30 December 2013

2013 Sewing Year in Review: Part 1 (Misses)

Wadders ranked supreme in 2013.  So much so, I thought a completely separate year-in-review post was in order.  The number of wadders I had this year made me question my skill at sewing and fitting.  Some of the misses were due to poor fabric choice, but still.  How much fail can a girl take? 

McCall's 5523 & BWOF 9-2009-137 (skirts) 

Ugh!  The fabric, a very nice rayon-poly-lycra woven suiting, contributed to the demise of these two skirts.  I could have set both of these skirts on the sun and the wrinkles would not be moved.  You win my wrinkly friend.

Vogue 8426 (skirt)

This skirt wouldn't be so bad were it not for the insane stiffness of the denim.  It fits well and I love the topstitching.  However, when I wear it, the back sticks out like a little tent and I'm pretty sure "tent butt" is not on trend.

Jalie 2805 (top)

This was my biggest disappointment because I really wanted a knit top in this color.  This wadder was definitely due to poor fabric choice.  Ponte knit simply doesn't provide enough stretch needed for this pattern.  

Vogue 8379 (wrapped dress)

I think I am the only sewer to have ever failed with this pattern.  The look on my face says it all.  I really want a wrapped dress, but either I have to start from scratch with this pattern or try a different one. 

Jalie 2680 (coat) 

I don't know what happened with this one.  I made a muslin, tweaked the fit, and was happy about it.  When I tried on the nearly-finished garment, it looked horrible.  It was too small in the front, pulled at the front and back armholes, and overall didn't look good.  Meh.  At least I used four yards of stash!
Burda World Of Fashion 11-2005-108 (skirt)

I don't even know what went wrong with this skirt.  It looks great on the dress form and that's it.  The fabric is a wool-acrylic boucle with a bit of crosswise stretch.  It's too big in the waist and yet snug in the hip.  How is this even possible?

Simplicity 2804 (knit top)

Again with the fabric. I feel like I should have my heart rhythms checked or something.  Eww.  Not wearing this.

Vogue 8805 (knit dress) - honorable mention?

I found this one in the donation pile.  I don't remember if this is a wadder from this year or last year.  I like the colors, but this shapeless sack is for someone else.  


In addition to wadders, I attempted several garments but have yet to decide on how to proceed with fit.  Most were woven button-front blouses and a couple were pants. 

In all, 2013 had its fair share of failures and mehs.  On the positive side, each wadder was a great learning experience and thus is an essential part of becoming a better sewer.

Author and political commentator Donna Brazile says this about failure:

""Failure" is just what happens when we lose perspective."

Up next:  One more review and  2013 Sewing Year in Review:  Part 2 (Hits)

Until next time, peace!


28 December 2013

Kwik Sew 3667 (sweatshirt): Complete

I never sew clothes for other people.  Ever.  

I've had people ask me to make them jeans, skirts, etc.  Upon seeing my Indygo Junction coat, a friend at the rink asked me to make him a pea coat.  Um.  No.  This semester, one of my students asked me to teach her to sew.  No problem.  Then she asked me to make her a skirt so that she could watch me and learn the process.  Problem.  I can make me a skirt, but I won't do the work for you.  Later on, she said I was stingy.    o_O

But.  There's always a 'but', right?  I offered to make a very dear friend a sweatshirt.  She's like a second mom to me and I love her to pieces.  It was a pleasure and an honor to make something for her.

