Cleansing Breath: Back to Pillows after the Wadder!

So if you read my last post, you know I was hopelessly mired down and STUCK.
Thanks so much for all of you who commented with your suggestions.  I wish I could say that I took Sarah at Goodbye Valentino’s advice and finished the project (so I  could LEARN from it), or at least donated it somewhere…but sadly, I ripped that thing off Lilly so fast it would have made your head spin and got on with my life!

AHHHH.  Much better.

We’re just a tad busy at my home just now!  With two weddings coming up in less than a year (No, I have NO idea how that happened!) there’s a bunch going on.  Last week was one of those times, with out of town guests coming in for a shower AND a surprise 85th birthday party for my sweet mother – so of course I needed new pillows
for one of the sofas!   Spent 2 days hunting for the right pillows, getting more frustrated as I found beautiful pillows (Hmm…do I have time to change my entire decor?) but none in the colors I needed.  Headed over to my favorite decorator fabric store here, found
just the fabric I was looking for, came home, cut out the pillows, sewed them up and finished them before my first guests arrived!  WHEW!


Very simple,  very quick sew…but, guess what?  That sewing block I was
dealing with over the dress?  It’s GONE!  I went into my sewing
room yesterday with anticipation and joy instead of reluctance and dread.  I’d call
that a WIN – and definitely worth one unfinished dress.

So…the moral of my story…If you’re just plain stuck on a project, don’t feel like
you MUST complete it.  Put it away for a while, dump it in the corner…whatever gets
out of sight and mind until you’re ready to tackle it again.  Hit the ‘reset’ button!  Work on a quick project or a TNT pattern you love.  Get your sewing confidence back until and drift back to that frustrating project when you feel the time is right.
And if that time never comes,
it’s not the end of the world…it’s only fabric and time.

When you let go, only then can you move forward.  Give yourself permission to
do just that!  In life, as in the sewing room – sometimes things happen.  You put it behind you and move on!


PS…I’ve already cut out two projects!  Can’t wait to get sewing on some great transitional and fall projects!  Are you planning YOUR fall/winter wardrobes yet?

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To Wad or Not to Wad…THAT is the Question…!

Y’all, I am STUCK.  Mired down completely.
This dress has been on Lilly so long there’s DUST on the shoulders…I swear!  What do YOU do when the project you’re working on just isn’t coming together?

This should have a been a quick sew .  I’ve made this dress (McCall’s 2401)  a bunch of times before for my daughter for work – like HERE.  But THIS one…has gone wrong in SO many ways…let’s take a look:

  1. The FABRIC.  Granted, this was an older fabric from my ‘tester’ days, purchased from JoAnns.  It’s some sort of woven poly.  The first skirt I made when I got back into sewing a couple years ago was made from this fabric – in navy – and has done beautifully (although I doubt I’d buy it again!).  The sheath dress?  Same fabric.  THIS fabric, though…maybe it’s the light gray color?  To me, it’s just screaming ‘cheap’…or I’m sick of it, which is probably the real issue here…!

    gray dress 3

  2. My first invisible zipper FAIL.  BIG TIME.  I’ve put this darn zipper (a YKK zipper from WAWAK) in 4 times!  FOUR TIMES!  Zippers are usually EASY for me.  No idea what happened.  What a struggle to get it ‘invisible’!  FINALLY got it, but now REALLY hate the darn dress!  And there’s still the lining to deal with…***Sigh***

    gray dress 2

  3. This whole thing with the neck facings…!  I tried a different way to line the dress – like all RTW-y – and now the NECK FACINGS ARE OFF!  So, that’s going to take some tweaking…Maybe a bigger seam or something in the back to catch the zipper tape?

    gray dress

  4. The fabric is all gather-y at the back, the front…wherever there’s a seam or a dart.  Like EVERYWHERE.  I’ve tried a nice pressing (WITH a cloth!), but UGH…

    Gray Dress 5         Gray Dress 4

It’s probably salvageable, of course, and from the pictures, it doesn’t look THAT bad…
But, honestly?  I simply cannot motivate myself to finish it…nor can I move on to
something else without doing anything with it!  Crazy, right?

So, tell me…what do YOU do when you get absolutely STUCK on a project?

Lilly and I will be looking forward to your advice – she’s as tired of wearing this dress
as I am of working on it!


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It’s a Wrap! Maria Denmark’s Onion 2037

While my hands heal (which is taking WAY longer than I EVER expected!!), since
I’m slowly regaining some movement here I thought I’d post a project that was actually finished before my fall: A wrap dress…in knit!

