Monday, August 18, 2014

Sleeve Embellishment

The summer version of Butterick 5821 is my favorite piece of all of the garments I've made recently.  It wears easily plus I love the details that I included in this dress. I especially love the sleeves.  I think they really add to the overall look of the dress.

In that post I said that I would show how I made the changes to the sleeves and the process is below.

The sleeve was cut out. Then 2" was cut off of the bottom. Next the piping was basted onto the sleeve, 5/8" from the edge.  

A 2" long by the width of the sleeve strip of the black and white polka dot fabric was cut. The edges were serge finished. 

A picture of all the parts prior to stitching them together.

Pinning the strip to the sleeve with the piping attached.

Stitching the pieces together using my zipper foot. Sewing right next to the piping to enclose it in the seam.

Embellishment stitched to sleeve

Band folded in half. Pressed flat and pinned.

Topstitched the piping close to the seam

Finished sleeves showing piping and black n white polka dot fabric

I've made these types of sleeves before on other dresses because I think they add an interesting element to them.  I hope this process will help you add this embellishment to one of your future garments. always more later!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sewing Miscellany

Just a few thoughts that have been running through my mind over the last couple of days...
  • Do you touch fabric or a completed garment and it's whole history flashes through your mind? Do you remember who you were with when you bought the fabric? If you had to hunt the fabric down and where you got it from?  That happened to me recently and it was such a walk down memory lane...
  • I just donated three large garbage bags of clothing and my closet is still tight...*sigh*
  • I don't do the yearly purge know the if you haven't worn it in a year it has to go. Why?  Because I've now sewn some pieces for the extreme hot and cold weather that I only wear when the temperatures are really, really hot or really, really cold - since I don't wear them every year - because of temperatures - why would I donate them?
  • Do you wear your new makes right away? I use to all the time. Could barely get them off my sewing machine fast enough to get them on my body.  Now, they can sit for weeks before I wear them.
  • Which means that I just wore the Vogue 8895 dress two weeks ago although the Optical Illusion dress made at the same time got worn right away...I think it's just the #epicsews that need a time out.
  • On this timetable, it will be the end of September before I wear The Smugglers Daughter dress.
  • Pinterest is where I learned that my pattern alterations are too simple! Case in point:

  • One of my all time popular posts is "Using my Janome 8900 QCP - 10 Months Later". It's interesting because now - 18 months later - I realize that I still don't KNOW it all that well. I'm still learning all of its functions and capabilities.
  • I want to sew fall. Yes, it's the middle of August and I want to sew fall. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want summer to end just yet especially since this has been a wonderful summer weather wise. But I only have one or two more summer things that I want to I'm moving on after that.
  • This is the first time in five or six years that I won't have a September sewcation.  Things at work changed my vacation schedule so no September sewcation. Don't now how I feel about not having nine straight days to sew yet. I usually sew a large part of my fall wardrobe then - well at least get a good start...
  • I already have a few pieces I want to make for fall...with inspiration from Talbots and Lafayette well as remaking a few patterns that I've recently used.
  • I love pretty sewing rooms. Love, love, love them...especially the ones on Pinterest. Recently I saw this one at Bunny's blog and I was enthralled. Her m'amm cave is so her!  You can see it in this post.
  • Ann of Gorgeous Things recently left a message on my Linings post. Then she wrote a post of her own linking to two of her previous posts on the same subject.  You can check them out here.

"An artist knows how good he or she is but can still appreciate the talents of their peers"

That's how I'm feeling lately about my sewing peers. Thank you for challenging me, encouraging me, and leading the way. I have such wonderful footsteps to follow in because you all lead the way so well.

Thanks so much to everyone who has left a comment on my last couple of garments.  I appreciate them all so much ~ especially that you take the time to leave them.  Thanks for continuing to talk with me...I truly treasure these conversations... always more later!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Lately I've been cutting my linings out after I've assembled my garment.  I started doing this because I wanted to make sure that I captured any changes I made to my garment shell.  However, I've found that while this is practical, it makes me drag my feet when I'm finishing up a garment. I think more than finishing a garment (hemming), I don't like cutting out.  Stupid right? Because you can't sew if you don't cut out...but there it is...I don't like it.

Because of this, I use to cut linings out when I cut out the fashion fabric. Anything to speed the process along and get me to the good stuff ~ which was sewing the garment together!  It did seem to make everything move along faster.  When the garment shell was done, I just reached for the already serge finished lining pieces, sewed them up and added them to my garment.

Somewhere in there I changed this order.  In the beginning it worked for me, but lately when I realize I have to cut and finish lining pieces...I stop. Seriously come to a dead stop.  Because of this I'm reconsidering the order I cut and sew linings again.

So here's the question of the day...when do you cut your linings out?  At the beginning when you cut out your fashion fabric?  Or at the end, after the garment's been assembled?  And why do you do it either way? Is there a "correct" sewing gods approved method?  Did I forget some sewing lesson taught to me years ago?  Talk back to me because this is the "Question of the Day!" always more later!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Smugglers Daughter Dress or Vogue 8972

About two months ago, I eagerly started this dress.  I made all of the pattern alterations which were quite extensive and detailed them in this post and this one. Then there was the post on how to use a border print and how I cut out the border print for this dress, all of which has turned this into an epic sew. I've used three different fabrics for the dress.  Three different fabrics to make the lining. Some silk organza, a picked zipper application and lots of hand end up with this...

The Beginning~
I was gifted this fabric by the Smuggler's Daughter and some is still available on the site. I wanted to make something special with it. I probably should have gone a little less epic but it was worth the journey, even if I had to take a short break to regain my inspiration.

Fabric and Notions ~
The starting pattern is Vogue 8972

The Smugglers Daughter border print
Gray medium weight linen from the fabric collection
Black medium weight linen from the fabric collection

22" black zipper
Lt. Green piping
White cotton batiste for lining
Gray cotton batiste for lining
Dark Steel Gray bemberg lining

Pattern Alterations and Construction Details~
All of the pattern alterations were documented in the posts mentioned above. However, the construction of this garment is quite detailed probably because I chose to make the dress way more difficult than it needed to be. Let me give you a few details...
  • The black linen skirt front and back had black silk organza basted to each piece...that's seven pieces in total.
  • I tried to use the cotton border print in such a way that it would enhance the pattern of the fabric. I carried it over into the sleeves to give it the greatest impact.
  • The back zipper is black but it was hand stitched in. I knew I didn't want to deal with matching an invisible zipper in two places on the back.  So I hand stitched it using a regular zipper.
  • There are a lot of the bodice and the skirt...a lot of cutting...a lot of seam finishing...a lot of sewing them together.
  • The lining has white cotton batiste for the bodice and gray cotton batiste for the center panel then dark steel gray bemberg lining for the skirt.
  • The lining top is seamed but the skirt lining pieces were cut based upon the finished fashion fabric pieces.
  • I added piping to the neckline.  I wanted to capture some of the green blocks that are in the top piece.
  • I did have some challenges with getting the side bodice and the center front to match. I don't know if it happened during the pattern alterations but I cheated and used a little ease stitching to get them to work together.
  • This added a little gathering in the bust area that the fabric's pattern hides.
  • That was a little discouraging and helped with me putting the dress down for a minute.
  • I basted the sides together prior to machine stitching to insure the sides matched.
  • The sleeves went in so easily! Since that was near the end of the dress' construction, it was really great that they weren't a challenging insertion.
  • The sleeve hem is topstitched using a double needle.
  • The hem on the lining and on the dress are doubled and stitched.  The lining is machine stitched and the dress is hand hemmed.
  • Being anal about thread, I changed the thread for each piece sewn on both the sewing machine and the serger.
  • I omitted the topstitching that the pattern suggests.
  • There was a lot of handsewing in this dress - to match side seams, to insert the sleeves, to add the piping,  to attach the lining to the zipper tape, hemming the dress...a lot!
  • Finally, I used a lot of steam to press this dress.  At one point I had to send Lena, precious grand baby number 2, upstairs because there were clouds and clouds of steam fog!
Construction Photos ~

