Sewing, Knitting, Dogs

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where the SewJo Went

I've been giving this quite a bit of thought and I've figured out where my desire to sew went.  It's hiding under a huge pile of UFOs.  Thankfully - they aren't flying.  So - what's got me so overwhelmed and how do I get past it?
half and 3/4 circle skirts
for The Musical One

Circles for The Princess
1. Circle skirt project.  I started this for a couple of reasons.  a.  I wanted a good visual of the different circle skirt options and b.  thought it would make a good CSC post.  At this point - I have 5 of 6 circle skirts made.  I ruined the full circle skirt for The Musial One when I put the zipper in.  All skirts need hems.

2.  Hubby's anniversary shirt.  I bought 3 lengths of fun, conversation prints to make JB bowling style shirts last summer.  The first one was to have been done for the Bridal Showerl last August (but I didn't have enough fabric to pattern match and had to order more).  In the midst of my crazy Christmas Crafting I cut out 1 shirt for JB and have been slowly sewing it up.  Stalled because I'm past the deadline - hoping to finish in time for him to wear to see Dirty Dancing at the end of the month.  Were I'm at now?  needs sleeve hems, buttonholes & buttons. 

I spent an hour tonight after dinner and before right now working on this shirt.  The pattern match is pretty good across the front, but not perfect.  It's horrible at the sides and what do you do across the sleeves?  Seriously?!  Anyway - all it needs now is buttons and buttonholes.  I have a few choices - what do you all think?  From left to right:  Taupe (I think my preference); 2 hole black; 4 hole black; 2 hole wood, 4 hole bleached wood.

3.  My Christmas dress.  I was heavily influenced by Tanya and her lovely dresses.  Then I got an email from with 'sparkly' material.  I cannot turn away from sparkles (apparently, I'm turning into a crow in my old age!).  I had the pattern already.  Where I'm at and why am I stalled?  See #2 above - past the holidays, but again, might be appropriate to wear at the end of the month.  Stalled because I didn't read the directions and did the collar wrong - which has since been fixed. So much left to do:  set in sleeves, buttons, buttonholes, add skirt, add side zipper; hem.  About 3 hours of work.  I'm shocked by how much and at the same time, rather amazed at how little I can get done in 60 minutes.  But I guess every seam I get done is one less to do, right?

4.  Machine Embroidered (Late) Holiday Gifts.  anytime you add late.  Stalled because my computer stopped talking to my dongle.  Have to take computer to sewing machine dealer to figure it out.  Think my dongle is corrupt - don't want to deal with it.

5. I have 5 other dresses and a top cut out.  Stalled because - well because.  For me - anytime something is pre-cut and I don't get to it right away it hangs over my head and makes me feel guilty!  I get to the point where I don't want to make them up - don't care if they ever become clothes in my closet.  The guilt stops me from walking into the room. But some of these dresses I really, really want to wear - the color blocked dress is there and a lovely fallish printed corduroy Odette, a myrtle and a boucle sheath dress.  

So - do you know what makes your SewJo go missing?  

Monday, January 05, 2015

Last Dress of 2014

This is the last dress I made in 2014 - although it wasn't the last thing that I made in 2014.  If you follow me on instagram, you saw my holiday to make list - this was one of the 'for me' items and the only one I got completed.  

The pattern is McCalls 6713 - but I made changes to the pattern.  The funny thing is - Angie sent me the same pattern as part of the Curvy Sewing Collective Secret Santa - Thanks Angie!!  

The fabric is an ITY that I bought from Fabric Mart and it screamed Pretty Woman to me.  It got made up quick!

So - I mentioned that I made changes to the pattern.  What where they you ask?  

First - this is not the first time I've made this dress.  I have 3 other versions in my closet, although only one has the hip flounce thing.  The first version I made I retraced the skirt front using the center front line as a cut on fold line.  I used that skirt piece for this version.  I lengthened the skirt by 2" and I think the length is quite nice.  