To all of you who chase that perfect, but elusive, “Looks like a DVF wrap dress” pattern…look no further!  I think we just might have uncovered it: Onion 2037

Many of you know, much of my sewing involves conjuring up apparel suitable for the corporate world – ok, not mine, DD#1’s corporate world!  Finding professional looking clothing that fits her small shape is a challenge…!  She’s been looking for things that travel well, and since I’d grabbed a great buy on some ITY knit from Fabric Mart a while back, it seemed the perfect time to experiment with a wrap dress!  A quick survey of PatternReview turned up some promising patterns…but Johanna’s beautiful project sold me on the Onion 2037!  (See Johanna’s dress here)


If you’ve never used European patterns, let me recommend Maria Denmark’s  classic styles to you!  They’re well done, seem to be nicely fitted, aligned with RTW fit and style, and let’s be honest…it’s kind of a guilty pleasure to have patterns shipped in from Denmark to the States!  I ordered two from her Onion store, and they arrived quickly, along with downloadable instructions in English.

Word of caution here:  Don’t expect lots of pictures or drawings to accompany these patterns!  I think there was ONE line drawing with this; I could have used some clearer instructions on attaching the neck binding!  More on this later.

The second caution about using a European pattern is that they will most likely NOT have seam allowances included.  I’ve been told that’s because different countries use different seam allowances, but geez…added one more thing to the prep work.

The fabric for this dress is an ITY knit (first time I’d used one of those!) purchased at a bargain from FabricMart.  Because it was rather thin, and after looking at a couple of my own designer knit dresses) I decided to underline the entire dress in that sort of performance knit you’d use for bathing suits. Made SUCH a difference!  Dare I say it?  it made my $4.99 fabric feel expensive!  The underlining gave the knit fabric a nice feel without adding bulk, and let it drape without clinging.  Perfect!  The sleeves weren’t underlined.  Here’s the result!

onion wrap 7               onion wrap 9         onion wrap 8

And on my lovely model – sorry, this was a group shot!  Dress received RAVE reviews!

wrap dress

The actual dress was pretty simple, but I fretted and fumed over attaching the ties to the crazy neck binding for DAYS!  Could NOT make sense of it until I stumbled upon this review…then I took a leap of faith and it all kind of fell into place.

onion wrap 3    onion wrap 4

The actual dress itself is pretty simple: there’s no waistline, and the ties are incorporated into the neckband.  Highly recommend reading the above review to sort out the neckband construction – she’s done a nice job!  I made the narrow sleeves, which I shortened to 3/4 length and took them in a bit more so they wouldn’t look “floppy”.

onion wrap 6

You can see in this shot that the neck binding doesn’t lay nice and flat all the way around the back. While it looks great on, next time I’ll whack about an inch off the neck binding so it can be stretched to fit. I’m thinking that will work better!

Not a stressful project for my first time using ITY knits!
This is also the first time I used a twin needle…and the sky didn’t fall!  In fact, it was pretty easy and gave me the RTW look without using a serger (which scares the life out of me!)

This is a pattern we’ll definitely make more of – and I might even make one for myself!
I just scored a vintage DVF original wrap dress pattern, so am dying to try that one out once the proper fabric is located!

If you’d like to see more of Maria’s ONION patterns, head over to her website.


BTW…yes, I’m completely aware that this is a very FALL-ish fabric!  I could just claim that I’m way ahead of the seasons and this was for fall 2014…but y’all would see through that in a second!  Made this pre-hand accident – sorry for the long delay in posting :)

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In Search of Cozy, Part 2…with Two Bandaged Hands!

Funny thing happened on my way to my evening class at our community college…


Yep…broke bones in both hands – this picture was taken after the great folks at
Duke Med’s Urgent Care facility got everything stabilized.
I’m holding a wooden skewer my brilliant husband came up with as the perfect utensil for eating chicken nuggets…lol!
Post surgery a day later – sorry, no pics, I now have a lovely Duke blue cast on my left arm, with tan stripes on my right – what all the best-dressed breaks are sporting this season!

With the bad comes a little good, though, and my sweet Mom is here pampering me
along with the rest of the family.  Bonus: We got to do some picture-taking!  Here is my lovely model in her cozy fleece jacket:

fleece jacket 9

…And the fabulously fun lining:

fleece jacket 11

Here’s a shot of the back – love the princess seams, don’t you?

fleece jacket 10

One of the nice things about sewing apparel versus decor items is the chance to
create something for a special person to wear…and that’s what this project was all about!
My sweet mom hates to be cold (don’t we all?!), but frequently finds herself reaching for warmer garments during the winter.  So, I made her her a nice, cozy fleece jacket using Butterick 5683.  Check out the entire post here.

