Sunday, May 30, 2010

Honing my Sewing Skills

Well I haven't been sewing for "me" this weekend, at least not in the way that rewards me with a new outfit.  But I have been sewing.  I generally will not turn down a sewing job if I feel I have the skills to perform the work requested and the time to do it. The way I see it, every sewing opportunity is sewing for "me", because my skills will only get better the more I allow myself to be challenged, and that's good for "me" with "my" future outfits!   

This nightgown is over 20 years old and its owner loves the style, fit, fabric softness, etc. and asked if I could create a new one for her, as this one is getting threadbare in places and she hasn't been able to find a suitable ready-to-wear gown. 

Old Nightgown: 

As you can see I had a couple of tasks ahead of me.  First, I needed to draft the pattern.  I actually had a pattern in my stash for a blouse with a similar style.  So I ended up using the collar and neckband piece from Simplicity 2564, with my own drafted front and back pieces.  I did lay my pieces over the pattern's front and back piece to match the collar neckline.  Once I had the pattern ready, I cut it out of a lightweight, blue, polyester, satin chosen by the owner. 

The most important issue for the owner was comfort.  I was determined to make this using all french seams.  The old gown doesn't even have this, so I think she will be surprised when she feels the new gown against her skin.  Good thing I've been using this technique on several of my recent projects.  Here's a picture of the inside of her new gown.  There is not one single rough seam. 

Inside Garment:

I also finished the cuff on the sleeves like my blouse here, and I made walking slits like in the Avatar dress.  See how several of my recent projects came in handy for this one?  

Finished Garment:

This is the first time I have tried to re-create a ready-to-wear garment.  I feel proud of the final garment.  I just hope the owner is delighted!  I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kwik Sew 2761

Kwik Sew 2761 is a great pattern for a simple wrap skirt.  I made this one last summer out of a quilting cotton which I doubled.  The inside and the outside look the same and there are no rough seams inside.  I basically constructed two skirts and placed them wrong side together then finished the hem, front edges, and waist band tie. 

The only thing I noticed on the pattern that was strange, for me, was the placement of the front darts.  They were set too close to the side seam and they were wide and short, which resulted in a sharp point rather than nice shaping.  I ended up drafting my own darts on the front about 2 inches deeper and moved toward the center about one inch.  I also cut about 1 inch off the side seam near the lower half, so that it wasn't as wide at the bottom.  I have worn this skirt so much.  It's shown here with a top from Old Navy.  I have recently pulled the pattern out, because I have a green and purple floral quilting cotton I also want to make up with this pattern.  Summer is definitely here in my neck of the woods.  Today is DS #2's birthday.  It's off to set up the Slip and Slide for his party!  Enjoy your weekend. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Simplicity 2364 + New Look 6710 = Lilikoi Cheesecake

I've decided to call this outfit Lilikoi Cheesecake. It has all the right ingredients. I can't help it, the skirt reminds me of delicious tropical desserts! 

The top is Simplicity 2364, View D and is made out of an ivory bamboo knit -silky smooth.  I acquired it from The Fabric Fairy a couple of years ago.  I only had one yard, so it was destined to become a simple top.  The pattern has full bodice facing pieces for the back and front.  I didn't want to use these facing pieces because they are cut so you would have to gather the shoulder, just like the front and back pieces.  That is a lot of gathering in one spot, particularly with this heavier weight knit.  I did my usual hemming on the neckline and armhole, which is to cut a piece of elastic a comfortable size, then zigzag it to the neck and armhole edge on the wrong side.  Then I turn the edge to the wrong side and use my coverstitch machine to finish on the right side.  This works like a charm and looks good too, I think.  I used a 3/8'' wide swimwear elastic this time.  The top is long, but I really like how it looks gathered, much like the shoulders, when I don't pull it down all the way.  I thought about putting elastic in at the side seams to keep this gathered look, but I may want to wear it smooth sometimes, so I haven't done that. 

The skirt is made from beautiful, 100% cotton, horizontally pieced, fabric with tropical floral prints, plaids, and solids.  I only used one piece from New Look 6710 to make the skirt; the front/back piece. I didn't want a drawstring waist or patch pockets, but I did want to have pockets.  So I drafted on seam pockets and made them out of a lemon colored cotton batiste, which I also lined the skirt with.  I used 1" elastic on the waist band.  Again, I just zigzagged it to the edge and turned the waist band to the wrong side and topstitched. 