Fabric & Notions
  • 2 yards of grey cotton-poly sweatshirt fleece
  • scraps of fusible interfacing for the front pocket facings
  • regular sewing machine, serger, and thread
I made this top three times back in 2011 for a biking trip in The Netherlands.  So I had plenty of experience with its construction.  Since my second mom is really, really tiny, and this top has lots of ease, I sewed a size small.  I was confident that the bodice would fit, but I wasn't so sure about the lower band.  This fleece doesn't have as much crosswise stretch and the band felt a bit restrictive.  
The only change I made involved adding two inches to the sleeve.  I found the sleeves as designed to be too short and allowed too much air in.  Given that both my friend and I are always cold, I knew she would appreciate having the extra length.
My friend tried it on and said that the top fits perfectly.  She absolutely loves it and is very pleased.  I am really happy that she likes it.  I haven't seen it on her and hope to do so before she returns to the east coast.  If she doesn't mind my posting her picture on my blog, I'll share a photo or two in a later post.
Kwik Sew also has a couple of companion versions of this top:  3879 has set-in sleeves and 3892 has raglan sleeves.  I've not tried either one of these patterns, though I do have 3879. 
I will certainly make this top again.   It is really a quick and easy to make.  There are five pieces total and the majority of the construction can be done on a serger.

Up next:  a review of BWOF 1-2009-106.  Gotta get pictures!


27 December 2013

McCall's 6844 (cardigan): Complete

Everybody loves McCall's 6844.  Well, maybe not everybody, but those who've made it seem to really like their finished garment. My first go at this pattern ended in the scrap pile.  

Back?  Check.  Collar?  Check.  Front and back peplums?  Check.  Sleeves?  New back with seam allowances? Done and done.  Front?  Front?   Da' hell?

Not having front pieces pretty much will ruin any bodice, right?  There was no way to cut the front pieces out of the scraps that remained.  I thought about using the first set of back pieces as the front.  Bad idea.

Take two.
Sorry for the crappy mirror-selfie.  It was late and I was tired.

Fabric & Notions
  •  2 yards of grey ponte knit
  • scraps of muslin selvedge to stabilize the shoulder seams
  • serger, coverstitch machine, and thread
  • 1/4"-wide steam-a-seam for the peplum hem
  • 1/2"-wide steam-a-seam for the sleeve hems
Adjustments & Alterations

I started with a medium and made a 1-inch FBA using the slash-n-spread method.  In looking at how the cardigan fits, I probably could have sewn a straight medium with no FBA.

I also made a 1" swayback adjustment and, as mentioned before, cut the back with a seam allowance.

I read that the sleeves on this pattern are like sausage casings.  So I made a 1-inch bicep adjustment to give myself a bit more ease.  Even though the sleeve looks tight in the photo, it doesn't feel tight.


Shoulder Seams
To stabilize the shoulder seams, I stitched a piece of muslin selvedge to the back seamline and proceeded to use my serger to complete the construction.
Peplum Hem
Since the peplum is rather curved, hemming presented a bit of a challenge.  I ran basting stitches 1/4" from the edge and then fused 1/4" steam-a-seam between the stitching and edge.  Some of the fusible ended up covering the stitches, but this didn't pose any problems.  As I fused the hem in place, I gently pulled the thread to help ease the hem.

I don't know why the hem looks uneven.  It isn't.

Sewing the Sleeves
The sleeves had too much ease for my taste.  I shaved off about 5/8" tapering to nothing at the notches.

Coverstitching the Hems
I am not a lazy sewer - despite my repeated affirmations of the opposite.  I am just lazy about some things...like measuring for coverstitching.  I have a "method" that works for me and that consistently produces good results.  

To coverstitch a hem, the right side faces up.  It can be hard to gauge where the hem is if it's not visible from the top.  Some people use Post-It notes as a fixed edge to help guide their sewing.  I tried this and, for some odd reason, could not get it to work.   

Instead, I guide the fabric under the foot carefully feeling for the "hem bump" through the fabric.  On the clear (see-through) presser foot are two raised marks to denote the left and right needles.  I make sure the "hem bump" is just to the inside of the left needle.  Here are my results:
The coverstitch just skims the raw edge of the hem.  I could not get anything close to this using Post-It notes.  Lazy?  Yes.  Effective?  Highly.  Win-win. =D

To end a coverstitch, I use Debbie Cook's method.  It works beautifully; I've never had a coverstitch to ravel or pull apart.


