Monday, October 8, 2018

Mini Wardrobe Contest, The Extended Version

One of the reasons I missed this deadline was because I kept thinking of more information I absolutely HAD to add to my reviews! I made handwritten notes while sewing each piece and my original strategy was just to type in the notes and submit. But then I started remembering all those conversations I had with myself while sewing the garments and felt the need to share every.single.thought. Haha! Every single garment was completely finished by 7:00 p.m. on Sunday which should have given me plenty of time to take pictures, review, and submit, right? Well, wrong in my case. Anyway, I got this fabulous new wardrobe!!

You may or may not notice two things about these pictures. I started photographing just as the sun was setting and by the time I took the pictures with the jeans there was hardly any daylight left (this is more noticeable on the PR composite review). The picture on my stairway was taken at about 11:55 p.m. LOL! As I was busily typing away, I realized I didn't photograph the blouse/jeans combo and dropped everything to change clothes and get the cell phone out.

Even with all my typing in the reviews, I knew I didn't have a chance to include everything I wanted to say. So, I decided to write a GIGANTIC BLOG POST WITH ALL THE WORDS, as if I'd saved up all my words from the past three years to share every single one of my sewing talking-to-myself conversations. :)

In the past 12 months I've produced two really great, wearable wardrobes. The funny thing is, while planning and sewing I never realized until I was finished how really boring and basic the pieces were all alone...except for one. Each wardrobe has one statement piece and it's the one and only PRINT fabric in the collection. That one print pulls everything together and gives the wardrobe my custom - you can't buy this in a store - look. It sounds very simple, but really, I didn't realize I had done that until the entire wardrobe was done! (FYI - I don't have any white walls in my house and this wall already has a nail in it for hanging and photographing garments.

For both of these wardrobes I've relied on the multitude of resources at my fingertips: my home sewing library, pinterest, (formerly) Craftsy, YOUTUBE (my favorite at the moment), and a whole lot of think, think, thinking - trying to remember how I used to sew when I had zero work stress. I love quality, precision sewing but I also LOVE efficient sewing. I attended workshops that opened my eyes to garment factory sewing methods in the 80's and loved the idea that my clothes didn't have to look "home made" (that is actually a lifelong sewing goal introduced by my mom who took levi's labels from worn out jeans and sewed them into some of my brothers denim clothes!). Thanks to the WWW I found many fascinating videos from sewing factories and loved studying their methods and deciding what I could incorporate into my sewing. My favorite links are included below.

The Statement Piece.

The fabric is from Style Maker Fabrics and the first time I saw it I began to come up with a reason for buying more fabric. Enter the mini wardrobe contest. Then I dove into my stash and found all these fabrics I already had to go with it.

I thought it would be more of an upholstery-type brocade but it was a very loose weave, it even stretched but stretched length-wise. Right before I cut into the fabric I decided to switch it up and cut it on the cross grain. That way the stretch would go around my body instead of up and down. It was really difficult to see a top-bottom to the pattern so changing the grain direction wouldn't make that much difference.

This must be a TNT pattern for me because off the top of my head I can think of three other skirts I've made with it. It's a favorite because POCKETS! One of the pictures on my pattern review show that my arm is so far into the pocket it's almost up to my elbow! The pockets are barely noticeable when worn, but I could probably walk around with my entire lunch in them and nobody would notice. lol.

In the late 90's a straight skirt, turtleneck, and tights ala Goldie Hawn in Deceived and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (one specific scene) became my "jeans and a t-shirt" work outfit. That's what I was thinking about for this skirt.

Sigh, I spent so much time matching the pattern but in the end it seemed like the pattern was so busy I couldn't really see the matching part. Trust me even if you can't see, it matches!

Normally it takes me maybe three-four hours to make a lined skirt. This one took eight. Wasted time with no time to waste BUT beautiful results :). This skirt will last a long time.

