Friday, December 14, 2012

Happiness is a New Machine

Santa came a little early to my house. Funny thing though he only brought one present...for me!

TaDa! - Way to go Santa! A Craigslist find. I think it's about six years old which I don't mind at all since it will be replacing my 3-thread serger that's somewhere around 20 years old. (Yes, they made sergers for home sewists 20 years ago. Don't doubt me, I was there~!) I was looking for at least a 4-thread but this is way more than that. It's a Singer QuantumLock so it does all the serger stuff and converts to a coverstitch. I could never quite justify the money for a coverstitch because I didn't think I'd use it that much. But, hey! Now I've got two for one at what I thought was a great price ($200). If that's not a good price, please don't tell me. I read that a lot of people don't like to switch back and forth but I'm will to give it a try.

As a second Christmas surprise, I ordered thread (I've also been serging with thread that's 20 years old too. I know, I know...) from Wawak on Wednesday and it came TODAY!! That's two days from order to delivery. Can't wait to try out this baby. I mean for real try it on a garment.

P.S. - When I told my son that I gave myself and early Christmas present he went on and on about that was just not right because now it won't even be a surprise. Love him.

Friday, November 30, 2012


...just to prove I haven't given up blogging! I keep trying to figure out how I found the time to do this when I first started blogging. Well, whatever time I used then, it's gone now! My job is overwhelming this year and my kid's schedules are getting busier. Anyway...I have done some sewing, some fabric shopping, a lot of planning, and not much, but some, picture-taking. Here's some of the pieces I've finished and photo'd.
My first Hot Patterns garment. It doesn't look so great up close. Well, it's just a couple of things that most people wouldn't notice but we that sew know....(button placement is wrong, one of the cuffs buttons the wrong way, sleeves are too long.)

LOVE these pants. I don't think I've ever had a pair that fits like that in the back. It's Vogue 8751 fitted using Peggy Sager's pants fitting method from this webcast. I have another pair of pants using a Simplicity pattern and the same method with similar good results. No pix yet though.

This is Butterick 5566 and the fabric is leftover from a jacket I made. It's a reversible wool denim and with the dark side on top and lighter side on the bottom.

That's about it for the completed projects. Here are a few other miscellaneous pix.

A fun evening! Deepika was in the area to film an episode of It's Sew Easy and Janie had a get-together so we could all meet IRL (honest, I wasn't the only one there ;)

Don't blink, you might miss it! This is my one and only attempt at a quilt. When HGTV was still very new to me I was inspired by one of the shows hosted by Alex Anderson and set out to make my own watercolor quilt. That was 15 years ago (gulp) and what you see is what I did. This summer I decided to donate it to my church and see if the quilting group can finish it off.

Thanks to all of you that still find time to blog! I continue to be inspired by you. Happy sewing to you all!

The Dangers of Sewing.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Picture Tells It All

Just in case you don't recognize it, this is my cutting my sewing area...where I used to sew. Someday, when my boot is off (from June's broken foot)...and my attic walls and ceiling are close to perfect...I hope to sew again.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A New Kind of SWAP

Have I mentioned that I heart ? Well, I do. Recently she put together pieces for a vacation at the shore that expanded to become an entire casual summer wardrobe. This is why I love her posts. There it was, a basic plan for all the summer clothes I'll need to play, run around, and still look put-together. I just need to put my own spin on it.

So here's step one of my interpretation of her plan. (Keep in mind that it's July and I haven't touched my sewing machine since....hmmm.....Easter? Like many others, house maintenance is my first priority this summer. That and renewing my teacher license which means taking a few classes. Oh yea, then there's the kids...oh yea, and then there's that broken foot I got last week.) Her first post is here and you can sneak a peek here to see how she turns into enough clothes for a summer wardrobe.

Sorry, no pics for my plan yet. Well, I have them but they're still in my head so I can't share now!

One or two people left her comments on her choice of using all L.L. Bean clothes. I thought this was funny because a) they were limiting themselves to the exact items shown, and b) when you sew you can make the pieces fit you/your life (as if you didn't know this already) so who cares who the original designer is?!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sweet Pattern Memories

I grew up in a transitional time when, up until my junior high held a lunchtime walkout /protest, girls couldn’t wear pants to school. I was a painfully shy student, really, painfully shy. But, I was not afraid to let my clothes speak for me. It was during this time that I made and wore an outfit that got me sent home from school for the first and only time in my life. That’s right, the outfit I made with this pattern (view 2 with the mini-length overskirt made out of a pastel pink small polka-dot knit) caused 1) other students to buzz, 2) my first trip to the principal’s office, and 3) a free walk home in the middle of the day to change clothes.

