Sewing Space Update

In my last post I mentioned that my sewing space received an update. Previously I had carpeting because when we built this house carpeting or vinyl flooring were the only choices. I opted for the basic carpeting because I knew I would ultimately change the flooring. The new flooring is a nice plank laminate and I am very happy with it. With this change, I took the opportunity to do some major revision of storage space since everything had to be removed from the room.

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A Reboot

I recently changed the URL for this blog – it is a domain now! I know most bloggers are moving to Instagram and other platforms and away from blogs, but I have wanted to make my blog a little more than it was for some time. But like everything else new, it has been a journey and my ideas were sidetracked. This blog will still be mostly about sewing, but if I can figure out some of the technical aspects of what I want to do I would like to add some tutorials, resources for reference or interesting tips and techniques.

It has been over a year since I blogged and some life changes occurred during that time. I retired from full time work last August and we took a 2 1/2 week vacation to Europe later that month. The rest of 2019 was spent on some house fix-ups that were needed and ‘learning how to be retired’. I thought I would spend all my time sewing, but somehow that didn’t happen.

When I worked, I got in the habit of sewing in the evenings when I wasn’t totally and mentally exhausted from my work day. When not working I seemed to keep busy all day doing things, then still tried to sew at night. But I wasn’t accomplishing much, because I was exhausted from being busy all day. AAAGGGHHH! I kept feeling like I needed some sort of schedule so I could build sewing in during the day.

Then came holidays and the new year. We decided to ‘remodel’ our hobby rooms. We both wanted to get rid of carpeting and put down a new flooring. And I wanted to do some serious purging and reorganizing of the sewing space. Replacing flooring meant each room needed to be completely emptied. Since we had limited space to put the stuff being removed from the rooms, we did them one at a time. Hubby went first because I knew packing up my stuff would take longer.

The process of emptying room 1, new flooring installation and putting back room 1 took about 3 weeks in January. Emptying room 2 (which is actually 2 adjoining rooms), new flooring installation and contractor work for a new cutting table, bookshelves and ironing station took about 4 weeks. So we were now at mid-February. I started putting things back in my space, happily went off to the Mid-Atlantic Quiltshow for a couple of days, came home and the Covid-19 virus was in the US! AAAGGGHHHH!

Well, now I was home all the time, so lots of time to reorganize and put stuff away. But like many others, I just couldn’t sew. I spent all my time reading about the virus, feeling sad, angry, scared, helpless, frustrated, etc – all the emotions that most people who actually believed there was a virus were working through. I had this beautiful, organized space and didn’t feel like using it. Then came the evolution of MASKS!

So I jumped on that bandwagon pretty early, even though some medical folks I know thought it was a complete waste of time and the masks would be useless. I felt I had some purpose with all that was going on. And we now know that were were all learning about the virus and efficacy of masks too (and still are learning).

I made a couple of masks for us; then friends started asking for some; then friends and kids of friends starting asking for some…so now I had a production line of mask making going. (That fat quarter quilting stash I built up really came in handy!) But the mask making really got me back in the groove to sew.

A few of the completed masks

During the mask making, hubby asked me to make him some pajama cotton knit boxer shorts. He really didn’t like the purchased ones for various reasons. He rarely asks me to make him anything, so I couldn’t say no. I pulled out an old Butterick pattern, compared it to his purchased pair for sizing, and it looked like it would work. I found some cotton knit in the resource center, added in the changes he wanted and Voila! Sample pair got a thumbs up.

I didn’t have any other pieces of cotton knit I was willing to use for this project so I ordered 3 pieces of print cotton spandex knit from Most of the print knits are more child-like. But I found a dog print, a fish print and a dragon print. He liked those just fine, so I whipped up 3 more pair for him. He was happy to get rid of the purchased boxers he had been sleeping in.

4 pairs of sleeping boxers

One trick I use is to stitch a small piece of ribbon into the back casing/waistband so that one can easily tell the back from the front in an elastic waist garment.

Ribbon stitched into the edge of the casing

In addition to some sewing, I have been spending ‘stay at home’ time watching sewing videos, cleaning out the DVR but watching some shows we recorded last season, flower gardening and reading. A few other garments have been completed so I will cover those in future posts.

Thanks for reading!

My Hot Mess Coat aka Vogue 1060.

At least that is what I have been calling it.  And as I go through the saga you may see why I chose that name.  Continuing with my Sandra Betzina patterns (Today’s Fit Vogue), I made an out of print coat pattern – V1060.

Pattern photo

I chose this pattern for a number of reasons.  My goal was to have a lightweight, longer ‘coat’ to wear over the longer jackets and vests I am wearing; that was a little dressier than the coats I have.  This pattern has a dolman sleeve.  I am working on having a variety of styles I can go to when I want to make something without starting over with fitting every time.  I was trying to figure out if I could work out a dolman sleeve to use going forward and I know Sandra drafts her dolman with a higher cut under the arm than most patterns.  And I have become familiar with how to adjust her patterns for me without a lot of changes.  (As a side note – it seems her older patterns are a little more close fitting than the newer ones.)

Fabric:  A lightweight, slight stretch wool blend and was intended to be my muslin fabric.  This has been in my resource center for a v.e.r.y long time.   The color is a sort-of dusty purple-ish tone.  Very drab.  In response I used a bright purple lining.

Lining:  A silk charmeuse I picked up at a sewing retreat.  This is meant to be an unlined coat (meaning no lining pattern pieces, nor instructions related to lining).  Why did I decide to line this?  Because when I sewed the main pieces together and tried it on, the wool stuck to my clothing (I call it the “velcro-effect”) and I knew that would never work for regular wearing.

I drafted a lining using one of the videos in Sandra’s Power Sewing list.  She and Ron Collins provide step by step information on drafting the lining.  Unfortunately their instructions are for a standard tailored jacket; including notched collar, a back facing and set-in sleeve.  First step in making this complicated – need to draft a back facing & take the shawl collar and dolman sleeve into account.  There were some challenges that cropped up later because of this and I had to adapt.

How else can I make this more difficult?  Let’s add embroidery!  I have been looking for ways to incorporate embroidery into my garments and the collar of this coat seemed like a perfect place!  Anyone who does embroidery knows how time consuming it is to choose the right design, position it, adjust it in software, stitch out samples, put it on the finished project and pray it all works out the way you envision it.  Luckily this part went very well and I am happy with the embroidery designs and placement.

To choose embroidery threads I laid a bunch of threads on the fabrics until I found some that I thought were pleasing.

Right side of the shawl collar below.  The scrunched fabric is an extra piece of the lining stuffed into the neck for the photo.


The embroidery designs came from a book called Contemporary Machine-Embroidered Fashions.  I have had this book for many years and never used any of the designs until now.

Embroidery designs

My decision process consisted of looking at literally every embroidery design I have – there are many and they are in a variety of places (on the computer, separate disks, a few books that came with disks, etc). I ruled out the  specific types – flowers, animals, insects, holiday motifs etc.  I was looking for the more abstract designs.  The designs I chose proved to work out well.  I did some combining in my software so I could stitch the facings in 1 hooping.

Other changes to the pattern design:  There are 3 waist darts for the front – I didn’t use any of them.  I need to add more circumference if I am going to use those (see previous comment about ease in the older patterns); I did use 1 of the 3 back waist darts. I used a snap closure, with a decorative, covered button instead of the ties; and made bands for the sleeves instead of facings.

For the button, I was able to use one of the motifs.


The final coat:


On me: (My outfit for lunch with DH at the swanky, beautifully decorated Jefferson Hotel).  I’ll blog the top next.

Coat full view

Close-up of the sleeve bands:


Will I make this pattern again?  Not sure.  It needs a number of changes.  The sleeves are very wide at the hem and are supposed to be shaped.  I removed several inches and they are still too wide.  I need to make a shoulder adjustment – Sandra’s fleshy shoulder adjustment.  Basically I need move the shoulder seams forward. They don’t hit me in the right place.  And the bottom needs to be tapered a bit.  It is very A-line.

And I think I am over lining things….I invested much more time in this than I ever expected.  But once I got going I felt like I needed to finish it; one issue led to another.  But I vowed it would not become a UFO.  It is wearable.  I love the neckline and collar.  That is my favorite type of collar and flattering on me.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures from The Jefferson.

Hotel Lobby decorations:

The lobby


Central Tree

Standing under the tree:

Tree ornaments

The gingerbread airplane:

Gingerbread airplane

Close-up of Santa in the gingerbread airplane:

Gingerbread santa

And finally, the ingredient list for the gingerbread airplane:

Recipe for gingerbread airplane

Happy Holidays to All!