Last Sew, First Sew

While it’s kind of hard for me to believe, we’re almost done with the first month of 2017. I’ve already completed a couple of simple projects so here they are.

My last sew of 2016 was another Simplicity 2154. I cut this out before Christmas but didn’t manage to get it sewn. I finished it and also wore it on New Year’s Eve. The fabric is a cute cotton lawn type from Joann.


In 2017, I’m continuing my work on understanding knits. I decided to take a private lesson with Mary Abreu of Confessions of a Craft Addict. Mary came over and together we worked on the Montlake Tee from Straight Stitch Designs.


Here’s my first attempt. It looks kind of frumpy and that is not helped by the fact that I am braless in this photo. I can’t say I was super excited abut how this pattern fits. That was supposed to be an elbow length sleeve for example. But I learned a lot of things! For example, Mary taught me about reinforcing the shoulder seams with fusible interfacing or clear elastic. This keeps your shoulder seams from pulling and drooping as you wear the shirt.


We also talked about neckline finishes. This one got a little wonky but it still looks pretty decent.


Finally we talked and sewed with the magic double needle. Double needle topstitching is just the best thing. It works very easily on my Bernina 710 and gives a great finish. I just need to be sure that I have two spools of whatever color thread I want to use. My machine can also accommodate triple needle stitching and using the multiple needles for decorative stitches. I want to experiment more with these sometime.

Later that evening, I decided to go ahead and knock out another Montlake tee while the new techniques were fresh in my mind. I used a small knit remnant that I had. Since my piece of fabric was small, it dictated the length of the shirt. I also went down a size in the shoulders and bust.


I managed to improve my neckline finish on the 2nd go.


This version has a cleaner look although I’m still not sure the fit is where I’d ideally want it. I made both shirts from knits that were heavier than what I would normally prefer if I bought a tee shirt. I prefer my knits quite thin. This could have an effect on my perceptions also.


I wore the tee the next day with my dress slacks from Talbots and my new flats from B.A.I.T.

In addition to these tee shirts, I made my Uncle’s Christmas present, another “Hawaiian” shirt from Simplicity 3852. This is my 3rd time making him this shirt. It’s kind of a tradition now.

img_2154img_2155The fabric is a premium quilting cotton from Joann. It reminds me of illustrations by Ernst Haeckel. img_2156

I also finished a flannel robe from vintage Simplicity 8510 but I don’t have a photo of it. I really like that robe pattern. I am thinking of doing a version in Liberty lawn for the summertime.



2016 Sewing Roundup, Part 2: Modern, Historical and Costuming

NOTE — I just found this post languishing in drafts! I wonder what it was doing there or if I missed something? Either way, it’s beyond time to post it!

I’ve already detailed all of my vintage sewing in Part 1 so now here is the rest of what came off the stitch plate.

All of my sewing with vintage half sized patterns has continued to disenchant me with modern patterns. But I did use a few in 2016. One was a Burda for the kid’s jacket from vintage fabric that I already mentioned in Part 1. The others were….

Weekend Doris Dress by The Lazy Seamstress (coincidently I’m wearing the tunic and the same leggings from Walmart right now. I was mixed on this pattern but it is comfy.weekend doris selfie        Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline StudiosIMG_9547 A matching shirt for Uno from a tutorial by Mimi and TaraFullSizeRenderI also finished this UFO from 2015, another dress from New Look 6889 (a personal favorite pattern.cowgirl dress and fabric detailsOn the historical front, I didn’t get anywhere close to the 11+ dresses and garments on my 2016 to do wish list. That’s not really a surprise but I thought I might make at least one new Victorian gown. I finally made a chemise from Truly Victorian 102 to give me a complete set of Victorian underwear.chemise 2I also made a new TV 101 to replace my original. FullSizeRenderAfter that I switched gears and started sewing a Regency wardrobe. This was a new era for me and I felt really daunted by it.

First I made a day dress from Laughing Moon 126 and beretIMG_0494An evening dress from the same pattern using a vintage sari.IMG_0704And a bonnet hackimg_1200I played with making a new Victorian bodice but it didn’t come together. At least one new Victorian gown is on the decks for 2017. I’m over due to update that era in my wardrobe!

On the pure costuming front, I made wizard robes for my niece and nephew. That was a Christmas surprise!img_2051

A pretty good year I would say!



Pattern Review: Weekend Doris Dress

I live in Atlanta. Winter is a strange beast here. It’s not terribly cold, but not particularly warm either. You can’t just throw on a cotton dress and bop out of the house with bare legs and a thin cardigan. That only works in south Florida. You need to have winter clothes here but not many. They’re shouldn’t be too heavy either because the number of days it will actually be cold enough to wear that artisanal wool sweater will probably be counted on one hand. My relationship with Atlanta’s winter is compounded by the fact that I’m originally from Chicago. While my blood has considerably thinned, I won’t wear a parka when it’s 50 degrees. I also don’t want to put on tights if I’m just running to Target. Consequently I tend to dress like a frump in the winter. All my winter clothes depress me. Winter also depresses me in general so blah.


What does this have to do with the Weekend Doris Dress by The Lazy Seamstress? I bought this pattern as part of my 2016 sewing with knits experiment. I thought that I could potentially make a few simple knit dresses to spruce up my detested winter wardrobe. The Weekend Doris calls for medium weight stable knits. Warm and cosy but still a dress. Two birds, one stone.

This pattern is only offered as a pdf. I generally don’t buy the pdf versions of things because I don’t like all the cutting, taping and wasting of paper. I’m lucky in that I was able to ask my husband to print the full scale version of the pattern at his office. That saved me a ton of time. I also purchased the Maude Skirt so he printed them together. While the Maude Skirt printed true to the 10cm x 10cm test square, the Weekend Doris printed a 1/4 inch shallow on all sides of the square. My husband said he printed both patterns at 100 percent. I’m not sure if it was a user or patterning error but definitely double check when you are printing! To compensate I cut one size larger and took a smaller seam allowance. This seemed to seemed to work ok.

weekend doris Dress

Not bad but it doesn’t cut a dashing figure exactly.

95% of my problems with this pattern were due to my fabric. I got a nice deal (weirdo fabric outlet again) on some gray French Terry. The fabric is very nice but it is exceedingly springy and wanted to roll on the cross grain. I tried very hard to not to overly handle the fabric and stretch it but I was not completely successful. I also had problems with my layers slipping. I did the majority of the stitching on my overlocker and used pins but I still had problems. I stitched the pockets on my Bernina with the differential feed engaged. That worked well for the most part. Where I really screwed up was the hem. The pattern suggests using a double needle, which I don’t have at the moment, to execute the very shallow 1/2 cm hem. I opted to overlock the hem and just turn it up with a straight stitch. Well that looked terrible. I turned it up a second time and finished the hem with the same visible hem stitch that I used on Uno’s Liberty sweater. That looks a lot better but even with ironing, the hem is kind of puckery. The neckline looks too open as well. I don’t know if I cut on the wrong line or stretched it too much sewing and with the iron. I’ll know better after the first wearing and wash. Finally, I find the arms to be a bit snug. It’s not a problem really with the gray terry but it would be in a fabric that was less boingy.

weekend doris selfie

You can see the neckline issue here.

I probably made this dress in about 3 1/2 hours. With a less squirrelly fabric I’m sure I could shave at least 30 minutes off of that. The finished product is cute enough although I’m not super duper excited about it. I don’t know if it’s the pattern itself or just the fact that I made a utilitarian garment in a nice but unexciting fabric. Last night I was feeling optimistic at Joann’s, so I bought some more knit fabric. I had originally planned to use it to make another Weekend Doris but I’m going to hold off for the moment. I have a 1970s vintage pattern UFO that I want to finish first. Which ever dress I like the best will get the nice fabric. I’d definitely make Weekend Doris again, but only with fabric scores until I really decide if I like the pattern or not. There’s a shorter sweater version included with the Weekend Doris. Something tells me I might like that better than the dress so I’ll probably give it a go at some point. A friend also suggested that I may like this dress better if I took it in under the arms to below the waist and changed the neckline. She might have something there but I don’t think I’m going to bother with any changes to this make. It is perfectly fine and comfy for running errands in the cold and not feeling like a total frump.



Pattern Review: Linden Sweatshirt

I love to wear knits but I’m highly uncomfortable sewing with them. When I didn’t have a functional overlocker my reticence to work with knits made more sense. But now, why do knits give me the heebie jeebies? If I can make corsets and bustle dresses, really a knit shift should be within my technical reach. Last year I gave a 70s knit dress a try. It turned out ok, if large. It wasn’t super scary and I didn’t destroy really precious fabric. I decided one of my sewing goals for 2016 would be to experiment more knits and maybe to even get over my fear of them.

So my first big knit experiment of 2016 was with Grainline Studios Linden Sweatshirt. It seems to be a bit of an indie pattern superstar. I liked it because it has raglan sleeves and a short sleeve version that has a bit of a retro vibe. I got really lucky and found a piece of Liberty Linford Fleece at our local weirdo fabric outlet. $4 or 5 bucks for 1.5 yard (or so) of $35 a yard fabric. Yes, please! I had no idea what I would do with it at the time but I couldn’t pass it up. Since I didn’t have that much, I decided to use it to test this pattern. I had to buy some other fabric for the sleeves. After much local searching I finally found some navy sweatshirt fleece. It was crazy hard to find. Everything was polar fleece. Icky!


The Grainline patterns are nicely put together and packaged. I made View B. The instructions were clear except for one part. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to stretch the neckband to fit or ease it. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to stretch it but that’s not what I did. It left me with a few little gathers but I covered them up with topstitching. It went together really quickly. It probably took me 2.5 hours total including cutting it out.


While I’m pleased with how the Linden came out, and I wore it running errands today, there are some things I would change on the next make. First, generally, it’s too large. I’m not really sure how much smaller I would want to it or if I would feel differently if I was using a lighter, more drapey knit. The pattern assumes you will be using an overlocker so it only allows for a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Rather than cutting a smaller size, I think I would take a larger seam allowance. If that doesn’t get me the look I want, then I would go down a size. Second, I’d use a different topstitch / hem stitch. The zig zag I used looks a bit too homemade for my taste.

FullSizeRender.jpgOnce again, I was left with a decent sized, yet too small, piece of Liberty fabric. I decided to make a matching sweatshirt for my pup Uno because I’m that kind of goof! I used a free downloadable pattern from Mimi and Tara. They have several downloadable pdfs to cover a myriad of dog sizes. Being a dachshund, Uno is kind of tricky to fit. I opted for the size large which was the right length but too big. (A theme, I guess!) If I decide to make him another I’d probably download the medium and put the two sizes together.

IMG_9542I used my new Gingher appliqué scissors to trim down the hems. They worked great! I’m happy to have them in my arsenal.

IMG_9546Uno isn’t really a clothes pup but he does like a comfy sweater in the winter time. And now we match!


Complete! 2 down in the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge

I’ve sprinted off to great start in my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. I have already completed two of my pledge garments. I’m even wearing the one below right now as I write this post! Yep, I’m blogging from my fuzzy tentacular robe made from Simplicity 8510 circa 1969.

Simplicity 8510 from 1969 (please excuse the commode)

I made the robe from an awesome flannel print made exclusively for Joanns. Even better I got the fabric on sale for something like $2.83 a yard.

8510 was easy to put together. I love raglan sleeves. We don’t see them enough these days! The standing collar and overall shape gives the robe an almost asian feel. Since I used a very busy and bold print, I cut the back on the fold so I didn’t have bother lining the print up. I took lots of time to line up my overlap but then managed to shift one of my fronts on the vertical and throw everything off. That was really frustrating since I took the time but it still looks ok. I kind of inadvertently made a new match. Also, I’m not sure I could have done it differently since I barely had enough yardage. This pattern is not friendly to one way designs and the pattern pieces at the hem are very wide.

I assumed that I would use red buttons but when I actually looked for some in my stash I didn’t find any that were appropriate. Instead I used some cool turquoise and silver buttons that I bought when I was in Melbourne. They match perfectly and look even better than red buttons would have. This robe will travel really well. I already took it with me as a cover up on a photo shoot. I’ve gotten really used to traveling with a robe. It’s so nice to have something snuggly to chill in wherever I find myself.

My 2nd completed pledge garment is a knit tunic from Simplicity 5556.

This was out of my wheelhouse as I avoid knits like the plague. I am the smaller of the 2 sizes my vintage pattern covered. Being lazy, I didn’t want to trace out the pattern to the smaller size lines (I didn’t want to cut it either) so I just made the larger size. I suppose, not surprisingly, it came out big on the top. That’s what I get for laziness! I had to grade out for my hip and that turned just fine.

Simplicity 5556 from 1973

I wouldn’t say it’s unwearable but it does border on being frumpy. My fabric was a knit I picked up at our local weirdo fabric outlet. The print is really cute and wasn’t too hard to work with beyond having a tendency to want to stretch too much when I did them hems. I did a double topstitch as shown on the pattern envelope but you can’t really see it. My awesome new vintage necklace really helps this tunic a lot.

1920s Egyptian Revival Necklace probably made by the Neiger Brothers.  Check out those sarcophagi!

It’s 1920s Czech glass Egyptian Revival most likely made by the Neiger Brothers. I’d never heard of them until last year when I bought another necklace attributed to them. They rarely put maker’s marks on their pieces so it can be hard to tell if a piece is theirs or from a competitor. Neiger pieces are generally better made and more detailed than the knockoffs (as you would expect!) The Neiger Brothers were in production from the 1920s until WWII. Tragically, the Neiger Brothers were killed at Auschwitz. You can read a little about them here.  I love this necklace and my other Neiger piece so much but I do get a tinge of sadness when I wear them.

Simplicity 5556 — maybe with a belt?

I tried the tunic with a belt also. I’m not sure this belt really works? As I worked with this fabric navy dye came off all over my hands and on my white machine. The tunic needs a solo trip in the laundry. Maybe it will shrink somewhat? I think the pattern has potential, and it was definitely “jiffy” as advertised. I guess I just need to trace it out properly. I bought a cute heart sweater knit on sale from Fashion Fabrics Club to give the pattern another go.