I added pockets.  The only thing I ever put in my pockets is my hands  - but how did I live without them?

Final - doing it my own way change?  I cut two of the underlap bodice piece.

When sewing it up - I pleated the front shoulder excess into the shoulder seam rather than gathering it.  In the other versions - the shoulders feel bulky.  I like this.  Also - because I only used the underlap pattern piece, the sides are pleated into the side seams.  I also cut this version a size smaller than previous versions.  

It looks like it might be a bit too tight in these photos, but it's not and I'm not self-conscious while wearing it.   

Finally - for Nessa - Posterior for  Posterity.  

Final thoughts - I really like this dress.  It feels grown up and classy (please don't burst my bubble if it doesn't look this way!).  The skirt has just enough fullness to be really swishy, but I don't really have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction and the crossed bodice lays flat against me.  

It's nice to think about how I wanted something to look and then to make it happen!  

Feels good to be blogging again - I keep saying that - and then just fall right back out of it.  I'll try to do better in 2015!  Happy New Year everyone.  

Monday, December 08, 2014


Honestly - I have been sewing.  My huge, long to do list is completely overwhelming me and I sit in the living room after work and knit - which is fine because I still have a bunch of that to get done before the holidays as well.

In late October - I tested Violet for Abby of Blue Ginger Doll.  Some changes were made during the testing process and I can't actually tell you if my dress is similar to the pattern or just a complete departure.  

Color blocking is a very new thing for me and I'm not sure how or where or how much color blocking to add.  The main fabric is a chocolate brown knit with ivory and blue polka dots.  The fabric was purchased from Fabric.Com and is lovely.  It's swishy and has a great hand.  I bought a thin blue knit and used it for the yoke as well as the pockets (not in the original pattern, but since sewing Odette, I find I need pockets in everything!) - so I drafted some and added them.

While making this dress, I really, really, really tried to make friends with the coverstitch setting on my new to me serger.  I did not win.  In fact - my machine is still at the doctor, should be coming home next week.

Anyway - I highlighted all the yoke seams with blue double needle stitching.  Because I believe accents should be done in threes - I bound the sleeve hems and neckline edges with the blue knit as well.

I chose the full skirted, short sleeved options.  Short sleeves are my default these days.  

This dress goes together quickly and easily.  I'd like to try the pencil skirt version - not sure it's gonna happen in 2014 - but I will get to it.  You know, as long as I'm not distracted by the new shiny pattern.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vogue 8944 - Again with the Catchy Title!

 Hey - I made a new dress!  

This is Vogue 8944 and the fabric is a great ponte that Kashi of Metro Textiles talked me into.  If you've been following this blog for long - then you know I don't wear a lot of solids.  For whatever reason - I feel big as a barn in solids.  Anyway - I was going to pass on this fabric, but Kashi and JB talked me into it.  

This dress had it's problems.  I cut it out according to my measurements. A straight size 22.  I did not trace all the pieces - what was I thinking?  I traced the skirt pieces - front and back because I was making it in a knit and didn't need a center back seam in the skirt and I did need to lengthen the skirt - I added 3" and put in a 1.5" hem.  The pattern calls for a 5/8" narrow hem, so I took a bigger hem than called for - but I think it suits this fabric.  I also made a sway back adjustment to the back bodice and made up a sleeve length (I cut at the lengthen/shorten line).  The sleeves are even - I'm not standing straight.

Anyway - I put this together with my serger and topstitched the seams per the instructions.  Got it all done and it was too big.  Enough that when I went to show JB even he noticed.  That was Sunday night - after spending my weekend sewing time going to Costco, doing laundry, starting the flannel pants factory, and working on the circle skirt project - I wanted to make something for me!  Something new, quick and easy.  This dress felt like it should fit the bill.  So - I hung it up and went to knit.  

On Monday - I decided to finish it so I could wear it to work today.  First - I took it in, 2" at the bust on both sides (yep - that's 4" smaller!) tapering to nothing at the hip and out to the bottom of the sleeve.  The fit is much, much better.  

Notes for next version:

    • Cut the shoulders at a size 14 width
    • Cut the sides at a size 18: width
    • Cut the center front bodice just slightly off the fold
    • Add just a bit more length to the skirt

And this is how I wore it to work - with a skinny taupe belt, a cardigan purchased at Target, and a pair of boots.  I also wore the locket that Beau bought me for Christmas last year - I love this locket!  I have to say - all in all - even with it's flaws - I really like this dress.  The skirt is flirty and feminine without being too full.  Even in the solid - I didn't feel huge.  There will be more dresses from this pattern.  
In fact - the next version will be color blocked with 2 solids and a print.  Oh - and with the leftovers of this fabric?  (Yes, I bought 5 yards of the fabric I wasn't sure I wanted.  I have recently figured out that I can get a dress and a magic pencil skirt for one [or both] of my girls from 4 yards.)  I bought the paprika patterns Jade Skirt - because of this post on the CSC.

I have big plans for the long weekend that's coming up - big plans I tell you!  Flannel pants, color blocked dress, pencil skirt, another Violet and another Odette (which is cut out).  I also have a Myrtle cut out - but I'm not loving the fabric, so who knows.       

And for Nessa - here's a posterior for posterity.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Bride's Shawl

The knitting started with a request from The Princess - she wanted a large - large round shawl.  We both trolled Ravelry trying to find a pattern and ultimately she settled on Girasole by Jared Flood.  Actually - let's back up - it all started because of that award winning shawl I knit for a bride last summer.  I honestly don't remember if The Princess was even engaged when I knit that shawl, but once engaged, once of the first things she asked for was a shawl.  Next - I reached out to my friend Gyspy Knits who is an amazing dyer, but isn't really dying yarn any longer and asked if she'd be interested in dying the yarn for the shawls.  She was and did.  We sent her a sample of the bridesmaids colors and asked for ghost colors.  GyspyKnits did an amazing job.

The Princess asked for a few things - she specified a pattern and asked that the shawl be huge.  I knit my shawl which was also round, to work out construction and bought the Elizabeth Zimmerman book to figure out Pi Shawl construction.  I also reached out to the Jared Flood team to see if there was a way to make it even bigger.  Oh and I stalked each and every girasole made on Ravelry and read the notes for everyone who made theirs bigger. 

 I knit the center exactly as written.  There really was no way to increase in the center.  I knit as many extra repeats of Chart E as I could, knit 3 repeats of Chart F, then I knit as many increases of Chart G as I could until I had to repeat again.  Then I knit 3 repeats of Chart H and honestly I was worried I was going to run out of yarn.  The Princess was home in late August and I had her choose between the edging pattern called for in the pattern, or the same edging used on all the bridesmaids' shawls.  She (of course) chose the matching edging - of course it was the more difficult and complex edging.  I think there was 1600 stitches around in the last 18 rounds.  The edging took 2 rows to bind off a single stitch.  I honestly thought I was going to the wedding nekkid because I did not start my dress until this shawl was finished!

Once the shawl was completely finished - the decision was made not to block it.  Blocking would open the lace up in the center a lot more, but as you can see when the shawl is draped over my coffee table - the sunflower in the center stands out.  The shawl is quite large without being blocked - The Princess is almost 5'11" and folded in half, the shawl stretches from finger tip to finger tip and hangs down past her knees.  What was done instead of blocking was the edging was just steamed out to open it up without really making it any bigger.  

I think The Princess liked it and it was exactly what she wanted.  I don't know how she'll use it from her on out - but I expect to someday get a photo of a baby wrapped in this shawl.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Long Time - No Post

It reaches a point when you haven't blogged in a while where you wonder - do I want to blog?  Do I start where I left off or start where I am now and just catch up or carry on?

