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Holiday PJs and my Blogiversary

December 19, 2014

My blog is 3 years old! Can you believe it!


He’s 3 too! I can’t believe it! I made him this set of PJs for Christmas (a size too big for room to grow). Isn’t he such a ham?


Yeah, I did make a few others and a set of bottoms for myself, but nothing exciting. Now I’m done with all the sewing presents part of the season AND Christmas vacation has officially started as of this afternoon. What’s up next?

First: Pattern Preservation for a few of my TNTs that are on their last uses. I found the directions in a Sandra Betzina article (SewNews August/Sept 2008)


Second: Finish my first “Perfect Princess Dress” from V8972. I have already muslined and stitched up the fashion fabric in a Navy stretch cotton poplin. Navy is my new favorite neutral! Now I just need to stitch up the lining, freshly cut. I am so happy with the fit I’ve gotten with this “select a cup” pattern and the various adjustments I’ve learned since starting this blog. I am also experimenting with the embroidery stitches on my machine. I can’t wait to show you!


Third: My huge box of Black Friday fabric sales showed up! Cat added for scale. Honestly, I remembered I had a $25 gift certificate from when I enrolled in the fabric swatch club, so I placed a second order to use it before it expired! And, I, of course, added a ten yard bundle to that one! So, with 2 bundles filled with surprises and all that fabric, I am planning new projects!


Isn’t it pretty? There’s tweed, coating, wool gabardine, wool suiting, silk/rayon jersey, cotton jersey, linen, linen/rayon suiting, and…and…and… Le sigh…

Black Friday Fun!

November 28, 2014


I have a fabric addiction. I hit the Black Friday Sale over at Fabric Mart. I ordered 50 yards of fabric for a per yard price of $4.27. All are wool, rayon, or silk. All are of infinitely better quality than what I can purchase at a chain store and cheaper. Yep, that should be it for about 6 months except for lining, thread, and zippers. Those I have in my stash hopefully. I really need to stay away from sewing stores for about 6 months too! No, they did not sponsor this post. I just buy their fabrics!


My C.A.T. Collection is Complete!

November 26, 2014

Here it is! I know it is overdue. I completely missed the contest deadline, but I’m okay with that.


Simplicity 1665 cardigan in cotton rib jersey and dress in a cotton tweed blend with a contrast rust poly duchess satin yoke. I cropped the dress because after wearing it once the fabric split at the hip seam. It didn’t have enough ease for sitting.

Simplicity 1665 back looks rather flirty. I'm thinking of remaking it in black for a day to evening piece. Just needs some tweaks to fit better.

Simplicity 1665 back looks rather flirty. I’m thinking of remaking it in black for a day to evening piece. Just needs some tweaks to fit better. The pants are RTW.

My Simplicity TNT princess seam skirt with Burda's bow front blouse.

My Simplicity TNT princess seam skirt made up in brown cotton twill with Burda’s bow front blouse in poly charmeuse.


The final piece turned out too casual for work in my opinion. It was my first run with Deer and Doe’s Airelle Blouse in a rayon print that I found at Jo-Anns. I paired it here with the skirt, but when I’ve worn it out, it is usually with jeans.


Finally, the last attempted piece was with the rest of the rust poly duchesse satin, but it was really too heavy/has too much body for the pleated blouse tank top, so I wadded it.

Finally, the last attempted piece was with the rest of the rust poly duchesse satin, but it was really too heavy/has too much body for the pleated blouse tank top, so I wadded it.

Photos of me courtesy of my lovely co-faculty member Anabel B.!

Final numbers:

-5.5-6 yds Stash Fabric

-$14.63 for notions and thread not in stash

Not bad for a versatile mini-collection. I want to continue building work wardrobe pieces with these colors because they are flattering for my hair and skin tone (Thanks Cardigan Empire!). Also, having built in mix and match pieces makes getting ready in the morning a breeze!


My First Silhouette Project Collection

July 30, 2014

Meet my mini-wardrobe C.A.T. or Casual Autumn Transitional Mini-Wardrobe. Remember I live in the tropics, so this is not “northern” style. My goal was inspired by this sentence I wrote when I began my silhouette project:

I also tend to sacrifice my “look” for comfort, but I should really be looking for a way to meld the two together.

Basically, this is my first Silhouette Project Collection, a mini-wardrobe of coordinating items that fit and flatter my curves. No more yoga pants and baggy t-shirts to the store!

My design board:


Here’s some sketches and notes along with fabric ideas. As I worked through various items, some fell through and were crossed off the “list.” Others started with hearts as TNTs, but were never paired with a fabric.

How I chose my fabric:

I picked up some great color selection advice from the Vivienne Files Wardrobe posts. After the Silhouette project analysis, I know one of my “Go to Colors” is Turquoise, so I hit the stash and found a lightweight cotton sweater knit in that exact color. Love!

Then, I pulled out my color wheel. Blue-green is directly across from red-orange or burnt Rust. Blue-green also works with yellow and purple in its four square combo. Having a color wheel in my sewing box really helped me work out a few kinks.  On the other hand, I started bow neck blouse, but eventually set it aside. It was browns with pink, but was “cool” rather than “warm” like the other fabrics. The moral of the story: the color wheel starts the process, but you, the designer, has to make the final call. Ultimately, you’re going to have to train your eyes to pair tones and intensity.

Thanks to Vivienne’s recommendation of two colors and three neutrals to balance a wardrobe, I worked off the turquoise with a dark brown and creams. It helped me maintain my focus throughout the month even with all the changes.


Here’s me playing with the color palette in watercolors. The top sheet is my son’s. I usually use colored pencils, but he wanted to water color and I had my sketchbook on the table and decided to play with it.

I ended up with mostly stash fabrics and patterns. I’ve posted a few reviews over at Pattern Review if you want to take a peak. Otherwise, pictures with me in clothes will be posted soon!

I have three pieces complete with the fourth needed some hand stitching around the zipper and a hook and eye. I have one wadder and need one more piece if I am going to enter it into the Mini Wardrobe Contest over on Pattern Review. It ends tomorrow. We’ll see if I can do it!

Silhouette Project: Skirt Update

July 21, 2014

I realized after posting the dress pattern pieces, I should have shown you the projects that I fell in love with. I have taken those loveable pieces and tweaked them into TNT (Tried-n-True) patterns for my “go to” box. It took a few months, but I did have some method to my madness and worked in groups.

Favorite Skirts moving to TNT status:

black polka dot cropped   polka dot back

I am in love with pencils! This started as M6318, but I never wore it. So, I upcycled with a grosgrain ribbon waistband. I’ve now traced off the dress’ skirt for future use with woven fabrics like linen. The smooth back darts and front pleats really work for comfort and flatter my curves.

flower pencil croppedflower pencil outfit

Here’s another Burda 08/2012 #111C. I’m really liking it for stretch wovens like this Italian graphic print (as seen in my post in March. I’ve been sewing rather than blogging. Sorry!). I just cut out another one in green and gold pinstripe stretch denim.

grey skirt croppedgrey skirt back

Here’s Simplicity 5914, a best pattern of 2006 according to pattern review and dug up because of this post. This fit and flare is very flattering, though I think all future versions will be softer in crepes because I love the hem movement. I am searching for the perfect wool crepe to make this a couture project. Doesn’t it look like a good skirt to practice those techniques?

purple aline croppedpurple aline back

Finally, here is another rendition of Simplicity 2152 in purple stretch cotton sateen. I keep picking things with princess seams because they are easier to fit. This one is a little funky because of the faux pockets, i.e. pocket plackets top stitched on. Bleh. When I tried to seam rip, the sateen fabric was damaged, so I have to keep them. I am going to try it with the View C ruffle next.

Note on hems: Hems falling in the center of my knee or just below are my favorite. Too high and it makes my heavy thighs dominate and calf length also accents my large calves. Ankle length maxis also look beautiful. I want to try 7/8 vintage length skirts soon as that is a narrower spot on my leg, which should also work.

This pretty much wraps up common skirts in my opinion. So what is on my table now? A shift dress, a sheath dress, two blouses, a cardigan, a jacket, and a few remakes of these skirts. When I chose pieces for the Mini-Wardrobe Contest on pattern review this month, I focused on mix and match casual pieces that are comfortable and flattering in my “Deep Autumn” color palette and added a few romantic touches: gathering, ruffles, bows, etc. I was playing with “Signature Style” (as defined by Cardigan Empire). More of that soon!

The Perfect Princess Dress: Pattern Selection

July 17, 2014

While trying various styles as part of my Silhouette project, I have filled my closet with wearable muslins of multiple skirts, dresses, and blouses. I love some, hate a few, and found most are “okay” but don’t inspire a blog post. Now, I want to return to my first love: professional/advanced sewing techniques! These will invariably include technical explanations like my wool jacket project (which I finished! More about the final touches as soon as I get my new camera! Hurry up UPS!)

Basically, my goal for the rest of my summer break is to develop a few core patterns, so that when the next semester starts I will have a stash of “go to” patterns. These patterns would allow me to sew with less time pattern adjusting giving me more time to focus on sewing techniques. First up? The perfect, well-fitting dress! I love’s series of advanced sewing courses using one pattern multiple ways (i.e. The Couture Dress class or the new Tracy Reese Vogue Pattern class). With so many gorgeous dresses to choose from, it was hard to pick one! Here are my top three:

perfect princess the contenders

Vogue 8972 (left), Vogue 8667 (center), and Vogue 8849 (with peplum!)

I chose Vogue 8972 and here’s my logic:

V89721) princess seam through the shoulder seam for easy shoulder slope/body adjustments and it is pre-adjusted with “Custom Fit” A/B, C, & D cups

2) a classic style that avoids being overly trendy for perennial wear, and easy to change for multiple looks

3) includes a pencil and a full draped skirt that can accommodate numerous fabrics and numerous occasions (i.e. a tailored wool sheath or a crepe back satin party dress)

4) the pattern includes cap sleeves and a traditional 3/4 sleeve, so it can be modified for year-round style

5) it has the nipped in waist that really flatters my figure (hard-earned knowledge courtesy of the Silhouette project)

I am already imagining a tailored B&W houndstooth with a black waist yoke, a sleeveless batik day dress, and a full-skirted party dress. The trickiest part will be balancing the yoke size with my shorter height and keeping the yoke’s shape around my back adjustments.

Honestly, Vogue 8667 was a close second, but it didn’t have the sleeve pattern or the princess seam through the shoulder. I will probably make this one in the future. Vogue 8849 was just too trendy/sexy for it to really work with for this project. I do want to go back and make this one with a boned bodice and built-in bra.

Here are my modified pattern pieces (I apologize in advance for the blurry cell phone photos):

perfect princess bodice pattern

The “C” bodice pieces with a short back waist length adjustment. I am going to check that curved seam on the muslin very carefully. I’m not sure if I maintained the style line’s angle properly.

perfect princess waistband pattern

The Waistband pieces with “select-a-size” grading up one size at side seams.

perfect princess skirt pattern

The princess seam skirt with “select-a-size” grading up one more size to the hipline, a lengthening of the CB and side back seams to match the short back adjustment, and a newly drafted side front as the pattern had one piece for both side back and side front panels. As I only needed to adjust the side back, I had to make an extra piece.

Now comes the muslin. I left out the back width adjustment since that varies greatly from pattern to pattern. I also think I might need to adjust the skirt’s fullness in the front, but we shall see!


Wear One, Wad One

July 12, 2014

As part of my back to work wardrobe and Silhouette project, I decided to make another button up shirt, a perrenial tailored favorite.
black button upThis is Burda Style 07-2010-122  and I used a sheer silk blend, double layered for modesty. Underlining with the same fabric turned out to work for the concealment, but the result was rather stiff. I was imagining this as a cool, breezy work blouse that would drape more. It would also be easier to wear with the loose cut and easier to sew with the kimono sleeves. I only used the collar stand for a modern look. I love the button placement here with the seam detail as it doesn’t gape. GASP!!

black button up back
Here’s why I don’t love it: the back. I like the seam detail at CB, but it looks a little rumply even when pressed. I can’t decide if it is construction or fabric at fault. Maybe in a softer cotton? I did recieve compliments when I wore it with trousers, buttoned to my chin with a different necklace. I thought this was a great outfit, but decided not after seeing these pictures. The collar seemed to collapse a bit. I’ve also tried it with an A-line skirt and think its a little more proportional and matches the business casual feel. Does that every happen to you when you look at your photos?

Now for the wadder:

navy ponte knit skirt front 2

Recognize this pattern? It feels like a diaper strapped to my CF and the weight drags down the waistband. I think if you use anything heavier than a tissue, this bad boy just gets too heavy with all the pleats for the front draping. Nice idea, but with only one layer of tissue weight fabric on your behind, you will be showing the world more than you care to, at least in my opinion. If I made it in a light slinky jersey, I would have to use special undergarments to insure the panty line is concealed. Basically, after playing with this one, I conclude it is not for me or anyone who wears underwear. It also runs short. I like that the companies are getting trendier patterns, but this one is probably too junior/teenager for me.


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