Monday, October 10, 2011

PJ's and a winner!

I snuck in a little sewing time this afternoon. Homeschooling really puts a damper on my sewing time. However just like everything, it's a season. And honestly, it's a season that I really, truly love (most days anyway).

Yesterday, my pastor's sermon was on having margins in life. White space. Silence. Relaxation. Rest. All things I clearly don't have much of in my life as of late. Coincidentally, the night before while I was slaving away in the kitchen, I was complaining reflecting to my dear, sweet husband how much simpler life was five years ago. Even tho five years ago things seemed simpler, time always has a way of warping the truth and they were probably not much different.

In any event, today I made room for a little white space in my life and said heck with the dishes and cleaning. Instead I decided to sew a pair of pj's for my youngest that I cut out and embroidered back in August. I used my very favorite kids' pj pattern - Kwik Sew 2815, which is sadly out of print, but they do have a similar one available which is 3234.

Robot embroidery is from Designs by JuJu - just love her designs, they always stitch out so great!

Without further ado, the winner of the fabulous MyMemories software is comment #7 - Marie! Congratulations Marie, I will be emailing you!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking Giveaway Ends Tomorrow!!!

Gosh I'm surprised I only have two entries for the fabulous digital scrapbooking software. There are only about 24 hours to enter before I draw a name. Know someone who like digital scrapbooking and card making? Send them to the post to enter or just enter your name for them and can give a wonderful gift. There is no catch, My Memories just wants to get the word out about their fabulous software so they asked me to do a review. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post (not here on this post, but the original post about the giveaway). Come on - I need more than two entries Internet! P.S. International entries are welcome too!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Kwik Sew 3740 - Cowl Neck Top

Finally a post about a new favorite pattern. Who doesn't love Kwik Sew? They always have top notch directions that are easy to understand and great pattern pattern to trace from instead of wimpy tissue. Pattern 3740 is a classic and won't disappoint if you love a cowl neck. Here is a refresher of the pattern envelope photo.

Here is my first version - a sleeveless using some leftover fabric from another sewing project. Love it! Too bad the sun has disappeared from my part of the globe until next July. I even rotated my wardrobe and polished my favorite black leather shoes yesterday because it's been rainy most of the time for the past week.

The long sleeve version is going to get a lot of wear this fall and winter. I love it and need to make a few more. It is super quick to put together too.

Here is a more thorough review of this pattern:

Pattern Description: Close fitting pull-over tops have scoop necklines. View A has cowl collar and full length sleeves. View B is sleeveless and neckline and armholes are finished with self fabric bindings. View A & B necklines can be interchanged.

Pattern Sizing: XS-XL ~ I made a size xs in the chest and graded to a small 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? Do I really need to answer this? Kwik Sew always has fabulous instructions so a resounding YES!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love that the cowl is two pieces. If the wrong side shows (which is doesn't seem to), it is the same fabric on the underside. Plus the under cowl is cut slightly smaller. I like the sleeveless variation too, however I messed up and cut the sleeved bodice front and back for my sleeveless top so the arms are a little more covered since the shoulder seam is wider on the sleeved version. I actually like the little bit more coverage so I think my mistake was a good thing. One other like is the neckline is more open. It's not too plunging, but not really tight up to the neck either.

One dislike is not trying it sooner! But actually at first I disliked the sleeve. KS sleeves to me are a little wonky. They are loose at the top and then are tight at the wrist. At first I thought I'd just find a different sleeve that I liked better from a TNT pattern, however as I've worn the top, the sleeve cut has grown on me. I think it looks a little more dressy so I'll probably keep the sleeve as is.

Fabric Used: The long sleeve version is an ITY poly/lycra fabric from - I actually bought it this summer so it really wasn't even stash (yay me!). The sleeveless version was a small piece I had leftover in my stash from another top - it came from Lucy's fabrics long ago and is a lovely "dry" rayon/lycra knit.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I just used a size larger in the hips.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Oh gosh, yes! I want to make another one for winter with long sleeves. I just love this pattern.

