• Protected: Toffee Apple Oatmeal Cookies

    Post Image

    This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

  • Hayden Crop Top

    Post Image

    When I very first learned to sew, I was in my early twenties and jumped in with both feet. My mom has always sewn, and both of my grandmothers as well (though they have both done mostly craft sewing for quite a while), and my great-grandmothers, various aunts, you get the idea; I felt like it was in my blood and it shouldn’t be that hard. I asked for a sewing machine for my 21st birthday (Who does that?!) and I bought a couple of easy skirt patterns, along with some pretty cotton fabrics of the quilting variety because I could make whatever I wanted, so why not some overly loud and colorful print that I loved? I went home and cut out my size and sewed it up and pulled it on and it didn’t come past my knees, even though it had an elastic waist.


    The first hard lesson I learned was that one cannot cut out a pattern based on her clothing size as purchased in the mall and mainstream clothing stores. Oh no, my dear, the sizing on the back of an envelope goes off the measurements, like, of your body and stuff. So I borrowed Mom’s tape measure and had her help me measure myself in the correct places, and it put me into a size 12 bottom and a 14 or even 16 top. Folks, this is when I was a babe of 21 a scant size 7/8 in the juniors department, ain’t no way I was going to lay it down with a size 12 anything. Who would ever make herself clothes that say they are a BIGGER SIZE than she actually is? I moved on to bag and pillow making and then sort of abandoned my machine to the back of a closet for a few years.

    Hayden Crop

    Well, some years (and pounds, haaaaha) later, I’ve come to grips with the fact that my size is literally just an arbitrary number that was assigned to a certain set of measurements that some guy put together. Now when I make a pattern, I look at the back of the envelope or PDF file, find the ones that correspond to my person, double check them against the finished garment measurement, and go from there – doesn’t matter if their version of my size is considered a 1 or an F or a 44. I’ve learned that I am top-heavy to say the least and that ‘my size’ spans several of their sizes on most occasions. I’ve also learned that my measurements and another person’s might be identical, but that our bodies are built incredibly differently. The dress size I choose will almost always require me to make the front of the bodice bigger, and someone else with my same measurements might have wider shoulders or a broader back than I do but a smaller bust, and will have to make a whole different set of adjustments to get the same pattern to fit her particular body. Very few patterns just come right off the machine and are perfect from the start, for anyone. Knowing that everyone has to make adjustments was empowering – no one is a perfect size anything, and we are all so different, and all of that is OK!

    Is it a huge pain to have to make a muslin/test version of the garment and then find it doesn’t fit, then make adjustments to the pattern before making up the real version? Sure, sometimes. But on the other hand, you almost always end up with something that fits you perfectly when you take those steps. That old saying that ‘it fits like it was made for me’ is amazing when it’s a real life statement. I’ve never gone through this process and not been more and more pleased with the outcomes of my hard work. Plus, it’s fun!

    Hayden Crop

    This little pattern, the Hayden Crop Top from Seamwork Magazine, is one of the few woven fabric patterns I have that didn’t require any adjustments. Because the top isn’t fitted I made up the size that fit my full bust and it came out just how I wanted it. And yes, girl, a crop top. I’ve found that anyone can wear one, you just have to find the one that you’re most comfortable in. I do have a couple that are fitted that I wear with high-waist full skirts; the Hayden type looks great with high-waist fitted jeans, pedal pushers and shortie shorts in the summertime. I’m outrageously short-waisted so I end up with very little skin showing between the top of my pants and the bottom of my shirt, with just a peek every now and again.

    Hayden Crop

    It’s alluring and dare I say a bit sexy. I’m hard pressed to wear a longer boxy top a lot of the time, because with my big rack it just makes me look shapeless unless I wear a form-fitting bottom and sometimes I just don’t want to. A boxy crop top with a skinny bottom shows off my shape a bit better. Shoot, I even wear this one to work with some slim cut black ponte pants and get a million compliments (I just don’t raise my hand in any meetings, lest I flash the crowd, yikes). The fabric is from a thrift store in town, which I affectionately call the Old Lady Fabric Store as it’s run by the amazing ladies at our local senior center. The shop inventory is all donations and it has some serious gems come through there! I grabbed this piece of woven cotton and another in a dusky-peachy-pink with similar striping in various shades of brown – which I’m going to use to make another one of these tops. I think I’ll have enough left over of both fabrics to draft myself a cute a-line skirt with some patch pockets, and will mix and match the fabrics from both so I will have coordinates. Because I do love wardrobe extenders!

