My azaleas

Are so stunning this year:


Another Mandy Boat Tee

The Mandy Boat Tee is a free sewing pattern from Tessuti Fabrics in Australia.  It’s the first pattern I made with my serger, and I reach for that top regularly.  I needed a top with sleeves to go north next week, so I made this in the red rayon doubleknit leftover from a failed Butterick top last fall. The fabric has body, so works well with this top.

This is very easy, doable in an evening. I made no changes from the previous top, though next time I think I’ll lengthen it a couple of inches.IMG_0005

A wee blurry, and after being worn.


I love linen trousers. (Vogue 1550)

I live in a warm, often sticky, climate.  Clingy clothes aren’t very comfortable. When I decided to make something for date night, I wanted a flowing, wide-legged, linen pant.  The blouses are currently UFOs, but I went ahead and made the trousers.  I didn’t start until after date night, and wore them to work yesterday (temps 85 degrees, a bit muggy).  Oh, my, I was in heaven – loose, casual and dressy at the same time.  They made me feel as if I could fly.  I will be making them again.

From Vogue’s website.  Vogue 1550.  I made view D.

The pattern is Paco Peralta’s view D of  Vogue 1550.  It’s tough to see the pants, hidden under that very long tunic, but I had a good feeling about the pants.  I made a muslin, and confirmed the following.  I needed a size 14, with 1/2 inch side seams and inseams above the notches.  I also wanted them for heeled/platform sandals, so I added 2 inches at the leg lengthen shorten line.  I fit is almost perfect.  At the last minute, I decided the crotch seam should also be 1/2 inch – I don’t need this, the pants are slightly too big.  I may go back and fix this.  As I have plenty of fabric to re-cut a waistband if need be.

Ah, details.

About the fabric: a very fine weave black linen from Gorgeous Fabrics, purchased in 2015.  I had purchased some to make a color block dress, and loved it so much I ordered another 6 yards.  It’s perfect!  The black and white batiste for the contrast binding is the same that I used for my niece’s doll dresses.

I love the width at the ankle.  Hard to see, but this hits at the bottom part of the ankle when standing.

The pattern:  super easy – no big issues.

Photographing black, in low lighting.

I will make these again.  I also plan to make the culottes and tunic version as well, but not just yet.


Bathroom selfies.  I can’t find my selfie stick. On top of that, I can no longer connect my iPhone 5 (new one please) to my PC, so I cropped and uploaded directly from the mobile.  And, thought I did a rear view, but didn’t.  Trust me, these pants are beautiful, but not meant for the camera.  They are a great basic that expands my wardrobe.

And, gratuitous shots of the orange blossoms.  The tree isn’t yet in full blossom, but in another day or so, the scent will be intoxicating.



Of soft silk, bias, and failure

I really wanted to make a soft, feminine blouse to wear with linen trousers on a date with my husband this week.  I usually default to tailored tops, or tees, so something more romantic was in order.  Of course, romantic also can also be an appeal to the idealized, heroic, or adventurous.  And, I had some idealized or imaginary ideas about my skill level – sewing soft silks was/is an adventure.

Oscar + Milly: Vogue 2712

My first attempt was the Oscar de la Renta off the shoulder ruffled blouse (Vogue 2712, published 2002), in Milly silk chiffon.  The chiffon is very light-weight.  I had no trouble stitching the french seams on the body of the blouse or the lining.  I practiced the baby hem – which I’ve done many, many times on silk CDC, cotton and linen – several times on scraps of the chiffon.  No success – too heavy, stiff, wonky.  I did gets loads of advice from the Goodbye Valentino RTW FB group, but I decided to set it aside to work on a simpler project and get more practice.  (The best advice, I think, was the fusible thread in the bobbin, but I haven’t tried it yet).

Alice+Olivia, Vogue 1245

So I jumped straight in to Vogue 1245, view B, from Alice and Olivia (published 2011). Should be easy right?  Four pieces… I calculated two nights.  And I decided on a lightweight teal silk georgette.  The first thing?   The shoulder/top of the sleeve is cut on the bias, with french seams.  I jumped in got those French seams done, and moved to the second, the baby hem on the sleeves.

