Survived the freeze…

Yes, yes, I know… world’s smallest violin. But this is not normal for this time of year in Florida. We get winter temps below freezing, but it hasn’t been winter here in a month.  We broke our  record low by more than 7 degrees on the Ides of March (25 degrees, and we’ve been below freezing three nights in a row).  This might not mean much to many of you, but we’ve got crops in the ground and the citrus are in full bloom.  So, if you like your veggies and orange juice, and it’s not coming from California or Mexico, it’s coming from here.

But we did okay! I covered my plants (though not the trees, too big).  Some cold damage, but we came out okay.  Here are some (iPhone) pictures.     More sewing later.

Empress of India Nasturtium

Mexican Midget Tomato

Pentas (Egyptian Starflower)

Cucumbers are up!

Meyer Lemon

Kaffir Lime


Updated Vintage: Vogue 1213, part 1

Image result for vogue 1213

So I fell in love with an embroidered linen, on line.  Bought it, and then had to consider how to use it.  I knew I wanted a skirt, but I needed a pattern with simple lines.  I had had my eye on the top for Vogue 1213 (Lanvin-Castillo) for some time (the jacket too).  I thought I could make a work and heat friendly version of the the skirt and blouse.  One day I will make the jacket, not for a suit, but for jeans.

Lo and behold, I went to make this, and was missing the directions.  I made an appeal and Kate of Fabrikated emailed me photos of the directions from London.  I love our sewing community!  Thanks Kate!

This is an easy, easy skirt: front, back, pocket, waistband.  I didn’t really need the directions for the skirt.  But it was nice to know that I had planned to do the pocket the same way.  You see, the pocket is hidden in that front pleat!!

The pockets were cut in batiste. I’m basting the pocket to the fashion fabric, right sides together.  The center line with pins is the cutting line.

I still had to do a muslin, as the pattern I had was for someone teeny tiny.  I needed to add 4 inches of girth.  I ended up adding most of it to the side seams, but did shift the center back and center front off the fabric fold by 1/2 inch (one each each total) to shift the darts and pleats to the right place.

I was also watching Susan Khalje’s Couture dress on Craftsy and decided to try out a few things:  the way she cuts out the fabric and uses stitching lines – not cutting lines, how she marks the backing fabric/underlining, and her hand stitched lapped zipper.


So the details:

Pattern Description: Vogue Paris Original 1213 by Lanvin-Castillo. “Slim skirt has side front pockets.”

Fabric:  Embroidered linen (white on black) from Farmhouse Fabrics.  Underlining (and pockets) Japanese cotton batiste from Emma One Sock that’s been stashed for some time.

Pattern Sizing:  Size 12, but the old Vogue 12, with a bust of 32 and hip of 34.  I wish.  See above.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, but the linen isn’t as drapey, and mine is shorter on me. I’m still not sure I like the length, but I’ve got some room to play – and when I do the blouse I’ll post a photo of me in the outfit for comments about the length (hits me mid/lower knee).

Instructions? Great – though I only half used them. I’ll really need them for the blouse.  I love the old school directions.


The hidden pocket

What do you like or dislike about the pattern?  Clean lines, simple. The pocket hidden in the pleat is really cool – it’s not really on the side, but further in on the hip.  They aren’t that deep/big though, so don’t expect to stick your heavy keys or smart phone in there.  I also liked that this skirt is underlined, rather than lined.  I’ve come to prefer this treatment.  It gives the fashion fabric a little something extra, and with linen, reduces wrinkling. I forgot to add in the original post:  when I traced the stitching lines onto the muslin, I noticed the darts were ever so slightly curved – not straight angles.  It made for a much nicer dart, skimming over the curve of the body.


Pattern alterations or design changes?  I changed the sizing.  I hand inserted a lapped zipper.  I did serge the seam edges and didn’t give myself enough to do a proper lapped zipper, so I had to insert/baste in some grosgrain, which solved the problem, and stabilized the hip curve.  I also sewed the waist band on according to her out-of-print

The lapped zipper, with grosgrain added to widen the seam allowance.

book.  There you staystitch the waist, baste grosgrain in place, sew the waistband on, fold it over the grosgrain and finish as desired. The inside of the waist band (facing) is serged, and I sewed it in place by stitching in the ditch.  I finished my edges with the serger instead of hand overcasting.



Would you sew again? Recommend?  Sure.  I haven’t made a skirt with an actual waistband in a while, so let’s see how I like that in the Florida heat.

Conclusions:  A simple skirt, with a fun pocket that allowed me to work on fundamentals in couture.  While I didn’t apply everything I’m learning from couture classes/books, I think what I did do helped considerably:  from the muslin to the backing to hand placing the zipper.  I feel I improved my skills and I’m happy with the final product.  Surprisingly, I found all that basting quite meditative.  The end process is a skirt that I really love that I feel I did a great job on.  Even though it took longer than normal for me to make, I enjoyed every step of it, which is nice.

Pictures don’t do it justice.  It doesn’t fit the dress form; on me, the waist sits flat and does not flare out.  A new dress form?  Or just time to go outside for pictures? Or find someone to take pictures?




Help from the sewing community, please!


Does anyone happen to have the instructions for Vogue Paris Original 1213 (Lanvin Castillo)?  I’d like to make this, but the version I bought on e-bay is missing some of the instructions…

I’m sure I’ll figure it out – but there is an interesting pocket treatment on the skirt that I’m interested in…

Repeat: Butterick 6388, view D

B6388, view D, from Butterick’s website.

Pattern Description: Butterick 6388 (c 2016).  From back:  “Tops and dress have side front seams, shaped collar, and back yoke.”  I made view D, with long sleeves, omitting the pockets after reading other reviews.

Fabric:  Luxe navy french terry in cotton (sold out) from Marcy Tilton.

Pattern Sizing:  Size Y XS, S, M.  I liked the fit of the small in the sweater I made previously, but knew I would need to add for waist/hips/thighs to preserve proportions.  I made a size small, grading to a medium at the waist through to the hem.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, mostly, but longer.

Instructions? fine, I think.   Didn’t really follow them this time, except for the order of construction.

What do you like or dislike about the pattern?  Clean lines, simple. A basic to accessorize.  I used a lovely blue/violet silk scarf the first time, though I felt a little like a flight attendant.

Pattern alterations or design changes?  Increased the size to roughly a size 14 through hips/thighs.  One of the things I didn’t do on the sweater was an adjustment for my long waist.  I always tug at the hem.  Since I wanted to maintain proportions, I added 2 inches at the waist fitting line.  I also added 1 inch to the hem to make this dress a bit longer (about 1-2 inches above the knee, all told).  While I top-stitched the front side seams, I got the ripple effect, even with a walking foot.  As a result, I hand hemmed the sleeves and dress.

Would you sew again? Recommend?  Sure.  This is my second take, though, so probably not for a while.

img_27431Conclusions?  A lovely dress that looks much better on. I felt amazing, professional and pretty in this simple dress. If you maintain the proportions, it accentuates the figure. I’m not as busty as the dress form, so I don’t get the pulling; adding the width to the lower half kept it from riding over the buttocks to pool in the lower back.  It’s plain, so it needs accessories.  It has a very different feel in the soft french cotton terry – very luxurious and dressy – than the wool doubleknit.  That having been said, the collar needs interfacing in the terry to stand up. And, yes, photos on the dress form are after being worn (and tossed in the closet after a long day at work).  I’d love to get photos with me in the garments, but then I’d never get the blog posts done…

Orange. Very Orange. Simplicity 7881 midi skirt

img_2738Pattern Description: Simplicity 7881 (OOP c 1997).  From back:  “straight skirt in two lengths has back zipper”.  Variations include accessories, slit placement.  I made view A, with modifications.

Fabric:  Italian all silk jacquard weave brocade from Emma One Sock (still some left as of this writing).  The lining is silk crepe de chine, also from Emma One Sock.

Pattern Sizing:  Size H 6, 8, 10.  I’m approaching a size 14, so I added a quarter inch to each side seam (1/2 inch total each side) and sewed 3/8″ seams.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, mostly

Instructions? fine, I think.   Didn’t really follow them.

What do you like or dislike about the pattern?  Just a basic skirt with straight lines, amenable to all kinds of changes.

Pattern alterations or design changes?  Increased the size to roughly a size 14.  Underlined the skirt with silk CDC to add a lining and protect the jacquard weave from wear and tear.  Inserted an invisible zipper.   Shortened the skirt to midi length (about 3-4 inches below the knee).  Interfaced the waist facing with pro-weft medium fusible facing from Fashion Sewing Supply.  Made a slit opening in back instead of a flap/vent.

Would you sew again? Recommend?  Sure.  This is my second take.  I made E before – several years ago and still love it.  It’s a bit 90s in feel, so alter to update.

Conclusions?  A basic straight skirt.  It’s not lined, the only drawback.  But quick and easy.  It’s very orange, so I’ve paired it with a navy silk DVF jersey top.  I also wear navy kitten heels. A bit dressy, but school colors. (The fabric will wrinkle.  Photos taken after being worn, and tossed aside for a couple weeks.  I only lightly pressed it again.  And yes, this was started in December, finished early January – life was/is crazy lately).



As another local business closes its doors.

I dropped my machine off today for service at my local sewing machine repair shop, only to learn that the repairman/owner was retiring at the end of January.  The local bead/vintage button shop closed last month.

Good bye!  You’ll be missed.


Wool Sweater: Butterick 6388

BRRRR… it’s cold outside!  So I hear.  In reality, I’m sitting in shorts and a tee with the window open listening to the crickets.  Phenomenal Florida weather.  But I’m going to the land of ice and snow – and when I looked through my winter clothes, I realized I was in need.


I purchased Butterick 6388 for the collar, and fully intended to make a dress (view D).  I’ve been on the fence about it-I will make it, but I’m not sure about wool.  I made view C for my trip to Colorado.  This is an easy project.

The fabric:  a Mark Jacobs wool doubleknit I purchased from Marcy Tilton in 2011.  Actually, it’s a remnant – I originally paired it with a red knit to make Vogue 1313 (DKNY).  I still have the dress, but I almost always feel like a Trekkie in it.  The quality of the fabric is amazing, and I love the heathered black.  I managed to eke out the top (view C) on about a yard and a quarter.  I did have to piece the collar – not enough space for a fold – adding a center back seam to the back of the collar.  The recommended fabric for this is sweatshirt fleece or french terry.

Close-up of the front collar; I added top-stitching.

What I changed:  Not too much, actually.  I did top stitch every seam except the side seams to help keep the seams flat – wool double knit can be thick.

Construction and instructions:  The instructions are perfectly fine.  Again, this is pretty easy.  I did add the top stitching.

I have found that Butterick patterns (more so than McCall or Vogue) tend to have a lot of ease – particularly on anything sized XS-S-M.  By the measurements, I should have made the medium (size 12/14).  But I tend to the smaller size of 12 in the shoulders.  I cut the small, but stitched 3/8″ seams at the sides/arm; everywhere else is the traditional 5/8″.  I used my straight-stitch machine, serging after the fact (since I was fitting as I went).  I think my decision was the right one, as the fit is spot on for me.

The top hits right at the hip.  When I tissue fit, I knew I should add two inches to the length since I’m long-waisted.  There is very little shape to this dress, so where the waist hit didn’t matter so much for the top.  I will add it for the dress.

Front and back views, overexposed to show the black, and the dropped sleeves.

What I learned:   I’d forgotten how warm this fabric is!  I won’t get much wear from this here – but it’s cute/casual/sporty. I like it, even thought it’s not much more than a sweatshirt with a fun collar.  I need to be very selective about my wool double knit purchases since I really don’t need any in my wardrobe.  It also means that I don’t have a fabric for the dress. I originally planned to do this in a grey wool double knit purchased at the same time…

Up next:   I’ve been really busy – who isn’t.  BUT I FINISHED THE RUCCI SUIT!  Yes, I finished it a week or so ago.  I didn’t like the pictures on the dress form, so I’m waiting for a chance for someone to take pictures with me wearing it.  I also made an orange silk jacquard midi pencil skirt, but haven’t had time to blog about it yet.  What to sew? I’m thinking the Paco Peralta with the short sleeved jacket, or a vintage Guy Laroche suit, or a lace dress… but no sewing while at my in-laws.



FINALLY, the Tilton Raincoat (Vogue 8934)

This is a project that started, in some sense, when the pattern was released in 2013, and I still lived in DC.  I bought the pattern and the fabric right away.  Then I hedged on lining, which I finally bought a year ago.  At that time I sewed right up to step 26 of 35, and put it away.  Then every excuse in the book couldn’t get me to start again.  Then when I did a month ago, I procrastinated.  Hurricanes, work, the fact that it doesn’t rain here in the fall, etc. What was it really?  I hate making machine buttonholes.

I made the plain coat, version B, in a size small.  I would normally wear a size 12 (medium) but this felt big when tissue-fitting, and I’m not likely to wear heavy layers with it.  Here in Florida, it’s a winter coat more that a light raincoat.

After I took these pictures, I realized I did a terrible job pressing those darts.  Must fix.

The Fabric:  A long sold out nylon supplex, that I purchased from Marcy Tilton’s on line store. This a tightly woven synthetic, that should repel water. It is one she recommended for the coat.  I like the color, but the fabric was challenging – a hard fabric, difficult to hand sew (i.e., hems), difficult to press.  The lining was also Marcy Tilton, also sold out, a black Valentino synthetic.  It was fine for the project.

What I changed:  I cut the collar facing out of the fashion fabric.  With the wide open collar, the lining would show.  Since my lining was nothing special, I switched it out.  I wish I had done so for front facing as well. I lightly interfaced with tricot the right fly, even though the instructions didn’t call for it – I needed to do this for stable button holes.

I made a cutting error (more below) on the shoulder seam, so I edge-stitched the shoulder seams to strengthen the very narrow seam I ended up with. I also knew within one inch of ditch-stitching the collar and band seams that it wasn’t going to work with the nylon supplex.  So, I edged-stitched here as well.  Both small changes, but they did add a little something to an otherwise very plain jacket.

Construction & Instructions:  Generally speaking the directions were fine, with one major exception. I read the instructions for the right fly, buttonholes and facing (steps 26-30) at least five times.  The illustrations don’t match the text well, especially in step 29 (which seams to be in error).  I thought I had puzzled it out, but in the end, I did it wrong.  The jacket looks fine in the end, but it’s not quite what they ask you to do.

You should take extra caution when cutting out the coat.  View A and B naturally use the same pieces.  The challenge is that View A’s placement lines for the patches are very close to seam lines, especially at the shoulder.  I must have been tired because I cut along the wrong set of lines.  I’m not a big fan of multi-size patterns when the markings are very close together anyway, but this was annoying.

What I learned: Well, I can do button holes, but they still look ugly. Is it me or my machine?  I really think it’s the machine. It’s very basic.  I think I’m going to practice hand-worked buttonholes for the future.

Overall, the jacket is fine, but I don’t see it being one of my favorites. Well, off to sew the Rucci jacket, which will be a far more interesting project in an amazing wool gab.

Quick Sew – Style Arc Harper Jacket

To keep from getting burnout and frustrated with the Rucci suit, I decided to pencil in simple projects and UFOs between each piece.  Today, it’s the Harper Jacket from Style Arc.  Later this week, I hope a UFO, then the muslin for the Rucci jacket.

Easy, throw on waterfall jacket
From the Style Arc Website.

I purchased the Harper-Skye-Sammi trio to make a dressy/business casual outfit.  I made the Skye top, but I really don’t like it know that I’ve worn it a few times (needs major fit alterations, I’ve decided).  The version for the outfit was going to have a Skye top in a gold silk charmeuse, so it would drape better, perhaps I’ll make it once I figure out how to improve its wear-ability.

The sourness on the outfit continued, because the blue knit I ordered doesn’t really work with the navy-dusted-with gold tropical wool suiting set aside for the Sammi pants. But I decided to make it anyway, just because.  Oh, my sourness continued, because I’m not terribly fond of raw edges.  So imagine my surprise – I like it.

My dress form no longer stands up straight, the jacket really is even from left to right. 

The fabric:  The pattern calls for a stable knit or a drapey woven.  I went back and forth between this one and a St. Johns doubleknit (which I think I would have preferred).  It’s a viscose/wool boucle knit (60/40). It’s not thick, per se, but it does have some loft.  While it’s beautiful, and has the perfect drape, this is going to be a warm jacket.  Considering our winter is very short, I’m considering keeping this one at the office to battle the frigid A/C!

Construction and Instructions:  Style Arc keeps their directions to a minimum, but they do have additional instructions printed on the patterns.  Pay attention – the default seam width is 3/8″.  In general, if you can sew, you can make this very easy jacket (in an afternoon).  I always find it helpful to keep a copy of the Vogue Sewing guide just in case.  Still, I never quite figured out what they meant by mitering the corner turn. By the way, this jacket is very similar in construction (for the body) to the Rucci blouse (1437).

My only real quibble is with the back neck seam.  First, the directions suggest a French seam here.  Not really possible with this knit (too thick).  Second, I found that I didn’t like the collar up, but folded over – your seam will show, so choose carefully.  I ended up doing a messy flat-fell.


Small details:  I used a clapper to get seams, especially crossing ones, flat.  I also top-stitched the shoulders, back, neck, and side seams 1/4 inch. I like it, and it helps keep the insides more finished.  I serged the armhole seams. I also decided early on (from others’ reviews) that I wasn’t going to use the hook and eye closures.