  • Le Bombshell

    Post Image

    Summer strikes fear in the hearts of many, but most especially in those who have not decided to get themselves ‘in shape’ for the summer. I’m going to be real here: the last thing I ever plan to do is drop and give anyone much less myself 20 for the sake of firming up to wear a bathing suit in public. Life is far too short to beat myself up for not having a swimsuit model’s body. And I love food far too much for these types of worries. Let’s transform that energy into something better, like a bathing suit that I have dreamed of for ages.


    Enter the Bombshell bathing suit. This is my second iteration of the suit, I made so many mistakes on my first that it ended up in the trash. I couldn’t even salvage it into View C/bathing suit bottoms, I just freaking blew it from start to finish (which completely pissed me off because I bought my fabric at Britex and that shit wasn’t cheap). This time, I kept the instructions handy, followed Heather’s Bombshell Sewalong to the letter, took my time (the hardest part of all) and had super-duper-success the whole way through to the end.

    The fabric is from Harts Fabric, and the lining is actually nude bathing suit fabric that I picked up somewhere last summer. I had some power mesh left over from my first run on this suit but decided to go with something with more shaping capabilities. The use of two bathing suit fabrics rather than a fabric with a mesh liner means the suit itself is a bit heavy and takes a while to dry, but considering I only really hit the water when its 1,000,000*F, I think I’ll be OK.

    I stitched up View B in a size 16, with the size 18 triangles for the top because trying to wrestle my rack into something smaller didn’t sound fun. I’d rather have a little more coverage than a little more side-action, if you know what I’m saying. I can bend forward as well as lay down on my back in this thing with no one escaping out either the front or the sides. I nearly always have to go up a size in the tops of things – dresses, tops, blouses, etc. – and almost always have to give things a full bust adjustment too. You’d think I’d be used to it by now but I have so many patterns I haven’t made yet because I have to sit down and do math AND I HATE MATH. And geometry = *Shudder*

    I was so proud of myself for making this suit, and felt so confident in it poolside. It took a while to dry as I thought, and if I make it again I’m going to pull the elastic a bit tighter on the front/skirt portion because with all of the ruching I felt that it sagged a bit more than I wanted it to when wet. As we all do when we sew something I was entirely more conscious of this than anyone, and am willing to bet that no one noticed.

    K&L Tap Shorts

    Another fun thing I made for this pool party was my self-drafted caftan (not pictured because I still have to finish the hem, shhhhhdonttellok but I wore it anyway) and the gold hot pants on my sweet birthday princess. She commissioned me to make her gold hot pants for her birthday, and who can turn that challenge down? Again, I got the fabric at Harts, it’s the most amazing gold linen I’ve ever seen. And the pattern is the K&L Tap Shorts, which is one of my favorite patterns for myself and she loved it too. The construction was pretty straightforward, I decided to move the zipper to the back and didn’t think it through ahead of time so it gave me some hives, and the waistband came out, oh, two inches smaller than her waist. I hacked out the sides of the shorts, inserted some elastic and made a tab-over top for that area so they had some peekaboo cut outs on the side. Sexy for her and ass-saving for me, because I didn’t have enough fabric to make another pair should my plan fail me. It worked perfect and she looked A-ma-Zane. (<- yes I can spell, this is a play on her last name). If I can help a birthday girl look like even more of a knockout on her birthday, I’m happy to oblige!

  • Is this thing on?

