30 August 2012

6PAC #1 & Mini Wardrobe

Earlier this year, I said I wasn't going to participate in another PR contest.  However, the draw of the Mini Wardrobe challenge is relentless and I've decided to give it a go.  Fortunately, I already have a storyboard mapped out as a result of planning for the first of two (maybe three) 6PACs.

Each season, members on Stitcher's Guild host a 3-month sew along to create a wardrobe of six garments.  I've talked about this idea quite a bit here, so I won't repeat the details.  Instead, I will direct you to the active thread that contains all of the information.

I have three 6PAC plans that I'd like to sew for fall.  One plan includes traditional fall colours while the other two have much cooler hues.

6PAC#1:  brown, cream, orange
6PAC#2:  black, white, grey, magenta
6PAC#3:  grey, navy blue, white

While these plans may seem rather ambitious, I am not too worried.  The 6PAC plans are seasonal challenges so I can easily extend plans 2 and 3 into winter.

To compete in the Mini Wardrobe contest, participants are to make five items in one month.  The five items, which include two bottoms, two tops, and a key item, must coordinate to make no less than six outfits.  The fifth item can be made, purchased, or previously owned.  I've opted to stick with patterns that I made before since the time given to complete the challenge is so short.  Plus, my sewing always takes a hit with the start of school.

tentative storyboard and fabric

Simplicity 2860 (pants) - light brown wool herringbone pinstripe
I've worked out the fit on the Simplicity pants and am really pleased with how they look.  The waistband, however, has been a royal PITA; I am struggling with getting a nice finish.  More details on that in a future post.

BWOF 8-2005-102 (skirt) - light brown wool blend with metallic threads
The pattern is traced and altered.  I just need to make a muslin to ensure that I've got the length right and that I'll like the style on me.  If I don't like it, I'll resort to one of my TNT patterns and move on.

Simplicity 2599 - dark brown floral silk charmeuse
Working with silk charmeuse may be a challenge.  I've sought some tips online so that I know what to expect.  I am hesitant to try starch because I don't know if it will change the hand of the fabric.  I'll cut a small swatch, apply starch, and then machine wash it.  If the fabric holds up well, then I'll proceed with the process on the whole piece.  Otherwise, I will just have to sew slowly and carefully so as not to distort the fabric too much.

New Look 6648 - orange rayon knit with metallic threads
I've made this pattern three or four times now.  I should be able to complete this in one day.  My knit is rather thin, so I need to decide if I'm going to underline this or not.

McCall's 4923 or Simplicity 2560 (cardigan) - cream ponte knit or white rayon modal knit
I keep going back and forth with this option.  I've cut out the McCall's cardigan, but I don't know if I'll like the finished product.  The rayon-poly ponte knit has too much polyester and I just don't like how it feels.  I'll sew it up and see how it looks.  If it doesn't work out, then I can fall back on the Simplicity cardigan.

That's it for now.  I've got several projects in the mix, so I suppose I should start working!

Until next time...


28 August 2012


1.  I love watermelon.
2.  Seriously.
3.  This is my fourth one in just under two weeks.
4.  I think I'm addicted.
5.  Watermelons are 92% water and 100% sweet goodness.
6.  If you know how to pick them.
7.  And I do.
8.  School starts next week.
9.  I am not ready.
10.  Moment of silence for the end of summer break.
11.  We have a new edition of the book.
12.  I am not a fan.
13.  I am eating watermelon right now.
14.  For real.
15.  I have to have everything prepared for school by Sunday.
16.  I need to finish my Lady Grey coat and muslins for my mini wardrobe.
17.  Did I mention I entered the mini wardrobe contest?
18.  My dog loves watermelon too.
19.  It's the closest to anything that remotely resembles meat she'll ever get in my house.
20.  Unless she finds another dead cat to play with.
21.  Don't ask.
22.  I should be doing work.
23.  I suppose I'll do some work.
24.  Then again. 
25.  Good night!

25 August 2012

Lady Grey Update

I've made considerable progress on my coat.  While this is no quick project, it can be done in a reasonable amount of time if you can get through all hand stitching.  Fortunately, it's a near-mindless task that can be accomplished by watching something on TV or online.  Anyway, here are some photos of what I've done so far.

Can you tell which side has the shoulder pad?  My lapels aren't as dramatic as those that are shown on the pattern envelope.  I thought they would be too big for my frame, though now I am not so sure.  Maybe I'll re-tape and tailor the roll line to create a bigger flap. 

Ugh!  I definitely have to reset that right sleeve.  I used sleeve heads to help gather the ease, but this side didn't turn out as nicely as the other.


The lining (flannel-backed satin)  is completely sewn, serged, faced, and hemmed.

I need to decide on the size of the shoulder pad.  As shown below, the purple one is much thicker.  When I tried them both on at the same time, I really couldn't discern much of a difference on how they affected the fit of the coat.  Any suggestions?


