Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016: Not the best start

Friends, 2016 has not been off to a good start.  We had some sadness in our family as my dad died on January 6th.  He had been in the hospital for the last 2 weeks of 2015 and was showing some improvement and was moved to a rehab facility.  Last Wednesday night, he stopped breathing. 

My blogging had been pretty poor last year and right now, I don't feel up to it.  Let me sign off with a photo of my Dad & I when I was about 8 that we took in one of those Old Time Photo Booths:

Friday, November 20, 2015

McCall's 6886: 2 Versions of the popular knit dress

There are over 75 reviews on Pattern Review for McCall's 6886: a close fitting knit dress with neckline variations. I wasn't sure how this would work on me and my pear shape, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway.  My first version was done in black ponte.  I cut a 14 in the shoulders and did a 1.25"  FBA adding a bust dart.  I also did a 1" swayback adjustment. My result wasn't bad.  I had graded up to a 16/18 at the waist and a 20 at the hip.  It was very big.  I took about 3/4" off each side from the waist down to the hip.  (That was very surprising for me).  There was still a lot of pooling in my lower back, so I wound up making 2 back darts to take up the excess fabric.
Here is the front view:  I don't look like a giant pear!

Side view: not bad

Side view of bust dart.  Looks like I need a slightly larger FBA

Back view:  (I really need to work on standing up straight and not dropping my right shoulder).  You cans see the back darts I made to eliminate the excess fabric at the back.

The black dress came out pretty well, but I thought I should try again right away.  Version 2 was made with a very stretchy striped knit (it must be interlock or double knit because it is exactly the same on both sides) purchased at my local Hancock Fabrics in the clearance section.   For this version I made an even bigger swayback adjustment and skipped the bust dart and did a cheater FBA by grading out at the bust.  I lined the front and back with an ivory nylon tricot.  I love the feeling that the lining gives, it's very sleek and smooth on the skin.  It also adds stability to the stretchy knit.

My hem looks a little funny in these photos.  I hemmed the lining together with the knit.  The problem that I discovered is that the knit stretches vertically but the lining does not.  I may cut the lining loose and leave it unhemmed.

The back view is pretty good, no darts, and no real pooling. :)

I had trouble following the instructions included in the pattern but I found this great video from Jalie:

Closeup of the V neck.  

 There was one flaw in the fabric...look where it wound up: on my right side, a few stripes up from the bottom of the V.  Sigh.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had to do some finagling around the bust.  I had initially thought to do some slight gathers along the bust at the side seams, (like Vogue 8536) but it was ridiculous with this fabric, and I needed to remove the sleeves and re-do the underarm and lower front armhole area.  After some trimming and basting it turned out ok.

I wore it out with a red scarf and a denim jacket.  My daughter said all I needed was a beret to look really French!  :)

In summary, I really like this pattern.  It does work on pear shapes.  It was drafted roomier than I expected through the waist and hip and it was a nice ego boost to have to take it in in those areas!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jalie 2682: V neck top...another winner!

My love for Jalie patterns continues.  This time I made Jalie 2682, the V neck top.  

Jalie 2682

This pattern was voted a "Best Pattern of 2007" and for 2008 on Pattern Review.  I agree, the pattern is very good.  The best part about is the clever construction of the front bodice.  I made the version without the zipper.  2 front bodices are cut on the fold.  They are then sewn right sides together from a pattern mark to the bottom of the bodice.  The 2 pieces are folded in half with the seam at the center forming the seam below the V.  One piece becomes the left side of the bodice, and the other is the right.  Here is the link for the instructions.  This method creates a fully lined front bodice and the neckline edge is the folded edge of the bodice piece so no finishing is needed!!  

Here is my version.  I used a springy textured knit purchased from the Vogue Fabric booth at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Fredericksburg, VA.  I searched for the same fabric on their website, but didn't find anything close to it.  