    Post Image

    Greetings campers! Well, a yearish has passed and here I am, still kicking. Fastest update ever: we moved (does it feel like we’re always moving to you? IT DOES TO ME TOO I HATE MOVING) to my hometown (not far from our old place) into a delightfully drafty barn of a California Craftsman house with the world’s best (Ok, town’s best) front porch and finally, finally a yard again. Life moves pretty fast, but these days it’s really, really good.

    New house came with more bedrooms than our last, which meant I got one as my very own for a sewing and craft room. Spare bedrooms be damned, we used one of them for my space, and the other for Nick’s office, so everyone has a playroom now. Even the kitties.

    Ben and June

    Say hello to Ben (tabby) and June (gray). Boy and girl, lovebug and mouthy. Sweet Ted, alas, has been gone for a year, but is not forgotten, especially because these two are still kittens and complete a**holes half the time; we miss Teddy’s gentle ways and that he’d LISTEN. We did make Teddy’s wish come true, though, and got into this new house and got grass under his paws again before he departed this mortal plane.

    I’ve missed coming here, and have thought about getting the Blog back together for a while. I’m going to swap out though, and forget the cooking, because PLOT TWIST all I do these days is sew in my spare time (and because cooking, yawn). I also garden, and cocktail, and cook because we have to eat, but my passion is sewing. I made the decision a year or so ago that I wanted to start making the majority of my wardrobe because I’m exhausted by shopping,  I’m really not happy about the quality of clothes in my price range, and I gag over the style of things that are my size. I might be considered ‘plus size’ by most American design standards, but at a size 14 I’m Average American Woman Size. And we shouldn’t be relegated to wearing ‘flowy’ long tunic tops littered with bad abstract prints/bedazzling/glitter/shiny crap, ill-fitting jeggings and stretch jeans and empire waist maxi dresses. And folks, that’s about all there is if you’re a size 14 or over, unless you want to go the rockabilly/pinup route and I can’t dress that way every day, I feel like I’m playing dress up and the hairstyles alone are impossible for me to conquer (backcombing gives me hives).

    With the advent of indie pattern companies that taught me how to sew, and a blogosphere filled with crafty curvy ladies that showed me the way, I can get exactly what I want in the color I crave with the fit I deserve by making it myself. And guess what? My zippers lay flat, my waistbands don’t roll, AND MY BUTTONS STAY ON (because goodness why can’t anyone sew on a button and tie a damn knot anymore?). No more gaping busts on shirts, no more flashing my ass when I bend over. No more silent, hot tears in dressing rooms because I can’t find a pair of pants that look nice and fit well, and feeling like less of a person (or a fat cow) because of it. No more feeling of defeat when I spend an entire day driving all over hell and gone looking for a dress for a special occasion and there’s nothing, anywhere, at any price point, that looks good on me. Sewing my wardrobe has been life changing. With sewing comes acceptance of one’s shape: every curve, every line, every inch. You get to know areas of your body that you never gave much though to before, and whether you want to show them off or hide them completely (I’m staring at you, back bacon). I’m confident in a way I haven’t been in so long, I feel beautiful in my handmade wardrobe and good in my skin again.

    So take that, clothing retailers. Take that, and take back that you’ve made me and a million other women that aren’t a single-digit size feel badly about our bodies because you refuse to make things that look good on us and fit well. We shouldn’t have to dress differently just because we’re bigger. We have nothing to hide and love a crop top as much as the next girl. We deserve to feel confident and beautiful in our bodies and have clothing that lets us show the world that we are just that: confident and beautiful. And so I sew, onward and into the wardrobe of my dreams.

    More to come, folks. More to come, and soon.

  • A Coat of Many Colors: The Beginning

    Post Image

    Greetings from Wine Country! I know, I owe you a post about a dress, and I swear it’s almost ready. I finally took pictures of the dress (and no, none with me in it) and need to compile post with pictures. It’s been busy at the ol’ day job lately and by the time I get home at night I am crapped out. This translates to no sewing, definitely no writing, and a lot of ramen for dinner. All of this needs to change!

