Dec 072016

I first made this artsy jacket over 10 years ago, before I started blogging, which is why I don’t have a review of the pattern or any other pictures.

It was a really fun project using several different fabrics, lots of beading and embroidery techniques, shaped facings and hemlines and just general creativity all around. You can still find the pattern at Diane Ericson Design.

santa cruz jacket pattern

I’ve lost a bit of weight lately and rediscovered this jacket tucked way in the back of my closet and found that it was now too big! Not so big that I couldn’t wear it, but big enough that it was starting to look a little sloppy and I knew it would look terrible if I lost any more weight, which I definitely plan to do.

santa cruz jacket before

Since the jacket was so much work and so unique, I decided that it was worth it to take the time to take it apart, cut it down and then put it back together.

The fit is much more pleasing now as you can see, and I have incentive to not gain the weight back because if I do I won’t be able to wear it. 😀

santa cruz jacket remade

The cutting down process was fairly straightforward. I took the jacket apart by removing the sleeves, opening the under arm seams and taking apart the side seams. Then I laid on the pattern pieces, having marked the new size that I wanted, and cut the armscye, side seams and sleeve seams to the new size. This way all the details were left alone and preserved as I had originally done them.

This approach might have been tricky if I had lost a LOT of weight and the back and neck were too wide, but with this style and size difference it worked out well.

Not all garments are worth this much time and effort but this one certainly was!

Nov 302016

Meet my new fall jacket:

teal reptile jacket

This jacket was inspired by a sweater I purchased at a store. The sweater had what appeared to be a very complicated and interesting hemline, but once I took took a closer look I realized that the body of the sweater was simply a cropped long sleeve cardigan with long, wide bands of knitted trim sewn around the back and around the neckline, meeting together at the side seams.

teal reptile jacket 2

Hopefully these photos will help you understand what I mean. It’s much simpler to make than it is to explain!

The cardigan is cropped about 7 inches under the armpit and the trim simply consists of two long rectangles. They can be as long and as wide as you want them to be. Mine are 14 inches wide and 60 inches long. The heavier your trim fabric, the narrower you would want to make it, especially around the neckline, but I think this design particularly suits lightweight drapey fabrics.

teal reptile jacket 1

I’m thinking that if I ever come across a couple of really pretty 60 inch long silk scarves they would make a gorgeous trim for a lightweight spring top.

I got the fabrics at and was very pleased that the colors were accurate enough on the screen that I was able to match the two, the solid and the reptile print, so they look as good together in real life as I thought they might.

It was fantastic to use McCalls 6408, because I had already made the alterations so it fits. I just cut the front and back sections 7 inches below the armpit. sewed shoulders, sleeves & side seams as normal, sewed my band on the front, sewed my band on the back, and then did a serger rolled hem around everything.

Quick, easy and a top I love wearing!

Sep 072016

I’ve done a review of the Vogue 8817 tunic pattern before, only last time I made view C. This time I made view B and it’s become one of my favorite tops.


I really love the princess seams and the color blocked style lines.

One of the great things about this pattern is that you can use up leftover bits and pieces of fabrics. I used a black sweater knit on the sides for their slimming effect and opted to use the same purple bamboo fabric down the two center front pieces, leaving in the seam just for interest.

purple, grey & black top

I like the details of the raw edge strip on the ends of the sleeves, it’s just something different and a little unexpected.

The trickiest part of making this top is getting the binding around the neckline to lie smoothly. My best tip for that is to use perhaps a little less binding than the pattern calls for. Cut it the pattern length, but then ever so gently tug on it as you stitch around the neckline curve. This will help prevent that dreaded rippling and allow it to lie flat. Also, taking a few minutes to hand sew down the folded edge is truly worth it.

purple, grey & black top w scarf

This top fit well out of the package, the only thing I would change is that the neckline was a little bit low for my taste. That’s why you see the photo with the scarf.  It helps fill in what felt like a rather vast expanse of exposed bosom, and also adds some warmth on a coolish fall day.

I highly recommend this pattern and all of its versions. They have interesting lines, are on trend but still classic in feel, easy to sew and comfortable to wear.

Sep 012016

kris kinderfather dolls (1) kris kinderfather dolls (2)

Wow, this post is WAY overdue. My sincere apologies for taking so long to get this out. Late last year Kris K. shared with me the profusion of dolls that she made with my Topsy-Turvy doll pattern.

kris kinderfather dolls (3)

As you can see she got quite busy and made a whole bunch of them. Anyone who can make TWENTY of these dolls has my respect and admiration.

I love all the different colors, they are all so adorable and she did a wonderful job.

kris kinderfather dolls (4) kris kinderfather dolls (5)

If you’re looking for a nice gift to make for someone special, perhaps for the upcoming holidays, you can check out my free Topsy Turvy doll pattern  Kris says that my “directions were perfect!” So that’s nice to know. 🙂

By the way, someone pointed out that on the pattern the waking doll’s eyelashes are on her eyebrows! Silly me, how did  I never notice that? Anyhow, I know YOU know where they go. 😀

Happy creating, all!

Dec 012014

It was quite some time ago that I promised you photos of several sweaters I was making for the winter. They (mostly) came out great, I just haven’t gotten around to taking pics for you yet.

mccalls 6796 sweater

This one I managed to snap one Sunday before church. I really wasn’t grouchy, just rushing!

mccalls 6796 turtleneck

As you can see it’s view D from McCall’s 6796.

charcoal wool from mood fabrics

The fabric is a charcoal wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics. It has bits of silver fiber throughout, which are nice and not too sparkly. The wool is cozy and warm, and not nearly as scratchy as I expected.

mccalls 6796 sweater close up

Here’s a close up of the collar, which I overly lightened so you can see the details.

It’s such a simple sweater but I got lots of compliments at church the day I wore it.

I also made view B, the plain turtleneck out of some purple bamboo/cotton fabric, but it came out HUGE and looks terrible, so no pics of that one. 🙁

Here’s my review of the pattern, McCalls 6796:

Pattern Description: This pattern is for variations on a basic sweater, with a choice of turtleneck or asymmetrical collar with buttons.

Pattern Sizing: I chose the size based on my measurements. When I used a bulky sweater knit for view D it was perfect. However, when I used a thinner, bamboo/cotton knit for view B, it was HUGE.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did.

Were the instructions easy to follow? What I saw seemed simple enough, but as this was a very easy pattern, I serged it up quickly and only checked the directions for adding the collar.

After reading them I changed how the collar went on, sewing it to the wrong side of the sweater so the seam would be hidden when the collar is folded down. I had to tack 1/2 inch of the collar sides together at one shoulder so the serged seam wouldn’t show.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the asymmetrical collar, that’s what made my buy it in the first place. The three buttons are a great touch.

Fabric Used: A charcoal wool sweater knit from Mood Fabrics. It has bits of silver Lurex fibers throughout.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn’t like the 3/4 sleeves, so made my sleeves plenty long.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I did sew it again, in a thinner fabric and it came out much too big, but once I get the sizing issue settled, I’m sure I’ll make it again.

Conclusion: This sweater is a great, basic winter wardrobe staple. Just be sure to check the fit with the particular fabric you are using.

Oct 212014

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, everyone!

2014 10 22 woyww final sweater

This is a pic of my desk right before heading to bed Tuesday night. It shows me sewing up a storm and listening to Pandora. I know it’s the third week in a row these sweaters have been on the desk, but I promise this will be the last.

It another color blocked version of Vogue 8817, and I was just laying it out to see if I like the colors. (View B.)


It turns out I don’t. The light grey is good for the sleeves, but not so much for the lower center. I think I’ll just make that more of the purple (same as the top center.)

Of course, I’ll save the grey pieces, because I may find another fabric to use with those  for yet another sweater. Hence the title of this post, “The Final Sweater… For Now.”

The other four sweaters are done, and as soon as the weather cools off enough to wear them I’ll take photos for ya. In the meantime, enjoy some desk hopping around blog land. The party begins over at Julia’s.

Happy creating!

Oct 142014

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, everyone!

2014 10 15 woyww fall sweaters

Today’s desk shows that I’m still working on the sweaters I had started last week. But the piles are smaller. Two of them are complete, the purple turtleneck and the grey wool. The plan was to take photos modeling them today, but it ended up being nearly 80° and humid, so, no.

This being New England, I’m fairly certain it WILL get cold enough to wear them soon, so I promise to have pics when I won’t croak of heatstroke taking them. 🙂

The above photo shows me working on a third sweater. It’s got princess seams, all double top-stitched, so it’s a bit time consuming, as I just can’t zip it up on the serger. Instead I have to serge the edges, then sew the seams with the conventional  machine, press seam open and then do the top stitching. But the extra detail does look nice.

Those little green sticky notes on the back of the pattern are notes to self so I don’t have to figure things out all over again next time I make it. It’s the same concept as writing notes next to recipes in a cookbook once you’ve figured out a tweak that works.

This coming weekend I’m going to the Bead Affaire bead show in Watertown, MA. If anyone reading this is going, too, send me a note and we’ll meet up!

If you’d like to see what’s on the workdesk of other creative folks, be sure to join in the blog link fun over at Julia’s.

Happy creating!


Oct 072014

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, everyone!

Is it me, or do these Wednesdays keep coming around faster and faster?

2014 10 08 woyww sewing sweaters

Anyhow, just a quick peek at my desk today.  I’m sorting out pattern pieces for four different sweaters.

vogue 8691-knit-top-w-ruffles

You see, the pink fabric on the right is going to be the top right view of this sweater…


…which I first made last fall, and still love, btw.


But that pink fabric is also going to be the top contrast on this top…


…which I also made last fall.

That second to right fabric is actually an eggplant purple, which is going to be the middle contrast on the above top. It’s also going to be a turtleneck from the McCalls pattern.

The black on the far left is going to be the bottom part of the pieced top, and the grey beside it will be the cowl neck sweater in the McCalls pattern.

Didja follow all that? Ha!

So you can see why I had to take a little time to lay out which pattern pieces are going to be cut out of what.

Tomorrow I will boldly start cutting and hope I didn’t mess up. Otherwise there will be redesigning. 😀

I hope you’re having a wonderful week. If you want to see what’s on the desks of other crafty (in a good way) people, check out our weekly blog link party over at Julia’s.

Happy creating!



Sep 122014

My local Joann’s recently asked me to teach a class showing how to make this pattern.

simplicity 2274 overnight bag

Since I never made it before, I did a sample to familiarize myself with the steps.

overnight bag simplicity 2274

Here’s my review of the pattern, Simplicity 2274:

Pattern Description: Large overnight bag with zipper top, one zippered end pocket and front pocket.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were well written

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the way the pockets were added. I didn’t care for the recommended strap material.

Fabric Used: Quilting cotton from Joann’s. I choose to make the strap decoration and all the pockets out of a contrasting fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

Instead of 3.5-inch jute webbing for the straps, I used a 1.5-inch braided twine strap. It’s much softer and nicer. I used the same pattern pieces for the strap decoration, (you only need three of the four they tell you to cut, btw) but first sewed the short ends together, then seamed this length into a long tube, right sides together. You then press the long seam open, turn right side out and press flat, with the seam centered on the back. This is the perfect width to top stitch onto the 1.5-inch straps.

Also, step 6 tells you to cut your handles into two 62-inch pieces, which is silly because they are all one long piece. So instead, cut a 125-inch piece, seam the ends together and press seam open. Now you only have to top stitch over two layers at the seam. rather than three.

And, it’s just as easy to cut two #2 pieces, bag front pocket, as it is to cut one. So I cut two and added one to each side. You can’t have too many pockets, right?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t think I need more than one of these, but I might make it again as a gift.

Conclusion: A nice bag that goes together easily. Consider using a prequilted fabric to save time. Also, finishing the edges of the quilted sections with a serger makes a much nicer inside finish.

Sep 052014

You may have noticed that I’ve been on a kick of copying purchased garments lately. It’s a lot of fun and very satisfying to take a style you like and a fit that works and make copies in any color, fabric or print you want.

copied & altered clothes (2)

Here’s a top I bought a while back because I thought the knotted neckline detail was intriguing.

Now a few years later it’s starting to sprout holes, which makes me sad. So I figured out how they did it and make a pattern.

copied & altered clothes (1)

Here’s the resulting copy. It’s a summer top, so I may not make any more this year, but I hope to make it in a couple more colors for next spring.

pants & tops blue embroidered linen & black

Here’s another top I really liked the style of….

copied & altered clothes (4)

…. but thought a white one would look better with these crop pants. Yes?

If you’d like to make copies of some of your own clothing these videos have tips on how to make a pattern without taking the garment apart.

If you can access old episodes of Sewing with Nancy, her series called “Copy Cat Patterns” goes into detail on how to do this.

Happy creating and re-creating!