Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FO - Simplicity 2728, NOLA SWAP The Big Easy

It would seem that a sewing retreat weekend can be super productive.  I finished five tank tops (not really worth a blog post since I've made a zillion of them and they're pretty straight forward), almost two Sew Over It Alex shirts (see my previous post here) and a jacket.  I love tailored jackets, and feel that every capsule wardrobe needs one.

For my NOLA The Big Easy SWAP, I chose a simple cardigan style jacket that is pretty modern in styling.  I used Simplicity 2728.  This is not a TNT pattern for me, but going with the theme of the weekend, I based decisions for pattern alterations on my historical standards (and even forgot some, which resulted in a design feature - see the details below).

Simplicity 2728 is out of print (OOP), but details can be found on Patternreview here.  

Pattern Description:  The description on the envelope is very plain, "Misses' Jacket with collar and sleeve variations."  As a Project Runway pattern, this pattern contains a lot of collar, sleeve and pocket variations, as well as front button placement options.  I chose to use the relatively "plain" version of the cardigan style front with three quarter length sleeves with fold-back cuffs, and pleated front rounded patch pockets.

Pattern Sizing: 4-22.  I chose size 12 based on the fact that was the largest size in the pattern grouping that I had.  I graded up at the waist and hip to about a size 16 (standard adjustment for me).  In retrospect, I would have preferred to use a size 14, but just didn't have that pattern available to me.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, I think I did.  At least one of the many artist's versions depicted!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, though I really didn't rely on them that much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I love the variety of options.  This way once you get the basic jacket fit down, you can make up a number of jackets pretty quickly - and they won't all look like they're from the same pattern when you vary the design options!  Simplicity even includes a croquis template in their directions so that you can play designer very easily.

Pleated patch pocket with rounded corners

Fabric Used: Black and tan check wool boucle suiting from my stash.  I believe it is well aged, and I have no idea where I purchased it, though something says I bought it online.  The buttons also came from my stash, though the lining I bought last week on sale at my local Fabricland chain store.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  Because I started with a size 12 (and typically would have started with a size 14), I increased the waist by adding to each of the seam allowances.  I also used a smaller seam allowance at the front vertical darts - this helped accommodate my bust cup size.  Next time, I will probably add a bit more to the shoulder width, as this one seems just a bit narrow for my taste.

I will also need to do a swayback adjustment next time on the pattern.  I'm not sure why I didn't do it on this one initially, as this is a standard adjustment for me.  Since I forgot to do it before I cut the jacket out, the first time I tried it on, I noticed quite a bit of fabric folding at the small of my back.  I decided to "save" the jacket by sewing a horizontal dart across this area from the side seam to the other side seam.  The pattern of the fabric, along with the boucle texture and the tab that I placed over it (which was planned even before this on-the-fly alteration) hide this alteration quite nicely, ifidosaysomyself.

I chose to do a fair bit of speed tailoring techniques with this jacket as well - using a few different weights of fusible interfacing to mimic hand tailoring.  After receiving my tailoring degree, I've really noticed how much I like to wear a decently tailored jacket, but didn't want to take the time to hand tailor a pattern I hadn't used before.  I interfaced the entire body with a very lightweight fusible interfacing, both the fronts and the backs.  I then used a heavier weight fusible interfacing over top of the lightweight interfacing on the seams at the neckline, centre fronts, and upper back area (instead of a back stay).  I also used a narrow cotton twill tape over the seam at the centre fronts and at the centre back to stabilize the seam.  I find it adds a crisp-ness to the edge of the garment that I really like.

I used a bias cut length of tailoring canvas for sleeve heads and I sewed narrow cotton twill tape over the seams around the armholes for support.

Lining pieces are also included with this pattern, which I really appreciate since I prefer my jackets to be lined - and often have to make my own lining pieces based on the jacket pattern.  The instructions are included for a bagged lining which, in conjunction with the speed tailoring techniques, makes for a pretty fast tailored jacket!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, I will sew this again.  I need a plain black jacket but want a cute (aka not boring) design.  As I mentioned above, you can change the design details such as the sleeve length, button placement, back tab, collar details and pocket styling to create a very different look without the hassle of fine tuning the fit again on another pattern.

Conclusion: A cute jacket pattern with lots of options.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

FO - KZJO Studio Genavieve Dress

I have very exciting news - my daughter Sara is pregnant, which means I'm going to be a Gramma!!  As the result of growing a human, she doesn't currently have a lot of clothes, and has resourcefully asked me to help her out in the maternity wardrobe department.

