Apr 292013

The great thing about taking the time to make fitting adjustments to a pattern is that you can go back to it time and again, confident of good results.


This tropical print fabric wanted to become a summer top.


No, it did NOT want to be pants, like Threads magazine did here.  ===shudder===

I was thinking of a simple button-down Hawaiian shirt, but all the button down shirt patterns in my collection have princess seams.  I didn’t think chopping up this large scaled print would do it any favors, and so decided to make another version of Butterick 5218, (this link brings you to a review of the pattern) which I had just completed in a different fabric.


Since I’d just made it, and did all the fitting work, it went super quick.  


The only change was to make it a tad bit shorter, as the rayon is more drapey that the linen I used in the other tunic.

Count another project down and onward to the next!

Happy sewing. 🙂

Apr 262013

I’ve been sewing like crazy lately, really wanting to finish up several projects that have been hanging around undone for way too long.  It was over two years ago that I bought the fabric to make this dress.


This is another in Simplicity’s line of Amazing Fit patterns.  They are great for those who are learning how to fit patterns as they give tips and instructions throughout telling you where to baste, then check for fit and what you should be looking for.  Also, key fitting areas have 1-inch seam allowances.


Today I sewed the last stitch on this dress.  If I’d realized how light the fabric was before I got started, I may have underlined it for a bit of support.

Time to get some strappy black sandals so I can wear this to a wedding next month. 🙂

Simplicity 2174 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Dress in 2 lengths, with short, three-quarter sleeves or sleeveless, two shaped neckline options and in-panel pockets.

Pattern Sizing: My pattern envelope only went up to a 14, but I needed a few more inches. I was very thankful for the 1-inch seam allowances!

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions are great for those learning how to get a good fit in garments.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I Love, LOVE patterns that have different pattern pieces for A,B, C & D cups; this saves so much aggravation. I wasn’t sure about the pockets, but they turned out surprisingly flattering and very practical.

All that basting and trying on for fit is tedious, but worth it. 🙂

The short sleeves are quite short. I debated about making the longer sleeves and wish I had (but I was thinking about this being a summer weight dress.)

Fabric Used: A 100% rayon challis from Fabric.com. It’s a bit flimsy, and could have stood an underlining.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used much narrower seam allowances in order to get a good fit (probably could have started with a size 16.)

I used an invisible zipper, so didn’t sew the bottom of the center back seam until the zip was installed.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t wear dresses very often, so I probably won’t. Also, after looking at this one, I think I prefer princess seam dresses without a waistline seam.

I would recommend lining at least the bodice if you use a lightweight fabric.

Conclusion: A cute and easy dress with helpful fitting tips in the pattern.

Apr 222013

Next up in my list of sewing accomplishments is this knit wrap skirt by Vogue, 8711. vogue-8711-wrap-skirt

The lines are interesting and the pieced yokes are flattering. vogue-8711-line-drawings

I could not find the finished garment measurements anywhere on the pattern, envelope or online, so I resorted to pinning together the tissue pieces and measuring.  I realized that the size I would need was nowhere near what I had in this envelope.

To add the width I needed to get my hip measurement plus 2 inches ease, I taped in strips of paper along the center front and center back. I lightened it up quite a bit here so you can see the design lines on the navy blue fabric.


My finished results are somewhat less than spectacular.  It looks kinda loose and sloppy and doesn’t have that nice curve-hugging fit.

I realize now that since this is a knit and a closely fitted garment, I probably should have not added in any ease; maybe even had a bit of negative ease.

Ah well, at least this fabric was only $1 a yard and was meant for testing.  🙂

Vogue 8711 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Fitted, above mid-knee or mid-calf length, mock wrap skirts.

Pattern Sizing: 8-12

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except mine was too big.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, it looks complicated but goes together easily.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I always hate having to cut out pieces in the flat. The two largest pieces in this garment had to be cut in the flat, and at a weird angle.

I’m not loving the look of the elastic waist in this skirt, either.

Fabric Used: A cotton-poly knit blend.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to pin together the pattern pieces to find the finished garment measurements, since that info wasn’t available. I pieced in strips of paper to make it my hip measurement plus 2 inches ease.

I realize now that adding the ease was a mistake. I’ll remove 2-3 inches from the width if I make this again.

After adding the elastic I stitched the waistband along the lines of the side seams to keep it from twisting. Before I did that I scooched the excess fullness in the waist to the back to make for a smoother front waistline.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I’d like to make it again, as it would be nice to see how it looks with a good fit.

I would recommend it to others, as it goes together easily.

Conclusion: A flattering skirt with interesting design lines.

Apr 192013

I’ve been sewing up a storm this past week.  After going through my stash of patterns and fabrics I really felt like it was wrong to have spent so much on that pile of supplies and not have anything to show for it.

I am determined to empty at least one of my two boxes full of patterns & fabrics before working on anything else.

So far this week I’ve made:

Anyhow, today’s post is about this dress:


This pattern first came to my attention through another blogger.  I loved all the flowing drapey-ness (if that’s not a word it should be) and got it at Joannes’ next 99¢ pattern sale.

I bought the jaguar/leopard print fabric from Fabric.com last fall.  I have NO idea why.  (It was the same order in which I got three yards of grey sweater knit which I will never, ever wear, so I’m guessing my state  of mind was  in a very weird place.)

As it turns out, there was exactly enough and it was the right kind of fabric for this pattern, so here it is.


Um, yeah. Me Jane.

This look is WAY more bold than I usually do, but it was an interesting project to sew.

By the way, which boots do you like better?  The tall calf hugging ones above or the wider but shorter ones?


Butterick 5749 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Partially lined dress has bias front pleated bodice, bias midriff, slightly shaped front hemline, invisible side zipper and narrow hem. Designed for soft two-way stretch knits.

Pattern Sizing: According to the measurements I needed an 18. I cut out the 16 and it was perfect.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, although the print hides the pretty, drapey lines, so I think I’d do it in a solid if I did it again.

Were the instructions easy to follow? They were fine. Other reviewers mentioned some errors in the photos in the instructions, but I didn’t notice them. I read through the directions before I started, getting a visual of how things went together. I didn’t refer to them much after that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the side zipper, don’t think I’ve done one before. I also really like the style of this dress. It’s very flattering.

I like that the dress was lined, but thought it was silly that only the bodice and midriff were lined and not the skirt. I lined the skirt as well. Just purchase the same amount of lining (in a stretch knit) as dress fabric.

Fabric Used: A hatchi sweater knit from Fabric.com. It has a lovely soft cottony feel, but is actually 75% poly, 20% rayon and 5% lycra. Never would have guessed.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: A few reviewers mentioned that the neckline was a bit low so I shortened the length of the cowl neck edge.

To do that adjustment, draw a line along the center front of the bodice front piece, from neck edge to waist edge. Decide how much you want to reduce the neckline. Make a mark half that distance to either side of the drawn line at the neck edge. (I reduced mine by 3 inches, so my marks were 1 1/2 inches to either side.)

Next, cut along this line, leaving just a bit of tissue connected at the waist edge for a hinge. Pivot the two pieces until the marks at the neckline meet. Secure with tape or my personal favorite, repositionable scrapbook adhesive.

The skirts looked rather short to me on the pattern cover, so I added 6 inches to the length.

Finally, I forget where I read this tip, but thought it was brilliant.  I tacked a small drapery weight to the inside center of the cowl neck edge.  This keeps the wrong side from flipping out and keeps it draping nicely.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would recommend this to others. It’s a pretty style, and goes together fairly easily. I don’t need many dresses, but like it enough to maybe make another.

Conclusion: A pretty, flattering dress. Make it in a solid for maximum impact of the drapes and curves.

Apr 172013

We can all use a few more basic tops that can be dressed up, or just worn with jeans.  Butterick’s 5218 tunic top pattern fits the bill perfectly.


For a bit of interest I chose this black linen with a tad of lycra and silver metallic pinstripes. Click on any of the pics for a closer look.


As usual, before I started sewing I checked out the reviews on pattern review.  I came away wondering if I should even bother, but then decided to go for it.  I especially love the folded-up-and-held-with-a-tab style of sleeves. b5218-tunic-black-silver-sleeve-cuff

Aren’t those pretty buttons?  I think they go perfectly.

The notes I made from other pattern reviewers were as follows:

  • eliminate dropped shoulders
  • runs really long
  • adjust sleeve length
  • add curved hems

After looking at the pattern pieces I realized the armscye was ridiculously deep, so decided to take that in as well. (This alteration also reduced the sleeve width by 2 inches, which was just fine with me.)

To reduce the armscye by 2 inches, draw 2 parallel lines on the front pattern piece.  These lines should be 1 inch apart, perpendicular to the center front line and should cross the armscye. Like this: (the lines going across the “1”)


Cut on one of the lines and slide the cut line to meet the other drawn line.  I like to use  repositionable scrapbook adhesive.  It’s much better than tape because you can iron over it without it melting. This adjustment shortens the tunic top and the armscye by 1 inch.  Repeat the alteration on the back pattern piece as well. b5218-back-illustration  

To make the alteration on the sleeve, make two pairs of parallel lines, 1 inch apart, one pair one either side of the center line, perpendicular to the hem.


Repeat the cutting and sliding with each pair of lines.


Here’s how it looks on the actual pattern piece.

Some measurements confirmed that the shoulder dropped 2 inches, so I wanted to take it up that much.

To get rid of the dropped shoulders, draw a line perpendicular to the shoulder.  (It should be near the center, but positioning isn’t crucial.)  Make a mark 1 inch to either side of this line at the shoulder. Draw another line about 90° from this one going to the side seam (NOT into the armscye).


Cut on both lines, leaving a small bit of tissue intact between them for a hinge.  Rotate this wedge shape until your two marks at the shoulder meet.  Use scraps of tissue to fill in the gap along the side seam and true up the side and shoulder seams.


Here’s my back pattern piece with both the armscye and the dropped sleeve alterations.


Repeat the procedure on the front pattern piece.


Since this pattern piece is cut flat, not on the fold, I have to make the adjustments on each side. (Oh, and you’ll need to shorten the front facing by 1 inch as well. The rest of the details are covered in my review of the pattern.

Butterick 5218 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Loose-fitting, pullover tunic tops have collar variations, front button closure with front pleat, back gathers, dropped shoulders and sleeve variations.

Pattern Sizing: If I’d followed the pattern’s recommended sizing based on my measurements I would have made an 18. Instead I looked at the finished garment measurements and made a 12. Can you imagine how ridiculously huge an 18 would have been?

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? The instructions were fine.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the folded sleeve cuff held up with a button and tab. I didn’t care for how humongous it was.

Fabric Used: A linen with a bit of lycra and metallic pinstripes from Joannes.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn’t care for the dropped shoulders and altered the pattern to elminate them. I also raised the very deep armscye by 2 inches and reduced the sleeve width by 2 inches.

Since raising the armscye effectively shortens the sleeves, I added 2 inches to the sleeve hems.

To make the hems I folded them 5.5 inches to the inside and stitched 5 inches from the folds.  Then they could be folded 2.5 inches to the outside for the cuffs.

I didn’t add the button tabs until the sleeve cuffs were completed.

I skipped the pockets because I wanted to keep the clean lines of the pinstripes.

A dinner plate was a great template for making more interesting rounded hems, but I had to chop off 6 inches from the bottom first. (Else it could have been a mini-dress on me, and I’m 5’7″!)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Now that I’ve taken the time to make the alterations, I’d like to make a couple more.

Conclusion: A nice wardrobe staple that can easily be dressed up or down. Just keep in mind it runs really HUGE.

Apr 132013

You may be under the mistaken notion that every project every sewer out there on the internet does turns out perfect. We foster that notion because we don’t often share our failures.

But failures are instructive and we can all learn from them.  In that spirit I give you the following.

The May 2013 issue of Threads magazine had a fascinating article on making bias pants.  The technique was so unusual that I just had to give it a try.  

It involved making some complicated calculations based on your measurements and then cutting out two rectangles.  The rectangles were sewn in a twisted sort of way, resulting in two bias tubes.  


Would you believe I have that very fabric in my stash?  I’m so cool.  🙂



But I absolutely could NOT see me wearing pants out of this stuff.  Nope, not that cool. Instead I opted for a solid purple linen/rayon blend with a bit of texture.


When I first considered the idea of bias pants I wondered about the bias stretch factor which I’ve observed before.  Bias garments with any weight to them tend to narrow at the top and be wider at the bottom.  Maybe not such a good idea in pants?

But I dismissed any concerns, figuring the designer knew what she was talking about.  Right?


As you can see from this pic, what I expected is exactly what happened.

I won’t subject you to pics of these pants on.  The effect was rather grotesque as they hugged my hips and thighs, then flared prettily at the bottom.  Ugh.

After excitedly trying on my new pants, then being quite disappointed, I took another look at the magazine photos.


Well of course these fit the model perfectly, as she has no hips or thighs to speak of whatsoever. Yup, they look great on her. Anything would.

So, if you have a stick-figure figure I say go for it.  It’s a cool idea and you’ll have some very interesting pants.  The rest of us should probably stick to more conventional styles.