I don't know if you will ever see me with a flower in my hair again, but it sure goes with the ensemble.          

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guava Sorbet? Orange Sherbet? Lilikoi Cheesecake?

OK, if your mouth is watering and you have a pleasant feeling just thinking about these flavors, feast your eyes on this: 
That's the kind of feeling I get when I look at this scrumptious fabric. I found it locally this past weekend.  I have been admiring all of the patchwork fabrics posted on the internet sites lately, and I've even gotten close to buying a swatch, but something kept holding me back.  Just a twinge of it not being quite right, until now.  I love this fabric!  Stay tuned....

I also wanted to say thank you for all the wonderful compliments on my latest outfit.  I wore it all day yesterday, and it was so comfortable.  I think it's a winner!  I will probably try to make those fitting adjustments, to the capris, and sew up another version in the near future.    

Monday, May 24, 2010

Up Second - Burda 8085

Here is the scoop on Burda 8085.  I am showing the side view.  If you'd like to see the front and back view click here.  This is a pattern for low-waisted, very fitted, jean type pants.  The pattern features curved front pockets, back yoke, belt loops (or not) and two different lengths: capri or to the floor.  With the capris, instructions are given for how to bias bind the seam allowances for a neat look when you turn the cuffs up.  I made the capris, view B, in a size 12.  This pattern is designed for stretch wovens, so I went up a size, because I was using a nonstretch khaki twill.  I also used a 3/8" seam allowance on the side seams, but I think I should have stuck with the 5/8" seam allowance, because they are a little too roomy. 

I had to make a couple of alterations, and if I was to make these again, I think I still need to take about 1/2" out of the front crotch curve to eliminate the bit of wrinkling I have there.  When I test fitted these, they had a lot of fullness (wrinkling) under the butt, at the back of the thigh.  To improve this, I took about 5/8" off the back pant leg at the inner seam, near the crotch and tapered back down to the seam line at about 7 inches.  This really helped, but the back leg pattern piece could probably used some more altering to get it just right. I am very happy with the back crotch curve.  I have a couple of pants fitting books I have pulled out and am reading.  I really want to learn how to make perfect fitting pants and shorts.  I prefer to wear skirts, but maybe I would wear more pants/shorts if they fit great!

I was concerned about my ability to understand the instructions regarding the zipper application. Steps 9 through 14 explain how to insert the zipper, and I think I followed them just as written.  My zipper looks just like the picture at step 14, but then when you get to picture 17, it shows that the back of the zipper has a placket to protect you from zipping yourself on the left side.  Mine does not have this, and I don't know what I missed in the instructions.  Thankfully, it is not a functional problem, I just need to be careful when zipping these capris!  I will want to add this feature in future versions. 

I knew I would be making a cuff on the bottom of the capris, so I didn't use the bias binding on the seam allowances at the inner and outer leg.  I used a single needle to stitch the design on the back of the pockets.  The first pocket is a little less accurate, but because the thread matches the fabric, it isn't very noticeable.  This is a picture of the second pocket.  If you look closely I forgot to change my stitch width when I turned at one of the corners, darn it!  But again, it's not very noticeable. 

I have to say these capris are pretty comfortable and stay up nicely even though they are low-waisted and slightly roomy.  The fabric is buttery soft too.  I will wear them this season, but would like to refine the fit if I make them again.  I'm not sure I like this style either, so I will have to think about that too.

Up First - Burda 7828

In between weekend activities with the family, I was able to work on these two pieces.  I am very happy with the top and want to make more of them and possibly even the dress version.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being 100% satisfied, I would rate the capris a 7, partly for style and partly for fit.  I have not made fly front pants for years.  I thought it was time to try again.  I'll do a second post on the capris.

Burda 7828 is a pattern for a wrap front top or dress that ties on one side to keep the front wrap in place.  You can make a dress that flares out to the knee, view B, or you can make the top, view A.  There are two sleeve options, cap or 3/4 length.  I made view A, in a size 10, with the cap sleeves.