I highly recommend the pattern, but it made Pattern of the Year for 2010 on and has been reviewed 33 times already, so you probably don't need my recommendation to try it.

Conclusion: Super cute cowl top, it even bypassed my old standby of Burda 10-2005-114.

The forecast is showing rain for the whole next week so with any luck I'll get some other sewing done. Maybe another cowl neck?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking and A Giveaway

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Liz from My Memories asking me to try out their new My Memories Suite v 2.0 and see what I thought. It was actually perfect timing because my gem of a daughter has taken over most of the scrapbooking in our house. She does it the old fashioned way by cutting up bits of paper and pictures and then mounts them on a 12x12 page to insert into our albums. I'm forever grateful for her taking over this task because it frees up my time, gets all the pictures into books we can enjoy, and gives her a great creative outlet.

I had recently shared with my daughter that there were programs for digital scrapbooking and that maybe she might find that more fun, but I wasn't sure where to begin the process. Low and behold not much after that conversation, I got an offer to try My Memories from Liz. We immediately downloaded the software and started seeing what it had to offer. Quite honestly, my daughter has used it way more than I have and has made a bunch of different layouts just playing with the program to see it's potential. Yes, these layouts are all her work!
Besides scrapbooking pages, which you can make with a few clicks using all the preloaded background papers and templates, you can also make cards, posters, calendars, and even turn your scrapbook into a movie!
My daughter and I noticed that on the My Memories website, they have a "free" page where you can download other papers and embellishments for you to use in the My Memories Suite program. Of course there are also many great background pages, papers, and embellishments you can purchase. I can see how digital scrapbooking can be addictive - the possibilities are endless and now I will have to try to make cool photo collages for my blog when I sew new garmets! :-)
My Memories has been so gracious to offer one of my readers a free My Memories Suite v 2.0, so if you're interested in winning this awesome software, please visit My Memories and tell me what your favorite paper pack is in the comments section of my blog. Next Monday evening, October 10th, I will draw a winner!
Lastly, My Memories has offered a fabulous coupon code good for $10 off the My Memories Suite and $10 off the store - a $20 value! During checkout, just use coupon code:


One last thing, I found the My Memories Blog to have lots of great inspiration, videos, & tutorials on how to use the software. If you're at all thinking about purchasing it, check it out, it's really a wealth of info.

Up next, I'll finally reveal the two Kwik Sew cowl neck tops from pattern #3740 - I must say, I'm in love!!! :-)

*I was given the My Memories software to try and the opinions in the blog review are 100% my own based on my trying the product.*

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My new jacket!

This spring I happened to be at Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon and spotted the most darling jacket. It was a week or so prior to a big three week road trip our family was taking and I Thought it would be the perfect spring jacket to take along. While Fabric Depot is definitely a huge fabric store with tons of quilting cottons, they also seem to be stepping up their apparel fabric as of late and even have various garments displayed on dress forms throughout the department so you can get a close up look. This jacket was one of them and so I carefully tried it on to see what I thought. I was in love and just had to make it! The pattern was from a company I wasn't familiar with called Lila Tueller Designs, but since I was able to try it on in person and was happy with how it fit, I figured I'd give it a whirl.

Unfortunately the jacket wasn't anywhere near finished in time for our trip and was put aside after we got home at the end of May in favor of more summery patterns. With the weather turning fallish around here, I decided I better get it finished (I hate UFO's, don't you?). When I had last left off, I was having trouble with getting the sleeve in. Using the traditional methods never seem to work for me and always result in a puckered mess, this was no exception. Thankfully I had watched a wonderful webcast by the smart and talented Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns about factory techniques for making blouses. In this webcast, she demonstrated how get a sleeve into a blouse in the most amazing and effortless way. I was sold and decided to try it on my recent UFO red blouse. It worked so awesome, I decided that I would try it on this jacket and by golly, it worked again like a charm!

The condensed version of how to set the sleeve in via Peggy's way goes like this:

1. Reduce the seam allowance of the sleeve cap and the bodice sleeve holes on your front and back bodice pieces to 3/8" (aka, shave off 1/4" seam allowance in those areas if you have a commercial pattern with 5/8" seam allowances).

