Monday, July 30, 2007


Well, I am on vacation. Today is Day 4 of nine blissful days of no work. I had thought I'd be getting lots of sewing done, but so far, that has just not been the case. DH and the kids have had lots of places for me to go and lots for me to do.

I did manage to sneak in a quick stop at Hancock Fabrics the other day. I snagged two awesome jersey knits, and some grey pinstriped stretch woven. I haven't said anything, but I actually made a pair of pants last week. Of course, they were purple gabardine. Hey, it was a muslin! Anyway, the grey stretch fabric is for a "real" pair.

I also managed to finish the smocking and embroidery on a seersucker sundress today. I did 28 bullion rosebuds with lazy daisy leaves. Whew! They sure look good, though. The dress should sew up pretty quickly since it's really simple. The problem will be getting the kitchen table cleared off so I can cut it out.

Since I don't have any pictures of finished projects, I will leave you with a peak into Savannah's Closet.

I made this, gosh, three years ago for a trip to Georgia for my brother's wedding. Savannah was not quite three years old when she wore this. It's Mary Dee by Children's Corner, smocked with Little Mermaids by Gwen Milner.

I debated over making the mermaids blonde to match the fabric, or with reddish brown hair like Savannah's. I ended up going with blonde. She loved it anyway.

I even used these little fish buttons to complete the theme. There are two on each side. The dress was quite a hit on that trip. Hard to believe three years have gone by. Sigh...

Well, before another year goes by, I'm off to sew!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stash Issues

So I'm thinking I want to give Butterick 4985 another try and see if I can fine tune the fit a little bit more. Of course, I want to use a stash fabric to do it, but it's not as easy as it seems. I have a pretty big stash. There may be others out there with bigger ones, but mine is nothing to sneeze at. I have lots of fabric. But a stash fabric has to meet certain criteria before it can be chosen for a project.

1. It has to be suitable for the pattern. For example, B4985 calls for a lightweight woven fabric. I wouldn't use, say, corduroy, or a slinky knit for this blouse. Fortunately, my stash is full of light to medium weight woven fabrics. So you think it would be easy to choose one, right? Wrong.

2. This is technically a muslin. Yes, I already made it once with passable results, and I'm pretty confident that the changes I described in the previous post will make the top even better, but I'm not 100% sure. It could be a disaster. So the fabric I choose has to be one that I like enough to wear it if it's successful, but not one that I like so much that I will be upset if it turns out to be a wadder.

3. The fabric I choose has to be just the right cut. This blouse takes 1 and 3/4 yards of fabric. So I need to find a 2 yard cut in my stash. I don't want to use a 3 yard cut and have 1 and 1/4 yards left over still taking up space in my stash on the off chance that I may take up quilting again some day. I certainly don't want to use anything of which I have more than 3 yards. That's enough for a dress, and if I cut this blouse out of it, I'll no longer have enough for a dress, just enough for another blouse. And who wants two blouses out of the same fabric?

I'm probably making this much harder than it has to be. But luckily, I found just the right fabric! It's a coral "marbled" cotton that I had exactly 2 yards of. Perfect! It's in the wash right now. I should be ready to get started tomorrow!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Not So Sure About This One

This is Butterick 4985. I'm not sure yet what I think of it. I wore it to work today and I got several compliments, but I was constantly tugging on it. I think I need to fine tune some more. I made a straight 16 with a FBA. I probably could use a smidge more ease below the waist. I don't think I need to go all the way up to the next size, but maybe I just need to taper out a little to a narrower seam allowance. I wouldn't mind just a little bit more length either. As for the top... what can I say? I think the shoulder seams are too long. I'd like to see the sleeve seam sit up about a quarter inch higher on my shoulder. There's also a lot of room through the top of the blouse. It may be time to go down to a size 14 as my base pattern. My high bust measurement falls smack dab between the 14 and the 16, and I always cut the 16 because, well, I'm used to just having to wear a bigger size. Maybe I need to rethink this. In any case, it's a quick and easy pattern. I love the underbust gathers- that means no darts to fuss with, and the princess seams on the lower portion make it easy to adjust fit also.
This fabric is a gorgeous Asian print quilting cotton in shades of purple, teal, cream, and metallic gold. The photo just doesn't do it justice. I'm thinking if I make this again, I might add piping in the underbust seam, and maybe along the front edges. I was imagining this blouse with black piping and a black collar. Could be interesting....

