Category: Sewing

Sewing Silk/Linen

DSCN0819My coat fabric is unique. It has the look of a raw silk with a lot of variance in the threads, yet it has a definite linen quality to it as well. The nicest part about this blend is that it Does. Not. Wrinkle. It is also machine washable!! My original cut was probably 3.5 yards, but I used a large chunk for a jumper back when my girls were babies. That jumper went into the wash often to remove the typical infant fluids, and it washed like a dream! I probably won’t do that with this coat, but it is nice to know that’s an option should I need it.

I am using some of my dress fabric for the back side of facings, etc. to have enough of the plaid for the pockets and tabs. It will be a rose colored handkerchief linen (#3)from The Sewing Lounge, and I can’t wait for it to get here. The samples I received were wonderful, and I really wish the melon colors were good with my skin tone, but alas, I am an atypical redhead that has pink toned skin instead of the more usual peaches or olive, so the melon and coral, though beautiful were not for me. The winter white wool crepe, (#2) however, was drool worthy, even if it was $55/yard. I wish I dared make white pants….that would be something with the Peace Sweater…but I digress.

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My biggest challenge thus far has been planning the layout to work with the fabric I have available. The tricky part has been matching the plaid. DSCN0825In some cases it isn’t possible, and in others I’ve opted to either go with the dress fabric, or jettison a design detail. I hope to make it all work, without glaring omissions or obvious faux pas. My first issue was the bound buttonholes, which had to be constructed of scraps. They ended up being off on the vertical, but the punk is so faint, I hope it isn’t noticeable. The fabric is quite tweedy, but isn’t raveling, and it is a dream to press! 

Thus far I haven’t had to rip much, and Ms. Necchi, tuned up and back to form, is handling the plaid well. The main body is now complete, the next challenge will be working out the sleeve layout, hopefully leaving enough fabric for matched pockets.

My fabric arrived yesterday!!!! DSCN0826

Fabric Hunting

dscn0703I’ve shared often that we have no good apparel fabric stores in the area. That makes for a lot of extra time and searching when looking for something special. Access to stores through the Internet is wonderful, but it still doesn’t replace seeing and touching. I have had some great input from folks concerning my quest for fabric to make the dress in Vogue 1537. Some of you got me thinking in several different directions, which was very helpful.

Armed with my new possibilities, I again hit the web, and still had difficulties in finding things I felt might work. I did save one link to some pink linen at the Denver Fabric Warehouse, but the more I have thought about it, the more I really don’t want to go with pink unless I have no other choice. Another day dawned, and a new search began. This time I searched by city, and started with Minneapolis. Bingo, maybe! I found a store that specializes in silk, linen and wool, along with other less exotic yardage. The Sewing Lounge advertised on their web site that they specialize in support and project completion, having lessons and the ability to sew on site. Interesting! I wrote to Maggy, and asked about help with matching fabric, and she replied within an hour, saying that they would be happy to help me via mail, and if I would send a swatch, she sewing lounge logowould try to provide me with several options, so there is hope!

I sent my swatch in the mail last Friday and will be waiting for swatches this week. Meanwhile, I’m going to lay out the coat, and possibly purchase the lining here in town for both. I am really looking forward to getting Maggy’s envelope! She emailed me today, letting me know she had received the swatch and telling me she is sending a variety of colors and neutrals from their stock! I can’t wait to see what she sent!

Sewing for Me!

Yes, I have made a decision about the first thing Iwill sew   for our graduation trip to California….and the winner is….the Kay Unger dress and coat! Now there is some altering to do on this dress; it needs to be longer, and I think that the back may be a bit wild for a daytime dress.  

Now for the fabric…I have two fabrics in my stash that I would consider, but both require finding a match, so the hunt is on! Girl #2 says that the temps could be in the 90’s, so I definitely need to consider that! 

My first choice is to use this for the coat. Unfortunately,  there will not be enough fabric to do the entire thing, so I’m going to need to be careful and creative. This fabric is a silk linen blend, really great texture, with a faint window pane plaid. I am trying to decide my best course of action, assuming that it will be impossible to match the blue. There is the white of course, along with a thread of pale pink and melon running through it.

After spending the afternoon cutting about 40 pattern pieces, I believe that I can squeak most of the coat out of the silk/linen. I think the pockets will fit, leaving me option of adding just a bit of something like a floral print, maybe for the buttonholes and the tabs on the sleeves. 

I have also found a pink linen that looks like a decent match, but maybe that’s too silly for an old mom? I would love to do a floral, but I think that may be too much. Or I could go with plain white and put a band of color or floral on the bottom…ugh!

Opinions? Advice? Fabric shops?  Anyone with a totally different idea? I’m interested in any and every possibility!

Stash + New Patterns= Motivation

For the first time in a long time, I have a specific event that I can sew for. Girl#2 is graduating from Stanford University in June, and there are events that go along with it. When I graduated from our state’s land grant, there was no such fuss, though I believe the Dean did spring for some coffee and donuts and invited the seniors and their parents before we headed to the stadium. 

To make a long story short, I am a little bit intimidated by all the money flying around out there, and while I’m not interested in impressing anyone, I don’t want Girl # 2’s friends’ parents and professors thinking we are total hicks before we open our mouths. After all, it was DH’s home school program that got her there, and she has excelled, so we aren’t completely inept, though the world of cocktails and parties is pretty foreign! 

With that in mind, and my preference for classic looks that are timeless, I’ve ordered and pulled out some patterns that I think may work for the two big events; a big ceremony outdoors, and the more intimate department event where we will meet the professors. It sounds as though everything else will be fairly casual, so no worries there. I can do casual for weeks, because my old work attire is probably their idea of casual.

So, here are the options in patterns for the graduation wardrobe…any opinions?  I’m all ears! I should also mention, that the hemlines are pretty optional at this point. I will likely raise and lower them to my own comfort level!!

Strawberry Fields Finish

This project has been one big experiment! An alteration here and there, some drafting, matching 40 year old navy fabric with new, and a bit of creative layout…it was all fun, actually!

Here we are, with all the major pieces cut and ready to sew.

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The bodice has princess seams, front and back. Once I got the shoulders sewn, the neck needed some adjusting, and I’m thinking I could have cut a little deeper yet, but I think this will work.

About here DH checked in. DH:  That looks a little short.  Me: Oh I’m adding a peplum, it’ll be longer. DH:  Oh…

I opted for a 12-14 inch long invisible zipper, which should make it easier to get on and off. I actually read the instructions that came with the zipper, and realized for the first time, that the special zipper foot can be adjusted to help you sew the seam where the zipper meets cleanly…DUH!  I did bias facings for the neckline. It worked really well with the invisible zipper.

DSCN0678I added the peplum, and had just enough strawberry fabric to piece the armhole facings, which I also decided to cut down another 1/4 – 3/8 inch. The color looks really wonky; it is much better than it shows in the picture, though matching a piece of 40 year old navy fabric is not for the faint of heart!

I hung this up to get some photos before I left for choir practice, and DH comes back in to see how things are going….

DH: So, what’s she going to wear under that? It looks a little short!  Me: long pause…….pants….longer pause…(with a wicked gleam in my eye) underwear and really high heels, and a lot of eye makeup? (sarcastically) What do you think? DH: (uncertainly) 😳 I thought it was a dress! We laughed a long time over that! Poor DH!!! 😂

I finished the facings this morning, and got a photo with a little more accurate color. I think it will fit…hope so anyway! In the final assessment, I think I would lower the neckline another 1/2 inch and trim it out a little more, because it seems to pull just a bit on the hanger. I also would lengthen the actual bodice another inch. We’ll see how it looks on Girl#2. It may be just fine…as long as she wears pants! 😉

Drafting Strawberry Fields

I pulled out my flat pattern book from college and was amazed that I once knew all this stuff. Keep in mind, I was an AG Scinces Major; I took Flat Pattern my last semester; I think I needed 3 credits, and was really pleased to be able to take something that was totally stress free and just plain fun.  😍  The others in my class thought I was a bit odd, but we got along in the end.

My inspiration for Girl #2’s requested top is Simplicity 1425, but after looking around, I wasn’t too keen on dishing out $10 for something that shouldn’t be that difficult to draft. I rummaged around and found an 80’s dress pattern that will not be happening, but had a princess bodice, perfect for what I had in mind. I lined up my pattern pieces, and made marks across each to match up the natural waistline, then added a 5/8 inch seam allowance to each one.


The Bodice front has a deep v neckline, so I changed it to a rounded neckline. (Yes, that is a cereal bowl….I never did get a French curve for class, and have always regretted it!) This will be just a tad lower than a standard jewel neckline, since I can’t fit it to the girl. The lower neckline will be more forgiving, and a possibly a little cooler.


Peplums are not difficult, and require nothing more than a straight edge. First, measure  the width of each pattern piece across the seam line (the natural waist here) and subtract the seam allowance. This is HALF the actual waist measurement (with some ease) which will be the same as the top of the peplum.

Draft a sloper, shaped like a rectangle, out of heavy paper with those measurements, marking the location of the  center front, back and side seams. Make the sloper the length you want the peplum. Next, make 5 vertical lines, evenly spaced, perpendicular to the top. Cut these lines nearly to the top edge then place a piece of pattern weight paper under the sloper. Now spread each cut according to the amount of fullness wanted in the peplum. (I opted for 1.75 inches.) When satisfied, tape the sloper, and trace the outside edges. Add the seam allowances, transfer the center and side seam markings, and you are ready to cut your fabric!


My inspiration pattern uses a looped 3 button closing in the back, which seems a bit dangerous, so I will probably do an invisible zipper Instead.  I’m planning to face the neckline and armholes with self bias from the scraps. After a trip to the fabric store I’l be ready to stitch!

Strawberries, Peplums and Skirts

I have finally finished my twill skirt, though I have no pictures actually wearing it yet…😊

With it hanging you can actually see the hip adjustment. I finished the hem on Sunday, and  I’m thinking about wearing it to work, but people are here from campus to load up my event stuff so maybe I’ll hold off until their van is loaded….maybe not, they can load their own van!😆

I am now working out the details for a shell top with peplum for Girl#2, made out of this strawberry fabric no less! There’s likely not enough, so I’ll have to come up with a way to make it work. Time to dust of those drafting skills, I guess. It will be a congratulations package for her…last week she was accepted to Oxford And a few days later was offered a yearlong fellowship in Rome! Pretty crazy stuff for a little girl from nearly nowhere! 

I am queueing up several projects to bring me through these next couple of weeks of adjustments. I needed a vacation before all of this started, so I’m going to give myself a couple of weeks to de-stress, sew, think about my new future, sew, do a spring cleaning, and sew. Maybe we’ll have some nice weather too, and I can start on some of those garden dreams….today was warm, though somewhat cloudy, so spring is coming!