PR Review - Totally forgot to mention how awesome these pockets are! Easy to sew and incredibly deep. A great place to hide all your secrets ;)

The Jacket

During my Minneapolis days I made many blazers. I made many, many, many blazers and loved making them. Since moving to Cleveland in the late 90's I think I've made two blazers...a long time ago. I really just needed to remember what I already knew - enter Ms. WWW and Pinterest. Throughout the sewing process of my detailed garments (skirt, blazer, blouse) much of my time was spent watching, reading, and thinking. Think, think, think, sew, read, watch video, repeat. Fabric is from a visit to S.R. Harris several years ago.

I plan to take it to a dry cleaner for pressing. There's something they can do that my home iron can't. I'm hoping that will give a sharper edge to my seams.

What do you think about the vertical lines from mid shoulder to BP? I still (even though I've gained many pounds) usually start with a size 14 (because that best reflects my shoulder/chest area) and adjust from that. For this jacket I cut a straight 16 but ended up with those vertical lines. Do you think that's why? Should I have cut a 14 and increased from there?

Resource Links:
Pocket - at about 11:50 welt
Shoulder - Ann Rowley pix
Bagging a lining, front facing intersection - bagging a lining
PR review Review

The Blouse

I'm pretty sure this fabric is from JoAnn's. I believe that's where I found it because I remember seeing it other times and thinking "I should buy this."before I remembered that I already have it, lol. Pretty sure it's a cotton/rayon blend found in the denim/chambray section. I really wanted to make a lightweight denim blouse instead of chambray (which I think always looks a little "preppy") but when the STATEMENT fabric arrived it was clear this chambray was a better match than my lightweight denim.

I watched many-a-video about sewing blouses in a factory in an effort to streamline my sewing and am really pleased with the results. Templates are very helpful.

Watch with an open mind (and set the video speed to 1.5). Attaching the cuff See pictures of this method at Pattern.scissors.cloth

** I made the turtleneck and jeans first and when I was finally ready to take my skirt to the machine, I decided I should change the needle in my industrial. During that frustrating process because everything was too tiny in my hands, I dropped and completely lost the screw that holds the needle in place. Ugh. After many *&$%^#&* words, I took a deep breath and calmly realized that my regular machine and serger would be able to handle everything else. And then, I carried on. (Today I found a shop that had a replacement - yay!)

Oh, and instead of all those sleeve/cuff adjustments I was just going to use those pattern pieces from my Granville (Sewaholic) except I COULDN'T FIND THE PATTERN! I still haven't found the pattern UGH!

The Jeans

Even after a few YEARS of seeing web-seamsters share their love of making jeans, I resisted. On thing that made me start to change my tune was when I began a silent work protest (in my head). With added accountability being mounted on teachers in my district, little things in my daily life seemed more and more difficult to do. One of those things was deciding what to wear in the morning (the other was using precious morning time to put in my contacts which I stopped doing). It took so much energy and I didn't have any energy to spare. Sooooooo, I started wearing jeans every day. Yup, that was it. I stopped wearing my nice dress pants or skirts or dresses because it took too much time to figure out what to wear.  FYI: not one person noticed my silent protest (unless I told them) but I knew, and it was my way to make my clothing speak for me just like I did in high school. :)

This pattern tho. I think I've worked the pattern to death and still don't have a perfect fit. I did several modifications to my original muslin and my fist official pair fits well, but I lost the pattern (??!!) In an effort to tackle the crotch area, I turned to youtube and found videos showing the "fish bowl" method and thought "this is it!" So, I did the whole fitting thing and applied it to this pair of jeans.              It was not the answer.          The front is definitely 1" too long and the CB is about 1/2" to low!! Aye yi yi. And then I wore them a couple of times and they were so baggy after a day of work. So my question do you know how to adjust for the amount of fabric stretch? And, how do you know the exact (not minimum, not maximum) amount of stretch your fabric should have to fit the way the designer intended?

Anyway.... I LOVE them anyway! I had no idea there was a hole in my wardrobe that only a pair of skinny off-white jeans could fill. I'll wear them the way they are until I am properly motivated to fix the front (I'm thinking the easiest fix is to lower the waistband).

My favorite jeans-sewing video set Part #1
The fish bowl

The Turtleneck

Um, it's a turtleneck, six seams and three hems.