Slow down.  First mistake – not stabilizing that shoulder seam first.  It grew by 2 inches while making the french seams. I didn’t notice until I went to do the baby hem – which I probably should have let hang first.  And then, I decided to use the instructions for the baby hem – which are different from how I learned… and wow, that didn’t work.  Should have used Schaeffer’s method.  A mess.

So, while the pattern is theoretically easy, it can’t be rushed.  And I really did only have two nights to make it.  I have enough fabric to recut the sleeves, so I will do it later.  In fact, neither is a complete failure, since no fabric was completely ruined.  I can finish them, when I’m not rushing.  But I need more practice before I attempt either of these again.


The Azalea Skirt (Anne Klein II, V2778, OOP)

Spring is here.  How do I know?  The itchy scratchy throat and eyes.  Yes, the pollen. Enough of that…

The azaleas are BLOOMING!

Friday afternoon, I decided that I wanted something bright and cheerful to wear on Monday (today).  I hunted down the hot pink floral fabric that I purchased from Emma One Sock in 2015, that was always destined to be this vintage pencil skirt.  I just finally got around to making it and wore it to work today.  When I started working with the fabric, I realized the color matched the azaleas in my yard, and the flowers were very similar.


The pattern… I remember buying this pattern in 1991!  I even bought the fabric for the skirt, body suit, and jacket.   Talk about UFOs… I never made the jacket or the bodysuit, and I’m not sure what became of the fabric.  I did make the skirt in a rust wool with a royal blue rayon lining.

Here’s the funny part.  In my relative newness to sewing in 1991, I started the skirt.  The directions are for an underlining… not a lined skirt.  I didn’t know the difference then, but was really disappointed that, after constructing the seams, I had raw edges to deal with – not RTW at all!  I remember thinking – “the instructions are wrong”.  I was disappointed and set it aside.  Life flew by and I found it and the pattern after a move a couple of years ago. I could no longer fit in that version, but I have made the skirt twice since, well three times now.  I also know the difference between underlining and lining, and generally prefer the underlining now.

I still have the other two skirts – one is a straight size 12 in a black wool broadcloth, underlined in black silk CDC.  It’s a little short, and is too small now, but I really love it!  The other is a vintage floral bouquet, size 14, lined in cream silk CDC, blogged here.

This one was quick and easy.  I knew I didn’t want it lower than the knee in this fabric, but the designed version was too short.  Because this skirt is tapered to the knee (or thigh), I lengthened the skirt at the lengthen/shorten lines by two inches.  It’s just above the knee.  I also graded it out at a size 14.


The fabric is a slotted weave in cotton from Emma One Sock. It has a fair amount of body, and a quilted feel to it.  BUT, you can see through the slots.  So, I underlined the entire skirt (as per the instructions) with white cotton batiste.  I considered a matching pink.  I had some leftover from a previous project, but not quite enough and didn’t want to be bothered with dye.

In terms of construction – I serged my raw edges instead of using Hong Kong finishes (which I had done in my previous versions.)  I added a bar tack above the back slit, inside, to help prevent mishaps.  And, I inserted the invisible zipper.   On this skirt, and the 8 gore skirt though, my zippers aren’t invisible.  I don’t know what I’m doing different, but the top hardware is not hidden.  Suggestions anyone?  I don’t think I’m doing anything different, but I must be.


My son took the picture this morning.  He’s six!  And it was grey and raining, so none in front of the azaleas.  The blouse is Kate Spade, purchased last fall.  It would be an easy make – and is trimmed with rick-rack.




Butterick 6494 dress in Rayon doubleknit

Just a quick post.  I recently made Butterick 6494, view C, no pockets. It’s an easy make, but, sadly, it’s already too warm here for long sleeves.  Perhaps a cool evening?

From Butterick’s website.

This is an easy dress to make, so very little to write.  I made a size 12 in the shoulders, tapering in the sleeves and side seams only to a size 14.  It’s a slim, close fitting dress, and very flattering, but give yourself room if you have a clingier fabric.