Fitting:  I made a size ten, and it fits beautifully, hitting right at the top of the high hip in back (very nice).  I normally wear a 12 in the big 4; Style Arc’s fit guide suggested a ten.  The front drapes nicely, but doesn’t hang like in the drawings.  I don’t mind high back collars, but without interfacing, this neck slouches, so I folded it over.

What I learned:  go ahead and try something out of your comfort zone.  This is a nice jacket, if I bit casual.  I still don’t like raw edges.  I’m not sure I will make it again, as I have other jacket styles on the list.  But it will keep me very warm in the cold office.

Thought I got that dog hair.  Yes, this is the fabric my dog decided was his.

The Rucci Suit, part 1 (Vogue 1437)

This suit caught my eye when it was first released.  I kept waiting and waiting for my fave on line fabric retailers to offer the fabric I had in mind, and now a year has passed!  I finally found what I wanted (though paid dearly).  I love the look of this suit – refreshingly modern.  I’ll be posting as I complete the ensemble, and I started with the easiest piece, the top.

Line art for Vogue 1437.  This post is for view B.


The fabric:  I purchase a few yards of a sueded silk crepe, in black a couple of years ago for another project.  That project never came to be (I wanted to copy one of Amal Clooney’s outfits). The weight is heavier than a crepe de chine, lighter than a 4 ply.  It is heaven on the skin, and much easier to work with than lighter and slipperier fabrics. I still had some novice issues, so I basted all seams first. For the lining, which is used for binding the long front shawl-like collar and for hong kong seams, I used a slighter lighter crepe de chine. Both were from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I will buy more of the CDC, and if Ann offers more sueded silk like this, it will be in my cart.

Construction and Instructions: Basting gave me more control over the fabric.  In addition, because I didn’t want to damage the fabric by ripping out poor quality top-stitching, I hand top-stitched the lower hem and armhole facings with a running stitch.  I also hand stitched the “stitch in the ditch” part of the Hong Kong seams.  It was a lot of work, but I got a superior look than if I had done it with the machine.  I enjoy hand work – find it peaceful, as long as my hand-stitching sessions don’t last too long.

Hand-stitching on the hem.

In general, the instructions were quite good – though I can see why some over on Pattern Review had issues.  The front and back are joined with sharp right angles to the yoke/at the shoulders.  (Basting really helped me here, getting the angles just right.)  Later, you fold the shawl collar and stitch-in-ditch to the shoulder neckline. I think it would have been better to clarify exactly how this is done.  When you stitch in the ditch to that seam, you’ll have a 5/8″overlap if you follow the fold line from the pattern (which I did and preferred).

Several people had issues with a wonky and unprofessional hemline.  I think this is due to the instructions not being exactly clear – it’s almost as if they copied/pasted the instructions over from the binding.  It’s a facing, not a binding, so the raw edges should be aligned (not said, but if you note they ask you to trim said edges in the next step.)  Then the superfluous line, “trim raw edge of binding close to stitching” could lead to confusion.  There is no raw edge if you complete a facing, as it’s encased by the top-stitching, and it’s not a binding.   The instruction doesn’t belong there.

Last, it has you press, but don’t press the fold line.  I did, and you can see from the pictures that I need to press that out from the shoulders down.

In all, this is an easy top, but for one or two places.

Fitting: Several reviewers suggested this ran small – was tight across the back.  I made it in a size 12, my regular size these days.  The muslin, which has less give, suggested a ever so slightly snug fit.  I did nothing to adjust here, and in the silk, I don’t feel any snugness.  I’m happy with the fit.  I do suspect that you could have a wardrobe malfunction if you don’t watch your posture in this top.  I’ll be wearing it with jeans tonight, and we’ll see how many times my husband points out the lack of modesty…

What I learned: Basting is my friend.  It’s much easier to sew a basted seam than a pinned one.  Takes a little more time, but I didn’t rip out a single seam, so maybe it doesn’t take more time.  I will say to be super careful pulling out the basting; I damaged the fabric as you can see in the picture.  Black is hard to photograph – and it also hides mistakes.  I also learned to take my time.  I need to sew more often to work on my skills, but I was pretty pleased with the quality of my hand-stitching – not perfect, but I’m gaining the confidence to tackle more difficult items… like the jacket, which is next (after two other things on the sewing table).

Ack! I pulled a thread on the fabric!

This looks better on, than on the dressform, and black is very difficult to photograph.

Fuzzy, and you can’t really tell how it looks, but it does look fine untucked with jeans.  I’ll be wearing this tonight with jeans and a tan leather jacket.