using Jalie 2908 (yes, the jeans pattern) for a starting point.  I wanted to replace a denim skirt that she had loved to death, and I could not find a fly front denim-type skirt pattern.  This was my result:

I used gray topstitching thread for all of the topstitching. The pockets and fly shield were made from light blue poly crepe.


I made the length of the skirt a few inches below the knee and added a kick pleat to the back. 

Altering my pattern from jeans to a skirt was very straightforward.  I angled out from the widest point of the hip creating a flare for the front and back.  For the center front and back seams, I drew a straight line extending the center front at the fly, and center back at the widest part of the hip, down to my new hemline.  The only change I made was rotating the lower edge of back pockets outward toward the side seam.  As located per the pattern the pockets were a little odd looking and too parallel to the center back seam:

After rotating them outward...much better:


Next up for my Christmas sewing was a Jalie 2566 cardigan made with an argyle interlock knit.


My buttons were small pink hearts.  I thought I should use them while my daughter is still young enough to think they are cute.  She really likes this top.  I think the band lays strangely at the top button.  My version of this cardigan has this same issue, perhaps it is a pattern issue rather than an operator issue.  Much to my surprise, this pattern seems to be OOP.


Next up are 2 long sleeve versions of McCalls 6787 for my youngest.  The first one is made from a printed cotton jersey from



The second version used a rayon knit for the top and a quilting cotton for the skirt.  I think it came out adorable:


That's it for my Christmas sewing.  It was a big success.  :)

Happy New Year everyone!   

Monday, December 22, 2014

A LBD: Butterick 5672

I have finally remedied a large gap in my wardrobe.  I have made a little black dress!  We were invited to a Christmas party and I decided that a LBD would be perfect attire.  I made Butterick 5672 with some Black Ponte knit that was a Fabric Mart Crazy priced fabric on Black Friday.  It was $3.99 a yard, and I bought a bunch.
Butterick 5672
The bodice and skirt back are all cut on the bias, with the lining cut on grain.  The pattern calls for a tricot lining and an invisible zipper on the left side.  Since the left side had all of the pleats, I thought it would be better to relocate it to the opposite side, since invisible zippers aren't great when crossing bulky seams.   Before sewing the zipper, I checked to see if it was really necessary.  It wasn't.  Next time, I won't even plan on putting one in. 

I cut a size 14 for the bodice and did a 1" FBA, which added a bust dart to the right side.  Since I have a narrow upper back, I followed the cutting lines for the size 12 across the upper back.  My pattern only went up to a size 16, so I needed to grade out a bit for the skirt.  I added about 4" to the hip circumference. 

I lowered the neckline by 1.5".  As drafted, the neckline is a too high for my liking. 

I did make a muslin and quickly discovered that I needed to add some width to the bicep.  I actually added with to the entire sleeve, with 2" added to the bicep and 1" added at the sleeve hem.  Now that I have worn it, the bottom of the sleeve should be a little more snug.  Right now, the sleeves fit a like tee-shirt, which isn't classy enough for a LBD.

Here is the finished dress (photos are lightened so you can see some details)

Odd facial expression due to 8 y.o. photographer

The dress was incredibly comfortable.  I do like the lining, so I will keep that in the future.  I will slim down the sleeves a little bit and use my coverstitch machine to do a chain stitch for the hem.  I used a double needle coverstitch for the sleeve hem, which adds to the "tee shirt" sleeve vibe.

As others have mentioned it their reviews, I think the dress could be tighter through the waist which would help pull the darts smoother across the tummy.  I consider this dress to be  quite a success.  I anticipate making another version at some point soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fall Essentials Sew Along: Done!

The Fall Essentials Sew Along (FESA) has come to an end.  Here are my accomplishments:

1.  Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather : bottoms, trousers, skirts, jeans, etc
Tania CulottesJalie 2908 Gray jeans, McCalls 3830 (modified to A-line), HP Marrakesh Pants

2.  Chic Chemises for Cool Climates: blouses, tops, cardigans, sweaters:

New Look 6808, New Look 6407, Jalie 2556, Butterick 5354, Jalie 2449 Crossover Tee, Kwik Sew 3555, New Look 6150 (unblogged), Kitchy Coo Lady Skater Dress as a Tee (unblogged)

3.  Fabulous Frocks: any type of dress

4.  Underneath It All: underwear, bra

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra

5.  Tender Tootsies (no plans to make socks)

6.  Those Cozy Nights: pajamas

Very exciting (ha ha), knit PJ pants made from New Look 6110 (yes, I have very short legs!)

