Monday, 31 December 2012

The Year in Review.

Twenty twelve was quite a year and I have to tell you it is difficult to decide which was my favourite make. It is a toss up between the Donna Karan jacket, Vogue 1263, and the Lynn Mizono dress, Vogue 1312.    

January 2012

I started off the year with my first epic fail, The Red Mess Dress! Thankfully, it was not a sign of things to come: 

It was a whirl-wind month with lots of projects accomplished, 1 1/2 dresses (I didn't finish the red mess dress), 2 skirts, and a shirt. 

One of the skirts was a re-fashion project where I re-fashioned an no longer-fitting pair of pants into one of my most wore skirts this year.  

February 2012:  

Just one project this month, Vogue 1263.  

Year to date count:  1 1/2 dresses, 1 skirt, 1 shirt, 1 jacket and 1 re-fashion project.  

March 2012:  

This month I discovered the best fitting shirt pattern in my stash. I can't believe I only made one and hardly wore this shirt this year.  

Year-to-date count:  1 1/2 dresses, 2 skirts, 2 shirts, 1 jacket and 2 re-fashion projects.  

April 2012:

This month I was busy working on an entry for the Vintage pattern contest over at Pattern Review.  

Year-to-date count:  2 1/2 dresses, 3 skirts, 2 shirts, 1 jacket and 2 re-fashion projects.    

May 2012:

I made a pair of curtains for Mama R, and achieved another epic fail project, the wavy neck-line t-shirt.  Highlight of the month came when I discovered my new favourite skirt pattern, Vogue 1247.  

Year-to-date count:  4 1/2 dresses, 4 skirts, 2 shirts, 1 t-shirt, 1 jacket, 2 re-fashion projects and one household item.

June 2012:  

Year-to-date count:  5 1/2 dresses, 6 skirts, 3 shirts, 1 t-shirt, 1 jacket, 2 re-fashion projects and one household item.

July 2012:  

Year-to-date count:  9 1/2 dresses, 7 skirts, 3 shirts, 1 t-shirt, 1 jacket, 2 re-fashion projects and 2 household items.

August 2012:  

Year-to-date count:  11 1/2 dresses, 7 skirts, 3 shirts, 1 t-shirt, 1 jacket, 1 pair of pants, 2 re-fashion projects and 2 household items.

September 2012:  

Year-to-date count:  12 1/2 dresses, 8 skirts, 3 shirts, 1 t-shirt, 1 jacket, 1 pair of pants, 2 re-fashion projects and 2 household items.

October 2012:  

Year-to-date count:  13 1/2 dresses, 8 skirts, 3 shirts, 1 t-shirt, 1 jacket, 1 pair of pants, 2 re-fashion projects and 3 household items.

November 2012:  

Year-to-date count:  13 1/2 dresses, 9 skirts, 4 shirts, 1 t-shirt, 1 jacket, 1 pair of pants, 2 re-fashion projects and 3 household items.

December 2012:  

This month I ventured out of my comfort zone and made some men's wear items, a men's shirt and vest.  

Year-to-date count:  14 1/2 dresses, 9 skirts, 5 shirts, 1 vest, 1 t-shirt, 2 jacket, 1 pair of pants, 2 re-fashion projects and 3 household items.

Sew, what is ahead in the new year?  

I wouldn't mind a challenge and learning how to make a tailored jacket. I have Vogue 8333 in mind for this learning process. The plan: to follow the couture techniques and make a muslin. This will surely challenge my skills.  

Oh and with January just around the corner, I have some animal prints ready for Jungle January. How about you?   

Happy Sewing and Happy New Year!  

Sunday, 30 December 2012

December in Review

Pretty in Pink Dress

Fabric:  1.80 metres total. Quilting cotton, light weight 100% cotton, $10.08  
Interfacing:  .60 metre, $3.27
Pattern:  Simplicity , (reused), $0.00
Thread:  $4.37
Buttons:  $4.03
Elastic:  $0.23
Basting Tape:  $0.63
Total Cost:  $22.61
Time Investment:  6 hours
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, ruler, fabric shears, pins, iron, ironing board, sewing machine needles, blind hem foot, walking foot and tailor's chalk.  