After seeing this photo, I describe the expression on my face as my "Erica Bunker" face.  She always seems to wear the same expression in her photos.  This is a good example.  What do you think?

Here is a Meigan face:

I adjusted the pattern to make the shoulders and upper back narrower, which is a normal adjustment for me.  I should have made it even narrower as you can see from the back view.  The sleeves are very long on Jalie patterns which is nice for a long sleeve winter top.

Here is a closeup of the fabulous neckline:

Side view: the seaming on this top made a swayback adjustment very easy!

As a side note, the gray pants I am wearing are my non-stretch organic cotton/hemp Jalie 2908 jeans, blogged here.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I will do what Queens do, I will Rule! My Daenerys Targaryen Halloween Costume

This summer my husband and I binge-watched Game of Thrones.  It is a great show with amazing costumes.  Out of all of the seemingly zillions of characters on the show, Daenerys Targaryen has the best outfits.  When I saw her blue dress I actually said aloud to my husband "Wow, she has amazing costumes."  I rarely am so moved by costuming.

The color is gorgeous, and the wrap skirt and contrast details on the bodice are all amazing.  

Simplicity has come out with some impressive costume patterns lately and having a pattern for this dress made me jump at the chance to make it.  It was #1246, and then was re-issued as #1008 (so weird!) What's even weirder is that the color of the dress changed; on my pattern (#1246) the dress was blue, on #1008, the dress has changed to green!

Simplicity 1008/1246
I had some adventures in purchasing fabric for this costume.  I was in New York City at the end of August, and had a little bit of time to myself, and I headed to Mood Fabrics!  It was my first visit, and wow, it was huge!  and awesome!  I quickly found some beautiful blue textured fabric that I thought would work well.  I pulled out the roll and had 2 yards cut.  (At the time, I had only planned on making the dress, not the cape).  After cutting, I said "how much is that?"  (I couldn't pull the price tag out from the center of the roll...can you guess where this is heading?)  It is $25/yard.  GULP!!   Oh Crap!  I am going to spend $50 on fabric for a costume!!  That is the most expensive fabric I have ever purchased!  (Facepalm) Had I known beforehand, I would have kept looking for something else to use.

Because of its cost, that beautiful blue fabric became much to valuable to use for a Halloween costume; I simply couldn't degrade it by making it into a costume (even a cool costume like this one).  It has been regaled to the "save it for something special" pile, and I began my search for another option.  Fast forward to the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo I attended in Fredericksburg, VA.  I found some blue suede-like fabric at the Vogue Fabric booth and bought 2 yards for my costume. I was happy for a while, but then I thought...I should really make the cape too; it will be chilly on Halloween and I won't be happy outdoors in short sleeves.  Besides, Daenerys has a cape, so I need a cape too.  Of course, I didn't buy enough fabric at the Expo to make the cape, only enough for the dress.  So...I went to Jo-Anns looking for fabric for the cape, or at worst case, the dress & cape.  Sure enough, I found the perfect color blue fabric in a mysterious cotton/poly blend called "Sportswear."  It was about $4/yard, and I bought 6 yards.  I spent a small fortune on fabric only to have most of it still sitting in my stash...Sigh...

Enough about the issues, let's check out the final outfit!

I made the bodice in a size 14 with a 1.25" FBA.  This added a side bust dart, but I was fine with that; I'd much rather have it fit well than be precisely like the original.

The original dress had handsewn dragonscale to add texture.  (Check out this site for this and some other amazing costume work on GoT) That was simply not an option for me to do.  I did want to add some sort of subtle embellishment.  The bodice bands and sleeves got some texture by using a fancy stitch on my new Pfaff.  Here is a closeup of the sleeves:

I did row after row after row of the design on both the sleeves and the front bodice bands (#65 on my Pfaff Expression 3.5 if you are curious) using navy blue thread to provide contrast.  I love how it came out.   

The bodice bands gave me some headaches. I knew that by doing an FBA the front bands would lay differently on the bodice.  I cut them extra long to make sure they could reach the side seams.  Unfortunately, they needed more curvature as well.  I had a heck of a time trying to get the bands to follow the curved bottom edge of the bodice.  I initially attached the bands in the location where they wanted to naturally fall.  DON'T DO THIS! It looks stupid.  Seriously, seriously stupid.  I won't hurt your eyes by showing you the photos.  

Here are some more details: 
The bands continue around the back of the dress and are tied together using either grommets or eyelets.  I didn't have any grommets so I used the cool eyelet feature on my machine.  I used thin leather jewelry making cord for the ties.  

Back view:
Another front view:

Here is the cape:

The lining of the cape was a textured off white "value" suiting fabric from Hancock Fabrics.  It was under $5/yard.  Making the cape was very straightforward and simple.  I made a size 14.

I love how this costume came out.  The gray pants were RTW running tights and I made boot covers/gaiters using this tutorial and finishing them with invisible zippers and some elastic under the arch of my shoe.  For the necklace, I bought a coat toggle in the button section of Joanns, drilled a small hole near the thick end, and threaded my thin leather jewelry cord through it.

I had such a great Halloween, I felt fabulously glamorous and Queen-like!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015: Part 2 Cleopatra

Next up in my 3 part Halloween set is Cleopatra, made from McCall's 7122.  (McCalls was having a sale when I was looking for patterns).  This is a woman's pattern which I made for my almost 11 year old (who will likely be taller than me in the next year to 18 months.)  I made an XS, and made 3/4 length sleeves.

Cleopatra's outfit is all about embellishment.  I used a sparkly turquoise & gold woven that I purchased in India to make the neck...dickey? gaiter? collar.  I fused some stiff interfacing to the wrong side, cut my circle based on my daughter's shoulder width, and neck circumference.  I did a rolled hem on my serger to finish the edges.  There are 2 snaps on the back to hold it into place.

Queens are all about gold too, so I used some gold lame one-way stretch knit for the belt, and arm bands.  They were all so simple, I'm not going to waste time explaining what I did to make them. Cut, stitch, adjust size, and sew on velcro.  Pretty easy to figure out.

The dress is a simple raglan sleeve dress with a neck band.  It is a "Learn to Sew for Fun" pattern geared for the beginner.  It was simple and quick to sew up and could easily be made into a raglan tee shirt.  I used a white cotton jersey fabric.

McCalls 7122

Line Drawings

Quite Possibly the Cutest Thing I Have Ever Made

Yes, you read that correctly.  This is it:

Yes, I made an R2-D2 Bag.  My Princess Leia needed some more accessories for her Halloween costume, and perusing Pinterest, I saw some cute ideas.  This was my result.  What's better than Leia carrying around her loyal droid and having him hold her candy?  Nothing!  I used black flannel from my stash for the bag itself, felt for the white, shiny silver/gray vinyl for the rounded part and metallic bits on the body.  The blue was from my own costume, and the red was a tiny bit of felt.  Glue did not work, so everything was stitched on :)

Here is the Princess in her Ceremonial Dress (End of Episode IV: A New Hope)

I used a simple pattern, McCall's 6098 for the dress and improvised the sheer cape by draping and pinning.  The belt was shiny silver/gray vinyl and so was the necklace.  

McCall's 6098
This is a "1 Hour Dress" pattern, and that was pretty accurate.  I lengthened the sleeves since it is October, and a little chilly here in Virginia, and lengthened the dress too.  Easy peasy.  There is a neck facing and a keyhole opening in the back.  Very simple for beginners.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Halloween is Coming!

Halloween is on its way and I have been busy sewing three, yes 3 costumes.  One for each of my daughters, and one for ME!!  Here is a little tease of what is to come:



Plus This
Equals: My Costume!  It should be finished in the next few days!

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.
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