Haw-thorne in My Side

Ever pick out a fabric you think you’ll love, then pick out a pattern you’ll love and the end result is a disappointment?

I love polka dots and I love the combination of navy blue and fushia, but maybe that combination is not meant to be.

The Hawthorne, by Colette Patterns is such a cute dress…

and the lesson here is giant polka dots are best left for clown clothes.


I much prefer the Hawthorne blouse I made from silk charmuse. Instead of the peplum blouse option shown with the pattern, I just added length to the bodice and created pleats at the bottom of the darts.


I added 4 inches, the angle at the side was determined by folding the pattern along the dart, then drawing the extension and opening the dart back up.


I sewed the dart along the original markings and left the bottom open as a pleat.


The shine of the charmuse makes for difficult photography, the blouse looks better when seen in in real life. The clown dress may be seeing the back of the closet.


Testing…Testing…1,2… Pattern Review’s Winter Street Dress… Boldly Graphic

Testing a pattern from Deepika Of Pattern Review? Oh yes, trying something new, sign me up.

For those following the blog tour for the Winter Street Dress Pattern, you already know the details of the pattern Deepika previewed recently on the PR Blog
If you haven’t seen it yet, the pattern, for knits, is downloadable from the Pattern Review Website
The tiled pages fit together easily, and is drafted in sizes from XS to 3X. Based on the measurements, I traced off the medium. My first muslin is from bargain bin remnants.
The shoulders are usually an issue for me, but it fit perfectly. I just needed to take in the waist and decided to add about 3/4 of an inch to the length of the bodice, bringing it down to my natural waistline. I used some knit from my stash to do a second, partial muslin, to check the length of the bodice and sleeve.
Initially, the pink was going be my test dress, then, thinking maybe a print would be fun I stopped into Haberman Fabrics and this was on a cart right at the front door.
The bolt end piece hadn’t even been priced yet, but the cashier kindly pulled it out and priced it for me, at only $4.98 a yard. A dramatic border print at a bargain price. Karma?
It took some time playing with the pattern placement to get the pieces cut out.
When you look closely at the print, it’s not completely symmetrical. There is a drawn by hand appearance. The pattern calls for 2 yards, but to place the border at the waist and match up the print, I needed most of the 3 yard piece.
Keeping more red space between the black and white pattern made the lack symmetry look less obvious.
Because of the graphic pattern, I decided to eliminate the sleeve flounce and neck binding, using a facing instead.
The directions include using clear elastic at the shoulders for support. This was the first time I used it, but won’t be the last, it’s great stuff.
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Since this is the Winter Street Dress, I found the last bit of snow, just outside the Ford Motor Test Track.
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This dress is comfortable to wear and, even better, sews up so fast! Make it tonight, wear it tomorrow.
Since I don’t own a serger, I used a stretch stich and then overcast the seams. Even doing that, it was a quick sew.
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I plan to finish the pink with the flounce sleeve and do a sleeveless version for summer, maybe both in the same day.

Check out the rest of the blog tour.

http://www.sewcraftychemist.blogspot.com/ 4/2/2014
http://www.detectivehoundstooth.com/ 4/3/2014
http://www.cleverthinking99.com/ 4/4/2014
http://trumbelinasews.blogspot.ca/ 4/5/2014
http://danikate-designs.blogspot.com/ 4/6/2014
http://sewingsaga.blogspot.com/ 4/7/2014
http://sharonsews.blogspot.com/ 4/8/2014
http://ragbagsandgladrags.blogspot.co.uk/ 4/9/2014
http://curveddarts.blogspot.com/ 4/11/2014
http://carrie.dansm.net 4/12/2014
http://www.janmade.blogspot.com/ 4/14/2014
http://www.juliabobbin.com 4/15/2014

Kenneth King Workshop

So the Kenneth King Workshop happened a couple of weeks ago and I was so inspired, I wanted to write about it as soon as I got home. My computer had other plans.

After trying a number of websites to get videos of The Great British Sewing Bee, my computer had a serious case of Malware-itis. I am very grateful to the I.T. department at work who helped me figure out the problem and download Malwarebytes, because malware really bites!

My computer is all cleaned up and I will resist the urge to try and watch TGBSB on anything but Youtube, which means I may have a long wait.

Anyway, back to Kenneth King.