Well - I do want to blog.  I miss being in this place.  I believe I'll just start with where I am now and maybe catch up - or maybe not.

I have been sewing - though not loads.  September and October were busy months with a visit from the kids (catch up post) and a wedding and vacation.

I made my mother of the bride dress.  I started it the first weekend in September and worked on it every moment I wasn't working the entire month.  I finished hemming it the night before we flew out.

I also knit 7 shawls - one for the bride, one for each bridesmaid and one for each of the mom's (mother of the bride, mother of the groom, and the bride's step-mom).

I did loads of things I've never done before when sewing.  I underlined the entire dress with organza, hand basting the organza to the silk dress with silk thread before cutting each piece from the silk.  I wish I had had more time, to do a test run of the techniques, because while I was comfortable in the dress, I don't think it's my best work.  And it's probably not surprising to any of you if I tell you the dress is too big for me.  I seem to consistently have issues with making a dress actually fit me.

The Musical One (Maid of Honor) with me pre-wedding
 There aren't any great photos of just me in the dress.  There are a few where you can see the dress better - but I don't like them, so you won't see them.

The dress is a Vogue Designer pattern by Kay Unger, #1392  If you click the link, you will notice my dress is different.  I fell in love with the pattern and had to make it.  I think my fabric was a bit too soft or fluid for this pattern, but I did it anyway.  The Princess (also known as the bride for this post) met up with Carolyn back in July and they went to Mood and bought silk, silk and more silk for my dress and it was mailed to me.

There are no construction photos of the dress.  I need to learn how to get them out of my phone.  Okay - I feel like this post is disjointed and bouncing all over the place - so I'll leave you with unofficial photos from the wedding.
the bride and her mom - post wedding.

JB and the Bride

my girls - The Princess and The Musical One

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Abby of Blue Ginger Doll released a new pattern, the Odette dress.  I've been waiting for this one for a long time!  It's always exciting for me when I'm asked to test sew a pattern.  I enjoy the process and hope I end up with a fabulous finished project.  In this case - I really do feel like I'm the winner!  

I worked on this dress over several weeknights while JB was in night school refreshing his emissions certification.   I also worked on some new techniques for me.  This dress includes my first hand picked zipper.  I have to tell you - I was positive the zipper was gonna just fall out the first time I wore it - but it hasn't!  I also did loads of catch stitching to finish the bodice lining.

The observant will notice that the skirt is slight too big for me.  Nope - I don't have any idea how big my hips are.  Maybe someday I'll figure it out.  In the meantime, this is wearable.  The super observant will notice that I don't have an insert in my bodice neckline.  That is totally my fault.  I messed up the button placement.  I have the insert by the sewing machine to fix it - but honestly I just wear the dress without it.  The slit is not so low as to be inappropriate for work.

This one's for Nessa - posterior for posterity

For the first time ever - I needed a forward shoulder adjustment.  I did NOT follow Heather B's lovely tutorial on adjusting the sleeve - which I will do for next time.  And there will be a next time!  I have fabric set aside for at least 2 more versions.  and speaking of Heather B - did you see her Odette Skirt hack?  As this was my first forward shoulder and a bit of a different neckline - I totally messed it up.  But I know what I did and will fix it on the next version.  The shoulder seams are very narrow.  They stay on my shoulders just fine, but you can see my bra straps.  I keep meaning to add strap keepers - but it hasn't happened yet.  Someday. . . 

I used a polished cotton with stretch.  The bodice is lined with purple batiste and so are the fronts of the pockets.  The pocket backs are fashion fabric.  As I mentioned, there are some changes I will make to the next version - make the skirt a smaller size, fix the forward shoulder adjustment that I did - the shoulder seam is in the right place, but the shoulders shouldn't be so wide/the seam so narrow, and follow Heather's tutorial for adjusting the sleeve to match.