Just “Another” Pinch

JAP Front

I completed another Just A Pinch vest. This one made from a lightweight cotton/linen blend fabric purchased at Hancock’s (Boo Hoo to the loss of Hancocks – we are all still in mourning).

No changes to this from the previous vest.  I had added a bust dart, along with center back seam for my round back adjustment.

JAP 1Indoor picture because it has been too hot and humid here to be posing outside.  I also made the t-shirt underneath.  I used V1363 again, and did an experiment.  I removed the bust and back shoulder darts.  Because the knit is so lightweight, I thought darts would be too noticeable.  I am happy with the result.


This fabric for this vest is a very neutral beige color and needed something to amp it up.  The t-shirt fabric is a rayon spandex I picked up at Joann on sale.  It is very soft and I like the print and soft colors.  The knit was easy to sew too – it doesn’t curl on the cut edges.
JAP stitchingClose-up of the top-stitching I did.  This is on the collar; I used a rayon embroidery thread and the built-in Sashiko stitch on my sewing machine.  It is very subtle, but since topstitching was needed, might as well let it stand out a little more than matching thread would.


Side view:

JAP side

Next post will be for another Cutting Line Designs pattern…stay tuned.


Travel Tips & Highlights

We recently took a wonderful vacation to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – then a cruise and land tour in Alaska. As I was talking to a friend about the preparation for this trip, she suggested I do a blog post with some of our personal travel tips.  As you may or may not know, I have spent many years of my career in project management.  Therefore, I think in a linear manner and everything I do follows a process.  Very annoying for some people around me, but as they say, it is what it is!  In this post I have included information and some photos from the trip.  Many, many photos were taken so I am only picking a few highlights.  We had beautiful weather on the whole trip.  We could not have ordered better!

Vancouver 1

The view out our hotel window, overlooking Burrard Inlet, in Vancouver, BC –  Day 1

This trip was going to be a longer vacation that we normally take (over two weeks) and we needed to plan for a variety of climates.  I was concerned about over-packing when I started researching and planning for every weather eventuality.  Normally for a beach vacation,  trip to Vegas, or other shorter trips, not as much planning is needed.

Everything I read about Alaska said “layers, layers, layers”.  And all the pictures showed people wearing rain or cold weather gear, even in the summer.  Now, I have been on an Alaskan cruise once before, and it was 14 years ago in late April.  I remembered some cold and rainy/icy weather, but mostly remembered it was warmer than I expected. And portions of Alaska are very green and lush along the coast, similar to rain forest.  However, I didn’t want to assume anything and kept watching the weather forecasts diligently.  What I saw in the forecasts was expectations of cool weather and rain.

Vancouver Public Library

The beautiful Vancouver Public Library

Here are some general things we do when traveling by air

Tip #1 – Take the flight earliest in the day possible from your home airport – less likely you will have a cancelled or delayed flight.

Tip #2 – Since you would need to get up and go to the airport at “dark-thirty” in the morning to take this flight, do a Park & Fly package at a hotel near the airport if your commute to the airport is more than about 20 minutes.

The Park & Fly has multiple advantages:

  • You have to be packed and ready to go the evening before.  That means no need to stay up all night – either continuing to add things to the suitcases because you “might” need them or worrying about whether you will oversleep because you have to be up so early to get to the airport.
  • You’ll be taking a hotel shuttle to the airport, so no need to leave extra time for parking your car and taking the lot shuttle (as it picks up a bunch more people, while you are nervously looking at your watch).
  • For this pre-flight hotel night, you pack a little overnight bag with your PJs, a change of undies, toothbrush (bare necessities for overnight); the morning of your flight you throw the little overnight bag in the car before you take the shuttle to airport from the hotel, and you didn’t have to open your nicely packed suitcase(s) at all.
  • You can be less stressed and get a good night’s sleep.
  • The hotel shuttle takes you to the airport 5 minutes away and drops you at the door you need.
  • It is economical.  In our city, parking at the airport would cost almost what the Park & Fly cost, and the no-stress feeling you have is worth the rest of the cost.

Vancouver sunset

The Vancouver sunset (actually the sun barely set – just went behind the mountains.  We were there right before summer solstice, so lots of daylight on the trip.  That is something to get used to).

