Sunday, November 1, 2009

What the Heck!

My kid works at Lowe's Hardware, and somehow the word has gotten out there that I sew. Everybody's calling me to do their alterations. Like I have time. Like I can say no.

I'd better make some serious money or I'm going to be really ticked. Maybe if I charge them an arm and a leg they'll leave me alone! LOL!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Twist, Old Idea

Here's a little video I did on hemming jeans. Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Have Decided . . .

to make a coat. (and to follow Jesus, but that's a different discussion and an old hymn, for those of you who didn't recognise it).

Anyway, it's gotten a bit chillier here on the NC/VA border, and I now have to walk from my car in a parking lot onto a school campus. The walk is far when it's cold.

So I'm thinking something about knee length or a bit above, that I can wear with a pair of jeans. Like a long black simple thing that doubles as a long jacket. Or deep pink, or orange, or a nice browny-beige. And fairly lightweight, and definitely NOT a trench. Nothing with a tie or belt.

I'm researching now, and have found these things:

This, but a bit shorter, above the knee:

Or perhaps this, longer:

Or maybe this. Not sure how I feel about the collar, though:

As I am currently so consumed by my biology class (I think my head may explode any minute now), any sewing I do will be to simply keep my sanity. I think this coat may be just the thing.

We'll see!


Monday, October 5, 2009

In Search Of . . .

some ideas. I could use some help here.

I sponsor a Compassion International child in Haiti. She's about 7. I'd like to send her some homemade things, but what?

The problem is that it has to be flat. I have to be able to fit it into an envelope that's only 1/4" wide.

I've already sent paper dolls.

Any ideas?

Meanwhile, I'm buried under Barbie's dress re-do for a choir concert. It's "The Ed Sullivan Show" and she's singing "People" (by Barbra Streisand). She found a vintage dress online and asked me to copy it. I'll have to let you know if I actually get to doing it -- although I got a $30 wedding gown to revamp and lots of black tulle and satin. So far, schoolwork has prevailed, but I'm hoping to get to it in the next day or so.

More later.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Anthropologie vs. Trudy of Hot Patterns

Here's something I find pretty interesting -- Trudy at HotPatterns had these designs coming out before Anthropologie's Fall offerings were out.

This lady is definitely ahead of the game! I love in all the YouTube clips when she talks about major designers and letting us know what's coming up in fashion.

And how great is it to view this stuff at Anthopologie's website, love it, and then know you can make it yourself?

I do have to say -- personal opinion here -- but I love Hot Patterns tops a little better than the Anthropologie tops.

However -- here are a few more Anthropologie tops that would be simply divine if you could make them yourself --

And a couple of cool accessories that are totally DIYable --

If I try any of these things, I'll post photos. And if you try any of these things, please do comment and leave your link below!


Thursday, September 24, 2009


I hate doing tulle and crinolines.

But it was so worth it --

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What a Mess.

I didn't get much done last night. This is because of a well-known and widely detested fact:


I was trying to sew some net together, and the machine kept jamming. Simple fix: rethread. That fixed it pretty quickly -- but only after I took out the bobbin about 5 times, oiled the bobbin, removed the faceplate and blew out all the fuzz, replaced the faceplate, and tried again -- again -- again -- again -- again.

Very frustrating. Plus, the 2-hour premiere of House was on, so I gave up.

Here's what I was doing. Barbie chose a pattern for a dress, and I made it for her. Lots of changes to it, since the pattern is from 1954. Oh, oh, oh so cute, though!

One of Barbie's must-haves was a crinoline in order to pouf up the skirt. My solution? Sew some netting into the lining of the skirt (which the pattern did not require, but I thought it needed). Two rows oughtta do it, I thought.

So here's the pattern, Simplicity 4708, published 1954:

And here's the dress --

and here's the mess:

I also have a bit of trim to add to the jacket and skirt hem. That is, after I finish with all this netting and tulle on the underskirt. See that bunched up wad of white netting on the table? That's the second layer, under the blue. I cut long strips, and am attaching them to each other with strips of ribbon -- because my machine doesn't like trying to sew thread over what amounts to all the air between the spaces in the netting!