As for the fabric:  a teal rayon doubleknit (with some elastine or lycra) from Emma One Sock.  It’s a medium weight, which is perfect here (the pattern calls for french terry).  The fabric was fairly easy to work with, though it wrinkles easily (see the photos).  I found that going up to a size 11 needle helped with skipped stitches.

I didn’t really change much or do things differently from the directions, which are straight forward.  I did eliminate the pockets, as reviews elsewhere suggested these could lead to enhancing the tummy area in an unflattering way.  I followed the instructions for the collar, but I don’t think it gives the best results.  I plan to follow David Coffin’s (Shirtmaking) instructions next time I do a collar, as I think it will result in a more professional finish.

Over all, I’m pleased, though I know where the errors are.

Some pictures:



Paco Peralta 8-gore skirt in ivory wool.

I love skirts.   I love wearing them and making them.  An even though I likely have a dozen gored skirt patterns, I had to buy another one. I wanted to try out Paco Peralta’s patterns from Etsy.


They are on amazing paper – not thick printer paper, not that easy to destroy super-thin tissue the Big 4 use.  I know, it’s just paper, but it really elevated the experience.  There isn’t much to this pattern – a gore you use 8 times, a one inch fold over waistband, plus lining pieces (cut four).

The patterns don’t come with instructions – but again, this is a simple skirt, so you don’t really need them.  He does have a few pointers on his blog, especially if you are using the godets.

Doesn’t fit the dress form well (it’s not a great dress form), and a bit wrinkled from handling…

Here’s what I did:


  1. Made a muslin, because I wasn’t sure of fit/ease.  I’m wearing a 14 in the big 4 these days, and the large had very little ease (I made the large).  The benefit of making the muslin was that I now had additional pattern pieces to cut the skirt.
  2. I sewed four gores together (from the bottom up) to form the front, and four gores (bottom up) for the back, leaving room for a center back invisible zipper.  I then sewed the front and back together.
  3. Paco mentions that you can change the drape depending on how you finish the seams.  If you press them open, you’ll get more flare.  If you press them to one side, you’ll get more of a pleat (though I don’t think that’s the right word).  I pressed them open.
  4. After inserting the invisible zipper, I attached the waistband, but used Susan Khalje’s instructions from Linen and Cotton.  This required the use of petersham. First, staystitch the waist seamline. Second, snip the waist band to the stay stitching.  She points out that the pattern continues to narrow above the waistline, but the waistline is the most narrow part.  Therefore, snipping is necessary for any waistband that sits at the waist.  Trimming the seams, as instructed in most patterns, will likely leave a hard ridge.  Then attach the waistband, foldover, and finish.
  5. Before I folded over to finish, I basted the lining to the stay-stitching.  I also extended the waistband when I cut it out by one inch to allow an underlap, which will have hooks/eyes and a snap.  Susan Khalje suggests that the underlap has a cleaner finish and is more comfortable to wear.
  6. Finally, the hems: instead of the hem allowance he suggests, I hemmed both the skirt and the lining with a narrow machine hem using Claire Schaeffer’s method.  I attached the hem to the skirt with french tacks.




I LOVE this style skirt, very classic, and this one comes to the center of the knee on me. I will make this again, and I feel my closet is bare without a couple of swishy skirts.  The next one will likely have a side zipper, for which I will use the lapped zipper technique.

About the fabric:  This is an amazing very lightweight ivory wool suiting from Emma One Sock, that is Helmut Lang/Theory.  It would make incredible wide legged pants, but you definitely need to line it.  Last I checked, she still had some available.  This wool is well made and a treat to work with.  I lined it with a matching silk crepe de chine, also from Emma One Sock.


Fitting via Text (3 more McCalls 7079)

Last fall my niece asked kindly for some new skirts and a dress for her bunny.  She lives several states away, so I asked my sister for some new measurements.  I also asked her what my niece wore in RTW for her favorite dress.  Comparing the measurements, I determined that a size 14 (girls) would be the right size, so started on McCalls 7079.