The first thing I noticed on the pattern was that the finished top with the printed cutting lines would be entirely too short.  So I lengthened the bodice 2 inches.  I was also concerned the under arms might not be low enough, so I took about 3/8" off the underarm and blended into the shoulder seam lines.  Because I did this, I also added about 1/2" to the cap sleeve width.  Here is a picture of what I did.
I was also concerned the neckline might be too low, so I added about a 1/2" of width to the neckline front pieces.  The fabric is some kind of a rayon blend that is very lightweight and doesn't have a lot of stretch.  When I measured the width of the bodice pieces I realized they might be too tight for my comfort.  So my final alteration was to add 3/8" to the front and back bodice piece at the foldline.  With all the alterations complete, putting the top together was a breeze. 

I serged all my seam allowances and used 1/4" clear elastic on the neck edge.  I zigzagged the elastic to the front edge on the wrong side, then turned it and topstitched it with a double needle.  My front does not gape at all and I think I got the elastic length right on, because I don't have a lot of wrinkling like when you use a piece of elastic that is too short.  I nearly forgot to mention that I did need to cut about 1.5" off the right front wrap piece that attaches to the tie.  It was too long when I test fitted it.  I used my coverstitch machine to hem the top.  I followed all the instructions as written and found them to be clear and easy to follow.  My only deviation from the instructions was my neckline finish technique.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sneak Peek 3

I am working on Burda 7828, View A with the cap sleeves and Burda 8085, View B.  I'm loving the top; just need to hem it.  The capris are finished.  All the juicy details and big reveal tomorrow.   

Friday, May 21, 2010


Just a quick update.  I had an astute pattern reviewer notice that the ties on my knit blouse (M4590) were on the right side in my photos and on the pattern cover they are on the left, and perhaps this might be why my neckline didn't look like the cover.  Maybe because the blouse was backwards?  Well, I honestly do not know if I put the ties on the opposite side, keeping my front and back pieces correct, or if I am wearing the blouse backwards.  My plan was always that the ties would be by my right arm, only while I was making it, I kept thinking my right arm was my left.  Not sure why?!  It has been a crazy, busy, week with DH traveling (came home late last night after being gone all week).  So I tried it on with the blouse ties on the left this morning.  The good news is, the neckline looks exactly the same both ways.  I do appreciate the honest feedback and say thank you to all those who are commenting.  Writing this blog encourages me to take my sewing a step further, as Yoshimi pointed out in her post this week.  Thank you!  I am having so much fun and I hope you are too!  I love seeing and being inspired by what everyone is creating.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comfy Casual M4590

I'm not sure why I decided to make this next, but this pattern has been on my "to do" list for a long time.  The knit is from  It was described as a cotton knit, but it melted when I did the burn test, and it feels very soft, like a synthetic.  Because it is a synthetic, it is warmer than what I wanted, so I will not be wearing it too much this summer.  It will be perfect this fall/winter.  I really do love how it feels on.

This pattern is McCall's 4590.  I made view C in an XS.  I was concerned the sleeve would be too short, going with the XS, so I lengthened it about 1.25".  Good decision! Since the fabric is so sheer, I made french seams everywhere I could. 

There are a couple of things to note about construction.  My neck did not look as low or as wide as in the drawing when I hemmed it the way the pattern instructs you to.  So I cut 5/8" off the neck edge.  The instructions say to fold the neck line twice to hem.  This does not work well for how tight the curve is where the shoulder seam is.  To remedy this, I cut a band of fabric about 1" wide, against the grain (so it had stretch), the length of the neck band and stitched it to the neckband, right sides together.  Then I folded it in toward the wrong side, topstitched it with my coverstitch machine, and trimmed the excess fabric.  The neckline looks much better now. 

The instructions also tell you to finish the sleeve and cuff separately, then attach the cuff to the sleeve.  This is ok if you do not want topstitching around the top of your cuff.  It is too tight to try to do it after the cuff is attached.  In the future, I will stitch the cuff to the sleeve before I finish the underarm seam, so that I can add topstitching to the cuff.  Other than these two issues, the pattern was very easy and rewarding.  I'll be making this again soon! 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Soccer Goals and Fishing Poles

DS #2 got his summer pj's today.  I acquired both quilting cottons for the shorts locally.  DS picked out the soccer one and I loved the fish one.  I bought a packet of 6 large men's T-shirts from Costco to pilfer the white cotton knit for these smaller T-shirts.  I can get 4 smaller shirts, that are on grain, out of the packet and each one comes to $4.00.  I like the weight and quality of the cotton, and I only feel a little guilty cutting up perfectly good T-shirts to repurpose. I'm not sure if this is more economical than buying a high quality cotton knit fabric, but I think it is close, since I would have to buy it online and possibly pay shipping.   I had the white ribbing in my stash for the neckband.    I used Kwik Sew 3234 for the T-shirt and Kwik Sew 3042 for the shorts.  Both are a size medium (7-8).  Kwik Sew has very easy instructions and great basic designs for kids.

I altered the shorts by taking one inch off the top of the front and back pieces.  Otherwise, I find the crotch too low.  I used one inch wide elastic for the waist rather than 1.5", which is what the pattern calls for.  On the T-shirt I cut 2 inches off the hem, because I found it to be too long.  I do hope DS #2 doesn't sprout up too fast this summer, because right now it's a perfect fit.  I did all my hems and neckband topstitching with my coverstitch machine.  I made the star and rectangle applique by using a template in Microsoft Paint.  I fused the appliques to the T-shirt before I did the satin stitch around the edge.  This helps stabilize it while stitching.  DS loves them both, but only wanted to model one pair.  I can go with that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Butterick 5365

It's been a busy weekend!  I did participate in the Jacaranda 10K Saturday morning, bright and early.  The description for the race stated: This race is point to point with only one hill.  Funny, I didn't connect the fact that the whole entire route was the hill, until just before the race began.  Let me just say, I'm not sure I will be running in that competition again!  However, it was just as gorgeous as I thought it would be and I am glad I didn't miss it!  I was also privileged to be in the audience for DS #2 and DS #3's piano recital Saturday night.  I wore this outfit.  Today, I rubbed shoulders with other budding artist's parents at an "art show" featuring all three DS's work. Fun, fun, fun, truly!  But this blog is really all about sewing so let's talk about Butterick 5365, view A, made with a drapey cotton lawn!

This pattern is another winner!  All the pieces went together without any difficulty.  A couple of nice things about it include: sizing, collar attachment and sleeve hems. 

The size ranges from XS to 6X and gives tips for how to make alterations for your particular body shape.  I made the size small and didn't need to make any adjustments.  It is a comfortable fit; loose but not sloppy.  The tucks in the shoulder help shape the area for your bosom.  I was worried I might have too much room, but I think it worked out ok.  

The main reason I like the collar on this pattern is because you only use a 3/8" seam to attach it to the bodice.  There is less need to fiddle with stretching the neckline to fit with a smaller seam allowance.  Also, the shape of the collar is nice and is sized appropriately in relation to the style of blouse. 

Finally, to hem the sleeves all you do is turn the hem up toward the wrong side of the sleeve 1.25", then again 1.25".  Next you stitch the lower edge of the sleeve 1/4" from the bottom.  Then turn your sleeve right side out and pull the sleeve hem down.  Now you have a nice "cuff" that won't move around or come unfolded and the inside is clean.  Picture of inside sleeve here.  I will use this method again, perhaps even on cuffs for shorts.

Close up: Sleeve, shoulder, collar

Remember how I said I wanted to make Simplicity 2451 in a lightweight denim.  Well I found the perfect cut of black lightweight denim at Walmart and made the version I had envisioned.  I like it with this blouse, because the blouse has a dark charcoal color in it.  You can see my earlier version of this pattern here.  The only thing I did different on this skirt was to add topstitching and eliminate the tabs on the waist.  This skirt is versatile and I am sure I will wear it with many different tops.  I wore this outfit today for the "art show". 

Close up: Top Stitching

Now on to the week ahead! 

Friday, May 14, 2010


You know it's May in upcountry Maui when the jacaranda trees are in full bloom.  Just look at this incredible beauty!  In honor of the season, the 4th annual Jacaranda 10K is tomorrow morning.  I think I will get out there and participate.  I'm not really this long of a distance runner, but I don't think I want to miss the "up close and personal" experience of spring that this race will allow.  It only comes once a year!

I am also working with the most amazing fabric.  I purchased it at Gorgeous Fabrics.  I normally am not drawn to orange, however I think the color combination is unique and is going to make a beautiful blouse.  The fabric is a cotton lawn. It's very sheer, but not "see through" with the proper undergarments, and oh my goodness it is so soft and drapey.  I have two solid color fabrics that will go nicely with it (a linen and denim) and I will probably make a skirt out of one and possibly dressier shorts or capris with the other.

Here is the fabric and how far I've gotten with Butterick 5365, view A.  I am taking my time making this.  I have used french seams on the shoulders, sleeves and sides and Pro-Sheer Elegance Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply for the collar, band and front facing.   I love this interfacing.  The drape of the fabric is still intact after application. 

Here is a glimpse of the collar and shoulder tucks:

Inside of sleeve:

The view I am working on:

Hope you all have a brilliant weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Avatar" Dress

Can you guess why I gave this dress this name?  If you said it's because of the colors in the dress you'd be right.  I'm guessing my subconscious kicked in when I went through my sewing stash to see what to make next!  I made view A of this dress using Simplicity 2663.  The dress fits superbly and is comfortable and cool.  I did not have to make any alterations to the pattern except to shorten the dress about 5 inches. The neck edge and armhole have facing.  The pattern doesn't tell you to understitch the neck, but I did to avoid having the neck facing roll out, especially with those gathers.  The fabric is a brightly colored rayon batik purchased at a local fabric shop. 

The best thing about this pattern is that it is an "It's So Easy", but the design details really give it a polished look.  Starting with the neckline.  I love this little bit of gathering and I like how high it is with the arms cut-in a little bit to accentuate the shoulders. 
The back of the dress has a slit at the top.  I made the loop at the top for the button with 4 strands of thread and followed the instructions as far as how to do the crochet like stitch.  I chose a single glass iridescent button floating around in the bottom of the button drawer.  It has a purple sheen to it. 

Finally, there are on-seam pockets and walking slits at the side seams.  I will definitely save this pattern to make another dress.  I think it would look elegant in a floral or solid color.  I do think a flowing drapey fabric is the best type to use. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dining Room Makover Reveal

See the original dining room here.  The fabric for the chairs arrived on Saturday.  I had gone out for the morning, and when I returned, there it was sitting on my doorstep.  I was hoping that the linen for the drapes and the tropical print for the chairs matched a little better.  The linen leans toward a reddish brown.  The tropical print has more golden tones.  I think it works though, and I am happy to have this space all put together.  I love linen for drapes.  It is opaque enough for privacy, but looks airy and dances in the breeze.   

 My DH kindly helped me with recovering the chair cushions.  I really don't think I could have done this by myself.  It took both hands alone to stretch the fabric.  He then would staple it down for me.  I cannot tell you how many times his staple gun misfired, didn't fire at all, or got jammed.  But he kept a smile on his face the whole time.  I used some lime green duct tape to cover the raw edges under the chairs.  It's all I had on hand and I'm all for using what you already have in the junk drawer if you can!  The fabric is an indoor/outdoor polyester, so I am expecting it to clean up nicely.  However, if tomato sauce won't come out, don't you think it will blend in perfectly ;)  

The linen curtains were all about "power" sewing.  All I had to do was cut each curtain panel the proper length then hem all four sides.  I gave the bottom of the curtains a 3.5" hem and the top a 1" hem.  The most important and time consuming part was cutting each panel.  If I had just cut across this "wiggly" fabric, I was sure to have uneven hems.  To avoid that, I measured my panel length along the selvage and made a snip.  Then I pulled a thread in the fabric to make a "snag".  I then cut along this snag.  That way my fabric stayed on grain and equal lengths.  I like the look of drapes that pool at the bottom.  So I cut the panels for the sliding glass door extra long.  My sister gave me the lovely tulip vase in the center of the table and it is filled with tuberose.  I wish I could share the scent with you.  It's simply heavenly.