I like the top and wore it out to dinner with my second mom last night.   She was impressed and really thought it was cute.
I will probably sew this again, but without the FBA.  It looks as if the bodice is too big with all of the wrinkles and pulls.

Up next:  I have one more review to do before posting my 2013 Year in Review.  Those posts are near completion, I just need pictures.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday.  Until next time, peace!


22 December 2013

Quick Home Dec Project: Cloth Napkins

I don't use paper towels or paper napkins in my house.  Instead, I use of cloth napkins made from quilter's cotton.  I made a set of eight five or six years ago and use them regularly.  Unfortunately, I only have seven now because I think I accidentally threw one away and the remaining ones are starting to show their age.

I've had the these two prints in my stash for at least three or four years - maybe even longer. 
I bought them with the intention of making napkins and even cut them out to size.  Why it has taken me this long to finish the edges is a mystery.  Anyway, they're done and I'm quite pleased!

Fabric & Notions
  • 2 yards of 100% cotton (1 for each print)
  • serger and thread
The napkins are ridiculously easy to make.  Cut 18" squares and use a rolled hem to finish the edges.  Done!  One yard of 44"-wide fabric yields four napkins.

For the colorful print, I used a rainbow-colored variegated cotton thread.  I love how it looks on the edges.  For the dog print, I used some cream-colored serger thread.

This is a quick and easy project that can add spunk and a pop of color (or crazy) to any place setting.  Give it a try!


19 December 2013

Need a New Computer

The beast that is my 10-year old desktop is near its end.  I am loathe to replace it because we've really bonded over these last ten years.  But the computer is having problems accepting a memory upgrade and the operating system is no longer supported by its maker.  Reluctantly, I have to move on.

I thought about getting a Mac, but there are some functions that I absolutely must have in Word and they're not compatible (or at least I can't figure out how to do it) on a Mac.  Plus the learning curve is a bit steep.  I was given a Mac for my office and begged (begged I tell you!)  our IT department to take it back in favor of the old and outdated desktop it replaced.

I've owned nothing but Dells and I am willing to remain loyal.  However, I've heard some less-than-encouraging things about the new Dell systems.  I don't do a lot of high-end computing and don't require a powerful system. 

Does anyone have any of the new Dell Inspiron desktops? Does anyone have a Lenovo system?  I've heard good things about them, but again, the learning curve...

What's your experience?




13 December 2013

All SWAP'd Out

I have no idea what to sew next, but I know it won't be with a plan.  Not that I've soured on SWAP-ing, I'm just not feeling it right now.  The grey motorcycle jacket was the final piece of a mini six-piece swap that I started in September.  Now that it's complete, I feel ZERO inspiration from the next group of fabrics I've bundled together.  Something is too...hmm... planned (?) about it.  I don't know what it is, but I have no interest in doing it now.  No 6PACs, mini wardrobes, or Crazy 8s. 

So for now I think I will focus on filling the gaps in my wardrobe.  I have lots of bottoms, but not very many tops or dresses.  I also want to sew some garments from my aging collection of Burda World of Fashion Magazines.   There are quite a few from 2009 that are on my list:






Anyone else out of SWAP mode?  What are some of your current sewing plans and inspirations?


KS 3764 (Moto Jacket): Complete

I sewed like mad on Sunday and finished the jacket.  

I haven't worn it yet because the lower edge is uneven and I don't know how to fix it.  I've removed the stitches twice, clipped carefully, and pressed the hell out of this area.  It's still wonky and it annoys me.  Also, I don't know why the lower right edge is longer than the left edge.  I've seen this on other motorcycle jackets, so maybe this is how it's supposed to be.  I doubt that.