So, looks like there won’t be much going on in the sewing room here for a few more weeks!  Of course, in a spurt of creativity, I’d cut THREE projects out the day before this happened…!
Ah, well…guess I’ll sigh over gorgeous spring fabrics and dream!


PS:  Promise that first photo wasn’t blurred on purpose…but I’m kind of glad it was, all the same!  One side of my face lost the fight with the concrete sidewalk…and it wasn’t pretty!

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In Search of Cozy: Butterick 5683 Jacket

One of the nice things about sewing apparel versus decor items is the chance to
create something for a special person to wear…and that’s what this project is about!
My sweet mom hates to be cold (don’t we all?!), but frequently finds herself reaching for warmer garments during the winter.  So, making her a nice, cozy fleece jacket seemed like
the perfect Christmas  New Year’s  Groundhogs Day present!  Enter Butterick 5683.


This is a nice little jacket pattern that bills itself as “loose-fitting, unlined vest or jacket with a front separating zipper”.  Recommended fabrics are quilted fabric or faux shearling (apparently, there IS such a thing!).  So, of course I decided to LINE my jacket and make it out of fleece.  This should work out well…!

Since I’m a big texture person, my quest for the perfect ‘cozy’ fabric consisted of stalking my local fabric store, feeling every bolt of fuzzy-looking fabric to find that ‘just right’ one in a great color.  It didn’t take too long to score a nice, substantial gray fleece and a really fun, incredibly soft black curly faux fur…but the lining?  That took some doing!  What do you use when you want a warm, cozy yet substantial lining inside without making the wearer feel like the Michelin tire mascot?

Two rounds through the store, and I still hadn’t come up with a suitable fabric.  One more stroll around the store and…hey, what’s that in the middle bin – that I’ve totally overlooked?  Super thin fleece that feels like you want to wrap yourself in it and stay there all winter?  Bingo!  Lining fabric found!

This jacket is meant for  someone who is slender, who gets cold easily (me, too!), and I wanted it to be suitable for wearing inside the house for ‘relaxing’, but also
to run into town – with or without a coat over it.  Butterick 5683 seemed perfect for this:  a little fitted, but not closely fitted, with nice pockets and a cozy little collar.  I chose to make view B of this pattern, but treated the collar more like the one on view D.  I lengthened the jacket about 3 inches, too, and added a couple inches to the sleeves for my 5’9″ model.

If you’ve never worked with fleece before, there’s a reason everyone loves to fiddle with it!  So easy to cut and sew, and there’s no seam fraying, either.
Hmm…Wonder if a fleece winter wardrobe would be overkill?
I was feeling pretty good about this project, then I got ready to cut out the collar…
out of the wonderfully soft curly faux fur…and total madness abruptly ensued!
When I tell you this stuff SHEDS, I mean IT SHEDS!
Like all OVER the place. Getting it off surfaces is darn near impossible!
Here’s what my cutting mat looked like after about two minutes:

fuzz mess         Fuzz

My table looked like a war zone, and so did my sewing room!  Little tufts of curly fur everywhere – on ME, the floor, cutting table, the cats...!  But SO worth it, as this is the softest, most delicious feeling fabric ever!  I wanted to just wrap it around my neck and cuddle in it!  As I cut fought with it, it seemed clear that this would not be the easiest fabric to sew into a collar as the pattern directed, so instead, I made decided to make a fleece collar, then sew this into a kind of ‘over collar’ and hand sew it to the jacket,
over the fleece collar.  Make sense?  It did to me, and happily, it worked!

The finished product, and close up of that fun collar: (Yes, there are still curly bits on the jacket – don’t judge.  I had to vacuum everything, for heaven’s sake! )

fleece jacket 8             fleece jacket 7

Here’s the wonderfully soft lining – kind of a fun print, too, I thought!
Pockets lined in it, of course!  I hand sewed it to the front ‘facing’ after the zipper went in, and along the hem for a finished look.  The lined sleeves were finished the same way.

fleece jacket 2            fleece jacket 3

The big concern on this project was installing a separating zipper, which was ridiculously easy once I got over being my usual skittish self about tackling a new technique!  After hitting google for some advice, I realized this was not quite the mountain I’d made it into.  It actually went in quite nicely…AND it matched up at both ends!  Score!
Seriously, I don’t know why I let myself get so thrown off by these things…!

