Thursday, October 29, 2015

This, That, McCalls 6886 and a Winner

I didn't sew last weekend - the first in awhile. I don't know how much I'm going to sew this weekend even though I want to make my daughter more dresses cause I have ideas ~ loads of ideas! See I'm having dental work done and I am in a constant state of unease/pain and will be for sometime. 

I'm not the kind of woman to dream about plastic surgery - perkier boobs, liposuction or even "correcting" something on my face (not to say if that's your thing that something is wrong with it)...but teeth...I've always wanted pretty Hollywood teeth. 

Now that I'm only responsible for me and own ALOT of fabric and my perfect sewing machine, I've decided to get Hollywood teeth.  Lawd save me from myself!  I keep telling myself that this pain is will be worth it in the end.  That nothing good comes without a little pain to gain...we shall see if I last it out! *LOL*

So I've been resting, losing more weight cause it's hard to maintain it when you're only eating soup, very soft foods and frozen yogurt, reading books...everything but sewing!  Of course that means posts here will be sparse.

McCalls 6886:
However, I did want to share a few pictures of my daughter's latest versions of McCalls 6886.  BTW, this is a great pattern because it has a lot of options - long, short and sleeveless versions - different necklines and you can make it any length you want. 

The dresses are made from ponte from "The Ponte Collection", she went through it and chose a few pieces.  I made three dresses but only have pics of two. All of her fitting issues were documented in this blog post, although she has managed to lose all of the baby weight from Baby Joshua and a few more pounds. I guess working a full time job, maintaining a household and being the mother of 4 is conducive to losing weight! Anyway, we took some more in on the sides and the center back to get a tighter fit.

Once I have something to photograph again, I will have her bring the dresses and I'll take better photos or maybe photos of new dresses...anyway here are the last ones I made ~

Blue/black printed ponte with faux leather short sleeves 
and binding at the neckline

Maroon ponte knit with long sleeves

A Follow-up:
I wanted to add another comment to the conversation that took place on my "Pattern Testing" post.  I wanted to emphasize that I wrote that post because I received an email asking why I don't test and it seemed easier to write a blog post about it rather than just send an email.  I also wanted to emphasize that I have no problems with pattern testing by indie designers. I'm not sure if either of those points were clear in my post based upon some of the comments.

A Winner:
I know this is what y'all really came back for! *LOL* Since there were several 2 comment entries (and I really appreciate it that you guys followed the rules!) I cut up little pieces of paper, wrote your names on them, folded them and placed them in a gift bag.  Then I asked my Mom to pull the winning name. 

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo the winner is:

Contact me at cnorman underscore 98 at yahoo dot com or leave a comment below - hopefully by Sunday evening and I will get the pattern and fabric out to you on Monday.

Well that's what I've been up to!  I really hope that you're enjoying all of the Cashmerette Appleton dresses that are popping up in the sewing blogosphere...want to give a special shout-out to Rachelle at Smoking Needles. I love her wearable muslin version...check it out here! always more later! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Appleton Dress by Cashmerette Patterns

While I wasn't a tester for the Appleton Dress ~ vacation and an emergency took care of that ~ Jenny was so sweet and sent me a copy of the dress and the fabric because I truly believe in her new patterns and company...and cause she's kewl like that!

Because I want everyone who can to experience the amazingness of Cashmerette Patterns, I'm offering the pattern and accompanying fabric as a giveaway.

The pattern is a size 12-28 with cup sizes C-H. The fabric is the bird blue and white knit. If you like a wrapdress, several women in the blogosphere have made amazing copies ~ here, here, here and here. As you can see, not everyone was a plus size woman wearing it, so it works for a variety of shapes and bust sizes.

Here are the rules...