There was actually a series of 3 workshops, at Haberman Fabrics but I could only make the one on Saturday. I regret missing the Friday evening, as he talked about creativity and inspiration. I understand he didn’t give away any details of how he made some of his jackets, but they were pretty amazing looking.

The workshop I attended on Saturday was all about tailoring and focused on jacket details, primarily lapels, something I don’t do well. He referenced a Threads article he wrote in issue 124, January 2011, plus he had handouts for our note taking AND he encouraged taking photos. The iphones were out in force.
Since he teaches at FIT, as well as all the workshops all over the country, he knows the subject through and through and has time to embellish his presentation with lots of humor and personal stories. IMG_0164
We had tips on pressing and irons. He’s recommendation was the Reliable brand, not the Rowenta he was using for the workshop.
He can make a jacket in a day, and his speed was amazing.
We had a quick lesson on drafting sleeves. Now I know how to adjust the sleeve when I raise the armscye.
There were fashion students from 2 colleges attending, who were very exited about how much they learned. It was fun to spend the day with so many people who love to sew. I sat next to Linda Reynolds a sewing teacher who will be teaching a Burda seminar and is a blogger for Craftsy. When lunch was served we met a retired Home Ec teacher who taught at the high school my kids attended. At dinner I sat with a grandmother and granddaughter who had attended together, it was so sweet to see how they had a common bond with their love of sewing.

And of course, we did a little shopping. I’m planning a couple of casual summer skirts.

On my cutting table now…I’m one of the testers for a casual knit dress pattern and found a great border print, watch for it on Pattern Review.

Spring Makes a Detour

By the calendar it’s time to think spring, brighter colors, lighter fabrics. And I had started, but spring has made a detour, causing major delays. We should be seeing the tulips and daffodils starting to poke out of the warming earth, instead it’s still all snow and ice. Michigan, with the Great Lakes over 90% frozen, is predicted to continue experiencing lower than normal temperatures for the next 90 days.

great lakes

Cute little spring dresses will have to wait. I’m back to sewing darker, warmer clothing. But, at least I used something from the stash, my last piece from a visit to Textile Fabrics in Nashville. What a great selection that store has.


I wanted a pencil skirt that looked like it was made from men’s tie fabric, I’m not really sure of the content, but it’s likely all synthetic. I made a quick muslin from Vogue 8841 and was able to make the size 12 with no alterations, not even shortening.

V8841vogue 8841I eliminated the seam and vent in the front, added a simple slit vent in the back and used a flat lining method.  Flat lining creates such a clean finish on the inside of a garment. I found cutting the lining fabric about 3/4 inch wider on each side works out well, then sewing each side together, matching the edges, with a 1/4 inch seam. The top and bottom are left open, creating a tube. I did the darts before sewing the lining to the fashion fabric, so lining dart can be pressed one direction and the fashion fabric dart the other direction to avoid bulk.

DSC_0205Once the lining is sewn to each piece  and any rough edges are trimmed, it gets flipped to the outside and pressed. The lining, being wider, extends out on each side and the raw edges are on the inside.

DSC_0207The rest of the garment is sewn as normal. When the side and back seams are sewn and pressed, it has the appearance of a Hong Kong finish.  The non-sewer may never know the joy of a pretty seam finish.

DSC_0211The skirt was a quick project and all finished. I have a piece of coordinating silk charmeuse for a blouse or top, I just can’t decide on a design.

DSC_0213Options under consideration are something with a bow…

02-2013_135_or something with a flounce. 131_blouseSince spring has delayed its appearance, the warm bronzy brown is, unfortunately, extended winter weather appropriate.

Signature Style

The final theme for Project Sewn is Signature Style,  how fun.  Add in Coletterie Wardrobe Architect to give us the opportunity to really think about what shapes, styles and colors we wear and what a great combination.

If I could, I would dress up everyday. Think of the late 1950’s to early 60’s, before everyday casual came into prominence. I don’t collect vintage, but I love vintage influences. I’d be happy to see matchy-matchy shoes and bags make a comeback, especially ladylike handbags. Give me lace, pearls, and bows, girly for grownups.

My pattern for this, Vogue 8413, view D, minus the collar.

V8413The lace was a sale piece I found at Haberman Fabrics with an ivory lining. Since it was the second time with the same pattern, I already had it marked for fit. I did a muslin the first time and made my regular short person adjustments.

DSC_0188Although I’ve been trying to wear more color lately, but I’m most comfortable in neutrals. I hate to admit how many pairs of shoes I have the same color as this dress.

DSC_0192The lining is cut straight across the bodice in both front and back, but is very subtle. Instead of facings, I just turned and hand stitched the neckline and back opening above the zipper.

DSC_0201The matchy-matchy clutch bag is made from some sample upholstery fabric from the sample room the Interior Design Department has at the college where I work. Once a year they clean it out and have a big give away.

DSC_0199Would I wear white gloves in public? Probably not. I bought these at a very cute little shop in Covent Garden, London in the 80’s, so I guess they’re vintage now.

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Inspiring Flower Power Pumps

The theme for Project Sewn this week was If the Shoe Fits, creating an outfit inspired by a favorite pair of shoes. I already had this one done.

I have a serious love of shoes. It all goes back to high school and my very first job, in a shoe store. Too bad I didn’t hang on to some of my past favorites.

My current favorite pair of shoes are my flowered fabric pumps, with the hot pink heels. I find flowered shoes hard to resist, and I love wearing this pair.

DSC_0146I also have a thing for polka dots and was trying to find a pink fabric when I came across the orange cotton. The skirt is just a simple, gathered basic dirndl with a waist band.  No patterned required, just two rectangles, pockets, zipper and waist band. I did a lining in white to make sure it wasn’t too sheer. This style of skirt was one of the first things my mother taught me to make. We used to call them broomstick skirts and you were supposed to wrap them, wet, around a broomstick to create pleats, but we always skipped that part.

Did I mention I love the shoes.DSC_0125They’re happy shoes. Maybe a little too colorful for Michigan right now, but the colors are a little brighter in the South Carolina sunshine.

DSC_0128By the time this is posted, I’ll be back in snowy Michigan, remembering the few warm days of vacation and looking forward to spring so I can wear my floral pumps again.



Any other followers of Project Sewn out there? When I started following this season, I realized I had sewn, was sewing or in the planning stages of something that fit each of the 4 challenges. This week was PINK and I had a dress already on my cutting table. It started as a navy and white fabric with open cut work, which I decided to back in fuchsia pink. The pink peeks out and the combination looks like a floral print of one solid fabric.

DSC_0117We’re still a long way from spring here, but I wanted a dress with color for a trip to Hilton Head.  I’m so excited about 6 days of not having to wear layer after layer, boots, gloves, hats, multiple scarves, heavy coats, etc…

I used my favorite bodice, (yes, for the third time already this year) which is a combination of two Vogue patterns.


Then added a skirt from Butterick 5285, view B, but inverted the pleats in the opposite direction of what is shown on the pattern.

Butterick 5285It created a fit and flair silhouette, one of my favorite styles.  It’s comfortable to wear and has pockets, I love a dress with pockets.DSC_0116DSC_0115Here’s a peek on the inside, just to show it really is two fabrics. Pink-a-boo or maybe it should be pink-a-blue.


The Love of Wool and Power Drill Sewing

I can’t resist a beautiful wool, it can make a long, cold winter a little more tolerable. It may just be my favorite fabric for sewing, it’s so forgiving. I purchased a soft gray worsted wool a few years back at the downtown branch of Vogue Fabrics  and finally found a pattern, Burda 7252.

Burda skirt patternBurda skirtAfter reading a couple reviews and blog postings on this skirt, I thought I needed a muslin to figure out the engineering as much as getting the fit right. The zipper application is unique, it is inserted into a slit in the pleat underlay, rather than a seam. The underlay becomes the center back of the 3 layer pleat.


The pocket welts are cut on a slight angle and the wool was a rectangular window pane which looked off kilter at an angle. I thought finding a coordinating leather or suede for the welts would resolve the issue, but my bright idea nearly turned into an obsession. We had a day off work due to the extreme cold and I spent it running around trying to find just the right shade of gray leather or suede. I did find a piece of leather at Tandy, but it required buying the whole skin, which was $160.00. A bit much for pocket welts, don’t you think? My search continued once I got back to work, checking in our college’s Color and Materials Library. They had some nice samples, but not quite the right shade. I also went to our Craft Department. They had some lovely pieces, but not the right color.

