Monthly Archives: January 2016



  Because I’m a glutton for punishment ambitious, I decided at the last moment to take out a Valentines project from the shop. A slinky, sexy slip. Or two, since the fabric wasn’t expensive and there was room in the project budget.


Vogue 9015

The pattern is Vogue 9015. There aren’t a lot of slip options in the ButtMcVogue line (and I’ve already made Gertie’s slip and love it and wear it to death.) Now, Vogue 9015 is an absolutely gorgeous pattern, but a lot of that hangs on the lace being used. Fabricland’s lace is, um, a little underwhelming. I mean, the stuff I used was far and away the best in the store for this purpose… But it ain’t a patch on what the envelope is using. And having had the odd chance to play with really incredible lace, it’s hard to go back.

View E might be my favourite, but for project purposes I stuck to the simpler views C and D.


View D

Well, this is one of those things that seemed like a good idea (and maybe will turn out to be a good idea…) but I really hate working with slinky fabric. Neither of my versions is anything like as well finished as I would like, and my attempts to try out different methods of applying the bias binding/”facings” were not stellar.


Front Detail

For my first version, I followed the pattern instructions for shaping the neckline inset and while it’s not terrible I would’ve preferred, in hindsight, to “listen to the lace” more and curve my seams around the lace elements to avoid that seam down the middle. Frankly, I’d much rather have been working with the gorgeous scalloped-edge lace on the pattern envelope. 😉


Side stripes… kinda matched at the top, not at all at the bottom.

Because my lace was fabric and I cut it to shape to match the shape given on the pattern  (as per instructions) the shaped seam along the lower edge wasn’t terribly nicely finished, so I added the ivory rayon soutache to cover it, which it does nicely. I actually only had stark white soutache on hand, but fortunately I had just brewed a fresh pot of tea, so a quick tea dye and my soutache was just the right colour.


Back chevron: SUCCESS!

I cut a size 10 and made no alterations whatsoever; I did try to match  the broad repeat of the snakeskin stripes, although I didn’t have much luck at the sides. I love the chevroning in the back, though. I’m not sure if the length is perfect or if an inch or two more would have been better (or at least more romantic. 😉 )

I had just about forgotten what a nightmare trying to sew all the binding pieces in place was, but looking at the photos it’s all coming back. The pattern actually has eighty million binding pattern pieces (they call them facings) but they were all basically bias cut rectangles with the odd notch here and there, so I ignored them and just cut some long bias pieces to what seemed like a good width.


Romantic pose.

At the last moment I decided to add strap sliders to the straps to make them adjustable. This was a great idea except that my round spaghetti straps don’t really fit the rectangular sliders very well; and to start I had made the straps too long, and then I shortened them and now I basically wear it with them fully lengthened. And I am short through the upper body.

It’s quite high cut in front (at least at the strap length I ended up with), which doesn’t matter for nightie purposes but could throw a wrench into any actually-wearing-as-a-slip possibilities. The pattern calls for a “front facing” (aka bias binding) that turns into the straps, but I didn’t want to put a solid strip of fabric behind my sheer lace, so I ran my straps from the side binding and just backed the front edge with a wee bit of clear elastic zig-zagged in place, to keep them from sagging.


Lace piecing in progress


For the purple, luxe version I resolved to let the lace lead, and had great fun matching the motifs to make the corner at the neckline, and adding some extra motifs partway along to give the lace more of a scalloped shape at the neckline. Alas that was pretty much where the fun ended.

In the snakeskin version, I attached my straps/binding basically as double-fold bias binding. Not the easiest in a slinky polyester. For the second version, I resolved to try the method suggested by the pattern, which is basically the same pieces but instead of the binding wrapping around, it’s stitched on the outside and folded to the inside and top stitched down. Which I’ve seen many a blogger do beautifully, I will add, to the point where maybe I assumed it wouldn’t be hard. Well, doing it on bias poly charmeuse was very hard indeed, and only partly because the seam allowance widths change so dramatically depending on your tension.


Lace, attached.

