Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Hi! Hope you're having a splendid week. So I spent last weekend sorting and organizing my scraps which I REALLY needed to do. There were random bags of fabric taking over my closet, and it was starting to stress me out.  The best part of sorting is all the ideas that started formulating as I remembered I had a piece of this and piece of that and started looking at colors and textures next to each other. Then, of course, I think of the amount of time it takes to actually sew up all this stuff in my head, which then brings me back to reality. 

I did, however, manage to do a bit of scrapbusting in the form of two pillows. I love my kilim rug pillows, but they're not the softest.  Beej and I always have to turn them over to the non-kilim side to avoid scratching our faces. 

First up is my foray into proper quilting. (I did make a patchwork blanket many years back, but I knew even less then, and I wasn't really following any kind of directions or pattern.) This is the Kalaloch pillow from the book Simple Geometric Quilting, by Laura Preston. (By the way, not promoting or monetizing, etc. Just randomly found it on instagram.) This is a great beginner project because it's easy yet yields an advanced-looking result. It's also great for scrapbusting because, with the exception of the background color, it doesn't require very much fabric at all. I used a natural colored linen for the main fabric, purchased from Stonemountain. It photographs a  little lighter than it actually is, but I quickly decided it wouldn't be a good garment color on me—would totally wash me out. The colored scraps include some linen/silk blend from my DnD Nenuphar jacket, a linen/viscose noil from an unblogged top, and pieces from a coat I bought in Hong Kong nearly two decades ago. I really need to purge more often.

The triangle pillow was something simple I just winged because I loved the way the Nenuphar fabric looked with the gold corduroy scraps. 

I created a pattern like so: 

And just added a 1/4" inch SA. I also interfaced the pink and natural linen so that they would stand up to the corduroy. I continued with the scrapbusting and made insert pillows out of other, less desirable, scraps. Overall, very happy with both projects. 

Now I just have this left to bust...

Sigh. I know, that's a crazy amount of scraps. But at least they're logically sorted so that I can find what I'm looking for easier or grab the tub of knits when I'm in an underwear-making mood. I think I will return to my past system of building scrapbusting projects in between full stash projects to keep things under control. I'm excited to learn more about quilting, and I have an idea for a wall hanging and some new pillow shams for the bedroom. It's also time to cool it (again) with fabric buying for a while. 

I did joke with Beej that I should open an Etsy shop named Scrapbustin'. In my case, though, I'd have to fill it with pillow covers and underwear which seems super specific. :)

I would love to know if anyone out there has any scrapbusting tips—particularly for heavy (ponte, etc.) knits and rayon wovens. 

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your week!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sewing Baby Stuff

Hello and Happy Friday! Wouldja look at that, another post so quickly following the last. Amazing.  Actually, this is just a quickie post to catalog my experience with a new craft book, Handmade Animal Dolls, by Melissa Lowry. (By the way, I'm not on some kind of promo tour. No one "reached out" or "offered to collaborate" with me. I just had a baby shower to go to and wanted to make a cute baby gift.)

First off, the book is so stinkin' cute. It includes 20 animal patterns, from simple to complex with all kinds of animals such as sloths, koalas, pandas, badgers, etc. I had SO much fun just looking through all the adorable patterns. For the past 7 or 8 years (at least), I've eschewed buying craft/sewing books due to both money- and space-saving concerns. I live two blocks away from a great library, from which I can reserve for pick-up any books I want from the City of San Francisco's collection. However, since this is a new book and I had a party to go to, I went ahead and bit the bullet. I have lots of felt leftover, and it's great for scraps, so I'm hoping to make some more animals around the holidays. Maybe the People's Sewing Army will coordinate a mission for kids in need where I can participate.

The book is divided into three sections, starting from small and simple to larger and more complex. I chose from the middle section. It makes for a small toy, approximately 10 inches, which is a good size for babies and toddlers. Sewing the pieces together was very straightforward, but, man-oh-man, were those 1/8 " seam allowances tough. I was quite happy to return to 3/8 and 5/8 SAs afterwards.

I was delighted to discover that the parents-to-be had chosen a pink and gold theme because I happened to have some small pieces in my stash that were perfect. The body is made from a pink with gold polka dot cotton from Fabric Worm that I bought ages ago. The skirt is made from the softest, smoothest organic cotton lawn with an early Lisa Congdon design. I bought both pieces back before I had really come to understand my personal palette preferences (say that three times fast). I also had bought such a small quantity, that I couldn't really do much with them. 

The facial features (eyes, nose, mouth) are created by felting on wool roving so as to avoid any small parts that could fall off, be swallowed, etc. I was a little intimidated since I'd never felted before—and the book doesn't offer any felting instructions—but it's actually quite easy, and kind of relaxing. I worked on this while sitting in bed on a Sunday morning. 

While it's not quite perfect (I can see that one arm is longer than the other), I still think it's sweet. 

I made a matching sundress/top because the idea was so cute I just couldn't stand it! The pattern is by ShakaLaka Patterns, which can be found on Etsy. There are options for a dress, top, and romper to choose from. I found the instructions super simple and like that there are no fastenings. My plan was to make a pair of bloomers in the leftover polka dot, but I ran out of time. 

So that's a little unselfish sewing for you. I can now go back to making tons of clothes for myself, right? :) Thanks so much for reading and if you're off on Monday like I am, have an awesome long weekend!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Papercut Patterns: Stacker Jacket

Well, hello! It's been a while, hasn't it? So long, in fact, that I'm bypassing my summer sewing projects in favor of this fall jacket I just made. I plan to catch up this month, though, and need to record my mods for the CCP Rome collection and talk about my summer travels. So hope to be back with more posts soon. 

I made the Papercut Patterns Stacker Jacket from their recent Rubix collection. I've had mixed results with Papercut Patterns in the past, but I do love their pretty patterns/packaging/styling and could not resist the pull of a cropped corduroy jacket for fall. I mean, corduroy just screams autumn to me—totally reminds me of back-to-school clothes that were always a little too heavy to wear in Southern California September and October but I just couldn't wait to wear my new clothes. I also really needed an in-between jacket. I have my DnD Opium coat for cold weather and my CCP anorak for rainy/windy days, but I didn't have a light layer to wear over a light blouse or sweater on crisp fall days.

And I sewed this up on my new/used Pfaff sewing machine! I'd been thinking about getting a Pfaff for quite a while and finally bit the bullet when I recently found one on Craigslist. My Singer sews a pretty nice-looking seam, but it doesn't handle thick layers very well. I've already christened my Pfaff "Hans the Mountain Climber" because it effortlessly climbs over anything. I plan to write an extended review on my new Pfaff and how it compares with my Singer once I have a few more projects under my belt.

The fabric is a lovely soft black corduroy from Blackbird fabrics with a bit of stretch. I shopped my stash for the entire project, using wooden buttons and blue voile (for the lining) from my stash. As the project started coming together and I realized how cute it was going to be, I started thinking about custom details to make it a bit more special. My major change was to redraft the pockets because as soon as I put on a jacket, the first thing I want to do is thrust my hands in the pockets, and as-drafted the pockets don't allow for that. I also made a custom pocket for my phone, which I LOVE!

So, without further ado, here's a full-length toilet selfie followed by the deets/mods. 

The deets:
  • Size 7 (second to largest). There is quite a bit of ease in the jacket and, I find, in Papercut patterns in general. So I made a quickie muslin of the bodice and found that the 7 worked well. 
  • Shortened the sleeves by 3/4", which is a standard mod for me. This is a really cropped jacket, even for my 5'2" frame. If you're tall, I would recommend lengthening the torso and sleeves.
  • Changed buttons from 4 to 5. (I tend to like the way odd numbers look better.) The wooden buttons were a compromise based on what I had in my stash, but now I really like them. I like the definition they give to the jacket. 
  • As mentioned, I changed the pockets so that I could put my hands in the pockets. I went through a couple of different versions before finally just tracing a rough outline over my anorak pockets and adding seam allowances. I ended up making them a bit smaller to fit onto the jacket and placed them far forward for easy access. 
  • This comes together very quickly. There's no collar stand or separate placket piece. Just a fun, simple little jacket. 
  • Sleeves are slightly dropped and very easy to insert. I didn't need to baste and gather the sleeve head or anything, but maybe that's because my fabric has a bit of stretch. 
So that's the story on my new fall jacket. Hope you have a fabulous week and hope to be blogging again very soon. Cheers!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Paper Theory Kabuki Tee on Me

Hey there! So after the rip-roaring sewing success of my Zadie jumpsuit, I grew more curious about Paper Theory. Don't we all do that? It's like finding an author you like, so then you want to read all their books. And since I can't ever resist a quickie top pattern, making the Kabuiki Tee next was an obvious choice. This is also a good one to blog about because I think it's helpful to see versions in larger cup sizes.  

But first, isn't this sleeve super cool? I was so scared I would mess up, which is why I'm so utterly pleased with how they turned out.

Overall, I think it's a little too big. I personally love oversized tops, but I think this needs a few tweaks. In the website product photos, the sleeves fall just above the elbow. So mine are a little too long, which is a common problem for this T-Rex. I could also take the hem up another inch.

 Just a few details:

  • I found the fabric on a clearance table at Fabric Outlet. It was around five dollars a yard. I like that even though it's inexpensive it doesn't look cheap. It has an interesting texture, and the colors are nice and muted. It's actually a knit, but only two-way and not very stretchy.
  • The Kabuki is a one-yard-wonder--even in the largest size (20). 
  • I spent a good amount of time scrolling through Kabukis on Instagram, which helped me decide my stripe direction. I tended to gravitate towards the vertical orientation. 
  • I interfaced the right angle corners for extra strength and am glad I did. 
I'm interested in seeing what else Tara from Paper Theory comes up with. She seems so cool--a minimalist, surfer chick who cares about the environment and designs interesting patterns. So glad she's made her cool aesthetic accessible for the rest of us!

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

CCP Carolyn Pajamas: Finally a Matching Set

Hello! Ever since I made my first  Closet Case Patterns pajama bottoms, I've been pining for a matching set.  I just didn't want to pay a lot for five yards of fabric, so I waited until Fabric Outlet had a big sale, which is quite often, and picked up this sweet elephant patterned double gauze. I still couldn't bring myself to buy a whole five yards, ending up with 4 and 3/4, since I planned to make the short sleeved version.

I think this fabric is intended to be used for baby cribs...or, you know...pajamas for middle aged ladies. Hey, if you can't be whimsical with pajamas, when can you let loose? So, just in time for the heat wave we're currently experiencing, I have my matching set of Carolyn PJs. Double gauze is a wonderful fabric for pajamas; it feels like wearing air. It frays a lot and it's hard to unpick, so it can be a bit of a pain to sew but so worth the comfort!

And here we are! I love my new pajamas and wish I had an excuse to spend all day in them.

Here are the deets:

  • Combo of version B and C. Size 18 for the bottoms and 20 for the top. 
  • Pants: 3" shortened at leg line; 1/2" shortened at hip line (I changed from 1" to 1/2" for the hip line as it had shortened the crotch line too much, and I wanted a little more booty room. Since gauze is such a loosely weaved fabric, I shortened my stitch length around the crotch and inner thighs for extra strength. The pants come together quite quick, especially compared to the top. 
  • For the top I shortened 1/2 inch at the shorten bodice line and cut at the length for a size 12 since I didn't want the shirt to be too long. (I'm 5'2")
  • The piping was fun and drama-free although far from perfect. I used store-bought bias and inserted as flat piping. This can be a pretty labor-intensive project with the faux fly, pockets, piping, and cuffs,  so it was a shortcut that made sense for me. I'm dreaming of a satin pair with piping, but I'm gonna need a LOT of practice before taking that on. 
  • Major drama at the end! My button hole foot made two perfect button holes and lost the plot on the other three. I ended up unpicking and hand sewing the final three. The horror! Just kidding. It was actually okay. I found some tutorials online. Admittedly, they look like ass, but you don't really see them because the button covers them. Not sure what I should do about the button hole foot for future projects, though. 
  • I didn't even think about pattern matching, which is not a big deal for me; however, I do regret the front pocket placement. This is not me "ablogagizing"--just trying to develop a critical eye and think about when fabric placement matters. I suppose I can always remove the front pocket, since it's not like I'm going to keep pens in my pocket while I sleep. We'll see. 
So that's a wrap. Big Little Lies is on so gotta go. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic week!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Paper Theory Zadie Jumpsuit

Hey there!  After seeing so many fab Zadie jumpsuits on instagram for months now, I finally succumbed, and I'm so excited to have made a new kind of garment that isn't a top or a pair of underwear AND something that's a little out of my comfort zone.

I'm usually somewhat leery of jumpsuits, partly because I'm very practical by nature and don't want spend so much time undressing every time I go to the ladies room, but also because I tend to try to hide/camouflage my waist/tummy area. I haven't worn anything cinched at the waist for a really long time. Despite my own body hangups, I think this is one of those magical patterns that looks great on absolutely everyone. It's super comfortable, and the long line makes me feel very put together yet casual.

I've upped my selfie game from toilet selfies to streaked/blemished bedroom mirror selfies. Enjoy. ;)

Okay, how about some sewing deets:

  •  To begin with, this is a really fun sew. All you need is fabric and thread--no buttons, zippers, or interfacing. It comes together quite quickly and was designed to require minimal fitting. 
  • The BEST piece of advice I've read so far is to remember to put the ties in your pockets when going to the bathroom. Awesome. 
  • Fabric is a navy linen twill that I have absolutely no memory of buying. It's a bottom weight, though, so I suspect I bought it at Fabric Outlet to practice pants making, so I don't think it was very expensive. I tend to remember the pricey fabric.  I had three yards and used all of it for the pattern, piecing together bias strips to make the bias binding. I'm one of those weirdos who enjoy making bias tape, but this fabric was a bit too thick for the job--especially at the joins.
  • Speaking of the bias tape finish, that's the number one complaint about the pattern. A lot of people made facings instead, which I might try if I make it again. It's important to note that drafting a facing also means adding a 3/8" seam allowance to the main pattern pieces. 
  • I actually made a muslin for this! The front was super low cut and gaped a bit, so  I removed 1/2" from the bodice and sewed the shoulder at 1/2" instead of 3/8". It's still too low to wear without a tank or camisole underneath. I may add a snap at some point. 
  • For my purposes, Sewmanju had the most helpful review. I just love her blog. She knows exactly what she likes, and her reviews are so thorough. Since she's 5'3" (I'm 5'2") and curvy, I made a lot of the same modifications she did:
    • Shortened rise above crotch on both front and back by 2"
    • Shortened legs by 3" and hemmed 1.5" (pattern was drafted for 5'7")
  • I lengthened the ties by approximately 4 inches. 
  • Size 20
So that's my new jumpsuit. So glad I took a chance and tried something new. Thanks so much for reading and have a great week. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Seamwork Carter: Hacked Version

Hello from SFO! I'm heading down to San Diego for my nephew's wedding this weekend and, as is my habit, I'm quite a bit early for such a short flight. Thought I might use the extra time to write about my experience with the Seamwork Carter from April's issue. Carter is a dress pattern with a shirred waist, but they also have a suggested hack in the issue of a top/tunic. As soon as I saw this, I downloaded it right away. I've never sewn a square neckline, so I thought that part would be fun. Also, I haven't noticed very many raglan sleeves in their patterns, which also made me want to give it a try. 

I love the neckline and how the squares of the ikat pattern mirror the neckline. At first, as you'll see in my pic below, it was just a tidge too long. But I've washed it since, and it shrunk to a length I like. I had been thinking of an exaggerated tunic to wear with leggings or skinny jeans. 

I slashed and spread for a swingy shape, but I guess the fabric doesn't have enough body, or I did something wrong, because it has more of a cocoon shape. Ah well, still comfortable as all get out. I don't like the way it looks with these pants, though, so in the future I'll be wearing with closer fit pants to balance things out. 

Construction Notes:
  • Size 18 - I checked the fit of the sleeve--no bra showing. Neckline feels good. Could size down, though, since, like most Seamwork patterns, there's tons of ease. 
  • I had some trouble topstitching the neckline, so I used a fusible hem tap to tack it down and slip stitched the neckline to the seam allowance. Ever since my Match top, I don't mind a little slip stitching.
  • I think the pattern's pretty cute, but I don't know if I would make it again. I think it's the fabric that makes it for me. Fabric from Stonemountain and Her Daughter. I purchased 2 yards, but since it's around 46 inches wide, I had to do some major pattern tetris to make this. One sleeve is cut on the cross grain. I can't tell you which one. 

Next up, I'll need to finish some linen True Bias Emersons. Almost there.

In other news, sometimes I wake up with an overwhelming urge to make a pair of underwear. These are the Grace pants from OhhhLulu. I haven't made them in a while, and it's one of those patterns, where I'm, like, why did I forget about this pattern? It's designed for a combo of stretch fabric on the sides and woven center panels cut on the bias. I actually used a Birch Organic cotton for the center panels because it has very limited stretch. It was a scrap from a True Bias Lodo dress that I made and wore to death. (Sadly, the Birch Organic dark fabrics fade pretty quickly.)

Well, time to board soon! Have a fantastic weekend and thank you for reading!