Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas ideas

Learn fun and easy gift-giving ideas you can make!

My family decided to scale back Christmas this year. It seems to be getting out of hand and we really don't need more *stuff*. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure the true meaning of Christmas was vividly apparent during our celebration, not the commercialism that is so abundant. So in our quest to change things up a bit, we decided that we're going to try to include more handmade gifts under our tree.

At first we got a few wrinkled noses from the kids, but within minutes they were all very excited and making lists of what they could make each family member. Personally I wish my children were getting more handmade items from us, but when we decided this it was already mid November and being the planner I am, I already had several things purchased. What is really excited (at least to me), is my in-laws are participating too and we're only exchanging handmade things with each other.

Thankfully my husband has great mechanical and woodworking skills, so it won't be just me in my little sweatshop cranking out gifts - yep he's helping too, yeah! We'll also be making some things in the kitchen and the kids are excited about that (best to start them in the kitchen early, I hope their spouses thank me for that someday! LOL).

With all that, I wanted to share with you a blog that has lots of great, simple ideas for handmade gifts. If you're venturing down this road, you'll want to check it out ~ You Can Make This Blog. There are even short video clips too! Another blog with lots of ideas is Sew Mama Sew Blog in the handmade holidays section.

So what am I making you might wonder. I have pajamas all cut out for the kids for their Christmas Eve gift plus everyone is getting a few new sets under the tree. I also will be making them pillows, which I'll share with when I'm done. I made one for a baby gift and it turned out so cute. I have other ideas churning in my head and will share things as they are completed.

So are you making any Christmas gifts? Do you limit the number of gifts you give your children or do you have a set dollar amount? Share with me. The whole theory of scaling back is harder when the kids are bigger. They have expectations, but quite frankly I'm tired of this nonsense and so is my husband. We keep reminding them so hopefully there won't be any long faces on Christmas morning. I would like to think this is the beginning of a new season at our home, hopefully one we will continue to carry on for years to come (sounds like the ending of a Hallmark movie, huh?).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Learning something new.

It's easy to get in a rut of doing things the same way. A creature of habit. My middle son was in desperate need of new undies (TMI I know). What started out as a fun way to use up scraps might have created a monster. My boys have been spoiled with mama made undies and they like them so much better than RTW - so much in fact that there are no RTW undies in the house for any of them. I do hope I haven't ruined them forever and they will expect their mom to make their undies when they are 50! ;-)

Back in August (gasp!), I cut out seven pairs and finally got around to sewing them up over the weekend. I used my trusty Ottobre Boxer Brief pattern and started sewing them how I had before (wrong sides together serged so the seams are on the outside, then zigzag the seams down from the outside so they lay flat). After doing two pair, it occurred to me that there has got to be a better way. Then a split second later I had my serger manual opened up to a flatlock stitch and knew that was just the ticket!

My serger rarely does anything but a four thread overlock. Occasionally it will do a rolled hem, but that is it. I even bought myself the book Serger Secrets years ago so I knew how to do all kinds of things with my serger. Unfortunately I feel like I don't have time to learn something new so I haven't made time to practice anything the book shows. I will say that I highly recommend it tho, it's jammed full of wonderful information (information I must store in my brain so I can use when the need arises).

Back to my discovery. So I set my machine up for a 2 thread wide flatlock (hmm, that is what they meant by 2 thread, another discovery for me!) and proceeded to make some samples. I am happy to say, that flatlocking the pieces for the undies together worked like a charm and was so much faster than my original method. I was so excited that I called my BFF Kim to share the news and she said, well you are going to blog about it aren't you? - so here I am blogging about it and hoping to inspire someone to try out this great stitch. Here are some samples I stitched-

1) This shows the front and back side after you initially stitch it together.2) After you stitch the two pieces together, open the fabric up so you have one piece in each and and gently pull - voila, you have now pulled the seam allowances inside your flatlock. This is the view from the "looper" side (what I chose for my top side).3) And this is the view from the "ladder" side (what I chose as the backside for my project).
4) And here are the finished undies! :-)
I hope if you haven't played around with your serger, that you will now. I had fun trying this new stitch and am going to start trying some other techniques in the Serger Secrets book.

Up next? Just trying to make my Christmas sewing plans. I feel like I'm already leaving things to the last minute and I still have 5.5 weeks left. I have lots of pj's cut out so that is one thing I'll be sewing. Also I would like to make the two older boys sweatshirts. Then there is sewing I'd like to do for me - another pair of Jalie jeans (yes I know I didn't share that I made a pair back in Sept - love them!!!!), a coat/jacket or three...so many patterns, so little time.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Hope you had a fun and safe Halloween! My crew did and got enough candy to last a quite a while.

Fortune Teller Girl

Super Mario

Dan Druff the nerd

Mr. Train Conductor

This year I got off easy making costumes. I only made the Super Mario overalls and hat. I found a super easy tute for the hat so check it out if you need to make one for your kiddo. The "M" was a patch I made on my embroidery machine.

