Archive for November, 2008


Gaucho pants and a Pattern Review!

I recently made a pair of Gaucho pants using Butterick B486, view C, and thought that in addition to posting pics of my work, I’d actually add a pattern review! I’ll note that this was my first experience sewing pants… ever (although I’ve hemmed more than a few pair of RTW, and I have made several pair of shorts). The end result turned out nicely.

b4861Pattern Description: Straight-legged, below mid-knee pants or wide-legged gaucho, below mid-calf or evening length have waistband and mock fly.

Pattern Sizing: Pattern comes in sizes 6 – 20; I made a 16 but sized up the waist a bit for my client for a better fit on her body.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? For the most part, yes. It’s a simple pattern. The only confusing thing is that for some unknown reason the direction steps for inserting the zipper (and the subsequent diagrams) are lettered rather than numbered. Since the pattern includes views A-F I had to reread this section a few times to be sure that all steps applied to me.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It was a straightforward design in a style my client wanted, and will be a good wardrobe builder for her.

momsgreygauchoslacksFabric Used:
100% polyester suiting that was lightweight with just a little bit of stretch.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
As mentioned, I sized up the waist a few inches; I also shorted the legs a bit.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I’m confident I’ll make it again.

Conclusion: A simple design and a relatively easy pattern to follow. This would be a good wardrobe builder and a good pattern for someone who hasn’t sewn pants before.



Well after a long and wonderful but exhausting process sewing Bonnie’s gold dress, and before plunging headfirst into the next BIG project with a quick deadline that I have pending, I thought it was high time I spent a few hours sewing for myself again! I have been in dire need of a new set of warm weather pajamas for a long time now (my previous set were over 5 years old, very worn, and just generally in need of replacing). And recently, I found the PERFECT super soft poly/cotton/lycra knit fabric that is sooooooooo comfortable and a gorgeous color to boot. So, it was time!

I traced out the bottoms of my old PJ’s, and a well fitting tank top, to make the pattern for these new pajamas, and they sewed up relatively quickly! I hand dyed the foldover elastic I used for the arm and neck holes, but the color didn’t come out quite as I’d hoped – the result of buying dye without a fabric swatch on hand and just guessing about what would match. I’m happy enough with the contrast though.

I also need a new sleep bra and figured it would be great to have it match the pj’s, so I’m working on that now (although it is sitting to the side as a couple of other higher priority items cut in line). I’m making the bra with no underwire, and I took in the cups a bit from my normal pattern, since this fabric has a lot more stretch than what I use for my day bras. I’m also planning to make the straps a fixed length rather than adjustable. For night wear, I care more about comfort and less about support so I’d rather not have the little plastic bits poking me in my sleep. Hopefully the result will be as cute and comfortable as I expect. In the meantime, enjoy a pic of the jammies only!


Good night!


Christmas gifts have begun!

I suppose it’s only natural that I’m sewing quite a few of our Christmas gifts this year. Most of them won’t be posted until after the recipients have received them, but in the case of my young 2 and 4 year old cousins J and C, I doubt that they follow my blog closely enough for the surprise to be ruined!

I asked my aunt Suzanne if she thought her kids would enjoy a handmade gift, and when I mentioned puppets among the possibilities she was very enthusiastic. So, I Google’d “how to make a puppet” hoping for a free pattern of some kind online, and I was ELATED to find this video tutorial. Absolutely awesome!

boygirlpuppetArmed with far more knowledge than I’d expected to find so quickly, I was super excited and went straight to the fabric store on my way home from work, and made these up in an evening. Little puppet versions of my cousins! Merry Christmas J and C!

Now to make a few more for my daughter. Otherwise I’m not sure how I’m going to pry these away to get them wrapped!


Seamstress Karen

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure to meet and befriend a fabulous seamstress who owns an alterations shop near my office. I’ve been meaning to talk about her for a while now! (But like many other blog posts in the planning stages, it was delayed by all my time spent actually sewing!)

Karen started sewing a little over seven years ago, when her son had a seizure at birth which caused damage that required a great deal of therapy in the early years of his life. She quit her day job, and started working for an established seamstress while she learned the trade, so that she could begin working from home. And, focusing solely on alterations work that she aquired from a chain of drycleaners, Karen was able to make a very reasonable living while doing the very important work of caring for her son (who is ENTIRELY healthy now!)

I was excited to hear Karen’s story because I can sympathize and relate to that burning desire to be home with her child so that she could meet all his needs. And, when she let me know what she was able to earn from home, I became all the more intrigued. Suddenly, the idea of sewing for ‘extra’ income when I become a stay-at-home-mom seemed far less like a pipe dream, and far more like a very realistic goal.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Karen had hoped for a long time to be able to help teach and mentor others, the way that she had been taught, in order to pay it forward and empower other women. So when she heard that I sew, she was ever so eager to offer to teach me “anything you want to learn.” Um, that would be everything. “Okay then, everything.”

I’ve been visiting her shop several times a week, watching her work, showing her things I’ve sewn. She is extremely impressed by the custom sewing I have shown her (and I’ll admit, I love it when people compliment my work). For all her truly impressive ability and her very successful business, Karen has never ventured into custom work and continues to strictly do alterations. And so, she has offered me a few custom jobs now that have come in from clients she would previously have turned away. Soooo wonderful!

I’m amazed at my good fortune to make such a wonderful friend and business contact! And while I continue to feel that the benefits there are a little more one sided than in most of my relationships, Karen assures me that having the opportunity to talk with another sewing enthusiast, and get input on challenging jobs that come in, is a delight.

I’m sure I’ll talk about this more in the course of blogging about what I have sewn, but I wanted to make an introduction. This is what has inspired the shift in my thinking, from sewing just because, to sewing because it will one day mean I too can be home with my kids. And really, that’s the most wonderful thing of all.


Gold dress in action!

I finished Bonnie’s gold gown just in time, the night before she wore in to a Late Night Brass performance at a charity event. Photos are up on the Late Night Brass website now!


We’ll get some posed shots of Bonnie in the dress soon.


Sneak Peek

The gold dress is nearly finished. My recent lack of blogging means I have completely failed to communicate just how much time and energy and thought and (I hope you’ll agree) talent have gone into this. I have, at this point, probably spent about a hundred hours working on this dress, over the course of nearly two months. I’ve put my other clients on hold for the past couple of weeks as I rushed to get the gown – originally intended for December, and now intended for two November gigs as well – completed in time. My fabulous husband has been a saint, picking up my slack around the house. And fall TV back at last has kept my mind occupied while my hands have stitched, and stitched, and stitched.

Here are a few details to whet your appetites for pics of the finished gown.

gold-gown-hemlineThe skirt and hemline. Look at the way this crepe backed satin drapes. Gorgeous! Bonnie and I shopped for the fabric together and once we saw this there was no going back. It’s perfect for what she’d wanted! And a flattering shade on her to boot. Incidentally, the stitching at the hemline is not so very visible in real life, but it’s sort of reflecting in the flash in this photo.

gold-invisible-zipperThe back closes with an invisible zipper, which is installed *correctly* on this dress thanks in no small part to my seamstress friend, Karen, who let me use her industrial machine which has an invisible zipper foot (and of which I’m desperately envious!) and gave me some guidance to be sure I got it in straight, even, and truly invisible. See how beautifully the zipper pull matches the fabric? That would be because I dyed it. That’s right, this dress includes a custom dyed zipper. I’m just that obsessive these days.

THIS is the source of my madness, the reason this gown has taken so many weeks with so many late nights. The beads. All the beads. Hundreds of them. Hand stitched, one by one. By one. By one. Row after row. Bead after bead after bead. It’s been my thrill and my torment all at once. As the deadline has loomed closer and closer I’ve taken the beads with me everywhere. I beaded on the sofa watching TV. I beaded at my desk at work. I beaded at the playground where I sat on a bench while my daughter played. I beaded while walking home from said playground. I confess, I actually did stitch a quick couple of beads down at a red light. The built in bra was finished a month ago. The fabric for the dress didn’t even get cut until this past Monday (that’s right, four days ago). EVERYTHING in between has been beadwork.


And, just for kicks, here’s my cutie modeling one of the bodice insets, right after I finished beading it (so, halfway through all the beadwork).

I’m down to a few short hours of hand stitching to complete the dress. I drop it off to Bonnie on my way in to work in the morning, and she wears it tomorrow night! Down to the wire indeed, but this one has been well worth the extra time.


P.S. Carrie, you’re welcome. 🙂


Tag – you’re it!

I confess I was tagged over a month ago by Glass of Fashion, but I’m only just now getting around to writing up the resulting post. My apologies for the delay! Hopefully the upcoming photos of Aunt Bonnie’s gold gown will be treat enough to compensate for the long wait. 🙂

So then, I’ve been asked to write 6 Random things about myself.

1. I once visited Colombia solely for the stamp in my passport. My friend and I were exchange students in Ecuador at the time, and she (who had never gotten around to obtaining a student visa) had to leave b/c her tourist visa had expired the second time (no third extensions allowed) a week before classes were to end. Colombia was closer than Peru, so we took a weekend trip north, got our stamps, and she was able to complete the semester legally.

2. I’m a second generation home-birther. My mom had all three of her kids at home, and when I married my husband I found that his aunt is a midwife. Match made in heaven.

3. I find it a chore to hem a simple pair of pants, but I’ll spend endless hours hand beading a gown or meticulously sewing a bra with a narrow 1/8″ seam, just as long as the FABRIC is PRETTY. Satin and silk and chiffon just make me happy. Very, very happy.

4. I can’t stand the heat (and, funny enough, that is the ONE reason that at a early age I ruled out “chef” as a possible dream job). I have literally stood outdoors in a mild little snow flurry wearing a T shirt and been perfectly comfortable. But I live in Florida, where we have roughly 2.5 days of winter each year. And about 340 days of heat so blistering you sweat just walking out to your car. *sigh*

5. I was married on the beach, at sunrise, despite the large number of people who tried to talk me out of the idea. It was absolutely breathtaking, and there were moments that I actually forgot that there were other people there besides my husband and me. I am still that crazy in love, too.

6. I spent many, many years making pies with frozen crusts. *shakes head* Then I read a painstakingly detailed recipe for pie crust in the book The Man Who Ate Everything, gave it a go, and I will never, ever, ever go back. There is no comparison. None.

Here are the rules now for this Meme:

Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag 6-10 people at the end of your post.
Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know your entry is up.

I’m tagging a couple of friends: ItsNotMurray and MyGeekyHusband as well as some fellow sew-ers who I don’t know as well but would enjoy knowing better, KissMyStitch and WhistlepeaKnits.

November 2008
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