    Recently, though, I had a fun fabric run. You know how sometimes the universe converges and makes things happen, like you’re sitting at a light on a long street and all of the lights turn green sort of feeling? I had that day. I decided to pull the trigger to make my first coat, (egged on by this post and this post and all the posts) and knew exactly the fabric I wanted to make it from. I’m on a spending sabbatical due to the death of our refrigerator late int eh summer, and have been trying to recoup some funds in not spending any extra money. Obviously I threw this whole business out the door with the run to the fabric shop, but I feel better about it than I thought I would. I’m easily swayed.

    First green light, my boss went to lunch early (which never happens!) so I could sneak out a few minutes before lunch. Please don’t tell on me! I made it to the fabric store in the next town over in record time, no traffic or holdups.

    Another green light: I told the nice lady at the cutting counter how much yardage I needed and there was exactly that amount left on the bolt. I also asked if they happened to have my pattern of choice in the back in the size I needed as it wasn’t in the drawer (which always happens to me) and lo, they actually did.

    Heading to the front register, there was a long ass line there too (everyone and their little purse dog was at the store, I swear) but it actually moved at a regular pace. At the register, my fabric was not only on sale, but so was the pattern and the nice lady running the till gave me a coupon for an additional 20% off my whole purchase. WINNING. I got out the door, and back to work without the boss being any the wiser that I snuck out 5 minutes early, and even got back 5 minutes before my lunch was over. Yes, I’m the type that makes up my time even if no one knows it’s missing, what can I say I’m well behaved.

    With the universe converging and giving me green lights for my first coat. ANLOOKATHISFABRICCCC:


    I know, it’s a little cray. I told myself to make something more sedate, but I already have a long black wool coat, a mid length camel colored coat, and a bunch of little jackets in various colors including denim, velvet, etc. It was time for something lively, you know? And I try as I might to find a single color and be an adult with my fabric and clothing choices, this is why I sew. I don’t want a bunch of solid colored things all the time – I can find that stuff in the wild. When I saw this fabric a while back it called to me, and I’ve been thinking of it ever since. I was so glad there was just enough for my coat. Thank you, Universe!

    A coat of many colors to come!

  • A Personal Challenge

    I’ve made myself a challenge for sewing in the coming month that I’m really excited about. Nick and I are going to Portland and Eugene Oregon for a few days in August for my cousin’s wedding, I’m giddy about the trip because 1) I love weddings, 2) it gives me a chance to sew a fancy dress that is a great stretch of my sewing skills, and 3) we haven’t been on a vacation since our honeymoon. To celebrate all of these fun things, I’m setting forth a bit of a challenge for the 4 day trip: everything I’m wearing (with the exception of shoes, underpinnings and accessories) is going to be me-made, including the bag I’m putting it all in. Tall order? Probably. But it’s forcing me to do a couple things: crank out some comfortable outfits to sit on a plane in, make some cute stuff that packs into a carry-on well but is stylish for running around and vacationing in, and make another pair of cute Lakeside PJ’s because I love the ones I just made and bought some adorable cotton to make another pair. Hooray for unnecessary pressure and deadlines!

    I’ve figured out that I’ll need:

    – A Portside bag to pack my stuff in.
    – Something stylish for the flight, I love dressing up for a mid-day flight, it makes me feel glamorous. I’m thinking my new favorite Hawthorn out of dark blue chambray with the white western snaps. Cute and wears well for a bit of sitting! My only issue: I have to have the backs of my legs covered when sitting, plane seats skeeve me out baaaad. I guess I can sit on something?
    – Something cute to wear out to dinner Thursday night (which could be the same thing I fly in but probably not)
    Lakeside PJs for sleeping and lounging
    – Something for Friday, as we’re kicking around Portland for the day but driving down to Eugene that afternoon. Probably a new knit dress.
    – My new favorite striped linen pants, yet to be blogged because I have to finish them and I want to make a top. But soon!!!
    – Gorgeous lilac Billie Jean and a new wrap that matches for the wedding (!!!)
    – Comfy maxi with a pashmina for the early-ass wake-up call for our flight home on Sunday. Maybe a new Myrtle, extended to maxi proportions? Secret blankie and PJs for the win! Our flight leaves Portland at a reasonable hour, but we have to wake up three hours before that to make it on time as we’re staying in Eugene. Say it with me: Bleurghargarghargh. Early wakeup calls suck.