1. You must leave a comment here telling me where you'd wear the dress you'll make.

2. You must follow me on Instagram and leave your Instagram name along with your other comment.

3. The giveaway will be open until Wednesday, October 28th at 11:59EST and sorry but this is only open to US residents.

So if you've been wondering what all the fuss was about, here is your opportunity to find out for yourself.  I think you will be presently surprised at how great the pattern is! always more later!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Working out new ideas

The realization that I've come to in the last few weeks ~ something you all tried to tell me at the beginning of this new journey ~ was that I can wear whatever I feel like wearing that day.  This is new and liberating for me.  It's been a decade of having to adher to a strict dress code and like any prisoner walking out of jail, it's taken me a minute to lose the shackles.

However, once free, what do you do? Who do you become? How do you show yourself to the world? I think my recent makes are me finally finding my way to that new person. Notice that there isn't a skirt or a dress amongst them!

I have to tell you though that when I started this journey ~ making Butterick 5678 my own ~ I was influenced by ThatBlackChic and the amazing Dashiki Shirtdress she made.  It made me realize that I needed to think outside of the box using even casual patterns.  The pattern didn't need to be perceived as a "typical" shirt dress but somewhere I could let my flights of fancy take me.

So Butterick 5678 is one of the patterns I'm using to make this journey. As with any pattern, my first version is made simply to get my fitting issues worked out, cause as we all know, no pattern fits you right out of the envelope! Now that they are worked out, I'm getting a little creative with the pattern and honestly I'm in sewing heaven!

I know that there are a lot of technique driven blog posts being written lately for both the beginner and intermediate/advanced sewist. Also there's quite a few sewalongs going on in the sewing blogosphere, but what really thrills me and gets my creative juices going into overdrive are the blog posts and Instagram pics that feature an inventive take on a pattern.  Where the sewist uses embellishment, fabric or puts a spin on a pattern that I just didn't think of...that's what stimulates me right now!

Now that I realize that separates work best for this new lifestyle I also need to tame the creative beast that roars inside me.  Separates and basics are the building blocks in a wardrobe but they aren't what causes me to run to my sewing machine. Honestly I'm not a jeans and t-shirt type of woman and I've finally worked out how to "style" myself for my job that doesn't involve me trying to look like a 20 or 30 year old.

That styling began with Butterick 5678 and the variations I've thought up for it. Of course the original (made), then the dress/topper (made), after that the Yazz shirt (to be made) and finally a bow-tie version (to be made)...all to be worn with tights, leggings or ponte pants (also working on).

I've moved onto McCalls 7095 making two versions of this loose-fitting yoked top that are easy & comfortable to wear. I've even made another Lisette B6183 because right now tops over leggings or straight leg pants is a look that's working for me. I've even separated the top from the pants, from this look made last May, to wear so I'm finding my way.

Let me tell you though, it was a challenge and I felt very lost most of the time. However, now that I'm on a path and have a destination in mind, this life change has been great for me creatively.  I spent a lot of time looking at websites, catalogs and some in-store research to figure out what look I wanted. I've walked away from quite a few things that I loved, not so many dresses, more separates, and more RTW looks less fashion forward styling.

I'm learning to incorporate "me" into the looks that work for this stage of my life. I've also looked around and realized that there are more people living life in casual clothing than the professional gear I use to wear.

The most significant challenge has been to work primarily from the goods in my Sewing Cave.  I'm having a lot of fun fabric diving in the shelves and pulling out pieces that I've owned for years to sew a garment...using buttons and notions that have also been collected over the years. It's wonderful because this is the time and place that those items have been collected for!

Now that I know where I'm going and what I want to make, I will be using and reviewing a lot more new patterns on the blog. Hey there are very few TNTs yet for this journey...I'm thinking that's years away!  Also, and I'm apologizing up front since I'm fabric diving, there's going to be a lot of fabric that I use that you won't be able to purchase. If I happen to see something on one of the online sites similar, I will point you there because yes, I'm still cruising the fabric sites!

Finally, my daughter needed a few new dresses for work so we fabric dived together and I've sewn a couple of McCalls 6886 for her. Well actually I've gone down the rabbit hole and made quite a few variations for her.  This one is up on Instagram and a follow up post will show up here soon. always more later!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I liked both of these patterns enough to make them again.

McCalls 7095 ~
For this version I pulled a crepey green floral print from the collection and a coordinating green ponte.

I made two changes to this version:

  • The first one was to lengthen the sleeves by adding a coordinating band of the green ponte.  The band was 3.5" wide and the length of the sleeve at the hemline. I also used the casing at the sleeve hem to gather the sleeve that the pattern suggests.
  • The second thing is that I cut a Large for the body of the tunic especially since the brown one is very loose. I also cut the hem 3" shorter than the pattern.
  • Those are the only changes.

So a few pictures of it in action ~

I really think I want to make this one more time but as a dress, to be worn with some tights and boots.  We'll see...I have an idea in mind just gotta fabric dive into the collection to see what I can find!

Butterick 6183 ~
This is the second top but it's actually the 4th time I've made it. This will not be the last because this top is very comfortable to wear. It also adds a sophistication that I like in my casual wear. 

It's made from scraps of black ponte used in various projects and the houndstooth ponte used in the #wineandcheesewithkashi dress. There was a black 'n white Calvin Klein version in the fall fashion mags and that inspired my version.

There are a couple of differences between this version and the other three, 

1. I added two inches to the length
2. It's unlined 
3. Instead of using the band to finish the neckline, placed it on the outside of the neckline. 

Otherwise since all of the fitting issues have been worked out it was straight sewing after I determined how I wanted to place the houndstooth and black pieces. Okay, not exactly. I never tried the top on until it was time to take pictures...I mean this is the 4th time I'm making it. I tried it on and it was quite large with flared wings at the side seams.  I took it off, ran downstairs to the cave and eliminated the wings by removing 1.5" on each side at the hemline easing to nothing at the waistline.

I photographed it with my black jean leggings but I'm not sure I will actually wear it this way. It's longer but not long enough to cover those thick thighs...I'm thinking it will look better with my black denim jeans.

Photos of the top ~

I've been on a real tops kick and see a lot more of them in my future since separates seem to work for my lifestyle now. Also, a couple of pieces that I made last year have been repurposed and worn with my ponte jeans leggings or slim legged pants and will probably show up here again in new stylings. 

I'm working on fitting and sewing a new slim pants pattern to go with the tops and a couple of skirt patterns too using several new patterns. I'm really enjoying this new lifestyle change and sewing challenge.

Thanks for taking this journey with me and for ALL of the encouraging words! always more later!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My views on Pattern Testing

I have been quiet about this situation that's been discussed quite a bit in the sewing blogosphere, primarily because I felt like my opinions are my own. However, I recently received an email from someone asking why no one asks me to pattern test.

The honest answer is that I've been approached several times, I've just recused myself.  I've said yes only three times...once to test a pattern for Lolita Patterns that I had to bow out of because of work deadlines, the second time by Jenny at Cashmerette Patterns because I really believe in the pattern line she's developing.  

If I may stop here and say that I've had several conversations with Jenny about her new pattern line, what she wants to accomplish and the style of patterns she wants to I wholeheartedly endorse her pattern line. I have even tested a pattern for her. To me she is filling a gap that's missing in patterns for the full busted, curvy sized woman sewist. She is also trying hard to reach out to every type of full figured sewist willing to work with her!

The last pattern I've agreed to test is still in the beginning phases and there is nothing out about it on the internet so I'm leaving it that way.

However, there are a few things I need to address here ~
The first one is that I believe most designers do attempt to have a minority outreach to test their patterns. However, if you don't participate in a lot of social media - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook you may miss the calls.  Or if you participate in mostly similar type people sewing circles - this applies to everyone - again you will miss the announcements.  Also I think that even we as a sewing blogosphere can be cliquish - yes, I said it. I believe this because it's human nature - we hang with who we're comfortable with - very few of us move between all of the circles in the sewing blogosphere.  Which btw, does not necessarily make you racist - it makes you unwilling to step outside your comfort zone.

Second - I don't test a lot because I HATE PDF patterns!  Yeap, I said it! I understand the appeal of them but personally I hate paying $12, $15, $20 for a link that I then have to supply the paper and ink to print the pattern out. Tape the pieces together, trace out new pattern pieces and then make alterations to them, before I can start sewing. Makes me a lousy candidate to pattern test!

Third - I've been sewing so long I rarely follow the instructions. I think when you pattern test and one of the things the designers I've worked with are looking for - is that the instructions make sense to home sewists, that the instructions and wording is clear and that the pattern pieces fit together the way they are suppose to even in the printing out process. If I don't follow instructions again I'm a lousy candidate to pattern test!

Until earlier this year, I did not lead the kind of lifestyle to wear a lot of the patterns that were being sold to the sewing blogosphere by indie pattern designers.  The styles were simplistic and did not fit into the very corporate world I inhibited. Now that things have changed, please refer to reason #2!

I've kept my piece about this because I've seen indie designers come and go - some went on to become designers for the Big 4 - Sandra Betzina, Marcy & Katherine Tilton and Connie Crawford - and some are still designing - Dana Marie Design Company (aka Purrfection Patterns), Sewing Workshop, Christine Jonson and Kathleen Cheetham (Petite Plus Patterns) on their own. I've used some of those patterns and others that are no longer in existence...again I've been sewing a long time! 

I say this because commerce and the consumer has a way of shaking out or losing the indie pattern companies that don't present a great pattern or great customer service. You as the home sewist has more power than you realize - because your dollars either cause a product to succeed or fail.  If you don't like them, can't use them or think their designs are whack, don't buy them! Sales are the true benchmark of what will succeed and continue or what will die and fade away!

Finally there are some interesting discussions on this on the web, one presently on Bunny's blog and Michelle does a great pattern review weekly. My personal preference is to sew the Big 4 which I do on the regular especially since Club BMV has such great sales. Simplicity/New Look/Burda could take some marketing lessons from them in my humble opinion because not everyone has access to a Hancocks or Joann's store to purchase patterns.

Also if you are a minority sewist OR any other sewist and want to pattern test contact the new indie pattern designers and let them know you'd like to test. I would say that the majority of the designers want a variety of people to pattern test and they do NOT know every sewist out there. Sometimes we have to step up and participate and not just wait for someone to come to us...but also be prepared to accept their conditions to test (conditions that don't always make sense to us the sewist) and/or the fact that they might not want you to test. Everything is a two way street!

So these are my opinions on pattern testing. I'm sure that there are some that will disagree with me and whether you do or don't feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section.  This is a discussion with many points of view...but to anyone wondering why I don't pattern test, you no longer have to wonder or reasons are stated above! always more later!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Winner and Some Pretty Pictures

First the winner of the Vogue 8118 pattern is:

Graca - please leave your email in the comments section so I can get your pattern out to you on Monday! (Sorry this posted prior to me inserting the winner - for some reason I thought I'd scheduled this for 2:30pm!)

Now here are the pretty pictures I promised ~

When I made my first Butterick 5678 I was so excited about finishing it that I put a review up on the blog with the shirt on Lulu, my dressform. I knew it was going to be at least two weeks before I had pictures taken and I just needed to share it.  So the sleeve alterations are in this post and more construction information is in the review post.

I'm wearing it on a Sunday afternoon at the kiddie park in my complex with the grandchildren which will explain some of these poses!

...and a day at the park with grandchildren is not complete without a picture or two of them...

There will be more versions of the Butterick 5678 and of course more pictures of the grandchildren! always more later!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday #4

I made this top back in 2006 and I don't think I ever blogged it.  Well at least I can't find it on my blog! There are mentions of it but no finished top, probably due to the fact that my computer died right around that time.

I used Vogue 8118 for the top and it's out of print now.