7.  Baby It's Cold Outside:  Outerwear, hats, mittens
Sigh...I really wanted to make a coat, but it just didn't happen.  I did, however, make 2 very cute Halloween costumes: Anna & Elsa

The cold never bothered me anyway

Hopefully my coat-making will start up soon.  All in all, I think the FESA was a big success. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra

I have been tempted by bra making for a while now.  I was very impressed with Kathy's Marlborough bras and bought the pattern after seeing her success.   I had already made my first muslin when Craftsy released their Bra making class with Beverly Johnson.  I signed up immediately. 

I bought all of my supplies and fabric from  The fabric is called techsheen which is a satin powernet.  For the back band, I used swimwear powernet from my swimwear stash (purchased from

The Marlborough bra is from Orange Lingerie and is a pdf download available here.  I had a few questions about the bra and emailed Norma at Orange Lingerie, and she was kind enough to get right back to me.  (I love good customer service!)

Per the Orange Lingerie website:
The Marlborough is a pretty and supportive full frame underwire bra for everyday featuring:
◾• A three piece cup that allows for increased shaping and more ability to play with pattern prints and color combinations;
◾• A power bar that moves the breasts toward the front of the body for a slimming effect;
◾• A comfortable scoop back that lies smoothly under clothes and enhances support; and
◾• A lace upper cup to feel and look pretty everyday.

One great thing about this pattern is that the each size is grouped together and is printed on 2 sheets of paper so you can choose which pages to print which saves on printer ink.  There is also NO TAPING because the pieces fit on whole sheets of paper.  Woo Hoo!

The pattern comes in sizes 30A to 40DD.  The sizing was quite a bit different from RTW sizes.  Per my measurements I was directed to make a 38D (!!)  My ribcage measurement is 33", so the 38 really threw me for a loop.  But I plodded on and wouldn't you wasn't bad!  The cup size was great but I found the band to be too tight.

I really liked the shape of the cups.  It is a 3 piece cup with and upper cup, lower cup, and a powerbar along the side.  I thought this would provide nice shaping.  I have found that unpadded RTW bras with only a 2 piece cup tend to be pointy on me.  This was not the case with this one.

I made 2 test versions before this one.
I made the size 38D and the band was really tight.  My ribcage is 33".  I added 1" to the length of the band.

Finding the correct wire size took a little trial and error.  I used the printouts from the Craftsy class, transferred the most likely wire sizes to a cardboard template and checked the fit.  Since I wasn't ordering my wires from Bra Maker's Supply (Beverly Johnson's company) I needed to translate her wire sized to Sew Sassy's wires.  I measured the length, width and depth of the cardboard template that fit and searched for the best match on Sew Sassy's website.  I bought 2 different sizes whose main difference was the overall length, (same width and depth) and the shorter one was best.

This is how long the first set was:

I had flat spots in the lower cup above the underwire near the center of the bra.  According to Beverly Johnson's Bra making class on Craftsy, this happens when your breast is rounder than the bra will allow and you need more volume in the lower cup.  Per her instructions, I split the lower cup in 2 from the apex down and added 1/8" of width to each piece while keeping the seam lines the same.  Here are my before and after pattern pieces:

Photo doesn't show it, but I added seam allowances too!

I marked the seam lines, and using a French curve, made a new stitching line that curved out to a maximum of 1/8" from the original.  This gave me 1/4" more width/volume on the lower cup.  Don't forget to add seam allowances to this new seam line!  (My photo doesn't show them).  I then altered the Direction of Greatest Stretch (DoGS) as shown in the photo. 

The upper cup was a little loose, so I took out a small wedge from the pattern piece, near the power band seam line.

The most difficult part of the construction for me was topstitching the channeling.  It was hard to keep it neat, parallel, and wide enough for the wire to fit. 

Here is the final version:

While not perfect, it is perfectly wearable, and very comfortable!

The biggest change I will make next time is to use 1/2" elastic for the straps.  I only had 3/8" and I'd prefer the straps to be sturdier.

I can see how bra making can become quickly addictive.  There are only a few small pieces, so cutting them out is quick.  The seams are short, so sewing them is quick too.  I envision a lot more bra making in my future! 

PR Sewing Bee Round #2

I advanced to Round #2 of the PR Sewing Bee.  This week's challenge (and I do mean challenge) was to use men's button down shirts to make a garment for an adult.  I had a number of my husband's dress shirts in the "Refashion" pile which are no longer suitable for corporate wear. 

