Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fast, Easy, Cute (Joyce don't read)

I just finished Sew Baby Pattern 10, the reversible sundress and bloomers for my niece Kara for Christmas. It came out really, really cute, if I do say so myself. ;)

Here is the review from Pattern Review and some photos.

Pattern Description:
Reversible Sundress and Panties/Bloomers

Pattern Sizing:
6M-4T (I made the 18M)

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I made this for my niece Kara for Christmas. I don't think it took me more than two hours from start to finish, including tracing and cutting it from swedish tracing paper, so I can make it in a larger size as she grows.

Fabric Used:
Three different fabrics all from the Keri Beyer Proud series in turquoise.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None. I used my new double needle to topstich (with one orange and one pink thread). I used vintage buttons I bought at the City-Wide Garage Sale.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes and yes. This is a great gift idea. It looks adorable and is incredible easy to make.

Super easy, super fast, super cute.

Goodies from the City-Wide Garage Sale

Austin has a city-wide garage sale at the Palmer Events Center each month. I've never been before. Corey went once and said it was nothing but junk. The one this weekend is supposed to be the biggest of the year so I thought I'd give it a try. I wanted to see if I could find some cute buttons for the dress I'm making for my niece Kara. (Stay tuned for a post and photos).

Clearly Corey and I have different definitions of junk. Look at all the goodies I bought!

Two vintage patterns for 50 cents each, sizes 36 and 38 (I'm a 37) Woot! Look at the jacket on the McCalls pattern. Love!

Vintage buttons for $1 a card. Vintage mother-of-pearl belt buckle for $5.

Vintage fabric for $5 a pound. I think the floral will make a nice scarf, the purple a skirt.

Vintage Vargas pin-up prints including the famous 6-fingered girl.

I am a happy camper!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vintage Simplicity 4709 and more photos of Socialite Dress

Here is the review from Pattern Review for my vintage dress.

Pattern Description:
This is a vintage simplicity pattern. There is no date on the envelope, but I'm guessing mid-1950s.

Pattern Sizing:
This was a half size, 18 1/2. I did some modifications to make it work.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Close. Some changes were purposeful. See below. But the skirt on the pattern photo looks much fuller than mine.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Not too bad. Since it was a vintage pattern, it wasn't super thorough, but easy enough to figure out.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It was really easy to put together except for the zipper. It only has four pattern pieces and no facings or interfacings. The zipper is half on the bodice, half on the skirt, but on the side. The instructions had me fully attaching the bodice to the skirt, and then attaching the zipper above and below the seam, "breaking the stitch at the waistline." That did not make any sense to me. How are you supposed to use a zipper with a band of fabric through the middle? I left the waist seam open at the zipper, attaching the edges of the seam to the zipper tape so the zipper opening is above and below the waist seam. Everything else was a piece o' cake.

Fabric Used:
I used some inexpensive quilting fabric from JoAnn's. I originally ordered fabric from Fashion Fabric Club for this project, but it's been over three weeks since I placed the order and I got tired on waiting.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I moved the bust darts down an inch, thanks to Gertie's blog for Burda Style about essential alterations for vintage patterns. I also narrowed the shoulder straps an inch and a half and changed the front soft pleats to darts.
Since this was a half size (for more robust, petite ladies), I added some length to the bodice (since I am somewhat robust, but not petite). I read somewhere that half sizes are meant for ladies 5'2" to 5'3" and usually need between 1 and 4 inches of length added to the bodice for a regular sizing. Since I'm 5'6" I added 3 inches. During the baste fitting I realized that was way too much. I ended up taking off an inch and a half. I probably could have removed another half inch.
I had also added a couple inches to the waist, using one of my well-fitting skirts as a proxy. That wasn't needed either, I took 1 1/2 back off, and put a seam down the back so I could make a much needed swayback adjustment. And finally I took about 6 inches off the bottom.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
If I made it again, I would make the bodice more narrow, more fitted, and the skirt fuller.

I really like the dress. It's not perfect, but my husband says it's his favorite of all the things I've made, so it must not be too terrible. ;) Pardon my deer in the headlights look.

And here a photos of me wearing the socialite dress.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Socialite Dress Completed

Here is the review from Pattern Review:
Pattern Description:
Socialite Dress from Anna Maria Horner.

Pattern Sizing:
XS-XL (I made the Large. I wear a 10-12 in RTW.)

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. They were written for a beginner, down to the tiny details. I did notice that at the step where the front neck facing is attached to the dress front, it didn't make it clear to attach the bottom of the facing instead of the top, which seemed counter-intuitive to me. I sewed it on upside-down and had to take it out and redo it. But, no other reviewer mentioned it, so maybe it was just counter-intuitive to me. After all, it wouldn't be an Audrey creation if I didn't sew at least one piece on backward or upside-down. ;)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It went together really quickly. I got it done in a day. The only thing I didn't like was tacking down the neck facing by hand. It took over an hour. (I did it while watching the tube.) My hand sewing is always wonky so I prefer to do things by machine if possible. I understitched the facing first, trying to avoid the hand sewing, but it still needed to be done.

Fabric Used:
Anna Maria's Volumes fabric in gold from the Drawing Room collection. I agree with the other reviewer who said this dress would be better in a less stiff, more drapey fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None. There is a size chart on Check it out before choosing a size. If I had just read the finished dress sizing on the pattern envelope, I would have been tempted to make a size smaller and that would have been a mistake. It is a loose fitting dress as you can see from the envelope photo. If I were to sew it again, I would make a sway back adjustment but other than that the fit was good - closer fitting through the bodice, looser through the waist and hips, which allows you to put your hands in the pockets comfortably.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would recommend it to a beginner. If I were to sew it again, it would be out of a drapier fabric. I would also narrow the shoulder straps. I have wide shoulders, so thinner straps are more flattering on me.

Here's the back view:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Socialite Dress

Still waiting for my fabric for the vintage dress, but in the mail today came the pattern kit I ordered (after the fabric for the vintage dress) from Anna Marie Horner, so I started on that instead.

The fabric is washed, pressed, cut and the seam allowances serged. The reviews on PR say this one goes pretty quickly so hopefully I'll finish it tomorrow. I'll post photos. Good night!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Look at the two patterns I just bought from ebay for $5 each. I am drooling! What fabric should I make them out of? Hmm....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Built by Wendy Skirt (again)

Since I am STILL waiting for my fabric from FFC for my vintage dress pattern, I took on a repair project. I ordered that fabric on 10/28. It's been 3 weeks! Has anyone else had this problem with FFC? In the past two weeks I must have ordered 4 or 5 other fabrics, just so I'm never sitting waiting without fabric for a project. :(

I made this skirt several months ago from a stretch tweed I bought at FFC for $1.99/yard. It is the skirt pattern from Sew U by Built by Wendy. I had a really tough time binding the pockets. So much so that afterward I bound the hem with inch-wide binding rather than 1/4 inch. Even so, I only wore the skirt once before the ragged edges poked through the bound edge at the pockets. The edges were bound in stretch denim left over from...well let's just say that skinny jeans + muscular thighs + squatting = about a yard of denim for small sewing projects. I ripped 'em wide open from seam to seam. Thank goddess I was home and not out in public! (*shudder*)

Anyhow, now that my serger is up and running, I decided to remove the pocket binding, serge those tricky unravelling edges and rebind. I also serged the side seams because I never got around to finishing the seam allowances. The skirt looks much better now. Although I think it looks weird with the wide binding at the seam and narrow at the pockets. I thought about redoing that too, but the skirt never fit all that well to start with. Either the waist is too high, or it's too small. It would be okay except that the pockets are quite high. They are really unusable where they are. If the skirt sat low on my hips they'd be perfect. I'm glad I did this exercise but I have enough of the fabric left over to redo the skirt from scratch. This time I'll go up a size and maybe I'll bind the edges with red.

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the Sew U book. I like the clothes a lot, but the instructions are not easy to follow. They are not linear. Wendy jumps around describing how to do certain things at the beginning of the book, other things several chapters later. The book is not a good place for a beginning sewer to start. Now that it's been several months I might go back to it. The pants pattern included in the book is really, really cute. But that is a project for another day. I have at least three on the to-do list before I even think about pants.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Where Did the General Keep His Armies?

In his sleevies! (Yes, I am a dork in case you hadn't noticed.) ;)

After my Serger 101 class this past weekend at the fabulous new Stitch Lab location, Corey thought of the perfect first project--sewing long sleeves into a t-shirt so it looks like he is wearing a thermal underneath. The length of the sleeves always bothered him (a bit too short), so he thought with longer sleeves he'd get some wear out of it. And since I am no longer afraid of my serger, I was happy to oblige. Wasn't he a good sport about posing for photos?

It went pretty well except for a frustrating lesson in the importance of threading order. But since I was determined to be smarter than the thing I operate, I figured it out. I love serging! So fast. So easy. Now I can't wait for the fabric I ordered to arrive so I can start on my vintage dress pattern. You'd better bet I'm going to serge all the seam allowances.

If you live in Austin, you should definitely check out the new Stitch Lab. It just moved into an adorable converted house on South 1st. Leslie, the owner, is awesome and the shop is full of fun, pretty, fabrics and colors and surprises. It's a very happy place.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sari update

I've decided that I was too hard on myself in the last post. I felt like such a complainer.

I have been walking around today in my new top, admiring the beautifully bound armholes each time I glance at my shoulders. They really do look nice. My edge binding skills have improved tremendously. Also the top is really comfortable and I've received several compliments (to which I just can't help blurting out "Thanks, I made it!"). And to be frank, it's shiny...and sparkly. A girl can never be too sparkly. ;)

So overall, I'm pretty pleased with myself. I was caught up in the problems with the top and overlooked the good things. I am my own worst critic after all. But today I'm giving myself a break. Go me!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Not too sorry sari

I know I said I would make something in cotton next, but I still had several yards of silk sari fabric from my sister, so I thought I would try a simple tank top. I started with Simplicity 2599 but didn't add any of the ruffles or embellishments. The fabric was embellished enough! Since the silk was a little sheer, I decided to line it, a first.

It came out okay. Not one of my best, but okay. I took it in a little. I made the lining first and I wanted a little more of a fitted look, so I took in everything a couple inches at the waist. I don't know what I did, but it just doesn't quite hang right. From the front it looks fine, but it pulls a little at the back. It's not too tight, it just makes a line in the fabric across the back from side to side. Next time I'll follow some official pattern adjustment instructions rather than just contouring in the waist.

The only other problem I had was to attempt a rolled hem. I guess the edge wasn't straight enough or I didn't practice feeding the fabric through the foot enough. I ended up irreversibly chewing up the bottom of my fabric. I had to cut off about a half inch and start over with a traditional hem. I then had to take out and re-hem the lining because it was longer than the tank.

The silk wasn't too hard to work with. Here are a shots of the lining and a close up of the button detail. A nice touch, I think (although the smaller covered button dritz kits don't seem to work as well as the larger ones).

I know I need to keep sewing to get better, but sometimes I get impatient. I am very much looking forward to the two sewing classes I signed up for at the Stitch Lab. I hope that I might improve faster with some professional guidance. Here it is on me.

Next project will be to make this dress in a grey cotton twill with yellow binding at the edges. It it goes pretty easy, I might even attempt the little jacket. says "Simple to make." Here's hoping. :)