Fabric  & Notions
  • 2 yards medium grey cotton denim
  • scraps of grey lining for pockets and sleeve facings
  • grey polyester sewing and topstitching thread
  • fusible interfacing for upper collar and facings
  • walking foot
  • 90/14 universal needle for regular sewing and 100/16 denim needle for topstitching

Fitting & Alterations

I started with a size medium based on the last Kwik Sew jacket I made.  I didn't make a muslin, but I should have.  Since I got such a good fit with Kwik Sew 3558, I thought I could just lay the pattern pieces for that jacket on top of the pattern pieces for the moto jacket.  Wrong.  The bust area is tight and the back is too long and too wide.  I started to cut out the shorter version of this pattern but decided against it because I thought it would be too short.  I was wrong.  Boxy jackets are not suitable for my figure and if I decide to wear one, it needs to be short and end at just below my waist.  This jacket hits at my full hip and it's not flattering.

I suppose I could just lop off three inches and add the band anyway.  No wait, I can't do that either.  The jacket has a separating zipper and I'd have to find a way to keep from pulling the tab off.  Well, I guess I have my answer!

Judging by the side and back views, you can see that I need an FBA and some narrowing of the back.


Opting for aluminum teeth was the right thing to do.  They match and compliment the jacket color perfectly.  I wish I had taken more time to practice installing the zippers, though.  The openings are not as neat as they could/should be - despite picking them apart a few times.

Against my better judgment, I cut the under collar as instructed:  on the fold and in the same size as the upper collar.  I KNEW this was a mistake and it shows.  The under collar should be cut on the bias and 1/8" smaller on the long and side edges.  This helps to encourage turn of cloth.  Yeah.  I didn't do any of that and my cloth doth not turn.  I pressed and rolled until my fingers were scorched.  No deal.  Next time I will do what I know to be right and save my fingertips.

As per the instructions, I sewed the sleeves in flat.  The sleeve is drafted with little ease in this area and sewing them in flat posed no problems.


I'd like to add the epaulettes, but I can't find the rest of the pieces for the snaps.  They're somewhere in this house - hiding out.  The only thing I don't like about this is that the epaulettes are attached after the collar is sewn.  You're supposed to topstitch them to the shoulder seam.  Hmm.  Looks kind of tacky.  Had I carefully read through the instructions beforehand, I would have noticed this and attached the epaulettes before adding the collar.  I suppose it's not big deal since the collar covers the attachment area.  But still...

Zipper Facing on Sleeves & Gusset
The pattern piece for the zipper facing is way too narrow.  After sewing the facing right sides together, you're supposed to turn it to the inside and press.  After the zipper is installed, then you need to sew the gusset to the edges of the facing.  There is hardly any room to do this neatly.  In the future, I suggest making the sleeve facing at least twice as wide so that when it's time to attach the gusset, you actually have something to sew on!

The pattern instructs you to topstitch around the edges of the front and collar.  I tried to do this, but my machine was having FITS with topstitching thread in the bobbin.  Normally I use regular thread in the bobbin, but since I'm topstitching all around, the bobbin thread would eventually end up on top once I fold back the collar.  Meh.  I'll figure something out.   

In all, I like the jacket and will certainly wear it.  I'll make another motorcycle jacket, but probably not from this pattern.  I need something which much more shaping, like Style Arc's Ziggi jacket or one from BWOF. 

Many thanks to Kyle for helping me secure the zippers.  They truly make jacket sing!

Up next:  I have no idea.  I'm in limbo on what to sew next. 

Until next time, peace!


07 December 2013

KS3764: Moto Jacket Update

My sewjo was working the last couple of days and I made a lot of progress on the jacket.  I put in the pockets, zippers, and attached the collar and facings.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but given how things have been the last three weeks, this is a lot!

I thought I might be able to finish the jacket in time to wear it on Monday.  Then it happened.  Damn you Murphy's Law!

Looks okay, right?  Wrong.  I sewed the right side of the zipper facing to the wrong side of the sleeve.  Of course I only realized this just as I was about to turn the facing to the inside and press.  I did this on both sleeves.  Good job genius.  I have no excuse; I just wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. 

Fortunately, this isn't too hard to correct.  I carefully unpicked the stitches, lined up the cut edges right sides together, and restitched the facing in place.  Though I had to use a lot of steam, I was able to get the facing turned to the inside and pressed pretty well.  I don't have a picture yet; I'll wait until after I've inserted the zippers.

That's all I have for now.  If I'm not too tired tomorrow, I'll work on installing the zippers on the sleeves and then sewing them in.  The instructions have the sleeves sewn in flat.  I'll give it a try, but if I don't like it, I'll set them in the round with sleeve heads.

Until next time, peace!


03 December 2013

Kyle (Vacuuming the Lawn) is Awesome!

Remember these mismatched zippers?

The motorcycle jacket zipper issue is resolved!  On a recent visit to NYC, Kyle contacted me to see if I wanted her to check Pacific Trimming for zippers with aluminum teeth.  She compared photos of the zipper tape, found coordinating zippers, and had them cut to size.  How sweet is that??  With many thanks to Kyle, I can resume work on the jacket AAAAND have matching zippers.

Kyle, you are the best!

I hope to have some progress made in the next couple of days.  I haven't been sewing lately due to work, fatigue, and a quick trip to the east coast.  Details on that coming soon!


24 November 2013

YSG: Ramblings

Let's just get to it...

1.  I WANT that damn McCall's 6844 pattern but I refuse to submit to Joann's new 5 for $7 pricing scheme. Come on BMV...make mama proud.
2.  I have an uncle in the Philippines.  He's okay.
3.  Two things I cannot resist touching:  dogs and areas marked "Wet Paint".  
4.  The wet paint thing is serious, y'all.  It's like a moth to a flame - I've only been "burned" once.  
5.  Scandal, you have been replaced.  Breaking Bad is THE 'ISH. 
6.  No more Mazda.
7.  Having the dog lick the kitchen floor is not the same as mopping it.
8.  The semester is almost over.
9.  My students think I will miss them.
10. I will not.
11.  They don't believe me.
12.  They really should.
13.  Kyle is the best!
14.  A major freeway in the D will be closed for a year.
15. Words fail me.
16.  My crazy jeans passed the skate test.
17.  My students complained of not being able to hear me over my jeans.  Hah!  Too funny.
18.  I have a big decision to make soon and it's stressing me out.  A lot.
19.  A whole lot.
20.  I hope I get to sew a bit today.  We'll see.

What's on your minds this Sunday morning?



16 November 2013

Mystery Project: Complete

Alright peeps.  The big reveal is a few words away.  Either this garment is fantastic or fug.  Hmm...fantastically fug?

I bought the fabric from Vogue Fabric during their visit to this year's American Sewing Expo.  Fabric can be mesmerizing sometimes.  I passed on this print the first time thinking it was hideous.  But something kept drawing me back to it, so I caved and bought 2.5 yards.  It is unlike anything I have in my wardrobe and not a print I would normally wear - especially not like this...

Tada!  Yep.  I made another pair of jeans out of this cRaZy fabric.  

Sewing the jeans actually took about 5 hours at the most.  The hardest part was trying to line up the pattern pieces to keep print semi-symmetric.  One circle sits a bit higher on one leg, but you can't really tell.  Well, actually you can, but whatever. =)

I tried really hard to maintain a vertical line down the outside seam.  The end result isn't what I envisioned, but it's not bad either.  I'm happy with it.  There was just no way to keep it consistent with all the curvature in the side pattern piece.

I cut out two sets of pockets - one with circles and one without.  I thought long and hard about putting the circles on my butt.  In the end (hah!) I decided against it - I'm too old for all of that "attention."

In the pictures, I'm wearing the jeans with Kwik Sew 3558 (jacket) and McCall's 6078 (cowl-neck top).  I'm thinking of making a cardigan or pullover out of a bright yellow ponte knit to wear with them.  

The verdict:  I LOVE these jeans.  I really do.  I am a little nervous about wearing them outside, though.  I think they look like pajama pants. I'm sure I'll get over that eventually. In fact, I might wear this whole outfit skating tonight.  I'll let you know how that goes!



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