Weekender in a Weekend

I made a bag! I feel like I’m playing tic-tac-toe on my 2018 Make 9 grid.

I thought a bag would be a real challenge. Working with hardware and whatnot seemed exotic. Sewing this bag turned out to be refreshingly straightforward, hardware and all. My only hiccup was that I didn’t understand what was meant by “heavy machine needle.” Two broken needles and a serendipitous trip to the sewing machine store later, I stood looking at the myriad of sewing machine needles trying to find the ballpoints I was shopping for when I spotted the jeans needles and thought, “I wonder if that’s my problem?” It was. Everything was easy peasy after that and I learned a little something about needle gauge and using the right tool for the job.


Kit: Weekender Duffle Bundle from Purl Soho

I bought this kit a while back. I like a good kit. Everything you need all in one place! Except not so much in this case – hardware is sold separately. I missed that salient bullet point in the product description. I admit I’m not a close reader. I also admit that I can be spendthrift when it comes to my hobbies. However, the additional cost of the hardware pushed this project to a price point I would have balked at if I’d realized. Oh well.


At least I got a nice duffle bag out of the deal. I didn’t order the hardware until much later when I ordered more Brooklyn Tweed Loft to work on (I wish I could say finish) Leaves of Grass.

IMG_9285.JPGA picture of the inside to prove I really can work with bias tape as long as it’s not quarter-inch.


Attaching those D-rings was where I broke my needles. Your regular needle can’t sew through 10 layers of canvas. Go figure!


Expense aside, this was a satisfying make. It’s even already seen some use. It holds things just fine! Success.

Arbitrary Deadlines

I, happily, am married to a man who wears the things I make him. Sweaters, hats, socks, and shirts are dutifully used until they’re unusable, no matter whether they’re scratchy, striped, neon, too big or small. Also happily, he has penchant for button-downs. I bought Leisl + Co’s all Day Shirt pattern pretty much as soon as the promotional email dropped in my inbox with the idea that it would be a Christmas present and proceeded to mess it up in every possible way. This shirt and I took a break from one another while I distracted myself with gift sewing, knitting, and embroidering. I knew when I used found time to make Farrow instead of working on this shirt that I had officially given up on the idea of having it done in time for Christmas.

Releasing myself from that obligation was why, I think, I finally turned my attention back to this shirt when I found myself awake at 5:00 in the morning the Saturday before Christmas. With the looming deadline removed I could take my time, not feel rushed, give myself the space to make more mistakes without feeling undone by them. I had made so many mistakes already on steps that I had experience with that I was sure a new-to-me cuff construction could only result in more. Don’t think I hadn’t floated the idea of to Hubs that he might want another a short-sleeved button-down. I had and he didn’t.

Amazingly the cuffs went on without a hitch. I felt so good about this shirt’s prospects that I wrapped it up and put it under the tree without buttons or buttonholes which I was sure I would finish up in the coming days.

It was *cough cough* another month before I finally got to it.


Pattern: All Day Shirt by Liesl + Co.
Size: Medium
Fabric: Robert Kaufman, Carolina Gingham 1″, Mint

I had borrowed my mom’s back-up Bernina while my Nova (which used to be her Nova!) was in the shop. Mom’s machine has a programmable buttonhole function that I wanted to check out, but it wasn’t until I picked my Nova up and thought I ought to get her machine back to her that I worked up the gumption to actually do it. What a revelation. Folks, you’ve been holding out on me. I had no idea buttonholes could be such a no-brainer. It was the easiest thing. As much as I love, love, love my Nova I told Mom I’ll be heading to her house to make buttonholes in the future.

My beloved, why do you make buttonholes so difficult?

I’d always wondered why in all the tips and tricks offered by sewists on their blogs buttonholes didn’t come up. Now I think I know. Y’all aren’t making manual buttonholes, are you???


It fits well across the shoulders but is narrow through the hips. I’m unsure whether this is a fit issue or a style issue as this shirt is meant to be worn tucked. Either way I might grade up a size at the hem next time for some wiggle room.

I really like the pockets. Admire those perfectly matching buttonholes. They’re all the same size! Through no effort on my part!

I’ll absolutely make it again. See, I’ve already forgotten all my frustrations while making this. That’s the power of a good pattern!


Shouty, not Dowdy

When we last spoke about York I had decided I should grade between sizes to get those shoulder seams up onto my shoulders. I was surprised to pull out the pattern and discover that there was only a negligible difference in the shoulder measurement between sizes. I took a half inch off the shoulder using a narrow shoulder adjustment and this is what I got:

A quick photo shoot in the gathering light
Pattern: York, by Seamwork
Size: 6
Adjustments: Small bust, narrow shoulder, forward shoulder
Fabric: Gertie Collection Cotton Sateen from Jo-Ann

I’ll take it!