I chose one lavender and one dark purple shirt and after racking my brain for quite some time, decided on McCalls 6286 (now OOP).

I used the lavender shirt for the front, back and sleeves. The dark purple would be the collar and button band.

I had a rough time fitting this top.  I cut a 14 and did a 1" FBA creating a bust dart.  It was a little snug so I cut my pattern apart again and made it 1.5".  This made everything worse.  My muslin fit better than this:

Dear God...Avert your eyes!

I ripped out the bust dart and pointed it up toward the apex but wow...what a mess!

Long story short: the fit was horrible.  If it wasn't for the contest, this would have gone right in the re-recycle pile. 

Once I put it on, it looked like a waitress uniform, or worse, a bowling shirt. 

Contest entry photo

The collar was pretty though:

I split the raglan sleeve into a 2 piece sleeve, and made my own piping to highlight the seam which came out nice (even though it added to the waitress vibe):

The back didn't even look good:

Needless to say I did not advance to Round #3 with this atrocity.  Oh well.  On to more exciting things.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Great PR Sewing Bee : A - Line skirt

Pattern Review has started "The Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee".  The first challenge is to sew an A-line skirt that has the following:

1. Zipper
2. Lining
3. Button/hook or any other closure
4. Waistband
5. Hem

Rather than drafting an A-line skirt from scratch, I began with my trusty McCalls 3830 Pencil skirt pattern and turned it into an A line skirt with a waistband.  I used Winifred Aldrich's excellent reference book "Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear" to do this. 

I traced my pattern pieces for the pencil skirt and started making changes.  For the front piece, I cut a vertical line through the center of the front dart down to the hem.  I then rotated the piece closing up the dart.  This swings the hemline outward.  I then added 1" to the width of the lower edge of the pattern piece and drew a straight line from that point at the hem up to the hip.

For the back piece, there was one 1" wide back dart.  I am very curvy in the back and did not want to remove the back darts entirely.  Instead I turned the 1" dart into a 1/2" wide dart, using the same cut and rotate method as for the front piece.  I added 1" to the width of the lower edge of the pattern piece as well.

Contest or no, if I make something, I want to wear it, not have it languish in my closet.  This A-line skirt needed to be a staple that would get a lot of wear.  An A-line skirt can be a great item for a capsule wardrobe.  I decided on a brown corduroy that I purchased in India and have had for several years.  In fact, all of the fabric and notions for this project came from my stash.  The lining is a brown and pink houndstooth charmeuse satin from  I previously used this lining fabric on my second Simplicity 2057 jacket, and there is still some left. 

McCall's 3830 does not have a waistband, so I needed to make one myself.  I cut a straight waistband 3" wide and a few inches longer than my waist measurement.  I used 1/2" seam allowances so the finished waistband would be 1" wide.  I like to make my waistbands extra long so that I can sew them to the precise length after the skirt is assembled and fitted.  I shifted the original center back zipper to the left side an inserted a lapped zipper. 

The contest requires a lining for the skirt.  I used the front and back pattern pieces for the lining.  The original pattern used front and back facings which became unnecessary with a lining and waistband.  This was my first time lining a skirt and I must say that I love the result.  Smooth slippery fabric next to your skin is fantastic.  I attached the lining at the zipper by machine and after a few passes, it looked quite good. 

Machine sewn lining at zipper

The trickiest part of an A-line skirt is hemming it.  To eliminate bulk at the hem, I serged the raw edge rather than turning the raw edge over.  I put the skirt on my dressform, pulled out my handy laser level and marked the hem.

Marking the hem
Once the hem was folded up and pinned, I hand basted it in place along the fold.  Then I hand sewed the hem, easing in the fullness.
Hem: basted and hand sewn
I used a similar process for hemming the lining.  I pinned and pressed it to the correct length and basted it in place near the fold.  Since the lining fabric was very prone to fraying, I turned the raw edge under and basted the raw edge only using the longest machine stitch.  Before hemming, I pulled the bobbin thread on the basting stitch and eased in the fullness before sewing the hem by machine. 

Lining hem: Eased fullness prior to sewing
Then the lining was done:
Lining Complete!
The finished skirt on display with some new scenery:

Front View


I am very pleased with this finished skirt.  I really took my time to do a nice job finishing the lining and hem. This will be a great skirt to wear this winter with tights and boots.   

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