Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grand-daughters in dresses

Their mom sent me a picture of the two girls all ready for church. 

Hannah just turned 12 and Sarah will turn 3 next month.
Beautiful girls! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Knitting Blues

Knitting needles have been busy.  This is Traveling Buds Cardigan, a free download from the Cascade Yarns website.  I have not knit all that much, but so far my favourite yarns come from Cascade. I prefer to knit with 100% wool. This was a superwash sport weight wool; it is a wee bit soft for my liking. The concern will be how this will wear.

After completing an Aran cardigan, I needed something simpler to knit while watching TV. This pattern was just the ticket. The majority was knit and purl with a pattern that became fairly easy to remember after a short while. 
I would like to become more proficient at seaming knits. When you are a garment sewer for the most part, seams are important. And my not-so-pretty seams in knits leave much to be desired.
I found a wonderful tutorial on Susan Crawford's blog.
Her knitting is lovely, and if I can learn to knit and sew knits like she does, I will be one happy camper. As they say, practise makes perfect. So another sweater has been cast on. I have sweaters that I haven't even worn, I seem to just like knitting them.
A sewing friend of mine once said that she sews for the love of sewing, she has many things she has never worn. Then she said that her husband fishes for the love of fishing and he is an advocate of catch-and-release. I guess I can count myself a knitter who casts off and releases.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nesting Dresses

Sort of like those stacking dolls that you can get, the Russian ones that are painted so beautifully. This dress for Hannah and one in the matching fabric for her little sister Sarah will be mailed off this week. Just have to buy some buttons for the little dress. The little dress is Simplicity 5580, an out-of-print pattern.

Amazing how you can have hundreds of white buttons and there just aren't 7 the same that are nice enough for this little dress. I would love to get some nautical ones, but our fabric store has slim pickings when it comes to buttons, so I will just some nice very white ones to accentuate the piping that I put along the opening edges of the dress.

Their mom will take a photo and send it to me, I am sure.

My husband commented that I should make a third dress, smaller yet again, to complete the set. Perhaps a doll's dress should be added. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Simplicity 1382

I totally love this dress for my grand-daughter Hannah. The fabric is a soft cotton, white polka dots on a purplish navy background, found in the quilting section of our local Fabricville last year. Intended for a shirt-dress for myself, which never got made, I discovered the bag of fabric with thread and buttons in my sewing room. I'm glad it didn't get made into a dress for me. I can't wait to see this on Hannah. She is growing into such a beautiful young lady and I think she will enjoy wearing such a feminine dress.
You can't see the details because of the dark colour of the fabric, but the bodice is princess seamed and is stitched to an inset waistband. The skirt has gentle deep folds in front and back, a very grown-up look. I remember having a Vogue dress in the early 90's that was similar to this and I loved it. Almost a vintage feel to it.

The pattern is Simplicity 1382. I cut between size 10 and 12 as Hannah is about to turn 11 and she is a slender girl, perhaps a little on the petite side.

There is enough fabric left over to make a dress for her sister Sarah who is three. She is at that finicky age where she only wears certain things. Right now it is leggings and a skirt, pretty hard to get her into anything else. But perhaps if she can see that she could look like her big sister, she might be persuaded to wear a dress. We shall see; if not some other little girl will benefit from the dress, I am sure.

I will ask their mom to take photos when they get the dresses. Which should be in a week or so, as I have to sew the second and then mail them both to Ontario, close to a thousand miles away.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Current Projects

I have been working on getting a tried-and-true basic dress using this pattern.

The pattern is Butterick 6186, a pattern by Connie Crawford. It is a princess-seamed dress with the seam coming from the armhole rather than the shoulder. It has a back zipper, but I imagine if you used a knit fabric, you could eliminate the zip.

I sewed this in a cotton batik fabric from my stash, figuring that if it worked, it would be a wearable muslin. But I'm not so sure about the fabric, it's a bit loud for my usual taste. Perhaps on a summer day with the grandkids, I could wear this, I don't think I would wear it anywhere else.

My first impression was that the fit was pretty good, letting in or letting out the side seams, taking in the princess seam above the bust to eliminate the armhole gaping. Of course, one alteration affects another area and fiddling with the armscye resulted in having a sleeve that was too large. It will have to be reduced in the next version; for this one, I simply made a pleat at the top of the sleeve and called it a design detail.

But one, or rather two, issues have me puzzled. The shoulder seam is not straight on me. I have noticed this before in other patterns, and years ago in a couture sewing class, this was pointed out. So it is an issue I have always had, it hasn't come about through too much time leaning over a computer or sewing machine.

Last night, I dug out three fitting books to sort this out. Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit doesn't talk about this at all. The Singer Fit book mentions it, but doesn't really tackle it well. However, I did find it covered in detail in Pati Palmer's Fit for Real People. It comes along with another issue, a high rounded back.

I had no idea that this was a problem, but sure enough in this muslin dress, the back zip stands away from my body in the top 4". Just like the pictures in Pati's book. She says to correct this issue first as it will affect the shoulder seam. She also says that people with this problem often feel as if their blouses and dresses are pulling to the back and collars of shirts seem to choke them. Yes, I have to admit I have that problem.

So this will require another muslin, making that alteration and then redrawing the shoulder seam. Funny the things you learn about yourself when doing basic fitting. I didn't know I had a forward leaning head, but I guess I do.

I will try to take a picture of the problem, perhaps someone who reads this can suggest a fix.

This minor blip calls for doing something simple and straight forward. So let's bring on a dress for grand-daughter Hannah who will be turning 11 next month. She is a slender girl, perhaps a little shorter than the average, so I will cut between the lines of the size 10 and 12 to make her a size 11.

I had bought this fabric last year to make a shirt-dress for myself, but didn't get around to it. I found the bag last week, with pattern, thread and even buttons for the dress. There is enough fabric to make Hannah a dress and a matching dress for her baby sister Sarah who will soon be 3.

So simple sewing of a pretty sun-dress for Hannah, and a second muslin of the Butterick pattern. Inspired by Carolyn of, I want to have a basic dress pattern that can be used by itself or to compare the fit of other patterns.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kwik Sew 2849

This afternoon, I did the final tasks on this shirt, the hem and sewed on the buttons. This was a pleasure to sew. 100% cotton is the easiest fabric to sew and press. 
I used the collar technique that was illustrated on Tasia's blog at
Previously, in my shirt-making, I have used Margaret Islander's technique of the "burrito" wrap on the collar. I found Tasia's method easier and it assures a better result as I think you are in more control of the process. 

This was the pattern that I used, Kwik Sew 2849, a pattern that was in the huge pattern stash. I don't know if this pattern is still in print, it probably is. Kwik Sew keep their patterns for a long time, as most of them are classic designs. I did switch the sleeve when I realised that the long sleeve did not have a cuff. I simply substituted a sleeve from another Kwik Sew pattern, blending the cutting lines into the sleeve from this pattern.
A satisfying sew. 

And I can blame Tasia and Amanda for enticing me with more shirt fabrics. These three came this week from Amanda's site,  They are lovely fine shirtings and I am looking forward to more shirts in the next few weeks. The first one might be a sun-dress for grand-daughter Hannah though. It is time I sewed something for her.
Instead of wearing knit tees all the time, I am going to switch it up to more cotton shirts this spring. My favourite fabrics, tiny prints, are all back in style. As an aging hippie-type, I am glad to see them.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jeans - miles of topstitching

Most of my days are spent in casual clothes, so I figured I should take the time to make another pair of jeans. I made a pair last year from the pattern by Palmer/Pletsch McCalls 5894.

I am trying to use up fabric from my stash and I had everything for this in house. Natural coloured cotton twill, almost denim weight, poly thread for most of the stitching, nutmeg coloured upholstery thread for top-stitching, even zipper and button were here.
Jeans are a lot of work. I knew this pattern was already tweeked so fitting would be easy. But it always surprises you how a new fabric fits differently than the last, even though they are very similar in weight. So I will make a note on the pattern to raise the centre front waist 3/8" for the next pair.
I love top-stitching, but this did give me some problems. The upholstery thread is twisted of two plies and it tends to shred in the needle as you stitch. So thread breakage was a problem, combined with the fact that I had my needle inserted incorrectly to begin with. I sew on a semi-industrial machine that takes industrial needles. These have a groove in the needle shaft that must be inserted with the groove at the 7 o'clock position. This puts the eye of the needle ever so slightly to the left. It is easy to insert this incorrectly. But this time, I wasn't pushing the needle up far enough. Once I realised what the problem was, things got a lot better. Last Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of frustration over this.
 The coin pocket sitting behind the front slash pockets, edgestitched and top-stitched.

A real fly zipper with facing behind.

The stitching went a little wonky around the bottom of the zipper and I didn't
even try to bar-tack, I knew the thread would just split.
Back pocket stitched and edgestitched; regular thread in the bobbin case.
Finished jeans, with buttonhole and button the last things to do.

A tool I use all the time; a buttonhole chisel. I couldn't cut buttonholes without it now.

No selfies; just the jeans hanging from a newly organized bookshelf.
And a word about our weather. This is Teddy, our 14-year old Lab/Husky mix. He loves the snow, and we have plenty of it this year.
But enough already, we don't know where to put it. We have been getting snow, then rain, then freezing with the sidewalks slippery and very bumpy. The ice is 4-6" thick on the sidewalks. And today, Nick turned the car and hit the snowbank, with an ice block ripping out the parking light. Altogether, it is annoying. Try not to swear! 

After I finished sewing this afternoon, I noticed that my shoulders were all hunched up and tight from the stress of that final top-stitching. I will sew something easier next time. Inspired by all the shirts I am seeing on blogs, (especially on and on   - scroll down to her floral shirt)  I have cut out a princess-seamed shirt from a cotton that was in the stash for probably ten years. I have to admit though that the email notice from did make me relent on the resolve not to purchase more fabric. And I ordered three lengths of cotton shirtings as I feel a shirt-making session coming on.
No affiliation but I can recommend BlackBird Fabrics. She has some really lovely yardage and shipping is very quick and reasonably priced. Given the rate of postage now in Canada, I don't think I could have kept my business going; the shipping costs would have done me in. Glad to know that someone else is filling the gap here in the north.
Stash Count:  2 metres out, 3.5 metres ordered  -  so much for resolve!