The good news is that I still have my tropical print to use… for a summer top, I think.

I also have two purple bias tubes that I don’t know what to do with.  Any suggestions?

Apr 112013

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided to whip up view D of  Simplicity 2416, even though I’d bought it for the swirled styles.  It’s a Khaliah Ali pattern, and she seems to do a lot of looks for those of us who aren’t exactly stick thin.


You would think from the line drawings that this style would be flattering, but I didn’t see any finished results over at Pattern Review that impressed me.  In fact, what I saw made me decide to save the time and trouble of sewing all those curved seams.


I’m fairly happy with the results. If nothing else, I utterly adore the colors in this fabric.


However, I probably should have ironed the fabric a little more before taking pics.  (Why do I never notice all those wrinkles irl?)

Happy creating!

Simplicity 2416 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Misses/womens skirts in two lengths. One version is composed of several curved tiers.The other is a flared skirt with overlay and optional tie belt. Both versions have an elastic casing waist.

Pattern Sizing: I made view D in the size 16, which is what the pattern indicated for my measurements and it worked out perfectly.

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? Yup, they were simple.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like how quickly view D worked up. I like that if you wear your top tucked in the tie belt hides the fact that it is an elastic waist.

Fabric Used: I used a 100% cotton batik from Fabric.com. Although this skirt would have had more drape with a different fabric, like a rayon or a gauze, this still looks nice.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used 1 inch elastic instead of 1/2 inch. I think it’s more comfortable and it shortened the quite long skirt a little bit. I put points on the ends of the tie belt, just to make it more interesting. (Not pictured as I opted to not tuck in my top and used a different belt.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I may make this again, it’s a nice wardrobe staple. I would recommend this to beginners, as it’s easy to put together.

Conclusion: Views D & E are a basic 4-piece A-line skirt with a front overlay for a faux wrap look. It worked up very quickly, as all the seaming was simple. Even the waistband is cut onto the skirt, streamlining the sewing process.

At some point I’d like to make the curved tiers skirt from this pattern. After studying pics of that version completed, I think the only fabric it would look good in is a solid color gauze, similar to that on the model on the pattern envelope.

Apr 092013

Happy Wednesday to you all!  If you’re new to What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, be sure to check out Julia’s mahoosive list of the goings-ons of creative desks from all around the world.  It’s fun!

Yesterday afternoon was spent in my sewing room, going through and rematching my assortment of patterns with the piles of fabrics.  Several of each were studied with a puzzled expression, as in, “Why the heck did I ever buy that?”


Case in point is that three yards of gray sweater knit (bottom right-ish.)  Seriously?  I don’t ever wear gray.  Never ever. Ever.  So boring. What was I thinking?

Oh, and please, please don’t look back and remind me just how long ago I bought that red fabric that has yet to be made into a dress.  Someday it will get done… probably.

After all that sorting, I wanted to have something to show for it, so I cut out this skirt.


I have to admit that I originally bought this pattern  for the curved piecing  skirt style.  It just looked so interesting and unusual. And swirly.  I like swirly.

However, the wonderful thing about PatternReview.com is that you get to see finished projects made by and worn by real sewers on real bodies.  After looking at several photos, it became apparent that this style, while indeed interesting and unusual, was not particularly flattering.

How to say this?  Ummm…. well…. you see, all those swirls & curves only serve to enhance the girth of the  wearers.  And who wants enhanced girth? Not me.

I’d already bought this pretty batik in my favorite colors, and was really looking forward to having a new spring skirt out of it, so I decided to go for the other style, view D.  It’s a faux wrap, which is nice cuz there’s no worrying about wind flippage, if you know what I mean.  😉

blue-purple-batik-fabricActually I had bought three yards each of TWO batiks, because I really wanted to do that lower left view with the two different fabrics.  Sadly, I noted that the one with two fabrics has an even greater enlarging effect than the ones with a single fabric.  ===sigh===

The skirt is all cut out.  Hopefully I’ll complete it tomorrow morning and get pics up then.  Also, I have a sewing Fail for ya.  It’s the bias pants I mentioned a few weeks ago.  I was just going to chuck the things in the trash, but I thought you might find the info helpful.  Stay tuned.

Happy creating!

Apr 042013

This bracelet was the result of playing around with a variation of crystal beads, namely, Swarovski crystal top-drilled bicone beads.

swarovski crystal-bicone-bracelet-2

What’s fun about this is that stringing is very simple, the beads do all the work for you and they nest together in an interesting way.

Click on any of the pics for a closer look.


Like I mention in the video, this bracelet has some thickness to it, so you’ll need to make it longer than your usual bracelet length.

 swarovski crystal-bicone-bracelet-1

If you don’t want to bother assembling all the beads and findings yourself, I’ve put them together in a nice kit for you in my Etsy shop.

Swarovski Crystal Bracelet Kit-Shades of Rose, Pink, Lavender, Cyclamen & Mocha Brown with Sterling Silver Findings

The beads are all genuine Swarovski crystal and the finding are all sterling silver/silver plated. And shipping is free to anywhere.  🙂

Happy Creating!

Here’s the video, over at YouTube: Swarovski Crystal Bicone Bracelet Video Tutorial

Swarovski Crystal Bicone Bracelet 

Tools & Materials:

  • 12 8mm Indian Pink Top-Drilled Swarovski Crystal Bicone Beads
  • 12 8mm Mocha Top-Drilled Swarovski Crystal Bicone Beads
  • 12 8mm Cyclamen Top-Drilled Swarovski Crystal Bicone Beads
  • 12 6mm Rose Top-Drilled Swarovski Crystal Bicone Beads
  • 12 6mm Provence Lavender Top-Drilled Swarovski Crystal Bicone Beads
  • 12 inches beading wire
  • 2 crimps
  • 4-10 3mm accent beads
  • toggle clasp
  • wire cutters
  • crimping pliers or chain nose pliers


  1. Onto beading wire slide a crimp, an accent bead and loop section of toggle clasp.
  2. Slide beading wire back through accent bead and crimp.  Pull wire up tight around toggle clasp, leaving just a bit of slack so toggle moves freely.  Use crimping pliers or chain nose pliers to secure crimp.
  3. Tug firmly on wire to check that crimp is secure.  Trim excess wire with wire cutters.  Slide on another accent bead.
  4. Slide onto wire 2 6mm rose beads, 2 6mm lavender beads, 2 8mm indian pink beads, 2 8mm mocha beads and 2 8mm cyclamen beads.
  5. Next, add 2 6mm rose beads, 2 6mm lavender beads, 3 8mm indian pink beads, 3 8mm mocha beads and 3 8mm cyclamen beads.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
  7. Repeat step 4 once more, then finish by adding 2 6mm rose beads and 2 6mm lavender beads. You should have used all 60 of your beads.
  8. If your bracelet needs to be longer than 7 to 7 1/4 inches, add additional accent beads at this point.
  9. Finish by adding an accent bead, a crimp, another accent bead and toggle bar of clasp.  Slide wire back through accent bead and crimp.
  10. Pull wire up tight around toggle bar, leaving just a bit of slack so toggle moves freely.  Use crimping pliers or chain nose pliers to secure crimp. Tug firmly on wire to check that crimp is secure.  Trim excess wire with wire cutters.
Apr 022013

Just finished making this pink pearl and crystal leather wrap bracelet and  I love wearing it!

Click on any of the pics to see them bigger.


I pretty much followed the directions for the “Leather and Luxe” bracelet in the January issue of Bead Style Magazine, substituting beads that I had on hand. The button was one from my grandmother’s button jar.

I also used 1 mm leather cord that I had on hand, rather than 1.5 mm.  Worked just fine.  🙂


The pink pearls are ones I dyed a while back.  You can learn how easy it is to do in this Custom Dyed Pearls video.


I did order the pink silk cord from ArtBeads.com, but think I’ll try other cords/threads for a future bracelet. Any suggestions for materials?

Keep in mind that the 2 meter card of silk cord was just enough to make a double wrap bracelet.  If you want to make a bracelet with more wraps, you’ll need more cord.


Although the directions in the magazine were great, I learned a few other tips from watching this video. The most helpful thing I found was to tape both ends down to your table.  This makes managing the wraps much easier.

The process was repetitive but relaxing.  Once you get the pattern down it’s very simple.  Next, I think I’ll make a triple wrap bracelet with all mixed metal beads.  Let me know if you give this a try!

To figure how much leather cord you need, take your wrist measurement and double it.  Multiply that by the number of wraps you want and add 12 inches.

So, for the triple wrap bracelet I’m going to make:

7 inch wrist x 2= 14 inches

14 inches x 3 wraps= 42 inches

42 + 12 = 54 inches leather cord

Happy creating!