Monday, August 25, 2014

Fifth Blogiversary!

Many bloggers do a "year in review" post somewhere around Dec 31st, but I am always too busy sewing over the holiday break. Besides, the end of August (i.e. early Fall) feels more like a new beginning to me.

So, yes, August 25th, 2014 is my 5th blogiversary! Bear with me while I look back over the last year...

(You can also check out my previous blogiversary posts.)


Year in Summary

Yowza, when I look at my 4th blogiversary post, I can't believe all of the changes and events of the year!

What Have I Sewn - Successes

My productivity was definitely down this year, partly because of the competition last fall, but even more because of the new commute-ful job, which takes a lot of time and saps one's energy. I still managed to make some garments that I have enjoyed wearing. The Burda coat (first pic), in particular, is something I wear all the time, but I wear all of these garments. (OK, I just finished the Tablecloth skirt (last pic), but I will definitely be wearing this!)

All of these pics are clickable and take you to the related post.

What Have I Sewn - Failures

What have I sewn that hasn't been too successful?

I know that you guys love to read about my failures. :D

I found three items that fit this category, though the dress (first pic) was rescued when I turned it into a skirt—it just wasn't my style, as a dress. I love the skirt and wear it a lot.

The chiffon top (second pic) was from the FabricMart competition and was the garment that got me ousted. I really really disliked that fabric. I did my best with it, given my very limited time (I also had a substantial writing project the same weekend as part of the interviewing process for my future job), but the final top was pretty awful. I freely admit that. (Did I mention that I really really disliked the fabric?) It's hard (at least for me) to do something great with a fabric that set my teeth on edge.

The third top is a Vogue pattern and I quite like the pattern, but the fabric (from JoAnns) is awful. After one or two washings, this top looks ready for the rag bag—the quality is atrocious. I plan to make this top again with a better quality fabric.

Clicking a pic takes you to the relevant post.

Top 10 Posts

These are my top 10 posts of all time, only two of which are from this year. (I guess I am losing my touch!)


End of Year Number of Posts Number of Followers Number of Subscribers
1 125 130 Was Google Reader in use?
2 107 341 482 (GR)
3 107 505 739 (GR)
4 92 617 996 when GR was retired on 7/1. 611 in Bloglovin.
5 98 695 1136 (Bloglovin)

The Coming Year

What's in store for the coming year?

Mostly, I want to keep pushing the creative envelope—that is what I truly enjoy. I have a long list of projects I want to make that I am very excited about. I have less time to sew (or blog), but I feel committed!

I want to thank each of you, my blog readers and my blogging sisters! It has been a great year and you have all been a big part of that. Thanks for your support, your feedback and comments, and your creativity! I am truly grateful.

I traditionally do a giveaway to celebrate my blogiversary, but I'm not prepared for that right now. (I leave in a couple of days to take my youngest to her first year at university in Minnesota. I'll be seeing some of you soon!) Let me mull it over and maybe I can come up with a good giveaway a bit later this year.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Striped Crinkle Tablecloth Skirt

I made another Tablecloth skirt! (Click the link for free instructions on how to make your own!)

I recently acquired 2 yards of a lovely, boldly striped, crinkled cotton from Smuggler's Daughter, called Paris Stripes - La Bastille. (Click the pic to see the listing on their site.)

I wanted to use a pattern that would make the most of the lovely yardage. An added bonus - this skirt is a very quick sew! I hemmed it by hand, so as not to stretch out the pleats.

I tweaked the dimensions from my previous versions to use the 2 yards - my previous versions were longer and used more yardage. The four hem panels are 13"x41", and the center square is 41"x41". I quite like this length!

I think I may take this to Minnesota! (I haven't checked the weather there lately. I hope it is not too hot and humid. Shams may melt!

Twirling. You can really see the tablecloth shape!

Not twirling, just windy!

Thanks for your lovely comments on the Butterfly top. I had a lot of fun with that challenge!

By the way, no need to be concerned about me regarding last night's 6.1 earthquake! It did get my attention and woke me up at 3:20am. It was more of a rolling earthquake (not a sharp jolt) and it lasted for seconds, but there was zero damage here. Napa (about an hour away) took the brunt of it. I checked with my former in-laws this morning - they have a business there. They have some superficial damage that will require about a day to clean up, but nothing structural, and no one was injured, thank goodness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bias Cut Butterfly Top Engineered from Border Print

I've finished my first Britex Blogger guest project! You can see it on the Britex blog.

There is a bounty of riches to be found on Where should a newbie guest blogger begin?

As I love border prints, and I also have a soft spot for paisley fabrics, it didn't take me long to settle on this beautiful 100% viscose panel and border print from Italy. I made a bias, V-neck top using view C of Vogue 7906 (an out-of-print Vogue Basic Design) as a starting point.

You might ask (and rightfully so), "Is this fabric a panel print? Or is it a border print? Which is it?"

It's BOTH!

Generally, a border print is manufactured with the border placed along one (or both) fabric selvedges. This means that if you want the border to appear along a hem, for example, you have to cut the fabric across the grain.

In this case, they placed the border print from selvedge to selvedge, repeating it every 39", so you can cut the pattern on the grain and still have the border appear along the hem of your garment. (Aside from the 18" border, the rest of the 39" panel features a turquoise background scattered with what-I-think-are stylized leaves.)

However, if you know me at all, you know that I like the unexpected. I spent days (maybe weeks) deliberating on how to use this wonderful fabric. I would chose a design and then, days later, I'd reject that idea and go back to the drawing board. I made, and changed, my mind at least 5 times. There are so many ways you can use a border print. In fact, I've created a Pinterest board with all sorts of inspiration for borders and panels.

Fabric hanging from m front porch

I finally decided to use three panels of this fabric to make a top, placing the border along the neckline on a 30° bias angle, and matching the print at center front, center back, and the shoulders. Using a 30° bias, instead of a 45° bias, creates a deeper V-neckline and the causes the print to meet at a pleasing angle. (There is no such thing as the "bias police"! You don't have to use a 45° angle bias, so long as you are consistent and the fabric behaves well at the angle you've chosen.)

Have you ever heard of an engineered print? An engineered print, also called a placed print, uses a print strategically as a design element; the print is possibly even designed for use in a specific garment. I engineered the extra wide (18") printed border to create a symmetric "butterfly" effect. The sleeves are cut on the straight of grain with the border at the top of the sleeve cap.

Auditioning the border placement for the sleeve

Laying out one of the fronts. Just look at the size of that bust dart. ;)

Matching the print

I didn't want the solid fuschia edge near my face, so I cut the front to exclude the fuschia entirely.

Pattern matching at center front

The fuschia appears only at center back, where I quite like it.

Pattern matching at center back

I performed quite a few pattern alterations:

  • enlarged and lowered the bust darts
  • added small darts at the back neckline
  • drafted a back neck facing
  • removed the button front closure
  • narrowed the shoulders
  • slightly reshaped the armholes (a side effect of the bias)
  • shortened the sleeves
  • created a V-neckline

The length of the top, the shirt-tail hem, and the gently flared sleeve are from the original pattern.

When I cut the back pieces, I had an area at the hem that ended abruptly at the selvedge edge, due to the print matching.

So I patched it. I didn't have an exact match for the print, so I inserted a piece that was very close.

This floaty top is absolutely wonderful to wear in warm weather! Despite the fact that uses a woven fabric, has no closure, and uses darts for a closer fit, the bias has enough give that it pops on and off over the head. It skims the body but doesn't cling. It also flutters beautifully in the breeze.

I love it!

(Note: I am wearing the top with black denim pants that I made using Katherine Tilton pattern, Vogue 8837. Sadly this pattern (one of my favorites) is now out of print.)

Thanks to Britex for providing the fabric!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scuba Dooba Doo! A Scuba & Ponte Knit Dress

What a delightfully quick sew! I made this dress in one day, but then, it really is like a long t-shirt, so it should be quick!

I used McCalls 6028, which I have made before, though I had to start from a fresh pattern in a larger size, so it took me an entire evening to perform all of my alterations:

  • Lowered the bust point by 2" and widened the bust point.
  • Lowered the front neckline by 1". (If you read the reviews, this pattern has a fairly high neck.)
  • Shortened the dress by about 8".
  • Lengthened the sleeve to full length.
  • Omitted the back zipper and cut the back on the fold.
  • I wanted to cut up the print as little as possible, and I wanted to preserve the curved shape at the top of the print, so I joined the center front pattern piece to the front yoke and cut them as a single unit. This created an inset corner, but I don't mind sewing inset corners - remember, I am a gusset lover! ;)
  • Widened the waistline.
  • Removed many inches from the hipline, and continued this down through the hem.
  • I drafted facing for the neckline. I cut them out of the solid black ponte and pushed them slightly to the outside to create faux piping.

The solid black fabric is a wool doubleknit. When I found this wool on sale (it was sold as a wool ponte, but it's 97% wool and 3% lycra and is your basic doubleknit fabric), I bought 10 yards of it, so this is the third or fourth project where I have used it. I just love this stuff! It is warm, but it breaths, so mixing it with the scuba knit, which does not breath, means that the final garment is comfy to wear.

I love dressing this way, especially for work: A short sheath-style dress, worn with leggings or tights, is very flattering on my busty-with-thin-legs shape. I expect to wear this a lot as the weather cools.


I don't expect to be sewing much between now and the end of August, when I leave for Minnesota. For one thing, I have a final walking challenge that starts next week - to walk 100,000 steps in 7 days. Except I will be flying on the last day of the challenge, so I have 6 days. That means a lot of walking next weekend!

It looks like I will be going to Seattle for work in early September. Unfortunately, it will be a short trip and I won't have much time for fun, but if I do have a tiny bit of time, what is not-to-be-missed? (Though, to be honest, I might take the train to Portland and then meet up with DD1, who is eager to show me the house she is renting this year at school - it's her first non-student-housing experience!)

Have a great week!