31 December 2012

2012 Sewing Year in Review

Completed Garments
I think this was a very productive and skill-enhancing sewing year.  I finished my Lady Grey Coat (worn almost daily) and upped my sewing skill on PR to "intermediate."  Woo!  Here are this year's stats:
  • 7 tops
  • 5 skirts
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 3 dresses
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 coat
  • approximately 44.5 yards of fabric sewn
If you're interested, patterns and fabric used for each garment can be viewed on this page.

Incomplete Garments & Wadders
When beginning this next set of projects, I had really high hopes of completing them.  I worked through muslins for all and had even sewn one of the patterns on two separate occasions.  Alas, each project was tanked completely due to user error.

  • Vogue 1224 (dress):  I was most disappointed with the failure in this garment because it could have been avoided.  After sewing a muslin and deciding on needed adjustments, I absentmindedly used the regular pattern pieces instead of the adjusted pieces to cut out the fabric.  I held onto this fabric for a full year waiting to make this pattern.
  • Jalie 2559 (jacket):  Poor fabric choice contributed to the demise of this project.  The muslin fit great and required little adjustment.  Unfortunately, wool flannel was not the best choice of fabric.  It was too thick to make the curves sharp and
  • Vogue 8805 (dress):  I tried to make this work, but it was too shapeless and overwhelming on my short frame. 
  • Simplicity 2560 (cardigan):  Fabric choice, again, led to the demise of this cardigan.  This pattern benefits most from a fabric that has some thickness.  Rayon modal is not advised!
  • McCall's 6279 (dress):  I definitely intend to return to this pattern this Spring.  I have to re-work the pattern alterations and follow the interfacing instructions. 
Attempted Garments
When I think about the number completed garments, it seems like I never sew!  Honestly, I do.  I've had some bouts of inaction throughout the year due to life-stuff, but I do manage to sew.  It's just that some of my garments never make it out of the muslin stage.  This year I attempted, but never completed, the following: 
  • 2 Dresses (Butterick 5490, Butterick 5350, plus others that ended up as wadders)
  • 5 Tops (Butterick 5328, Kwik Sew 3436, Simplicity 2447, Vogue 7903, Vogue 1260)
  • 1 Cardigan (McCall's 4923)
  • 1 Skirt (Vogue 8426)
  • 4 Pairs of pants (Colette Patterns Clover, Jalie 2561, Jalie 2909, BWOF 11-2006-102)
See?  If all of these worked, the total number of completed garments would be much higher.  Kwik Sew 3436, McCall's 4923, and Vogue 8426 all have promise if I tweak them just a bit.  I'll give them a second look in the coming year.

Contest Win
My second contest win occurred with this year's mini wardrobe challenge.  I've tried this contest several times in the past and am so happy to have completed and win!  My favorite of the four pieces is the skirt.  It is very flattering and more flirty than the traditional pencil skirt.

Favorite Garments/Looks

left:  McCall's 6078 & Jalie 2908
right:  McCall's 6559

 Jalie 2908

I was seven pounds from my target weight back in April when the first picture was taken.  I could tuck in my shirt and not have the dreaded muffin-top.  Well as fate (and muffins) would have it, I am still seeking my target weight, but I'm far from where I was in April.  Ugh.

Anyway, the garments that got the most wear this year were my Jalie jeans.  I can't speak highly enough about this pattern.  I've made eight pairs so far and definitely see many more to come. 

McCall's 6559 is the super-sexy-sew-in-a-flash knit dress.  The pattern only has two pieces and barring crazy user error (like burning a hole in the first version), it can be sewn in no time.  The only thing is the neckline is scandalously low - an easy fix, no doubt.

Most Labor-Intensive

left:  Simplicity 2473
right:  Colette Patterns Lady Grey

From fit to construction, both of these projects tested my sewing fortitude.  Lady Grey gets worn daily when the weather isn't too cold.  I have yet to wear the Simplicity dress out on the town.  Maybe one day this Spring...

2012 Sewing Intention Results
I'm happy to say that I met all but one of my 2012 sewing intentions!
  • Jeans contest on PR:  Completed and entered.
  • Advance to "intermediate":  After completing Lady Grey, I upped my sewing skill to "intermediate."  Even though I have yet to master the collar stand, I think I've done pretty well with lots of other sewing skills.
  • Fabric-light:  I definitely bought far less fabric this year and intend to do the same next year.
  • Stash sewing:  Yup.  Shopping the stash is still in effect!
  • SWAP contest on Stitcher's Guild:  I didn't come close to finishing the 2012 swap, but I've got plans and motivation to participate in 2013.  Stay tuned!
2013 Sewing Intentions
  • Shop more of the stash:  It's no secret that I hoard have a lot of fabric.  I'm going to continue seeking out fabrics in my stash first before making new purchases.  That doesn't mean I won't buy anything, I'll just be more aware of my buying habits.
  • Make a full-length winter coat:  Since first seeing Renee's coat review on PR, I have developed the desire to make a super toasty full-length winter coat.  I love my Lady Grey coat, but it's too short and not warm enough to endure cold winters.  I have the issue of Burda from which Renee's coat was made and will include some of the tailoring skills used in making Lady Grey.  This coat will be no weekend project, so I hope to get started on it in May so that it's ready to wear by the time it gets cold.
  • Another SWAP on Stitcher's Guild:  I want to do more planned sewing and the rules for this year's contest are very relaxed.  We're to create an eleven-piece wardrobe consisting of two five-piece coordinated capsules linked by the eleventh garment.  More information to come!
  • Make a bra:  I have all of the notions, fabric, and patterns to make my first bra, I just need the motivation.  I'm a little intimidated by problems with fit and I haven't gathered the courage to give it a try.  Sigrid's bras are wonderfully made and I can no doubt learn a lot from her tutorials. 
  • Sew all of my clothes for one year:  I saw this challenge on PR and joined.  I pretty much sew most of my clothes anyway, though I do buy activewear and lingerie.  I want to see if I can abstain from buying any ready-made garment for one full year.  I might have to make an exception on bras, though.
I want to wish everyone a happy and successful sewing year!  Until next time, be well!


30 December 2012

Updates: M5523 (skirt) & J2559 (jacket)

McCall's 5523
Sewing this skirt the second time around has been a pain in the ass lesson in patience.  I started this skirt almost three weeks ago and it is still not finished.  My serger chewed the fabric horribly which prompted yet another trip to the shop.  It turns out that the blades were dull and needed to be replaced.  What, these things don't last forever?

The type of lining I'm using (polyester stretch charmeuse) is not cooperating at all.  It has an insane amount of static and sticks to everything.  I shocked the shit out of myself on more than one occasion and I have to remember to "ground" myself before I touch the sewing machine.  Grr.

Once I tamed that electrical beast, I assembled it backwards after checking...twice...and just realized last night that I serged the lining to the skirt at the waist seam...inside facing out.  It's hard to describe in words, but trust me, it is all kinds of wrong.  I'll need to unpick the serger stitches and reinsert the lining correctly.   After that, all I need to do is face the waist and sew the hem.  I don't even want to touch this darn thing right now.  =)

Jalie 2559
The jacket is coming along nicely.  I've sewn the sleeves and am now thinking about what to use for sleeve heads.  My choices are thin cotton flannel, polar fleece, and cotton batting.  Below are a couple of pictures of the two samples basted in: one is fleece, the other is cotton flannel.  Can you tell which is which?

I want the sleeve cap to be adequately supported without looking too bulky.  The cotton flannel doesn't produce a lot of bulk, but I don't know if it is strong enough to prevent the cap from collapsing.  The polar fleece will definitely support the shoulder cap as well as stop it from caving, but it is it too bulky for this material?  Hmm...  I'm going to get a piece of cotton batting and compare its thickness to that of the two samples I have.

I don't know what I'm going to do about lining.  I could use the electrical polyester stretch charmeuse, but I am not looking forward to it.  I might take a risk and use my non-stretch rayon Ambiance with smaller seam allowances.  I'll have to think it about it some more...

In the meantime, I am going to sew some quick knit tops and dresses.  I need some sewing success so that my sewjo doesn't make a run for the border.

 I'll be posting my year-in-review next.  Until then, be well!


24 December 2012

Jalie 2559 (jacket): Take 2

Remember this?

I started this jacket at the beginning of the year with the intention of including it in an old SWAP. Unfortunately, due to poor fabric choice and an silly error in adjusting the pattern, the jacket remains as shown in the picture:  a genuine UFO.  This project is a lesson in paying better attention to the list of suggested fabrics printer on the pattern envelope.  While it's probably not impossible to use a thick wool flannel with this pattern, it may not be the best choice and more hassle than it's worth.

Fast forward to today.  I corrected my flawed swayback adjustment and cut out the pattern in a charcoal gray RPL woven.  I had to think about how to approach this jacket because the fabric has a great deal of 4-way stretch (about 25% in each direction).  Based on the responses I received when I asked about stretch versus non-stretch linings, I decided to go with the stretch everything:  stretch lining, stretch interfacing, and stretch cotton poplin for the back stay.  I wanted to preserve as much of the crosswise stretch as possible for comfort, but still maintain some amount of structure.

My only concern going forward is with the notched collar.  The problem with the first version was that the fabric was too thick and made for unsightly corners as you see above.  No amount of clipping made that look any better.  I hope this works the second time around.  If so, be prepared to see at least three or four more versions of this pattern!

Here are photos of the front and back (shown with in-progress McCall's 5523).  I serged the front and back princess seams together and pressed them toward the centers. The bubbling that appears near the upper back only showed up after I added the back stay.  I don't know why this happened, but hopefully it's not too visible while worn.  It's bugging me, though...hmm...

The entire front and side front are interfaced with stretch interfacing.  All hems are also interfaced with  a 2-inch strip of stretch interfacing.  This is recommended by Jalie in their instructions.

Taking a cue from my Lady Grey coat, I drafted and added a back stay to help support the back, shoulder seam, and armhole.  To make the back stay, I traced around the assembled back and cut out the piece on the fold.  I used stretch cotton poplin to preserve some of the fabric's stretch, as mentioned above.  You can do this directly on the fabric without making a separate pattern piece.  I opted to make a separate pattern piece since I plan to make this jacket a few more times. 

I decided to sew a small strip of muslin selvage along the shoulder seam so that it wouldn't stretch.  There are some areas of the jacket that really don't need to grow!

Look at those matching princess seams!  Woo.  I think this is the first garment where both match at the same time.  Seriously!

That's all I have to share for now.  The McCall's skirt is still in the works.  I just received my stretch polyester lining today and hope to have it in tomorrow.  For the jacket, next up is the sleeves and lining construction.  That's going to have to wait until after I finish the skirt.


I want to wish everyone a joyous and safe holiday.  Be well and take care!


17 December 2012

Blog Award!!

The fantastic Farhana of Sew Fashionably Modest has graciously nominated me for the Lovely Blog Award.  Thank you, Farhana, for the wonderful gift!  I am beaming with joy and happy to know that folks read my ramblings. =)

Here are the rules:

1.  Thank the person who nominated you.  Much obliged!
2.  Add the One Lovely Blog Award/The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
3.  Share 7 things about yourself.
4.  Pass the award on to 10 other bloggers that inspire you.
5.  Include the rules.
6.  Inform your nominees.

Seven Things About Me
 1.  I am an only child.  And no, I was not spoiled.

2.  I can play the piano, though I haven't done so in a very long time.  I cannot read sheet music to save the world.  I prepared for recitals by memorizing the pieces/fingering entirely and pretending to read the sheets.  My piano teacher knew what I was doing was not amused.  LOL

3.  I am terrified of heights but I will ride a roller coaster in a hot minute and always get a window seat on an airplane (except on international flights).  Tall buildings?  Fuhgeddaboutit.

4.  I am a vegetarian and a very picky eater.  I hate mushrooms, okra, olives (love olive oil though), and think cheesecake is the perfect way to ruin two good foods.  Cheese should not be in cake form!

5.  I love math and hate writing.  I'm amazed that I've actually maintained a blog for this long!

6.  I love to travel.  I've been to The Netherlands three times, most of eastern Canada, England, Italy, Costa Rica, and the United Arab Emirates.  I have another trip planned in my mind, but I'm still working out the details...um...in my mind.

7.  I've been rollerskating (off and on) for over 30 years.  I used to skate 2 - 3 times per week, but my knees can't take that plus running and weightlifting. 

My Inspirational Bloggers
It's so hard to narrow my faves down to 10; there are so many people whose style and general good nature I admire!  My nominees (in no particular order) are:
  • Faye at Faye's Sewing Adventures:  I cannot resist a Faye-inspired sew along and love her personal style.  Plus, she is just as sweet as she can be and a teacher!  I have mad love for teachers since I'm a teacher as well.
  • Audrey at Sew Re-invented Audrey:  The documentation of her personal growth is an inspiration in ways that I cannot describe and strive to experience personally.  I don't know how I found her blog, but I am so glad that I did!
  • Doobee at Made by J:  You have to check out some of Judith's garments.  Her attention to detail and impeccable sewing is to die for.  
  • Kyle at Vacuuming the Lawn:  I've also had the pleasure of meeting Kyle twice at the American Sewing Expo and am a regular follower of her fabulous blog.  I enjoy reading about her sewing adventures and love seeing her floral finds at her local farmer's market.
  • Cenetta at The Mahogany Stylist:  If you don't know Cenetta, you don't know sewing!  Girlfriend has a closet full of fierceness that is coveted by many (myself included)! 
  • Ruthie at Ruthie Sews:  Ruthie is the SWAP queen.  I do not know how she is able to do it, but she can sew two (2!!) full 11-piece wardrobes in no time.  A visit to her blog will show the countless completed and coordinated wardrobes.  This year, she has committed to writing a blog post per week on what one can do with one yard scraps of fabric.  Ruthie is amazing!
  • Adrienne at Adrienne's Little World:  The subtitle of her blog says it all:  "Day to day musings of a creative soul."  Those words could be more true.  Adrienne makes everything and does it with grace and charm.
  • Carolyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic:  Carolyn is a master of the TNT.  Words are not enough to express how she marvelously crafts almost everything she wears from her tried-n-true dress pattern.  If you don't know Carolyn, you don't know fashion!
  • Victoria at Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing:  I think remember reading about the ten thousand hours challenge on a pattern review posted by Victoria.  Since then, I've followed her progress and even considered trying it myself.  Victoria's adventures are definitely an inspiration!

Honorable mentions:
I would have included these lovely ladies in my list but it appears as if someone else beat me to it!  They received nominations for all the obvious good reasons.  Take a moment to check 'em out!
Many thanks to Farhana for my nomination and thanks to all who willingly share their talents with others.  May we all continue sew and tell!


12 December 2012

In Progress: M5523 (skirt)

To test out the rayon-poly-lycra (RPL) stretch woven I recently bought, I decided to cut another version of McCall's 5523 using view A.  I made this before (out of wool, of course) and loved it.  In an effort to make more wash-n-wear clothing and to see how I like wearing RPL, I thought this would be the perfect pattern.  I still think it's a great pattern, but I'm not too impressed with how it looks right now.  The fabric sews and presses wonderfully, but...that flounce area looks a little...um...yeah...  It looks nothing like the drawing on the envelope.

I pressed the $#!* out of that area with a lot of steam and used my ham on the curved areas.  Meh.  I like the skirt and will definitely finish it, but I've got to do something about that back area.  In person, the back doesn't look that bad. (Is it me or does it seem like the camera finds a way to highlight every wrinkle and bump?)  When I finish the skirt, I hope to pair it with the silky charmeuse you see in the second picture using Simplicity 2892.

I'm still trying to decide how to line the skirt.  I have some Bemberg Ambiance in the stash and am awaiting swatches of stretch poly charmeuse.  I'll think on it a few more days and then decide on something.

Until next time, be well!

09 December 2012

Stretch vs. Non-stretch Linings

I have a lot of wool.  A lot.  Wool sews nicely and is very warm in these cold arctic climates.  But, this fabric is very expensive to clean.  So I decided that I needed some more washable clothes and recently bought a whole bunch of rayon-poly-lycra stretch woven suitings from Fabric Mart.

Their website doesn't mention the percentages of rayon, polyester, or Lycra, but it did state that the fabric had 4-way stretch - which brings me to my dilemma.  Since I plan to make jackets, skirts and pants out of this fabric, I'll want to include a lining.  I see three ways to make this happen, but they all have their pros and cons.

Option 1:  use a non-stretch lining sewn with smaller seam allowances
  • Pros:  I stock up on lining whenever there's a sale or when I have a coupon, so I have plenty on hand.  Plus, my lining is all rayon and breathes/sews very well. 
  • Cons:  It doesn't stretch. I don't know if simply cutting the same pieces and using a smaller seam allowance will help preserve the benefit of the fabric's stretch.
Option 2:  use a stretch polyester charmeuse or satin as lining
  • Pros:  It stretches and is readily available.
  • Cons:  It's polyester.  What can I say?  I'm a fabric snob when it comes to linings. 
Option 3:   use a non-stretch lining cut on the bias
  •  Pros:   I'll have comparable stretch.
  • Cons:  I'm not sure how the bias will behave in the long run.  Will it hang correctly with the rest of the garment?
What are your thoughts?  Have you lined stretch wovens before?  The fact that this fabric has both crosswise and lengthwise stretch is a bit of a concern.  Though it appears to have good recovery, I wonder how the knee and seat area will look after a full day of wear.  Hmm...


05 December 2012


Thank you for the many words and notes of encouragement.  Having conversations with close friends and connecting with you and your comments has certainly helped.  Things are difficult, but I'm pressing forward.  Life is full of experiences - both positive and negative.  Although it's not easy, sometimes letting go is the best and only option.  With regard to a couple of situations, there is nothing more I can do.  I have to move on.

I've known this for some time now, but it hit home this past weekend.  In May, my 13-year old car stopped working and it's been sitting in my driveway ever since.  Why did I hang onto it for so long?  I have no idea.  I certainly didn't need it.  I had no intention of fixing it and I had already bought a new car.  It was just sitting there rusting and leaking.  Finally, I called the scrap yard on Saturday to haul it away.  It was the most freeing thing I've done in a while.  It was also an example of how holding onto stuff, things, and people can add unnecessary weight and keep you from recognizing the greatness in you and pursuing better things.

I let something else go today as well, but I won't get into that.  Let's just say it was time.

My sewjo is still on the run, but I'm closing in on it.  I cut out a skirt and sewed the front seams together.  I need to swap out my serger thread so that I can finish the seams together.  Hopefully I'll have it done on Friday or Saturday.

Finally, I never blogged or shared pictures of the Simplicity jacket I finished over the summer (S2422).  I've worn it a couple of times and really like it.  The sleeve bands are a bit tight when I reach forward, but not so much so that it's unwearable.  The photo was taken in October.  I have to get better at taking pictures; recently my photos are coming out blurry and I need to figure out why.

That's all for now.  Until next time, be well!



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