Blue Collared Shirt

Fabric:   100% Cotton plus interfacing, can't tell you, it is a gift
Pattern:  McCall's 2447, can't tell you, it is a gift
Thread:  can't tell you, it is a gift
Buttons:  can't tell you, it is a gift
Total Cost:  can't tell you, it is a gift
Time Investment:  5 hours
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, ruler, fabric shears, pins, iron, ironing board, needles, seam ripper, sewing machine needles and tailor's chalk. 

Men's Vest

Fabric:  1 metre of 100% British Wool, $47.04
Lining:  .80 metre of 100% Polyester (on sale), $8.96
Muslin:  .80 of 100% cotton (on sale), $5.60
Interfacing:  Fusible interfacing, $3.38
Pattern:  Simplicity 4762 (on sale, 50% off), $8.32
Thread:  $2.93
Buttons:  Donated from Mama R's stash, $0.00
Total Cost:  $76.23
Time Investment:  9 hours (includes hand stitching and basting)
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, ruler, fabric sheers, pins, iron, needle, seam ripper, iron, ironing board, sewing machine needes and tailor's chalk.  

Silk Jacket

Fabric:  1.6 metres of 100% Silk Dupoini (on sale, 70% off), $22.58
Interfacing:  1 metre, $6.76
Pattern:  $11.00
Thread:  $4.37
Buttons:  recycled, $0.00
Total Cost:  $44.71
Time Investment:  9 hours 
Tools Needed:  Pins, tailor's chalk, sewing machine, serger, seam ripper, measuring tape, ruler, fabric shears, iron, ironing board, sewing machine needles.  


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pattern Give Away Winner

I know, I'm late and already onto my second coffee. It was a busy day! Cute baby to hold and cherish the moment, housework and well just life. Glorious life got in the way!

I'm here now and ready to announce the Pattern Give-away Winner!

Drum roll please...

Number 5!

Congratulations Crochet Novice! Crochet Novice's favourite sewing project was thumb pincushions. I'm intrigued, and googled thumb pincushions. I never heard of thumb pincushions before reading that comment. I think thumb pincushions are too cute, you'll have to check them out if you were like me.    

Crochet Novice, if you would like to email me at grrracar (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know where you would like me to mail the pattern, I will send your Vogue 8684 on its way.

Happy Sewing!

I'm off to enjoy the rest of the weekend.  I have some scheduled post to come before the year's end. If I don't make it back to post before then, Happy New Year!

Friday, 28 December 2012

These hips...

"these hips are big hips
they need space to 
move around in
they don't fit into little 
pretty places."  
~Poem excerpt by Lucille Clifton 

The McCall's  9246 jacket was coming together nicely, until I stitched the buttonholes and had the finishing touches to do. That is when I did a final fitting and remembered that my hips don't fit nicely into "pretty places".  

I didn't want to touch the darts that I worked so hard on and besides, that wouldn't yield enough room. Sew, I went to work on letting out the side seams. 

I know, when will I learn and make a muslin? Maybe that can be one of my New Year's resolutions?

Well, I got away with it this time. After that quick fix, it fits and I love it even though I didn't finish it in time for the holidays. I'll post pictures of me wearing it later sometime.

For now, I bid you adieu and Happy Sewing!  

In Sewing News Today...

Just a reminder that there is a Holiday Pattern Give-Away going on, Vogue 8684 is up for grabs.

It is a pattern that is rated "Highly Recommended" by several peeps over at

Just follow the first link above and leave a comment before I wake up tomorrow morning and finish my morning coffee.

In other sewing news, I'm back working on my silk jacket, McCall's 9264.

I have to admit that I was a bit perplexed with the collar installation. I'm going to chalk it up to holiday fatigue and allergy induced sinus headache.

The pattern has an under collar that is cut on the bias and the collar that is cut on the grain. The under collar and collar are not stitched together before being sewn onto the neckline. Instead the collar is stitched to the facing pieces. And the under collar to the neckline. The facing and collar are stitched to the under collar and jacket. Throw in a lot of clipping of curves and grading of seams.