Sewing Thump on the Head:

  • Stop stressing out over technique when confronted with something new!  Part of the great thing about sewing today is that if you get stuck, there are TONS of ‘how to’s” online, complete with videos to show you how to do things!  Not to mention actual CLASSES you can sign up for; some free, some not…as well as great advice from others in the sewing community.  I need to stop being such a chicken, no doubt about it!

Here are a few more random pictures for you…first, the jacket without the collar:

fleece jacket 5

Love the back of the jacket – it has the same nice princess seams
as the front does.  I like that fit, don’t you?  Here’s a glimpse of the on-seam pockets:

fleece jacket 6

Since this was a gift, it ended up getting shipped off to the recipient.  Thankfully, it fit and she loved it!  Hopefully, I’ll have some pictures posted soon of this on an actual person…for now, “Lilly” is pulling model duty!  YAY!  PICTURES are here

One thing I’ll say about the crazy winter weather we’re having…it’s perfect weather to
sit inside and sew!  Several projects in the works, including one in which I’ll boldly tackle yet another new sewing technique!  More on how that goes coming soon.  Until then, enjoy the winter cold and snow from behind your favorite sewing machine!


PS…If anyone knows what the super soft micro thin fleece fabric that I used for the lining is called, please post the name!  It’s truly awesome. I’m thinking pajamas would be super…!

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They’re Not “Wearables”, But I’m Lovin’ This Project!

As 2013 draws to a close, we’re finally just about settled into our new home – Well, aside from those last dining room boxes waiting on the new hutch!
Ok, and those boxes that really SHOULD be dealt with, but for now are on hold
in the attic…!  UGH!  Gotta love moving – but, hey…
the Christmas tree is up AND decorated!

For now, though…progress has been made – just not in the sewing room!
Don’t get me wrong, one of the first things I did was get all my sewing stuff set up and settled into my new office, and from all accounts, it’s very happy there.
There just hasn’t been time to actually DO anything with it!

But, fear not, I haven’t been completely project-deprived.  Here’s what’s been occupying my creative time: rehabbing furniture for our daughter’s new apartment!

Our oldest daughter, who has graciously been my model and test-project for my dive back into the world of apparel sewing, recently moved to her first place that’s completely hers.  Which meant, of course, that she needs more FURNITURE!  After a foray to a few antique shops and a fabulous “flea” market, here’s what we found:

coral chair dr chair 4  dr chair

Nice “bones”, but sadly outdated, don’t you think?  Just in need of a little “TLC”…!  So, after a thorough sanding (thanks to hubby!) and good wiping down,
the chairs were primed with Kilz:

coral chair 2              dr chair 5

Now they’re ready for their new look!  After several coats of paint, with a light sanding and “wiping down” with a lint-free cloth in between each one, the dining room chairs ended up a nice, creamy white Valspar spray paint with the most wonderful green fabric seats – perfect with the new table we found!

dr chair 6         dr chair 7

While the fabric was divine, getting it onto the seats was a challenge because of the texture of the fabric.  Whew, thank goodness for electric staple guns – and helpful husbands!

The pair of chairs with the interesting backs just begged to be painted
a wonderful coral red…but, oh, was that ever much easier to visualize than do!
After making kind of a mess of things painting with the brush, it was off to our
local Ace Hardware for help.  Those guys saved the day!
Enter this cool little Preval Sprayer Kit that turns your regular paint into spray paint!

coral chair 4

You just dilute your paint per the instructions, add it to the jar, attach the sprayer (DON’T SHAKE!) and your paint project just got a WHOLE lot easier!  Since these chairs were painted with high gloss enamel, the sprayer made all the difference in the world.
Thank you, Ace Hardware!

coral chair 3

More paint got on the chair than my drop cloth would lead you to believe, but let’s face it…spraying is a messy project!  When it’s COLD outside, make sure you’re not trying to paint in temperatures under 55 degrees.  This project got moved into the garage, and the cars got moved into the street!  Everything not getting coral paint was covered – spray paint can ‘drift’ onto things you don’t want it to…even in a garage where there’s no wind!

