Pattern Envy

5 Aug

So even though I have 6+ projects sitting on the table waiting to be sewed and worn… and only 17 days and counting to finish them, I may be buying another pattern.

This Mccalls pattern is truly amazing and I just got a beautiful rayon challis (see below)  in the mail that I have been waiting for for more than a month… Wouldn’t you know it, Challis is EXACTLY what this pattern calls for.


I think I need it!

and seriously would that dress not look stunningly professional and sheek in this beauty of a fabric (which a promise you is even better in person than in the pictures).

… and there was great rejoicing!


posts to come later in the day after a photo shoot – the week of the back pain finally being conquered.  I promise this is actually worth the wait!


Absence makes the heart…

31 Jul

Sorry for my long absence… I promise I have both finished projects to blog about AND up-and-coming work that I want to share with you. One minor problem, I’m currently couch bound with a pulled muscle in my back (suck) and can’t really reach, bend, or lift much more than a glass of water at a time.

I promise, there will be more sewing and blogging and snarky commentary in the very near future, but in the mean time I appreciate the thoughts and prayers as I wish my back into better condition.

Love at First Sight

25 Jul

I just found and LOVED this skirt!  This is actually courtesy of a free (YES FREE!) tutorial on making a self-drafted paper bag waist skirt from the Amazing Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking via Kathleen Frances’ wonderful idea for a Free Pattern Month (which I missed by about 6 years… but will still gleefully exploit enjoy).

I have never known quite how I fee about paper bag waist skirts.  The idea of adding significant amounts of fabric and bulk to my already… shall we say… “generous” hip measurements, never seemed like a great idea.  But the way Suzannah pulls it off really makes me want to get in the game.

I’m thinking, perhaps, in a statement RED with just a bit longer (read work appropriate) length, perfect to go with a plain black or white button-up or pull-over for those drab mid-week days when you really need a pick-me-up that’s still easy and comfortable…? I shall now be including this tutorial in the resources section of my homepage.  Please enjoy to your hearts content (and give all the credit to Suzannah and Kathleen – thanks and cudoos ladies!)

The First Self-Drafted Pattern!!!

25 Jul

I have been reading sewing blogs for about a year now and I have always just been astounded at the sewists who can make up their own patterns.  Now, pardon the time for confession; learned to sew in the school of being ABSOLUTELY controlled by the pattern and its written instructions.  If S*mpl*city said sew this – I did.  If V*gu* said cut on this line – I did! I didn’t do anything to alter beyond letting out or taking in a side seam here or there… It was a sad, cruel, unfitted world in which I lived.  Now, this is nothing against my various sewing teachers. I think I would simply go to a teacher until I learned a new pattern technique, the then I thought I knew it all (yes, I may have been at high school at the time).

Honestly, I never really wore things I made unless they were costumes.  I would whip up a skirt but only see the poor hem line, make a shirt, but only notice the gap at the bust.  I wasn’t until I began reading the wonderful blogs of people like Gertie (take a look insider her wonderful new book!), the lovely ladies of Coletterie, or Oona, that I realized people aren’t actually made in pattern perfect shapes!!!

I’ll admit it, I was hooked. So this summer (between teaching jobs and, subsequently, out of work) I decided to begin making things I would actually wear. Moving to my New City, I knew my wardrobe would need some updating.  I’m beginning a new PhD program in the fall and I will be teaching senior level student and I would really like to look more than the 2 years older than they are. I have some semi-professional clothes from other teaching jobs, and then some very professional things from speech competition in college… but nothing that really communicates adult professionalism. I needed to find a professional look that works for both the classroom when I’m teaching and when I’m a student, and that works on the public transit system on my way back and forth.  Another consideration, is that I would really like to have clothes that don’t come from Asian child labor markets or exploited individuals – I’m not a crusader, but I can’t justify paying good money for those things.  The problem then becomes, I don’t make enough to get the kind of clothes I would want – Enter my favorite sewing machine!

You have all seen my beginnings in the floaty collar blouse, and now dundadundaaaa… My First Self Drafted Pattern!!!

Perhaps a vest is a bit of a cop-out for a first self draft, but I had the suiting remnant left over from a winter dress last year, and I could see exactly what I wanted to do with it.  I know I avoided the most troublesome areas of collar and sleeves, but it makes me happy, and that is that!

