Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday Wrap Up

So I made these shorts (S3768) a few weeks ago and have been living in them every weekend. Love. Them. Still can't believe they needed no alterations. The last you saw, I was contemplating back pockets. I tried to get a modeled shot, but no flash, and aiming into the mirror while facing backwards results in much blur. Here's one of the better ones. I use that term loosely.

So I just stepped out of them and laid them on the floor for a photo, weekend wrinkles, dog hair, and all.

The first "tester" pair was from a much-loved repurposed linen but I totally spaced when sewing the waistband on by not stabilizing it and I could only wear them for about an hour before the linen stretched, which meant I was constantly tugging my shorts up like a teenaged boy. I fixed that yesterday. It ain't pretty, but it works. I added some twill tape to the inside of the waistband (right after they were pulled from the dryer) by stitching in the ditch from the top and praying I hit the twill tape underneath. I did, but it's not straight by any means. Lazy sewing at it's laziest. :-) The important thing is, it works. But ... the TOP of the waistband still gets a little loose even if the shorts now stay in place so if I get really motivated to fix this properly, I'll need to also rip out the stitching holding the slapdash twill tape in place. But for now, I'll also be living in these shorts on the weekends and chances are good that I won't fix them properly, because who's gonna know anyway?

My next project is this dress. It took me a while to settle on it because I'm having a real hate with my fabric stash and matching patterns to fabric I want to use is becoming harder and harder.

The main problem is I don't really want most of my fabrics anymore. Many are solid non-Lycra knits, bought when I was sewing more for my sons and other family. But I can't just toss or donate because ... what if I NEED something there? Right? The bottom line is it really means that out of a very full closet, only a few stacks are anything I will actually sew and even some of those are yawners to me. So now I'm contemplating sticking most of it in bins and storing it in the garage. Basically starting over, but with a lot more thought, less quantity, and a lot more sewing fabric before it becomes unloved. 

Here's where the dress progress has stopped for now. The fabric is drapey sueded moleskin, both the print and the contrast solid. I do like *this* fabric but I wasn't really wanting to sew such a fall/winter look yet. Still, if it works out, it will be a nice addition. My office is freezing most days anyway.

I haven't done a muslin for this. Just a quick tissue evaluation (not even really a tissue fit) and a few usual minor alterations as I cut the tissue so this may end up being a pretty wadder. Hah. But I don't think so ... there are many princess seams for adjusting as I go, but that means I have to baste instead of really sew. The back is together too, although I'm also trying to find out if the back zip is really necessary so I haven't done that seam as final yet either. Hopefully, I'll have some energy and mojo for sewing after work this week.

Because if I don't, my sewing table is going to look like this all week.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You have a call on Line 1 ...

Just a drive-by post, but I had to share this funny thing that happened today ...

I was at work, doing my thing. Still neck-deep in catch-up and still learning all our cases and procedures. (It's going very well, but there has definitely been a steep learning curve some days. But I really do like the challenge.)

Our receptionist buzzed me to let me know I had a phone call from an opposing counsel's office. I pick up on the line and start talking with the woman on the other end. We're both trying to figure out some things about a particular case that we're both new to, when I think I hear a question that just didn't compute with the subject matter. I heard .... "Do you have the Stitches and Seams blog?" It took what seemed like a full minute for me to comprehend that that was REALLY what I heard.

How amazing is that?

R ... if you're reading, you made my day! And I apologize for being such a dweeb. I was just so surprised. And I'd be happy to help you with that darn FBA whenever you're ready ...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Full Monty (KS 3790 copy)

Dillander (edited to add: and Dawn!) guessed correctly. The pattern I shamelessly copied is Kwik Sew 3790, although that Burda is very similar. I think I like the KS better though. But that's just my 2 cents.

The fabric I was willing to "sacrifice" for my tester/muslin is a brown/ivory ivy-ish print that's been in my stash for years and years. While the pattern I created did actually work fine, I wasn't totally thrilled with the print crawling up me on this top once it was done. Until ...

... I whipped up a quick Magic Pencil skirt with the leftovers. Now I LOVE them together as a two-piece dress and will be wearing my new outfit to work this week for sure. I'm really liking the movement created in the different print directions meeting up, which itself is created by the odd-shaped front piece needed to create the top. Pattern morphing details/pics are below.

Here's a close-up of the gathered sleeve join on the left. The right is just a cut-on/dolman cap sleeve.

Here are the gathers going down the left front sideseam. (Which provides nice tummy cammo!)

From reading the reviews, the real pattern calls for a neckline facing of some sort, and nearly every reviewer had gaping/flipping trouble with it. If I hadn't read Lynn Rowe's excellent tips and photos from her review, here, I probably would've used a coverstitch binding around the neckline but I gave Lynn's method a try and it worked just great. (It's like a bias binding facing, except single-layer and cut with the stretch, not bias, going the length of the strip.)

So, I promised pics and tips on how I created my pattern ...

I started with my TNT Ottobre tee (of course!), which is just a basic scoop neck tee. Because I just had two successes in a row with the cut-on/dolman cap sleeve of Butterick xxxx (I'll fill this in later), I used it to create the shoulder/armhole changes to my TNT tee by just pinning the two together and then tracing. If you don't have a similar sleeve to trace, just look at the shape here ... I'm positive it would be extremely easy to create on the fly. It's a forgiving sleeve so you don't really need perfection.

To emphasize, I ONLY used the parts outlined in red below to "fill in" the armhole of my tee, so disregard the weird shape of that Butterick piece. It only needs to be weird like that for the Butterick top, not this Kwik Sew copy.

I laid a folded piece of pattern tracing paper over my pinned-together TNT and Butterick pieces and traced. I used the tracing paper on the fold so I could open it up into a full front piece after tracing/trimming. The full front is a must, as you'll see next.

Next, I used a combination of my curve ruler and eyeballing the photos on the reviews to create the asymmetrical neckline shape. If you look closely, you'll see a couple of "extra" lines where I drew a shape and then changed my mind. :-) The KS line drawing looks like it's just a straight diagonal line, but the pattern photos made me worry about bra strap peekage so I made my neckline more curved and did NOT make it wider than my trusted TNT neckline. (I'm happy with how it turned out. The bra does not show, or even try to show, at all.) After I committed to my neckline shape, I marked a couple of notches, and then sliced off the left upper, set it aside for the time being, and then added a seam allowance to the remaining neckline. I also used this moment to create a grain line parallel to the CF fold (you can't see it, but it's there) of the full pattern piece. Make another little grain line on the shoulder piece too. And if you're smarter than me, you'll do that before you cut it off. Not that I would know about that ...

Next comes the wacky part. :-) Draw a bunch of diagonal lines (6 for me) radiating from the right-side waist and going across the full front. Slice 'em apart, leaving a "hinge" at the radiation (?) point. Radiation? No, we're not nuking our pattern here. Hahaha. Ahem. Then spread each slice 2-3 inches each. Not rocket science ...just eyeball it so they all look fairly evenly spread apart.

Fill in the space with all that tissue you cut off from other patterns and save in a pile. Oh, you don't do that? Now's the time to start. You'll never have to use paid-for tracing paper to fill in alterations again. :-)

If you're OCD, this next part will make you nutty ... to create a new sideseam, just eyeball tru-ing all those slash/spreads so you end up with a smooth curve. Again, not rocket science. Not a fitted top. It's a knit tee. It should be smooth but it doesn't have to be perfect. If you look closely at the left side of the photo below, you should see a little piece of tissue I used to smooth out the sharp angle creating during the spread of the other side. I recommend you smooth out that waist area too if your pattern's waist curve gets too angular like mine did.

This is my back piece, which is really just my TNT back piece pinned to the Butterick back piece, since I knew the shoulder/armholes would match my front morph. I didn't even bother making a proper pattern piece yet since I was still testing. Now that I know it works, I will create a dedicated back piece before I unpin these.

One thing to note ... before you cut fabric, and really, before you do the crazy slash/spread to the front piece ... WALK YOUR SIDESEAMS. My TNT is intentionally ~1" longer in the front because the bust area is eased to the back piece. But this pic below shows an additional 1" discrepancy above that... which I didn't catch until I was actually SEWING the sideseams. Oops. Luckily, cutting off that extra inch didn't make my finished top too short. This is what can happen when pinning together two different patterns and thinking you're smarter than them. Yeah. Humble Pie time. In other words: measure twice, cut once.

Moving on to the shoulder piece. Basically the same radiating slashes as the front, but radiate from the center shoulder this time. Your goal is to keep the same length across the top/shoulder seam while adding 2" or so to the original slice/seam line. Doing this creates a *very* wonky pattern piece. I simply laid it out, before slashing, on another piece of pattern paper and traced it so I could return to the original shoulder line and neckline area (I also added a neckline SA to the tracing), and then I trued up everywhere else to create a smooth piece, curved at the bottom where it will be gathered to the full bodice piece. I hope this is clear. I know it's not a precise method, but the eyeballing thing is actually what I do. Remember, it's only a tee. And you're allowed to make mistakes. It's one of the best ways to learn.

Here are my final shoulder and front pieces, a little closer. Not sure this helps. :-)

To connect the shoulder and front and finish the neckline, go to Lynn Rowe's excellent tips and photos from her review, here. Then just evenly gather the left sideseam until it is the same length as the back (using your favorite gathering method) and sew together like any other tee. I simply turned under the sleeve hems and sewed with a slight ZZ. On my Buttericks with the same sleeves, I coverstitched them. Either method is fine.

I have no idea if my pattern looks anything like the actual Kwik Sew pattern, but my finished top does so I think it's a win.

If you have any questions, please ask and I will answer in the comments so it all stays together.

Saturday Sneak Peek

This is "tester" (aka muslin) for a shameless copy of another pattern using my TNT tee. It's not that I didn't want to buy the real pattern, just that I'm too impatient to wait for it to arrive.  I worked on the pattern changes last weekend, so I'd be ready to try it out today.

Can you guess the real pattern?

Hopefully, this turns out. I'll be back later with the deets, including photos of my pattern slice/dice if you want to try your own shameless copy.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I caved

First fabric order in about 6 months. I couldn't control the shaking any longer.

Now to check out some shoes ... ;-)

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Shorts for the weekend

Still with the newly TNT pattern ... I started another pair of shorts this past weekend and continued on them for about an hour tonight. I have about one more hour left and they'll be done in time for the coming weekend when I'm meeting up with my friend from that job which shall only be mentioned slightly. We're going to go out to a sports bar somewhere and watch football games. And drink. (By the way, she's no longer at that place either! Interesting, right?)

Here's the front. The button/buttonhole and hems will be done tomorrow. I haven't been sewing during the week at all lately so I didn't want to push it.

Inside shot. The last of some red/blue paisley cotton for the waist facing, fly shield, and ...

... inside the pockets.

Speaking of pockets ... I think the back needs some. If only to break up the wide expanse of my backside. ;-)

Parting Shots:

The building where I work:

A Tampa "landmark" from one of my lunchtime walks:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Take 2

While the patterns (Butterick 5429 and Simp 2185) were still out, I went ahead and made another 2-piece "dress." This time I added the flounces to the skirt. I figured they would be mostly lost in the print in case I hated them but would still add swish and movement. I do like them. Per the pattern, they are single-layer and raw-edged but hang in such a way that the wrong side of the fabric barely shows. In other words, a quick/easy addition to the skirt. Can't beat that.

This skirt has definitely moved into my top 3 knit skirt patterns so I should probably leave the pattern out a little while longer. I like how it fits closely at the hips even though it has an elastic waist (I changed it from a casing to a serge/turn) and then flows into a swishy bottom. Treena had commented on the first skirt that (paraphrasing) she wouldn't want to sew all those curved seams in the panels. Don't be afraid ... in a knit, it's a breeze. You barely know you're sewing a curve. And the pattern notches are spot on if you want a little more guidance.

I was stupid when cutting out the top, though. I have the pattern marked to add an inch to the bottom when cutting but for some reason I completely spaced. I decided to add a hem band to make up the needed length and to create a blouson effect so this top wouldn't be *exactly* like the last one. It's hard to see on Zillie through the print, but it hangs differently on my body/hips. Once I get pics of me in the new outfit, you'll see.

In my last post, I mentioned the pattern keeper ziplock bags I use for my patterns. I used to buy them from Nancy's Notions, about 50 at time. But they've discontinued them. Boo. I knew Clotilde used to sell the same bags but with their logo instead of NNs. I had received one or two as a sample on a past order, so I wasn't imagining it. Well, the Clotilde company has been bought out by Annie's and the Clotilde website redirects to Annie's. I found this out when needing to order more bags. Since NN didn't have them, I decided to give the Annie's bags a try thinking they'd be the same. They are functional but they are definitely not the same and are of much lesser quality. I found other possibilities after a Google search and might try something else when I'm ready for more. In the meantime, here's the link to Annie's. I'm not affiliated and theirs are definitely NOT the same as the Clotilde pic you'll see at the Annie's link. Kind of misleading. 

Can you see the pocket outside the bag?

Finally, for Meredith ... here's the link to the PR discussion that inspired my last post:

ETA: I've been checking out new blog posts and it's amusing (in a good way!) to see that my questions post inspired your own posts.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Mine, not yours. Hah. :-)

There's a message board thread on PR at the moment which is discussing the "right" way to place a pattern and cut fabric. So I thought I'd ask ...

1. Do you cut with your fabric RS out or WS out? 

Me, RS out ... always. I want to see motif placement most of all. I do use me a lot of prints after all. It's just The Way I Do It. Always have. But I think what's most important is consistency. Since I also have the tissue next to the RS, it's easy for me to know what the RS is (or what I've chosen as the RS) after everything is cut and the tissue may have slipped.

2. How do you make your pattern markings?

Me, water soluble pen the most for interior marks, chalkoliner next. Notches and fold/center markings by snipping into the seam allowance. Sometimes I'll use a sticker if a mark isn't going to show with a pen/chalk.

3. Do you follow the cutting layout in patterns?

Me, never. I don't even look at them. Even as a newbie sewer, I didn't bother with them. But I think that's because I have really good spatial skills and can just look at something to know how/where it fits best. I was always the one who packed the luggage in the car for family trips too. :-)

4. Are you obsessed with re-folding your pattern tissue on or very close to the original fold lines?

Hahaha, I am. Call it OCD. And I don't even store patterns inside their original envelopes so it's not like they have to fit back inside. Everything goes into a bigger ziplock with a pocket on the outside where I put the envelope and instructions.

5. I thought of one more ... Do you make all the markings? 

Me, no. I don't mark notches that indicate general match-ups, like sideseams, shoulder seams, etc. ... unless it's an usually shaped pattern piece.

That's all. Heading into the sewing room now ...

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I finally wore my new outfit today and just snapped a pic after work. I *love* this!! The skirt is swishy, the top flatters, the fabric is my colors, and I received many unsolicitations in the office. What more could a girl ask for?

I made my billable time goal again for last week so I'll be getting an early start on the weekend at 2:30 tomorrow. Love that perk! We have a big trial coming up next month so I'm guessing I'll be putting in some extra hours throughout the rest of the next few weeks, but I think it will actually be fun ... in a work sort of way. There's lots of camaraderie and team effort in this place and it feels good. No BS, no drama. It's great not to have to worry about that stuff and just do my job.

I'm thinking about making another pair of shorts this weekend in some denim this time since the trial pair went so well. I'd also like to make another top like the one in the pic above, but from a different fabric of course. It's a great little shell with a literal twist, which will fit into an office wardrobe quite nicely. Or even a casual one.

I'm glad my sewing mojo is back.

But right now, I'm READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL! :-) Sorry Project Runway ... you are relegated to the DVR tonight.

Monday, September 2, 2013

No Labor Day

Happy Labor Day from here at Chez Debbie ... where absolutely NO labor is happening at all. We're hanging out on the back porch (lanai), dipping toes into the pool, surfing the 'net, and waiting for when it's time to fire up the grill.

Linen Bermudas ... it doesn't get much more comfortable than this. And a rayon knit top only helps. (Speaking of which, the front of this top is double-layer, so be warned if you have your own personal heater moments! ) I will probably be living in these shorts for the rest of the summer, on weekends and after work. Or at least until they're too big, because I was serious yesterday about the gym. I know my weight gain is due to the emotional rollercoaster of the last few months and hopefully I'm now off that ride, but I am more than ready to drop those lbs.that creeped back onto my butt. And, arrghh the reappearance of back fat makes me mad. Thankfully, this is one thing that IS in my power to control.

So, a few fabric and construction details. First, hopefully this shot below helps you understand how the border print was used. I really like how the border forms the cowl and looks almost separate from the rest of the tee but still matching the other print area. Kind of a necklace without wearing jewelry.

Here's the tuck in the shoulder that I mentioned as my solution to fix the too-wide front shoulder. I've revisited the pattern tissue and conclude that I just didnt' fold the cowl facing far enough inward. It helps to look at pattern markings from time to time. Oops.

Hard to see in this low-contrast pic, but here are the pockets on the front of the shorts. I love me some pockets so I'm happy with these and they don't gape at all. But instead of using a bias binding facing on the open edge and turning under the outside edge, I just cut two pocket pieces for each, sewed them RS together, flipped them RS out, and pressed before topstitching/attaching. SO MUCH easier to get a smooth curve that way and the linen isn't too bulky that the extra layer is even noticeable. If anything, since linen "gives," it's probably better to have a bit more stability.

This is the back of the shorts. No pockets here, but you can (hopefully?) see where I used the sideseams from the old Marrakesh pants as a design feature seam for these shorts. I wish I could say this was the plan from the beginning, but I soon learned that I didn't have much choice about where my shorts pattern pieces would fit on the old pants.

More Labor Day Weekend Miscellaneous ... here's Alex mixing up his custom marinade for the steaks we'll be grilling in a couple of hours. I don't know what it is about men and steaks and grills, but I'm all for anything that gets me out of the dinner chore. Go Alex!

I haven't been the only one "creating" this weekend. These are Alex's shorts. Shorts that I JUST BOUGHT a week ago. He wore them once and then managed to dribble liquid pool chlorine on them (the really white spots). We were both a little more than irritated. Me, since I just spent the money. Him, since he really liked the shorts. Yesterday, while at the grocery store, I bought some gel bleach with a pointy tip. I handed it over to Alex and told him to have at it. The pic here doesn't do the shorts/bleach design justice. They look really cool and he'll definitely be wearing them. I would too if they fit me. ;-) I know the fabric will be weakened now but at least the shorts won't go directly into the trash bin yet.

Alex had so much fun with the bleach on his shorts that he went looking for more clothing to transform. He came up with this plain red tee. It looks like he tie-dyed it, but it's really just the gel bleach squirted randomly all over. Good job!

Loving Simplicity 3768 So Far

It's looking like this will be one of those patterns that sat untouched in the drawer for too long. Two cut-and-sew successes.

Here's the top, nearly finished. I still have to hem it and will do that tomorrow after I try it on again to mark the length.

And the shorts, also nearly finished. They still need to be hemmed, which will also happen tomorrow. It's late and as much as I want to get these done so I can wear them tomorrow, I know I'm tired enough that stupid mistakes are likely.

I haven't sewn anything in the pants category in YEARS. Yes, me, who used to sew pants and pants and more pants. I've been making do with some RTW jeans and capris because I really wasn't looking forward to re-fitting pants. But another one of my wild hairs struck and I decided to just go for these without stressing.

No muslin. No pattern alterations. No fitting as I sewed. No good fabric. Well, actually, this used to be good fabric but it was already made into a pair of pants ... HP Marrakesh to be exact (review here if you want to see them from then). Yep, I unstitched them while watching TV last night and today cut the shorts from the pieces. I loved this fabric (oatmeal colored linen) and held on to the too-big pants with the thought I could reuse the fabric somehow.

I sewed everything together today, adding the sewn-on pockets, and even topstitching quite bit. All the while kind of dreading finishing because that would mean trying them on and likely tossing them into a wadder pile. I mean, who did I think I was NOT doing any fitting on PANTS??

Well, a pig is flying around somewhere because these shorts fit pretty close to perfectly. How often does THAT happen? Answer: NEVER! ;-)

Hopefully, I'll get some better pics tomorrow when everything is hemmed, pressed, etc. I want to be wearing both of these while we hang out around the BBQ.

And now that my sciatica troubles are finally receding after TWO MONTHS (OMG getting old sucks!), I will be signing up for the gym in my office building. That butt view above is definitely not pleasing me even if the pants do fit.