My only deep thought about this garment is I LOVE THE COLLAR! To me, a nice snug turtleneck collar is like bringing my childhood blankey with me wherever I go. Smirk.

I made an FBA, added room at the hips, and spent time perfecting my shoulder slope for each side. I'm disappointed that the stitching around the armscye resulted in a shoulder seam that doesn't lie flat on my shoulders. I'm hoping the fabric will correct itself once it runs through the wash/dry cycle. Oh, and I made it sleeveless. I compared the armscye to and actual sleeveless pattern and they matched almost perfectly so I didn't make any pattern adjustments. I coverstitched the hem and armholes.

The End?

  • I love these garments and they will all be worn frequently (they already have been!).
  • Many of the pieces match my previous contest garments and the extras I made after that contest.
  • It will be very easy to add pieces that work with this wardrobe.
  • I've realized a contest gives me deadlines and makes me make sewing (therapy) a priority.
  • I feel like I haven't run out of ALL THE WORDS but I'm going to end my post here. It's already taken me three evenings to write this.

Leaving now and starting to save up my words for the next GIGANTIC BLOG POST.

Happy Sewing To All!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I'm IN...again

2018 Mini Wardrobe

Gonna give this another try thanks to this fabulous inspiration fabric from stylemakerfabrics.

Orchid Floral Jacquard Navy/Blush - Fabric - Style Maker Fabrics

Crossing my fingers that life and work drama will lay low until October so I can meet the deadline this time. 😄

Friday, February 9, 2018

Time For A Contest

2018 Wardrobe Contest:  6-in-6, Easy as 1-2-3 200px

I am coming out of hiding for this!

After a devastating career changer (the reason I there's no time to blog anymore) I've been given a reprieve! This contest seems to be the perfect opportunity to jump back in to the internet sewing community. I love the 1-2-3 concept because it fits right in with the wardrobe-building ideas I've gotten from The Vivienne Files. The only downside, as you can see from my fabrics, is the lack of prints...sigh. I'm still really excited because - do you see that floral?! Trust me, it is fabulous!

Anticipating good sewing times ahead! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Better Than Sweats!

I cannot begin to tell you how much I LOVE this pattern!

Even though I look like this...

...I feel like this

...and I am in heaven, sigh.

I love robes, at least the idea of robes. I've had summer robes, flannel robes, and fuzzy fleecey robes. But they never cover me completely and the stupid tie-belt doesn't do its job. Enter V9232 with a zipper, lots of room, and TWO pockets. My dream robe.


A robe for three generations 😊.

For years my end-of-the-day outfit has been pj's, stretchy pants, and an over-sized hoodie. No more. From now on it's robe and pjs or maybe just robe (gasp!). Who cares? I can still wander in the backyard with the dog or have a early morning/late day conversation with a fully dressed neighbor and I won't be embarrassed! Yay! (FYI: this happened to me twice last summer when my single, male neighbor caught me in the backyard only in my pj's and started up a conversation - gulp. Sure would have talked longer if I wasn't trying to hide the fact that I felt fully exposed in my pj's - double gasp!!)

As for sewing, I made one for my mom and daughter for Christmas and both were equally thrilled and surprised. SUCCESS! (Funny that my mom didn't get surprised until I said I made it! She's used to getting a box of fabric with a pattern for a me-made present. hahaha! She knows me well.) I scoured JoAnn's first - hated the selection but loved the idea of walking into a store and bringing home fabric that day. Unfortunately (but not really a surprise), they didn't have what I wanted. Enter FabricMart. I purchased all three fabrics in one order with a spectacular discount.

I sewed the gift robes the week before Christmas while my school was still in session. This means it was done fast. No fitting and after hours of swearing at my serger/coverstitch, it also meant no seam finishes and fuzz, lots and lots of fuzz. Yellow fuzz was okay, but the purple fuzz (DD's robe) needed to disappear fast.

There's a whole long story about ordering and waiting for zippers but the bottom line is that this is a really easy, super-comfortable, super-functional, and quick garment to put together. Mine turned out better than the gifts because I wasn't watching the clock. Next time I will put a longer zipper in because I really just want to unzip and have it fall off my shoulders at the end of the day. Maybe I'll do that in my summer version...hmmmm...seersucker?, a nice cotton print?...printed cotton interlock?...

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Solution to the puzzle.

Really, that's it, that's what I WANTED to make! Okay, so I purposely lengthened and narrowed the sleeves so they would look like this.

I didn't want the sleeves to have any special gathering or facings so I made them narrow and extra long. The (sort of) sad reality is that I will wear it like this. (And, I will apparently get many compliments after wearing three times in three different situations.)

...Unless I'm outside...and it gets cold...and I don't have a scarf or hat or ear muffs...and I'm REALLY cold. Then and only then will I attempt to pull the neck fabric all the way up and over my head possibly messing up my hair and exposing the "whiteness" of the underside of the fabric.

The original pattern:

Fitting Adjustments: 1) an FBA, 2)a small small back adjustment, and 3) added 1" to the upper arm sleeve length. 4) reduced the sleeve width at the wrist by 1" to make sure that the length extension would stay in place.

The only design alteration was the extended sleeve. True confessions: I HATE sleeves that are too short!! During my Minneapolis years I made a t-shirt top with dolman sleeves that tapered down and I used the same treatment where I just extended the length by about eight inches. Because the sleeve is narrow, all I need to do is push them up to create a natural 3-4" gather. I wore that top to death. Pink and white stripe, comfortable, and reasonably flattering. The sleeves on this top have the same comfortable length. I LOVE.

Fun Fact: I folded the fabric lengthwise to cut the sleeves which I realized too late changed the direction of the dot pattern from arches to scoops but only on one sleeve. Good thing I did that though because without an upside down print on the right sleeve I wouldn't have any way of knowing which is the front and back :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Sewing Puzzler...

Your Clues:


Minnesota Fabrics

Cotton lycra knit


Two of the four pattern pieces.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it:

  1. What will this garment look like?
  2. What era does this garment represent?

Good Luck to all. You have from now until the time until the garment is actually sewn and blogged to submit your answers. (Could be tomorrow, could be a month from tomorrow!) Your prize? Bragging rights throughout the world of sewing blogs!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Too Much!

I've bought too much. Too much fabric and too many patterns. But so many possibilities!!

This is what happened when I cleaned off the tables by my sewing area. Lots of ideas but no plan. So, I'm on the computer tonight instead of sewing.

I bought my usual August/Sept. Fashion magazines. Out of all three magazines I found five pages of inspiration and what do you know, I have fabric already on hand for each of them.
(I was too lazy to pull out the camel fabric for the coat ideas but I have it in duplicate - actual coating and wool suiting in the same color. Thank you SR Harris.)

The navy windowpane fabric is something I had before I moved to Cleveland. That means 1) it's from SR Harris in Minneapolis and, 2) it's been waiting for just the right pattern, and 3) it's been in the stash since at least 1995!

No sewing here. Only organizing and planning.

Goodbye My Friends It's Hard to Purge

Goodbye my friends it's hard...

 The boyfriend jacket circa 1990's. I loved you even when my students laughed at me in 2010 when I wore you again. I did not care. Please know you were loved and you were very well-made and inspired by a Mary Rohr workshop I attended when I lived in the frozen tundra. Butterick 5725 OOP, goodbye my friend.

Dear skirts, I loved you too but you had no pockets. I cannot function at school (work) without pockets. I should have known this before I made you. I'm sorry. I am even more sorry that you no longer fit my new/old-lady body. Goodbye my friends.

 Dear gray plaid jacket, you have lived an amazing life. I loved you because I could just throw you on and no one knew how old you were or how tattered your lining had become. I knew. I knew that if I opened you up or took you off, threads would fall. Thank you for making me look so good for so long. McCalls 8306 OOP.

 Meh. Good fit but not so flattering.

 Sigh. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You are a dream raincoat made from a fabulous pattern (Amy Butler) that came out when I had no idea home sewers could make raincoats. If only I were 13 years old I would speak to my classmates through you. When you are shy you can let your clothes speak for you. Sadly, time was not on your side. By the time the buttons were ready to be sewn on, your model was too big and was phasing out of her pink stage. I had the greatest buttons ready to put on you and there was that nice orange gingham lining...goodbye my friend.