We lucked out and the rain ceased for the big Trick or Treat outing - thank goodness!

Monday, October 26, 2009

this is why...

I get NO sewing done! LOL The laundry is never ending at my house.

I'm so thankful we have clothes to wear so I'm not complaining. ;-)

P.S. There is one more load in the dryer and one in the washer too!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

i love my life

I say that with all sincerity. I love that I am able to stay home. My *job* is to care for my family and our home. There are many people who would rather have a career even after having children. I am not one of those. I always knew I wanted to be a wife and mommy. I am living MY dream and feel so blessed.

Once upon a time, I thought staying home would yield me some free time. Such *might* have been true after my daughter was born and I got over the sleep deprivation of having a newborn. Not so much at this stage of the game. The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months... yadda yadda. I know things will be different when my youngest goes to Kindergarten next year and I remind myself of that when I want to have my *own* time. That is going to be a life changing event for me having all my children in school and one I don't really relish just yet quite frankly.

I really like sewing. I think and dream of sewing a lot. Lately, unfortunately, I don't actually sew a lot. That makes me sad, but I know this is a season. I miss sewing. I have done a little here and there, but mostly my life consists of anything other than sewing. :-(

Enough of whining, let me be the *glass is half full person that I am* and share what I have accomplished. First off I kept my end of the bargain with my MIL and made her three beautiful skirts for her Italy trip. Sorry no pictures of that project, but I can say with certainty that she absolutely loves all three of them. They were the only thing she packed to wear on her bottom half for the 10 day trip. I was so happy she loved them that much. :-)

I also made myself a top I hated (Vogue 2980). I had made this before and the fabric was too spandex-y (is that a word?). I knew the fabric was part of the problem, but I thought sizing up might help too as that pattern seemed to run pretty small. If you know me IRL, you'd know I'm pretty cheap frugal and spending $4 on a pattern I already had would be silly. So instead I'd use 1/4" SA's in the side and underarm seams and see if that gave me a better fit. Well I think the fit was fine, but the fabric was a bad choice. It's too clingy and I feel self-conscious wear it. Will I try it again? I'm not thinking so even tho I love the style.

I did make the marvelous Jalie jeans. That will have to be a whole different post, but I will say I LOVE them! I have worn them many times already and plan to make another pair again soon. I have some modifications I need to make, but I can't even begin to say how thrilled I am with them.

I think that is all in the sewing department. I did get a lovely souvenir from Italy tho...

It's so fun to look at foreign pattern magazines. I sure wish I could get my hands on them regularly at an affordable price. I also got a yummy bar of Swiss chocolate too. :-)

My immediate "to do" list item is a pair of overalls for Halloween. My oldest son is going to be Super Mario and I can't find a pair in any thrift store to save my life. I've been to 12 and overalls just ain't out there. They are not popular anymore and you can't even seem to buy them at a retail level. If I would have planned ahead better maybe I could have scored a pair on eBay, but I didn't so now I'm sewing a pair. Thank goodness I have Ottobres galore. I found a pair in one of the early non-English issues. They were a few sizes too small, but I sized them up and they look like they'll fit just fine so I'll be working on those this week. Have I mentioned that Halloween is really my least favorite holiday? I'd rather buy the kids each a bag of candy and do something fun (bowling, movies, etc). Such a party pooper huh?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

13 years of bliss

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. We had actually went out to dinner the night before while our children went to sleepover at the Grandparent's house, but didn't know we were going to be in for such a treat on our actual anniversary day.

When the kids came home, our sweet daughter has a surprise dinner prepared for us. I stayed downstairs in my sewing room until it was time for our dinner (she had to bake the entree). With very little help from my MIL, she prepared us a four course dinner. For our appetizer we had chips and salsa (a favorite in our house!), then we had a nice salad followed by some of the yummiest enchiladas I've ever had (seriously, I'm totally being truthful!), and then for dessert some delicious chocolate cake with a sweetened sour cream filling. She also picked out some tasty sparkling cider for our drink too.

The little miss got all dressed up in a dress to be our server and set up a card table in our living room for us to dine at. She made the "brothers" promise to stay outside and eat the dinner she prepared for them ("big noodles" a family favorite of the kids) and they even cooperated for her (and us). She lovingly and carefully made a beautiful table presentation, picked flowers, made up placecards, folded the napkins, added a candle for ambiance, had "romantic" music playing in the background, and even hung a sheet over the doorway so we could have privacy while we dined. It was a lot of fun for us and we really enjoyed ourselves. Our wonderful server even earned a $5 tip from dear ol' dad! Thank you for the wonderful dinner sister, we really enjoyed it!!!

I find it hard to believe we've already been married 13 years, but on the other hand I can't believe it's only been 13 years. Happy Anniversary sweetie, looking forward to sharing the rest of my life with you!

In "sewing" news, well not a whole lot is happening. I made a red Jalie hoodie that I really like, but am also in the midst of a "sewing for hire" project. While I usually don't take on such tasks, I did a little bartering with my lovely MIL. I'm making her a few skirts to take on her upcoming trip to Italy and when she returns from said trip, she's going to shampoo my carpets (both upstairs and downstairs). It's a hot deal for both of us and I'm totally pumped about it!

