First Week of Me-Made May

I had planned on posting these outfits to my blog daily, but my work schedule has been tough, so I haven't been able to do that. My apologies for the long, picture-heavy post.

Here are the latest outfits I've worn for Me-Made May:

Me-Made May Day 4
Lady Skater Dress and BurdaStyle Denim Jacket
 and a close-up of one of my favorite necklaces that I've made:

Me-Made May Day 4
I believe I saw the inspiration necklace on caseymaura.com
 It turned rainy and cold one day, so I had a chance to wear a hand-knit pullover:

Me-Made May Day 5
Climbing Vines Pullover by JoĆ«lle Meier 
 Expecting similar weather the next day, I wore my favorite umbrellas pullover:

Me Made May Day 6
Umbrellas Pullover by Joji Locatelli
 It ended up being warm and sunny. Go figure.

 The next outfit carried me through a VERY long day at work in comfort.

Me-Made May Day 7
Easy Knit Skirt from Gertie's vintage casual book
 And here I am in my sewing room for the Friday Challenge (show your sewing space).

Me-Made May Day 8 (in my sewing room)
New Look 6828
 I've already come to realize that I've been sewing an awful lot of knits. I like to sew them. They're easy and comfortable to wear. They're also quick enough to fit in a busy schedule...but...I feel more put together when wearing structured items like woven blouses and lined pencil skirts. I'm going to work on making more things like that!


Me Made May 2015 - Days 1 & 2

Like so many other creative people around the world, I'm participating in Me-Made-May. When I've participated in years past, I've learned valuable lessons about the wearability of my creations and what basics I need to add to my wardrobe. The inspiration is also tremendous and my to-do list grows by leaps and bounds. This year, because I have a more-than-full-time job, I havne't been able to pledge to wear ONLY homemade items. I'm settling for wearing at least one me-made item per day. I'm also going easy on myself and not planning to take photos every single day, because I know I won't feel photogenic (i.e. when I lounge around the house covered in cat fur).

 On Day One, I wore my new Linden sweatshirt/sweater and a Burda blouse I sewed a couple of years ago. Two of my all-time favorite tops! This outfit was perfect for casual Friday--and an extra long one at that...due to a looming deadline, I put in 12 hours. Sooo tired.


 On Saturday, I had a date with a girlfriend of mine to see Ariadne auf Naxos at the Seattle Opera. That meant dressing up a bit. I'm wearing Simplicity 2444, a retro fit and flare dress. I received several comments on it and just had to brag about making it myself!


 The opera was lots of fun too. It was a mash-up of a "vulgar" comedy and high tragedy. It was cleverly done! Sunday, was a day of cat fur and sweat pants. No photos taken, except of my kids playing soccer.




Starting from Scratch

I had my jeans pattern altered to fit just the way I liked a couple of years ago, but since then, I ate a lot of cookies and goldfish crackers, drank a bit too much gin and put on a bit of weight. I'm ok with the weight gain, mostly. I'm still within a healthy range, but do have to be a little more careful with what I eat and drink. I haven't bought a box of goldfish crackers in over six months!!!

Unfortunately, all my painstakingly perfected patterns no longer work for my new shape. I looked at the back of the Jalie 2908 pattern and selected a size that corresponded with my hip measurement. I made similar alterations as those that were required previously...increase the crotch depth, add a little extra room in the front thigh, add a couple of inches to the length. Theoretically, that should have resulted in a perfect pair of jeans. In sewing, sometimes theory and reality just don't match.

They're not bad...but not great either. As you can see, I have a bit too much room over the hips and at the waist. There's also too much fabric in the front crotch. I know what I need to do next time: cut out a size smaller, fold out a wedge in the back yoke, and remove that extra fabric I allowed for full thighs. Theoretically, at least, that should fix the worst problems.

So, I'm not 100% satisfied with these. That's ok! They are currently the most comfortable pants in my wardrobe. In fact, I ate a huge piece of apple pie on pi day and didn't feel constricted one bit by these jeans. In fact, I could go out and buy a box of goldfish crackers, to help me fill these out a bit more, haha!

The little details make me happy. I used a Tina Givens bird print fabric for the pocket lining and golden brown upholstery thread for the topstitching.

The rivets aren't all that secure. One of these days, I'm going to find some high quality rivets to replace these junky ones.

I also stitched my favorite back pocket design:

The bird motif is from an old Ottobre Women's magazine.

My review of Jalie 2908 can be read on Pattern Review.


Deer & Doe Plantain T-shirt

I'm going to cut to the chase. I LOVE this top. The fit is great for me. The subtle feminine shaping makes me feel less schlumpy than most t-shirt patterns. In fact, as simple as it is, it may be my favorite thing I've sewn this year.

I will be making more of these. You have been warned!


Look, ma! I made the stripes line up across the side seams!


Oh yeah. This top rocks.


Pattern Review is hosting a contest for projects made from their selection of top patterns from 2012-2014. Most of the patterns are *very* simple. This is one of the top patterns of 2014 and I do plan on entering this project, if only for the camaraderie. I'm having a hard time imagining a t-shirt being a winning entry, lol.

Here's my review:

1. Why do you think this was voted one of the Best Patterns?

The reasons why this top was voted one of the Best Patters are clear to me:

(a) It's FREE! Woo hoo!
(b) It's a t-shirt--a *very* important staple for most of us.
(c) It has a lovely, feminine shape, which makes it stand out from the crowd of other (free and not-so-free) t-shirt patterns.

2. Would you have made this pattern if it was NOT voted one of the top patterns of the year?

Yes, I had downloaded this pattern long before it was voted a top pattern.

3. How did you make your version of this pattern unique?

I selected a pretty print and made the somewhat subtle horizontal lines match across the side seams.

4. What size(s) did you make?

I made a 42. I did not make a single alteration...and it fits perfectly! Deer&Doe patterns are drafted for an hourglass figure and C-cup busts. Based on this, I could have added a smidge extra room for the bust area, but this knit was rather forgiving, so didn't feel the need.

5. Did you find the sizing accurate compared to the measurements listed on the pattern?

Yes. The pattern is drafted very nicely. In fact, I'm so impressed with it, I plan on trying out other patterns from this company.

6. What fabric and trims did you use? What was the source of your fabric and trims?

I used a soft and drapey single-knit from Girl Charlee fabrics.

7. Describe how you used the pattern instructions. Did you follow the instructions literally, did you figure out how to assemble on your own, or a combination of instructions plus own experience? 

The instructions are very basic. They do provide some useful information for beginners, but they don't hold your hand every step of the way. I have made many t-shirts over the years, so didn't need them, other than to refresh my memory about the size of the seam and hem allowances.

I used the coverstitch function on my serger to topstitch the hems and around the neckband. I believe a double-needle was suggested in the instructions, which is fine. I just prefer using my serger. The instructions did not have me topstitch around the neckband. I just like to do that because it keeps everything nicely in place.

8. Describe any alterations you made and discuss whether alternations were for fit or for design.

I only made one minor modification. I stitched the neckline facing at 1/2" instead of 5/8". It just looked a little bit better to me. 1/8" is something only a Type A personality would fuss over.

9. What did you like and what did you dislike about the pattern?

2015 PR Best Patterns of 2012-2014I'm not exaggerating when I say I like everything about this pattern. In fact, I like it much better than my old TNT t-shirt. It's more flattering on my figure.

Some people have commented that they feel the flared hem makes it look a little bit maternity. My figure flares out from top to bottom (Pear shape), so it doesn't feel anywhere near tent-like enough on *me* to make me feel like I'm wearing a maternity top. Someone with a more rectangular or inverted triangle figure might not feel the same way, however.
Love, love, love this top!

10. Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I will be sewing lots more of these! I can't recommend it highly enough.


Do You Jig Too?