Back bodice sewn to waist insert

Front bodice sewn to waist insert

Sides basted to insure they matched when sewn

Checking the basted back prior to adding the zipper

Dress shell finished

Lining for the dress

Adding the piping to the dress neckline

More pictures of me wearing the dress ~

Conclusion ~
This dress was a lot of work.  I put it down for a minute because it got to be overwhelming. Even now I'm on the fence about the dress. My daughter and I did two photo shoots to catch the dress just right. (As an aside, lighting in the house, in the evening, doesn't even begin to compare to outside shots anymore!)  I loved wearing the dress during the first photo shoot but hated the pictures. During the second one, I realized that the dress is a little too big. I was never going to make it as tight as the pattern depicts it but I went back in and took in the side seams 1/2" on either side in the waistline area.

See I'm trying to expand beyond the simple sheath silhouette that I love to wear. This dress was suppose to help me step outside my comfort zone. I'm not sure if it accomplished it's goal.  I keep thinking back to the fit and wearing ease of the Milly dress, this one just doesn't have that. However, I would like to try it in a ponte knit for fall, I'm thinking it will fall better than the linens I used for this one...we'll see! always more later!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Pieced Four Gore Skirt

There was a little less than a yard of the black n white polka dot linen, and I didn't want to consign it to the scrap bin.  Especially since the white fabric scrap was still out and I thought the two would make a great skirt.

However, when I went to cut the white linen out I didn't have enough for full size pieces.  I figured I could just add another coordinating piece and after some searching through the fabric collection I found two pieces that I thought would work. So I took to Instagram to ask for assistance...

The most votes were for the combination on the left which actually is my personal favorite too.  I make so many "corporate colored" safe garments that every time I can step out the box a little I'm going there!  As seen above, I had a red cotton pique twinset that worked well with a skirt was born!

Pattern ~ 
TNT 4 gore skirt (also made here, here and here and all still in my closet)

Fabric ~
Fabric scraps from the Summer version of Butterick 5821
Red/black/white linen print from

Notions ~
1" non-roll elastic

  • The most challenging part of making this skirt was making the strips and then stitching them together so that they matched at every seam.
  • There is very little math involved in making the strips/layers because it was based upon the length of the black 'n white embroidered piece.
  • That piece was evened off and then the approximately 4" strips were cut of the white and the printed linen.
  • I stitched the white to the print piece first - trying to be precise.
  • Then I stitched the black 'n white embroidered piece onto that bottom strips.
  • To make the skirt, I matched the side seams that worked together.  This took some doing and I actually "forced" one seam with a little basting and steam.
  • It is unlined.
  • The hem is turned under one inch.  Then it's folded in half and ironed flat then machine stitched.

Construction Photos...

The band pattern piece I created to get the curve right for the printed piece

White and printed linen sewn together with the polka dot piece waiting to be joined

One of the four gores all sewn together

The hem double folded, pressed and machine stitched flat

A few more photos of me in the skirt...

The two top pieces are from QVC from the Denim & Co. collection. However, the tank has been altered to fit me. It arrived with a boxy fit and way too low armholes so I took in the side seams to give me a closer fit.

This is a little funky and fun and I will wear it to work on a Friday.  I usually am a little more fashionable on Fridays because we have a casual Friday dress code in my office.

Next up is The Smugglers Daughter Dress.  I have to admit that I got stymied for a minute. If you follow me on Instagram, you will remember that I posted a pic of where I was headed.  I came to terms with what was bothering me and fixed it.  I really like the dress now so it's up next.

Lastly, the grandkids were with me this weekend so here is Miss Samantha...she's almost seven months old now with a mind of her own! always more later!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Pimping Out My Ironing Board Cover

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new ironing board after my older one faltered. I set it up and started to use it when I realized something was missing.  See I'd added extra padding to my old ironing board and my new one was definitely missing it. 

It's thin and every time I used the steam feature on my Rowenta it left drippy marks on the muslin. See the photo below...

So to solve this situation, I bought another cover and added to the top of the ironing board.  Even this proved to be a little thin.  So I added a layer of batting which was taken from the swag bag we were given at The McCalls Reception...the tag on the batting says it is Bosal - Foam, Fiber, Interfacing and Crafts.