The only thing that's left to do is to tailor the collar, sew the facing/lining unit to the shell, and hem the coat!  Unfortunately, I had to suspend the project because I ran out of hair canvas and had to order some more from NYC.  I could have used the other piece of hair canvas I had on hand, but the weight was very different and had a measurable affect on how it interacted with the fabric.  My shipment arrived on Thursday, so I will resume work on the coat once I finish a pair of pants that I started in the interim.

That's all for now.  Be well!


21 August 2012

Giveaway Winners

Thanks to everyone who took a moment to share your story about your first sewing projects.  It was nice to read how this craft impacted you and even more nice to see that you stuck with it!  To select the recipients of the patterns, I wrote each name on a piece of paper and drew two names from a bag.  I could have used a random number generator, but hey, I'm old-school. =)

Since you can select the three patterns of your choice, there may be some overlap in what you what.  I will try to accommodate first choices, but please keep this in mind. Without further ado, congratulations go out to Jenerator and Janie. Send your selections and address to yousewgirl07 at yahoo dot com. 

Up next:  Lady Grey progress and another wardrobe plan!

Be well!


13 August 2012

Pattern Giveaway

I first started sewing in the spring of 2004 while still living in NYC. My first sewing class, taken at a fabric store in Brooklyn, was taught be a self-described established tailor with more than 40 years of experience.  Upon entering the class, I was excited to learn how to make my own clothes.  The instructor was very good at describing how to use a sewing machine as well as how to read a pattern.  When it came to actually sewing the garment, she was moderately helpful in that her frustration with our newbie-ness sometimes surfaced.

I remember everything about the project except the pattern number.  It was a Butterick pattern that included pants, a skirt, jacket, and dress.  I no longer have the pattern; I think I sold it on PR or recycled it.  The fabric I used was a maroon polyester suiting that did not respond well to pressing.  The pattern called for a center back zipper, but since we were newbies, she had us extend the waist up a couple of inches and insert elastic.  Since I didn't know anything about pattern sizes, my skirt didn't fit.  It was way too big (she told me to buy a size 18) and formless.  I gave it away and vowed to never touch a sewing machine again. I don't give up that easily.  I bought a sewing machine later that year and never looked back.  Sewing is a part of my life and I hope to continue honing my skill, creating good-fitting clothes that I like, and forging new friendships with those who share the same sewing desires.

So what was your first pattern or sewing experience?  Share your story in the comments section by Monday, 20 August.  From the stories presented, I'll randomly select two people with which to gift three patterns of your choice - postage paid. Visit this link to view the patterns up for grabs. 


08 August 2012

Birthday #37

New year's for me happens on my birthday.  At this time, I take a moment to reflect on the events that happened within the last year.  One of the areas of my life for which I am truly thankful is my friends.  They are undeniably the most precious of treasures and I don't know where I would be without their love and support.  Words are not enough to express how eternally grateful I am to have their enduring friendship.  I love you all.

Events of the past year have also called into mind a few lessons.  Some I've known for a while but had to be reminded again.

1.  Do you.  You're the only one who can do it best.
2.  You can't give what you don't have.
3.  People will show you who they really are eventually.  When they do, believe them.
4.  Patience requires practice.  Practice requires patience.  Vicious cycle.

I am a never-ending work in progress.  Only God knows what's in store for the next year of my life.  I pray I have the strength, confidence, and resolve to accept and handle whatever it is. 


06 August 2012

2012 Dressapalooza: The End (for now)

The 2012 Dressapalooza has come to a close.  Even though I did not create all of the wonderful garments planned, I did attempt almost everything on my list.  With most of the patterns, I got stuck in the muslin phase without clear direction on how to proceed.

Here are the results for the patterns I tried:

Butterick 5350
The front fit reasonably well, but the back could not be reconciled.  The bodice neckline is designed to be 7 inches below the natural neckline.  I could not get this to work with the shoulder straps.  I tried raising the back and widening the straps.  It didn't work so I moved on.

Simplicity 2473
Done and I love it!  There are definitely more versions planned for the future.

McCall's 6279
The muslin I made last summer fit very well.  However when I went to make this up in my fashion fabric, the fit was all wrong.  Plus, I had some weird pulling near the neckline that I couldn't quite fix.  I'll try it again in a more stable fabric like denim, instead of the rayon-linen blend used in this attempt.

Butterick 5490
Of all of the dresses on my list, I was most excited about this one.  I had the perfect fabric and everything!  I got the bodice to fit very well, however the skirt just didn't look right on my body.  The lack of flare made it look as if I was swimming in cotton.  It wasn't a good look at all.  I might return to it next summer.

Vogue 1220
I had high hopes for this one and was really satisfied with the muslin.  The failure came with the fashion fabric being too stiff.  I used a cotton-lycra chambray that was just a hair softer than cardboard.  At first, I thought it would be okay, but upon trying on the dress after it was almost complete, I realized that this was not going to work.

I didn't attempt to make Butterick 5455 or Butterick 5353.  I tried both of these two years ago but have yet to work out the fit issues.  I ran out of steam and didn't even cut out the pattern pieces for Simplicity 2406 or New Look 6968.  McCall's 5847 is a TNT denim shirt dress pattern that I've made twice already.  I decided not to make another one.