I just finished sewing Vogue 8710, a Katherine Tilton t-shirt design. It was fun to put together with its princess seams and pleated sleeves. However, I may have underestimated just how puffy those puffy sleeves are.

It reminds me of an 80's prom dress.

Partly because of how bulky it makes me feel across my shoulders and partly because of the color, it also puts me in mind of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man.

Ok, the sleeves aren't quite that puffy.


It may not be all that bad, though. I think I'll just need to try wearing it with a few different bottoms to find a combination where the volume up top is balanced out by the volume on the bottom. A full skirt might be better than a pencil skirt.

The top is supposed to have a trapeze shape, but my pear shape negates that effect. I could have altered it to maintain the shape on me, but I was curious to see how it fit without any changes.  The answer: pretty darned good, except it was far too long on me. I chopped off 3-3/4" from the bottom. Perhaps if it were looser farther down, that extra length would have made it a nice tunic, but the snug fit on my lower half made me feel uncomfortable.

I was a little bit skeptical about the raw-edge neckline treatment when reading the instructions, but thought I'd give it a try.


I actually like it quite a bit. It helps ameliorate the fussiness of the top.

Sadly, I wasn't able to take a good photo of my top-stitching. All that white on white was blinding. I used my serger's coverstitch function instead of a twin needle on my conventional machine. I generally get much better results with the serger. I don't have to fuss with tension, cry and swear a lot just to get rid of the tunneling between the parallel line of stitches (the fabric forms a ridge between the lines of stitching). With the serger, the fabric stays nice and flat.

The hard part, is getting the serger to travel over the bulky side seams without getting hung up. After many frustrating attempts on other garments, I realized that the solution was simple: use a jig. What is that you might ask?  A jig is a tool that helps guide the motion of another tool. A lot of sewing jigs look like this:

But a jig can be as simple as a piece of folded up cloth or a piece of cardboard, etc. What you do is sew up to the area where the foot would ordinarily have trouble moving over. Often times, this is a thick seam. Then, you put the needles down, raise the presser foot, put the jig under the presser foot behind the needle(s), lower the foot and sew over the tricky spot. I do this whenever I use the coverstitch and rely on it for topstitching jeans. I love jigs!


Road Trip to Puyallup

On Saturday, my friends and I drove to Puyallup for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. I had been hearing a lot about it from the internets and was really excited. An event dedicated to sewing? Count me in!

It's possible people's enthusiasm for the Expo had a lot more to do with the huge number of classes offered, but I didn't look at those very closely because my time was limited. Unfortunately, the marketplace was not inspiring to me at all. 99% of it consisted of quilting supplies--and not, "modern quilting," but rather more traditional piecework and applique--with a whole heckuva lot of machine embroidery. 

I don't mean to knock quilting. I can appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into making a nice quilt. I've made a few myself. But what was on display just wasn't to my taste and I really, really wanted to see more fashion sewing.

Luckily, I was there with some wonderful people. We had fun sorting through the bins at Vogue fabrics and even bought a few yards. We were awed by the gorgeous fabrics at Pendleton. But the best part of the day was bantering with my girls and eating strawberry shortcake in the cool spring sunshine.

Strawberry shortcake!

Girls, you rock. Thanks for a great day!


Almost But Not Quite

I sewed a pair of Sandra Betzina princess seam pants (Vogue 2948) using fitting techniques she teaches in her Craftsy class. For the most part, I am happy with how these pants turned out. They are far more comfortable than any RTW pants I have bought in recent memory. They do not create a wedgie. They do not bind my legs or cut into my belly.


Unfortunately, there is a bit of bagginess under the seat which I don't know how to correct...yet.


And some of my topstitching caused a little whiskering in this fabric. :(

There are some clever details like the front in-seam pockets:


And the little tab to cover the top of the invisible zipper:


I fully lined them so they feel great on.


My question is: can I wear these in public without cause for embarrassment, or should I wait until I've worked out the fitting problem over the backside?