Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - How'd I Do?

I wrote down these sewing goals for myself at the beginning of 2009, but never published them as I started this blog later in January.  Here they are...

1.  Less yardage in than yardage out. Ideally, sew two pieces from stash for every one purchased.

Well, I wrote that before I knew I was going to NYC.  Purchasing nearly 50 yards of fabric there made it pretty hard to accomplish this goal!  But, after checking my totals, I was surprised that the in/out numbers weren't farther from each other.  I should note that I do a lot of rounding with my tracking, so these can't be considered much more than estimates.  For 2009 - Fabric In:  90 yards; Fabric out:  84 yards.

2.  Make a great white shirt.

I didn't do this.  I bought fabric in NYC and used a pattern candidate for a different shirt, but never got around to actually making the white one.  I do have a white button-down shirt in my closet, but it isn't a great fit.  I'm not sure I would wear it a lot even if it were, so this doesn't seem like a real pressing need to me.  But, I think I'll still forward this on to 2010's goals.

3.  Make a TNT pencil skirt pattern.

I didn't do this, either.  I don't think I really need a TNT pencil skirt pattern right now, so I think I'll just let this one go.

4.  Number of completed projects/garments: 50+

I didn't do a very good job of recording this after mid-October or so of this year, so I consider this to be a ballpark-type figure, too.  The number I do have recorded is 75.  That doesn't include small bags or baskets, but it does include a lot of other easy things like T-shirts and underwear.  I guess that averages to just under 1.5 things per week.  Not too bad.

5.  Write 20 new pattern reviews.

I wrote 21 reviews on  This surprised me.  Before I checked the site, I was pretty sure I had not done that many.  I reuse the same patterns a lot, so it was my goal to try some new ones.  Maybe I need to up the number for next year if it felt like I was still always using the same ones.

6.  Try Ottobre or BWOF magazine patterns.

Technically, I accomplished this goal, but just barely.  I made my daughter a hat from a Burda magazine.  I picked up the April 2009 issue while in NY, so my only choices are from that issue.  I do have plans to make a skirt from that issue, but haven't yet.  I would like to try Ottobre, also.  I love the clothes other people are making for their kids from Ottobre.  I guess I'll roll this one over into 2010, also.

7.  Participate in at least one contest.

I think the fair counts for this one.  It would be fun to participate in an online contest or sew-along.  I haven't done that before.

8.  Master the sleeve placket.

I did this (here, here, and here) and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I'm glad I have this technique in my bag of tricks now.

9.  Start a blog?

Yup.  Check.  So glad I did.  I enjoy blogging and just as I suspected, I think it has helped me be better at my craft.  I have been astonished at how many people do actually read my blog and I've got to admit - I love it!  I love getting your comments and feedback.  Thanks so much for stopping by and for helping me make 2009 the best sewing year yet!

Bring on 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Little Wallets

I've mentioned before about the gift card fundraising program that my daughter's school uses.  I like to participate in this program, but I don't like the gift cards to make my wallet fat and cluttered.  I came across this tutorial for a credit card wallet and thought it might be the solution to my problem.

I made two, one for me and one as a gift for my mom since she also participates in this type of program.

The top one (brown/green - with the cracked snap!) is for me and the bottom (blue) for her.

The inside has two pockets that can easily fit six cards in each.

I thought the tutorial was pretty good, but I did change a couple of things.  I was uncertain about the seam allowances used, so I modified the size based on what size I wanted it finished and then added 1/4" seam allowances.  So, I cut the outer fabric and lining 4.5" x 7.5" and each of the pockets 2.875" x 4.5".  The pockets have a 0.5" hem at the top and 0.25" hem at the bottom.

Also, the bottom of the lower pocket is just caught in the seam rather than turned under and stitched down above the seam allowance as the instructions say.

I was picking up the magnetic snap for the blue wallet on the day that I found out Fabricland was closing.  I bought every magnetic snap they had in that size.  I have enough fabric to keep me sewing for a long time.  What I don't always have are buttons, zippers, snaps, thread, etc.  So, I might be stocking up on those in the next few months.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Simple Gifts

These little zippered bags are gifts for friends.

This one is for a young teen.  It's made from decorator fabric that someone gave me recently.  I sandwiched a layer of felt between the outside and lining to add a little body.

This one is for a woman who loves purple.  Her Christmas decorations are purple, her garage door is purple.  Loves, loves, loves purple.  The fabric is leftover from a bridesmaid dress I made for my sister-in-law.

The fabric is actually quite lightweight, so I quilted it with a lighter purple thread.  I'm a little rusty with the stippling, but I find it's an all-or-nothing sort of thing.  I have a hard time ripping some out and re-doing parts to make it look good, so I just keep going.  It is what it is.