I pleated two dresses this weekend, and I intend to start smocking tonight. The first dress is going to be a BSY. The second is an adorable pink seersucker sundress with smocking at the waist. There will be bullion roses involved, but not too many, so it shouldn't be too bad. I can't wait to share!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


This dress is from a pattern called Larkin, by Maja's Heirloom Treasures. This is the first pattern that I've made from this line, although I have several others in my stash that I'd like to try out.

This is a size 6, made out of light blue polycotton microcheck. It's smocked with Babybugs and Butterflies by Creative Keepsakes. I think if I make this again, I will chose a smocking plate with a more loosely smocked, or more open, bottom row. The bottom green and white row, the one the ladybugs are sitting on, seems to not want to stretch out quite enough and the dress seems to sit a little high, at least to me. It's not bad enough to worry about, just something to file away for next time. If I do make it again, and I probably will, I will add mini-piping to the empire seam, even if it's just made out of the main fabric. I just think that seam needs a little something.

The dress turned out well. It's got the classic bishop look to the bodice, but a smooth, simple A-line look to the lower portion. I think it's a great look for girls who are growing up and think they're too old for a bishop dress, but it's still young and sweet, and modest and age appropriate. It's a dress that can make both Mom and Daughter happy.

If you look closely at the Princess in the close-up photo, you can see where she trimmed her own hair, right up at the top. Thank goodnes she didn't cut any more than she did. I guess that's something every child does at one time or another.

Okay, I'm off to sew. I'll also be running some cotton through the wash to get it ready for pleating. Stay tuned for a report on my next smocking project.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Dress That Didn't Work Out

So here's a picture of Simplicity 3874, the V neck version. Not so great. I didn't even hem it. I tried it on and hated it immediately. It's been about a week, and I don't hate it so much now, but it's still not doing much for me. Let's just start with the color. I should never have used this fabric to make this dress. It's a gorgeous Asian print cotton, but it's just too close to my skin tone to be flattering. I should have used something more colorful, but it was really just a muslin, so what the heck, right? Next is the dress itself. The drawing on the pattern envelope shows a much deeper V neck. Now, I'm all for modesty, and I certainly don't want all of my cleavage hanging out for the world to see, but the finished neckline is nothing like what the pattern envelope shows. It's almost dowdy looking. Of course, it is a muslin, and the neckline could be easily altered on the next version. If there were to be another version, that is.

The next problem is the armholes. They cut me right at the most unflattering point, and enhance the chubbiness of my upper arms. I thought, judging from the pattern drawing, that they would be cut in ever so slightly. I was wrong. Not only do the armholes look bad on me, they feel bad. I wore the dress for a couple of hours yesterday just to give it a second chance, and the front edge of the armhole actually cuts into me if I lean forward or raise my arms forward. It was really aggravating.

I cut a 16 through the bodice and did a FBA which added a dart in the side seam under the arm, and a second dart under the bust. I tapered out to an 18 at the hip. I really could have gone out to a 20. I could use a little bit more ease, but it's okay with a slip underneath and I've been steadily loosing weight now for a couple of months and I suspect that in a couple more weeks, the 18 will be more than adequate. I'm not real happy with the area of the dress between the hips and the empire waist. The skirt is really boxy and I think that fact combined with the hand of the cotton I used makes it look and feel boxy through that area. As a naturally curvy girl, I think I need a little more curve and cling through my midsection to get a really flattering look. Once again, a drapier fabric might have made a big difference.

I'm really not happy with this dress. But the strange thing is that I keep wondering if I should give it another chance. Should I maybe try the raglan sleeved version? Would the sleeves make it more flattering? Would a different fabric make a big difference? Should I eliminate the drawstring detail and just make the casing and elastic go all the way around? Should I try to make the skirt more A-line? Why am I even considering all this? Shouldn't I just move on? It's not like I don't have a dozen other patterns to try out. In fact, I'm almost done with this one:

Butterick 4985, the plain white version on the lower left. I hope to hand stitch the collar down and add buttons and buttonholes while watching TV this weekend. Hopefully, I can post pics, too.

I also have Larkin, the dress with the ladybug smocking, done except for buttons. I'll try and post that one as well. I might even start a new smocked project. I've been itching to smock for about a week. Nothing relaxes me like kicking back in my favorite chair watching a favorite movie or TV show and just smocking to my heart's content. Come to think of it, I haven't watched the Lord of the Rings in a while. Hmmm. My weekend is starting to shape up already!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sew Stylish...

