Monday, November 6, 2017

Alex, I'll Take Potpourri for $400

(Blogpost title referring to Jeopardy! and the mish-mash stream of consciousness that follows.)

It's been 3 months since my last confes.... kidding!... blogpost. Not as bad as last time when it was more like 6. I always want to blog but feel like I don't have enough thoughts to meaningfully fill up a post. Then a month goes by and I forget half of what I wanted to share to begin with or life just moves on, or both. So, here I am. Bear with me if things get ramble-y but I'm determined to get this done and posted.

The biggest news of the last few months is that (1) Tyler is out of the Marine Corps after 7+ years and (2) he got married. I'm not sure which he was happier about. KIDDING! He also just bought a house in St. Augustine and he and wife Angela moved in last week. He's now an actual Florida resident again and is less than 3 hours away. My (step)son Michael and his wife and son also live in St. Augustine so all of my boys are in the state and an easy drive.

The official wedding pics aren't available yet but I'll share the few I have. I didn't take many pics that day, knowing I'd be able to borrow from everyone else's cell. I just wanted to enjoy the day, not the phone.  

My boys, Left to Right: Michael, Alex, Tyler. The "baby," Alex (25), turned out the tallest. A fact he never forgets to mention. Tyler had as his groomsmen his brothers and two Marine buddies, one of whom was his best man. He's definitely made some lifetime USMC friends. Rah. Weird that he's now a former Marine.

Tyler and Angela in St. Peter's, an historic Catholic church in Beaufort, SC. They both looked beautiful. :-) Loved Angela's romantic and very tastefully feminine dress.

On the church steps.

Arriving in a 1957 Chevy to the reception, which was held at Traditions on Parris Island.

The Hollywood kiss!

After the reception at the "after party." Angela had changed into this dress. Tyler kept his tux on.

And, no. I didn't make my dress. I thought about it but my sewing time is so limited that I really didn't want to pressure myself. So I went shopping. Where I found even more pressure. Hah. I must have hit the stores in the drought of fancy dresses right after June brides and before the Holidays. There was almost nothing. But I did find the above dress at Dillard's and tried it on. I don't know that I would've tried it on had my choices not been so limited. It's basically a sheath and I don't usually go for those. But this was actually not bad, and ... on sale for $49. Seriously. I couldn't believe it was so inexpensive. So even though it was too big, by at least 2 sizes, I bought it because I knew I could do the alterations. (I wouldn't LIKE doing the alterations but I knew I could do them.)

I spent one entire weekend unpicking the CB seam in the dress and liningremoving the really long CB invisible zipper, taking in the dress at CB and sides, and re-hemming dress and lining for me and my sparkly shoes. I also added gathering to the shoulders of the cover-up so the armhole seam wouldn't be 3 inches down my arm. It worked in a pinch, looked pretty, and actually held up for the whole day/evening.

The funniest thing about this dress? It is pretty much the EXACT color of the bride's mother's dress. You would think we had planned it. And both of us matched the groomsmens' vests. Once we get the final formal photos, we're all just going to be so color coordinated! And puffy-eyed from bawling our eyes out. Her mom and I are criers. Even Tyler was teared up as Angela came down the aisle. Tissues for everyone! LOL

Moving on to sewing …

I started this McCall's 7381 well before the wedding. I thought I might wear it to the rehearsal dinner. Yeah, that didn't happen. Which is OK. It was actually on the cold side in SC that week so I would've frozen in this anyway. It was actually below 60 degrees F. Brrrrr.

I did finish it this past weekend and lucky you, you get more work bathroom photos. Dark, blurry, and so unflattering.

The dress is OK. I don't think it's super flattering on me but it's not the worst either. It is comfortable and it does fit. It's just got a bit too much waist floof to be my best silhouette (which you can see better on Zillie below). The dress may grow on me and I love this fabric, but even if it doesn't, I'm happy I made it. I liked the dress pattern when it first came out and I've wanted to try it. I'm not sure how I'll feel about ironing it when it comes out of the laundry. If nothing else, that may relegate it to occasional wear only. Not a big iron-er here anymore. Press-er when sewing, yes. Ironing, newp.

Pattern notes: I sewed it without too much pattern alteration. I did alter for my square shoulders since this is a woven (rayon challis from Fabricmart). I blended from 16-ish neck/chest to 20-22-ish at waist hips. I recall the pattern being lettered (S-M-L-etc) instead of numbered sizes, so blending was kind of an "by eye" thing. I also added about 6 inches to the above-knee view, since I wanted below-knee. I did not do an FBustA, but did a FBicepA (hah, so witty) of about 1 inch. The sleeves eased in very well, probably due to the give of the rayon. I haven't sewn a set-in sleeve in forEVER and I was not looking forward to fighting with excess ease. Luckily, I didn't have to. Dodged that bullet. All in all, it's a good pattern. I would recommend it.

It should be obvious in the pics above and below that I added pockets and have my hand jammed down in one. Pockets. Yay!

Here it is on Zillie. See the waist floof? It's kind of blouson-y, kind of not. I think it would be much better if my waist didn't have its own blousons.

Closer view of the bodice. I'm not sure if you can tell without me pointing it out, but I did sew down all the pleats (shoulders and waist, 12 total). I was not about to press pleats each time this comes out of the laundry, on top of regular dress ironing. No way.

Next up is the True Bias Hudson pant that's now a couple of years old. Nancy mentioned on Instagram that she converted one of her TNT woven pants patterns to a pattern for knits. I could do that, but I also like to just sew new-to-me patterns. Especially new-to-me *popular* patterns. I like to see for myself if the bandwagon is worth jumping on. I'm guessing I'm not alone. I'll keep you posted.

Signing off for now. I'll be back when I've got more wedding pics! I bet you can't wait. :-)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Another Hot Patterns 1120: Primavera Dress

It's been 6 years since I first made this dress. (Old blog post here.) I'm much happier with this one than the last because I tweaked the fit better. And it doesn't look like a quasi skeleton costume (reference to previous fabric). Time flies, because I certainly wasn't planning on a 6-year break from the first try. This pattern is currently on clearance on the HotPatterns website. I guess it seems like an old pattern now to them, but it's actually still on trend. I would recommend the pattern. It's got some nice shaping and details that could be a bit tricky/time consuming to just hack yourself.

Once again, you're getting work bathroom selfies. I did get a new, more portable, little tripod thingie but I haven't tried it out yet so the bathroom it is. Wild-eyed sideways glance.

I already had the pattern cut from last time but I did need to review my notes to deal with the fitting problems. First up was raising the scandalously low neckline. Not quite sure who would ever wear it as it was. Even with the 2 inches I added, it's still on the low side on me, but I'm not flashing anyone anymore so that's good. The bust darts (which are French darts) needed no adjustment, nor did I need to add bust room.

Here's the finished dress on Zillie. The gathers at center front make me think I'm disguising my tummy. I'm probably not, but it's a good thought.

The pattern is originally designed with a facing which gets sewn into the waist seam. Since I recently finished the Turner dress, which has a fully lined bodice, it inspired me to ditch the facing and copy the lined bodice idea. I'm not a fan of facings in general and I usually have problems with HP's facings in particular so I try to eliminate them whenever I can. It did take a little reimagining the construction steps, but it wasn't too complicated.

In this photo below you can also see how the pockets are made. It's really one big pocket which spans the front of the skirt, but it functions as two separate sideseam pockets. Even though it's one piece and you could actually touch hands inside across it, you don't really notice it's not normal separate pockets since the shape is such that your hands just go downward and don't want to meet up.

Closer pocket bag pic. I recall having a hard time figuring out these pockets from the instructions the first time but I had no problem at all this time so I guess I was just being a blockhead before.

I did interface the pocket facing piece, which gives the opening a bit of stability, which you can see below.  You might also see that I forgot to snip the seam allowance to lay flat around the pocket facing and my sleeve hem needs a bit of trimming too. And by "needs," I mean I've already worn this as-is and am too lazy to go back and trim anything. ;-)

I did face the hem as per the instructions, and I understitched the joining seam before coverstitching the hem facing in place. I really like the extra something that a wide, faced hem adds to a knit dress. It just feels fancier and more substantial and it definitely hangs nicer.

The sleeves are kind of a hybrid between set-in and raglan. HotPatterns calls it semi-raglan. The armsyce is set inward further than a true set-in sleeve and there's a shoulder dart.

I didn't reshape the shoulder dart for my very square shoulders as I usually do with darted raglans and I love the semi-structured shape that resulted. Slight Crystal Carrington vibe, but my shoulders are narrow so the illusion of a little width there is a good thing on me.

The understitched inside neckline.

Below shows I edgestitched waistline to stabilize joining seam allowances, skipping the gathered areas. I used a small ZZ for this to allow some give when sitting, etc.