Several coats later (with light sanding & wiping in between coats) here are the finished chairs.  I love these SO much – they’re the cutest darn things!  What fun!  We found a wonderful textured fabric for the seats, too – and it was much easier to deal with
than the beautiful green.  I think I need a pair of these…!

coral chair 1            coral chair 5

I have one more pair of armchairs to do for her apartment, and boy, are they FUN!
Here’ s a sneak peek:

navy white pattern the chair

Think crisp white frames with upholstery in the wonderful navy and white fabric
on the left!  I think they’ll be divine, don’t you?  Did I mention I have SEVEN of these chairs?  (Hey, they were $10 each…I couldn’t resist!)  So, that means I’ll be able to try out some different “looks” for these and I’m getting excited!
I may even keep a couple of these for my office…!

So, that’s what’s been going on here at my house!  Hoping to get to some wearable projects this coming week – and my husband is hoping
to see a few of those seven chairs finished!

For those of you who are interested…the four chairs were $25 each; the cute little pair of chairs were $20 each.  Add fabric and paint, and the total for the six chairs came to just under $240 – and a few days’ time.  Not too bad for six great chairs!  The best part was getting exactly what we wanted – they’re perfect for the space!

Whether you’re sewing wearables or working on a project for the home, enjoy this special time of year!  Happy Holidays to you and yours…and a very Happy New Year!


PS…You’ll be happy to learn that I actually completed a ‘wearable’ present for Christmas!  That post is coming shortly.

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Bonding: The Acid Trip Top B5889

We’re in full ‘revolt’ mode here at Windows to Wearables!

Having a house on the market is NO fun: What do you mean dining rooms must look like DINING ROOMS?  That’s my favorite sewing spot!  * Sigh *

Having put in several months keeping things show home tidy, with sewing off the table, house neatly ‘staged’…I said ‘enough’!  One must live one’s life, no?! Add to this
daughter #2’s interest in sewing and this project was born:

The “Acid Trip” Top:

att       att3

 Laughing at the fabric yet?  We were, too!  Here’s the thing: She loved the pattern, wanted to use a knit…however, the pattern called for wovens!  Having learned from the wonderful Mrs Mole that using knits where wovens are requested can yield crazy results, we resolved to search out a woven…preferably something with a nice, drapy hand!   After looking at all the options (and there weren’t many!), this one was calling her name!  We jumped in with both feet & hauled this crazy piece home!

This pattern was great for beginners: lots of straight seams, no darts, no zipper, no buttonholes…easy peasy!  Daughter #2 quickly traced her pattern onto plastic (ok, she’s not as precise as I like to be, but got the job done!)  We had already compared the measurements of the finished garment to her shape, and things looked good,
so onto the cutting!

Let me say here that I LOVE my new rotary cutter!  Best. thing. ever.!  Made short work of what can be a tedious process.  Thank you, JoAnn’s 50% off sale!

After a couple days of sewing, learning the importance of becoming friends with your iron and following simple pattern directions…TA DA!  The Acid Trip “Top” is born!


As the title implies, we intended this as a top…but when our lovely model tried on her new ‘top’ for the first time, it was dress length!  If you’re making this pattern, check the length, as the ‘tunic’ length ended up ‘dress’ length – at least on my 5’9″ daughter!

She loved the open shoulders – easy top-stitching, just like the attached neck binding!


We cut a ‘medium’, but overall it was pretty roomy.  We took some serious seams up top to get things right.  Serves us right for not taking the time to make up a muslin first!  Had our fabric been more expensive, we’d have added that step…but as it is, this became a ‘wearable muslin’…yeah, that’s right…our plan from the start! WINK WINK 😉

att4        att7

Doesn’t she look amazing?  OK, so you can see that it’s a bit roomy around the middle, but she can wear it over leggings belted as a tunic!  So versatile as well as easy to sew!
Win. Win.  Not to mention super fun!

Sewing Thump on the Head #9:

  • If you’re going to trace your patterns onto plastic, be sure to take time to do it exactly!  A little haste, and you might run into what we did:  a narrowed seam due to hurried tracing!  Apparently, our pattern shifted, even though it was weighted down with lovely canned goods…!  Take it slow, and remember to transfer ALL the marks.

*** Someone else may have a better way of tracing patterns.  If so, please feel free to post under comments – we’d LOVE to hear how you do it!

UPDATE:  Since discovering how easy using Swedish Tracing Paper makes everything, I now use it exclusively to trace my patterns.  Makes life MUCH easier, and the roll lasts a long time!  I found mine on Amazon.

Best part of this project?  Aside from the fact that I was treated to several fun days of being with my lovely daughter, here’s the biggie – what all of us who sew strive for:  The Acid Trip Top/Dress made its debut over the weekend to RAVE reviews!  Everywhere she went, people wanted to know where she’d bought it!  Warm fuzzies and much love for her first project!  Success!

As to the pattern itself, Butterick 5889,…she would definitely sew it again!  Adjustments to be made:  narrow the top a bit, add a little room in the hips for the dress length (the tunic is meant to have split side seams!).  All in all a fun, quick pattern to sew!


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The Post in Which I Tackle a KNIT: McCalls 2401, the V-Neck Version

First, a word of warning:  Brace yourselves, this is NOT a pretty post!  And, yes…I’m using McCalls 2401 yet again.  I’m horribly sorry to be so tiresome and promise that my next post will be a completely different pattern – also not a knit!  And not navy!  There.
I feel better now.

In my quest to help Dear Daughter #1 locate great looking, packable work clothes – she does travel at times for her job – it was inevitable that the idea of  sewing with knits should present itself.  After all, they look fairly harmless on those big bolts, all lined up on the shelf at the local chain fabric store…why not give them a shot?!  Nice feel, not expensive to “test”…let’s do it!  Two colors, navy and charcoal gray (hey, these are for WORK) were selected, dragged home, popped in the wash and were all set to go.
So far, so good…!

For this version of 2401, we decided to make the v-neck, but shorten the sleeves to 3/4 length.  Since the sheath version of this pattern turned out well, I figured ‘easy, peasy’…right?  I cut the pieces out just as I had before, got the machine set up for that cool stretch stitch just for knits and got to work.   It went like this:

“Oooo…that stretch stitch is really neat!  This is so easy!  Knits are fun…!”
“No edges to finish, ei…wait…why isn’t the fabric moving???”
“I’m sewing, but the fabric isn’t moving…wait, now it won’t come off the machine”
“Give that dress back, you wretched, sadistic machine!”

(Much yanking, pulling, mumbling, wringing of hands, and glaring ensues…I did warn you
this was NOT pretty!)

Finally, the obvious: the feed dogs have eaten – yes, readers, EATEN – my dress!
Sucked it right into their nefarious clutches and down into some hidden stash place in the bowels of the machine.  (Well, ok…it was just a little part of the SEAM, but still…it was NOT moving off that machine and this was extremely traumatic to a novice sewist like myself!  I had to cut off a chunk of the seam to free it from the plate, for heavens sake!)

After consulting the manual, removing the screws that hold that plate thingy, (do you know how hard it is to find a screwdriver that short?!), I finally got to the source of the problem, freed the chomped seam, regrouped and went at it again.

Rinse and repeat.  AGAIN, the feed dogs ate the fabric as if they were mocking my attempts.  Knits are NOT fun anymore, and neither is this machine!

Sewing Thump on the Head #5
(I’m going to lose count of these ‘duh’ moments, I just know it!  There are SO many!)

  • Read the darn manual, watch the video, consult the forums, whatever you have to do to get valuable and time saving tips on how to deal with different fabrics.  It’s SO worth investing a little bit of research time, and will save you from much angst and woe!  Had I done this, I’d have discovered that the presser foot has to go down before the needle goes in or everything goes to hell in a hand basket, if you’ll pardon the expression!
  • Also, some knits and lightweight fabrics need some kind of paper backing when being sewn.  Sounds like a good bit of trouble, so I’ll save that for a future project – like the one that will make use of that ITY knit I was warned against, but purchased anyway!

Finally got the thing together, ended up finishing the seams anyway so they’d look more RTW, and with great anticipation, Dear Daughter #1 tried it on… and it SWAM on her!
Seriously, what the heck?  I thought I cut the same size as the sheath dress that fits her so well, but this thing is at least 2 sizes too big!  The front appears to be way too wide, and it’s one piece, of course!  Plus, the 3/4 sleeves look incredibly awkward for some reason.

Here is my long-suffering model in this disaster.  We literally have it clothes-pinned in back so it doesn’t fall off her shoulders and hit the floor!  You can see from her pose that she’s doing her best to keep the thing in place, but clearly it’s meant for the giveaway box!

nkphoto 1

Sewing Thump on the Head #6:

  • Even if you’ve sewn the pattern before, double check the measurements before going to all the trouble to cut and sew.  Compare them against a dress that fits you well, if nothing else!  For this dress, it was just too broad across the front, with really no good way to cut it down to size and get it back on her shoulders!  *Sigh*
  • Also, check the fabric recommendations.  When using a knit fabric that has more give than a woven, you might need to do more adjusting to get the fit right – maybe.  Ok, that’s just pure conjecture on my part, but it’s the best I could come up with for the way off sizing!

