Category Archives: misc.

Update on Winnie

Sad to say, Winnie’s blood tests point to either mutiple myeloma (a form of cancer) or FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). Dr. Kelly and I decided there is no point in further testing at this time because there isn’t a cure for either one. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a character like little Whiskers. She is truly a one in a million cat who is very dog-like and endears herself to everyone she meets. How many cats run to the door when the bell rings? Or look up at you and engage you in animated conversation during your evening walk through the garden? Or take bubble baths? Thirteen years just doesn’t seem like enough time, you know?


Filed under misc.

Just checking in…

I apologize for being such a bad blogger this past month. I had company and then I was enlisted to make curtains for my son’s restaurant (not done yet, sigh). Additionally, I have been filling in more at my friend’s shop and am preparing for a workshop with Susan Khalje at the end of the month – life has been very, very busy!

And, just to prove that when it rains it really does pour, Mrs. Winnie Whiskers became quite ill over the weekend. She spent the day at the animal hospital yesterday where many tests were performed. The usual suspects (kidneys, thyroid, FIV, FLV) have been ruled out leaving, unfortunately, the possibility of more serious illnesses. She is home, on antibiotics and IV fluids. I am praying that she bounces back as I don’t know what I’d do without her. She is such a funny, sweet little kitty and is certainly the Court Jester of Casa Louis, keeping us in stitches with her antics.


Filed under misc.

A little sewing, a little DIY

I had some large scraps of fur left from my recent vest project so I thought it would be fun to make a removable collar and cuffs for one of my RTW jean jackets.

I started by pinning the collar to a cardboard cutting mat and tracing all around.


I used my needlepoint tracing wheel to mark the collar seam. Do not use this tool on delicate fabrics!


Next, I trued the edges and added 1/8″ ease all around (including the neckline seam which isn’t shown in this pic).


Then I pinned the paper pattern onto the collar to check the fit. The front of the collar fit fine with enough extra ease to accomodate the bulk of the fur.


I needed more length for the fall of the collar all across the back as you can see here.


I then redrew my pattern, adding 1/4″ seam allowances all around. I drafted a diagonal patch to be sewn across the corners of the collar to conceal the original collar. Okay, I had to laugh here at the word “colla” – sometimes my brain gets ahead of my pen and my writing trails off into nothingness. I often stare at it later wondering what it was I meant to say.


Here’s the patch piece opened up as it will be cut out of the lining fabric.


Once I had the fur cut out I tested it on the jacket and decided I didn’t like this particular fur on this jacket so I’m going to cut another one out of a shorter-haired fur from my stash. Stay tuned!


I’m also keeping busy trying to get little things done around the house. I finally put the umpteen boxes of Christmas decorations up in the attic a few days ago, what a chore. Today, I put small marble shelves up in my bathroom to give me a little extra storage. The brackets came from Lowe’s and were originally gold so I spray painted them with Valspar’s Churchill Hotel Vanilla to match the walls. The “shelves” are actually pieces of Travertine leftover from my bathroom remodel. I used the width (18″) and cut them 8″ deep with my wet saw. They are attached to the brackets with dabs of silicone. Easy-peasy!



Filed under Embellishments, misc.

McCall’s 5860 – Part I

Today I am working on this Palmer/Pletsch jean jacket. Yes, I have a long list of things to sew but this is a store sample for my friend’s shop and I want to bring it with me on Monday evening (my last Beginning Sewing class). I’m using a TDF laminated cotton/linen from Elliot Berman Textiles which is in the washer as we speak.


Look at this unexpected surprise I received yesterday! I am so excited about this because I’ve been wanting one for a year and a half. I know what you’re thinking: meh, it’s a commercial straight stitch foot, big deal.


Actually, it is a big deal – it’s a paperweight! My friend received one just like it from one of the sewing machine suppliers in 2008 and I’ve been threatening to lift it since. Now I have my own!



Filed under McCall's, misc., Year of the Jacket

Bird Blouse

I finished up my voile “bird blouse” today. I just love it, it is going to be so cool to wear this summer. Again, the pattern is Simplicity 3786, which I have made several times before. This was a Summer 2009 favorite! The fabric came from Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics.


My favorite part of the pattern is the tucked front. I press-mark these tucks, making sure to measure carefully, because they are difficult to mark well on these lightweight fabrics.


As to the Wax Incident, I was able to get the wax out but not the remaining ring and stain so the dress is history. No worries, I’m over it now and will make it again after the 4th.

Last Sunday, I removed the drill cover from my pressing board and discovered that the wax had not only bled through both layers of drill but also through my padding so I was forced to start from scratch. Once I get the padding on the board I staple the first layer of drill on. The 2nd layer is then duct-taped on. When it gets dirty, I don’t have the tedious task of removing staples and can easily pull the cover off. I bought my drill at JoAnn’s and it is about the worst quality I have ever used. Get it somewhere else if you can.