I loved that outfit. I loved it because I could tell the world that I was unique without having to say a word (plus it was pink!). I really love the fact that I can run across patterns like this online and have a sweet pattern memory.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Hello, sewing world. I miss you! Life has been filled with kids, work, and well, guess that's all work and kids. No wait, also home repair. I'm trying to get all these (more than 20) minor repairs done on my house just in case some smaller, less expensive version of my home, on the right street appears on the market.

It's been so bad that today (80+ degrees) I still have turtlenecks, and wool garments in my closet. I haven't even switched my wardrobe to shorts and t-shirts yet. That's bad.

The school year finally ended and brought just a few more things to break up my daily/yearly routine, i.e., I'll be leaving my current high school position as they are eliminating music from their curriculum, I'll be assigned to a different building within the district, our union just rejected (by 97% - that's how ridiculous it is) the current contract offer, and I'm enrolled in two classes this summer to renew my teaching certificate (ironic, no?).

So far, it looks like the summer is going be filled with purging the old and anticipating the new. That reminds of the reasons my sewing has slowed is because my very old, very basic Simplicity serger upper blade finally bit the dust. I've been scouting craigslist for a decent used 4-thread (mine is only 3) but just haven't found the right machine at the right time (financially). Just when I thought a new machine had become my only option, I found out that the Babylock parts fit my machine. Yay!

Enough with the excuses! I love reading about what you're doing. I know I'm missing out on so many new bloggers. I hope that I'll have something significant to add soon. :)

I really, really, really wanted to make my daughter's 5th grade promotion dress and I was absolutely heartbroken that I had to go RTW. But, she looked so cute...
(First day of kindergarten - with a dress I did make - and last day of 5th grade.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where To Start...

As in, I've been so busy and wanted to blog about so many things that I don't know where to start! Well, I'm going to start with this little quickie (my little guy is home sick today).

I've been meaning to add little tidbits on my blog that feature cool things that I love about my community. It's a first ring suburb of Cleveland and is often referred to as a small town in a big city i.e., when we go out we almost always run into someone we know but population-wise it's the size of a typical suburb. (Once I was called in for jury duty and while interviewing the potential members of the jury, the judge had to point out that he knew four out of 20 people that were called in! It was so funny, he said things like, "our kids played soccer, she's my neighbor...) Anyway, we still have a thriving downtown and almost all the stores are in buildings that were constructed around 100 years ago. Okay, here's the sewing part: Over a year ago I noticed a new little shop that had opened. What made it noticeable? Why a vintage sewing machine and a vintage dress on a vintage dress form with lots of other vintagey sewing things. I passed it at least once a week for maybe a year before I finally pulled over to find out what it was - Porshes Place an etsy shop. It took a little online investigating but what I found out was so cool! She takes vintage patterns, her customer's measurements and then makes a custom vintage garment. Oh man, I would so love to do that!

Speaking of vintage, I've sewn another one and entered it in the contest at Pattern Review. This was supposed to be my Easter outfit but it just didn't quite get finished in time.

I ran across this pattern online and fell in love with it, really in LOVE with it! But the first time I saw it, it was about 3 sizes too small. Then one day, while shopping in a local vintage shop (with massive amounts of merchandise!) I found a hat box with old patterns and there it was - in my hands - with a "The Higbee Co., Cleveland, OH" sticker on it - only 1 size too small and it came home with me.

I think I made the skirt last year but can't find a picture of it anywhere. That's probably because since I bought this pattern (Vogue 8427) I've lost track of how many times I've made it (navy-long, black pinstripe-long, gray-long, black-short) and didn't feel it was necessary to document yet another OOP pattern. This one was to replace a similar white straight long skirt that I made years ago and wore it to death. I added the pockets from Vogue 8424 because my keys have to go somewhere!

That's all for now...oh wait! Here's another link to one of my new absolute FAVE-check-it-everyday blogs The Vivienne Files where she explains her formula for putting a wardrobe together. "The theory is always the same: 5 core neutral garments, an accent jacket, a couple of white or light neutral tops, and then the 6 dash accent garments in your color(s) of choice."  It sounds so simple doesn't it?

Little boy is still begging for lunch so I better get going. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Finally, I met a group of sewists in real life that I never would have known it weren't for the magic of the world wide web and more specifically Pattern Review! Even without the guest of honor (Deepika's plane was delayed) the evening was great fun. I was so glad that I was able to drive with Bernadette (cleverkitty on PR) because I'm not very good at going to things like this all by myself. We talked sewing, blogging, and Pattern Review in the car, at dinner, while shopping at Janie's Sewing Corner (our host), and again in the car on the way home.

The Cleveland PR Group at Janie's Sewing Corner
I had so much fun with my new sewing friends that I finally made the effort to attend a sit-n-sew at Janie's where some of them are regulars. I've had a hard time forcing myself to go somewhere else to sew because I like my sewing area and when the kids are gone I don't really have that many interruptions. Well, it turns out that I can get alot more done than I thought when I'm not at home. I added the waistband to a pair of pants and put together a lined straight skirt, except for the hem in about four hours. I cut out and interfaced the waistband pieces of the skirt at home so I could just zoom away on my machine.

This is the only picture I took as shopping and talking became more important that documenting the evening. You can check out some of the other pix at the Pattern Review blog (scroll down to sewpatty's entry).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

RTW Jacket Sew-Along


The Back Story

What's so funny about this jacket?
Once upon a time I attended a workshop about sewing jackets by Mary Rohr. It was one of the best workshops I ever attended and changed my whole perspective on how to sew a jacket. One of the primary tips I took away from the workshop was to find one basic (i.e., not trendy) jacket pattern to include in your wardrobe. So, I tried out two different patterns. The results: I loved them so much they are both still in my wardrobe and I still wear them! (To put that into perspective – I made them when I still lived in MN and have now been in OH for 17 (yikes!) years.) However two years ago when one of my more fashion-forward students laughed at me every time I wore the brown one (right), I decided that it was time to send it into retirement, well, semi-retirement. Sometimes I still wear it as a mid-weight outdoor jacket, but not to school!

So here's how my favorite of the two jackets fits now.
When it came to deciding what to make for the RTW sew-along I knew that I had to revisit my basic jacket. In addition to updating the style of the jacket, I've been stuck many mornings when I thought I had my whole outfit picked out only to find that I just needed a basic black jacket to finish it off. Hard to believe, but I didn't have one in my closet. So I've got my basic black jacket that I also figure can fall into the "boyfriend" jacket category. :)

The Pattern(s)
The funny one

The good one

The Process 
Before making the tucks in these pictures I automatically added width to the waist and the hips. I also took the shoulder slope down 1/4" from the front and back to adjust for a small shoulder pad and made took 3/4" off the sleeve cap.
For the construction I followed Sherry's (scroll down to find the RTW sew-along) excellent instructions with two exceptions. One was for the sleeve lining. One of my least favorite parts of securing the lining is attaching the sleeve hem and this method makes it much easier. The other exception was the welt pocket instructions. I used my TNT method here.

I didn't have any sleeve heads but I do have this padding (sorry, I can't remember what it's called but I bought it at JoAnn's). So I traced the sleeve cap and markings and drew the lower edge freehand. I also used this padding for the "filler piece" on the picture below.

So, that's all the good stuff but there are cons. The con's start with the overall look of the jacket. My first thought when it was done was that a) the shoulders still look huge, and b) it's not even close to being as fitted at the waist/hips as my original jacket. This is probably due to the fact that I don't have the same shape I had back then! And, then there's a big sad face for that back collar/neckline. Why is it like that? When I looked at my original jacket after this one was done I noticed the back collar did the same thing – that is, it doesn’t cover up the back neck seam. (Yes, I see the yukky puckering too. Double sad face.)
I'm so glad that Sherry decided to host this sew-along because, even though I finished about 9 months behind, it motivated me to take my time and update a favorite old pattern. FYI - all of her instructions for the RTW Sew Along are posted on her blog so when you feel motivated to put your jacket together, go take a look!

** Apologies for any editing mistakes and crappy pix! Life is just BUSY and I needed to post something.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's a Wrap!

No, it's a cape! No, it's a wrap! No, the cape is a wrap!

Pattern: Vogue 9329 (OOP) and Women's Day #5015 (vintage)

Fabric: Gorgeous, heavy, wool coating from The Cutting Room (now closed). The lining is another crazy idea of mine. I was going to purchase some thinsulate because I really wanted something warm but after many discussions with myself I decided to use an upholstery suede. I thought that it would be thin enough not to add bulk and warm enough to block out the wind. I haven't worn it enough to know if the wind-blocking works but I do know it's better than a traditional lining. The main drawback is that stupid static. Ugh.

Adjustments: I started with the Vogue pattern as-is but the placement of the armholes is completely, totally, ridiculously non-functional. Do you see the way the model is holding her arms? That's the extent of movement without unbuttoning it. So I pulled out the vintage pattern and used it for the placement of more functional openings for my arms. Then I decided to use the princess seams for pockets (another non-functioning aspect of the Vogue pattern - no pockets, imho).

I also changed the shoulder slope to eliminate the allowance for a should pad.

Construction notes: Nothing too unusual. I constructed the collar/lapel according to the method from the RTW jacket sew-along. Everything else was just as instructed in the pattern.

I should have done a bound buttonhole but just didn't want the bother. I don't mind making the buttonhole I just hate working on the opening needed for the back side. So, I made one machine buttonhole, cut the opening and then stitched another buttonhole over the first. FYI-as soon as I took the pictures of me wearing it I replace the square button. My buttonhole wasn't large enough and it was impossible to button/unbutton. The button I replaced it with is the same size but round and works like a breeze!

Prep time: About 1hr. 20 min.

Sewing time: Didn't really track it this time at all. I do know that in my mind it should take about 4 hours. Yes, I live in a dream world.

Real-life time: Two weeks or two kid-less weekends, whichever way you want to look at it ;)

Miss Alaney: I've got several vintage coat patterns that I was going to use with this fabric. But when I ended up having to take our little Triskit almost hourly and that wind was whipping all that cold, humid air around our backyard I got really sick of having to put a coat on. I started thinking about how fast and easy it would be to just throw on a cape. Well, that and the fact that I already had two cape patterns and capes are everywhere, so I figured I really must have one too!

So far, I really like it. I can move around but it's not so full that the wind blows it around. And, I've only worn it in public once and already got an unsolicited compliment. Yay!

Goes with: My yellow or red leather gloves :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

This is IT!

I've found it! A blogger (The Vivienne Files) that posts classic wardrobe combinations...lots and lots and lots of wardrobe combinations...all my style. This is exactly what I need to get my sewing act together. I swear my mouth started to water when I saw this one. I've had a light blue piece that I've been clinging to for years but had no idea how to fit it into my wardrobe; now I know! I've done one complete SWAP that I love and am still using it as the basis for my daily wardrobe but I'm getting bored with it and don't know where to go next. For months I've been trying to find some direction. I turned to SWAP's but just couldn't find what I was looking for...until now. Now I can see what it will look like first and find the pieces I want to put together. Hooray!

That's all for now. Got lots to blog about (jacket from last year's RTW sew-along, cape project, and soon PR Get Together in Cleveland ) but no time to blog.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Buried Treasure

Today I emptied one of those closets. A closet that is just plain full and hasn't been cleaned for 10 years. Among other things I found these treasures.

The treasure is not in what they are worth but the fabulous memories some of them hold. McCall's 8532 is from 1962 and I still have some of the outfits that my mom made from this pattern. When I found the McCall's pattern for Barbie furniture I also found all the fabric that I used to make this for two of my nieces. (I have a couple of pix but it was before everything was digital.) And as I told my daughter, it was a time when I didn't think I'd ever my own little girl to sew for. I loved making all these things. Everytime Sharon does a Barbie post I remember making all those doll clothes and I want to do more. Then reality daughter likes (not loves) Barbie and she's close to growing out of playing with her dolls...I can't even find the time to make clothes for me! Oh well, I'll just settle for the memories.

I worked very diligently on a basic black jacket during my winter break and finished it but pictures aren't ready yet. Instead I'll share our happiest Christmas present, Trisket.

He's a havanese-poodle mix, small and smart and a perfect addition to our family!