Monthly Archives: May 2013

Twisty Dress

Ha ha! I sewed a dress! And I actually wore it (this is only remarkable given how rarely I wear dresses). And I remembered that knit dresses are pretty darn comfy. Perhaps this will inspire me to make (and wear) a few more of them.


yes, my legs really are that pale

This is the dress version of one of my favorite t-shirts, from Butterick B4745. Having made a dress off this pattern once before I knew I needed to make some adjustments to the pattern.


I lengthened it about 2 inches, and flared the skirt out. The original skirt is a fairly minimal A-line that doesn’t really have enough room in the hip area. I’ve had this pattern for a long time, and at the time I bought it I generally went ahead and cut the tissue instead of tracing. So, the pattern pieces are cut in the size that fits my bust, but not really my hips. Easy enough to fix though. I re-traced the pieces (there are only two!) with the extra length, and added some width from the waist down.


Needs shaping in the back

The back of the dress is one piece, so I added a center back seam to be able to add to the skirt from the center as well as the sides. Also, it gave me the opportunity to add some much needed shaping to the center back.


As drafted, the back hangs straight down from the shoulders. I’m sure it would be fine if I had a belt to wear with this, but since I don’t, the back really needed some help. I didn’t actually add any shaping until after I’d sewn it up. Then I put it on inside out and had my mom pin in the back to fit better.


Pinned and ready to take in

Here’s a detail shot of the twist in the front bodice. The front is cut too low for my comfort, but looks rather nice with a camisole underneath. I may just stitch it closed a bit higher in the future, but for now the v-neck in a stretchy fabric make this wearable for nursing.


The fabric is an ITY knit that’s been in my stash for a few years. And this dress used up just about all of it. I have nothing but scraps left. Maybe enough for a little girls t-shirt, but that’s it. And it’s sheer dumb luck that I was able to line up the pattern to get the stripes matching all the way around.


Of course, if I hadn’t been able to fit the pieces, I wouldn’t have cut the dress out of this. As it is, it’s very satisfying that I could get the dress cut out with everything matching and use up the fabric.


There really is a seam in there somewhere…

I used my serger for most of the construction. The hems are finished with a twin needle. It looks decent, but is messier on the inside. And I had to fiddle with the tension a fair bit to minimize the tunneling that so frequently happens when using a twin needle. This is the kind of sewing project that makes me wish I had a coverstitch machine.


Magenta and black thread, just for kicks

I’m pretty please with the finished dress. Now that I’ve got the pattern re-traced with my changes it’ll be easy to knock out a few more of these if I want to. This would certainly help use up some of the knit fabrics in my stash!


Me-Made-May Week 2

I’m a little late getting this posted. But better late than never, here’s week two.

IMG_1648Day 8 Me-Mades: Stripey Renfrew

New top! Which I’ve already worn three times since making it. Sigh. Must make a few more.

Carolyn May 9-fourDay 9 Me-Mades: Twisty Top

One of my dressy t-shirts. Yes, t-shirts can be dressy. I wish I could claim the jacket as a me-made, but it’s actually from Kohl’s. I love it though, and wear it all the time. I think I need to either make a pattern off it, or find a pattern for something similar.

IMG_1793Day 10 Me-Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt

This Friday’s theme is “Sewing, Knitting, Creating Space”. So here’s a little corner of my studio. The rest of the room is too much of a disaster zone to photograph right now, but this is my favorite corner anyway. On the wall above my sewing machine is a picture of my son when he was 1 day old, and my awesome giant wood scissors. Best yard sale find ever. Oh, and the shirt, which is really hard to make out in this photo is a another of my Knockoff GAP t-shirts made in a washed out grayish camo print.

IMG_1605Day 11 Me-Mades: Stripey Renfrew

I actually didn’t get around to taking a photo today. But since my outfit is exactly the same as day three, I’m just reusing that picture.

DSCN1538Day 12 Me -Mades: Kimono sleeve t-shirt, modified nursing cami

Again, duplicate outfit. But I did actually get a new picture. With my mom and my son. Seeing as it’s Mother’s Day and all… The onesie with the necktie that kiddo is wearing is my mom’s work. She added the sleeves and the tie to a plain white onesie.

IMG_1771Day 13 Me-Mades: Ariadne tunic

I realize now that all three of my Ariadne tunic tops are made up in very busy prints that make it nearly impossible to actually see the design of the shirt. One of these days I might get around to making one in a solid fabric.

IMG_1782Day 14 Me-Mades:Knockoff GAP t-shirt

This is how I look when I’ve been pulling weeds for the last hour, in the sun, in 80+ degree weather. That smile is forced. But hey, at least the t-shirt is comfy.

And there we go, week two. Not very exciting. But I am enjoying the challenge. Even if I do just live in jeans and t-shirts 90 percent of the time, there’s still something very satisfying about knowing that I made at least one thing I’m wearing every single day. Also, I’m starting to feel much less attached to a good portion of my purchased clothes. There may be a closet purge coming up in my near future.

One Renfrew, Two Renfrew

I’ve finally caught up with the rest of the sewing community and tried out the Renfrew pattern by Sewaholic. I’ve got other t-shirt patterns that’s I’m quite happy with, so I wasn’t in a hurry to find a new one. But after reading numerous glowing reviews about the shirt I figured I’d give it a try. And lo and behold, I actually really like the pattern. It’s not anything vastly different from my other tried and true t-shirts, but having the cuffs and neck and hem bands included in the pattern, instead of just adding them on my own, is a nice perk. Also, it probably can’t hurt for me to have found another t-shirt pattern that I love, since I apparently live in jeans & t-shirt.


I made my first one out of some fabric that’s been in my stash so long I couldn’t tell you what it is or where it came from. Looking at the fabric folded up, I couldn’t remember why I’d gotten it, and thought I might as well use it to test the pattern. Funny thing though, after making up the shirt I decided I really like the fabric. It just feels so springy to me. The fabric itself is some sort of blend, probably poly/cotton given how old it is. And it’s fairly lightweight, so the edges curl if you even look at them.


Wonky wrinkles by the armholes

Reading other reviews of the pattern, I saw a few people comment that the armscye was a little tight, and after making up my first Renfrew, I’d have to agree. There’s a little something wonky gong on around the armhole, and it feels a little snug to me. Not so uncomfortable or noticeable that I won’t wear it. But enough that I didn’t want to sew a second one until tweaked it to fit me better. Now, despite the fact that I will periodically draft (and I use that term loosely) my own patterns, I don’t actually know much about how to draft patterns. I generally just wing it. So that’s basically what I did here. When re-tracing the front, back and sleeve pieces I mostly copied the armholes and sleeve cap from a tried and true shirt pattern. It ended up being fairly minor changes – the armholes lowered and flared out a smidge more, and the sleeve caps flattened and widened a bit. It’s still not quite perfect, but close enough for now. And most importantly, this version is more comfortable.


The only other changes I made were to sew the cuffs and hem band on with 3/8″ (serger seam width) allowance instead of the called for 5/8″ allowance. That was my quick and dirty fix for adding just a little bit of length to the sleeves and body. I should probably go back and actually add the length into the pattern pieces in the correct spots. And maybe someday I actually will.


Long enough sleeves!

I’m quite pleased with the pattern now. I can see making several more of these. Actually, I’ve already cut out a version with the 3/4 length sleeves and a v-neck. And ignoring that the weather here has taken a sudden turn for hot, I’m tempted to cut out a version with the cowl neck. Speaking of necklines, I love how this one came out.


It’s such a clean finish. And there’s just something nice about the way the stripes worked out. But then, I like stripes. I’ll have to make a point of sewing up at least one of these in a non-stripey fabric. Just for kicks.


Bonus points, both these pieces of fabric are out of my stash!

Me-Made-May Week 1

This is my first time participating in Me-Made-May and so far I love it. The challenge is forcing me to think a little more about what I have to wear and what I’d like to sew, and it’s already inspired me to dig out some old me-mades and modify one of them to be more wearable.


Day 1 Me-mades: Long sleeved raglan t-shirt (Stretch & Sew #205), me-modified nursing camisole

It’s snowing here. Again. And apparently one of the holes in my me-made wardrobe is colder weather clothing. I found my options for getting dressed this morning a little limited.

The shirt is pretty old – I think maybe from the early 2000’s? Can’t recall. The pattern is the long sleeve version of Stretch & Sew 205. The fabric is some sort of lightweight knit, though not one with a ton of stretch. I like the shirt well enough, although I made it in the days before I started putting neckbands and hembands on most of my shirt, so looking at it now the finish seems a little rough. The modified nursing cami is hidden under the shirt. It’s not something I’ve blogged about, but I’ve made/modified several of these so far and wear them all the time. I should probably write something explaining what the heck a modified nursing cami is.

Good thing I don't take myself too seriously...

Good thing I don’t take myself too seriously…

Day 2 Me-mades: Ariadne tunic, modified nursing cami

While this picture doesn’t do much for it, the Ariadne tunic pattern by Tanit-Isis is fantastic. I made a few of these last year while I was pregnant. I loved making something with enough ease that I could get away with wearing it for a good chunk of my pregnancy, enough length to hide my maternity jeans, and it would still be wearable and look good after I had my son. The only thing I changed from the pattern was to omit the keyhole in the back, and to use one size larger for the hem band, to accommodate my hips.

IMG_1605Day 3 Me-Mades: Renfrew top (not yet blogged about)

I’m probably one of the last people on the internet to try out Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern. Too bad I waited so long, as I really like it. This is the first one I’ve made, and I’ve since made a few minor modifications that I’ll post about soon.

May 4-four

Day 4 Me Mades: Kimono sleeve t-shirt, modified nursing cami

Another t-shirt. Nothing terribly exciting today, except for my awesome lime green converse. Yes, I love my shoes.

IMG_1618Day 5 Me Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt, Short sleeved raglan t-shirt (Stretch & Sew #205)

I started the day in one of my knockoff GAP t-shirts (as of yet not blogged about), but my son managed to spit-up on me before I took a picture of it. So, onto the next me-made shirt. The one pictured is what I spent the rest of the day in. It’s another raglan from one of my favorite patterns. I’m not sure I love the fabric though. It’s certainly comfortable, but the print is a little off from what I normally gravitate to. I may just need to warm up to it a little more.

IMG_1628Day 6 Me Mades: Stripey shirt

This shirt is so old I don’t even remember what pattern I used. Probably a Stretch & Sew pattern, if I had to guess. It actually had long sleeves up until Sunday evening. I finally realized that the sleeve length paired with the very lightweight knit is what had kept me from wearing it much. I shortened the sleeves and finished the cuffs with bands made from the bit of cut-off sleeves. It’s amazing what a difference that made. I actually like this shirt again! Which is good, because it’s just been taking up drawer space for several years now.

IMG_1642Day 7 Me-Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt, modified nursing cami

This is the “whoops, I forgot to take a photo until nighttime” picture. I’ve got four or five t-shirts made from my knockoff pattern. For a while it was my go-to t-shirt pattern. This version is out of a very soft drapey rayon blend knit. Doesn’t wear great (the shirt is already pilling a bit), but it feels wonderful.

So one week down, and I think the only me-made things I’ve worn are t-shirts and camisoles. Perhaps I should consider varying my wardrobe a bit more. I actually do have some me-made dresses, skirts, trousers, and jackets. I just don’t seem to wear them as much. Well, and there are still quite a few things in my closet that don’t fit my post-baby body. Might be time for some refashioning and new sewing.

Pirate Quilts, Ahoy!

And the pirate baby quilts are finished! Just in time too, as the twins arrived early, last week.


Rewinding a little, I’ve been working on two baby quilts for the now newly arrived twin boys of a good friend. She was planning a pirate theme for the nursery, so of course I needed pirate fabric. Tiny little problem – pirates don’t seem to be in this year. I couldn’t actually find any pirate fabric in the store. So the quilts are made entirely from stash fabric (mostly my stash, with a few pieces liberated from my mom’s stash). I’m going to ignore what that probably says about the size of my fabric stash.* Some of the fabric, specifically the center squares and the orange strip with the skull and crossbones is actually leftover from the baby quilt I made for my friend’s first son.


Center block and strip with skull & crossbones are both leftover from an earlier baby quilt

Really glad I saved the leftover pieces. The corner squares (the lighter blue pirate fabric) and the quilt backing are both cut from thrift store sheets.


Quilt back

I might have never thought to look at thrifted sheets as a fabric source, had it not been for finding Cation Designs. She does some pretty amazing things with sheets. Anyway, I had found the pirate sheets a while ago and just hadn’t decided what to make with them yet. It’s a good thing I still had them on hand, given the shortage of pirate fabric otherwise. Both sheets are 100% cotton, and close enough weight to work well in the quilts. The sheet I used for the backing is actually flannel, which I think is nice for a baby quilt.


As for the pattern, I wanted the quilts to be similar, but not identical. I thought altering the pieced squares would be enough to get the effect I wanted.


So that’s why one quilt has 4-patch squares, and the other has strips. The quilts are free-motion quilted with a large stipple pattern in a variegated blue thread .


And had it not been for some machine issues, they would have been quilted in about a quarter of the time it ended up taking. I do my free-motion quilting on my old Viking 1+ machine, which usually quilts beautifully. For some reason (possibly because I haven’t had my machine serviced in I don’t know how long), the thread kept shredding every few inches of stitching. It was maddening. I tried everything I could think of – re-threading, new needle, different needle type, fiddling with the tension, different spool position for the thread – nothing worked. I fought with it through the first third of the quilting, cursing the whole way, before I finally gave up. Thankfully, my mom has a Pfaff Grand Quilter that I was able to borrow to finish the quilting on. And boy is that a nice machine. I may start cheating on my Viking and using the Pfaff to do all my quilting. We’ll see.


Mega quilt! Prior to quilting or cutting

Here’s the fun thing about these quilts – they fit together like puzzle pieces! It was actually my husband’s idea, I love it. To get the best fit, I decided to make the quilts as one, and then cut them apart at the end just before adding the binding.


Quilted and cut in half

To accommodate the curves on the cut edge I used bias binding to finish that edge. Generally I just do straight of grain binding when finishing quilts. But generally, I don’t have curved edges. Only the side with the curves has bias binding, the other three sides have straight binding. That’s mostly due to fabric limitations, not any particular design reasoning.



I’m thrilled with the way the quilts came out. Hopefully they’ll be well received. Not that the twins will care – they’ll be too busy spitting up on the them. Which is exactly what baby quilts are for. Now I’ve just got to get these in the mail!


Side by side finished quilts

* I’m going to count this project as using two pieces of stash fabric. Just about the entire flannel sheet was used for the backing, and the rest of the pieces were really too small to count individually. So, two pieces it is.