Well, the dress hangs on her and the bunny dress would not button shut.  Fortunately, the dress fit her American Girl doll.  We’re doing this fitting via text message.

I cut out another dress for each and made some adjustments.  A size 12, plus raising the neckline another 1/2 inch (it’s far larger than the envelop shows).  And I added 4 inches to the bunny dress.  I got them there in time for Christmas, and voila!  Perfect.  I immediately cut out two more dresses, thinking I could send them in time for Christmas, but only made them this weekend.

The black and pink floral is a poly ponte from Gorgeous Fabrics.  The brown floral is poly ITY from Gorgeous Fabrics.   The green velvet (Marcy Tilton) is the same velvet I used for my shirt. I didn’t get a new picture of the bunny dress.



Hope she likes them. I’m partial to the brown floral.


First sewing of the year… is not for me.


That’s right, I’m sewing patches onto a BSA uniform.  My husband became den leader of our little tiger scout’s den this year.  I remember getting all my sewing-related badges for Girl Scouts… wonder if they do this for the boys?  I hope so!

Next on the agenda is Kwik Sew 3123 (navy wool short coat) for my husband.  Almost finished with the muslin; next will be to customize it for what he wants.  Not sure exactly what I will sew after that.  The fabrics that just arrived from Emma One Sock will likely be stitched up quickly:  a winter white 8 gore skirt and a teal ponte dress.  I might squeeze that dress in later this week while cutting out the jacket proper…

It’s cold out everyone (even here in Florida)… stay warm.

The list is long and ever changing…



Last Make of the Year: Paco Peralta top (Vogue 1567)

Let’s finish the year with something easy and festive.  I cut this top out before Christmas, but I’ve been so busy (like everyone) that I spent only 5-10 minutes a day on it.  I’m not fond of the skirt (I have wide hips), but the top looked simple (and I thought it would be done to wear Christmas day).

Vogue 1567 is a close-fitting top with dolman sleeves (wow – haven’t seen them in a while).  With only two pattern pieces, the emphasis is on the fabric and construction.  I chose a poly stretch velvet in green (Sage Shimmer Velvet) from Marcy Tilton. It’s sold out of course.  It’s knit, with no rolling and easy to sew.

Vogue 1567 Paco Peralta, from Vogue webpage.

The pattern itself is fairly simple and the instructions are fine.   I made several construction choices to make it my own.

  1. Instead of double stitched hems, I stitched the seams on my straight stitch machine (pulling lightly as I stitched).  I finished all seams on the serger.  I’m not confident in sewing a straight line with a 5/8ths seam on the serger – though I am with the 3/8ths – has to do with the cutting knife position on the one I bought.
  2. In the directions, the back facing, sleeves and hem are all turned under 1/4 inch and then top-stitched with two rows of stitching.  I didn’t turn under any of these edges; rather, I finished the edges with the serger for a less bulky finish with the velvet.  I only top stitched the back v to give it more stability and reduce stretching.  I wanted a softer hem on the sleeves and waist, sew I hand-sewed these hems.
  3. I will likely take in the neckline a bit (1/2 inch each side), the neck is very wide, and I don’t think I did it quite right (see below).  I will also add lingerie straps.
  4. I added my customary 1.5 inches in the torso for being long waisted.

So, I have never quite gotten the technique right for the fold-over facing on these type tops. Something is always out of whack for me.  I followed the instructions carefully, and lined up my notches, but the shoulder seams seem slightly off (see the picture).  Hard to describe, but the front facing is turned tot he outside, along the fold line, over back, basted, then stitched.  Then you turn the front facing to inside along the fold line, and press lightly.  Anyway, they are always a bit wonky.

See, a bit wonky.

This was my inspiration top:  a Vince Camuto velvet boxy top in green I found on Nordstrom.  I like mine better!

The inspiration top.  But the construction looked terrible!

I’m pleased with the top. I’ll post a picture of me in it with the skirt I’m making to go with it.  I might make another one, but the sewing agenda for the new year is quite ambitious.  Right off the top: a coat for DH, two dresses for my niece, two skirts, another top, and two dresses….

And my version, complete: