Rose Lace tee


Some time ago, I spied the Daisy Lace tee at J. Crew.

Daisy lace three-quarter sleeve tee jcrew

I liked the idea of it so much that I went to the store and tried it on and realized that I am not the type of person to shop at J. Crew as the thought of paying $68 for a tee shirt (even one with high quality cotton lace) is cruhaaazy.  Plus the fit was terrible.  $68 for a bad fit?  No thank you.

I couldn’t find a cotton lace with a daisy motif, but I was able to get my hands on a nice rose lace.  I overlayed it on top of my TNT t-shirt (cut in a white bamboo knit I bought in Chicago that I only realized that I overpaid for–the cutter told me she would only pay $5/yd instead of the $15/yd it was marked…I probably could have bargained with her, but I didn’t realize it in the moment because I’m dense like that) with my Ottobre scoop neck variant.  I marked the motifs I wanted to zigzag around with a Crayola fine tip marker because they’re 100% washable.  So washable, I just barely rinsed out the marks in my sink!

I allowed a little extra 1/4″ in the side seams since the lace has no stretch.  I basted it into place and stitched it down with a narrow zigzag, trimming the excess away.  I also lined this top with a nice lightweight mesh netting as the white was just a hair transparent (aren’t all white knits sheer?) and prone to wrinkling.


This was on the more expensive end of tops that I’ve made because my materials were more pricey than what I usually use, but I still came in far under the inspiration price and my shirt is made better than the J. Crew one was too.  I’m loving this as a spring basic.  The lace is ultra girly and the white goes with everything!  Yay for classy t-shirts!

A dress for the opera


In the middle of our Spring Break in which all of us were in various stages of hacking colds, my husband and I were able to get away for a night to go to LA and see Lucia di Lamermoor at the opera.  Despite having to cough periodically and generally feeling badly, it was a special treat to be away from the kids and have some time to just enjoy each other’s company.  There was a pre-opera lecture that conductor James Conlon gave which happily launched me to Music History Nerdyland.  We did discover that Bel Canto is not for my husband–the music is not interesting at all to him, so he endures opera only if there is sufficient plot to make it okay.  Wagner–yes…Donizetti, not so much.

I was able to go to Michael Levine and found some really nice nylon tricot and mesh fabric for lining knits.  I got a few random notions and some jewelry at the FIDM Scholarship Store.  The next day I had a wonderful time at Mood and found some really pretty fabrics that I’m really excited about.  For now they are in the stash and I will figure out what to do with them later.

Even though I felt awful during the night of the opera, it was nice to have something nice to wear in the way of Burdastyle 9-2010-122.

Modell Photo

I’ve went back and forth on this dress.  I loved the seams, but I couldn’t get over the flaps, and I wasn’t sure that I’d be okay with where the seams in the bust area landed.  To make sure, I made a muslin so I could adjust things.

I ended up having to shorten the waist section and lengthen the section over the bust.  This way, the waist seam landed at my waist, not below it and the over bust section landed at a more flattering spot on me.

The whole dress was far too long–about 3″ had to go to get it to my knees.

I had bought this blush ponte in Chicago, thinking that I would make pants.  The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that ponte pants aren’t my style (unless I’m pregnant in which case, bring on the stretchy pants).  I’m glad I remembered this dress.  Armed with the knowledge of other reviewers having successfully ditched the sleeve flappy things, I forged ahead.

I underlined the front 2 sections and the back yoke with powernet in lieu of the facings.  All I can say is, no wonder powernet gets used for bras.  It is lovely lovely stuff.  Stable, and strong, it adds structure without any bulk.  This was a much nicer way to finish the neckline and armscye than facings.


I had enough leftover fabric to make a pair of long gloves which I did via My Starbrink’s pattern on Burdastyle.  Turns out that gloves are remarkably simple to make if a little fiddly as you’re sewing on the gussets.

It was pretty gratifying to make a more formal sort of dress in a couple of hours.  Some day I’ll learn to tango more often with woven fabrics, but knits are how I live now, and I’m okay with that.


My full review is here.

Ivory Jacquard knit long tunic


Another one of the patterns that caught my eye from the last issue of Ottobre I bought was 5-2012-3.  I love how simple it is.  It makes dressing in the morning easy as you can throw it on under anything, add a pair of tights or leggings, maybe a necklace and you’re good to go.


I compared it against my TNT T-shirt and had to adjust the inner shoulder edge for strap coverage.  I like the look of boatnecks, but they rarely cover my straps.  I actually marked on my TNT where my strap hits so I can easily adjust without guesswork.jacquardknitcloseup

I picked up this ivory jacquard knit when the Sew Expo was here in February.  To break up the whiteness of it all, I added some rib knit cuffs and opted out of the elastic bottom on the pattern in favor of more rib knit trim.  I lined it with leftover tricot from another project.  It adds opacity and makes it really comfortable to wear.

It’s funny, but after learning to work with knits, I’m finding more and more that I prefer to line them when it’s needed rather than wearing something under them.  Slips and camisoles are always shifting around, but linings are cut for the garment, so they move as one together.  I didn’t realize how irritating unlined garments could be until I started lining my knits.


tunic under rose sparkle cardigan

I did my best here to be my vintage pattern doppelganger.  60s Elizabeth is all about non-neutral bottoms too.


I finished my opera ensemble!    The gloves and the dress turned out really really well. It’s all forthcoming.

My full review is here.

Fast faux fur collar


It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go to an actual opera.  Not that it’s been a frequent thing in my life anyhow, especially since the Met started broadcasting their Live in HD series at the movie theater.  Still, there’s something really special about being able to go to what might be one of the few venues where you can dress up truly nicely without suspicion.

me, tamara, swarovski1

The last time I was able to go to an opera in such fashion I was in New York for a weekend with my opera going friend.  My sewing skills were not then what they are now, so I was wearing the dress I wore for my senior violin recital in college–a pale blue and silver crocheted sort of flapper dress.  I still love that dress, but it’s too big for me now and it’s time for an update.

So I’m currently working on an ensemble involving a blush colored ponte dress and matching gloves that I think will fit the bill quite well for opera wear.  I had a little bit of faux fur on hand that I thought I could make into a little fancy bolero to go with everything, but I didn’t have quite enough for that project, so I set about making what I originally intended for the fur–a collar.

I used the collar piece from my motorcycle jacket and a pinky peach poly satin I used from another project.  I trimmed the seam allowance on the fur and pinned the two fabrics together at the match points and sewed away, leaving a little hole to turn everything out.  I slipstitched the opening and called it good.  The fur was a little tricky to deal with on the bottom side of the collar where I was stitching against the nap.

I had intended to use a hook and eye as a closure as in Tilly’s excellent pattern and tutorial, but my particular collar came off a pattern that doesn’t meet at CF.  I needed something that could sit a little more open.  As it so happened, I had a cream satin ribbon of just the right length just hanging around in my very modest notions stash.  If I had thought things out more thoroughly, I could have sewed it inside of the collar and turned it out when I turned out the collar.  As I did not, a little hand sewing took care of the situation.


The resulting collar is warmer than a scarf and passes the violin playing test because it’s not terribly bulk.  I think I will end up wearing this quite frequently as I think it will go on top of pretty much any dress or sweater I can think of save my cowl necks which are admittedly warm enough on their own.


So score for a fast, simple project with big impact.  The dress for this ensemble is completed, and I’ll be working on the gloves today provided I don’t get the horrid stomach virus that’s making the rounds at my house…

Gold Sparkle Rose cardigan


Sometimes I get into the thick of a pattern and realize it’s just not going to work for me.  Such was the case with Ottobre 5-2012-4 that I hinted at on this post.  I love the idea of this pattern–a big cardigan to toss over a dress with a belt.  But as I started tracing it,

  1. Ottobre was unusually unclear in how the thing was supposed to come together.  There were some side seams that you were supposed to sew but from the pieces you were supposed to be tracing, it was not obvious that there even were side seams.  Strange… but really
  2. I realized that this Ottobre pattern was going to be a drop shoulder affair.  Being small of frame, having shoulder seams that drop off my actual shoulder is an enormous pet peeve I have about RTW.  It just looks like I’m wearing the wrong size.

So, as I’ve done before, I took what I liked about the Otto pattern and made it work for me.  I went back to this cardigan and shortened it so that it would hit me about mid-thigh.  What I loved about this pattern is how the shawl collar ends in these pretty darts for added shaping.  It’s subtle, but it makes for some pretty feminine lines that are so often gone in cardigans.

I remembered that I needed to do a narrow shoulder from my 1st version.  It helped, but the neck line is still cut @34, and I’m really a 32.  I can mitigate the tiny bit of extra width by folding down the collar.  As it’s generally a non-shaped garment, I’m okay with it not being perfect here, and it’s still much better than a dropped shoulder cardigan.

Even with the shortening, I was tight on fabric for the sleeves, so I had to piece them (and what I had was definitely not on grain).


It ended up being a decorative element as I added some contrasting stitching with one of the never-used decorative stitches on my machine.  It’s #29–what is this called?

Whatever it is, I used it for the hems too as I liked how it looked with the sweater knit.  It was a good choice for this particular sweater knit as well because it’s one of those rare knits that does fray.  This stitch helped keep the loops from fraying by delicately kind of weaving them back together.

My only wish is that this were a slightly warmer cardigan, but it’s a minor complaint.  If I find sweater knits in my colors, I’ve learned to get them because I won’t find them in RTW at all.  Sometimes this means that they’re not the warmest, but it’s a great layering piece.


I updated my review here.

Upholstery question


I have this chair in my living room that I love.  It’s from the 50s, but it’s covered in red vinyl.  Red vinyl + my rather aqua/teal decor sticks out like a sore ugly ugly (but stylish) thumb.  I’ve always meant to get it recovered and I finally found fabric for it.  Having done a modest amount of re-upholstery, I know that this chair is not beyond my abilities as a sewer–there’s only 4 seams plus piping.


But….and it’s kind of a big but, the fabric I’m looking at is roughly 30 oz/yd.  I’m thinking there’s no chance my home machine is making it through such heavy fabric.  So I figure I have 3 options:

1.  Talk to my repair guy.  Next month I will inherit an old Singer.  I have no idea how heavy duty it is, but I’m guessing it’s stronger than my home sewing Janome which is admittedly a champion, but probably not a sports car.  My repair guy could give me an honest opinion on either machine’s ability to handle such a fabric.

2.  Find someplace where I can rent time on an industrial machine.  I have no idea how to operate one, but I’m sure there’s a class that I could take and just show up with a simple 4 seam project right?

3.  Pay an upholsterer to do the whole thing for me.  I’m not crazy about this because it’s less fun, and super not cheap.  My $35 chair becomes…not a $35 chair.

So my question is–without knowing anything else except that 30 oz/yd fabric is kind of a beast, am I right in thinking I’d need an industrial to sew it?  Would it be worth learning how to use one for the sake of a project that’s going to take me max 2 hours (cutting and the actual upholstery will be more time consuming) to sew?


Orchid Embroidered Inseam jeans


It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and not a lot of output around here towards any end. I did finally get around to finishing my orchid jeans.  It was fun to experiment with some hand embroidery.


My design is more or less triangular running from the knee of the inseam down around to the front and down around towards the back.  I was going for an abstract aster design.  As I started drawing out a design, it quickly became obvious that a random pattern just looked a little off, so using my sewing room window as a light box, I repeated my pattern.  It’s not a perfect repeat, but the spacing and the designs are close to that. I was going to use white thread, but as I looked at the embroidery thread in the store, the contrast just seemed too much, so I went for tone-on-tone. The pattern is Burdastyle 7-2010-104.  The pattern is the same as model 103, but the grain for the waistband is different between the two patterns.  I couldn’t figure out why you would want a straight vs. cross grain cut waistband.  I understand that one stretches more than the other, but the patterns are identical and they call for the same type of fabric.  What were you thinking Burda?  I was reminded of a thread a while back on Jalie 2908 and the bias cut waistband on that pattern.  My friend Linda proposed that perhaps you could cut one straight grain and one cross grain waistband just like you would in a bra.  I tell you what, with the grain going in opposite directions, that waistband is going NOWHERE.  This is by far the most stable waistband I’ve ever made–stable without adding the interfacing which I find abhorrent in waistbands.  And, the contoured pieces add even more shaping.  Win! Also, I really like the 2 part back.


The back seam doesn’t hit me where I need the extra shaping (or lack of perhaps), but the overall fit is better than any other pants I’ve attempted thus far.  I should note that the wrinkles are from the fabric itself–a stretch cotton twill.  I swear, you breathe on it and it wrinkles.  Fresh out of the laundry, these fit amazingly, but walking about all day does have a toll on these things…


My only beef with the fit is that these are more high-waisted than I’m comfortable with.  I thought about lowering the rise, and I’m kicking myself for not bothering to mess around with the pockets.  I HATE extra fabric at my navel.  These are great walking around pants, but that extra fabric makes it uncomfortable for me to sit down in despite the fit being really good. It’s definitely fun having a pair of skinny jeans around to keep my legs warm.  I can stuff my bootcut jeans into my boots, but they do me no good inside the house on the many recent subzero days we’ve had here recently.  I look forward to spring and being able to wear these with flats.  Oh that I could find more pretty colored denim like this.

My full review is here.