Such a nice jacket made from the pattern as the gray plaid, you just never clicked in the wardrobe. My vision was to wear you with a cream turtleneck and pants but it just never happened. What really killed you was that there wasn't enough fabric for a the fashion-fabric facing on the front piece. The ivory lining I used just didn't work. It kept wanting to peek out. I sure hope you find a new home. Goodbye my friend. McCalls 8360 OOP.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I can't believe it, a fabric store that has been around for six years and I didn't even know about it! I'm in a hurry so will just say I wrote details about this on PR and am sharing my pictures here. Love BOLT & SPOOL in Cleveland!

View of the sewing area, store entrance to the left

Every possible nook has sewing goodies.
Bolts of Liberty of London fabric - be still my heart.

These trims! Beautiful (enlarge this to get a better look...and maybe drool a little).

Grosgrain ribbon (another one you must enlarge to truly appreciate).

Merchant and Mills products.
Guess I didn't take a picture of the indy pattern display. Trust me, they're there. Here's my haul from my first visit. Second visit coming soon as the fabrics are on sale through the month of August.
Love the packaging

Sew on...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

It's So Random

So much for blogging with a vengeance! Random thoughts somehow connected to sewing to follow.

Look what I just found!!,1370167473
I will probably need to purchase this in the near future.

Today Ann from Gorgeous Things...showed some patterns she held onto that are just too good to purge. It reminded me of my good ole' days working at Northwest Fabrics. When the pattern companies discontinued their patterns, the retailers only needed to return the envelope. There would be piles of pattern guts that were dumped. At my store, employees got to dig through the guts and take what we wanted. This is my all-time favorite pattern rescue. I call it my "Barbie-doll" pattern. It just reminds me of something Barbie would pink with white evening gloves, just like the picture. I've never made it and  probably never will. I don't care. It will stay with me forever because it makes me happy.

Here are some of the other lifetime members of my pattern collection.

Wait! I was just trolling through my patterns and realized I've got current patterns and vintage patterns. I also have patterns from 10 years ago, patterns from 20 years ago, and pictures of my favorite patterns from 40 (yikes!) years ago...when I was a mere child. Guess I actually have a lot more than this in my lifetime collection. Well, these are some of the faves.

More random sewing stuff to starts Wednesday...this will be a tear-filled year...I just want to be a real band director....oops, sorry to get off the subject....happy sewing to all.........

Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's A Dress!

In my quest to blog with a vengeance, I found this post on my draft list. It includes some detailed sewing information that I didn't even remember until I read the post (like The Cool Stuff), so I'm going to share it with you. Here you are from in the late summer of 2015...

When my school year started on August 13th, I had my next post here all planned out..."No Sewing Again This Year...." because I have an unbelievable school schedule...AGAIN. But then it happened, the stars all aligned, the new house was finally "clean enough", and the sewing mojo kicked in on a kid-less weekend. The pattern/fabric was already cut with pleats hand-basted, and so I MADE A DRESS! Not just any dress either, it's a vintage dress that fits nicely and makes me feel good. Yippeeeee! After no sewing for an eternity, I'm going to share all my sewing joy with you.

My sewing process usually means I cut my patterns out long before I sew them and sometimes I don't remember all the adjustments I made during the cutting session. Also, my sewing time now is usually spread out in 2-4 month increments. That's a long time for this ole' girl to remember all the adjustments I made. For this dress, here's what i DO remember...

Before the cutting session I completed Joi Maron's Fast-Track Fitting class on (highly recommend). I made fitting adjustments to this dress based on my Vogue Basic Pattern from the class. I am guilty of mixing the pattern companies (the idea is that once you make adjustments on the Vogue basic pattern, the same adjustments will work with every VOGUE pattern, no necessarily the others) with this fitting system, but it worked okay for me.