They attended a friend's wedding last weekend and Sara needed a dress - something simple and comfortable but a little more glamorous than what she currently has in her wardrobe.  I suggested KZJO Studio's Genavieve pattern, which can be found online here.  We went stash-diving (well I did while she sat on the couch and browsed through patterns) and I came up with a pretty lightweight polyester fabric in emerald green.  We purchased a half meter of black lace and a gorgeous zipper with rhinestones for teeth to ritz it up a little.

Pattern Description: From KZJO Studio's website:

Whether your style is edgy, classic, bohemian or somewhere in-between the “Genavieve” easily takes you through your daily adventures with the ability to transition to a night out on the town. Mix and match prints and solids or fabrications (like leather, lace, or silk) to create your own unique look. Use the tank, tunic, or dress lengths with the 3 different back yoke styles for a total of 9 stand-out looks.

Pattern Sizing: XX-Small to XX-Large.  I used size X-Large.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I didn't follow them much given that I substituted one layer of lace for the upper back portion.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  This is a simple pattern that has a wide variety of options included with it.  It is very easy to wear and works well as a maternity style dress.

Fabric Used: Emerald green very lightweight polyester

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I added 12" to the length for a more formal look.  I also used a single layer of lace for the upper back.  Instead of following the pattern directions, I used tricot seam binding to finish off the edges of the lace after staystitching.  I turned these to the inside and topstitched the seam binding into place.

I also added a self-lining to the lower back and the front by sandwiching the single layer yoke in between the outside fabric and the lining fabric to enclose the seam.

We also chose a length of black ribbon for a belt to help define her waistline a little.  It added a certain bit of glam as well.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes I would recommend this pattern.  I am planning on using it again for a tunic length top for my daughter for fall and winter to wear with a cardigan and tights.  I think it would make a great breezy swing dress for myself for the hot weather as well.

Conclusion:  This is a great dress pattern with a lot of options for length and upper back designs.  A wide variety of looks can be achieved by using different fabrics.  The photographs are from the final fitting, so make up and jewelry were not yet chosen or done the way she would have for the wedding, but I think she still looks beautiful!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FO - Sew Over It Alex Shirt

I suffer from insomnia.  Over the years, I have learned to deal with this by napping, sleep therapy, and medication.  But, sometimes there's nothing to do except get up out of bed, make a cup of tea, and read, sew, browse the internet or knit.

That's exactly what happened last week.  I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, made a cup of tea and opened up my emails where I found the e-mail announcement for the release for the Sew Over It City Break e-book.  OH MAN.  This fits my sewing philosophy to a Tee! (See what I did there?!)  I love Lisa Comfort's aesthetic and patterns, and this e-book is no exception. And with the fashion photographs for the e-book being taken in Paris, there was nothing to do but grab my credit card and make a middle of the night purchase.  I then been dreamed about sewing a wardrobe based on these patterns and travelling to Paris!

This past weekend, a sewing friend of mine and I planned a sewing retreat of sorts.  Basically, we got together at my house, just the two of us, with assorted sewing machines, patterns, sewing necessities and fabrics for an entire weekend of just sewing.  We only stopped long enough to eat pre-planned quick meals.  Well...maybe some wine and a margarita or two - but only as a celebration of finishing a long day of sewing!

Because I had just gotten the City Break e-book and was SUPER excited about it, I couldn't help but incorporate one or two items of clothing into my NOLA Big Easy Swap plan, replacing the originally planned shirt pattern.  I chose the Alex Shirt & Dress pattern, printed it out, taped the pages together, traced off the pattern and jumped right in.

Pattern Description: From the Sew Over It website:

Alex Shirt & Dress
Two-in-one, the Alex Shirt Dress is a versatile, classic pattern that will take anyone seamlessly from day to night. Although always loose and comfy, this pattern can look completely different depending on fabric choices. Made in linen, the shorter Alex Shirt is ideal for exploring the city in the daytime. But choose a lightweight crepe, viscose or georgette and you have a glamorous, knee-length evening shirt dress, perfect for that special restaurant.

Pattern Sizing:  UK 8-20.  I chose the size 14 comparing my body measurements to those written in the pattern.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, very easy to follow.  I actually used them, thinking I would write a review.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  The instructions are very well written, and Sew Over It offers a lot of support on their website.  They even have a tutorial for putting PDF patterns together here:  http://sewoverit.co.uk/assemble-a-pdf-pattern/

The patterns are included as separate files from the e-book, which I really liked as well - this makes it really easy to figure out which pages you need for the specific item of clothing.

One thing I had trouble with was the tabs for the sleeves.  I'm sure this is operator error.  Mine turned out pretty narrow and a bit bulky, and as a result I had a great deal of trouble putting buttonholes into them.  I think next time I may attach them to a piece of stabilizer using temporary adhesive spray before trying to make the buttonholes.

As much trouble as the tabs gave me, I really like the end result.  They offer a bit of versatility to the shirt, and give it a designer detail.

Fabric Used: I used a dark navy poly lightweight, almost sheer georgette with white polka dots.  I was hoping this would be a wearable muslin.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I chose the pattern size 14 by using the measurements included with the pattern directions.  I added 3" to the length of the sleeves, based on my arm measurements, but I ended up removing about 2" of this when it came to hemming.  I also ended up taking in about 1-1/2" off of the side seams below the underarm.  I think next time I may size down one or two sizes and do a full bust adjustment to keep it from being quite so voluminous.  But for a wearable muslin, it turned out just fine.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I highly recommend this pattern and I did immediately sew it again out of a dark mustard yellow silk georgette with a raised floral pattern.  I just have to do the buttonholes and sew the buttons on, and then I'll write a post on it too.

Conclusion:  I can see this pattern as a TNT (tried 'n true) pattern in my wardrobe.  I am already searching through the stash to make it into the dress length!  I am also excited to try the other patterns in the e-book as they look like great basics too.  Lisa has really nailed it with the wear-ability of these patterns as a travel wardrobe.

I can see wearing this shirt with a pair of stretch jeans in mustard yellow with a chunky knit infinity scarf in cream or even a plaid blanket scarf for fall.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Goals Update

Here we are the end of August already.  I am really not sure how this happened.  This month has just flown by.  On one hand, I feel like I got a lot done, mostly just because I was so busy, but on the other hand the month went by so quickly I don't really know if I accomplished anything!  Let's check in, shall we?


  1. Finish Coffee Run socks - done!  They're super soft and squishy.  This yarn was amazing to work with.  I have to take pictures of the finished objects yet.
  2. Finish Agatha sweater for Melissa (her birthday is August 18, so I need to get on this!)  Ahhh...I pulled out the project bag.  Pretty sure she won't wear a sweater without sleeves, even if I market it as a vest.  I guess I should start working on this again.
  3. Finish my lightweight cardigan Done!  I absolutely love how this sweater turned out.  The yarn is Ah-maz-ing!  Misti Alpaca Tonos - silk and alpaca.  Need I say more?  It wears like a dream - soft and light, yet warm and cozy.
  4. Start a baby sweater for Sara's baby   I've pulled out the yarns!
  5. Make my list for Christmas gift knitting and pick one project to get started on.   I've started this - I have a pile of sock yarn pulled, and almost one sock completed.


  1. Finish the red cocktail dress.  I'm just going to keep putting it here until it's done.  Maybe I'll be ready for the Christmas party season with it?! hahahahaha.
  2. Draft, cut and sew a tunic top with gathers at the neckline. I have amazing fabric for this that should really get me inspired to do this!  again...hahahahaha
  3. Sew a summer style jumpsuit (Closet Case Files Sallie maybe?!)  While I thought a lot about a jumpsuit and even pulled out patterns, I haven't done this one yet.  I need some shorts first to finish up the summer.
  4. Sew a summer dress, wrap style from the same pattern as my black and white print dress?  I sewed another summer dress, and even a wrap one, but not from the pattern I was originally thinking about.  I'm still considering this one done!


  1. Finish reading People over Profit Not finished yet.  Still working on it.  It's a great book, but I only have so much time
  2. Finish reading The Three Sisters Bar & Hotel (this won't be a problem, I'm using this as a reason to go to bed early and read!) I haven't had much time for reading the past few weeks, I've been going to bed too late and getting up too early.  I've been reading, but slowly and very few pages at a time.  BUT, this book has gripped me, and I' managed to finish it!
  3. Start reading Book Yourself Solid (for work and my own business)  I did start reading this - and even finished listening to it in audiobook format on some of my long work drives.  I have the concepts down, but would like to read it to reinforce the concepts presented.  
  4. Pick the next fiction book to read  The Bay of Sighs, which is the next Nora Roberts book in a trilogy that I've been reading - I've even started this!