Oh, well…I guess this is my first “wadder”.  Hmm…out of three projects = depressing!!  On the plus side, my “invisible hem” looked much better on this dress, the zipper went in easily, and the back neck edges came VERY close to actually lining up!  Progress.
And bonus:  I learned how to beat knits into submission, as well as how to access
the underbelly of my sewing machine should the need ever arise again.
One must take little triumphs where one finds them!

Thus endeth my first attempt at the wretched knit dress, which you may have noticed is my cover picture.  I hope to proudly post perfectly fitting pictures of this dress very soon!  I will conquer this!


For now, hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful January!  There’s nothing like a cold, winter day to inspire the starting of new sewing and craft projects!


PS…It is perfectly acceptable for you to pretend that you’ve had similar experiences with knits…come on, surely some of you have had big fails!  Feel free to share them in the ‘comments’ section – misery loves company, don’t you know!

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Shaky Endings, New Beginnings

There’s always a sort of nostalgic review process that accompanies the end of a year – at least for me.  I’ve noticed that many of my fellow bloggers have great posts documenting their successes and their “learning experiences” for the year.  Having amassed such a short list of attempts hardly worth reviewing, I hope you’ll indulge a post that hopefully will explain why there aren’t more projects on my “completed/attempted” list!

My 2012 went out with both blessings and a bit of sorrow (which I’m hoping explains my dearth of posts).  The year was absolutely packed, but for me the last three months had such an impact that I’m sticking to those.

Blessings first:

My 82 year old father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, had surgery in late October and received an “all clear” in mid-December – an early (and best) Christmas gift!  THANK YOU to all the folks at Mayo Clinic in FL whose expertise made this possible!

I’m so thankful that it was possible for me to be there when they came home to take care of one recovering patient and one very tired spouse!  My brother and his family handled things on the FL end; I was the caretaker on the recovery end.  Thanks to my terrific husband and son for letting me abandon them – at least they had clean clothes (sort of)!

It was indeed an occasion for celebrating!  Cheers, with grateful hearts!

Starting down this blog journey that was inspired by reading so many wonderful posts from talented sewists was another blessing!  Although events took me away from being as active as I’d planned, I’m so grateful to those of you who took the time to read and comment and encourage me on my fledgling efforts as I inch my way back to actual sewing!  I promise there are more posts to come in short order :)

The Sad, and the Hidden Blessings:

In November, shortly before Thanksgiving, we lost a wonderful, kind, talented man:  My Uncle Walt Zeboski.  You know how some people are just perennially positive and just plain good people?  Uncle Walt was such a man.  A photographer for the Associated Press for years in Sacramento, CA, Uncle Walt covered so many amazing events, and did it all with the utmost professionalism, humor and skill.  He was a wonderful husband, father, friend – and an uncle we saw all too infrequently.  Here are just a few of my favorite pictures he’s taken.  I hope you’ll find them interesting:

This one of then CA Gov Brown was nominated for a Pulitzer:

Martin Luther King speaking at an event in CA:

On the presidential campaign plane during President Reagan’s run for office (Uncle Walt was Reagan’s photographer.  So many wonderful pics – google Walt Zeboski for more!)

President Reagan passing out his trademark jellybeans aboard the plane

And my favorite picture:  Uncle Walt patiently showing my almost 3 year old
how to snap a picture.

Uncle Walt, you’re very much missed!

Yet there were some hidden blessings within the ‘sad’.  As funerals often do, celebrating Uncle Walt’s life brought together family members not seen in years.  Mom and I flew to CA, leaving my nicely recovering father at home, and abandoning my husband and son – again. It was a real treat to see my CA cousin Jan again and meet his wonderful family.  Being on opposite coasts we hadn’t seen each other in years, making due with social media to stay connected.   So nice to have some “face time” at last!

Seeing my wonderful Aunt Virginia, and watching she and my mother sharing memories was a true blessing, too.  As an added surprise, my brother joined us from FL – what a treasure to be able to spend time with him, too!  An extra special treat was hearing all the stories that Uncle Walt’s friends and AP associates told as we all gathered together at the home he and my aunt shared for over thirty years.

Mom and I returned to their home three days before Thanksgiving, which saw the arrival of my own family and such a happy celebration of our blessings of good health and happiness!  Dad’s doing so well that he and Mom were able to come to our home for Christmas, which was a wonderful close to the year.  My Aunt Virginia, an amazing person in her own right, has sad days, of course, but is doing fabulously, surrounded by family and friends.  Truly, we have all been richly blessed this year, even amid the sadness!

So, goodbye 2012, and welcome to a New Year – and to new projects and adventures!

Here’s wishing every one of you a wonderful and blessed 2013!  Can’t wait to see read everyone’s posts, learn from your experience, and marvel at your fabulously completed apparel!

From the top of the ‘W’ in DC, 3/5s of my family wishes yours a Happy New Year!

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McCalls 2401 Sheath Dress – Breakfast at Tiffanys, Anyone?

Who doesn’t love a great little sheath dress?  So classy, so wearable, so Audrey Hepburn!
Since my Washington, DC daughter needs relatively conservative work clothing, and she has the perfect shape for it, she has graciously consented to be my guinea pig model as we search for the perfect TNT – that holy grail pattern that you can always count on to ‘work’ – the “tried and true” for sheath style dresses.

After much perusing – and trying to locate patterns offering small enough sizes – we settled on McCalls 2401, a versatile little pattern that includes everything from a sleeveless dress with a boat style neckline to a v-neck with long sleeves.  Just 5 pattern pieces, a zipper, easy back slit…lookin’ good!

This was originally intended to be my first sewing attempt, and it was…however, actual completion proved a bit more complicated than anticipated due to a few fit issues.  In fact, the navy mystery woven stretch fabric used on the New Look 6103 pencil skirt was leftover from fabric purchased for this dress.  We first did a muslin, which ended up marked all over the place for “take-ins”.   Waist and back length were perfect, but overall it was just too big for my size 0/2 daughter!  The darts and seams all needed adjustment.  Several times.  Sizing ready to wear versus pattern sizing is really a project!

Sewing Thump on the Head #4

  • ALWAYS go by the Body Measurements in the general sizing section of the pattern.  Check.  Except when that doesn’t work, and the pattern is STILL too big.
    AHA. There’s a little section at the bottom of most pattern backs called “Finished Garment Measurements”.  This seems to be the best indicator of actual fit, so compare these measurements against those of a similar style dress that fits you well.  Simple, right?  Except when it’s not…

There’s also something called “pattern ease” that has something to do with the amount of wearing ‘ease’ or ‘movement’ pattern makers build into a garment.  I haven’t successfully located that information yet on an actual pattern from the “Big 4”, but have seen it talked on sewing forums and mentioned in pattern descriptions from companies like Style Arc.  Of course the amount of “ease” varies depending on the company, the pattern, and the performance of the recommended fabric – knits vs a non-stretch woven, for instance.  I’ve also heard the term “negative ease” bandied about.  Have mercy!  I feel an online class might be called for here!  I decide to push on…

 McCalls 2401 bills itself as an unlined, “semi-fitted sheath dress”.  Since I’m aiming for a nice, professional look that mimics RTW, I decide to throw in a lining.  (Think big!)  My daughter will be here for the weekend, so with great anticipation, the sheath dress – with lining – gets partially stitched up…and the lining’s too tight.  WHAT?  How can the lining be too tight?  It’s the same size as the dress AND I used what JoAnns calls its “luxury lining” fabric – a sort of silky looking anti static stuff that I used (successfully) to line the pencil skirt.  Did. Not. Work. for the sheath dress.  Sigh.  This calls for the seam ripper!  A quick trip to the store, yields a thin, polyester knit lining – to go with the stretchy woven, right?  Onward and upward.  Sheath dress, take two!

Then the miracle happens.  Since I want a RTW look for this dress, I google “lining a sleeveless dress” and miracle of miracles…an incredible video  from the talented Colleen G Lea appears in the search results showing how to do exactly that!  If you haven’t seen her amazing hat trick with lining, run, don’t walk to the link above and watch it before you sew your next lined sleeveless dress!  Thanks to Colleen, McCalls 2401 was conquered:

Front: I’ve lightened this just a bit so you can see details:

Back view:  Back closing is a little closer to lining up this time!

 Inside the dress. The lining & outer fabric join at the shoulder seams:

…and here it is on my lovely model:

ndphoto 32

Close up of bodice…

ndphoto 4

So there you have it…one sheath dress ala Audrey Hepburn.  All it’s lacking is a nice string of pearls, some gloves, and a stylish clutch!  We still have a bit of nipping and tucking to do fit-wise, but once that’s figured out, I think we might have our first TNT!  In fact, we liked this pattern so much I decided to try it in a …KNIT!  That fiasco project is coming up next post!

Stay tuned…

PS…If you’d like to see another view of this pattern, take a look at Alice in the UK’s version on her blog Moonbeam

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