It worked out perfectly! The McCall's pattern instructions are wonderful as long as you're not reading them while dealing with a sinus headache. Now I'm on a roll, my second cup of coffee and about to install the sleeves.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Roses are Red...

Oh my goodness, if you want to practice sewing darts McCall's 9264 is the jacket pattern for you!

There are a total of ten darts. Yes, I typed 10! And that was not a typo.

The bodice front in the picture does not show the darts that well. Sorry for the poor quality of the photograph, the solid red is not photographing well.

But trust me, there are six jacket front darts and four jacket back darts. Thank goodness there are no sleeve darts!

I'm taking a break after sewing all these darts. My back is feeling a bit sore and I don't feel up to the challenge of the collar and easing the sleeves so I think I might actually call it a night.

But before I go... Look at what I dragged out of my fabric stash! I am debating whether or not the floral fabric would work well with the silk jacket when I have it finished. I'm thinking of using the same pattern, McCall's 9264 for the dress. What do you think? Yea, or too much red?  

Maybe I need to sleep on this?

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

What is Christmas Without Presents?

Seriously? This time of year calls for a pattern give-away, doesn't it?

I picked up this dress pattern thinking that it would be super comfortable in a double knit fabric, that would be when I was a smaller size. It is an unopened and uncut pattern.

All you have to do is promise that you will not sell it, give it a good home, pass it along or share it when you are done. The pattern give-away is open internationally and to followers of this blog. Oh and leave a message as to your favourite sewing project of 2012.

I'll draw for the pattern on Saturday, December 29th right after my morning coffee. Oh, and I plan to sleep in on Saturday. Good luck and Happy Sewing!

No word of a lie...

Update:  My nephew likes it and I have to say, he looks quite handsome in it. He said that he has a black suit jacket to go with it. The kid has style.  

"He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest." ~Walter Benjamin

The vest is finished, no word of a lie.

I finished the basting yesterday and was able to achieve some nicely pressed edges. It was worth all the work even though it proved to be time consuming. Once pressed I took apart the basting in order to stitch the side seams and slip stitching the lining in place.

I decided to leave out the inner breast pocket. One reason is that I never heard back from my nephew if he decided if he actually wanted one. And the other reason is that I thought it would be too bulky for the vest and would place some unnecessary strain on the lining.

Don't you love the lining? That decision was totally my nephew's. I wasn't sold on it when he first picked the colour from my stash of fabric. I now have to admit that I think it looks quite sharp.

I hope that he will be pleased with it.  [fingers crossed]

Happy sewing!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

In Sewing News Today...

This evening I discovered Downton Abbey. I stumbled onto season 2, episode 5. Oh my goodness, the costumes are exquisite. I know, where have I been? I feel ill-prepared to speak about the costumes or the show, I didn't even catch the whole episode. But I did see some lovely blouses and skirt details.

Let's just say my mind was blown away by the work of the costume department for this show. Absolutely beautiful.

Besides watching some television, I did manage to get some sewing done. I'm slowly working on the men's vest, Simplicity 4762.

All the darts are sewn, the lining has been has stitched into place, trimmed and turned. I'm taking a break from painstakingly basting the edges before pressing.

Tomorrow morning, I hope to finish up basting, pressing, sewing the side seams, buttonholes and buttons.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Preparing for the holidays...

No not those holidays... call me a Grinch if you like but I'm excited about the two week lay-off from work. Awww, sewing and job hunting time.
Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a full-time job where I'm not laid off for three months out of the year.
But I digress... I've been busy this week prepping fabric for my laid-off sewing.

I have this beautiful red silk dupioni in my fabric stash. I was considering making the shorter version of this Lynn Mizono top. I changed my mind after checking out a few versions posted over at Pattern review. I still want to make the top but I think the longer version would be more flattering on my body type and I don't have enough red silk.

Sew, the plan is to still use the festive red silk using a different pattern. Okay, maybe there is a wee bit of festive spirit in me.

McCall's 9264 recently came into my hot little hands. First thing first, the silk has to be pre-treated.