I used to consider myself a dexterous person, but quarter-inch bias tape has upended that assessment of phalangeal adroitness. I was glad to kiss quarter-inch bias tape good-bye when I finished those bottle aprons and dismayed to read that York called for quarter-inch bias tape to finish the neckline. Maybe I misunderstand what is meant by quarter-inch bias tape, I thought. Nope. It just seems my fingers turn into sausages when working with it. After washing this top this happened:



I am afraid that the tie has frayed

I cut the ties off and sewed in a hook and eye. You might also note that I turned the bias tape entirely to the inside of the garment and used it as single fold instead of double fold because I just can’t with that stuff.

The hat is Beau Cloche that I made, golly, 3 years ago already. I love hot pink, but any pink makes me feel dowdy, even when it’s so bright it’s practically glowing. I combat this feeling with a more-is-more strategy. Making a dowdy pink hat? Put a gigantic dowdy bow on it! Making a dowdy pink shirt? Pair it with a dowdy pink hat with a gigantic dowdy pink bow! Post title is a quote from Hubs. It’s meant as reassurance. I think.

My best dowdy expression and posture.


How a Shawl Became a Blanket

Who needs gauge? Not this girl. That’s the short story about how this shawl became a blanket. Or would be if I had enough yarn to finish it.


The long story involves the purchase of 5 skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Loft while on vacation, the realization those 5 skeins would never make it, the procurement of 2 additional skeins that surely would, and the one last skein that is still needed when they didn’t. I ran out with 18 edge chart repeats to go. It wasn’t even close.

If you’re going to play it fast and loose you gotta suffer the repercussions.

I was probably never going to wear this in public, anyways, she said petulantly. If I ever finish the dang thing.

Toiling on Toiles

In pursuit to finally sew and thus own! and wear! clothes that fit I put a party dress on my 2018 Make Nine checkerboard. The prospect of of having a dress that fit my natural waist has always been a sewing inspiration (rtw hits me at the rib), but I had so little need for a party dress and so much love for the rarely-used one that I own that a fitted dress was pretty low on my list.

Let’s address the elephant in the room while we’re at it: I wasn’t ready, yet, to deal with the alterations. I knew I could. I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to start. After making two muslins with plans for a third it turns out I may not have been ready to reckon with my physical form, either.

An invitation to a party! moved the dress idea from somewhere in the back of my mind to somewhere in the peripheral front. Plus that aforementioned party dress is, no joke, 12 years old and my fellow party attendees have seen me in it a million times or at least as often as we’ve celebrated in party dress. Sadly, we may not actually make it to the party, but dammit I was going to have a new dress to wear on the chance we do.

I picked Belladone. Based on my bust measurement I traced a size 42, added an inch to the bodice length, and did a forward shoulder adjustment.

Those barely visible pins at the bodice and waist are where I pinned this muslin to fit my body

It was too big. Everywhere. What the heck? Why did using my measurement produce a garment that wasn’t my size?

I knew some things. I knew:

  1. You should select a size based on your high bust measurement.
  2. Cup size matters.
  3. Patterns are drafted to a specific cup size.
  4. That cup size varies between designers and lines.
  5. My cup size does not vary.

But I didn’t know some things. Specifically, how in the world you would select your size based on a high bust measurement when I’ve never seen one given in a pattern.

And then a series of what felt like epiphanies, but were actually things that I had read and finally internalized:

  1. You can find out the cup size a designer drafts to!
  2. Once you know that you can back into a pattern’s high bust measurement!
  3. Now you know what size to start with!
  4. If you’re me (I am!) you might need to do a small bust adjustment (I do!).

I tried again. A size 40 + 1.25″ length – .5″ small bust adjustment.  And:

Heavenly hats descend upon me. Unintentional and hilarious.

Exciting! So much better. I was so hopeful it would be that easy and it was so much better that it took a few try-ons to accept that it wasn’t good enough. The neckline is hovering somewhere north or my shoulders and those bust darts are in the wrong places.

I made some more changes. Another .25 to the waist. A gaping neckline adjustment. Moved the darts. This is my untested newly Frankensteined bodice pattern piece:


I worry that by making changes to changes I’m over-complicating things. Is there a single step that could have accomplished both the SBA and dart movement? Does it means something that I have to do both? Am I misdiagnosing my fit problems? Will my final result in any way resemble the original pattern? Did the sleeves of my muslin tear because I installed a too-short zipper and struggled to get this over my head the 4 separate times I tried this mulin on or are they too small and I can’t tell? Can I learn to love my “mature female” pear-shaped body? Will taking pictures of myself in profile inspire me to  improve my abhorrent posture? In the future will we all wear paper dresses?

Time and trial will tell.

Ending at the Beginning

One of my goals this year was to get a handle on fit. Up until now I’d steered clear of patterns that needed fitting or else steamed ahead hoping for the best. If I made a garment that didn’t fit well enough I chalked it up to the learning curve. Hone your sewing skills, first, I told myself. Maybe the fitting skills will follow. Turns out they won’t. Not without intent.

I’ve avoided fit because I don’t understand it. I wonder if I even know what a good fit means. I read about alterations and wonder which apply to me. Body measurements should be fact, right? But I find I have a fundamental misunderstanding of what my body looks like and I have created a lot of fiction about my body. The numbers seem to lie and change. The distinct dimensions of my body become indistinct amorphous ideas in my mind.

My logical mind insists fit should be as easy as measuring and matching. My emotional mind subverts this strategy. Fitting a garment is not only adjusting a pattern, but finally trying to understand what the actual proportions of my body are and not what they should be or what I want them to be.

I quit hemming and hawing and wondering where I should start by deciding to just finally START already. I dove in with York, a simple garment that would require a good fit to showcase a fabulous fabric. I cut a size 6 with a half-inch forward shoulder that I naively hoped would be the answer to all my fit problems like it was for that one lady I heard on that podcast that one time. In defense of hubris, sometimes the idea that something will be simple or easy is the only way we convince ourselves to undertake the thing that turns out to be neither.

Baggy, baggy, baggy. Imagine a copious quantity of fabric across my chest because I don’t have a photo to show you. After pinning, musing, donning, contemplating, and sleep, ideas that had been rattling around in my head finally coalesced and I made a small bust adjustment (why do full bust adjustments get all the attention?!). I was so confident that THIS was the ANSWER (even as I was quite unsure that I was doing it right) that instead of pin-fitting I went ahead and sewed the entire top together sleeves and all This was the result:

Hey! No copious bagging across my chest. But what was that weird pulling behind my arms?


Oh dear. Here I am pointing to where the shoulder seams fell. You might notice they are NOT ON MY SHOULDERS. The armscye wasn’t sitting on my shoulder and that weird pulling was the shirt back stretching when I moved my arms forward. Also note the bagging across my bicep because the sleeve isn’t where it’s supposed to be.


In the end I made my mistake in the beginning when was choosing my size. I need to grade between sizes like whoa. Which in retrospect is fairly obvious, but it gets back to my confusion and wishful thinking about how my proportions relate to one another and how to transfer those proportions to pattern schematics. It’s no surprise I would experience a false start or three or more when I’m so unsure of where the starting line is in the first place.

I tore out the sleeves and side seams and will try again, pin-fitting this time before sewing.

2018 Make Nine

2018 Make Nine is everywhere, and why not? My aspirations this year are all about pants and fit. I intend to finally tackle the persistent problem of figuring out what adjustments I need to make to a pattern so that it fits the particular topography of my particular body. And Goodness, I need me some pants. Pants, pants, pants. I don’t have any that I feel good in. Not a single pair fits. Naturally.

In no particular order:


  1. Juniper Pants – I need pants and these seem like a good place to start.
  2. Weekender Duffle – for weekends away at the in-law’s lake house.
  3. Belladone Dress – a fit challenge.
  4. Ginger Jeans – I have everything I need. Just waiting on gumption
  5. Boxers – Hubs needs ’em.
  6. Some sort of denim skirt – this one is Beignet from Rue des Renards.
  7. York – a perfect blank canvas for fabulous fabric.
  8. Moneta Dress – a sewing-with-knits disaster from last year I intend to conquer.
  9. Lander Pants – love at first sight.

And hopefully many others!

Intended Matcha

I predictably followed up my unintended sleeveless Matcha with the sleeved version I had in mind in the first place. While I was reporting on that first version I wondered if I misremembered the print on this cotton lawn. Did it really have cacti and owls? Is that a thing that even happens in nature? It does and they do! ADORABLE.


Pattern: Matcha Top by Sew Liberated
Size: 6, sleeved version
Fabric: Cotton + Steel Sienna Cotton Lawn Desert Bloom Ink
Purchased: Sarah’s Fabrics, my favorite

It came together quite well except for the part where I snipped my fabric while trimming threads. Uuuuugggggghhhhhh. I tried some different mending ideas but in the end zig zagged over the small hole. I didn’t figure it wouldn’t be noticeable – how could it not be noticeable? It’s a friggen’ hole – so the best I was hoping for was that I would get over myself and not care about it. It turns out, though, that my fix isn’t as obvious in reality as it is in my mind. Here it is:


It also turns out that the folds of the shirt hide the fix quite well (in this photo I’m pulling the fabric away from the sleeve) while the fabric pattern distracts and you don’t notice it at all. Happy dance!

Blousy blouse is voluminous! I love it.

Unintended Sleeveless Matcha

Like approximately 1,000 other sewers, Made by Rae inspired me to take another look at the Matcha Top. The shape of the long-sleeved version suddenly put in mind a much-loved and over-worn blouse from yesteryear. The blouse that I wore so often that once before meeting my friend for after-work beers I said I would be wearing “the same blouse as last week, my favorite blouse” and she knew exactly which top I was talking about. The only blouse anybody ever stopped me on the street in NYC to ask where I got it (years before at an outlet store). The blouse I reluctantly tossed into the trash only after it developed more than 1 hole. I considered keeping it one day recreate, but I talked myself out of it because I was never going to to start sewing, after all.

I had just the right fabric on hand, a cactus-print lawn that I picked up a few weeks before Christmas that would be just perfect in the long-sleeved version. And then I proceeded to tape the pattern together without realizing that the front and back pieces were different between the sleeved and sleeveless versions and thus two completely different sets of pages to be taped together. Oh, well. I decided to turn lemons into lemonade, or in this case pears into… pear juice? by using this stash fabric that had been waiting too long for the right pattern to “pear” it with (ha ha and no, I’m not done with the pear jokes) and was on the brink of becoming that fabric end you just never end up using either because you don’t remember what you liked about it in the first place or it’s become too precious to cut into.


Pattern: Matcha Top by Sew Liberated
Size: 6
Fabric: Robert Kaufman London Calling in yellow pears

I sewed the front to the top notch, but it was way too high for me. I don’t know what I did there – it was a squeeze to get the finished shirt over my pin-sized head and unflattering besides. I had flat felled the front seams, but I managed to pick the stitching down at least an inch and a half, far enough that I had enough thread when I was done unpicking to make a square knot and bury the thread ends.

I’m hoping some of that volume in the side view will settle down with washing and wear. I LOVE the collar and the gathers from the front. I think they suit me very well.

I got a tripod and remote for my camera for Christmas and get to have fun posing like a store mannequin. Upon reflection, the fact that this is how I think mannequins are posed reflects how little time I spend in stores. Or that in my mind we’re already living in a dystopian wasteland dotted by distressingly posed mannequins.

Hubs, when I was hand sewing the collar because 1) I’m rubbish at stitching in the ditch; and 2) I can hand sew while netflixing, asked if these were pineapples. I can’t tell you why I was so offended by his fruit mis-identification, but it has become a running joke between us.

Other pear jokes and observations considered for this post:
– A pear-print shirt for a pear-shape body.
– Pears may be in season, but this top definitely isn’t.
– A-pear-antly I’m super into yellow these days.
– It was a-bosc time I got around to using this fabric!
– This make was a result of pattern-instruction-reading im-pear-ment.
– Some reference to the fruits of my labor
– Pear fabric is ripe with joke potential
– Here is wishing you a fruitful new year!

‘Twas the Friday Before Christmas


‘Twas the Friday before Christmas, when all through the crib
Not a creature was stirring, not even a kid;
Hubs’ unfinished shirt was thrown aside without care,
In hopes that I might sew buttons on its placket bare;

The children were couched all snug in their screens,
Transfixed by seasonal television beams;
And Hubs in his bike gear, and I in my jams,
Had just settled in to attend to the evening’s bedlam,


IMG_8573When suddenly an impulse, a whim.
And I raced up the stairs limb over limb.
Away to the sewing nook I few like a crazy,
Seizing a few moments of family members’ lazy.

The moon glinted off the gently falling snow,
The first almost-white almost-Christmas my children would know
When what to my wondering eyes should transpire
But a brand new dress, my true sewing desire.


IMG_8571With an easy fit, so loose and so breezy
I knew, upon reflection, it must be un-sleevy.
More rapid than eagles my sewing shears cut
As I divorced myself from my Christmas sewing rut

Now, Bernina! now, linen! now pattern instructions!
On, shears! on bobbin! on steam iron and notions!
To the sewing table! to the ironing board!
To the eave of the attic where these things are stored!


IMG_8558Using a borrowed machine, I was nervous,
A temporary replacement for my Nova that requires some service.
I rationalized to sew Hubs’ shirt would be dumb
Until this machine and I were acquainted some

And then, seam by seam, a dress took shape,
The last of my Christmas sewing could just wait.
A bit of trouble, the inseam pockets perplexed me
Until I properly matched the pattern pieces that had vexed me.



It was flow-y and loose from nape to knee
It was a shade of yellow that pleasing to me
The pockets, once confounding, now delighted
As to the washing machine I then alighted

Horror – o horrors! The interfacing came off!
All the facings! they all separated in the wash!
Back to the machine I trudged in dismay
To repair this dress in time to wear Christmas day.

Quick and satisfying this dress was a respite
From other projects Father Christmas demanded, the despot
My mother exclaimed, I was feeling so nifty,
When I opened the door: “We wore those in the 60’s!


Pattern: Farrow Dress, Grainline Studios
View A
Size: 8
Fabric: Linen from Jo-Ann