Here it is, the Sew Stylish dress. I've seen a lot of these dresses on various blogs and on Pattern Review, and I have to say, it's a great dress. I am very pleased with the way it turned out. I wore it to work today for the first time and I got lots of compliments. It was comfortable and fun, and I just really enjoyed wearing it.

What do I like about this pattern? Well, first of all, the V neck is modest. It shows just enough skin to be stylish, but not enough to be embarrassing. The straps are wide and I can wear my favorite bra with it. I like the empire waist, and the wide sash that keeps it from looking like a maternity dress.

I used a drapey twill print for this dress. I'm not sure what the fiber content is. It's been lying around in my stash for at least a couple of years. It's kind of heavy, though. I almost wish I had used a challis and saved this for a fall or winter dress, but it's okay. I did, however, break two needles while sewing this. One broke while I was putting in the zipper. You have to sew through quite a bit of fabric when you get to the sash and the empire seam.
Here's the dress with the sweater I bought to go with it. I like to keep my arms covered at work.

I cut a size 16 in the bodice, and since the skirt is rather full, I just kept it to a 16 all the way down. It fit just fine. I did a FBA, but I didn't add any length through the center front. I wanted the center front seam to lay flat against my chest, and I certainly didn't want any gaping. It worked out great.
Stay tuned for an update on Simplicity 3874. The muslin is done, at least enough to check the fit, but the project wasn't as successful as I'd hoped. Pictures and commentary coming soon....

Shifty Business

Finally. As promised, (many posts ago) the Threads Shift Dress, Simplicity 3744 View C:

And the back...

You might remember my muslin, the safari dress? Well, this one is a little bit better. I used a cotton print for the main fabric and a poly cotton broadcloth for the contrast. I think the print had some poly in it, too, because I could hear the needle punching through it while I was sewing. I used a brand new needle, and in my experience, needles usually glide through 100% cotton like a warm knife through butter.

I made a size 16 through the bodice and waist, and tapered out to an 18 at the hip. This is one of those multi bust cup patterns which, in my opinion, are awesome. I didn't have to worry about the FBA, I just used the D cup front pieces. I put the pockets in with no problems at all. I've stood in front of the mirror every which way and I can honestly say that they don't pull or pooch or make my tummy look any rounder than it really is. I like them. I also like the little button-on tab on the back of the dress. I lined the whole dress with white batiste, except for the sleeves, and the contrast hem is actually two layers. I figured the hem should be at least the same weight as the body of the dress and I didn't want to fuss with a lining that was longer than the main dress pieces, so I stitched the outer band to the inner band at the hem, stitched the doubled band to the main dress, pressed the seam up, and then hand stitched the lining down over the seam. Sounds complicated, but it's all finished up nicely inside with no raw edges showing.
The fit is okay. I'm really not used to wearing this style of dress; I usually prefer garments with a defined waist. I haven't worn the dress in public, because I'm still trying to decide if "it's me." I guess I should just bite the bullet and wear it and see what my friends and co-workers think. My kids seem to like it, so that's something.

The pattern is really easy. If I decide I like the style on me, I could see making view D, the one with 3/4 sleeves, for fall. I think I'd choose a fabric with a little bit more drape to it. The poly cotton is alright, but the added body of the lining and the double hem makes it stand out from my body in what I would call an exagerated A-line.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Happy Birthday at the Fabric Store

Tuesday, July 10th, was Savannah's birthday. The princess is six years old! We had Girls' Day Out and went to Hancock Fabrics to get something to make the Lizzie McGuire shrug.

Savannah chose this green cotton to go with the Hello Kitty fabric that she picked out for the dress. We got this white crocheted lace for the trim, and several silk flowers to try out on the shrug once we get the outfit made. I'm hoping to get the dress and shrug cut out this weekend.

Getting this lace and shrug fabric was the main mission, but I also got these:

Starting on the left, we have an allover china doll print. I'm not sure exactly what I'll make out of it, but it will be something cute for the Princess. The fabric in the middle is for me. I'm thinking a dress, but it's a rather large scaled print, so I'll have to give it careful consideration and choose just the right pattern. The fabric on the right is a small scale floral quilting cotton. It just jumped off the shelf at me. (That happens to me sometimes.) I immediately pictured a BSY (Basic Square Yoke dress) with geometric smocking, white collar and cuffs, puffed sleeves, and pink minipiping. I just hope I can get it done before Savannah decides she's too old for that sort of dress.
Well, I better go get busy. I have a dress for Savannah almost finished. It just needs buttons and button holes. I have three dresses I've made for myself to photograph and post, I want to get the Hello Kitty/Lizzie McGuire project started, and I have a Butterick blouse pattern I want to try. If I get started now, I might actually get one or two of these things accomplished this weekend!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Promises, Promises...

Okay, I know I said I'd take and post pics of the completed dresses, but I just haven't gotten to it yet. I haven't gotten home before dark in the last two days, and since I prefer to take my pictures outside in natural lighting, I've kind of been out of luck. But I'm taking the day off, so I'll try and get the pictures taken and posted later today.

For some odd reason, DH rented Yours, Mine, and Ours (the original) on DVD tonight. It's been a while since I've seen it, but what a cute movie. I really got a kick out of all the groovy sixties fashions. There was one scene, early in the movie, in a grocerie store. Lucille Ball had on the cutest white cropped pants, pink jacket, and pink flat shoes. I'd love to have that outfit to wear to work.

I just love movies from the sixties. There's a really cheesy sci-fi movie called The Green Slime that I just love. I used to have it on VHS, and if I ever find it on DVD I'll snatch it up. Who'd have thought that women of the future would be wearing bouffant hairdos, false eyelashes, and minidresses?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Mission Accomplished... But Not Neccesarily Successful

The shift dress is done. Now I'm working up my nerve to wear it Monday. I think it turned out okay, I'm just not sure it's "me." I'll post a pic tomorrow when I can get one with my hair done and makeup on. I don't want to scare anyone...

I spent all day yesterday working on Simplicity 3874, the V-neck version. I got the fit okay, I think, but it's just not very flattering. I'll post a pic of that one, too, but I'll save my comments until then. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Savannah and I spent some quality time on the floor in the sewing room today going through all of my kids' patterns, picking out a pattern for her next outfit. It's going to be a project for us to do together. Sort of a way to test the waters and see if she's really ready to start learning to sew. She chose this:

This Lizzie McGuire pattern is OOP, but it's still cute, and Savannah picked it out, so we're going to go with it. She wants to do views C, D, and E which would be the orange dress, shrug and purse. Oh yes, she wants the purse, too. And the silk flower on the shrug. We're using a Hello Kitty print for the dress. It's pink with orange, yellow, green and white. I have a coordinating print for the shrug, but I'm afraid it might be a little bit busy, so we might make a quick run to Hancock's on Tuesday (her birthday) to pick out a solid or a more toned down print. We also need some lace for the skirt. I'm thinking white crocheted lace, but we'll just have to see what they have when we get there.

And since it's been so long since my last post, I'll leave you with another peek into Savannah's closet...

This is another Children's Corner Abbie. I absolutely fell in love with this fabric last year, not because of the print, but because of the colors. I love this bright orange against this incredible blue. This was one of my rare fabric purchases that got made up almost immediately (as opposed to marinating in my stash for a year or more.)

Of course, just because I like something, doesn't mean the Princess is going to like it. I think Savannah has worn this twice. She refuses to wear it because she "hates monkeys!" She calls it the monkey outfit and it doesn't matter what I say, she doesn't like it and doesn't want to wear it. I think the last time I made her wear it to school she cried. Oh well. I'll just wait for a little niece or a granddaughter to wear it. Hopefully they won't hate monkeys.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The End of a Beautiful Weekend

I finally did get some sewing done. I was able to pretty much finish the sheath dress. I just need to sew the lining down inside and add a hook and eye to the back above the zipper. Shouldn't take too much longer, but I'm too pooped to work on it now. Maybe tomorrow after work.

While I was furiously working on my dress, my son, Bryan, decided to hang out in the sewing room with me and learn to cross stitch.

He found a small kit at Hancock's on Friday that features a cross stitched frog on a lilypad and we bought it. I figure that stitching will help develope his fine motor skills and it gives us something to do together. He sat quietly for quite a long time just working away on his Soggy Froggy (that's the name of the kit.) He's done a great job so far and I am very proud of him. We will share a pic of the finished piece when he gets it completed.
And from Savannah's closet:

This was Savannah's Fourth of July Dress when she was a year old. I found these fabrics at Hobby Lobby and I just knew what I wanted to make right away. The blue fabric features tiny American flags and says "America the Beautiful." This is an angel sleeve overlay bishop dress. See how the angel sleeves overlay the puffed short sleeves? I also used red ginham mini-piping on the sleeves and the neck. I kinda went nuts with the tucks, but it was so much fun making them that I had a hard time making myself stop.

Alright, it's bedtime. I'm off to dream about sewing projects. Can you think of a better way to fall asleep?