Thursday, July 02, 2015

Lace and a 40th Wedding Anniversary

Tanisha contacted me for suggestions on fabrics for a very special occasion-her parents 40th wedding anniversary!  She wanted a formal dress made for her Mother to wear for the celebration. Local sewing engineer, Barbara Cruse, made this beautiful dress using Black Lace with White Backing from Sew Much Fabric for the gala and I must say it is stunning!  Thank you Barbara for sharing your experience on making this beautiful jacket and skirt.  

Photo Credit: Carlton Hamlin Photography
Mrs. Cosby selected Vogue 7963, clean lines with a portrait collar, very elegant.    

The only way to get a perfect match of the lace motifs was to use a single layer layout.  

I started with the bodice center front line of the overlap and underlap and worked to the back.  To make the skirt even simpler I cut it on the fold rather than 2 pieces. She has a flat bottom so it worked out well.  (When the client has a shapely bottom I make it in 2 pieces for the best fit.)

The fitting challenge was that she has a slightly curved back. The center back had to be lengthened a bit and eased into the side seams.   Her left and right side are different sizes, so one sleeve and bodice front were almost a size smaller and the adjacent back larger. This also made the front dip more and that was adjusted at the hem. Now you can’t tell a difference. The alterations for the skirt were at the waistline for a high hip and a low center front waist. The adjustment for this was to lower the hip 1” and center front 2”.

I used stay tape (not listed on the pattern envelope) for the outside edge of the collar and neckline.  She has a slightly curved back so I added an extra snap to eliminate the gap between the snaps called for in the sewing instructions. I also added a hook and eye on the collar center front to keep it closed.

This fabric was wonderful to sew on, I used an #80 Universal needle and didn’t have any problems.

The happy couple Mr and Mrs Hal Cosby
Photo Credit: Carlton Hamlin Photography

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Burda Style July 2015

To purchase, go to

All Styles at a Glance

Line Drawings

Cut in armholes are trending this summer. 
Dress-#121-Navy Linen

Updated Boho Chic

Sleeveless moto jacket for summer?!  Check!
Jacket-#112 Blue Denim

Pretty and Feminine
Peplum Top-#114A-Chartreuse Stretch Cotton
Skirt-#118-Chartreuse Stretch Cotton

Plus Size
Weekend Glam!
Knit Top-#127-Black/Taupe Reversible Knit
Pants-#130B-Black/White Pinstripe

Night time glam!
Evening Dress-#129B-Black Rayon Crepe (Sold Out)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shell Top and Polka Dots

Thank you Carla for sharing this recent sewing project for your daughter.  The navy and white polka dot is such a smart and versatile look for work. I know she will enjoy wearing this for years to come!

Simplicity 1692—View D 

After a couple of really busy months, I’m trying to get back into sewing!  I had purchased a couple of Retro blouse patterns that I thought my daughter would like.  I had also bought some blouse fabric from Roz at the April Fashionista’s meeting.  

I made a muslin to fit my daughter.  I knew she would not like the buttons on the shoulders nor the trim around the neck or sleeves. So, my plan was just to seam the shoulders and leave the trim off.  I chose the navy polka dot silk (sold out but other silks are here) thinking it would hang well!  When fitting the muslin, it fit in the bust but was too tight in the hips. Even though the pattern showed it tucked in, it was way too short to tuck!  So, I added width at the bottom and tapered the seam to fit at the bust.  I added 1 and ½ inches length.  One pattern review said they raised the tucks ½ inch—so I did the same thinking it would fit a little better under the bust!

Since I was working with a silk, I wasn’t sure how the invisible zipper would do in the side—especially after I made the seam more curvy by adding width at the bottom.  I thought I’d stabilize the seam before inserting the zipper.  I used an iron on light weight knit stabilizer—it’s just what I had that I thought would work!  The zipper went in fine, but I’m not sure I like the way it hangs.  I’m kind of thinking the pattern and fabric was not that great of a match. And I’m also not sure I like having an invisible zipper on the side when it’s planned to tuck in.  Too much bulk!

My next challenge was the neckline.  The pattern called for facings, but I did not think facings would do well with the silk.  I thought a bias binding would be better.  I stabilized the neckline with fusible tricot hem tape.  Then I stay stitched over the tape.  This seemed to work well!  Roz gave me some tips on the bias and I also found a great you-tube which gave me specific instructions on how wide to cut the bias for a specific width finish!  

All in all, I’m happy with my construction but have reservations on whether my daughter will like!  We’ll see!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Red, White and Blue Knit Maxi Dress

Love it when a plan comes together as lovely as this dress did! Andrea is a professional seamstress and sewing instructor in the Houston area as well as an ambassador for Bernina USA.  Thank you Andrea for sharing this summer addition to your wardrobe! You can follow all of Andrea's sewing adventures, tips and techniques at

Was I thinking of Independence Day when I made this dress, was my mind set on the Stars and Stripes of our country? No, I was being me....just sewing because I liked the look of this fun design.
McCalls 6559

I made the placket front because of an idea I got from some current Michael Kors designs. Grommets and eyelets must be the new exposed zipper.  The star was adhered after the right side seam was sewn and before the lining was inserted.  I used a spray adhesive to secure it before I used a simple zigzag appliqué to permanently secure it in place.  There was no stretching using the walking foot.

Pattern and Construction Notes: 

Listed as a "Very" close-fitting, pullover dresses. E and F: front seam detail, bias upper/middle fronts, and lower front/back (cut on crosswise grain of fabric. All have narrow hems.

Pattern Sizing: I cut a size 14 with a 1/2" FBA and graded to a 16 at hip front and added 2 inches to the "back" hip only.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  I have liked this dress since it came out. The star is what did it for me, it is such a cute whimsical addition to the simple maxi dress. I even enjoyed having the stripes being two sided. This helped keep it from being boring.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I did not follow the instructions, and its not because I sew a lot, its just an easy sew. The neckline was changed substantially.  

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:I lengthened it above the waist by 1" and at the hem by 2"inches. I should have done more at the hem, because it does run very short.  A double placket was added to the neckline to add some pizazz!

June 2015 MWP

Tomato Bisque Brushed Cotton, Silk Charmeuse-Dark Truffle, Summer Foliage 
The long and lazy days of summer have begun but don’t let your style take a vacation!   The mini wardrobe plan (MWP) for June has cool and confident garments that will keep you looking your best. The June MWP fabrics are Tomato Bisque Brushed Cotton, Summer Foliage and Silk Charmeuse-Dark Truffle.  I’m mixing a few classic summer pieces with some trending styles to keep your look current.  All fabrics are available from Sew Much Fabric.

The Tomato Bisque Brushed Cotton is soft and comfortable with a nice drape.  It’s perfect for a chic, on-the-go look.  I’ve paired this fabric with a stylish drawstring pant (Simplicity 1467), a pair of trending culottes (Vogue 9091) and a chic crop top (Burda Style 2/2015 #127).  

I always like a touch of luxury and silk charmeuse in Dark Truffle is just that.  It’s summer so a sleeveless tank top like Simplicity 1467 will work on its own for the weekend as well as underneath a jacket for the office.  And a dress (Simplicity 6169) is always good to have for a last minute night out on the town. 

Pulling it all together is Summer Foliage a beautiful silk and cotton blend.  The fabric has slubs that run throughout adding some surface interest.  A jacket (Butterick 6169) is always good for fending off the chill of the AC.  A pair of shorts in this tropical print (McCalls 6930) is a summer must have, the skirt (Burda Style 2/2015 #109A) is great for Causal Friday and a crop top (Butterick 6183) keeps your summer look updated.  
These garments can mix and match for lots of summer activities.

Family Reunion

Date Night
Outdoor Concert

Backyard BBQ

Lunch with the Girls

Thursday, June 04, 2015

I've Started My Summer Sewing......

I've said it before and I'll say it again, having basic patterns at the ready is a must for me.  But I do like variations of a basic.  When Simplicity 1283 came out, I thought it was such a cute variation of the pencil skirt and had lots of styling possibilities.  And the color blocking is flattering to most figure types.  I actually like the other garments in the pattern and will sew them later with some changes for my age/body type. This time, I paired the skirt with McCalls 2818.  
                                      McCalls 2818

I choose the McCalls pattern because 1) its a basic pattern that I have ready to sew and 2) it could be colored blocked to mimic the skirt.  I used Kauai Cotton Stretch Sateen (sold out-this same print is available in a cotton faille brocade) for the print and Black Stretch Pique for the contrast.  White pique or White/Black Windowpane Linen would also coordinate well with the Black Stretch Pique.

Things I changed about the patterns:

  • I went up one size for the skirt because I used a stretch woven fabric (this pattern calls for knits).
  • I substituted an exposed zipper instead of an invisible zipper for the skirt and buttons for the top.
  • I added a lining to the top.

The top pattern has a boxy fit so I went down a size and added shaping to the side seams and front princess seams.  The skirt is a true pencil skirt with RTW ease and a tapered hem line which I love!!  You will need to check the finished garment measurements printed on the back of the pattern envelope before selecting your size. Bonus-this skirt pattern comes with a separate lining pattern.  You can use the lining pattern to make a basic pencil skirt without the color blocking.  

I'm so glad to be back at the sewing machine!    

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Burda Style June 2015

To purchase, go to
(Sold Out)

All Styles at a Glance

Line Drawings

This dress is versatile!  The model is wearing the dress with sneakers perfect for weekend glam but put on a pair of strappy sandals and you are on your way to dinner.
Dress #123-Signature Knit (Sold Out)

Fun twist on the classic shirt
Blouse #109-Blue Stripes (Sold Out)

This version of a moto jacket has nice seaming in the front and doesn't require ribbing.
Jacket #101-Daisy Lace Knit-Navy  

This jumpsuit is definitely channeling the 70's in a good way!
Jumpsuit #119C-Black Rayon Crepe (Sold Out)

Plus Size
Culottes are the big trend for summer 2015.  

This duster coat in lace is so elegant and sophisticated.
Duster #127-Lace-Burnished Gold

Thursday, May 07, 2015

May 2015 Mini Wardrobe Plan

Silk Charmeuse-Sunshine Twist, Black/White Pinstripe, Black/Ivory/Lemongrass Tweed, Cream Stretch Sateen

Spring is finally here to stay and it’s time to stop procrastinating and recharge your wardrobe.  I’ve put together 4 fabrics and selected 8 pieces from 6 patterns for May’s mini wardrobe plan (MWP). With all the possible combinations in this MWP your sewing time will be well spent.  And with a few smart and versatile accessories you will be ready for almost any occasion.  All fabrics are from Sew Much Fabric.

The Basics

The key to any good wardrobe plan is basics. Let’s start with a classic Black and White Pinstripe in a year around wool and cotton blend fabric.  I selected the top, pants and skirt from Butterick 6030, a wardrobe pattern.  The top is cropped, a current trend, but if that’s not for you just add a few inches-that’s the beauty of sewing. The top looks great for weekend glam when paired with the featured skirt or pants and a pair of sandals. Add a jacket and you're ready for the office. The pants are a classic shape and the skirt is flowy but not too flowy which works great for the workplace, casual wear or special occasions.

The Pop of Color

Get ready for summer’s social whirl with this sunny shade of yellow silk charmeuse.  It’s the perfect pop of color against the Black and White Pinstripe.  I've paired Vogue 1387 (view A) and the skirt from Butterick 6030 for a simple but elegant look for  dressier occasions.  Add any color accessory of your choice (turquoise, coral, silver or gold to name a few) and have yourself a ball!  Try combining the blouse with the Black/White Pinstripe skirt (or pants) and you have a great outfit for a lunch date.  

The Completer

This Black/Ivory/Lemongrass Tweed pulls it all together.  This fabric has a slight open weave so use a fusible interfacing to give the fabric that extra body for structured garments.  The jacket (Burda Style 2/2015 #119) is a Chanel-styled jacket with self made fringe.  Combine the jacket with a coordinating dress (Vogue 8972) and you have just created a very chic look!  Pipe the dress with the Cream Stretch Sateen or Black/White Pinstripe suiting fabric for added interest.  

I’m using the Cream Stretch Sateen, Burda Style 4/2015 #116 (jacket) and Simplicity 1696 (pants) as a bonus look to help round out your weekend glam attire. These easy and adaptable pieces blend right into this MWP.  Wear the jacket with the tweed dress (Vogue 8972) to a meeting or add the Black/White Pinstripe top with both cream pants and jacket for a night out at the movies.  

These “clothes encounters” are a winning combination of texture, versatility and style.  Have fun mixing and matching.  And for those that purchased the very first MWP you can add this Month’s Plan to extend your wardrobe combinations even more!