Monthly Archives: August 2008

Bad sewing

I was really looking forward to finishing the Kimono Dress today but ended up hemming a big pile of pants for the coaches of my alma mater’s football team instead. How did this happen, you ask? Well, a couple of months ago The Boyfriend called me from school and said they wanted to order some pants from Nike that were only available unhemmed. Since the pants would not arrive until the week before their game in Cincinnati (the Herbstreit Classic if you follow high school football) next Saturday they were wondering if I’d be willing and able to hem them all. No small job with a 17-man coaching staff! Of course I couldn’t say no, with the exception of The Boyfriend most of these coaches have been there since I was a student more years ago than I care to admit. All I can say is thank goodness I have the blindstitch machine!



Filed under This and that


Look what I found on Ebay this morning! It’s not McCalls 5490 but it’s close and it’s close to my size so I bought it.


Here’s 5490 for comparison:


Mary also graciously loaned me the maternity version of 5490 so I can compare all of the bodice pattern pieces and make changes if I want to. The only real differences I see are the center front seam on the bodice and the amount of gathering but it will be fun to compare.

Funny thing is that I, for some reason, think I’ve owned this vintage Simplicity pattern. I’ve looked through my patterns and don’t see it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hiding around somewhere! It’s true what they say: the mind is the first thing to go!


Filed under Patterns, vintage

Working on…

Today I’m working on the Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Wrap Dress. This has been cut out for awhile and was supposed to be sewn up on Saturday but then I had that run-in with the polyester stretch satin. You know what they say about the best-laid plans! Once I finish this dress the Stripe-a-licious top will be up next – I promise.



Filed under Hot Patterns

Silk Jersey Top – Finished!

Warning, a lot of F-bombs were dropped in the making of this top. Not to worry, no one heard me. I know what you’re thinking: that silk jersey was a bear to work with, right? Actually, the silk jersey was a joy to sew. It was the !/?#**! stretch satin that I used for the (uncorded) piping that caused me so much grief! I decided that the main print needed some sort of “border” to set it off so I started searching through my stash for a suitable black fabric. In my binding bin I found an 1/8 of a yard of black polyester stretch satin, obviously bought specifically for this purpose.

Sure, it looked innocent enough but it was horrible to work with necessitating a lot of reverse sewing. In my frustration I decided to handbaste (shocking, isn’t it?) the piping because surely this would result in perfection, right? Wrong! It seemed that no amount of pressing or basting could tame this beast. I spent so much time ripping and resewing the sleeve piping on what should have been a quick project. There are still a couple of areas on the underside that look a little wonky but I decided that enough was enough. No one is going to notice! Shoot, I probably won’t even notice. Funny enough, the neckline facing went smoothly. If I had anymore of this awful stuff I would promptly toss it in the trash!

So, finally, here it is. Once I get over my trauma I know I will love this and wear it often. I think the fabric really makes it.


Neckline detail. I cut the facings on the bias for interest.


I used the Coats & Clark Fine thread on this project. You can see how fine it is here.


I did enjoy watching the first season of The Tudors while I was sewing. I picked it up on a whim a few months ago and just started watching it this week. I am hooked! I can’t wait until Season 2 comes out on DVD (October 2008 ) so I can catch up before Season 3 starts.



Filed under Fabric, This and that

A few of my favorite things…

I received a request today from Diane in Michigan:

“Could you talk a bit about some of your preferences: i.e. elastic, interfacing, thread, etc. I want to stock up and have just recieved an email regarding a sale on Pro Stretch elastic, which I’ve never used before. Also, I’m looking for quality interfacing, especially for knits. What are your favs?

It doesn’t take much to get me to talk about some of my favorite sewing supplies!


*Pro-Stretch Elastic from Sew Exciting

*Stitch-Through Elastic from Casual Elegance (this is the Loes Hinse elastic)

These elastics can be trimmed down to a narrower width because they are knitted!

*1/4″ plain-edge knitted lingerie elastic – fantastic for necklines on knit tops! I can usually find it at JoAnn’s (I try to buy an entire roll if they have it)


All Palmer Pletsch interfacings – the Sheer is my favorite. It is a very light, yet crisp, knitted interfacing. I’d buy Sheer by the bolt if I could!

All interfacings from Sew Exciting
– these are a Sewing Diva favorite!


*Mettler Metrosene long-staple polyester for general sewing

*Gutermann long-staple polyester when I can’t find the right color in Mettler

*Coats & Clark Fine Thread for lightweight fabrics and fine shirtings. It’s located at the top of the C&C rack.

