Author Archives: emadethis

Strawberry Vanilla curtains for the sewing room


On a recent thrifting expedition, I came across some pinky coral denim.  The weight of it was not quite right for making jeans, but the color was fantastic and there was almost 4 yards of it…perfect for curtains for my sewing room.

But 4 yards is not quite enough for curtains.  I’m very particular that curtains should run all the way to the floor regardless of the size of the window.  Less than that I think looks skimpy. Visually, it also really heightens your space to run them all the way to the floor.

Since I did not have quite enough fabric, I ordered some cream denim from  I also had a 3/4 yard piece of white bull denim that I intended for another project and ended up not using.

I made two panels, joining the fabrics horizontally with flat fell seams and double rows of topstitching.  I figured if I’m making denim curtains, I’m making DENIM curtains.


I realized after one panel that the coral fabric is two-faced and using the wrong side would allow me to create an ombre effect and soften the contrast transition between the cream and the coral fabrics.  Sadly, it would mean that I’d lose another 1.25″ in length that I was already tight on, but I came up with two good solutions.

One panel was slightly wider than the other, so after cutting away the excess, I had enough plus my scraps of the white and cream fabrics to add another strip above the white fabric that would house my grommets.  Instead of adding a hem, I opted for a hem facing which allowed me to use a minimal amount of the length of the finished curtains.

After cutting away fabric at the top for grommets with my favorite Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter, my husband finished the curtains with grommets.  The grommets from Grommet Mart are really much nicer than the ones you can get at fabric stores, and if you have a lot of curtains to make as I have, they end up being a much better price.  I used this setter.

After 3 years of being in our house, it’s nice to make a step towards making the sewing room a more finished, decorated space.



Green cardigan from an old sweater


I’m sure I start every refashion post saying that I don’t refashion much.  The hunt for good candidates can be taxing.  If I go with the mindset that I’m treasure hunting, than pouring over racks of old clothes looking for good natural fibers in good condition feels worth it.  Especially when new quality, natural fiber sweaters are crazy expensive.

On one such trip recently, I was about to pay for my items when I spied a gigantor old 100% cotton sweater.  It was just my shade of green and was in excellent condition, so I picked it up.  $3 for a sweater knit in my color–yay!.


I cut open everything and used my TNT T-shirt to cut my pieces, preserving only the hems.  It is funny but you end up with a great deal less leftover fabric than you would think despite the fact that the original sweater was easily 5 sizes too big.

I cut up CF, making sure to add an extra 3/8″ to accommodate a placket.  I had a feeling that this knit was going to grow on me, so I cut two pieces of a quilting cotton to use as a facing so that my buttonholes could go in without drama.  This proved a smart move as the cotton added just the stability that I needed to make good buttonholes.  As it turned out, after I had finished everything, the whole garment grew a couple of sizes after wearing it (glad also that I stabilized the shoulder with elastic!) and had to take it in at the sides further.  Waffled knits ALWAYS grow!


I used the same cotton to make bias strips to finish the neckline.  I like the contrast on the inside that this provides despite generally disapproving of finishing knits with bias tape.

I was thinking about embellishing the cardigan, but after I sewed the buttons on, I decided that the buttons were really enough for me.  This is a pretty heavily textured knit, so anything I’d do would have to be equally textured, and I’m not sure how to do something that wouldn’t take away from the buttons.  I might come up with a solution down the road, but not this moment.


It’s nice having a cap sleeve cardigan.  This can be an awkward time of the year in Colorado temperature wise, and this adds just the right amount of warmth without being too heavy a sweater.  It will certainly be a wardrobe staple this spring.  Now if only I could find an old cashmere sweater…

Voting for the Bargainista Contest starts today and runs through the 9th.  Vote for me!


Tutorial: adding a venise lace applique to a sleeve


There is no end really to the variety of venise lace available.  For this tutorial, I used 2 feather appliques from Mary Not Martha.  On a sleeve, you’ll want an applique that roughly fits in your forearm area length and width wise without getting into the seam allowances.

To make your own venise lace sleeve, you will need:

  1. 2 unsewn t-shirt sleeves
  2. 2 venise lace appliques that fit between your wrist and elbow
  3. mesh knit scraps for backing, cut slightly larger than the appliques (optional, but adds stability, durability and warmth) such as power knit
  4. thread, small embroidery scissors, contrast thread for basting, pins, and a hand needle

How to do it yourself:

  1. Decide where on your sleeve you would like the applique to be placed.  Make sure the lace is placed away from seam and hem allowances.  I marked a center line vertically up the sleeve to help me position the lace and so that I could easily transfer my placement to the opposite sleeve. Pin in place.  Wrap the sleeve around your wrist to see if you like your placement.  Adjust if necessary.lacepinned
  2. Using contrast thread and your needle, hand baste the lace into place.  If you are a hand-sewing hater, I will tell you that pins under the machine on such a large applique are going to be more trouble than 2 minutes spent basting by hand.  The hand basting will allow you to keep the lace completely from shifting under the machine and you won’t get poked.  It will also help you in the next step.lacebastedrightsidelacebastednotcutout
  3. Using your embroidery scissors, carefully cut out the sleeve fabric within the boundaries of your basting.  Lay the mesh knit over the wrong side of the sleeve and baste into place (my camera lost this picture…), making sure that it covers all of your basting stitches from the lace piece.lacecuffbeforestitchingandcutout
  4. Using a narrow zigzag, stitch down the lace on the right side around the outside perimeter of the applique.
  5. Remove your basting stitches from the applique and the lace.
  6. Carefully, with your scissors, cut out any excess fashion fabric that might still be peeking out from under the lace.
  7. Continue to stitch the lace down on top of the mesh with the narrow zigzag until you feel it is secure.
  8. Cut away the excess mesh knit from the wrong side of the sleeve, leaving a 1/4″ border from your stitching.lacecuffpowerknitbackedandstitched
  9. You’re done!  Sew the sleeve as normal.lacecufffinished

This finished tee has been entered into Patternreview’s Bargainista Contest.  Vote for me!!!


Free People Lace Cuff Thermal copy tee


This tee has been a long time coming.  Some time ago, Free People came out with this line of thermal tees with lace appliqued on the sleeve.  Being a lace lover, this made be positively dotty.  I really like the soft romantic feel + the slight edgy look.  It took me quite a long time to find just the right kind of lace.

It was difficult to find the right appliques because it was hard to find just the right shape that wasn’t too big or too small to fit in the sleeve area.  I also wanted a certain amount of negative space so I could cut out behind the applique for contrast.  A great number of Venise lace appliques are collars, so it’s a bit tricky to find something that will work for sleeves.  Mary Not Martha on Etsy has a crazy selection of appliques and among her offerings, I settled on a pair of feather appliques which were close to the size of my forearm and a good width.

The applique is backed with power knit.  I think I will write a separate tutorial for how I did this in my next post so that this post doesn’t run too long.


The pattern is Ottobre 5-2012-11.  This pattern was uncharacteristically unhelpful in explaining how to do the front gathers.  It wasn’t marked at all on the pattern, and the directions are more vague than Ottobre usually is.  I wonder if this isn’t because the other two t-shirts in the issue are both scoop necks and the gathers on this tee skew it into more of a v-neck shape.  The directions for binding the v-neck are very clear and helpful.


At the last moment, I decided that this needed to be lined because my bamboo knit was a hair too sheer.  I effectively bagged the mesh lining, sewing it around the armholes from the inside for a clean finish.  From there, I basted the necklines of the fashion fabric and the lining together and bound them as one in the neck binding.  I left the lining hanging free at the hem and didn’t hem it because I’m on the fence about the length.  The tee is very long.  I shortened it a couple of inches, and it’s still very very long on me.  Another reminder that I am not Finnish in height.  I’m going to see how I wear this tee within my wardrobe for a while before I decide if I want to shorten it or not.

I’m really pleased with how this turned out.  I don’t think there was one minute of making this that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly.  Would that all projects were this fun.

I’m entering this into the Bargainista Contest on PR.


My full review is here and please vote for me!

Suede sleeve panel sweater


Ack!  I’m so behind on posting projects.  I’ve sunk into a hole of jacket frustration and am trying to navigate having 2 kids up at naptime.  I will attempt to right this.

I made this a few weeks ago.  I don’t know if anyone watches Elementary, but seriously, it’s worth a watch alone for Lucy Liu’s wardrobe.  Their stylist has her wearing some great clothes–always with interesting construction details.  Jonny Lee Miller is also styled very very well, but he’s a man, so I don’t care a ton.  Many times I’ve sat down to watch it thinking that I should have a sketch pad handy, but then I discovered this blog which so helpfully lists the details of the clothes worn each episode.

The inspiration in question today is a printed wool t-shirt from Zara with a faux leather panel on the sleeve.  So so easy to do.

I’ve had this ringspun cotton sweater knit in my stash since last year and hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do with it until I saw this t-shirt.  I didn’t want to end up with yet another ivory sweater.


This knit is quite textured and very soft!

As luck would have it, I found 2 pieces of faux suede in the form of upholstery samples at the FIDM Scholarship Store in L.A.  They were only $0.50/each.

Back at home, I measured how far up my arm I wanted the panels to come and cut 2 pieces that sat mostly on the front side of my sleeve.  In retrospect, I should have allowed more ease for myself in the sleeve to account for the lack of stretch.  The sleeve is fitted, but my wrists have always been thin, so it works, but next time I’ll add 1/4″ extra in the side seams of the sleeve.  My applique roughly looks like this not in the unsewn form:


Consulting More Fabric Saavy, Sandra Betzina recommends a 75/11 stretch needle for suede–great, I was using that anyway for my knit.  I stitched on the applique to a lighter weight ivory knit that I had so that the bulk of the garment would be centered in the body and not all over.  I used the same light knit to bind the neckline.

The pattern is my TNT t-shirt + scoop neck variant I picked up from an Ottobre pattern.

In a flurry of writing, I’ve drafted no less than 5 posts this morning which I’ll be sharing in the next couple of days to get myself caught up with blogging.


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.