I serged the ends of the fabric to prevent anymore fraying from occurring before hand-washing it. According to Yahoo contributor M. Langton, "even dupioni silk can be hand washed." However Langton warns to avoid soaking silks to prevent any fading in colour. Got it.  

Next step, wash the silk without soaking. For this I am using a mild laundry soap and vinegar. The vinegar is for the first rinse and to help set the beautiful red colour. The final rinse will be with water only. 

Not recommended is drying in the dryer. No big deal here as I typically dry most of my clothes on a rack.  

It worked out perfectly and now the McCall's 9264 is cut out and read to to stitched up!  

Sew is Simplicity 4762. It is cut in a black British wool.  A vest request came my way several months ago. It has been sitting in the wings for some time. Not because I was procraftinating, I was waiting for my nephew. 

He finally made it over for a fitting, the muslin is all marked up, and now I'm ready to get to work. Sort of, I've just been sitting on the project waiting for the phone call he promised with the measurement for the inner chest pocket that he wants. I'm still waiting. And yes, I have tried calling. Anyway, I've given up and I'm going to wing it.   

First, I had to pre-shrink the fabric. How do you pre-treat fabric that traditionally calls for dry-cleaning? Do you treat it at home or do you dish out the dough for dry-cleaning?  

Caitlin over at Colette Patterns wrote an excellent post on pre-treating fabrics, including wools. This is the method that I chose for my fabric. I'm really pleased with the result. Even more pleased that I didn't have to dish out big dry-cleaning bucks.   

I'm all set. Happy sewing (and holidays)!  


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

McCall's 2447, Men's Shirt

Whoohoo! The McCall's 2447 mens' shirt is finished.

All that was left to do was sew on the buttons and I took care of that this evening.

It is nice to finally be finished. It is even nicer that it fits my little brother well.

Now to wrap it up for Christmas. Shhh, it is a gift from Mama R. I hope he likes it.


Monday, 17 December 2012

Please excuse my dress form...

I am not making any sort of statement on man boobs. It is just the only form that I have to display the McCall's 2447 men's shirt.

First thing first. The placket for the sleeves worked out perfectly. I'm quite pleased.

The McCall's pattern instructions were perfect, I can't take credit for these without mentioning that little piece of information.

The pieces matched up nicely. After transferring the pattern markings and pressing a 1/4" around the placket edges it was easy sailing from there.

I did hand stitch before machine stitching. An extra step that was not called for in the pattern instructions. I did it because I wanted them to turn out as well as they could.

I didn't mind the extra time I took during this phase.  
Next up was the cuffs. Here again I followed the pattern, sewing a 5/8" seam allowance and grading the seam allowances. All the while wondering why I'm not working with a 3/8" seam allowance.

I quickly forgot about the 3/8" seam allowance when cuffs turned out beautifully.

Could I possibly be turning into a fan of graded seam allowances?

Almost done, the buttons are picked and the buttonholes are sewn. Just a bit more hand sewing needed to add the buttons. I'm not brave enough to try to sew them using the sewing machine. Call me old fashion.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Blue Collar for a White Collar

"Relax, Georgie, I'm just making my collar and cuffs match."
~Carole Lombard (American Actress, 1908-1942)

I will admit I am curious about the history or origin of the terms blue collar, white collar and pink collars. I know the definition of these terms, I just wonder when they first appeared in literature and pop culture. I'm kind of a geek that way. The search for that answer will have to wait for another time. I've got to finish my morning coffee and get back to work on McCall's 2447, the men's button down shirt.   

Yesterday, I corrected the errors of my way. Once the neckband facing was pressed under I was set to go. 

The collar and neckband pieces are finished. I have to say that it was worth all the time that went into this section. 

I'm still not 100% sold on the 5/8" seam allowance and grading the allowance down because of all the time it took to finish. 

On the up side, I did enjoy the relaxing time spent basting and hand-stitching. I'm kind of a geek that way too.

Happy Sewing!    

Saturday, 15 December 2012

When will I learn?

Never sew before the first cup of coffee.