Wish me luck. It's gonna get worse before it gets better.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

And Also the Burda Autumn Review

Since I had a look at Vogue, I thought I'd probably better look at some other pattern designers' fall collections as well. What a nice surprise to see the new stuff at Burda! It's all very young, very fresh -- very refreshing for fall/winter.

Here are a few pieces that caught my eye:

This is Burda 7580, a little dress and jacket. If I had only seen the technical drawing:

I would have certainly passed it right by. It's shapeless! And yet the outfit on the model is so unbelieveably cute that I may have to go out and get a hip-slung belt and some boots and whip this thing right up. I LOVE this outfit. It looks comfy and classy at the same time.

Here's another fabulous outfit -- again, which I would have passed right by had I only seen the technical drawing --

First off -- I love grey and yellow, and that made this particular pattern pop and catch my eye, so kudos to the stylist. Secondly, while I am not a big fan of the actual shape of the jacket, it totally works here in this outfit. What's right about it: The grey top under the jacket is a darker shade than the skirt. That makes all the difference. The pattern is Burda 7585, and is only for the jacket:

The drawing makes me think "hospital scrubs." But that outfit above is far beyond this little kimono-styled jacket. I think it would also work in shades of blue with a longer skirt, or maybe a black cowl and slim pants. And if the cut of the jacket is a little too boxy (sorry, Designer who gave a nod to the 80's!) once you got it on and starting fitting, you could always give it a little shape down the sides by pulling it in a bit.

Now how cute is this outfit? Just your basic tunic -- Burda 7588 --

Can't get much more basic than this -- but how fabulous does it look with that wide belt over a little skirt and t-shirt? The top and the tights in the outfit match, and the belt is wide. An obi-style belt (maybe in leather or something like it?) that's tied in the front would look very cute with this also.

Lastly, I am in love with this little skirt, Burda 7610:

They've done it here in black, but you can still get the general shape of it.

I especially like how while the skirt is banded on the bottom, it doesn't loose the flare or pull in. I would probably lengthen it, but that's got more to do with my age than the style of the skirt. With a little t-shirt -- as they've shown here -- this is just fabulous.

I've read over and over again how much some of you love the Burda World of Fashion Magazine. I may just have to subscribe. What I see in their pattern collections isn't just a piece here or there, or a drawing. The way that they put together the outfit makes me think that I can use things I already have in my closet with these simple pieces to achieve the look.

Pretty genius, Burda. Also pretty genius that all of these patterns are very easy.

You can find all these patterns simply by clicking the photo, which will link you to their site, or simply go to Burda Fashion and have a look at everything. You'll be glad you did. There's lots more that I loved and didn't highlight here -- enjoy! I did!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Vogue Fall Review

OK, it's a little late. But I'm a Yankee living in North Carolina, and quite honestly summer doesn't really quit around here until about mid-October, no matter when the fall fashion lines release. Seriously.

So here are my favourites from the Vogue Fall collection:

Yep, that's it. I know. Slim pickins!

However, I do like this --

if only it had a more loose and drapey skirt. Sorry Michael Kors, this straight skirt just isn't doing it for me -- even if it does look like a million bucks on Mrs. Obama. This model just looks a bit thick in the middle and rather middle-aged to me. It doesn't flatter very nicely.

I also like this a lot, but again with changes --

Absolutely stunning dress from Badgley Mishka, (love those back pleats!) but who's got a bra to wear with that neckline? Are you kidding me?

Just one more, from Donna Karan --

How much do I adore this coat? Oh, if I could only say! The beautiful lines, the way that drape falls . . . How much would I actually WEAR this coat without strangling myself and freezing to death? Oh, again, if I could only put it into words!

And all that is to say nothing of the abominable color they've used on the model. What is that? Baby poop brown? One of the fabrics called for is lightweight woolens. I'm wondering exactly what kind of beautiful drape you're going to get with a lightweight woolen.

I suppose the clincher for me on this coat was this -- the actual sketch of it --

See how the coat kind of separates in the front, with that drape? Can you imagine the nightmare of trying to get it to drape right while standing in front of the mirror, running late?

Well, there you go. Just my opinions, but of course I'd love to know what you think as well! Will you be trying any of the new Vogue patterns for fall?


Monday, September 14, 2009

Absentee Posting

I wish I had more time. Time to sew, time to get a decent night's sleep.

Unfortunately, lately I have been drowning in the chemistry of biology. Ask me whatever you'd like about how atoms combine or what DNA is made up of -- I can tell you. Even tonight as I sat in the library studying with my friend Maxine, I noticed we were right next to books whose spines read "Flat Pattern Design" and the like.

I did get my two new patterns from Hot Patterns, which are the Three Graces tops and the Jeanius jeans. I will try them out as soon as I get some time.

The Babydoll needs a backpack for her laptop. I have toyed with the idea of ironing plastic shopping bags to fabric for this, but honestly -- backpacks aren't all that terribly expensive, and I'd rather make clothing. So as much as I like to recycle, we'll see how far I get on that project. Probably I'll just give up and buy her a backpack.

Rose also would like a laptop case. Same thing. We'll see.

In the meantime, I have a fall wardrobe that is sorely lacking. I have a class in study skills - one of those classes every freshman has to take -- and it has required me to answer several questions relating to personal success. I have actually had to write some goals and plans down, and one of them (duh!) was to take time each week for myself. I think sewing should be at the top of THAT list.

BY THE WAY . . . the Mac is here, and I LOVE IT. I have always been a Mac, just never knew it. This thing is fabulous. I use it for everything. I am bilingual now; I speak both Mac and PC! What a hoot!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Where Is It?

Where is it? Where is my new Mac?

Because I have gone back to school and am now a full-time student (ahem! At 50, it's about time!), I got in on a great deal from Apple. I got a MacBook Pro, plus a free printer and a free iPod touch.

C'mon, FedEx! Get a move on!

I have finally laid down the law about removing the electronic signature sheets from the front door (everyone kept taking them off! What is THAT about?). The printer's already here, and hopefully the rest will arrive today or tomorrow.

I can't wait. Can you tell?

On the current sewing front, I have this going on: mostly nothing, because I have so much schoolwork to do. But . . . it was just Labor Day weekend, so I treated myself to just a little time in here last night:

1. Got Babydoll a new pair of cute purple jeans from Rue 21, shortened them, and made them from flares into skinny jeans.
2. Took a pair of jeans we got her at Goodwill, and removed the pockets. They were stitched completely over with gold thread and she felt like they screamed "here's my butt!" Replaced them with pockets cut from old jeans pieces I had in the stash.
3. Hemmed a pair of chinos for my friend Michelle. Tried to fix another pair, but I think I've screwed them up. Need her to try them on.
4. Filed all the patterns that were sitting around. This prompted looking at several I'd like to make. Gotta get on that.
5. Cut out a new purse I'll be making. I'll post photos as I do it.

Ok, back to the salt mines. Things to do, (schoolwork), places to go (class), things to do (homework). Jeesh, I've turned into one of my kids.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Trudy on Trudy

Now you all know that I had to post this -- It's a Trudy Q & A! I truly love this lady; she's taught me so much and I especially love that she "parents via shouting" and her mantra is "Get in the car!"

I think we may be related. My mantra is "Get over it!" Maybe her kids are younger than mine ; )

What does it matter that we've never met?

Anyway -- this was so interesting that I had to share it. I actually went over to the website and got two of the patterns -- the Three Graces tops and the Weekender Jeanius Jeans. I can't wait to try them out.



p.s. The Joseph coat is done, done, done thank GOD and I will post photos soon!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I've Gone to Bed, Really, Haven't I? I'm Not Sitting Here Blogging. Not Really.

I've been so busy lately I haven't really had time to post anything --

But here's what I've been doing:

This is a work in progress. It's Joseph's coat in our local theater's production of "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat."

Little did I realise what a nightmare this would be when I agreed to do it.

First off, the fabric had to be chosen, and the place to get it was almost 2 hours away -- so I called finally and had it mailed to me. Then it was another trip to get the satin. All my life I've lived in moderate to big cities -- Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Mission Viejo (the southern end of Orange County, CA) -- and then I moved to Middle-of-Nowhere, NC and I have nothing. Seriously -- we have a Wal-Mart and a Lowe's hardware, and about 3 grocery stores. That's it.

So I really need a good reason to drive to Raleigh, NC, which is about an hour and a half south. I try to combine several trips into one -- doctor's appointment with shopping, etc. So the satin had to wait until I had to be in Raleigh for something else. This further delayed the project.

Plus, I am a supreme procrastinator with a lot of excuses.

This coat has ten different pleats inside cut in triangle shapes. They are made so that when the actor wears it, it looks like just your regular coat. But then when the brothers grab the edges, it turns into this circular skirted thing.

Well, right there you have it -- I've spent the last week trying to figure out diameter times pi minus circumference around bottom of coat divided by ten. Believe it or not, my high school geometry class actually came in useful here. My brain, however, is completely fried.

This was after I adapted a pattern from a bathrobe to do the thing. This afternoon after looking at it, I decided to leave off the little nehru collar that I originally was going to put on -- and then I decided to use all that roped cording I got at the Durham Scrap Exchange.

Definitely a work in progress.

I just spent the last 2 hours sewing in the pleats and then ripping out the tops and pinning them down. I need to press them all closed and start on the lining (same process), and then put the sleeves on, then sew the lining and those pleats together, and THEN I should be close to finished. The first real dress rehearsal is tomorrow. It's now 3:42AM and I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open.

So that said, here I am blogging (procrastinating again), after listening to a few lectures on, all about design. If you're going to have to be trapped in the same room as a nightmare project, you might just as well learn something.

So I think I'm giving up and going to bed. Tomorrow is another day.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kitchen Meets Sewing Room

I have a great juicer that I got online; it's a Breville. I've been using it lately a lot -- trying to get on track to being healthy. This morning, I juiced up 3 pineapples.

The waste/pulp bin was about 3/4 full, and looked altogether too juicy to me. My solution? Find something to drain the juice out. I don't have cheesecloth readily available, and most of my dishtowels are terrycloth, so I went in search of something I could use.

I walked into the sewing room and spied netting that I have to put in a skirt for Barbie (dang! Still have to finish that!) Anyway -- I immediately thought 'netting! That will do the trick!"

I had some actual crinoline leftover from my days of making bridal gowns. So I cut a big square, dumped the pulp into it, and left it to drain for awhile.

I got another full cup of juice out, no kidding! In the end, I squeezed as much as I could out.

So if you're lacking something in the kitchen, try looking in your sewing stash. You just never know.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Training the Eye

Here's a skirt I got recently at Goodwill. It's very cute -- a cotton shirting that is styled to sit just below the waist. I love, love, love pleated skirts and wear them all the time instead of shorts or jeans. They're especially comfy in the hot NC summer.

Unfortunately, after I tried it on, I thought it was a bad choice for me. I looked -- well, dumpy.


Upon closer inspection, I realised why I looked this way. The box pleats were stitched down about 5" below the waistband. Since the waistband sits below the waist and more toward the hip, this created a long sillhouette that flared out at just the wrong spot. I think this would have been the case no matter how short or tall, skinny or fat, young or old one was -- this was probably the reason the skirt was at Goodwill!

But there was an easy fix to this problem. I simply took out the stitching, and released the pleats up to the waistband. I sat and did it just now; it took about 20 minutes.

Voila! Cute skirt!

I've noticed lately a LOT of princess-seamed sheath dresses in the thrift stores. These just look dated -- until you put a ribbon at the empire waist, or a wide belt just above the waist. Try it -- it's amazing how an older, dated piece becomes new and fresh again!

If a piece of clothing you own fits great but just doesn't look right, take the time to really study the mirror. There may be something easy you can do to adjust it and turn it into something adorable.

Let me know if you do!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Practial Addendum to All Nighter

I just hemmed Babydoll's dress, and I wanted to tell you a couple of things --

On the matter of draping -- or, the way a dress or skirt's fabric should hang --

I did a narrow "shirttail hem" on the dress because it was already the length she liked.

However, most of the time, you need some weight at the hemline to make the dress drape/hang as it should. Also most of the time, a wider hem (like 2-3 inches) is enough fabric weight to do that.

You can tell when a dress or skirt hasn't been hemmed properly, because it won't hang right. It looks cheap, or homemade. Usually the fix for that is simply to make the hem wider. If you don't have enough fabric to do that, you can use packaged bias tape from the fabric store.

Since these particular skirt pieces in Babydoll's dress were cut with the edges/seams having a bias (diagonal) drape, it was important to have that fabric weight at the hem to make it drape right. If it didn't have some weight, the sides would stick out and it would just look silly.

Brief aside for the newer sewers --
Let me explain the edges having a diagonal drape -- it's like the skirt pieces were triangles, with the point at the waistline. So when you laid them out on the fabric, the big arrow on the pattern pieces said to lay them from the point of the triangle to the center of the bottom line of the triangle.

That's a really basic explanation -- but you can see in your head how the sides of the triangle would angle against the grainline of the fabric.

So, to create more weight within the narrow hem, I double-stitched the hemline. I stitched the folded edge of the hem on the inside, and stitched again on the edge of the bottom of the hem. This stiffened the hem just a little, and the thread used also added some weight.

Both these things adjusted the weight of the hem to make the dress drape just right. No side seams sticking out -- hooray!

On making it look professional, or store-bought --

I did something stupid, and I should have known better.

First off, when you put in the zipper in the back, use an invisible one. I used a regular zip, so that made it look less professional. An invisible zip makes it look like there's just a seam rather than an obvious zip.

Secondly, I didn't run the actual zipper all the way to the top of the dress. Instead, I ran the fabric edges of the zip up to the top of the dress. This creates about a 3/4" gap between the top of the dress and the place where the tabbed pull of the zip actually stops.

To fix this, you should always cut (or fold down) that top of the fabric part of the zip to within about 1/4" of the place where the tabbed pull of the zip stops. This way, you can put a hook and eye at the top of the dress as a finishing touch, and there won't be any noticeable gap between the top of the zip and the top of the dress.

You know, if you're going to take the time and energy to make a garment, you should take the time and energy to make it look as professional as possible. You don't want your stuff to look homemade.

I hope these two tips help you in future projects --


Monday, August 10, 2009


You know, you start sewing of an evening -- and before you know it, it's 7:00AM. Amazingly, I've been up most of the day and I'm not falling down just yet. However, I have started to yawn in earnest.

But enough about how sleepy I am. Who cares anyway? Look what I got done!
Babydoll saw this Liz Claiborne dress in a magazine and wanted a copy of it --

So we found some fabric at JoAnns that she liked better than the buffalo-checked gingham, and here's what we ended up with --

I used Butterick 5322 and used a leftover sequinned belt we had laying around.

While I was in Ohio on vacation last week, I had to make a stop at the Goodwill Store there. I always find treasures and it's nearly impossible to ever get it all back to NC in one trip. This time, I found several things for back to school for the girls -
  • jeans that will need to be narrowed into skinny jeans
  • a couple of skirts for me
  • several tops
  • a very cute denim jacket
  • 4 juice glasses
  • 3 coffee cups (we're always breaking and chipping them)
  • 8 movies on VCR
  • "The 4-Hour Work Week" in hardback
  • a gorgeous glass cookie jar (I'll use it for pasta because it's tall)
  • and these --

Bass classic khakis that were WAY too short -- but I didn't care, because I bought them to cut off to capri length! Rose has absconded with my favourite khaki capris so I needed a new pair. Ah, the consequences of teenage daughters! Last night I hemmed them up with a nice little vent at the outside.

Finally, I decided to throw an apron in just for fun -- I'd like to try to make one or two every week to stock my Etsy shop. I design as I go, which means this took up most of the night.

Very dated 1980's Monet-like printed drapery fabric
+ a Waverly valance I found at a garage sale =

Extra-long ties wrapped to the front,

or wrapped to the back.

Two pockets -- one with a rosette, one with a loop for a dishtowel or spoon --

(couldn't get a decent photo of the one with the rosette)

Scalloped hem --

At first, I thought I'd do a solid border on the hem. But then I did a rough sketch, and decided on the scallops.

They were easy: I just folded the apron in half, and kept doing that until I had the width for the scallops that I wanted. I counted the folds, and I had 8.

Then I cut 16 pieces that same width, and rounded the bottoms using a nearby CD-ROM.

I sewed each one right sides together, and flipped them inside out, leaving the top edge open.

Then I laid them out along the hem of the apron, and when I had what I wanted, I pinned them on and stitched them down.

There was nothing on TV, so I sat with my laptop and played YouTube clips. Trudy from HotPatterns would have been proud -- it was the all-Trudy channel, all night! LOL!

Actually, that was useful because it inspired the rosette on one of the pockets. I tried a spiderweb rosette, but it really didn't work with the woven fabric. So I just took a long strip, gathered the edge, and coiled it around, hand sewing it down as I went.

For the other pocket, I had some leftover bias trim from the valance, so I made the little loop for a dishtowel. I covered the top with an old button, then glued another button on top of that.

When I cut this apron, I extended the top a bit and rounded it off so it would fit a little above the waist. And I made the ties extra long to accomodate every waist. I like it. I think it's a fresh look to an old 80's fabric. What do you think?

Going to sleep now -- starting to zone out!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Perfect Shrug for Summer

Love this!

Be sure to check out the rest of Vively Online -- she's got some great stuff!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mirror Mirror

Up in the girls bathroom, we've tried to create the illusion of water falling. We've done this with glass beads on the wall and the mirrors over the sink. I started this project about a year ago, and haven't finished the bathroom yet -- still have to put the final coat of paint on the vanity. Up until now I had also only finished one of the mirrors. But today I finished the other one!

This is such a cool idea. It's basically a "Dollar Store Craft" project. Very simple, and very fast.

Here's what you need:
  1. A mirror of your choice -- any size, preferably without a frame.
  2. Glass beads in various shapes, sizes, and colours.

  3. Good glue that can be used on glass or non-porous surfaces. I used -- E6000, a crafter's glue. But any kind of superglue or cement you find with hardware will do.

Here's how you do it:
  1. Begin by cleaning your mirror with a window cleaner.

  2. Arrange your glass beads in the pattern of your choice in a short segment so you'll know how to place them. Or you can just get an idea in your head and do it as you go, which is what I did.

  3. Run a line of glue in a zigzag pattern along the edge of the mirror, about 15-25 inches long.

  4. Lay your glass beads onto the glue in the pattern you chose -- or randomly, like I did.

  5. When you get to the end of your line of glue, repeat steps 3 and 4.

Some tips:

  1. I'm serious about the good glue. If you use a glue gun, the glass beads will come off. Same with your basic Elmer's or white glue.
  2. You should lay out your pattern ahead of time unless you know what you want. I knew I wanted mostly clear beads and a random pattern. If you want something symmetrical, then you should lay out your pattern in front of you for reference. Just put the repeating line of it on the table in front of you.
  3. A mirror with a beveled edge works nicely because you can see how wide you want your border.
And be sure to let me know if you try this!