I was about to give up when I found the perfect piece, right in my own closet, a suede belt I bought on a trip to Italy and have never worn.

DSC_0072It seemed soft enough to sew and cut so easily I decided to use some as a piping along the waist band. Oh, it seemed like such a good idea, until the sewing started, or didn’t. As soft as the suede felt, a needle would not go through it, not on the machine or by hand. I tried every type of heavy duty needle and could not get anything through. Who knew suede was so tough?

The skirt should be a fairly quick sew, but all these roadblocks were making it very slow project.  Inspired by a video with Martha Stewart making a leather bag, using a Dremel to make the holes to sew the bag together by hand. Next step, bring out the drill. I didn’t have a Dremel, but I had my little Ryobi power screwdriver/drill.  The welts didn’t take too many holes, but the piping…it seemed endless. Then I sewed the welts and piping on by hand, which means most of the waist band was done by hand. Getting this skirt done took an extra week…

DSC_0075 I was feeling obsessed..

DSC_0079That darn button…it took so long to get the suede thin enough to do the covered button I skipped the button hole and made it strictly decorative.

DSC_0076It’s done! Finally! I still love wool, but suede may be off my list for a while.


Tale of Two Dresses

Two dresses, two patterns, right? Well there were two patterns, but I combined them to make a one new bodice, then made two dresses with that same bodice.  It was the lower bodice from Vogue 8766 combined with the neckline from Vogue 8849. Only one muslin needed and I traced the pattern for the new bodice because I just may end up using it again.DSC_0069The dresses are very different. The first was multiple layers of silk and lace, made for a formal charity event, which I wrote about last week. I liked the neckline and bodice so much, I decided use it for a simple wool dress to go with my Little French Jacket.


The skirt is from 8849 and the same as the strapless under dress from the gown, just shorter. I also had to move the skirt darts in the back to match up with the lower back bodice darts from 8766.

DSC_0044The camel wool was in my stash and I underlined it with silk organza, then lined it with Bemberg rayon. It’s not likely I ‘ll wear it without a jacket or sweater in the frigid winter we are having, but it feels great under the LFJ.


On a normal day it would be quite comfortable, but when I wore it to work last week, I added a long sleeve t-shirt (which didn’t show) because the wind chill was about 20 below. Our office is always cold, but the combination of tights, boots, t-shirt, wool dress and quilted jacket was pretty cozy.


The Detroit Prom Dress

The North American International Auto Show Charity Preview is the real name of the event, but locals refer to it as the “Detroit Prom.” As proms go, it’s a bit large. Attendance was reported as 13, 791 with $4.8 million raised for local children’s charities, so it’s a pretty big night here. The city is all sparkles, tuxes and limos and it is a night of amazing people watching.

Since I joined the Ready to Wear Fast started by Sarah of Goodbye Valentino, of course I had to make my dress and it is my first make of 2014.

rtw-fast-badgeThis is a dress I have been thinking about for a long time, collecting a lot of inspiration on Pinterest. The design really didn’t come together until late December, no pressure there.

lace and patternsI decided on midnight blue, combined two Vogue patterns to get the look I wanted and found the lace and stretch silk for the under dress at Haberman Fabrics. I already had a silk lining fabric in my stash.

IMG_0536The stretch silk was lovely to sew. I was able to skip the boning in the bodice, since the underdress would be attached to the outer. The outer dress is 5 yards of silk organza I ordered from Mood. With all the bad weather, it was slightly delayed, but once it arrived we had 2 snow days and I had more time to work on it. Yeah for snow days!


With the exception of the hem, the machine sewing was done. I have a new found respect for anyone who does custom gowns or wedding dresses, dealing with that much fabric is a real challenge. The addition of the lace and Swarovski crystals on the bodice was done by hand.

DSC_0018I overlapped the lace a little in the back and added a covered snap I found in my button stash.


I loved wearing this dress, it almost floats as it moves. auto show dressAs  usually I didn’t get many photos wearing it, just a couple of IPhone shots. That should change from here on, I bought a new camera today with a remote.

auto show 3andiamosIt was a fun night, very Brat Pack in feel, with the gowns and tuxes. Unfortunately, at the end of the night, going up the steps of our front porch, this happened.

DSC_0003It had snowed while we were out and I slipped and stepped on the dress. Anyone with advice on repairing silk organza?