The pattern calls for having the ends of the binding transition seamlessly into the straps in a technique that looked beautifully clever on paper and turned out to be a bit fiendish in practice, since I didn’t have the snip-to-the-seam-line that this requires in quite the right place. I ended up cutting them off and just stitching the straps in place, distinctly not the best look

After attaching the bodice lace, I had a serious crisis of conscience with the purple version, convinced that this guipure lace was way too heavy for my soft satin and even for the pattern in general. Trying it on told me two things—firstly, the length was perfect, so I didn’t want the lace to add to it, and secondly, egads, the static cling! I was basically sure the damn thing would never be wearable. Anyway, this was a store project, and The Project Must Hang, so I soldiered on. I was concerned that my wide lace would both stiffen the hem and sit awkwardly since it wouldn’t curve or flare around the curved hem. So I attempted to gently gather it in along the top edge, first with a gathering foot and then, when that failed, just by cranking up the tension on my machine. On the heavy lace, this worked really well, and gave it just enough ease (I hoped) to follow the curve nicely. I used a single length of lace around the hem, fudging the length slightly to get the motifs to line up perfectly. Fortunately the bias fabric was forgiving and happily stretched half an inch or so to accommodate this. The top of the lace looks a bit irregular in places from the gathering, but it’s not obviously ruffled and it seems to flow with the curve of the hem, so I’ll take it.

 Unfortunately, I got no modeled snapshots of the second slip before it had to go hang. I don’t think I even tried it on. I was just happy the lace at the bottom didn’t stick out like a hula-hoop when I was done. So instead I’ll leave you with one last view of the snakeskin version, just in time for Jungle January. The slips are hanging now, and looking gorgeous on the mannequins, so maybe by the time I get them back I will have forgiven their flaws. Maybe.


A slip for Jungle January

PS, I can’t believe this is my fourth post this month! Thanks mostly to drafts written over the Christmas holidays, but anyway, I’ll take it. Even better, I still have a couple more in the drafts bin. 😀



Filed under Sewing



Inspiration in the middle.

Long ago I bought  (as I often did in those days*) a 70s pattern, Simplicity 8272. It was a pattern for a bunnyhug** with skirt and pants option, and the cover featured a gorgeous, muted blue velour version, styled with boots—effortless and chic and totally comfy. Yes, I did just use “chic” and “velour” in the same sentence… that probably means that there is something wrong with me.

Anyway, when this extra-stretchy luxe velour showed up at my Fabricland this past fall, I commenced petting it immediately. It has a thick, dense pile, lots of stretch, and gorgeous weight, and is super-duper soft. And came in the perfect shade of muted blue. It would be perfect for Simplicity 8272.
1) It’s freakin’ expensive,
2) it’s super stretchy, and the 70s pattern is designed for “wovens and stable knits.” No lycra required.
Both problems seemed to be solved by deciding to make it a store project using contemporary patterns to get something with the same feel.
For the skirt, I picked Burda 7143, figuring I would use one of the McCall’s in-print patterns that I had (McCall’s XXXX and XXXX were the main contenders, though neither was quite right.)
DSC08413OK, so I’m gonna say right off, this is a weird pattern. It’s simple, or at least it should be. It’s designed for wovens with a stretchy knit waistband—using the stretchy velour for the skirt part didn’t seem to be a problem. It’s not a full circle skirt, though it’s close. Here’s where the weirdness kicks in: the pattern piece is meant to be cut on the fold (or rather, mirrored) twice—but the fold/mirror line is not the grain line (nor is it a simple 45 degrees to it or anything else that would make sense).
2015-11-29 08.48.09

Weird layout.

This broke my sewing brain into eighty million little pieces, and I spent way more time staring at the pattern layout (which in Burda envelope patterns is printed right on a corner of the tissue) than I should have to for a pattern clearly labeled “easy.” My GUESS is that this has something to do with a) the size of the pattern piece, and b) how they want the print to fall if you’re using something like a plaid, as in the envelope  picture.