I realized early on that I would have to shorten the length because I didn't have enough fabric. The fabric is a Waverly cotton print purchased on a whim at this store that (is anti-union, takes advantage of it's employees, and I try really hard not to shop there) starts with W. They had several Waverly prints that made my head spin with possible future dresses, especially vintage summery dresses, but I held back and only purchased one. Anyway, the lack of planning forced me to shorten the original pattern by about four inches. Even if I had those extra four inches, I'm not sure I would have kept them. I'm happy with the finished length.

The Good
It's fitted without restricting movement. I love the armhole even though I might make adjustments if I sew it again. There's never a "free-show, see-more" moment that exposes my undergarments. The back armscye has no gap to get a peek of what's underneath. Same with the front although, it may cut into my arm after extended wear. That's the place I will adjust next time.

This skirt is a great twirler!! There is MUCH fabric in the skirt.

The Ooops!
I don't remember how I measured for the skirt and pleats (I used the pattern as a guide), but when I attached the skirt to the bodice, it fit but the side seams didn't line up. I was not in a mood to figure this out so I just sewed the bodice to the skirt and decided I'd have to go without the side pockets this time. (Because, the skirt side seams are about two inches toward the back of the bodice side seams.) Everything else went together well.

The Cool Stuff
Did you notice this dress has a buttonhole band and a flat collar? Well, the band is a fake! It is all put together like a typical flat collar pattern but there is an extra band attached to the right front only to create the illusion of a band. There is also an extension band for the skirt buttonholes. Clever, vintage pattern makers, very clever.

And that's it, a dress that makes me feel pretty.

Sew on my friends.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sewing...actual sewing stuff

Despite the lack of posts on this blog I have actually managed to about 1/50th my usual pace. I apologize for the disorganized post, but I need to show you, and prove to me, that I have actually done some sewing.

Toward the end of last summer I made this lovely dress from one of my vintage patterns. Shortly after I cut it out, I hand basted the the pleated skirt because sometimes hand sewing is like therapy. Then, I put it all together as soon as I had some quality sewing time (probably a month later). Because it was the end of summer it hasn't been out in public much. I'm sure that will change as soon as our average daily temperature is in the upper 70's.

I sure thought I had the whole center front pattern-match thing worked out during my cutting session but turns out I was matching "fold lines" instead of "CF" lines. Made me sad but most people will never know and it's just a fun comfortable dress for the summer. I'm sure my soon-to-be 14-year old son will love having mom cheer him on at his baseball games wearing a vintage floral dress. (The last time I put on a vintage dress to watch his game about five years ago, he asked me to change clothes.) Too bad. This is my favorite kind of summer outfit - comfortable, cool, and fun.

This winter I made these fun culottes and was shocked at how nice they turned out. I LOVE this fabric and used some of it to make a top that I haven't worn yet because the neckline slit sits weird. But these culottes are great! Really fun to wear and several compliments from my high school students.

I realized that once again in January that I'd put on weight . Stupid stress. Stupid teacher-bashing. Stupid putting 300 students on my roster instead of 130. Last year I made a secret pact to wear jeans everyday because of my work stress (I didn't want to take the time to think about clothes, too many lesson plans and student interventions on my mind). This year I didn't have a choice because nothing else fit. Realistically this has happened the last three years, putting on winter weight that is. So, I'm confident it will come off this summer but what to do in the mean time? I decided to take a deep breath, cut a larger size, and embrace the elastic waistband. The first project was a plain tan linen skirt from this pattern.

The second project was an orange, VERY scratchy but beautifully sewn linen blouse. Happy with both of them but the blouse is seeing more action than the skirt.

I've also made a slouchy black cardigan (cut off about 6" of length that in hindsight was probably a mistake),

a skirt, a supposed-to-be classic b/w striped boat neck t-shirt,

 a rayon challis midi skirt,

and kooky-cool 60's cocoon dress (cut about 3" off original length).

For me, teaching ended Friday. In my entire life I have never been so exhausted. At this point I don't know where (which school in my district) or what I will teach next year and may not know until 10 days before school starts. This summer I will do every activity possible to relax and I will do it with a vengeance! That includes sewing and blogging about it. :)

Remember this girl?

She's all grown up and spending the next school year in...FRANCE!! AHHH!!