*Guterman silk-thread for basting and sewing wools – it melds right into the fabric

*Gutermann topstitching thread – comes in a ton of great colors

*YLI Jeans thread – Some funky colors and variegated shades for topstitching

*Woolly Nylon for use on the bobbin when twin-needle stitching

*Mettler Metrocor serger thread. It’s so smooth and fine you can also use it on your regular machine for lightweight fabrics.

*Maxi-Lock cone thread. Not my #1 choice but it works well and is readily available in a wide selection of colors – about 99% of my cone thread is Maxi-Lock.

*Gutermann upholstery thread is a wonderful strong thread for sewing upholstery, leather purses and even for topstitching. Keep in mind that not all domestic machines will like sewing with heavy thread (I use an industrial) so test first.

Other favorite notions:

*Steam-A-Seam Lite 1/4″ – I love this stuff! If you have trouble with wavy hems on your knits you can fuse the hem up with SAS before stitching. Unlike most fusible products your fabric will retain it’s stretch due to the honeycomb construction of the tape. There is a double-stick version available – Steam-A-Seam Lite 2.

*Clover bias tape makers – accept no substitutes, the ones from Dritz don’t even come close.

*Gingher Appliqué scissors – I could not live without at least two pair because I’m always misplacing them. I had the bill rounded on one pair to avoid catching/snagging knit fabrics.

*Olfa Ergonomic Rotary Cutter – don’t know how I ever lived without it! I put my dull blades in a separate cutter marked for paper use – great for trimming patterns and photos.

*Fine pins from Japan – anything else feels like a nail to me. Stock up when you find them! Clover Patchwork Pins are really nice too. Even finer than the Japanese pins, I keep a box around for chiffons.


Filed under Notions

Sometimes I amuse even myself

Remember this “vintage Goddess dress” pattern I bought a few days ago? It arrived yesterday in all of it’s fabulousness!


Hehe, look what I then found when I was tidying up my sewing room:


Well, you know, I guess I like what I like! I vaguely remember buying this a few years ago. It is copyright 1974, the other is 1976. At first glance they appear identical but there are some minor differences:

*Simplicity 7805 has a raglan sleeve in the front vs. McCall’s 4288’s set-in sleeve
*Simplicity 7805’s tie buttons or hooks at the center back vs. being tied in the McCall’s pattern
*The sleeves are different



I can see making them both so they’re both staying! As an aside, notice the price difference. In 1974, the McCall’s cost $1.25. In 1976, the Simplicity cost $1.75. I remember when I first started sewing Vogue designer patterns started around $5.00 – I thought that was a small fortune (I could drive to school for a week on $5 worth of gas!) but I bought them anyway.


Filed under Patterns, vintage

Silk Jersey Top

My silk jersey arrived from Gorgeous Fabrics last night so I am working on the top today. Because dry-clean-only tops are not very practical in a hot climate like mine I wanted to test the jersey for washability. I cut a 4″ square and washed it in shampoo (Orvis is also wonderful but I didn’t feel like dragging the big jug out) to check for shrinkage, color loss and change of hand. I even tossed the swatch into the dryer with some towels – I’d never do that in real life but it’s good to give your fabric the worst treatment at the fabric preparation stage (especially important for those of you with husbands or other laundry “helpers” ). The swatch came out great, just a tiny bit of shrinkage as you can see below. So I washed the yardage and dried it on a low setting. I want to add that I have a front loading washer which is very gentle on clothes. I would not wash this in a regular agitator washer unless it was in a lingerie bag. Otherwise I’d hand wash. Of course, you want to do your own test to be sure you like the results.


This jersey is very fine so I chose a fine thread and a size 10 jersey needle. The thread I’m using is shown below. Ordinarily, I really dislike Coats & Clark thread but I am crazy about their fine thread! It is smooth and even and works wonderfully with chiffons, crepe de chines, fine shirtings, etc. On this jersey it practically disappeared into the fabric. Every time JoAnn’s has a thread sale I stock up. The color selection used to be very limited but they’ve expanded the line so I’ve been able to add some great new colors to my collection. The new spool is shown on the left, the old one is on the right. Notice the difference in yardage on the two spools – I’m getting 125 yards less than I used to and now it’s made in Mexico!


Once again, I cut single layer to give me more control over the pattern placement. I wanted a black stripe going down the center rather than two black stripes going over each breast – more slimming. Since the design is not symmetrical, I had to cut one piece upside down so that I would have a nice blending of the pattern over the shoulder. The only way to get an exact match, of course, is to have a center back seam which I did not want. I’m happy with the way it turned out.



Filed under Fabric, Sewing Projects