The kids are heading back to school tomorrow, so maybe I'll have some more sewing time. Summer has been a whirlwind of busy for our family, so I am looking forward to things slowing down, tho I would still like to keep the warm summer weather for a bit longer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sewing Pants

Last week I was asked by my sister's friend Joanna to write a guest blog post on sewing pants. I explained to Joanna that I am totally not qualified to write a post on sewing pants, but answered a few questions for her and she replied that is the exact information her readers wanted to know. They are all crafty sewers and just wanted to do a little pants sewalong and needed some basic knowledge. Basic knowledge I have, so I figured that I could share that with her readers. I decided to add the post here too because maybe someone else who is just starting to sew pants will find it helpful, so here ya go. :-)

Hi, I'm Melissa from Susie-Homemaker and Joanna has asked me to guest blog a post on sewing pants. Honestly I'm not sure I'm qualified to type this post, but like I told Joanna in my email, I really just sew by the seat of my pants and figure it out as I go. When I'm stumped, I consult Google, my shelf full of sewing books, and favorite sewing message board Pattern Review, but mostly I just wing it and learn from my mistakes.

I have quite a bit of pant sewing experience under my belt thanks to my four children. I enjoy sewing for them because they are easy to fit. Me on the other hand, I'm still on a quest to sew pants that fit me perfectly. I don't fit the classic "perky thin 20-year-old-Barbie-doll body type model" that pattern makers draft for, but what woman does? A quick look around in any public venue and you'll see that body type does not depict your typical woman's curvy figure. I make a point to note this because sewing pants is the easy part, getting them to fit how you like, well that is another story and one I'm definitely not qualified to write about. Okay, on to sewing by the seat of our pants!

So what kinds of fabrics do you sew pants from? The easy answer is anything you want. Of course use this guide within reason. Most people don't sew pants from a sheer lightweight fabric, but if you really wanted to you could. Some popular choices for sewing pants include denim, twill, corduroy, and linen. If you're using a commercial pattern, you'll find a list of suggested fabrics on the pattern envelope. Definitely use that information as a guide because it will help you recreate the look you see on the pattern envelope ~ too stiff or too drapey and you'll ruin the look.

Fiber content is also something to think about when choosing fabrics. Natural fibers breathe well and allow airflow to circulate more easily (think cotton, wool, silk, linen). Man-made fibers, such as rayon, also breath well because they comes from a natural source (wood pulp in the case of rayon) and aren't chemically created. Synthetic fibers come from a chemical source and are chemically processed to create the fiber. Examples of synthetics include polyester, nylon, acrylic, and spandex. The major downfall of synthetics is they have no wicking quality and are often hot to wear. On the plus side, synthetics are machine washable, resist wrinkling, and usually hold their shape well. Want the best of both worlds? Look for blended fibers. A great example which many of us probably have in our closet is stretch denim. The comfort of cotton with the recovery of spandex makes for a fabulous pair of jeans that don't bag out the minute you sit down.

What about needles and stitch length? This all depends on the fabric you choose. A light weight fabric will require a small needle while a heavyweight fabric needs a larger needle that will penetrate the thicker fabric and not cause stress on the thread which can cause it to fray or break. As a general guide, lightweight fabric you'll use 60/9 or 70/10 with a stitch length of 1.5-1.7mm, a medium weight fabric 70/10 or 80/20 with a stitch length of 2-2.5mm, heavyweight fabric 90/14 or 100/16 with a stitch length of 2.5-3mm, and then a very heavyweight fabric 100/16 to 120/20 with a stitch length of 3-4mm. To ensure you're using the correct needle and stitch length, create a few samples with your fabric scraps before beginning your garment.

Another question that comes up regarding needles is what type. I found a very helpful post on the Sew Mama Sew blog so I'm going to refer everyone to that so I don't reiterate the same information. Worth adding is a little information about stretch needles. Stretch needles are actually a better choice when sewing fabrics with spandex (aka Lycra) because they have a deeper scarf that prevents skipped stitches. I have personally had skipped stitches using a ball point needle, but once I switched to a stretch needle the problem has been solved. Here is another helpful reference for choosing needles.

What about thread? For stitching seams, a basic all-purpose thread is perfect for most of your sewing needs. I typically use Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP which I buy at Joann's. When I topstitch hems or pockets, I use the same all-purpose thread when I want everything to blend together. Other times I want thicker topstitching thread to highlight those areas (hems, pockets, etc), so I use Gutermann topstitching thread (also at Joann's). While I don't recall the price of the spool, it has 110 yds and comes in several different colors including a nice blue jeans gold (#1870). When I topstitch, I have personally used a regular sewing machine needle, but after doing a little research for this post, I see I should really be using a topstitching needle because they are made for thicker topstitching thread (note to self!). Sometimes you'll have to loosen the thread tension to get the bobbin and the needle thread to balance out so it's best to practice on scraps first. Also, I personally use all-purpose thread in my bobbin when I topstitch because it feeds better (at least in my machine) than the thick topstitching thread. I think that you're really only supposed to use lighter weight threads in your bobbin case, but consult your manual or your dealer for what is correct for your machine.