2. Place the sleeve piece towards the machine bed and place the bodice piece on top.

3. Sew or serge in place!

The beauty of this method is that the feed dogs gather the fabric for you so there is no basting or fiddling required and you get a smooth sleeve! Now I have only tried this twice, but I intend to try it again soon when I make a desperately needed blouse. I'm not as gutsy as Peggy just serging it it right away as I did find comfort in finding the center point of the sleeve and pin it to the shoulder seam just to make sure everything stayed lined up and then sewing it on my sewing machine first before using the serger to finish the seam.

So here is the finished product. I'm super happy with how it turned out and think it will be a great fall and spring transition piece in my closet.

I did run into two errors while making the pattern, but directly emailed Ms. Tueller about them and found her to reply extremely quickly. She had added them to the correction page on her website, but the errors were:

1. The back facing says cut two on fold, but you only cut one.

2. The sleeve band piece says cut two on fold, but you cut two NOT on the fold. I did recut them this way, however I found them to be too short so I added about an inch to them. Upon another email with Ms. Tueller, I found out the sleeves are actually supposed to be a little gathered so if I would have gathered them, the length would have been perfect.

Here is a modified version of my review from Pattern Review:

Pattern Description: Ladies jacket with oversized collar and cap.

Pattern Sizing: xs to xl based on bust and hip sizes, I made a small.

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, they are very clear with lots of professionally drawn diagrams and good instruction. The pattern is on the typical tissue paper.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I saw this jacket at Fabric Depot in Portland, OR back at the beginning of May. It was in a pretty white summery fabric and hanging on a dress form. I instantly fell in love with it and decided to try it on and see what I thought. Once I tried it on, I knew I had to make it. We were leaving for a three week trip a week later so I had hoped to get it finished to take along. Well that didn't work out at all and am just now finally getting it finished. So what do I like about the design? I like the uniqueness of it. I love the big collar and how it's just a chic jacket that can be worn a lot of the year here in the Pacific NW.

Fabric Used: A chambray from the Lisette line at Joann's (it's a black & white weave).

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made my usual 1/2" broad back adjustment. Also I didn't use all the bias tape to finish the seams. I started out doing that, but it frustrated me so moved to serging instead. I did finish the facing and hem with bias tape for a nice finish tho. Lastly, I really didn't care for her zipper instructions so I did it my own way.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Making this jacket feels like it took me an eternity, but in reality it really wasn't too bad to sew, I just drug it out for months and months. So yes, I'd definitely sew it again. It wasn't difficult by any means and the instructions are very complete. Yes, I'd recommend it if it's a style you're after.

Conclusion: Cute and unique jacket, just finally glad it's finished so I can wear it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Simplicity 3503

One of my summer projects (after splurging for a few more yard of fabric at - read after I sewed a few things I bought a dozen yards!), was Simplicity 3503. There are now 75 reviews on Pattern Review for this dress and I can see why. I've had it in my stash for a super long time and can't believe it's taken this long for me to sew it up. It's super cute and super simple to sew. Oh and it's beyond comfy to wear, yet looks a lot classier than sweatpants. And really, how can 75 ladies be wrong about a pattern? Isn't that the beauty of PatternReview?

Here is my review on this particular pattern:

Pattern Description: Designer's Inspirations evening and day knit dress in two lengths with bodice variations.

Pattern Sizing: 6-22, I made a size 8

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Pretty much, tho I like mine much better.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very simple and straight forward.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? With 74 reviews (mine makes 75) and seeing Eugenia's many fabulous versions of this pattern, I just had to make it (doesn't she make such gorgeous garments?).

Fabric Used: An ITY border print from

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:I made no changes, just planned out my dress with the border print. I do wish I would have used black for the contrast band at the waist, however I don't wish it bad enough to rip the dress apart to change it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?I made this dress nearly two months ago and was finally able to wear this yesterday to church because some cold, rainy weather came to visit us. I was so comfy, I ended up wearing it the entire day and really love it. I will probably make another dress with this pattern and would definitely recommend it (tho who needs my recommending it when there are lots of other gorgeous versions to get inspired with in the PR reviews).

