Category: Sewing


This pattern is a more tailored rendition of the typical shirt dress. Instead of a straight line, it has a gentle princess cut, allowing it to be worn with or without a belt. Girl#2 had a few requirements for this dress. It needed to be breathable, have sleeves, a modest top and the hem must be at the knee, preferably just below. We call it cathedral approved. She’ll need it on the days she is taking groups to visit the area cathedrals.

Because of the changes, we had to guess a bit about the yardage. A longer version had long sleeves, the three quarter sleeve version had the shorter hem. Once I had the yardage home and washed, I discovered the collar pattern had gone AWOL, so had to draft it. In the end I was short on the facing, so did it in white, but was able to add the belt tie as an extra. It looks OK, but I was disappointed in myself for misjudging. Live and learn, I guess!

The pattern, McCalls 5847 was a perfect fit pattern, not needed in this case, but nice if you happen to be bustier than my family…(we would never be able to illustrate that word!) My only complaint is that the topstitching was done at the beginning, and I think it would have been nice to include the facing in the topstitching, instead of hand stitching down the entire length of the dress–twice! 

I also think it really needs the belt. It has a bit too much ease to look stylish without something cinching in the waist. It was Saturday afternoon before I finished everything, but I had already determined that I was topstitching the hem, so everything was ready to pack by supper time! Girl#2 says it will work as a long coat jacket when unbuttoned, which is very much the thing now. It does look better on the girl than on the hanger!

I still think I may try a version of this for myself, if I have need of another dress sometime. It does have a timeless quality to it, being pretty classic in style.


Well That was a Surprise!

I took quite a few things over to our county fair. I had very high hopes for my Peace Sweater, and thought a few other things might do well. It was mid week before Girl#2 and I got over to see how things did

Over in knitting the two charity hats, and the Peace and  Skaugum sweaters all did well, receiving blue ribbons, but no rosettes. My last minute entry, the Splendid Sampler quilt got a 2nd place (red ribbon),  which was a welcome surprise, since the quilt competition is small but extremely tough, especially for a novice like me.

It was over in the embroidery section that I had a big surprise…
There’s my hardanger pillow with a Best of Class ribbon, and over yonder on the wall, the barn cross stitch with a Best of Class and the Judge’s choice! That is probably the simplest cross stitch I have ever turned in…

Next stop was the Sewing area, where I thought my linen dress would do well with its new hand picked zipper, and it did, receiving another Best of Class. I also had a skirt and a men’s shirt in sewing.

I had another big surprise over in the wool sewing, where I had the skirt and messenger bags I made using last fall’s MIWW challenge fabric, as well as my 49’er jacket.

You can just see the navy blue messenger bag on the lowest riser on the left. It got best of class for the accessories and bags division! This fair was a big surprise, the things I expected to wow did fine,while the things that I added on a whim won rosettes! Well, there’s the promised report. I’ll leave you with a look At some of the spectacular quilts on display. If you look close, you can see the bird on my Splendid Sampler lap quilt on the bottom left.

I really loved this miniature appliqué quilt, it was so tiny and the stitching was incredible!

This was the Best of Show quilt, and it was just gorgeous!

There were some lovely things on display including rosemaling, wood carving, spinning and weaving to name just a few.

New Projects…

The middle of August seemed to mark a completion of sorts, and I found myself thinking about what projects I want to start this fall.  The first item isn’t actually new, it is a UFO I pulled out when doing my clean up last week. This UFO came from my mom; she had planned to make it into a quilt, but her arthritic hands were no longer up to the challenge, so she passed it on to me. I got the blocks stitched, but hadn’t gotten any further with it.

First, I squared the blocks and sewed them together. My plan to just add a border or two was thrown out during the pressing, as I discovered how awkward the shape is. My solution is make two rows of something to get it to a better size, then maybe a border. The obvious choice was to emphasize the butterflies and roses in the stitching, so off to that black hole Pinterest to find something that would work. (Days go by….) Bingo! I found an old butterfly pattern from the 40’s?, and I was half way. Next I found some nice applique roses, so it looks like this will be a handwork heavy project. I finished the first applique  and now have the other three ready to stitch. I used Kim Diehl’s freezer paper method, and will use this as my footbal/movie/time with DH in the basement project.

Next on the list, my wool pants for this fall’s MIWW contest. While in Denver with Girl#2, I found some wool flannel that would work, so I grabbed it. I pulled out a very nasty piece of mystery crepe from my stash to use as the muslin. New pattern, so I took the easy way out and cut the size 16, then marked the size 10 seam lines and basted the whole thing up, assuming I would have to let it out. I was happily surprised that the first round was close! (Actually, it wasn’t…I stitched the outside seam at 5/8 instead of 1 inch.)  I let out a scant 1/4 inch in the inner leg seam to lengthen the crotch a bit, and presto! 😱 What a happy surprise! Girl#2 thought the legs were too wide, so I slimmed the legs down to the size 8 from the crotch seam on down.

The other surprise is that once the nasty crepe was sewn into pants, they actually look pretty good, so I may stitch them up! With the adjustments made, I went ahead and laid it out and cut the wool, so it is ready for marking. I want to have them done so Girl#2 can help with the hemlines before she leaves, since mine are always different lengths.

Also on the quick list is a shirt dress for Girl#2, out of this cheery print. We washed it with the laundry and in spite of being 100% cotton, it was fairly wrinkle free…a very good thing, since I doubt she’ll do much ironing in Italy. She is thinking that she will help sew, so we may finish in double time.

I also need to come up with a suitable gift for a young gentleman who will be completing a book recital in a few weeks. He is not the sporty type, and likes computer games more than I would prefer. Any ideas out there? He is a 5th grader…so age 11. At least I have the girls gifts under control!

New Vintage Towels

Early this year I posted about a towel pattern I was using for some wedding gifts (here). There were three weddings this summer, but with the loss of Hancocks, I also lost my source of some sweet pre-hemmed cotton toweling fabric. In trying to come up with an alternative that would truly dry glassware and crystal, I contacted my friend Kerry at Love Those Hands at Home, because she had mentioned that in a box of vintage linens she had acquired there were plenty that were worn or had holes, etc. that she couldn’t use. She sent me a cast off table cloth, and I have now cut it up into usable pieces to create some dish towels suitable for china, crystal and everyday use too.

I started by slicing the tablecloth in half, and then cutting out chunks that I could use for the towels. When I could, I just cut off unusable portions, rehemmed and voila! In a few other instances, there was a hole or a worn place, which I covered with embellishment, in this case some hexies in coordinating prints.

I opted for mitered corners on the towel portion. This was simplified by a very generous starching, before applying the iron. I did a double turn, then unfolded the corners, cut on the diagonal, folded the corner first, then refolded the sides and the miter nearly made itself. Another good press, and it was ready for the hem.


For the towel tops, I cut coordinating fabrics (online wedding registries are very handy), used some midweight interfacing, and sewed the pieces together. See the photo below to see how I clip my corners, and the resulting turn.


I have a wonderful corner tool that I’ve had for 30 years or more, and it does a great job. None of the photos above have been pressed! Amazing how a decent clip and a marvelous tool make you look so good!


Now it’s time to attach the towels. First I press under 1/2 inch on the print, then either fold or gather the towel. In some I did pleats (starting with 2 inches and adjusting as necessary) and in others I did a simple gather. Pleats are a little easier to work with, I think.


I set the towel into the top, re-pin it, and then top stitch the entire print section, taking care to make sure the towel is well set inside.


The final step is to mark the button hole on the back of the towel, so that it is front side up when buttoned, and choose a matching button to complete the project.

This has been a great way to breathe some more life into vintage linens. By cutting around the stains and holes or placing embellishment on top of them, they can be used by another generation!


Mini Messenger Bag

img_1194I found this cute little messenger bag on All People Quilt here. I thought it was a perfect size for my elementary aged girls who are completing book recitals this summer. They have been working on this book for 2-3 years, and I thought I’d mark the occasion with something special and individual. The bag measures about 8 X 7 inches, and is simple to put together. However, after constructing one I have some suggestions that I will share.

I cut strips of coordinating fabrics in the each girl’s favorite colors, and a 9 inch square piece of batting.

The original directions have you sew the strips onto the batting with raw edges, assuming you will cover every one with trim, but I didn’t want to be that committed, so after determining my layout, I sewed the strips on, right sides facing, so that every edge is finished.

Once that is finished it is time to embellish. I used bits of lace, rick rack and ribbon. I audition the ribbon and buttons first, then sew on the ribbon. After that, I raid my embroidery threads, and Girl #1’s left over beads to see what works.

Next, we square up the patchwork to 8 1/2 inches and sew on its facing, leaving an opening of about 2 inches to turn it. For this piece, I have elected to NOT press first. Instead, I turn and pin, then go back to the machine to do the 1/8 ” top stitching, pulling the pins out just before they go under the foot. This seems to give me a more exact edge than if I press first.

With the main decorative item finished, we can move on to the main body of the purse, which is really a pretty quick sew. I used the fusible batting, and highly recommend it for this project! After fusing the batting to the bag material, it is easy to do the bag and lining at the same time, since the steps are identical.

With fabrics placed right sides together, stitch three sides together (two long, one short). All these seams need to be pressed open. DSCN1225I used my point presser, and  had them done in less than five minutes. Doing it on the flat would be more challenging.


The next step is to make the square bottom, which is actually very simple.


Start by matching up the side seam and the bottom seam to make a triangle. Pin the seams so they don’t shift, and do the same on the opposite side. DSCN1226Now it is a simple task to lay a triangle flat and draw a line, one inch from the point.

DSCN1227Sew down that line, and Magic–you have a square bottom. Check it before you cut that seam allowance to 1/4 inch. I didn’t the first time, and messed up. I was able to fix it, but but it would have been much easier to do it right the first time!


Now to attach the lining to the actual bag. First press under 1/2 inch on the lining, then nest it into the bag (wrong sides together) There will still be 1/2 inch of lining sticking up above the bag. Just fold it over and top stitch.

Now we attach the flap to the bag.

Measure 1 1/2 inches from the top edge of the bag; this is where you line up the flap edge. Make sure your bobbin thread matches your lining, as the stitches will show. I chose to sew a rectangle on the flap, matching the top stitching on the three edges, then finishing my rectangle by sewing across in an area where the thread would be easily concealed.

The final step is to construct the straps and attach them. The directions have you cut two 2 X 42 inch strips, but the entire adult length strap measures 49, so you don’t need such a long second piece. Start by pressing under 1/4 inch on both sides of the strap. Next, you tuck you batting under on fold, then turn the fabric over. You will sew this edge down; I opted to do a 1/8 inch seam to close the strap, then do another on the other side.

To sew the strap onto the bag, measure in 3/4 of an inch from the edge of the flap (on the back) and place the straps. Sew them securely. I opted for a rectangle with an x as in the picture above.

The biggest challenge in sewing this bag is probably making sure that you don’t sew it closed! Ms. Necchi has a free arm, which came in very handy, and made it quite smooth and trouble free.

If you want to try this little bag either for yourself, or a little friend, download the pattern from AllPeopleQuilt. Their instructions are quite good, though I wish the diagrams were placed within the text. I would think it quite a simple thing to size this bag up or down according to whatever you wish!

A Friday Finish!

I will share more details on these cute little bags next week. This one goes to Isabella, who will complete her Suzuki Book 1 Piano recital tonight! She likes sunset colors and periwinkle. I think I needed Margaret’s stash to help me out, but after a trip to Hobby Lobby I came home with this great seagull sunset fabric, which I think she will like.

Lots of great finishes posted today, it has been so motivating to see so many cool things completed this week!

Happy Friday!

Vogue 1537

As promised, here are some photos of the completed dress and coat from Vogue 1537. I’m not thrilled with the pictures, but then I never like my pictures so whatever! I have a little tweaking to do with the dress; I’m going to take out the gray zip and out a white one in, and when I do that I think I will give the hip area another 1/4 inch on each side. I didn’t notice it before, but I think it needs it when I look at the photos.

The dress is 100% handkerchief linen, underlined with silk organza, and lined with a basic polyester. The back has a deep V with inserts, which requires a side zipper. I never did take a photo of the back. 🙄

The coat is a silk/linen windowpane plaid, with the linen used as contrast, and lined with the same basic polyester. The coat has covered buttons and bound buttonholes. I have the original buttons on right now, I may change them out, but I really like those big ones!