So, that's it for Dressapalooza 2012.  Although I didn't finish everything, I made considerable progress on many patterns and learned even more about fitting.  Alas, Dressapalooza 2013 awaits!

Until next time, be well!

03 August 2012

Updates & Pictures (finally!)

Sewing Updates

Ripped Pin-Tuck Skirt
I love wearing this skirt because it is so comfortable and cute.  My most recent wearing unfortunately didn't end well.  The lining got caught in the invisible zipper and would NOT budge.  The only thing I could do to free the lining was to tear it.    

Sigh.  I suppose I could save the skirt by taking out the lining and putting in a new one.  But that would mean that I'd actually have to do it.  Maybe next summer...

McCall's 6559
I made two versions of this dress.  Unfortunately I didn't get to save the first dress because I burned a nice big hole in the fabric while applying steam-a-seam.  Note to self:  cotton-poly blends and heat do *not* mix.  I will spare you the melted details.  In fact, I think I already threw it away.  I used a size 14, shortened the shoulders by about 1.5 inches, and lopped off about 3 inches of length.  On the next version, I will raise the neckline an inch and take off another inch in length.

I use two hangers to prevent the shoulders from stretching out from the weight of the dress.

New Look 6897
I made another version of this pattern; I think the count is now up to four.  I didn't do anything special here except to line it, face the waist with petersham (like the others), and put the flounce on the other side.

Simplicity 2422
I finished this a while ago as well, but neglected to take pictures.  It's a cute little jacket that is perfect for summer.  The jacket is 98% complete; I need to add two buttonholes and sew on the buttons.  I might make another one for early fall.  I wrote a blog post but need to take and upload a few more pictures before posting. In the meantime, here's the jacket with the linen skirt and the McCall's dress.

Lady Grey
I resumed work on my Lady Grey coat.  I started this last fall but got sidetracked with other projects.  Since I want to wear this coat this year, it would be a good idea to finish it before it gets cold!  I am following Gertie's 2010 sew along and instructions on how to properly tailor a coat.  Let me tell you, this is definitely no weekend project.  One has to be very patient and have many moments of zen to undertake a project like this.  I thought about interlining the coat with lambs wool but decided  to use some flannel-backed lining instead.  Here are a couple of progress shots.

I am at the point where I need to sew the pockets and lining but as I don't have what I need, I am currently stalled.  Until I get the lining, I will jump ahead and start working on shaping the collar.

Fall 6PAC (more like a case, really, if you saw my storyboard)
I hope to sew another 6PAC for fall since my summer 6PAC was a fail.  Even though I got three of the six garments completed, my sewjo quickly sank after I ruined one of my fabrics by incorrectly cutting out the pattern.  Initially, I was going to use a brown, cream, and orange palette.  Instead, I decided to go the nontraditional fall colour route and use grey, white, and magenta. 

My storyboard is still in limbo, though I do have several patterns on my radar.  I am actually thinking of joining the Mini Wardrobe contest on PR in September.  Before I start cutting and sewing, I'll wait until the rules come out to see if it's something I want to do.

Non-Sewing Updates

New Car
My 13-year old Nissan finally bit the dust; the timing chain broke, thus rendering me car-less.  That wasn't so bad considering that I was out of the country for two weeks.  But when I got back, man, let me tell you.  Not having a car while living in the city sucks.  I am thankful and ever grateful to my dear friend Rasheedah who carted me around the city to help me look for a car.  She even drove me to Toledo when I saw a used Honda that I liked.  She did this while working full time and caring for her family of three kids and a husband.  What a doll!

I finally got a car and am happy with it.  It's not a Nissan, but has 6-speed manual transmission and a few nice features.  I really like Honda but this was the best choice for now.  Maybe in a couple of years, I'll trade it in for something else.

Summertime in the City
Summertime in the city is filled with all kinds of activities.  And since I now have reliable transportation, I've been taking full advantage of all the city has to offer.

The 20th Annual Concert of Colours was held at the beginning of July and featured a diverse collection of musical interests - totally free of charge. I got to see Tito Puente Jr., Musique Noire, Joe Reilly (local artist), and the 5th Don Was All City Jazz Revue.  The Jazz Revue was FANTASTIC!!  Joan and Marcus Belgrave, Gayelynn McKinney, James Carter were just a few of the artists to grace the stage of Orchestra Hall.  What a weekend!

This past weekend, I went to see Eric Benet and Ledisi at an outdoor amphitheatre.  It was a wonderful concert and a great chance to enjoy good music on the riverfront.

Even though I haven't updated my pottery page with new pieces, I have spent a lot of time in the studio.  I made several pieces and did as much as I am going to do with my 16-piece dish set. So far, I've made 12 of the 16 pieces:  four coffee mugs, four plates, and four bowls.  The annoying and uber-frustrating (but maybe cool to someone else) thing is that I used the same glaze on every piece and none of them look the same.  The coffee mugs are all shiny, the bowls are a perfect application of the glaze, and the plates are brown and dull.  What the hell, man?  I'm over dishes for now and will work on something else when I return to the studio in September.  For now, I need a break.

Whew!!  That's a wrap!  Until next time, be well!



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