Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Me Made May has come to a close and I squeaked in one more make to wear in celebration of May 31st. Since it was cold, gray and rainy on Sunday, I just did a quick inside shot for Instagram and Pinterest.

The much nicer weather today was the first opportunity to get out and take better pictures of the rosy dress made with Gertie by Gretchen Hirsch cotton fabric. The border print roses are on a background of soft gray with white polka dots. I love the color. It’s sold at JoAnn Fabrics only, a chain I don’t usually frequent for fabrics, but buy plenty of notions there. I don’t know if it is all their stores or just the one by me, but there is a pretty slim selection of fashion fabric. If it’s fleece you want, they have a ton.

lower border

The top border has a line of roses dancing across in a single line, making for some fun options for pattern layout.

top border detail

One of the Gertie patterns, Butterick 6167, uses the print with the top border shirred along the upper bust line. The dirdl skirt shows off the lower border in all it’s splendor.


I wanted a tad more coverage, but still a sundress look. Having made Vogue 8998 before, I could save time on fitting the bodice and just change the skirt. Since a dirdl skirt is just rectangles, I didn’t even use a pattern. I just cut the fabric for the skirt in half, then cut the piece for the back in half again. Having the 3 pieces (one front, two back) allows for pockets in the seams and a back zipper.


The waist band has a slight curve to it, which worked with the placement on the line of roses at the top border. The front waist band was an easy placement.

Front detail

The sides meet on an upswing.

side detail

Almost got the back to overlap evenly, but not quite.

back detail

The fabric is soft to the touch and with the soft cotton batiste as the lining, the dress is feels good inside and out. The pattern called for interfacing the entire bodice, but I only interfaced the waistband.

back photo

I was trying to get some of my neighbor’s roses in the photo.

full photo

A rosy outlook for the rest of the summer.

If I had it to do again, I would have bought more fabric and made the skirt a little fuller. Also I would have moved the lower border down, so more of the gray and white dots show and less of the green leaves.

Although getting in daily photos can be trying, I will miss seeing everyone’s Me Made May posts, it was something I looked forward to each day. I found so much inspiration and so many more sewers to follow on Instagram. Seeing the kindred spirits posting from around the world was the best part.

My final week wrap up:

Day 25 – Shoe shopping in a mash up dress of Vogue Patterns 8998 and 8413 in a navy and white polka dot rayon blend.

Day 26 – Dress from Vogue Patterns 8972 in honeysuckle cotton mataelasse.

Day 25  Day 26

Day 27 – Black knit maxi skirt was the lining of a disaster dress. Threw the dress away and made the lining into a skirt.

Day 28 – Not much left in the closet. A pencil skirt from Butterick 5466 in Ralph Lauren twill from Mood.

photo (49)  photo (50)

Day 29 – Dress made by combining skirt pattern Butterick 4136 with bodice from dress pattern Vogue 8413. Narrow collar due to not enough of the Sophia knit fabric from Vogue Fabrics.

Day 30 – Dress made last year for the Woodward Dream Cruise. Vintage 1957 reissue of Vogue Patterns 8789 in blue and white seersucker with embroidered cherries. Added petersham ribbon to make it look like a border print. Loved that belt kit.

photo (51)  DSC_0069

Day 30 dress last year with a car from the same year. Not sure why we thought it was a good idea to show the petticoat? For those not familiar with the cruise, it’s all about cars, not a boat in sight.

dc 8

Day 31 – Blogged above. The indoor, rainy day photo.


This was my first Me Made May and it was fun to be a part of something which has grown so widespread. It makes one feel much less alone in a world of non-sewers, who are not constantly thinking about patterns, fabric and planning what to make next. I wish you all lived in my neighborhood. Thank you Zo. See you next year, same time, same place.




Forget the Planning Vacation Wardrobe

Logically, when planning a vacation wardrobe, it is a good idea to coordinate pieces around one main color, with some compatible secondary colors. After a long, dreary, cold, gray winter, logic was not invited on this vacation.

Hilton Head, South Carolina can still be a little cool in March, but it was warm and sunny enough to chase away the blues of a Michigan winter. I wanted pretty colors and florals, no shoes that went with everything and no mix and match anything.  As for tops, well there is always white.

I used this Burda skirt pattern from the Spring 2014 magazine last year, sewing two skirts at the same time, assembly line style, as blogged here. https://sewingforward.com/2014/04/29/assembly-line-skirts/ It’s an easy, unlined skirt with a back zip and slightly curved waistband.


Since leaving my job and no longer sitting for 8 hours a day, I’ve lost a little weight and needed to adjust the pattern. It was easy to change, I just cut off 1/4 inch from the center and side seams.