    So, a bag, a couple dresses, a T-shirt or top, and maybe some pants or possibly a Mabel pencil skirt (they’re just so easy and comfortable this one may win out), and some Lakeside PJ’s. I’ve got some great fabrics I bought a while back that I’m itching to stitch, i just need to find the time to cut out and sew some things up! I’m getting better at cutting things out during the week, so I can focus on sewing on the weekends. I find I’m more productive that way for the most part (but don’t tell the Cambie I have cut out and folded into a basket, half done and waiting to be finished. Wait, maybe that can be one of the things I take!).

    I made most of my Billie Jean dress, and am pretty pleased with it. I had higher hopes for the fabric combo because separately they are amazing, but together they’re rather bridesmaid-y. I guess this means I’ll have to do some playing with accessories to make it feel less so! The fit is incredible, though, and fits just like a wiggle dress should: close and curve-hugging. I have to put the hem on, as well as finish the neck and arm bindings, but that’s about it. I’m thinking shoes + bag + wrap + jewelry will make everything better. That and having on real shoes and doing my face and hair, when I tried the dress on yesterday I was a bit, how do you say, bedraggled looking. Why get dressed up to sew? Hell why get dressed at all, when half the time you’re stripping to try on. I can’t be the only one who sews in her skivvies out there. Sometimes it’s just easier. But look out for stray pins!

    For now, a half done and badly lit phone photo of Billie Jean:

    Billie Jean

    OK now I SWEAR to you the fabric isn’t ombre! The true color of the dress is down at the bottom by the hem, it’s a lovely blue-y lilac-y color. I took three pictures and they all came out like this – I don’t know what gives and couldn’t be bothered to go get my real camera from across the room. Obviously this needs pressing but you get the gist! And she’s a bit boring on the hanger (see above: bridesmaid-y) but on my person? Dangerous curves! You’ll get a picture next month when it’s all dolled up at the wedding. You may even get to see some of my crazy family in those pictures ~ which you won’t want to miss.

    Happy Monday darlings! What are you sewing these days?

  • Tangy Italian Beef Sandwiches

    Post Image

    Man, it’s been a while since I’ve given you all a recipe, huh? I’ve been so absorbed with sewing and sharing my stuff with you, I haven’t been showing you any foodstuffs lately. I swear, we’re still eating! I’ll be honest, I’ve scaled back our grocery shopping budget a bit and have gotten back to front-loading my weeks on the weekend by either grilling a bunch of extra meat, or making a big pasta or slaw salad, or putting some pasta sauce aside for the freezer so we can whip dinner together fast. The impetus of this is, the less I have to do to get dinner ready, the more time I have to sew in the weekday evenings. Selfish motives!

    This weekend I made a big ol’ crock of shredded beef for sandwiches. I do frequent the special discount section of the meat departments looking for gems, and found a great big pack of boneless beef roast for a song. It was nice and lean, and I thought it would be good as shredded beef in the crock pot. A big pot of stuff like this goes a long way, as we’ve talked about in the past, and can be used in tacos, sandwiches, as a baked potato topper, with a bit of rice or noodles, as a nacho topper (OMG, nachooossss) or even by its saucy self with a salad or some fruit. A two pound pack of meaty something makes for at least two if not three meals for us.

    When I crock things, I end up doing Mexican style stuff a lot, it’s just the easiest thing to do. Meat with salsa or tomatoes and Mexican seasonings, a few hours on low, voila, Mexi Meat Shreds. If it’s not Mexican, it’s BBQ shredded something-or-other, or soup, all of which get boring. BO-ring. I’m trying to get more creative with my crock repertoire, if you have anything  fun please send it!