Goals for September


  1. Finish the Asymmetrical Ribbed Vest I've been working on.  I feel like I might be playing a game of yarn chicken though, I will keep persevering to see what happens.
  2. Finish the Trillian shawl I'm working on in Misti Alpaca Pima Silk.  Love knitting this - its almost mindless, and perfect for the end of day knitting.
  3. Finish the Agatha sweater for Melissa.  Really.
  4. Start and finish two pairs of plain vanilla Christmas socks as a present for one of the people on my list.
  5. Start and finish a baby sweater for Sara's baby
  6. Design and machine knit a black bulky weight cardigan for myself 
  7. Attempt to machine knit socks.  
  1. Finish The Big Easy SWAP 2016 for my trip to NOLA
  2. That's a pretty big goal, so I'll leave it at that
  3. Oh wait - I have some sports "tops" (aka bras, Jalie!) cut out - I need to finish these so I can kick up my exercise program (literally, cuz I like kickboxing!)
  1. Read The Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts, which I've started already :)
  2. Finish Sales Bible by Jeffery Gitomer - I started this a million years ago, and would like to get back to reading a bit every morning before I start work.
  3. Find a trashy southern Louisiana-based historical romance to read.   Something preferably with vampires, voodoo and/or witches.  I'm looking for something gripping yet easy to read as an escape.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Big Easy

Or, Fall SWAP 2016, Stage 1

I am a planner by nature and LOVE a capsule-style wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe work so easily for travel.  I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, and have realized that, at least for me for the majority of my trips, carry-on baggage is the best way to go.  I spend hours browsing, pinning (on Pinterest, that is), planning and coordinating fabrics and patterns for a wardrobe that will work together and make dressing in the morning relatively painless.  SWAP'ing (Sewing With A Plan) is a great way to do this, and the premise of it was made extremely popular by a series of articles by Lynn Cook in Australian Stitches magazine, and contests hosted by the now closed Timmel Fabrics a number of years ago.

I've gone away from SWAP'ping recently - with a focus on sewing whatever the mojo wants.  There are many reasons why this has happened, but I've ended up with quite a few orphan items in my closet, and have decided for Fall 2016 to get back to a focus.

My colour scheme for Fall 2016 is beige and black.  Which sounds ABSOLUTELY yawn-inducing-ly boring.  But, when you add in the planned pops of mustard yellow, teal, burgundy and rust orange it suddenly becomes much more exciting.  I've named it The Big Easy, because my goal is to have it done for my work trip to New Orleans for a conference at the end of September.  I have also chosen EASY patterns - this is key!

According to Lynn Cook, Stage one of the SWAP consists of the following 11 garments. 
  • 1 simple cardigan jacket in a solid colour
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 skirts, one in a solid colour, one in a print or check
  • 2 simple tops, one solid, one in the above print
  • 4 tops, in colours which coordinate with the solids

Because I'm me, I'm venturing a bit outside of these guidelines.  They're guidelines, not written in stone.  

My jacket is not going to be out of a solid colour, but a very small check in a beige and black wool crepe
suiting.  I'm thinking of the Bolero Jacket, Multiples pattern with the three button front.


I already have two pairs of pants sewn from my travels this spring:

  • one a slim cut pair in black tropical  wool, 
  • the other a wide flow-y pair in beige wool crepe 

I have one skirt already that will fit into this plan, a black microfibre knit skirt that comes to just 
about the knee

  • I'm planning on a pencil skirt (my own draft) in the black/beige check to match the jacket.
My two simple tops will be Loes Hinse Tuscan Blouses:

  • the first a short-sleeve in a deep beige/rust colour
  • the second is with long sleeves and out of a black drapey textured polyester, not the suggested print.

LH Tuscan Blouse

The four tops will be where I bring the colour in.  The patterns I'm planning on for these are the Loes Hinse 
Tank Dress pattern, view D and the Loes Hinse Cap Sleeve Dress pattern, view C. I'm planning on:
  • one in a blood red/burgundy colour sweater knit 
  • one in a mustard yellow textured knit
  • one in a teal knit, and 
  • the last is an existing one in a microfibre black knit that is the same as one of the skirts in this plan.  

LH Cap Sleeve Dress

LH Tank Dress

Of course, I have a few extras that would be really nice to finish before my trip as well.  I love the ease and simplicity
of Dresses.  I'm hoping to add the Textile Studio Madison Avenue dress in a red & black textured knit, as well as a
Loes Hinse New York Dress, View A in a mustard yellow wool double knit to my wardrobe.  

LH New York Dress
Again, these are TNT patterns and simple and super quick to sew, but make a big impact.  

The last nice-to-have garment is a cardigan out of a sweater knit - probably in burgundy 
(depending on what I can find in my stash).

There you have it.  Stage 1, The Big Easy.  Now all I have to do is actually sew it.

Do you plan your sewing?  What do you do - do you have a method or a way you've found works for you?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Last Dog Days of Summer

 I don't have kids in school anymore...well I have one who is working on her second university degree but she lives away from home and organizes herself for her return to the school year, so it doesn't really count for me.  Anyways. I guess because of the many many years I've put in as a parent, I still see the start of the new school year as a time to buckle down and get back to work.  And of course, pull out the tweeds, corduroys and woolen fabrics.  But, it's still super hot out, and we have one more week before school starts.  I came across a delicious aqua blue cotton/lycra jersey in my stash that I had bought from Fabric.com many years ago and decided it just needed to be a summer knit dress for myself.

I settled on McCalls 7186, View A.

Photocredit:  mccallpattern.mccall.com

I cut it with my usual swayback alteration of about a 1/2" overlap (for a total of 1" decrease) and sewed it it up exactly as the pattern directions. WARNING - Note that you have to cut out one of the fronts with the pattern piece wrong side up - which the directions indicate, but this is unusual. Because you're only cutting one piece on a single layer, why they didn't just print it the other way is beyond me.  Normally I don't read the pattern directions, but in this case something told me it would be a good idea to. I am glad I did!  

I love this dress.  In fact, I'm wearing it as I type.  I took it in a tiny bit at the waist gathers just to secure the overlap a bit more to resolve some minor gaping at the bust (I'm a 34DD, but short waisted).  The gathers are flattering, and it is super comfortable.  I have had no gaping issues today, and don't have to wear a camisole or tank underneath either.

I will certainly be making this again in the long sleeve version for fall in a heavier knit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Better Late than Never!

So...its the end of summer.  The nights are cooler and the days have that late summer feel to them.  I noticed while driving across the province for work yesterday that the late summer colours have appeared - the golden rod is in spectacular bloom, as are the purple wild asters and wild chicory - I even spotted a few maple trees that have started to turn into their glorious fall reds, oranges and yellows.

And I've decided I needed a bathing suit.  Why, you ask?  I'm camping this weekend for the first time in a few years, and we have intentions of renting a canoe at the campsite.  Wearing any of the bathing suits I already have just wouldn't work out best for me, ifyaknowwhatimean...Hello wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen!

So...what's a girl to do?  Turn to her pattern and fabric stash, of course!  For fabrics, I dug through my bin (when did I amass all these fabrics?! and from where?!) and settled on these swimwear fabrics:

For the patterns, I chose Loes Hinse's Tank Dress pattern, the Cami view - I know this pattern fits me very well and would be the perfect base for an "active wear" swimsuit.  For the bottoms, I chose another TNT bathing suit pattern, New Look 6469.

New Look Misses Swimsuit or Top and Shorts, Capri Pants, Poncho Top and Tote Bag 6469
Photo credit:  http://sewing.patternreview.com/Patterns/8987

Here's the final result:

Since I made both before, I didn't have to do much in the way of alterations.  I did add a shelf bra with formed cups to the cami, using instructions from the Singer Sewing Reference Library Sewing Activewear book.  I used swimwear elastic on the armholes and neckline, serged to the right sides of the openings, then turned to the wrong side and stitched down with zig-zag stitches.  I didn't measure the elastic, just stretched it slightly smaller than the opening while serging in place.  The hem is just a regular turn and stitch hem, about 3/4" deep.  I added lining to the shorts, simply by cutting out the swimwear lining fabric using the pattern pieces for the front and back of the pattern.  I sewed those together and inserted it wrong sides together into the main shorts.  I inserted a piece of 3/4" swimwear elastic that was cut slightly shorter than my waist measurement with the ends sewn together into the waistband for added security.  I then serged the contrasting waistband to the shorts and lining as one unit.  The bottom hems are finished with swimwear elastic, using the serge, turn and stitch technique like the cami.

I am very happy with the result.  I already have cut out a few more mix 'n match pieces including some Jalie 2563 sports tops and McCalls 5400 bottoms.  I'll share these pieces as soon as they're done, but for the time being, I'll be busy sorting out the camping gear!