We decided to visit Vancouver for a few days before the cruise departure day.  Since we are on the East Coast, might as well see as much as we can if we are traveling that far away.

The tip here is this:  When taking a cruise, plan to arrive in the departure city at least 1 day before the ship leaves.  Things can happen to delay plane trips, particularly when traveling across country.  Weather, crew issues and on and on.  It doesn’t take much to cause a chain reaction for flight cancellations and delays.  This plan gives you at least 24 hours to get to the city.  If you miss the cruise departure, you are meeting the boat at the next step, and likely at your own cost.  (We don’t normally book air travel with the cruise line, so if you don’t get there on time, it is your problem to get to the ship…).

And if everything goes smoothly, you get a day to see a city you may never see again; or decide it is fabulous and you want to go back for a longer visit.

Cool architecture

Vancouver is a city of green spaces coexisting with high rise buildings.  And they have some very cool architecture.

On to the “packing” tips for a trip like this.  I actually started thinking about and planning the packing 3 months in advance.  I love to read about wardrobing concepts, such as SWAP (Sewing with a Plan), 6PAC sewing, Capsule wardrobes, to name a few.  I don’t really sew this way, but when packing for a trip the concepts work.  The general concept of all the plans are to create a small core set of garments, accessories (jewelry, bags and shoes) that work together.  The old Mix and Match idea.

Ship pool deck

Ship pool deck

My basic summer neutrals for bottoms are navy and khaki.  I also have tops and cardigans in those colors, and I add in some teal, salmon and yellow for color. Keeping in mind the layering advice (and I am generally cold anyway), I pulled together navy and khaki pants, summer weight jeans, navy and khaki crop pants, cardigans in each color and a variety of tops I thought would layer well.  No, I did not take all of this with me!  I have a good spring jacket which is also water resistant, so that went into the staging pile.  Of course, going on a cruise required a few ‘dress-up’ pieces.  I took two Ponte knit dresses, and made them dressy with sparkly cardigans and statement jewelry.  (Formal isn’t really that formal anymore it seems on cruise ships).  Then shoes were planned.  I am one of those people who could (and has) take several pairs of shoes on a vacation of this length (I did not do that).

ATK on board

America’s Test Kitchen demonstrations on board ship (we recently became aficionados, so really enjoyed them)

It was time to sit down and really plan (remember I am a project manager, and everything is a project).  I downloaded the Weekly Wardrobe Planner from Imogene Lamport’s inside out style blog.  I filled it out with every day and where we would be on each day.  I then indicated when I needed casual, dressy, etc.  I roughly made notes about what clothes I might need for each day.  It was a big help.


Arriving in Ketchikan

The result? My needs fell into a few categories – travel days; sightseeing/outdoor days and ship days.  The cruise line had advised (in the fine print of the documents – you really need to read that stuff), that we would need a “journey bag” for the Land Journey Days.  What this meant was that you needed a smaller suitcase for very casual clothes and minimal needs for 3 days.  Cruise wear could be packed in a separate suitcase and the cruise line would store it after the cruise until you went to the airport for your final trip home.  Aha!  Lightbulb – the clothes & stuff we need for Vancouver (3 days) could be in the journey bag – and the 3 days post-cruise would also fit in there.  That realization helped me cull what we would take!

Misty Fjords

The (not so misty) Misty Fjords – it was a beautiful day so no fog. 


Misty Fjords – Seals sunning themselves, then oozing into the water 

So, in the end I took two pairs of jeans, two pair of pants (non-jeans), 2 pairs crop pants, 4 cardigans, about 8 knit tops, 3 pairs of shoes (2 walking and 1 ‘dinner’ shoe), work-out clothes, 2 pr knit (casual time on the ship) pants & t-shirts; along with the 2 dress outfits I mentioned earlier.  I packed 3 pairs of shorts for DH, along with jeans and assorted golf shirts, workout clothes and dinner clothes (dress pants & shirt + sportcoat).  Of course undies, jammies and necessary toiletries.  For us, this was pretty light packing.

Tram Juneau

Looking down over Juneau while taking a tram up the mountain.

What did I pack that we never wore?  Rain coats, gloves, warm hats, ear muffs.  Several of the men came up to DH and said they were jealous that he had packed shorts – apparently many did not.  He graciously gave me credit for packing shorts for him.  He was very happy.  So in the end – everyone was right.  Layers, layers, layers.  You may not wear most of them, but would sure want them if you needed them!


Beautiful Bald Eagle – being cared for at a refuge on Mt. Roberts – she had been shot in the eye and rescued.  She has no depth perception, so cannot go back into the wild.

My last tip about this trip particularly – if you go, do the Land portion first, then the cruise.  The cruise is relaxing and the land portion can be hectic with traveling from place to place.  Also, add an extra day or two (take a 12 or 13-day Cruise/Land trip).  The cruise is still 7 days, but a couple of more days within the interior of Alaska would have been even better.

Hope you find at least 1 helpful tip in this post.  I’ll finish with a few more pictures.

I was amazed at the flowers that grew wild in the rock of the mountains, particularly in Denali.  They get some quite severe winter temperatures.

Wild flowers 2 Denali

Wild flowers Denali

DH is a train nut – both model and real trains.  So we rode two of them.  The narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Railroad from Skagway into Canada.  We learned all about the Gold Rush and the hardships the Rushers faced before the railroad went in.  This ride took the same path as the Gold Rushers…many men and horses died on that trip.

White Pass

We also rode the McKinley Explorer from Denali to Anchorage.  The scenery was beautiful on this day-long ride.  We saw rushing rivers; waterfalls created by snow melting on the mountains, moose bathing and running away from the train.

McKinley Explorer

We had a day in Anchorage before coming home, so we visited the Anchorage Museum.  It is a very interesting and unique museum.  A few photos of some of the fiber exhibits.

One exhibit was called Needle & Myth.  The picture below explains the exhibit.

Needle & Myth

View of 1 side of the exhibit.  The linens were hung back to back so there were two sides.


And one of the individual linens, answering the “She is…” or “She was…” question

Needlework item

And…last picture is of an interesting quilt.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the description. I loved the unique ways they hung textiles and other items in the exhibits.


I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my trip.  Go to Vancouver and Alaska if you can…it is well worth seeing all of it.

A sewing project will be next, I promise!


Vogue 1033 + StyleArc mashup

In my previous sewing post I gave you a sneak preview of my next project.  This was a test embroidery pattern I was planning to add to a blouse.  Mostly I was testing the colors and deciding on the correct stabilizer.  As you can see, this fabric/design combination needed a heavier stabilizer to support the embroidery so the shirting would not pucker around the design.


My shirt:

SA Marley


Inspiration:  I was seeing a lot of striped shirts in RTW with embroidery.  I added some Pins to my Tailored shirts Pinterest page.

Here is one of them:

Striped shirt embroidery

My fabric is a lightweight, yellow and white striped, cotton shirting with a little bit of stretch. Fabric came from FabricMart Fabrics a few years ago. One thing I noticed was that the embroidery designs on the shirts I was seeing were quite dense.   Given that the fabric has some spandex, I needed to use a lighter weight design and the correct weight of stabilizer.  I looked at all my hundreds of floral embroidery patterns and there was nothing that was calling to me.  So I got online, went to Hatched in Africa and downloaded this grouping.

I was looking for a more contemporary type of floral pattern and really liked all the designs in this package.

I initially planned to use the StyleArc Marley woven shirt.  I was looking for a loose-fitting shirt that would be cool for summer.  I could wear it alone or over a tank top as a shirt jacket.  I made a test garment of this pattern and did not like the fit at all.  Shoulders too wide, sleeve too large, dart too low.


I did like the way the sleeve hem and the hem on the bottom of the StyleArc (SA) shirt were done. I also loved the collar.  It is not a typical shirt collar with a stand; it is more like a camp shirt collar that is open, which would be cooler for summer.  But, it has a shaped piece at the back of the collar that helps the collar stand up. I really liked this feature, as it makes the collar a better fit for my short neck.  So, I could either 1) spend lots of time drafting a new pattern with these features, or 2) do a mash-up with a pattern that would require less effort.  I chose the second option.

Enter Vogue 1033.  Another Today’s Fit pattern by Sandra Betzina.  I haven’t made this before, but knowing the Sandra’s pattern fit works for me, I decided to use this as a base for a shirt and add the Style Arc features that I mentioned above.


I added a little length to the bottom so I could create the slits and wide hem.  I used the sleeve without the cuff and cut it the same length as the SA pattern sleeve.  There is a deep hem on the sleeve too, so I can leave it longer, or turn it up as a cuff creating a 3/4 length sleeve.

The SA collar fit on the neckline of the Vogue pattern, so no alteration needed.

The collar inside and out along with the pattern pieces.

Outside of collar


Inside collar

Collar pattern pieces

A better picture of the front embroidery:

Front embroidery

I added a small embroidery to the back of the blouse.

Back of blouse

The back of the blouse is a little big, but comfy for the summer.

Next:  Travel tips from my vacation!



My Fur-babies

Hi Everyone.

A detour from sewing so if you aren’t interested in dogs, please come back for the next post where we will resume sewing discussions.

I am writing a post about my fur-babies.  We don’t have children, so for the last 20 years we’ve had a dog as our ‘kid’.  All have been rescues; and with rescues, you never know exactly what you are getting but we have been blessed with wonderful dogs.  As you will see from the stories, we have also been given challenges because someone knows we will provide what is needed.  But as you read through this, know there is a joy at the end.

Our fur-baby history:

The first was a puppy (Ginger – named by the twin girls who lived next door at the time) who we were told was a Labrador Retriever mix and turned out to have quite a lot of Doberman in her.  She was very athletic (which should have been our first clue but we were first time dog owners).  I took classes to train me on how to train her.  She was a wonderful dog, but alas we lost her at 5 1/2 to a genetic liver disease.

Ginger pic 2

Shortly after losing Ginger, we adopted another female (Sheba).  She was very much a Lab; 2 years old, raised as a hunting dog and turned into a kill shelter with 1 week old puppies.  A local non-kill shelter rescued her and the puppies.  After the puppies were adopted, they put Sheba up for adoption.  We had her for about 5 years, and sadly she succumbed to kidney disease.  We learned that often hunting dogs are not given enough water in their young lives as they are being trained and end up with kidney issues.  Hindsight is always 20/20 so looking back we felt that she was probably never really healthy when we got her, but we cared for her until her body just gave up.  Giving a 75 lb dog 2 bags of fluids a day to keep her hydrated is not an easy task, but they really helped her feel better for a while.


We were beginning a  process of moving  after losing Sheba, (which required a temporary move until the new house was ready) so we waited until we were settled to get another dog.  Along came Rusty, an 80 lb chocolate lab.  He was six years old and we adopted him from a local Lab Rescue organization.  OMG – what a wonderful, loving dog who adapted to our home in an instant.  I became a convert to male dogs and he and my hubby were instantly bonded.  His history was quite sad and I am amazed at how dogs just bounce back like they had no past. He had been “stolen” from a bad situation.  We were told he had been kept tied up outside for a very long time.  Finally someone just took him from that situation and turned him over to Lab Rescue.  He had skin issues, and a few other problems (thankfully no heartworm disease) so he was fostered for several months to clear all that up.  He was ready for adoption when we were ready to adopt, so it was a match.

After we had him for about two years, he was sneezing and sneezing.  Took him to the vet and they thought he had allergies so we gave him Benadryl.  After that didn’t seem to help, we went back and the Vet did some tests.  He had a growth in his snout.  The biopsy showed 2 forms of cancer – a sarcoma and melanoma.  Melanoma was caused by being left in the sun.  If only I could have words with the people who kept him in those conditions! Surgery was done to remove as much of the cancer as possible, but without removing his entire nose.  Well, with chemo meds and my Vet’s propensity for Chinese herbs, we were able to keep any remaining cells at bay for about 8 months.  Then the bladder issues started and we had to take him off the chemo.  The tumor came roaring back and by then the melanoma had spread.  It is so hard to know when to let go and in hindsight we probably waited too long.  We lost him almost a year after the cancer surgery.  That was the most difficult loss we had of the 3 for a variety of reasons.

Rusty xmas 2013 2

At this point my hubby said “no more dogs, I don’t want to go through this pain again”.  I understood that, but also feel that getting another dog helps the healing.  Plus they are a great exercise program!  We continued to talk about our babies and different situations, their different personalities and that got us through.

After about 9 months I started broaching the subject of another dog.  He was apprehensive, but open.  I slowly started looking around, talked to a few people, filled out a new application with the Lab rescue organization.  I was looking on their website periodically and suddenly there was Healey looking back at me.  The sweetest face; he was a ‘smaller’ lab – 60 lbs.  He was also blind.  Hmmm – what would be involved in having a blind dog, I wondered.

I did some research and thought “we can handle this”.  He wasn’t born blind, but has progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).  This is genetic in Labs, but can be prevented by responsible breeding.  The dogs can be tested for the gene, and as long as both parents don’t have the gene, the puppies should be ok.  He was advertised as being “between 4 and 5 years old”.  Apparently had been dumped when he went blind and was picked up by animal control in a rural near-by county.  To his credit, the animal control officer contacted Lab Rescue and Healey was being fostered.  We discussed the situation and decided to ‘meet’ him.


Well, long story short, we brought him home and he has been with us now for 18 months.  I work from home so that meant he wouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time.  He is the sweetest boy and had adapted beautifully to our home.  In many ways he is easier than a sighted dog – we always know where he is (he is where we are); he never runs away from home; he rarely barks.  He is definitely a ‘mamma’s boy’, likely because I am with him more.  But when hubby comes home from work, I don’t exist (unless I am in the kitchen).  The vet says he is confident – I say he is a love bug.  Everyone says he is a very lucky dog to live with us;  I say we are very lucky that he lives with us.  He is healthy and happy, and we are hoping for a very long life for him.

I hope you enjoyed this detour.  I have a number of items coming up in the next post, so stay tuned!


Vogue 1504 – Done with wool for now

My latest garment is another Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina pattern.  I have been enjoying making and wearing vests lately.  The pattern envelope:


I made the longer version from a basketweave, lightweight wool suiting.  This fabric was purchased from FabricMart Fabrics in July 2017.  I lined the vest with a beige Bemberg rayon, my go-to lining fabric.  It is lightweight and breathes.

I made my usual changes to the pattern – rounded back adjustment, smaller size in shoulders and moving out 1 size in bust and hips.  This does seem to run a little big.  I made a muslin, which fit fine.  But somehow the wool may have stretched from handling and the vest is ‘roomy’.  But that is ok – I can wear a sweater under it if I want to.

I wanted a piping around the collar and front edge, so I stole one of my husband’s neck ties.  He rarely wears a tie and has a lot of them left over from when he wore a tie to work every day.  I took the tie apart, cut it into 2″ strips and made piping.  Why use a tie for piping?  Because it is already cut on the bias, is made of silk and is colorful.  Very little of the piping shows, so it is a subtle accent.  And when you have taken the tie apart, you have tie interfacing (also cut on the bias) to use for easing sleeves into jackets.  The filling for the piping is rattail cord, which is what I usually use.  Here is a left-over piece of the tie fabric.

Tie fabric for piping

A close-up of the piping on the vest:

Piping close-up

And the completed vest:

Vest Front

There are pockets in the front; the bottom front is a separate piece from the upper front, so the pockets are incorporated into the seam.

The back is quite interesting – although I am not sure how I will like wearing it.  Unfortunately I just finished the vest and it was 90 degrees today.  So not sure it will get much wear until the fall.  The temperature may cool down next week, though and I will test-drive the vest.

The back:

Vest back

Hmm – I did press this – looks like it needs a bit more pressing.

Sandra Betzina’s website is powersewing.com.  She has over 250 videos available to watch and there is one that walks through how to make this vest.  It wasn’t hard, and the instructions are very good because they are written by Sandra.  But watching the video helps give perspective on how the pieces go together, particularly if you are a more visual person.

Moving on to spring/summer sewing…I am working on a yellow and white striped shirt.  I am doing a franken-pattern of two shirt patterns.  I have been searching the web for shirts with stripes and embroidery and have stored them on this page.

Sneak preview of what is coming up: