Monthly Archives: February 2011

My Sewing Anniversary

The mention I made of a Sew School plan I designed a year ago made me realize something. As of about two weeks ago, I have been sewing for one year. What better time is there to look back and take stock of the hobby that’s become my obsession for the last 12 months.

I’ve learned so much in this year, due as much to hands-on experience as to the brilliant sewing bloggers out there. Every time I’ve had a question, I’ve been able to google around or search on YouTube and find an answer. If any of you are reading this: THANKS A MILLION!

Here are photos of my finished projects for the year:

  • Kwik Sew 3683 – My first. A two-piece  jersey knit tunic with unfinished edges. I wear this as PJs these days.
  • Kwik Sew 3765 – An elastic waist skirt. The back seam hasn’t held up very well. But I’m still impressed with my very first hem.
  • Kwik Sew 3579 – Another tunic in four pieces. It’s too short and I don’t think I understitched the neck facing. At least, not well.
  • Butterick 4790 (unblogged) – The infamous walkaway dress, where I learned that hemming a full circle skirt is a beast.  And that dresses that don’t close all the way are not really all that practical.

  • Butterick 5285 – Thank goodness I’ve gotten better at gathering stitches.
  • Kwik Sew 3756 (unblogged) and Butterick 5466 – I guess I had a case of francophilia because I made a French Sailor shirt — with set in sleeves — and a skirt with French seams.
  • Butterick 5214 (unblogged) – My favorite and most worn dress of last summer. A vintage 1947 pattern made from lemon-tree print silk/cotton blend? What’s not to love? I’ve even already mended this one. I accidentally tore a skirt panel in late summer and replaced it!
  • Vogue 8604 – I inserted an invisible zipper, lined a jacket and made buttonholes. Someone was feeling cocky.

The end of the year marked the arrival of my dress form, Joanie. (She joins my sewing machine, Lola.) She’s a much better model than I am.

  • Vogue 8379 – My most worn dress of the Fall/winter.
  • Kwik Sew 3756 – The velvet panne dress version. Here I am trying my hand at adding trim and embellishment to make the dress my own.
  • Butterick 5559 – My understitching has improved but could still use some work. Does anyone out there have advice for getting front facings to really stay put??
  • Butterick 5147 – The sheath dress that was harder than it looked.

And, last but not least, my Halloween costume. It was truly, truly outrageous!

Spring Palette Challenge – The Plan

So I think I’m gonna do it. By it, I mean the Colette Patterns Spring Pattern Challenge. I know, I know. When it comes to sewing, I’ve so far been what you might call capricious. For proof of that, one need only look at my track record of scrapped plans here on this blog. First, there was the self-designed Sew School from over a year ago that I still haven’t finished sewing. Then, there’s the matter of Casey’s Swing Dress Sew Along that I haven’t even gotten started on. But I can’t stop thinking about the palette challenge.

The pull of these pretty spring colors is just too strong.

I’ve even mostly figured out what I want to sew. Two out of three of these fabrics and patterns are already in my possession and have been for a little while. But I will have to get my hands on the pattern and fabric for the Jenny skirt.

I’m way behind on both challenges, of course. I’d love to be able to fold the sew along into this plan too. But what fabric to use? The pattern recommends crepe, heavy rayon and silk charmeuse (which I think may be a little fancy for a day dress). Have you seen anything that might fit my palette and suit the dress? If so, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

Popsicles and Icicles

I think my annual March seasonal affective disorder has taken hold early. By the third month of every calendar year — for as long as I can remember — I have usually just about had it with winter. I know I live on the East Coast. I know winter is a fact of life here. And I’m able to soldier through it without (much) complaint…until March. Or in the case of this year, February 16.

Now, my thoughts have turned to summer. To long, lingering days with bright, colorful sunsets. To sundresses and sandals. To sticky, syrupy popsicles.

The kind that I eat instead of dinner when I’m feeling particularly frisky. The kind that I secretly let trickle down onto my dresses just because it makes me feel like I’m eight years old again. Mmmm. Popsicles.

Or put in terms of red carpet fashion:

Mmm. Popsicles.

I just read on the Colette Patterns blog that Sarai is leading a spring palette challenge. The rules are roughly: sew as many pieces as you’d like in the 10 weeks until the end of March (I discovered the challenge late, obvs) in a color palette of your own choosing. Inspired by my love of popsicles and weariness of icicles, my palette is: dark mint, tangerine, lemon, melon, and blueberry.

Now to pick some patterns.

I’m So Over You

That’s right, Butterick 5147. I am so over you. If you’ll recall, I started working on the muslin for this “simple” sheath dress back in January. In the interim, it has driven me to drink, diet, then drink some more. (It has also garnered an unfortunate number of page hits for people looking for “big-bootie girls.” Great. My new claim to fame.).

After I sobered up, I finished this:


Truth told, the dress is simple. Three pieces. A handful of darts. A lining and a zipper. No biggie, right? My body, on the other hand, is decidedly complex. I am shapely but not small. I have a wide back but am not particularly busty.  And, worst/best of all, I am carrying around Belize strapped below my waist.

The changes that went into making me body dismorphic this dress fit were manifold. First, I emailed the super-helpful Carolyn to ask for her advice since this is a dress that she has made work for her time and again. She suggested that I remove the waist darts. When I did on my second muslin, my tummy disappeared..but so did my breasts.

That led to muslin #3. In that version, I actually cut a smaller size on top. I had started with an all-over 20 in the first two incarnations. The size 18 stopped some of the unattractive fabric pooling above my backside.

Then I shortened (but didn’t completely remove) both the front and back darts, as suggested in the Vogue Sewing book as the adjustment for “a large posterior.” I knew there had to be one!

As a reward to myself for enduring the rigors of accurate body measurement and acceptance, I used this wackadoo wonderful zebra satin charmeuse from fabric.com (the boucle is also from there) to line it.

I’m glad I went through this. I have not really focused on fit in my sewing before. And I know it’s knowledge that I will take with me into my next projects. Plus, I also learned how to use tailor’s tacks (I’d previously been marking with chalk or a pen but this boucle was having none of that.) Still, I am definitely glad to be done with this one for now.

What do you think? How did I do with these adjustments?

(P.S. To see someone really work the heck out of this pattern, visit Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. She’s freaking amazing.)

A Love Letter to New York City. Honest!

Dear New York City,

I have to admit that I’ve been a little hard on you. Sure, your streets smell like urine and garbage all summer long. Yes, you’re blanketed in the ugliest yellowish grey snow in the winter. And of course, Canal Street, always choked with aggressive vendors and inconsiderate tourists, is the seventh circle of hell all year long. You can’t help it that your public transportation infrastructure all but shuts down at the mere mention of rain.

Still, you’re also something new to discover every day, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived here most of my life. You’re the great equalizer of hipsters, investment bankers, supermodels, artists, and regular yokels like me.

Taken at the waterfront outside Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn

Best of all, you’re like a really good kiss – able to catch me off guard and take my breath away. And for that reason, I forgive you Big Apple.