I ignored it and cut four pieces, on grain, not on fold. I think I ran the nap of the velour up, for that “extra rich” look.
Once I had decided what I was doing, it was ridiculously quick to whip up. The “waistband” piece, as drafted, is REALLY tall—I shortened it a bit since my fabric was super thick and I didn’t want to fold it over. I also added elastic to the inside of the sides to keep it nicely scrunched up. I like a bunchy, scrunchy waistband on a knit skirt, to sit right in the hollow at my hips.
But, having completed the skirt and being quite, quite happy with it, I realized that the bunnyhug** I had been envisioning wasn’t quite right. It would end right where the skirt waistband bunched, and I just wasn’t digging it. Although I think a matching, very cropped version would be adorbs at some point.
Anyway, I jumped ship and made a Nettie for the top.
DSC08412OK, so despite several attempts and quite a few successful crop-top versions, I haven’t actually had a Nettie that I was willing to wear out of the house yet. Mainly due to fabric that was either not stretchy enough or not thick enough—finding the two in combination seems to be tricky. And this fabric is both in spades—win! I also made sure to take the time to do the snap crotch; I always want to skip that step and just have it done!!!! but really I won’t actually wear the result if it doesn’t have the snaps. Note to self. Anyway, I made the one alteration that I ACTUALLY need with this pattern (shortening the armscye a teeny bit), and the result is basically perfect (although because I insist on both low back and low front it does tend to spread a bit and expose my bra straps. Meh.
I am really, really happy with how this turned out. It’s warm and comfy and PJ-like and still stylish and I actually like wearing the matching pieces together for a “dress” effect.
I definitely need a black Nettie…
*A habit I am trying to curtail lately purely for space reasons, plus I don’t find myself at the thrift store on a weekly basis anymore…


Filed under Sewing



The Teacher Skirt

After the craziness of Christmas I was determined to get my January Fabricland project in. This is kinda the last chance, as we have to use fabrics from the current season, and the spring stuff is already starting to come in. And I really wanted to do something with this gorgeous, heavy brushed cotton that came in too late for Tyo’s shirt. Ok, it’s still not actually heavy, but it feels more like garment fabric and less like something intended for PJ pants. I was seriously considering a Deer & Doe Bruyère, but while I loved the mental image, I wasn’t sure if I would actually wear a plaid shirt myself (I’m not really a button-up kind of gal). I’m noticing that I often make something (especially shop projects) less because I want that item to wear than because I think it would be a great idea for a particular fabric. Fun process, but not really a practical way of wardrobe building. I mean, my wardrobe is pretty built at this stage, but you know what I mean.



Then it hit, rather like a lightning bolt. I love it when that happens. Vogue 8882, which I’ve been ogling since I first noticed it. A long, plaid version. Boo yeah.

Best part? The plaid was not overly expensive and so ate  up only about half of my project budget. Which sent me on the prowl for part 2 of the project—how about a fun short fancy version, more in keeping with the luxe look on the fashion envelope. Bring on the Chinese brocade!


Blurry, but so cute!

Ok, so let’s back up a bit. This is a circle skirt pattern. There are no pattern pieces that you couldn’t draw out with your grade four geometry kit. The only added detail is the pleats, which are arguably the selling point, but they are every bit as fun as you would think. I don’t know if I would actually have paid the full Vogue $$$ for this pattern, pretty as I think it is, because it is so extremely basic. But getting it with the project—perfect, and it is a cinch not having to calculate anything. It comes down to which you have more of, I guess—time or money.  The rectangular waistband is really wide, which could be a problem if you are quite curvy in the waist, but it works ok for my rather columnar build.

I made the size 12 based on the waist measurement, which is fine. I was a bit dismayed, though, when I got the pattern tissue open and realized that the longest version was still only 27 1/2″ long! I mean, I know I’m not short and I have a lot of leg, but the drawing of this version made me think of something between calf and ankle—27 1/2″ is upper calf on me, barely longer than “just below the knee.”


LOTS of skirt. 😀 Also, stupid spot of sunlight throwing everything off.

So I added 4″ to the plaid version (10 cm for those who use sane measuring systems). I was a little worried this would end up too long, but I have to say I am extremely happy with the finished length. Exactly what I was going for.

My daughter says it looks like a teacher skirt. I said that that had better be a good thing.


I worked disturbingly hard to get those lines to match up across the lapped zipper.

The construction was very basic for this one. I painstakingly matched the plaids horizontally along the side-seams, but completely forgot to think about vertical matching. My CB seam matching is not bad, though, and the walking foot really does help with not having the stripes crawl around on you between pins. The hardest part (actually for both skirts) was getting the overlapping parts of the waistband to be the exact same width. I actually unpicked the brocade three times, which is perilous indeed with brocade. And very unlike me. 😛


Hem by machine.

I hemmed by serging the lower edge with my differential feed turned all the way up. This produced enough gathering to give a nice 2″ hem at the bottom. I’ve been making friends (very slowly) with the blind-hemming function on my new machine, but this time it definitely did the trick. I use the blind-hem stitch with my stitch-in-the-ditch foot.

Also I added pockets, since this was supposed to be the “practical” version. You can see them in the second image. They turned out a little small, but still better than nothing (I can fit my hands in fine but not my monstrous phone.)



Version two is much less practical, both in length and fabric. I have no idea where I will wear it. (OK, I’ll wear it to work, since being ridiculously overdressed is kinda my baseline at both my jobs. But not until it warms up a tiny bit. No colder than -10C) I wish I went to plays or the symphony or things like that, so I could wear it there, but that would require being Cultured.



The shortest two versions of this pattern include pattern pieces for a faced hem. Now, I love a faced hem on a circle skirt but I hate the part where it basically takes as much fabric for the hem facings as for the skirt itself. YIKES. So I’ve always used bias facings in the past, carefully ironed into shape. But I didn’t think that the poly-whatever brocade would bias all that well, plus I figured if I’m not willing to do hem facings when someone else is paying for the fabric, when will I ever?


Faced hem

So I sucked it up and did it and I love it to bits. You really can’t correct for bias drag with this kind of a finish, but I doubt it’ll be a problem on this short skirt in this crisp fabric. And if it is, well, it won’t be the first wonky circle skirt I’ve worn happily. I love the weight it gives to the skirt (and I didn’t even interface the facing, as the pattern suggested.)



I’m kinda absurdly proud of my lapped zipper on this one, too.


Back view

Here’s a back view, since I think sewing blogs should include things like that. And apparently I didn’t get one of the plaid skirt. 😛

DSC08407Of course, it’s a project, so now I have to go and hang it and I won’t get to wear either of them for a month. /cry. The best projects are the hardest to hang…


Filed under Sewing

Kibbles and bits and bits and bits

In the post-Christmas exhaustion I have been cleaning (a little bit) and sewing—a lot of small, quick things, often using scraps.

 Back during the Xmas sewing, I was cutting a bunch of Jalie raglans and had a lot of awkward, diamond-shaped scraps that were, it turned out, perfect for underwear. I cut out two Cloth Habit Watson bikini bottoms, but didn’t have time to finish them. Now, I do. I used a mixture of FOE (I have a massive stash of black, narrow FOE) and clear elastic. We shall see which is better to wear.

 A month or so ago I nabbed another remnant of this waffle-weave cotton. It’s the perfect tea towel fabric, but at regular price it’s still a bit expensive for tea towels I don’t really need. At remnant price, though, it’s irresistible. I cut the 1m remnant in four and hemmed and, voila, four new tea towels. The waffle weave makes it super easy to fold the narrow hems, too.

 I was trying to be good and resist this map themed fabric ( I love maps), even when it went on sale, but when there was just 1.5m (maybe 1.7?) left on the bolt, I caved. I was thinking sundress, but that’s not much 45″ fabric, and when I got it home I realized it would go really well with my bedding as pillowcases. There was just enough to do two, envelope style with the opening in the middle back, as per my husband’s preference. Only downside—matchy matcherton that he is, he’d now like a full duvet set of the same. See above about how I took the last on the bolt. >_<

  Then Osiris was getting whiny about all the sewing for other people, so I made him a sweatshirt. I used the same Kwik Sew pattern, 2133, I did for his sweater last year, which I can’t find a blog post for? WTF? How did I miss that? I need to blog that. Anyway, this one is much less intricate, and really took about 3 hours all told. Maybe less. The only request he had was that it be a bit roomier than the last version. Well, it turned out that my grey sweater knit was tubular, and that the total width was only about 1/2″ more than the sweatshirt pattern. So I added a similar amount of width to the sleeves and didn’t have to sew side-seams. (This makes sewing in the raglan sleeves a bit weird, but it worked fine.) 

The biggest change was that I made the wrist and bottom bands a lot looser—apparently the snug ones that came with the pattern are not to his taste. He says he is much happier with the result. 

And I made a Jasper Dress for me, finally! But that needs its own post…


Filed under Sewing