Conclusion: Cute dress that is border fabric friendly (I used 1.5 yds with VERY careful placement) plus plain black poly/lycra jersey from my stash for the neck contrast. Fast to sew, tho I found the neckline inside facing to be a bit fussy and required me to hand sew it.

So how about you, have you made this dress yet? If so, do you love it at much as I love mine?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Good Bye Summer?

I'm going to spare the apologies for not staying up to date on my blog. I write when I feel compelled to share and as time permits and apparently neither of the two have lined up for quite some time.

While summer is officially over on Friday (boo hoo), we typically have later summers in the Pacific NW with gorgeous weather well into October. The perpetual joke around my area is that summer never starts until July 5th. Independence Day weather is always iffy and we can have gorgeous spring days, but lots of rainy spring days here too. It's definitely different than other parts of the country, but it's where I've always lived and I'm used to it. Since summer is so short here (at least I think it is when you hear about the long summers of the south), I really didn't sew much summer wear this year. I had high ambitions, but family, friends, & camping seemed to take over in rank. Plus we took a three week road trip in May that took us as far east as Colorado, so that pretty much took a whole month away for any sewing.

Looking back at my sewing journal, I have sewn 43 yards so far this year. Not too bad, but why does it seem for every yard I sew, I want to buy five more? Am I the only one? Please say it aint so! I'm not sure why I get so ambitious in the buying department, Lord knows I can sew faster in my head than in reality so I guess that is why!

I got two UFO's finished up in July. One was a blouse from Butterick 5025 and the other was a skirt from My Image magazine Spring/Summer 2011. I'm pleased with both garments. I have worn the blouse a few times, but feel like it needs to be a smidge longer to wear with jeans and the skirt is a fabulous staple in my closet for year round dressing. Here is the completed ensemble.

I need to take some photos of a few of the things I've sewn lately and share them. One of my favorites is Kwik Sew 3740, a cowl neck top. It's super cute and I think it just replaced my old stand by of Burda 10-2005-114. This is the envelope of the Kwik Sew pattern. And true to Kwik Sew, it's was definitely quick (and easy) to sew. I made two!

So are you ready for fall and fall sewing? I haven't made a plan of attack for sewing and I'm not sure if I will. I really want to make a nice wool coat and since I have several cuts of Vera Wang wool coating from (hmm, was that fall 2009 that they had the big bonanza there?), I don't have much of an excuse not to get one made. Share with me your fall sewing plans, I'd love some inspiration!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

LMB Cardi Take 2

Gosh, thanks for all the wonderful comments. I appreciate that I still have readers, tho like I have always told myself, I write on my blog to keep track of what I do (but sweet comments are icing on the cake!). It's fun to look back and see what I've accomplished as well as see how my skills have improved.

Another way I keep track of sewing projects is in my sewing journal. It's just a spiral notebook where I write about all my sewing projects. Do any of you do this too? In my notebook I write a few lines which include:
  • the date I finished the item

  • pattern used

  • view made

  • size used

  • alterations made

  • type of fabric used

  • amount of fabric used

  • how I liked the item

  • any other pertinent information I'd like to remember

My notebook really helps me keep track of things I sew and I often refer back to it. It's fun to calculate up how much yardage I sew in a year too. :-)

So a few weeks ago I was reorganizing my sewing stash one rainy Saturday afternoon and stumbled upon some black and white rib knit. I purchased it several years ago from a local indy store that was closing and had about 1/2 yard left. I immediately thought another LMB cardi would be perfect to use it up. With careful cutting I was able to get all the pieces I needed cut with some leftover to make matching double cuffs on the sleeves.

I originally made a size 40 nearly a year ago. LMB sizing is different than Burda and according to their size chart I should make a 38 in tops, but this particular one started at 40 so that is what I made. The other one was kind of big and not something I gravitate towards wearing in my closet. I think I don't like how floppy the rayon jersey is compared to the ribbing. So this time I decided I'd grade down to a 38 and use some poly/rayon/lycra ponte knit from Joann's for the base fabric. I made a 1/2" broad back alteration too to ensure I had enough room across the back. Ultimately I should have made a 40 again because the PRL doesn't stretch as much as the rayon jersey and it's a little tight in the arms when wearing it with anything that has sleeves. Hind sight is always 20/20, so now I know for next time. It doesn't really matter because I will still wear it, it just has to be with a sleeveless top under.

I also added a button this time and really like having a closure on it as well. In the picture we're going to church, but when I got home I put on some jeans and it looks so cute with it. I am always chilly so it's nice to have other pieces besides my usual Jalie hoodie. I also had enough fabric left over to make matching double ruffle sleeve cuffs. I thought this tied the cardi together better because the ribbing is a contrast compared to the base fabric. I'm very happy with how they turned out, but do wish I would have another 1/2" because they feel a little on the short side to me. I finished all the edges of ribbing with black woolly nylon thread by lettucing (is that even a word) on my serger.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Do you remember me?

I'm not sure if I can even remember how to create a post. Yes, I'm a terrible blogger. Okay, beyond terrible, I admit it. But atlas I won't beat myself up. I haven't been sewing a much as I wish, but there is always a time and place for everything.

Over the summer we camped a lot. My in-laws purchased a wonderful travel trailer that they have been so gracious to let us use as much as we want (direct quote from FIL - "I'd rather it be out being used than sitting in the driveway"). Okay, a camping we will go. We had never taken the kids camping (no throwing tomatoes at me please). Honestly, I hated all the work that was with tent camping even tho I adored it as a kid. I know, what a terrible disservice to not suck it up for the kids, but neither my hubby or I could stand the though of dew on a tent, cooking everything on a picnic table, dirt in our sleeping bags, etc. Life in the trailer on the other hand is like living in luxury. I honestly couldn't get enough and so we camped as often as we could until the end of October.

We are also now a homeschooling family. It has been something in the making for a long time. It's going extremely well for us, but it definitely cuts into my sewing time. ;-)

I have made some wonderful things, one being my first wool coat. I need to post a review about it, but I've been too busy wearing it everywhere to even think about posting a review. I did finally post a review about today about another item I finally finished up, so I thought I would share that. Not sure if I have any readers still, but here it is anyway. :-)

New Look 6628

( excuse the wrinkles on the sleeves, I've been wearing it all afternoon)

Pattern Description: Misses separates pattern that includes two styles of cardigan, sleeveless top, skirt, and pants all for knits.

Pattern Sizing: 8-18 ~ I made a size 8 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? Yes

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I found this pattern after reading a thread on the message board so it's been in my stash for quite some time now. I really liked the ruffles and the longer length cardigan. My only dislike (and it's not really even a dislike, it's more of an afterthought) is maybe I should have made the flounce go all the way around the neck. It's fine how it hangs, but I think I might like it better if it went all the way around and was one piece. I'm sure that would be a pretty easy fix if I do make this again and decide to go that route.

Fabric Used: grey Vera Wang wool jersey from circa fall 2009

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made a 1/2" broad back adjustment and also a small swayback tuck.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes I would. I'm very happy with how it turned out and have already wore in twice since I finished it. If it's the look you're after, then yes I recommend the pattern, tho it's been out of print for years so it might take some digging to find one.

Conclusion: I'm glad I finally finished this cardi. I started it in October, but kept forgetting to get some grey woolly thread for the lettuce edging. I finally remembered a few weeks ago and it took me under and hour to finish this UFO. My hubby said it reminded him of the puffy shirt Jerry wore in an episode of Seinfeld. I'm not sure if that is a compliment or not! ;-)

So any wagers on how long until I post again? Hopefully it won't be terribly long. I really like to sew and have enough fabric and patterns to keep me busy for a long time. I'm looking forward to being a football widow this weekend and hopefully have something to show for it by the time the game is over.