Catching up

I have a few things I made last year but never blogged.  So this will be a catch-up post and hopefully I will stay on track better this year.  Warning – this is a bit long so grab a snack and enjoy!

One task that took up my sewing time throughout last year was making glitter vests for a group of senior dancers.  The group is called “Encore Dancers” and a friend is in the group.  The group dances at assisted living locations in the area and they have a different theme every month.  Therefore they need multiple vests.  The leader of the group made “one size fits nobody” vests for everyone sometime ago.  The vest my friend showed me was not lined, pretty tired and falling apart.  So my friend asked if I would make her a new vest.  A new vest for her led to multiple vests for her and 5 of the dancers.  Now they each have their own pattern and I can make one of those vests in my sleep.  Here is a sample of the “March” green.  It reverses to silver.  They wear white button-down cotton blouses under the vests, with jeans or black pants, depending on the month.

Dancing Ladies Vest

I enjoyed doing the vests for them, and watched one of their performances.  The leader is 81 and moves like someone half her age.  The rest are mostly in their 70’s.  They are a great inspiration to stay healthy and keep moving!


My Talbots Knock-off using Vogue 1451.

When I do buy RTW, generally I shop at Talbots.  I wait for sales, can find items that fit and their clothes last.  Their pants fit me well and are comfortable (unlike almost all the pant patterns I have tried).  I saw this shirt, was not willing to pay full price nor wait for it to be on sale.  The fabric was a little thin for my taste and the fabric I had was a nice cotton.  Of course I wanted to play with embroidery on clothing.  Here is the top I wanted to knock off.

Talbots catalog

I had the blue striped seersucker in my resource center from Hancock’s (remember them?).  I was looking at my patterns and this one from Sandra Betzina was fairly new.


I decided to make the shirt, with sleeves and without the banded bottom.  On my version, I used a chambray for the contrast.  I made a few other changes as well.  My version:

V1541 full

I shortened the shirt a few inches, and shortened the front placket about 6 inches.  I thought the placement of the end of the placket was ‘odd’ on the pattern envelope.  And on me, it would end up in an awkward spot.  I also gathered the sleeves like the Talbots version.  One note:  The neckline in the pattern picture is misleading.  It looks like an open Vee, but in fact it is not.  I would like to make this again, but will make a few more changes.  I will shorten it even more, and removed some of the volume in the hips.  Also will open the neckline a bit, more like the pattern photo looks like it should be.  (That is why we sew, right?).

And for the embroidery; I spent a lot of time looking on line and through my library of designs for something similar to the inspiration picture. I didn’t necessarily want a design inside a box like the inspiration, but needed one that was a bit rectangular.  So, I made a muslin of the shirt, and on that muslin tried out the embroidery design.  It is actually two designs combined from the Amazing Designs embroidery disk called Sweetheart Scrolls.

Emb design

I did put a design on both sides of the muslin and it just seemed like too much.  So I chose to only embroider one side.  Besides, if you do both sides they have to match exactly!  More stress!

A close-up of the embroidery:

V1541 Close

Next up:  A scarf for the ASG Annual meeting challenge.  The challenge was to take 1 yd of white cotton fabric and make something.  You could do anything to the fabric that you wanted, but could not add any other fabric to it.  Trims, embellishments, dyeing, embroidery, beads, etc were all OK.  Since there is no way I can get an entire garment out of 1 yard of fabric, I decided to make a scarf.  This is the “Spiral Scarf” from the Sewing with Nancy Sensational Scarves booklet by Nancy Zieman.  I have made a few of these scarves; they are good for me because I have a short neck and scarves with a lot of fabric are not good for me.  This is basically a straight grain piece of fabric sewn into a spiral.  I often take a RTW scarf and cut it up to make a couple of scarves just to reduce the amount of fabric that would end up around my neck.

Image of the book.

Spiral Scarf 09_2018

I dyed the white fabric & cut the strip for the scarf (there is a formula in the book depending on the length you want your scarf).  My first experience with dyeing fabric.  Then used fabric paint and a flower & leaf stencil to add the painted designs.  The final touch was a few embroidered leaves using variegated thread.  I didn’t win a prize, but enjoyed the process.  The cotton fabric makes this scarf a little stiff – lighter weight and fabrics with drape are better for the spiral scarf, but it is wearable in a color that suits me.

Stenciled scarf 1

A close-up of the stencil and embroidered leaf.  The seams of the scarf that make the spiral are less noticeable in a soft print fabric.

Stenciled scarf 2

On the Home Dec front, there were a few things going on as well.  Most of my house is decorated in a pretty neutral manner.  Lots of earth tones, few bright colors.  I accessorize with color in holiday/seasonal decorating.  I feel that the powder room (guest bathroom) is a place to be a little wild with the decorating.  You don’t spend a lot of time in there generally and it gives you something to look at when you are in there.  So, in my powder room I have a black, white and red décor, with zebra wall paper on all 4 walls.  I wanted some sort of art piece on the wall that grabs your eye when you walk in.  I couldn’t find anything I liked and I don’t have the time nor patience to go 100 places to find the right thing.

Enter my sewing skills.  I made a wall-hanging in a crazy quilt pattern using fabrics in guess what?  Black, red and white, along with gold because I always need some bling!  In my embarrassingly large Craftsy class library I have Crazy Quilts with Allie Aller.  I used the simple straight edges pattern for the blocks.  After I put them together, I added some embroidery of roses in the corners.  After that I was paralyzed.  I didn’t want it to have stitching in every seam like more vintage crazy quilts.  I wanted to keep it simple.  I agonized over it for a year; then finally just decided to do a little stitching, add some bling and call it done.  (During 2017 I was trying to finish UFOs and not create new ones). I bought a plan black frame, put it together and hung it on the wall.

View from the doorway.



Close-up of 1 block.


That’s it for now.  I have a few more items, but I have to gather the photos and info so that will be another post.



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!



Vogue 1540

Still catching up on blogging items previously made.  Earlier this year I made Vogue 1540.  Another Sandra Betzina Vogue pattern.  This one was quite easy.  I did not make any changes, other than my usual size at the shoulders, then gradually moving 1 size larger at bust and hips.  I made the shorter version.

Pattern photo and line drawing:

V1540 line drawing

I used a burgundy wool double knit and a floral print acrylic sweater knit  from my resource center.  I did not add any piping as mentioned in the pattern and did not add pockets.

On me, worn with a brown t-shirt and brown ponte skinny pants (both purchased).  Picture was take in the early spring.

Vogue 1540

My critique:  When I first put this one, it felt like I was wearing a bathrobe.  That isn’t all bad because it is comfortable.  However, I wasn’t sure if it looked like I was wearing a bathrobe.  It is a new style for me and takes getting used to.

Will I make this again?  Yes.  Will I make changes?  Yes.  I plan to take about 4 inches off the length in front, tapering to 0 at the side seam.  I may not do the sleeve insert in the next one either – that will depend on fabric.  I may also make the smaller size in the whole garment to remove some of the volume.  That will also depend on fabric choice.


The Artful T-Shirt (Vogue 9057)

There is a class called “The Artful T-shirt“, which I have in my embarrassingly large class list.  The pattern that goes with this class is Vogue 9057. Normally the art to wear items are not in my wheel house, but I thought I would give it a try.  A slightly blurred photo of the pattern envelope and line drawing below.

Pattern Envelope


Fitting:  I did a pattern mash-up of Vogue 1363 (mentioned in this post) for the shoulder to bust area because I know it fits.  I placed V9057 on top of V1363 and traced the area below the bust to achieve the angled hem of View B.  My first version was a test, so it is not very “Artful”.  The print is a cotton spandex from and the sleeves and neck binding are a cotton knit from the scraps in the resource center.

V9057 Summer version front

The second version could be considered artful.  The print is a poly spandex from scraps of a previous t-shirt that was eliminated from the wardrobe due to poor fit.  The orange color is a cotton knit also from scraps.  I don’t recall what I made from that so it must have been a long time ago.  I chopped up the pattern and also did some piecing as you can see on the back to make the fabric fit the pattern pieces.  The two fabrics are slightly different weights, but still seem to work together.  The brown fabric is a sheer cotton burnout jersey use before. The yoke is two layers of fabric so I could use the burrito method to finish it – but also since it is very thin 2 layers were needed for stability.  The sleeves are 1 layer and not hemmed.  This fabric stretches when the hem is sewn, so I just left it raw this time.

Front (on me..)


And the left back:

V9057 Side back

I enjoyed the creativity of pulling together the various fabrics for this.  The jury is out on the style, and I am finding I am not crazy about leggings on me.  My knees are not thin so I don’t think leggings are my most flattering look.  I need a little more room around the thighs and knees. Will I wear this?  Yes, around the house since I work from home and want to be comfortable while working, but still look decent when I go outside to walk the dog, answer the door, etc.  This outfit will probably not see a lot of public wear.  But it is fun to try new things!

Thanks for visiting!