I have some other gift items to post about yet.  A couple of days ago I went back to sewing for me.  I got a little work done on my jeans.  Unfortunately, I think they are too tight now.  That might have something to do with all the goodies the generous parishoners have been dropping off in the last week.  I guess I'll need to back off from the sweets in the New Year (but probably not before then!).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Simplicity 5638 - Christmas dress

I like to make a Christmas-y dress for my daughters. In an attempt to be reasonable about how much time and money I have to spend, I decided not to make my younger daughter a new dress this year as the Christmas dress I made for my older daughter three years ago fits her now and looks quite nice. (I am well aware that I probably seem to be begging for comments full of bitterness and resentment from younger sister types that suffered through years of hand-me-downs).  So, this saga involves my older daugher only...

The Fabric

I didn’t have enough time to order something online and wait for it to be shipped to me, so I was at the mercy of my local Fabricland. A few weeks ago I saw some taffetas that would have been nice for a Christmas dress, but I was thinking that it would be wise to make something not too dressy and not too holiday-ish so that it could be worn longer into the winter. When I got around to shopping for the fabric, not only were the taffetas were gone but I had a really hard time finding anything at all that I liked for a little girl. It was bleak. I was about to leave the store with nuthin’ when I decided to cruise through the Home Dec department. I found this striped fabric on the clearance table and pondered it for a bit.

Certainly not love at first sight, but maybe it could work. I didn’t want the whole dress to be striped, so I headed back to the other side of the store to look for something to coordinate with it. Satin was really my only choice. I guess this was going to be a dressy dress after all.

The Pattern

It has been a really long time since I bought a pattern, fabric, and all the notions for a single project in one trip. That’s what I wanted to do with this dress. Then I’d just go home and sew it up without needing to stop to change this part of the pattern or draft that piece, or stop for a trip to the store to pick up whatever. Alas, that was not to be. I looked online at patterns so that I could just pick up what I wanted when I got to the store and spend most of the trip looking at fabric. I chose New Look 6771. When I asked for it at the counter, I was told it was discontinued. Great.

I guessed at yardage amounts for the fabrics I picked out and headed home to see what patterns I could use.

I found Simplicity 5638, an older, out-of-print pattern someone recently gave to me. I liked the sweetheart neckline, and the full skirt. I didn’t like the lack of long sleeves or bow option. Since I liked New Look 6771, I thought it would be simplest just to try copying it.

I used the sleeve and sash pattern pieces from Vogue 7958.

The Alterations

For the bodice, I started with a size 4 and added 1/8" to the pattern at CF.  The bottom of the bodice curved downward - I don't know for sure, but I think this is to accomodate a rounded toddler tummy.  Since my daughter has no such tummy and I wanted the bow at the front, I straightened out the bottom edge.  I also added 1.25" in length.  The back bodice piece was already cut out in size 3, so I just used that, adding 1/4" at the side seams.  I also added the same length as the front.

The sleeves from the Vogue pattern were also a size 4, with 2" of length added.

The skirt on the Simplicity pattern is intended to be floor-length.  I wasn't looking for floor-length.  When I measured the size 4, I liked the length it would turn out to be with a deep (2.5") hem.

The Zipper

I almost always do an invisible zip. With the right foot and variable needle position, I think it is much easier to get it to look good. I don’t always have much success with a lapped or centered zipper.

So, I put in the invisible zip in this dress and somehow messed up the zipper. I’m still not sure what happened, but it wouldn’t zip up. It wasn’t stuck on anything and there weren’t any stitches through the teeth. But, when I ripped it out it worked okay.

In Threads # 145, there is an article about getting the top of a lapped zipper to look good. I read that and decided to use the same invisible zipper, but use a lapped application. Unconventional, yes, but again – saving time (no second trip to the store) and money.

I’m satisfied with how it turned out. I think I’ll still stick with invisible zips most of the time, but it’s good to have options.

The Purse

The original New Look pattern that I wanted included a purse. I thought that would be fun to do and it turned out that the Simplicity one I used also had a purse.

The pattern suggests using a snap to close it. A magnetic snap would work well, but I thought a regular snap would be too fussy for small fingers. I used Velcro instead.

I think it is a pretty cute little girl purse. The darts at the bottom give it a good shape and the handle is a good length.

Okay, if you're still with me after all that, here's the finished product:

What's Black and White and Red All Over?

This specially requested basket for a friend.

I really love the lining print.  I think you'll be seeing a lot more of that one.

Bah Humbug

Yesterday was just one of those days.  I started the day with a healthy to-do list, but ran stuck on nearly every single task.  No paper for the printer, couldn't find any tape for wrapping gifts, excessively needy kids, etc.  The only thing I managed to get done without hang-up was clean the bathrooms.  Yee-ha.

Then I somehow managed to do this to my beloved Kitchen Aid blender:

Shortly after that, the handle on the microwave broke.

I left to run some errands in hopes of being able to make more progress on my list.  My first stop was Fabricland where I learned that the store was going to be closing March 31, 2010.  Whhhhaaaaaat?!?!?!  I do have a love/hate relationship with Fabricland, but this is really bad news.  It sent me into such a tailspin that I was largely unsuccessful at finishing the rest of my errands.

Now, I know people that are experiencing real and legitimate crises, so I'm trying to keep this in perspective, but it does make me very sad.  I did sign a petition at the store to keep it open and was given the email address of someone at the head office.  I haven't sent an email yet, but I will - probably more than once.  I was in a hurry and didn't ask a lot of questions, but it sounds like there is some uncertainty about the real reason for the closure.

Today is going much better...but still too much on the to-do list...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Is This Wierd?

I like to empty the garbage can from my sewing room.

I'm not entirely sure why this gives me a bit of pleasure.  Some possibilities....

  • The fact that it is full and needs to be emptied means that I've been busy creating.
  • As I dump out the contents, I see the scraps of all my recent projects and usually the quick "review" is nice.
  • I have a bit of guilt about my stash, so I feel good when fabric is used up and moved out of the sewing room closet to somewhere else.  I don't hoard tiny scraps as some super-thrifty and resourceful folks do and seeing the little scraps in the trash helps me feel like I may have made a tiny dent in the stash.

The striped fabric on the top in the picture is a sneak peek at my daughter's new dress (which is finished, but not photographed).

Now there is mostly gift sewing happening, so not much to post about or time to post it, anyway.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Stitching

Thanks for the compliments on the make-up bag.  I did draft the pattern myself, just using the measurements from the original bag and adjusting them for the requested change.  I find that I really kind of like the process of trying to copy something as closely as possible.

Awhile ago I saw someone (on a blog) wrap a tea towel and dish cloth around a wooden spoon and tie it up with a ribbon.  Viola!  A great gift.  I liked this idea and decided to use it this Christmas.  Unfortunately, I can't find the blog where I saw it.  And I've really searched because I can't get mine to look very good tied around the spoon.

Anyway, these will be gifts for school and Sunday school teachers, babysitters, etc.

Dish cloth pattern: Garter Stitch Lace Facecloth

Dish cloth pattern: Lacy Picot Swirl Cloth

Dish cloth pattern: Lion Brand Lion Cotton Dish Cloth

Dish cloth pattern: Diagonal Knit Dish Cloth

Dish cloth pattern: Lace Zig Zag Dishcloth Pattern

All of the embroidery designs are from except for the "Java" one.  It is from a Savvy Stitches package of embroidery transfers that I purchased from

I thought this one was my favorite until I did these two little chicks.  I really like them.

I just finished fixing three jackets for a friend.  Two needed zippers replaced and one needed a new button loop.  I wasn't excited about doing it (the zippers), but once I started, it wasn't as bad as I had feared.  Now I'm done and moving on to a new dress for my daughter.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Custom-ordered Make-up Bags

Even though this project wasn't for me, I still enjoyed it.  :)  A woman from church brought me a store-bought make-up bag and asked me to make one like it, but deeper.  She also wanted a flat, pencil case-type bag in the same fabric.

The bodies of both bags are interfaced and there is layer of batting in the boxy one.  I used a thicker cord than I usually do for the piping.  I think this helps the bag keep it's shape but the combination of the batting and heavier cord made it hard to get the piping to look good.  I had to stitch around the bag more than a couple times before I was satisfied. 

The bag on the left is the one I was copying.  I put the zipper in the center along the top rather than on the edge.  The pieces bordering the zipper do not have a layer of batting.  The zipper color isn't a great match for the bags.  I probably should have gone with pink, yellow, or off-white to compliment the dots in the fabric.

My daughter noted that the one I made would look much nicer with a zipper like the other one.  A giant pink bauble makes everything look nicer.

Now I think my sewing machine needs a bit of a tune up.  I should have brought it in awhile ago, but I've been babying it along for "just one more project" too many.  A good cleaning and tension adjustment would probably do it a lot of good.  There are some other non-sewing things I should be doing (has anyone told you that Christmas is coming?), so a forced break wouldn't be so bad.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


There was only one basket left at the shop in town, so I made five more and dropped them off this morning.

Next up: a custom ordered make-up bag.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lack of Progress

Since it's been awhile since I've posted anything, I would love to be able to say I have lots to show you, but I don't.  Really all I've been working on are these:

They're someone else's drapes that needed hemming along the sides and bottom of the drapes and the lining.  There were five big, heavy panels and it was a rather long and tedious job.  However, it gives me great pleasure to say that I am now finished with them and right after I post this I'm going to call for them to be picked up and I will be happy to have that corner of my sewing space back.

Since that project is finished, it would be nice if I could get back to my jeans, but there is actually more sewing for other people that has jumped in line.  It's good to make some money from sewing, but wasn't I just saying that I wanted to make something for ME?!  I'm a selfish sewist.  I won't deny it.