Rear view. Not quite as symmetric as I thought I had it laid out before cutting. Oh well. Plus, even though I adjusted the back this time, I still had to take in the CB seam about an inch at the neckline, tapering to nothing by mid upper back, and I still needed to remove an additional 3/4" from the back bodice length, tapering to nothing at the sideseams. You can see this if you're looking for it. Tweaking the fit would have been a whole lot easier if I had basted that CB seam instead of sewing it for reals AND adding the understitched lining. The dress had to stand in time out for a week before I wanted to deal with it again. But I'm glad I did. I really like the dress. It's comfortable any time but especially good for hot Florida summer days.

Me, still in that bathroom. Woo.

Parting funny shots. While I was nearly done sewing this dress, I noticed the spool was running dangerously low. I was on the homestretch attaching the hem facing, which would leave only coverstitching (with different thread spools) to do after this seam. Could I make it? It was going to be close.

And then the bobbin ran out. Yeah. (Really should get that bobbin sensor fixed.)

See ya next time! Click on my Instagram link in the upper right to see an animated me compiled of more work bathroom selfies than anyone needs.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Turner Two

I finally was able to revisit the Cashmerette Turner dress (pattern link HERE (nayy) and previous review HERE).

This fabric, from Fabricmart, sat in my stash for exactly 4 minutes before it was on the cutting table with Turner pattern pieces on it. It's a fun, summery ITY print with just enough body. Side note: I wish Fabricmart would stop labeling all ITYs the same and divide them up a bit by weight.

I made no changes from my last pattern modifications (narrowing the shoulders/neckline) except to lower the front vee about an inch, which equals a net 1-inch raise from the original pattern neckline. At this level, it's not quite cleavage revealing, which does well for me at work. I also added about an inch to the skirt length for no particular reason except to change it up. Sewing is a fickle wench. :-)

In addition to the few minor pattern issues I mentioned in my original Turner review, there are a couple of "truing" mistakes, which are easily corrected. By mentioning them here, maybe Jenny of Cashmerette will make note of them for the next print runs/editions of the pattern.

First, the sleeve hem allowance is not shaped correctly for a perfect fold-up.

Second, the side seams finish in a point at the hem edge. I trimmed the point so it blended into the curve of the hem edge, which makes for a smoother hem turn-up on a circle-ish skirt.

No mistakes here! I'm just showing off the nice point at the vee. :-)

I remembered to add my pass card loop. I just love having these when I don't have pockets.

And I added a self-fabric sash (interfaced with scraps of Perfect Fuse), which means I really didn't need the pass card loop. Hey, it's nice to have options! With that sash in place, I'm easily imagining a hack to Turner into a faux wrap dress. Excuse the bad pun. Maybe it won't take me another 6-7 months for my next go.

Happy Friday! I'm hoping to continue this weekend with my next sewing project.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


I found both my sewjo and that big stack of missing patterns. Life is good.

Here's me today, back in the work bathroom for selfies, sporting the new 2-piece dress (aka skirt and top). And boy do I need a haircut!

But first, the missing patterns.

I have no explanation for not looking in this little chest/box which I walk past at least ten times a day, except that I must have just mentally ruled it out, thinking I already checked it. So glad I decided to double-check my assumption. It was like Christmas and my birthday all in one! And good to know that I haven't quite lost my mind. Yet.

Last post, I talked about mashing up my TNT Ottobre tee with the Love Notions Laundry Day Tee, the main reason being that I felt the overall upper bodice shape of the LDT was not the shape I knew I prefer for my tees. I did keep the LDT neckline and neckband piece, and swing shaping at the hemline, and I'm happy with those. The vee neckline shape is very nice and the band went on without a gape or pucker. I'll definitely use this neckline shape again. (Side note: Does anyone remember the Jalie 2005 tee and how that neckline stormed the online sewing world?)

I probably should've planned the seam on the band better relative to the print, but overall it's just not that noticeable from a regular distance, especially given the focus-pulling wild print. Or it's laziness. Or both. You be the judge.

Here's the top before any hems were sewn. Even after we all know the CF of the band isn't symmetrical, are you really noticing that? Yeah, I didn't think so. :-)

For the skirt, I used one of the long-lost-but-now-found patterns. I liked the flippy-ness/trumpet shape of all the lengths when I originally bought it, and still did once the pattern re-surfaced. The length I sewed is between Views D and E. I can see me using this pattern a LOT since it's only 2 pattern pieces and 3 seams and takes less than a yard of fabric for even my generous posterior.

So-so pattern matching at the sideseams. It's not an exact pattern to match so good enough is good enough, and about all that can be expected.

A quick hanger shot of the skirt. I decided to place the horizontal stripes section at the top of the skirt so they would be "hidden" under the top when worn. I thought it would be too much of a good thing to see one more row of those stripes. The eyes wouldn't know where to rest. I'm happy with that decision.

The whole outfit on Zillie.

I'll be back soon because I have another finished project to share, and I'm expecting a fun sewing blogger meet-up tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Laundry Day Tee. Or Not.

Yes, I'm actually posting twice in the same month. I'll wait while you get off the floor.

So apparently one of the best ways to kickstart a missing sewjo is to write a blog post about how little desire you have to sew. And in a similar vein, when in that same blogpost you lament about not liking any fabric choices you've seen lately … well, you know where that's going. Yep. A few yards may have jumped into my shopping cart during Fabricmart's latest Pyramid sale. And then possibly a few more a week later during the Knits sale.

That's all good news. But I am not without hiccups and speed bumps in this story.

Let's begin.

First, last year I had bought a crap-ton of patterns during one of the BMV all-brands sales. My order arrived. I ooohed. I ahhed. I made plans. I bought fabric. I dreamed. I put the patterns … well, that's just it. I have NO IDEA where I put those patterns (or a few others) and I've been looking for them on/off for MONTHS. My house is not big. I'm fairly organized. I cannot solve this mystery. I give up. I've decided I'll repurchase some of them during the next BMV all-brand sale. (And then I'll find the missing stack.)

So I moved on for the time being. While I may not have been sewing myself these past months, I still have been reading sewing blogs and websites and checking into Facebook sewing/pattern groups regularly. I've seen more than a few Love Notions Laundry Day Tees made up and modeled, with lots of raving about the pattern. Being the lemming that I am, or maybe because it was free when you join the LN Facebook group, I downloaded the PDF and printed it last week, with plans to use some of the newly acquired Fabricmart yardage.

Yesterday, I got the pattern out to tape the sheets together, which I did. I know it's free and all, but I wasn't extremely impressed, starting with the fact the PDF is supposed to be "trimless." This means you don't need to slice off unprinted page margins to accurately join the pages into one cohesive layout. I found I still needed to trim. Not a big deal. I'm used to it. I'm not ready to blame Love Notions on this yet because I haven't double-checked my printer settings (and I'm not sure I will spend time to do so), but do be warned in case it's a legit problem.

What really bugged me was the pattern itself. See below.

First, the front and back aren't separate pieces. If you're away from your printer when you realize this and can't print a quick duplicate, it means you have to trace or tape the jigsaw puzzle back together. It also means you're going to be ticked off. I absolutely do not see the point in this (the print layout, not the being ticked off). Well, OK, there is a slight point if you're printing to a commercial print house's large format printer and paying by the sheet, but even then, give us the option of more sheets with the other half of the damn pattern so we can decide for ourselves which pages to print.

Next, it should be obvious that if the front and back pieces are identical,  except for necklines, there's a good chance it won't fit a curvy body. Pretty sure my front and back aren't anywhere close to identical. I won't even talk about the sleeve being cut on the fold. Guess it's a good thing after all that I didn't do all that "extra" printing. ;-) I'm not truly knocking this pattern because (1) I haven't actually sewn it and (2) it does get lots of love and I have seen some very nice finished tees. But I did conclude it wasn't for me and the symmetrical drafting makes me hesitant to try a paid-for LN pattern.

Side note on the LDT - Does anyone understand what the heck is meant by this? It totally does not make sense.
I decided what I was really after was the overall trapeze shape of the LDT and looked for my Cashmerette Concord pattern to just do that simple hack. Apparently my paper version of the Concord is with the other missing patterns mentioned above. Grrr, that MIA list just keeps getting longer. But I knew I also had a PDF version (from testing) that was already trimmed and ready to tape, and I was able to locate that one. Except … I was missing at least 6 of the pages. Six pages that would fall right across the bodice. I have no idea how that happened. Apparently, I'm getting old and senile. Missing patterns. Missing pattern pages. Missing brain.

Instead of giving up, I reached for my so very trusty TNT, the Ottobre Woman tee from the 02/2007 issue (cover below) and added the flare and length of the LDT.

And then I cut it out of this, with enough left for a matching skirt cuz I love me some 2-piece dresses. Yes, I know it's only a skirt and a top. I just like saying 2-piece dress. It sounds fancier. Humor me. :-)

And then I was done "sewing" for the day.

I've made a deal with myself to spend at least 15 minutes a weekday on this until it's done. I think I'll stick with it because I'm excited about the print placement for this one and want to see it finished. If I had started with the Ottobre, I'd be done by now. I hope I learned that lesson.