A little top stitching makes this appear almost like printed denim.


The white top was a quick make using the boat neck top pattern from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. I used a very soft knit and can see getting lots of wear from this. I’ve already made it in another color and will likely make a couple sleeveless versions for summer. This is a fast and easy pattern with great results.


The cornflower blue floral is actually a home dec  fabric by Waverly, which I picked up at Satin Moon in San Francisco. I don’t usually even look at home dec fabric because I’m afraid of looking like a Von Trapp singer wearing the curtains, but I really wanted something for spring.

photo (20)DSC_0256

The fabric for my second vacation skirt was also from Satin Moon, another floral. This one is by Amy Butler. Both these fabrics wash beautifully and resist wrinkles, a plus on vacation  (not that I did any wash there).The top is just a Target t-shirt, the scarf I found in Hilton Head. Shopping as you travel is a good option when planning an uncoordinated wardrobe.


The pattern is actually part of a dress, Vogue 8993. To make the skirt, I placed the center front on the fold, eliminating the center seam. Instead of a waist band, I faced it with petersham ribbon and skipped the pleats in the back due to lack of yardage. The pocket bags are made from white cotton left from another project.


Skirt three is my favorite. I saw the cotton print on a quick trip to Haberman Fabrics for skirt two’s petersham ribbon. The giant peonies just shouted, “Winter is over!” Peonies will always remind me of my grandmother’s garden, of course these did not have the ants crawling all over them. What is it with peonies and ants?


The skirt is almost a full circle and lined with a cotton blend I had in the stash. The little girl in me wants to twirl around in it, the middle aged mom reminds me I would likely not look cute showing off my undies.  I used a favorite ready to wear skirt to trace off a pattern. The front and back are almost the same, but the back has a center seam to allow for the zipper placement.  The only area to fit was the waist and the large pleats (2 front, 2 back) allowed for some adjusting. The waist band is just a narrow strip cut on the bias. Another easy make.



Besides my new skirts, I also took dresses made last summer, never wore anything twice and managed to get it all in one within the weight limit suitcase. The advantages of warm weather packing.

And what was I looking at off that balcony?  The view of a lovely Carolina salt marsh, so peaceful and pretty. It changes throughout the day, with the tides and light.


After vacationing in Hilton Head for 15 years, we bought the ultimate souvenir –a house.

DSC_000214 view from golf course

It will be a few years before we move there, but for now I’m getting obsessed with decorating ideas and trying to figure out where I’ll put all my sewing stuff. My husband won out of the view, it’s on a golf course. I’ll just need to find a really large painting of a salt marsh to hang in the living room.

19 view from back deck


Magical Waist Whittling Gertie Dress

Ever try on a dress in a store and think, “If only they made the (fill in the blank) different?” That was the inspiration which lead to the magical waist whittling Gertie dress.

Being drawn to ruffles, I tried on a blue chambray dress while out shopping. I loved the bodice, with its neckline ruffle, but the skirt was less than flattering. It was gathered at the waist,  cut very straight and somewhat narrow. Definitely made for a body type different from mine, but I really liked that neckline ruffle.

Enter the Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, by Gretchen Hirsch, a favorite sewing blogger. I’ve had this beautifully illustrated book for almost a year and it was time I stopped looking and starting making. Her smartly drafted shirtwaist dress had the perfect silhouette, minus the collar and sleeves.Gertie shirtwaist

While looking for fabric, blue turned to black when I figured out blue chambray may look too much like denim to get away with at work. I ordered a Robert Kaufman black chambray from Fabric.com, which arrive quickly enough to keep me motivated.

The Gertie pattern was so easy to follow. I made a muslin for the bodice, using the size 8 and made my regular petite adjustments. Instead of sleeves, I cut facings and redrafted the neckline a bit to accommodate the ruffle.  The back has shirring at the waistline and is done with elastic thread in the bobbin. Since this was my first attempt at that technique, I practiced on the muslin. Being much shorter than the length of the finished dress, the waist-whittling was not obvious on the muslin.  gertie back


Once the dress was far enough along to try on, it was an oh-my-goodness moment.  I knew a shiny red belt would be the perfect accessory. The shopping karma was with me on the belt, which then inspired the red bias tape for a Hong Kong finish, another first time technique for me.hong kong finishThis dress is so comfortable, with great pockets. With a sweater, it should work well into fall. Full disclosure, I’m not a skinny as the dress form, but the dress still makes my waist look good.101_0351Now I need to find the perfect fabric to make it again, in the original version.