The fabric is a rayon scarf print that I purchased for $1 a panel. I bought 4 panels from a shop in NYC that I don't believe exists anymore.  We just won't talk about how old this makes me feel *sigh* when I think of what 40th Street use to look like or how many fabric stores there use to be on the streets between 35th to 40th streets.

Since I have no blog post, I have no construction details to share because I don't remember sewing this. I do, however, remember being careful to cut the fabric to use it to it's best advantage. 

So here are some pictures of me wearing it now with a pair of grey ponte legging jeans.

When I pulled out the file folder containing the pattern and pieces, I found a complete unused pattern in the folder along with the pattern I'd used. So if anyone in the US is interested in owning this pattern, leave a comment in the comment section by Saturday, October 17th at noon EST.  I'll pick a winner and post to the blog later that day.  Sorry but this drawing is only open to US citizens.

Finally, you know that my photographer comes with four little assistants. Today they were napping for a couple of the garments we photographed...well all except Miss Sammy.  

Here's a picture of her trying to participate in the photos...

She's getting sooooo big! And spends all of her time following behind her big sister...I know you're not supposed to have a favorite grandchild...but I love this little girl sooooo much! always more later!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Butterick 5678 Topper

I've known from the moment I started working on the original B5678 tunic that I would be lengthening the pattern and making it a dress.  It has that easy wear, cool look that I'm trying to achieve in this new phase of my life. That's what I started out doing...but I ended up with this topper instead.

Materials ~
Striped Silk Suiting from
Rayon Bemberg Lining from the collection
Faux Leather from EOS

Notions ~
Tortoise shell buttons from the collection
Covered black snaps from Pacific Trimmings
Black faux leather trim from

Construction ~
The most important thing about this topper is how I used the stripes...which meant some creative cutting to get the fabric to work the way I saw it in my minds' eye.  Thank goodness I had four yards of fabric and no qualms about using it in special cutting layouts. This resulted in some big and unusual scraps leftover.

The fabric was laid on the crossgrain so that the stripes would be vertical instead of horizontal. Then the pattern pieces were cut out using a single layout to take best advantage of the stripes since they have an irregular pattern.

I also cut fashion fabric on the bias as the underside to the collar stand, the lap for the sleeve openings and the cuffs mainly because I didn't want the faux leather next to my skin. As much as I love sewing and wearing faux leather, I've found it's kinda clammy next to my skin.

I decided to add a lining to the topper but I couldn't decide whether to underline it or to let the lining hang free. Ultimately I went with a free hanging lining that I attached to the topper at the neckline and in the button band.

I also used plastic tortoise shell buttons with a gold center down the front of the garment.

13 buttons and buttonholes for the topper front and covered snaps were invisibly added to the topper's cuffs.

Instead of hemming the topper I added a faux leather bias binding to the hemline from the collection. It seemed like the stripes needed to be contained and the bias binding was the perfect ending to the stripes.

However, after finishing it, I wasn't sure I liked it. Partially because I just couldn't see myself wearing it. If I can't see that, the garment will just sit in the closet. Gradually over the week, I began to "see" outfits in my head...only thing none of those outfits was a dress...I saw it more as a topper.  So that's how I will wear it.

I'm letting the dress idea go for now using this pattern. I really like this as a topper, so a few more pics...

The wind so graciously provided an interior shot of the lining!

Worn with a RTW sleeveless turtleneck & ponte legging jeans

I enjoyed making this topper. It had some interesting components to it and it required me to think outside the box...perfect to remind me that I actually can sew! *LOL* Hey there's been some days/weeks lately when I haven't felt like I could...I know you can agree that you've been there, done that too! 

Oh, one more thing - almost everything for this garment came from the collection. The only thing I purchased were the covered snaps (35 cents each for 5) from Pacific Trimmings last week. My new job is located in the heart of the garment district, no I don't work for a fashion house or design firm, and I now have easy access to all of the stores.   

There's a "Throwback Thursday" up next on the blog! So thrilled to have found it when I was cleaning out the closet cause I can sure use it now. always more later!


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