Parting shot: A little unemployment humor from today’s Miami Herald. I’ve had a lot of experience with the latter in my personal life so it made me LOL! ;-)



Filed under misc., Simplicity

Pique Simplicity 2443 – Final

Woohoo, I am back on track now! I have eight jackets left and, counting May, eight months to make them. I was going to make the HP Wrapture jacket next but it’s so blistering hot that I may work on something else instead. But, first, I have to finish up the Princess shirt tutorial for my Etsy shop (which I hope will be this week!).

I had a tough time deciding on a closure for this jacket. Finally, last night – after a tall gin and tonic – I pulled the trigger!




Love, love, love the d-rings on the sleeves!


The directions instruct you to turn under the raw edges of the loop and topstitch it down. Binding the end with bias is much neater and less bulky, don’t you think?


Parting shot: I’ve got orchids galore! Here are just a few of my lovelies (the oncidium plants blessed me with hundreds and hundreds of little “dancing ladies” this year!):





Filed under misc., Simplicity, Year of the Jacket

Window treatments – Final

I dragged myself out to Home Depot in a monsoon this morning to buy a decorative rod for the bathroom. I did manage to finish the valance – what took the most time was deciding on a design – with the polyester fabrics fighting me the entire way! (Please note that JoAnn’s still has this fabric in other colorways – do not be seduced by it’s beauty, walk on by!)


I use a lot of polyester knits and find them very easy to sew but poly wovens, argh. Give me natural fibers any day! Ultrasuede is generally very easy to sew but this is Facile (I think the new name is Ultrasuede Light) and it’s a tad too drapey for this type of treatment. Not it’s fault, it just happened to be the right color for this project! The embroidered poly really pushed the limits of my new boiler iron and still there are puckers. Oh well, it’s up and the rest of the fabric is in the trash.


My neighbor gave me this air plant mounted on a cedar slab. How nice is that? Air plants live on just that – air. It appears to have some sort of flower stalk so I can’t wait to see how that develops. The cedar was from the wall unit I demo’d in my living room awhile ago. I gave some of it to my neighbor and the rest to a friend’s dad. Woodworkers don’t turn down good wood anymore than we’d turn down good fabric!



Filed under misc., Sewing for the Home

Clothes on Film

I just discovered this fabulous website about – what else? – clothes on film. And, who should be right at the top of the front page but my secret lover Daniel Craig! Sigh. If you’re not a Bond fan, just scroll down to read about the Grace Kelly exhibit and do check out the post about Mia Farrow’s red silk chiffon pyjamas from Rosemary’s Baby.

Sorry, there has been no leisure sewing here. Between the house and still looking for a job (which is totally freaking me out!) I’ve been a little busy. I have managed to get most of my new closet shelving hung and some of my clothing moved back in. I felt that just having someplace to put my clothes and be organized would maybe help me feel a little more in control of my life. Let’s hope!


Filed under misc.


Tany’s new blog is up!

Tany et la mode


Filed under misc.

Simplicity 2443 – Part VI

I mentioned what I like to call the “Magic Placket” a couple of days ago. I learned it from Nancy Zieman eons ago and I think it’s been around for some time. It is super easy but works best with lightweight fabrics (like fine shirtings). My linen was borderline too heavy for this technique but it wasn’t anything a couple of whacks from the clapper couldn’t fix. I apologize in advance for all the little threads – I don’t know why I didn’t notice them before I started taking pictures (maybe because I’m too vain to wear glasses…).

Here’s my sleeve pattern. Notice that the placket area is a box. If your pattern is different, just draw your own box. The stitching line would be the finished width (I like 3/4″ to 1″ but you can make it narrower if you like) and then you just add on 1/4″ seam allowance.


How wide to cut the placket piece? You will cut a strip twice the width of your finished placket plus two seam allowances. For instance, if your placket is going to be 3/4″ wide you would cut a piece 2″ wide (3/4 + 3/4 + 1/4 + 1/4). I like to cut the piece longer than what I need and trim off the excess when I’m finished.

Before you begin, turn under 1/4″ on one of the long edges of your placket.


And staystitch the top of the placket box and clip into the corners. I confess that I only staystitch on loosely woven fabrics and don’t usually bother on tightly-woven shirtings.


Now you can straighten out the seam and stitch. I like to sew the right side of the placket to the wrong side of the sleeve so that I can do my final edgestitching from the right side. If you prefer to do it the opposite way, that’s fine too.


Once the placket has been attached, press the seam allowances towards the placket.


Turn the sleeve over and just cover your stitching with the folded edge. Edgestitch and press.


Now for the magic part:


Finally, you can topstitch the placket any way you wish.


Isn’t this so much easier than this?


And, to prove that good things come to those who patiently wait, my friends Jim and Tom found this gorgeous slab (oops, it’s a little wet from the sprinklers) for my bathroom vanity for practically nothing! I had originally chosen a brown granite but I decided that a light countertop would look better on the dark vanity. With sinks and labor, this will cost a fraction of what I was quoted. I just love it when a plan comes together!


Parting shot:

My bottlebrush tree is blooming! This one’s still a baby. I lost my old one during hurricane Wilma (some of you may remember that it crashed into my car) and it took two years to find another one. Every time I look at it, it makes me happy.



Filed under House, misc., Simplicity, Year of the Jacket