(Hear the previous sentence in the petulant voice of a 7 year old)

I went through about 3 muslins before I finally reached the final stage.  I just based the pattern of a basic t-shirt so I had to create the princess seams myself, as well as the neck line

I fully lined the vest (honestly – so I didn’t have to mess with seam finishes), used buttons from my stash, and the same lining I had used on the previous dress made of this fabric.

I actually have almost a dozen projects sitting on my sewing table (also known as the kitchen table in my tiny tiny apartment) that will be contributing to my new professional wardrobe.  I’ll keep you updated on the many projects… in the mean time, any guess what this might be?


17 Jul

Just thought I’d share with ya’ll, Vogue patterns is having a sale!  All their patterns, including the designer patterns, are on sale for only $4.99.

What are your favorites.  Unlimited budget what would you make and how?

I think my favorite is the Chado Ralph Rucci suit dress.

Beautiful, so sheek in black, so girly in pink  I love this outfit!  I think maybe the ruffles on both hems and the sleeves is a bit much, I might leave one set off…  I think this could be super sheek in a black, maybe heavy wool/silk blend, or fun and flirty in a pink silk duiponi (yes, I’m a girly girl).

How about you?

Floaty Collar Blouse Gutzz and my First Tutorials!

16 Jul

So, as promised, here are the lovely gutz of my floaty collar blouse!

The first thing I want to brag on share with you, is also the subject of my first tutorial – Seam finishes.

Because of the (previously mentioned) wonderfullness of the Collar Confection blouse pattern, the construction only leaves four (FOUR!!!) exposed seams that need to be dealt with.  That beautifully small number is what encouraged me to finally attempt some of the construction techniques I’ve been reading about in my most recent favorite sewing book.

If you are new to the world of sewing, or just new to some of the terminology and god-like figures (like I am)  – Claire B. Shaeffer is one of the greatest and most well know sewing writers on the past 5 decades.  Her books (especially this one) are truly canonical  works in the sewing realm.  I had no idea this was the case, but I stumbled on this book during a vacation to Asheville, NC earlier this year – and I couldn’t put it down.

This book has literally anything you could possibly want to know about couture sewing. I had no idea that so much of couture sewing was done by hand, but most of it is.  The seam finishes were what I wanted to try first.  Shaeffer talks about the importance of choosing your seam finishing based onthe type of fabric you are using and one of the finished suggested for a really light weight fabric like I used on the floaty blouse was the self bound seam.

What you see below is not exactly what you would see on a couture self bound seam.  I’ll explain the difference in the tutorial, but what you are most basically looking at is the cheaters version of a couture seam finish.  I used a 1/8th in running hand stitch to finish these seams and it is working out beautifully.

I also used a more basic and familiar hand overcast stitch to finish the heavier seams around the shoulder and collar area.  (sorry for the blurry photo, the good camera died  last week and I haven’t been to remedy the problem yet). This seam finishing is, perhaps, the least bulky finish you can possibly use. A simple overcast hand stitch allows the seam to move normally, but still hold up to a lot of wear and tear.

You can (almost) also see that I also understitched the collar to help it lay flat and smooth around the neckline.


Getting back on the horse – The Floaty Blouse

14 Jul

So you may have guessed that it took me a bit longer to finish the garment I posted about last time than I had originally anticipated. (Seeing that I thought I would post about it yesterday… and didn’t).  BUT that is ok, because look how it turned out!


This is the “Collar Confection Blouse” from Decades of Style patterns. I know the dots make it a bit hard to see in this picture but this is really a dreamy pattern.  The collar can be worn either as displayed on the pattern, or plain the way I have it (at least on the one side, I’m not really sure what IS going on over on my left… We just won’t talk about that side).

This project went together like a dream.  I loved finding a fairly simple pattern that looks like it took significant skillz to make.  Although there is some hand sewing involved (stay tuned for gutz pictures in a future post), this was actually a fairly quick and easy project. I’ll let you go look at the rest of my opinions over on

But the best part of this project was how it all came together. I really got to be me in making this… (insert heave handed metaphor about learning to live in the big city)

Moving on —

I began this project is a truly slap-dash manner that would make my first sewing teachers (sorry to the Bouffard sisters) cringe.  Having just moved into the (very small) apartment outside DC, I was stressed and decided the perfect remedy would be to get out a sewing project.  I layed out the fabric on my bedroom floor and began cutting without even a thought to grain line, pattern layout, fabric matching – nothing.  I hadn’t even found my good sewing shears yet! (but don’t, those of you who are panicking as I speak – I found and unpacked them.. no kitchen shears were harmed in the making of this garment). If you look closely you can see that the dots around the tucks are a bit skewed… and don’t get me started on the front – you wouldn’t know it but this is actually a regular-line-printed-dot fabric, not the hap-hazzard beauty that graces the photo above 🙂

I’ll be completely honest. One of the best parts of this project for me was that freedom. I simply traced, cut, and sewed. I did a lot of things wrong (including cutting out two right sides for the blouse front on the first go-round) but it was OK! The world didn’t end, the sewing police didn’t come break down my door (although a neighbor did steal my laundry basket when I left it in the communal laundry room while I went back to sew – live and learn).  I sewed with freedom and it turned out alright! (there‘s that metaphor)

Moving Up

12 Jul

Moving to Washington, DC has been an adventure and a half, and one of the first things I noticed was how much more dressy things are around this town than in my previous small town homes.  The only people in truly grubby weekend clothes on the weekend are the tourists.

I also noticed this at my new university.  Everyone except the frat crown seems to be more dressed up than I’m used to.  Is this the same in all big cities or just DC?

With this in mind, I have embarked on a sewing adventure of sorts.  I invite all you savvy clothing-loving ladies to follow along with me as I attempt to take my kitchy-preppy-grungy-mish-mash wardrobe into something that will let me fit in and make me stand out in the big city.

Stay tuned, Tomorrow I have a beautiful first step in the process thanks in no small part to Decades of Style patterns.

Here is the sneak peak…



12 Jul

Such an inspiring word! (yes, in fact, I am crazy).

I think failing at something really makes me happy for a few reasons (none of which you actually want to read about) except for the fact that it means I now know what not to try.

So… having failed at this blog on the first go-round, I shall attempt to do some of the things that writers I love reading (like Gertie, Oona, Julia,  and the lovely ladies at Classy Career Girl) all attempt to do.  First – I know who I want to writefor – You, my dear reader, are intelligent, thinking, and LOVE clothes and fashion.  Second – you know that what you were talks louder about you than Miss Manners would say is appropriate.  Third – You like reading blogs.

With these things mind, I shall begin again.


Dialectical tensions in the tense environment

24 Jan

So, I know that title alone probably turned most people off to reading anything more I had to say… but bear with me.

yea, I know, punny.

I have spent the past week looking in to the potential of hubby and I buying our first home.  Various and sundry things have conbined, and we are now in the hunt for a (du-du-dun-daaaaaa…) mortgage!

Long-story-short of this post, it really interests me that mortgage lending websites are set up to both encourage and discourage first-time home buyers.

Let me explain:

When visiting any of a dozen different mortgage lender websites, you will instantly be greeted with the smiling faces of families from every different race, creed, and color. Promises of the fidelity and trustworthiness of the organization, and promises of how helpful they will be in getting you “Yes, YOU!!!” into the home of your dreams.

These promises, however, are soon muted by the harsh reality of the sites themselves.  The first and most prominent button a potential-home-buyer will be drawn to click on is a “mortgage calculator.” Simply enter your current monthly income, savings, location, and various other info-bits, and you will be told how much money you can afford.  If, however,  you are making any less than 65K for a family of 2 and have less than 15K in savings, you will be informed that these are NOT the droids your looking for.

now, the truth of the matter is, if you have a good job and decent credit, you Can, in fact, be financed for a mortgage. With some loans you need as little as 3.5 percent down plus closing costs, there are programs to help you navgate the choppy wanters (yes I know I’m now sounding like a commercial).

This difference in first perception and second perception (especially when compared with the reality of the situation) put me in mind of dialectical tensions.  There is something in theses sites that wants to both pull people in — AND push them away.

Any thoughts?