I was stalled at the neckband and collar section of men's shirt that is on my sewing table. I feared the 5/8" seam allowance and longed for a 3/8" allowance just like the Connie Crawford shirt. That and feeling burnt out this week kept me from moving forward.

I'm back at it today. I'm feeling a little lazy, but I'm back. I decided that trimming the seam allowances down to 3/8" was too much work. Sew, I decided to carry on the way McCall's patterns intended me to, with 5/8" seam allowances. Yup, I'm being lazy.

I basted, I topstitched and even graded my collar seam allowances with care. Just when I was feeling so proud of myself and sauntering off to the ironing board to press, I caught the error of my ways.

Can you see it? Yup, I forgot to turn up the seam allowance of the neckband facing.

I need to finish that morning cup of coffee before I continue with my sauntering to press find the seam ripper.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

In Sewing New Today...

There has been no sewing.   
My sewing mojo has taken a hit these past two days. I'm feeling burnt out. All I want for Christmas is my mojo back. Actually, before Christmas would be perfect. 

And someone to finish writing my Christmas cards.  

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The great seam allowance debate.

A few months back, I made a Connie Crawford shirt with a neckband and collar. The shirt was made using Butterick 5365. The one thing that I absolutely loved and that I had never seen before in a commercial pattern was the 3/8" seam allowance around the neckline.

I have to tell you that it was hands down the easiest neckband attachment that I had achieved, EVER.  

Today, I'm stalled at section four of the McCall's 2447 mens' shirt pattern. I've been debating whether or not to continue following the McCall's pattern or tweak it to Connie Crawford's method of sewing.

The McCall's pattern pieces are cut with 5/8" seam allowances and instructions to grade the seam allowances afterwards.

I think McCall's is losing this debate. The more I think about it, I've converted into a 3/8" seam allowance gal now.

I'm just going to have to re-size these collar and neckband pieces before I continue with the mens' shirt.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 8 December 2012


The latest project on the sewing table is a men's shirt, McCall's 2447.  The fabric is a light blue 100% cotton shirting.

This project is going to take some time with all the topstitching. Despite the time this is taking, I do like the look.

What I don't like is the feel and bulk of the serged seams.

Yes, I did. My bad.

Serged seams have a time and place but I'm not entirely convinced that they belong in a tailored shirt.  I'm going to continue with the McCall's instructions but I can already see things that I would like to change.

Flat-felled seams are commonly found in menswear but they are not called for in the McCall's instructions for this shirt. The next shirt will have flat-felled seams costing me even more time, I suspect.

And for the next shirt, I'll skip the serger and take the time to grade all enclosed seams to help them lay flat and smooth.

For now, it is time to call it a night. Tomorrow, if I can find some time to sew, it is onto the collar and sleeves. I'll be thrilled if I get the collar checked off my list. We'll see...

Happy Sewing!    

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Inaugural ceremony...

Tonight was a big night. There was cake and coffee for the inaugural cutting ceremony.

Yes, tonight was the first time that I cut a sewing project using my new cutting table. And the whole event did not end up with Tiger Balm for my back nor reaching for the Tylenol. Words can not express how happy I am with my cutting table.

If I didn't have a sewing project to cut out there would have been wine. But I stayed focussed despite excitement.

The new project is all cut out and ready to sew. It will just have to wait until tomorrow. Right now, it is time for bed.

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 3 December 2012

All set...

Fabricland was gracious enough to exchange my pattern for the correct size. Yeah, Fabricland! I was scared that I would be stuck with two different sizes of the same pattern. It certainly was a relief!

The store still has that sale going on and this time I didn't escape without picking up some fabric. I picked up these cottons to make shirts. One is a light blue and the other is a burgandy stripe. The top fabric that appears black is actually a dark blue with a black pattern cotton. The other two are in the washing machine getting pre-treated.

Tomorrow will be all about cutting. Maybe by week's end I'll have some shirts to show 'n tell.  

Happy Sewing!

In Sewing New Today...

A few months ago the strap on my handbag broke. The leather strap was fine, it was the hardware that gave out. The strapless handbag sat un...