Then the second cover was added.  

I love the extra layers on the ironing board now.  I can steam without the steam bouncing back to the top. I can stick pins into the ironing board and they stay! Hopefully this ironing board will serve me faithfully for another decade.

Has anyone else ever pimped out their ironing board? always more later!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Butterick 5821 - Summer Version

My winter version of this dress was made in January 2013.  I used a laminated ponte knit for the first one.  This version is all linen with a little sumthin' sumthin'.

Supplies ~
Fabric ~
Black 'n white polka dot linen from Fabric Mart
White linen from Mood Fabrics

Notions ~
White bemberg rayon lining
Black bemberg rayon lining
22" invisible zipper
black/white striped piping
black rayon seam binding

The Fabric ~
I bought this fabric from Fabric Mart a couple of months ago. As with most of my Fabric Mart purchases, they disappear from the site as soon as I buy them. But this piece is a wonderful medium weight black linen with white polka dots that are embroidered onto the fabric. Seriously for a fabric ho like me, this fabric is heaven!

The Beginning ~
This is not the dress I was originally going to make with this fabric.  Originally I was going to make my TNT dress and a jacket/topper from Vogue 8982. However, I only had 3 yards of fabric when I thought I had 5.  As the GPS Unit says, recalculating, recalculating.

I really wanted to use the black 'n white polka dot fabric because it was up next in my creative rolodex.  So after flipping through my TNT patterns, still getting my sewing mojo back so I didn't want the adventure of something new, I touched Butterick 5821.  Let me remind you of what the line art of the pattern looks like although sadly the pattern is out of print.

I realized that there were some creative options to be had using this pattern again.  I fiddled around and drew up this...

Then when I laid the fabric onto the cutting table, I was moved to go in a slightly different direction. Originally I was going to sew a seam down the dress bodice front and make one panel black linen and the other from white linen. As I started to handle the fabric, I realized that I didn't want that much color blocking.  A simple white linen top would suffice with an interesting piping detail.

Construction ~
  • Both the dress front bodice and skirt were cut on the fold where the pattern instructions tell you to sew a center front seam on the bodice.
  • I switched the pattern's back pieces out and used my 4-piece back pattern pieces instead which fit me so much better.
  • For this version I added sleeves from the white linen.  I also added a band of the black 'n white polka dot fabric and the black 'n white striped piping.
  • I've had this piping in the collection forever and had forgotten about it. It wasn't until a visit to the sewing cave by some sewing friends that it was uncovered...and even though some of this went home with a friend...I did keep a little for myself.
  • I used both white and black lining for the dress. The white bodice has a white bemberg lining and the dress skirt front and the back is all in a black lining from the collection. It's not bemberg but a slippery lining that I had just enough for this dress.
  • Since the polka dots were embroidered onto the fabric, the serger and the sewing machine had to work a little harder at times to sew through them or serge them in half.
  • There were no challenges constructing this dress...unlike the first time where I omitted the sleeves because the fabric wouldn't ease. Since I was using linen it was a dream to sew. See how sewing the same pattern from different fabrics can affect the construction process?
  • I'm going to do a follow up post on how I constructed the sleeves, in case you want to add this color blocked sleeve to one of your garments.

Some Construction Photos ~
Dress lining front and back and the dress before the lining is added

Unlined dress without the sleeves

The sleeves with piping and black linen fabric

A few more pictures of the dress on me ~

Conclusion ~
This dress brought my sewing mojo running back home to me. So much so, that I have another dress and a skirt to show you. However, I must share something with you, I don't know how this dress is going to launder. I know I should be worried but I'm going with the flow and hoping that I don't spill anything on it during it's first outing.

Also, this dress cost about $40 to make. All of the items used in the dress were already residing in the sewing cave. I came up with the idea on a Saturday afternoon and spent that Saturday night and Sunday working on 90% of it.  The rest was finished during the week but seriously I bought NOTHING to make this dress. It all lived in either the fabric collection or the notions stash. That's the power of a well curated stash! *LOL*

Finally, I know the last couple of posts have been longer than usual and all inclusive. It's because I really did just want to sew during my final days of vacay. So I made the "editorial" decision to give as much detail, as well as, posed pictures all in one post. This won't become a feature here because I like process posts.  When I pull a pattern out to use again and reread those posts, it helps to see all the notes & info contained in the process posts.

Just one more thing...I took the sleeves out of the dress and put them in again. I didn't like the way they were hanging in the photos so they had to go. Again, this is the power of choosing a good can't see the problem in all the shots because those chosen don't show it. The other good thing about taking pictures of garments all gussied up, you can see things that you don't normally see.

I hope you're not tired of new garments because like I said earlier, I still have another dress and a skirt to share. always more later!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Side to Side Border Print Dress

How about a completed garment post from me?  I know it's been a minute since one has appeared here...somewhere in there my sewing mojo just up and went on vacation! *LOL* But it showed back up for the last three days of MY I have a piece or two to share with you.

First up is "The Side to Side Border Print Dress"

I've always admired border print dresses that have a side to side border print happening.  It's unexpected and not something most home sewists can emulate. Mostly because it's hard to get our hands on those amazing fabrics. So when I lucked onto this Milly print from Elliott Berman....

I knew I wasn't going to use it in a traditional fashion.  I also knew that I was going to use my TNT pattern to make it.  Hey like the old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" *LOL*

Pattern Matching ~
However, when it comes to cutting the fabric out so that the pattern matched all the way around my body in a continuous fashion...I'm a spacial idiot. Seriously, I know why I bought so much fabric because I ended up cutting out my fronts twice to make it match the back...

This is the discarded front

I placed a seam in the front of the dress to get the border to run all the way around the dress.  Then after some rooting around in the zipper box, I found a silver tooth zipper with a nice pull. So I added that to the front of the dress.

As an aside, can I say that I used my seam ripper on this dress more than I have in years! It's definitely been awhile since I sewed for myself because I made the dumbest mistakes evah that had to be ripped out and sewn again and again.  I don't know if it was because I wasn't paying attention or what? But the seam ripper was my bestest friend during the making of this dress...*sigh*

Exposed Zipper Technique ~
Because I wanted an exposed zipper in the front of the dress, I started with this exposed zipper technique that I found on Pinterest. Although when I went to sew the insert, I ended up going my own way because my zipper is heavy. I thought if I didn't sew it directly to the fabric that the weight of it would cause the fabric to buckle unattractively.

Zipper pinned in

Zipper basted in and then stitched down - picture is before basting was removed!

Bias Binding for Armhole Edges ~
I like making bias binding especially when it really adds to the inside view of my dress.  Since I had loads of large pieces of the fashion fabric leftover, I decided to make bias binding to finish the dress' armholes using it. I cut 2" bias strips making sure to use fabric from both sections of the border print. Here's a few pics of the bias binding construction...

...and a YouTube video that I found in case you need the steps...

More Construction Information ~
  • After that the dress' construction was pretty is my TNT dress pattern after all.
  • Besides adding the zipper to the neckline of the dress front, I also moved the slit from the dress back to the center front.
  • The dress is lined with white bemberg rayon. I did go back and forth over whether or not to use a cotton batiste or the rayon. The cotton batiste offers more comfort but the rayon will be easier to wear.  So I went with ease of wear.
  • The armholes are finished with the self-made bias binding.
  • The dress' hemline has a rayon seam tape added to it. It is hand stitched down using a single strand of thread that I ran through Thread Heaven to give it a little strength. I didn't want the hand stitches to show through at the hemline that's why I used a single strand of thread to hem. 
  • The dress is lightweight - great for the summer - even with the lining added. However, it is a cotton dress and I don't wear a lot of cotton. It will be interesting to see how it lasts through one of my long work days.
Hem: The lining turned under and stitched flat
Dress with Hug Snug Rayon Binding and hand stitched

Close up of the bias binding on the armholes

Dress hanging - front view

Inside of the dress

A Few More Pics of the Dress on Me ~

This was a satisfying sew and a great garment to make to dive back into the sewing pool.  I'm glad that I've ended up with a pretty summer dress. Finally, I'm going to save the scraps and see if I can't make a dress for one of the grandbabies! always more later!


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