Before I close, I'd like to share a few links of things you might find helpful for the sewalong. Here are two articles ~ Making Perfect Pants and Sewing Instructions for Women's Pants. And if you're interested in learning to better fit your clothes to your body shape, I highly recommend two books by Pati Palmer & Marta Alto ~ Fit For Real People and Pants for Real People. Lastly, there are two books I have in my sewing library that are great pants reference books ~ Easy Guide to Sewing Tops, T-Shirts, Skirts, and Pants & Sewing Pants That Fit (this one is a bit dated, but has good information on sewing and fitting pants).

Thank you Joanna for asking me to be a guest. I hope the information I shared will be useful. My best advice is don't think about it too much. I get caught up in thinking too much and sometimes I think the best things happen when you just roll with it and really just sew by the seat of your pant. Happy sewing!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pattern Review ~ Simplicity 3775

Simplicity 3775

I want to first say the center ruching isn't even in the photo. That was my fault and now it's starting to rain outside so I'm not going to go do another photo. IRL it looks perfect when adjusted, it's just my goof of not making sure I looked camera ready for the picture - oops!

Pattern Description: Knit dress with two bodice options and optional waist ruching.

Pattern Sizing: 4-20 ~ I made a size 8 in the bodice grading to a 12 in the hips

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were very easy to follow along.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I have had this pattern in my stash since it was first released and have never sewn it up. I always liked the style so I thought I'd finally give it a whirl.

I don't necessary dislike the pattern, but I'm not sure I like it's the most flattering dress for my figure (see more below).

Fabric Used: poly/lycra knit from Fabric.com I purchased last fall

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I graded to a size 12 in the hips and waist of the pattern after doing some flat pattern measuring. I wanted to be safe and it turned out that I didn't really need to do that. I ended up taking the dress in a little bit in the center tummy panel, but went back out to the size 12 in the skirt. I also made a broad back adjustment and shaved a little bit of the lower part of the bodice to make a SBA. I found that I needed to shorten the neckbands in the front too and ended up taking 1" off both pieces to keep the top better snugged to my body.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm not sure if I'll sew this dress again. I don't know if it's the most flattering dress for my figure. After talking with my friend on the phone about it, I think the problem is that the tummy panel hits me in a bad spot. I feel like it makes me look thick through the waist. While I had it on, I pulled up the center section of the dress and liked how looked when when it was a bit higher, but then that made the skirt too short, so this dress will have to stay as is. I think that would be the key for me to really like this dress is to shorten that center section a bit.

Clearly this dress is a winner for a lot of people so I do say give it a try if you like the style, however it will depend on your body shape if it's figure flattering for you.

Conclusion: Easy dress to make and a very popular Simplicity pattern.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pattern Review ~ Jalie 2806

Jalie 2806

Pattern Description: Banded scoopneck tops with ruching or gathered fold at center front. Optional wide hem band. Sleeveless or choice of tulip or three-quarter sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: The whole kit and kaboodle - toddler girls size 2 to ladies 22 ~ I made size R which is my usual size for Jalie tops.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Well it's no secret, I'm a huge Jalie fan. I personally find their instructions fabulous. They have great written instructions that get you a RTW look and they also include pictures to help guide you along. The only confusing part (potentially) is that the drawings show the right side is white and the wrong side is solid gray (opposite of how most other pattern companies do things). It's no biggie tho because each picture is clearly labeled, just remember to pay close attention when looking at the drawings.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? After seeing so many great reviews, I just had to order this pattern. I like both versions, but have only made the gathered foldover front version thus far. No dislikes at all.

Fabric Used: Red rayon/lycra jersey - I actually took apart this dress because I never wore it. I know the picture doesn't look bad, but I really hated how it fell on my upper thighs and didn't feel very attractive in it. Thankfully I had just enough fabric to get this top out of it, but I did have to reuse the sleeves from the dress. They actually fit the armhole without a hitch surprisingly.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely! I actually have sewn it three times already and realized I hadn't added a review. The first time I made three-quarter length sleeves and the second time I made the tulip sleeves. After wearing the tulip sleeves a few times, I ended up replacing them with a basic short sleeve. I felt they didn't look good on me, however it might have just been the fabric choice.

I'd definitely recommend this pattern. You can't go wrong with Jalie!

Conclusion: Another Jalie worth owning for sure!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pattern Review ~ Jalie 2910

Jalie 2910

Pattern Description: Knit tops with a forward shoulder seam, banded surplice neckline, sleeveless or three-quarter sleeve, and optional mandarin collar.

Pattern Sizing: toddler size 2 through ladies size 22 ~ I made R (my usual size based on my measurements).

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, Jalie always has fabulous instructions that walk you through each step and give you a professional RTW finish. Both the wording and pictures are great and very thorough.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I bought this pattern after trying on one of Emilie's tops at PRW in May (the green one on the Jean's pattern envelope) and loving the collar. I honestly didn't ever intend on buying this pattern because I like the original one (#2449), but I really loved the collar so I decided to give this one a whirl.

Fabric Used: poly/lycra knit from fabric.com (aged properly for 1 year! lol)

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I ended up shortening the neckband by 1" on both ends because the top was gaping terribly on me. This seemed to fix the problem and I'm sure it was my fabric. I made a top in similar fabric in the original and have the same problem and need to go back and fix it because I love the top so much. From experience, cotton/lycra knit doesn't behave this way. It seems to snap back more than poly/lycra or rayon/lycra knits (at least in my experience).

Also, I interfaced the collar, but only one piece. Next time I might do both with a lightweight fusible knit so it is crisp on both sides. This time I put the interfaced side towards my neck, but now that I have it done, I believe I should have put it facing outwards since this is the "public" side. Live and learn.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I am going to sew it again in a cotton/lycra and see how it behaves and fits. I'm not convinced I like this one better than the original for my figure. I like front band being applied as one long piece, love the collar option, love the forward shoulder, and even like the added length, but when I compare the two pattern pieces (front pieces and back pieces), I see the the front of the new pattern has a lot more fabric in the bust area than the old pattern. That could be why I love the old pattern so much is it just fit me well. I'm small in the bust so all the extra fabric just bags out and looks silly. I'm fine when I first put the top on and get it all adjusted, but as I go about my day, it shifts and gets all baggy across the midsection. The length between the two tops is the new one is approximately 2.5" longer (I added 1" in length to the original #2449 pattern).

I definitely recommend the pattern for ease of sewing, great features, and if you weren't too happy with the first version, this might be just the ticket for you.

Conclusion: An easy to sew pattern with nice options. Maybe more suited for someone who is blessed in the chest (something that genetically passed me by).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pattern Review ~ Jalie 2804

Jalie 2804

Pattern Description: Empire crossover top with banded neckline and optional modesty panel. Option of side ruching and choice of cap, short, three-quarter, or long sleeve.

Pattern Sizing: toddler size 2 - ladies size 22 ~ I made a size R (this is my usual size based on my measurements)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, I know I always say this, but Jalie has fabulous instructions. Great wording and pictures to get you a professional RTW look.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the empire styling. I have been fond of this top since it was released and make my first mock up back before PRW and had an awful time with the fit. It fit me like a sausage casing and my crappy fabric with not enough stretch didn't help at all. After comparing the pattern pieces of this top to the other two that came out at the same time (#2805 & #2806), I found this one was cut straighter with less curve through the waist and hip. Here is an overlay of 2804 and 2805. The larger one is 2805 (and 2806 is virtually the same). Since I made 2805 and liked the fit, I decided to modify this top to match the curves of that one. So I just used the back piece of 2805 and modified the front of this pattern to match the front shaping of 2805. From the picture I hope you can see what I added (sorry I have no clue how to add lines to a picture). It's not a lot of extra fabric, but give it more of a curve and I definitely have a defined waist and hips and need some curve in my pattern pieces in those areas.

I have no dislikes about this pattern now that I figured out what works best for me and modified it to fit. It goes together easily and is really a cute style.

Fabric Used: Poly/lycra knit from FabricMartFabrics.com (properly aged at least 1 year!).

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Other than altering my pattern pieces as mentioned above, nothing.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, now that I have it altered for me, I will definitely sew it again. I'd like to try the modesty panel too, that is really cute.

Yes, I definitely recommend it, but if you have a curvier figure you might have to grade out in the hips and waist.

Conclusion: Cute top and I'm glad I stuck with it to get a top that fits me well. Also worth noting is that the sleeves in all the newer knit top patterns seen to be shaped the same so you can interchange them with one another. This pattern has a cap sleeve or short sleeve which are nice options for warmer weather.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Pattern Review ~ Butterick 5363

Butterick 5363 ~ View D

Pattern Description: Wardrobe pattern with jacket, tunic, dress, and pants. I made the sundress which has a drawstring umpire waist and racerback.

Pattern Sizing: 8-22, I made a size 8

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Cuter I think!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were very easy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Well I didn't even notice this pattern until I saw Adrienne's dress ~ here is her review. I loved it immediately and knew it would be a great dress to wear on those hot summer days. It's loose and cool, but really cute. I was right and so glad I grabbed this pattern when Buttericks were on sale.

Fabric Used: blue & white striped seersucker fabric - at least I think it's seersucker, it has the texture of seersucker. Whatever it is, it's cotton and I found it in my stash. I believe I bought it at Joann's. On a side note, one of my sons saw me wearing this dress and said "hey mom, I really like your new hickory dress". DH & I got a kick out of that, so now it's coined the hickory dress at my house since it looks like the same type of blue and white striped fabric (tho hickory shirts are not seersucker! lol). For those that don't live in logging country, this is a hickory shirt.

Also worth noting, the inside of the neck and armholes are finished with single fold bias tape for a nice clean finish. You can see that in my photo below.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I made no changes, just sewed it as it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I actually already have another dress cute out in red embroidered linen. I'd definitely recommend it and thank Adrienne for bringing this one to my attention. I've been so happy to have it too because we've had a very hot summer in the Pacific NW so I've worn it a lot of times already (I actually made it two months ago and am just getting around to reviewing it, oops!).

Conclusion: Fabulous and easy summer dress that is comfy yet has some style. Fast to sew too, but is fashioned to wear a tank top underneath which is not one of the components in the pattern. My personal choice is Ottobre Woman 2-2008-1.

Other views~
upclose of fabric and label

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Pattern Review ~ Butterick 5283

Long sunny summer days have made me neglectful of my blog. I have sewn some and actually have been inspired to write a few reviews recently so the next few posts will be reviews of various garments.

This garment I'm not all that tickled with. I had higher hopes, but it didn't really end up being what I hoped. Please don't feel bad if you don't like it either, I think you'll be in good company and honestly such comments won't hurt my feelings (promise!).

Butterick 5283 - View C

Pattern Description: Close fitting pullover knit top with two different twist variations (one centered and one to the side) and sleeveless or long sleeved options.

Pattern Sizing: 6-22, I made size 8 which is my typical size for tops

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? I made view C of this top and found the instructions to be adequate until I got to step #5. In that step there is a drawing of the top from the inside and it says "Twist left front as shown. With right sides together, pin left front matching notches...". Well it does show what the top should look like from the inside after it's all stitched together, but I had a heck of a time figuring out how to get the top to look that way. Honestly I must be a complete dunce because it took me 20 minutes to figure out what the heck to do. This is my umpteenth twist top, so I should be able to figure out a twist top pretty easily. Such was not the case here and honestly I have no clue how I got it too look the way it did. It looks like the pattern envelope so apparently I figured it out. I honestly think this was pretty lame of Butterick to do. You could at least show step-by-step how to make the twist. Especially for someone with no experience, it's not very nice to leave them high and dry. Maybe it was just me tho and it's really not as hard as I made it out to be. The rest of the instructions were adequate for the top (at least for view C & D).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Originally I really liked the variation of the side twist, that is the reason I purchased this pattern. My dislike is the rotten instructions for forming the twist.

Fabric Used: hot pinky/peachy rayon/lycra knit

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None were made.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm not sure I'll sew this again. My hubby thought it was weird the twist wasn't centered. I really like the idea of the top, but I don't know that I really like it that well on. I'm still on the fence, but am not sure it's going to be a favorite go to top. I feel like when I look in the mirror it looks like I have only one boob! LOL

As for a recommendation, I guess I'd recommend it if it's the style you're after. The views of A & B look nice so maybe I'll try that one someday.

Conclusion: I'm just not sure how I feel about this top. If it's your style, go for it, but beware the directions for making the twist aren't good (IMO anyway).

Friday, July 10, 2009


So I'm too lazy to go find my camera and upload a picture of my gigantic mess, but I want to know how you deal with clutter. I HATE clutter and I feel like I spend more time reorganizing my sewing room than I do actually sewing.

Quick frankly I'm feeling like I like the idea of "less is more". Clutter brings me down. I feel bad getting rid of stuff and think to myself "oh I should eBay some of this", but then that idea reminds me how labor intensive it is to do that. Pictures, listings, weighing for shipping, collecting money, going to the post office - that whole thing turns me off right now. I could just shove everything I don't want into a closet and deal with it later when the weather turns, but I'm sure that is the worst answer possible. I guess I need to have it in writing that it's okay to just get rid of stuff. One man's junk is another man's treasure, right? So I'm going to finish cleaning and then go through and see if anything is eBay worthy and the rest is going to the Senior Center where they can make quilts and other projects.

That is my vent for the day. So how do you deal with this? I feel so unproductive and I hate it. I'm sick of dealing with this. I like having a small stash of fabric, patterns, & notions, but they make more of all this every day. I feel like I'm hording and that makes me uneasy. I like the simple life I guess. Maybe I'll be brave and share pictures later, that is if I find my camera...

P.S. This all started because yesterday I realized my serger wasn't working properly. Upon closer inspection I see something is broken on the throat plate. Took it to the dealer and he said, "yep, you need a new throat plate, you must really use this machine a lot because I've only seen this one other time". Well duh, I bought it to use, not sit and collect dust. Thankfully the part is only about $30, but will not be in until next Thursday, hence the reason I'm cleaning and not sewing.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Birthday Cake

What's a birthday party without a fabulous cake? My good friend Mandi made a very similar cake (well almost identical - shameless copying here) for her son who just turned 5 in May. I knew my birthday boy would love it since he's a Cars fanatic, so big sister and I set off to recreate a masterpiece. Of course mom was right - yep, he adored it!

Sorry I haven't gotten much sewing done - forgive me, it's been birthday season among other things at our home. DH's birthday is Friday, but I think his mom is taking charge of the dessert - she mentioned Snicker's Cheesecake?!?!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

5 years

That is how old my "baby" is today. How can 5 years have passed so quickly? We're having his party tomorrow complete with a super cool "Cars" cake that my daughter and I are making for him. I wanted to make him a special shirt to wear and this is what I came up with. I actually cheated and purchased a black shirt from Joann's last week with my 50% off coupon and then appliqued a "5" to the front in checkered flag fabric. He really likes it.

And those sweet feet that I still can't resist (yep I know they will turn into ugly big feet soon, but for now they are still pretty darn cute - at least I think).

On a sewing note, I did finish my Burda drawstring blouse several weeks ago, a dress for myself - I think the pattern was Butterick, and 6 pairs of pj's for my boys. It's been hard to get anything done now that the kids are finished with school. I'll work on posting pictures of those and reviews soon.

Happy Birthday Andy!

Friday, May 29, 2009


It's *sew* fun getting goodies in the mail. I have gotten several things recently and wanted to share.

The top row of five fabrics is something I won in a giveaway from Yvonne at Color In Your Life (she owns a great online shop Bunte Fabrics that stocks lovely European and Japanese fabrics for children, Euro patterns, and lots more - plus she's in Washington State). I haven't ordered anything from her yet, but when the need arises, I will definitely buy from her. The fabrics she sent are gorgeous and while I'm not sure what I'm going to make with them yet, you can bet that it will be something adorable and probably for my second cousin's little sweetie who turns one next month.

Then I got a surprise package from an online friend who lives in Canada (hi Abi!). She sent me two magazines - a La Mia Boutique from Nov 2008 and then Patrones Ninos #277.

Lastly, I won Patrones Joven #279 that Marita of Paradise for Me was giving away in a drawing on her blog.

I've gotten to look at a few of the international magazines before, but to have some in my hands that are mine is soooo much fun! What eye candy. Yes the fact I can't read the directions is a bit scary, but it's not enough to sway me from trying. Thanks for the gifts ladies, know they will be loved and cherished by me. :-)

Then of course after getting my own personal Jalie fashion show and the ability to try on Emilie's clothing (thanks Emilie!!!), I had to buy three new Jalie patterns. Here is what I ordered:

I didn't try on the pants (#2909), but Emilie was wearing them and they are adorable! I think I will like them a lot, plus they are cut like the jeans which are amazing. I really liked the new crossover top too. I'm a fan of the old one, but the new one is a little longer and has a cute collar you can use. I was sold after I tried on Emilie's top (which is the green one shown on the pants pattern).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Disney with Yvonne (finally)

You know how it goes, you have the best of intentions, but life just gets in the way. Last week I decided to buck up and weed the flower beds. What I'm not telling you is that they were really "weed beds" and any sort of plant/shrub was sparse. So my little "weeding" extravaganza turned into a full fledged yard makeover that is still in progress. It has needed to be done for a long time - we moved into our home 8 years ago and my recommendation is put a landscape budget in if you're building a home. We didn't and here we are still working things out plus we still don't have a deck (hopefully this summer, but that is a whole different story that requires engineering and a whole lotta $$).

Anyway, finally here are a few pictures from our recent trip to California. My family had a wonderful time and the icing on the cake for me was finally getting to meet Yvonne. We've been emailing each other for about 3 years now and I knew we'd just get along wonderfully and enjoy each other's company. So our two days in Disneyland were spend with her and her fabulous hubby (whom my family also adored and my boys were constantly grabbing his hand and pulling him along in the direction they wanted to go). The only downfall was we only had two days to spend together. We were all sad when they had to leave for their flight back to Australia, but were so happy for the time we had together. Thank you Yvonne and Robert for sharing your vacation with us - we enjoyed your company more than you'll ever know!

Me & Yvonne

My Darling Hubby & me

Mickey and friends!

Sharing a drink

The entire family on the Pier in San Francisco

I wish I had a few more group pictures to share, but photographing four kids together and having them all looking at the camera is next to impossible.

I started a sewing project last Friday, but of course it was interrupted by *Project Landscape*, so the pattern is still laying on my cutting table. I was really inspired when I saw Christina's blouse at PR weekend. It's such a cute and unique blouse, so I decided that would be my next project. It's #106 from the 3/2009 issue.

During the Pati Palmer seminar at PR weekend, I was inspired to really try to address my fit issues when sewing. So for this top, I have graded down to a 34 (hello Burda, would you start making all things start at a 34 - it's just dumb that not everything starts that small). I had my hubby measure my back width and found my back is 14.25" wide so like Marta shared with me last fall, I need to do about a 1/2" broad back adjustment and that is true with Burda's size chart too. So I made a broad back adjustment and tried on my pattern. I found that I still needed to go out in the hips (I figured I would), so I graded out to a 36 in the hips and also implemented a forward shoulder adjustment. The pattern appears to be fitting well, so I'm going to cut it out in fabric and see where it gets me. Fingers crossed I'm happy with the result.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PRW Portland 2009

I think it's safe to say, fun was had by all! It was a whirlwind weekend that I wish wouldn't have flown by so fast. I got to reunite with some friends I'd met last year in LA and I got to make lots of new friends this year. It is always so fun to actually get to chat in person with people that dig sewing as much as you do. Well this weekend there were about 50 ladies that did just that and I sincerely hope that everyone who attended had as much fun as I did. If fun is measured by lack of sleep, than I definitely hit the mark (about 10 hours total is all I got!). I came home horse too, a sign that I talked WAY too much (I hope that doesn't deter anyone from coming near me again - it might be obvious I don't get out much! lol).

The weekend started out with a day long seminar by Pati Palmer in which the topics of sewing jackets and fit were covered. She is a very informative and fun speaker to listen to. She swears she's never worked a day in her life, that is how much she loves her *job* (it's not a job to her). That evening we all ate dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory - you could tell everyone was having a great time by the noise level in the room. After dinner we had a little contest with the ugly fabric we brought - everyone ended up being a winner, my prize was a book by Kenneth King.

On Saturday, the day started bright and early at 8am. We all boarded a big yellow school bus and traveled to Fabric Depot, downtown to Josephine's & the Button Emporium, and then finally to Mill End (my personal favorite in the tour). That evening we enjoyed a nice pizza dinner at the hotel and then showed off our favorite fabric purchase, mine was some Burberry coating I got at Mill End.

Then on Sunday, a small group met in the restaurant at the Monarch Hotel for a yummy brunch and one last gab session before we all parted ways.

Here are pictures I took (and a few I snagged from Flickr). I didn't really take that many, but so many cameras were flashing all the time that I figured the event was surely covered (you know the celebrity status we all have on PR is just like being in the limelight! LOL).

My roomies Cindy and Leslie

Me and Jacqui (we live only about 2.5 hours away - yay!)

Me & Deepika being "movie stars" at Fabric Depot

Jacqui & Deepika

Nancy, Me, & Cindy Lou

Jacqui & Emilie (from Jalie)

Cindy Lou, Nancy, Deepika, & Cidell

Leslie, Cindy Lou, & Cidell

Look, everyone is wearing a Jalie top!

Me & Emilie

The conference Friday during a break

Me & Jacqui

Cindy & Christina chatting it up

Cidell & Emilie

Brunch at the Monarch

Me & Deepika

Cindy shopping for patterns at Joann's

Me, Cindy Lou, Mary, Jacqui

Me & Mary Fran

Me, Cindy, & Laura (back)
Jacqui, Cindy Lou, Nancy, Leslie, & Jennifer (front)
Me with all my Jalie garments (it was part of a contest and I brought 17 items). My prize, $20 to spend at Jalie - yippee, thank you Emilie & Jalie!!!!!

I will add one more highlight for me of the trip. I really enjoyed meeting Emilie from Jalie. She is so darn sweet and absolutely adorable! It was so fun to talk with her about the company (her mom and aunt started the company in the early 80's, but now it's just her and her mom working together running the company). I've really come to adore Jalie patterns over the past few years. I've had great experience with the fit and the directions are wonderful - very RTW results in my opinion. And the coolest part was that she brought a whole bunch of Jalie garments and she let us try them on!!!! I was so excited! I got to try on the new jeans pattern and so much more. It was fun to see her enthusiasm about the company. My fingers are crossed that Fabric Depot will start carrying their patterns. But because I hate waiting for anything, I ordered a few I had to have now (all from the new collection - the jeans, pants, & crossover shirt).

Next year the weekend is in Philly - hopefully I can attend, these events are too much fun to miss! Thanks for making it such a great weekend ladies, I wish it happened more than just once per year.

Here are a few more pics I'd like to share. Below is a ham holder that my dear roomie Cindy bought for me. Thank you Cindy (tho you probably wanted to wack Leslie & me with it since we wanted to stay up so late! lol)!!! I know I will use it in good health and will always think of you when I use it. It's even made in the USA!!!

Here is my lovely Burberry fabric. I can thank Leslie for the inspiration because she brought along a gorgeous trench she made using the black fabric. She even let us all try it on. It was a gorgeous coat and totally worthy of the Burberry fabric.

3 yds each of both black & red Burberry (thanks to my sis too, she gave me a little $$ for babysitting my nephews so she bought most of it!)

Here is the rest of my loot ~ The Kenneth King book I won in the ugly fabric contest, then I purchased the jacket book and elastics, and the fabric.com box was a goodie we all got from fabric.com (we also got seam rippers from fabric.com too, but that didn't make it into the picture).

Sorry this was such a long post, but hopefully all the pictures make it worth the length it was. If you've never been to a PR Weekend, you must go if you have the opportunity. Everyone is so friendly and you're sure to have a good great time! Next up, Disneyland photos with the world famous, totally adorable and equally as sweet Yvonne!