    In an effort to get out of my rut, I consulted Cooking Light and found a great recipe for shredded Italian style beef, which I altered a wee bit to accommodate what I had on hand. Just far enough away from my norm to be interesting! With only a handful of ingredients that are all shelf stable and live in my pantry this is an easy one to make when you don’t want to go to the store for an extra thing to add. Perfecto! The change I made was to the peppers that were required in the recipe as I didn’t have any fresh banana or Anaheim type peppers in my fridge (and rarely do I have these just laying around), instead I used a couple forksful of pickled mild banana pepper rings. Worked out great! I also added a bit more liquid as the recipe didn’t call for anything but the vinegar, and I felt it just needed a bit more to get the right. The results were shredded lovely beefy yumminess. Make immediately.

    Tangy Shredded Beef

    Tangy Italian Beef

    Serves 8-10

    2 ½ lbs. boneless beef roast, on the lean side, cut into cubes
    1 t. olive oil
    ¼ c. pickled pepperoncini slices (I use Mezzetta brand)
    ¼ c. pickled banana pepper slices (again, I use Mezzetta brand)
    ½ c. apple cider vinegar
    1/2 t. Beef Better than Boullion dissolved in ½ c. hot water, or ½ c. beef stock
    1 T. onion powder
    1 T. garlic powder
    Salt and pepper, to taste

    In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, beef stock or water/Better than Boullion, onion powder and garlic powder. Set aside.

    Heat a medium sized heavy skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and swirl to coat. Working in batches, gently salt and pepper the beef bits and sear them on all sides in the hot pan, a couple of minutes per side. Remove from the skillet to your crockpot insert. Repeat until all beef bits are browned.

    To the beef in the crockpot, add the water/vinegar mixture and sprinkle on the peppers. Cover and cook on low setting of the crock for 7-8 hours, until beef is tender and can easily be shredded with a fork. Shred the meat, and serve on your favorite buns (we like ours lightly buttered and toasted under the boiler for added flavor

  • Moneta does Downtown

    As much as I love wovens for dresses, there’s really nothing like a stretchy knit dress. I go through phases of wearing my sweet summery Hazels and Emerys, and a couple of skirts I love, but the knit items I own are always my default. Some days I just want to be comfortable, and while my other dresses are for the most part, knit skirts and dresses and tops are like secret pajamas. They definitely get worn more than some of my other pieces, and this is a hole I want to fill in my handmade wardrobe! My goal is to be able to wear at least one item of handmade goodness every day, and in order to do that I need two things: knits and tops.

    While I’m still searching for a great knit T-shirt pattern (suggestions welcome!), Colette patterns recently released their Mabel and Moneta patterns on the heels of their new book. Colette patterns are far an away my favorite indie pattern company, with beautiful patterns, nicely written instructions, sewalongs for nearly all patterns they have, and a whole host of other helpful things on their website and blog that have turned me into a successful home sewist. Head over and have a look!

    The Mabel skirt is a perfect knit pencil skirt/mini skirt. I wear a lot of minis in the winter over thick tights or leggings, and the pencil skirt is seriously perfect. The Moneta didn’t make her debut until now, because I bought the PDF patterns (love!) and there were about 50 pages to put together for Version 1, which is sleeveless with a cute collar. Colette extended the size range of this pattern to include plus sizes, which meant more pages to print. I was really sad to figure out after hitting print that there were SO many pages I didn’t need to print off – a sizing/printing guide sheet in the pattern instructions would have been a great savings of resources, whether cutting standard or plus sizes out!

    After my round of unselfish sewing for my sweet cousin I decided I wanted a new dress to wear to her graduation party. We live in Sonoma County, which is known to have some pretty serious heat spikes in the summer months, and the weekend of the party was no exception. My aunt and uncle’s house is north of here in Mendocino County, inland area, which is the third circle of hell in the summer. This translates to the forecast was for 105*F the afternoon of the party, and man they weren’t lying! I needed something breathable for the afternoon, and I was cool as a cucumber and thankful for the lining on the dress to absorb the sweat that was running down my back. TMI? Sorry. It happens.

    The Moneta Version 1 pattern itself is comprised of few pieces – a front bodice, a back bodice, a front skirt, a back skirt, and collar pieces if you’re into that sort of thing. I usually am, but the fabric I chose was super slinky and fiddly as shit, I therefore decided to abandon the collar to save my sanity. I have a feeling it wouldn’t have laid right anyway. As I mentioned above it also has a lined bodice, which takes a bit more fabric but because of that it doesn’t have any facings or whatnot for the arm and neck line. There’s great tutorial for attaching the lining to the bodice so it comes out clean and is easy to turn.


    Did I mention the gathered, swingy skirt? I made this dress out of a pretty floral I got at JoAnn’s, I loved the way it felt, so soft slinky, but it wasn’t the highest quality and will fade and pill in no time. No matter, a lot of RTW dresses are made of the same sort of fabric (it’s a cotton/poly/spandex something or other), and if I wear it a dozen times before it fades and pills to ugliness I’ll be happy. I’ll just wash it carefully and hope for the best.

    I already have a couple more of these planned! The pattern has version for short and long sleeves as well, meaning I can make this dress into damn near anything I please without even having to think about it. It sill has that vintagey silhouette with the swingy skirt and fitted bodice, two of my favorite looks. Moneta took me twoish hours start to finish once I got the pattern laid out, I cut and sewed up a Large with no alterations and used my standard sewing machine (which is the only machine I have, no serger yet but maybe someday!) with a ball point needle (I don’t have a double needle yet, either). My Babylock has several stretch stitches built into it which made sewing this and my Mabels a breeze. They take a bit more thread than a standard stitch, but shoot it was so easy I almost didn’t care that I had to rethread my bobbin. Almost.

  • A Tale of Two Muslins: The Start of a Billie Jean

    Post Image

    Success in reaching out to the blogosphere for assistance with my Sewing Terrors! I heard back almost immediately from sweet Lauren of Lladybird fame, and also from the pattern’s designer Abby, both had great advice on my questions about facing the arm holes and necklines. Sewing community for the win!

    Next up I needed to make a muslin of the top (the skirt is a pretty standard . Muslin, toile, practice bodice, fitting version, whatever whatever you call it. I cut out the straight 16 as the finished measurements are my own almost to a T. I like my dress bodices to have very little wearing ease and the 16 was it!

    The bodice consists of 6 total pieces: a center front cut on a fold, two front bodice side pieces, two back bodice side pieces, and two back bodice centers. 5/8″ seam allowance, check. The bodice muslin was quick to cut and sew, and with an added zipper took me no time at all. Snip snap! Then I tried on and it was, ahem, snug. It fit, but man it FIT. As I’m planning to wear this to a wedding there’s going to be drinking, and dancing, and CAKE, and there would have been no eating for two days and certainly nothing eaten at the wedding because it fit just that snugly. I put on my longline bra (which I didn’t immediately put on before trying the muslin) and it bought me some more room, but I don’t want to be a slave to my undergarment and certainly don’t want to be beholden to it if the weather swings toward hot. It’s going to be August, and the likelihood that this will happen is high!

    So, another muslin. This time, I cut the same size out and just shrank my seam allowances from 5/8″ to 3/8″ all the way around, thus buying myself another whole 1 1/2″ all the way around the bodice. Worked like a charm, and is even a bit too big but no matter: on the final garment, I’ll grade the seams from 3/8″ at the top of the bodice to 5/8″ at the bottom, but just on the side seams, to pull the waist in a bit. It’ll be perfect.

    Also, in adding in that wee bit of room at the bust with dropping the seam allowance back, I don’t have to do a FBA to buy my boobs some real estate. It fit perfect!! Winning! Bluegingerdoll patterns drafts for a D cup on all sizes of all garments, so this worked out perfect. Love!

    What does this all mean? It means I can move in to Real Dress territory very, very soon! I have to wash my fabrics and iron them and from there, we’re moving forward.

    Since muslin pictures are boring and I am not well versed at the whole Selfie taking thing (I’ve never been a fan of this movement and thus am not practiced), here’s a picture of Ted, convalescing in his little collar bandage:


    At least it wasn’t a Cone of Shame. He’s had a rough couple months with a thyroid problem, and we finally ponied up for surgery for it last week. They ended up having to remove it completely! This picture was a few days ago, the bandage is off now and he’s on the mend, sassy and bossy cat as usual. He looked like nine miles of hard road when he got home, they shaved his belly, two spots on two different legs, and of course the whole area under his chin down to his little kitty chest (thus rendering his pretty white tuxedo buzzed). Poor little old man. Apparently the thyroid problem is really common in older cats and especially males, which attributes to their weight loss as they age. It goes undiagnosed a lot of the time, with folks just thinking their cats are getting skinny because they’re getting old as cats do, but it’s something that can easily be fixed and gives your cat a lot more happy years. Left unattended they will, how do we say politely, die from it due to malnutrition despite your best efforts to fatten them back up. Who knew?! He ate like a horse and lost weight anyway, which are the two biggest indicators of this. Something to keep an eye out for in older kitties!

    Public service announcement over, give your kitties a big hug! More on this dress in the coming weeks!

  • The Color of Fear

    Post Image

    This, folks, is the color of fear for me:

    Fearful Fabrics!

    How can something in such a gorgeous palette become something that makes my tummy upset? I’ll tell you: Sewing Terrors! They strike me every time I’m working with a fabric I’ve never worked with before (the lace in this instance), a pattern with a technique I’ve never used before (the Billie Jean pattern, with princess seams, which I’ve decided this fabric was born to be. Pencil skirt version of course!), or an indeterminate other issue, in this case, underlining the bodice of the dress because it’s lace and I don’t want to see the raw edges in between the layers. Underlining I’m certain I can do, the bemberg lining I chose is giving me hives because it’s a bit slippery but it’s so amazing, I’ll go slow and get it it all cut and stitched together. That part doesn’t scare me TOO bad. That’s a Sunday afternoon with a couple glasses of bubbles and an old movie, NBD.

    The princess seams I believe I can tackle, solely because I know I’ll get the perfect wiggle dress fit with them. A girl with an ample bosom loves these types of seams for the many types of small adjustments she can make to the bodice to get The Fit. Between that and my very Joan Harris longline bra I’ve got this in the bag. Breathe (well, not with that longline on but whatevs), make muslin, and move forward with caution. Start with an FBA and I’m well on my way.

    (Dude, whaddabouthevelvet?) Oh, that! I rediscovered it while digging in my fabric stash for a piece of fabric for my mom last weekend. I completely forgot I had it, I got it at the Goodwill for like $3. No shit! Silk velvet, too. I need to find a lining for it but it’s going to be awesome. Thinking of making an Ava! Stoked on this bit.

    The clean finished armholes on the dress are leaving me flummoxed. I’ve reached out to a few of the ladies in the stellar sewing community of the Inter-Tubes and know I’ll get something great back. I can feel it. I also have a couple of sewing resources locally I can track down if I feel I need to roll the dice again, or if I need hands on help. I’m broadening my horizons! Breathe in, breathe out.

    Oh, and one more thing, I’m hand-picking the zipper, which I think will actually be EASIER than any zipper I’ve ever installed to date. I can almost never get those damn things to line up, and I don’t want any unevenness anywhere on this, I want it to be perfect! Plus, that way there won’t be a visible stitch line (and fuck lapped zippers, I’m not even ready to go back there yet). I have some pretty silvery beads I can use along with the picking that I think will be gorgeous.

    I’m biting off a lot with this dress, but I think I’m ready for it. I’ve upped my sewing game a lot in the last two years and it’s time to cut my teeth on some new things. It’s for a wedding we’re going to in late August, so I have time and am not working on a short-ass deadline like usual (what? I work amazingly well under pressure, especially if it’s self-inflicted). I sew for catharsis, not for stress, so when I push myself into a project like this I sometimes have to remind myself that this is fun, I’m doing this because I enjoy it, and the world won’t end if something isn’t quite perfect. Patience is not my strong suit.

    You might see these fabrics again over the next two months as I learn some things, and I can’t wait to show you the end result. Stay tuned!