Wednesday, 31 July 2013

July in Review...

Seven items! I think this month may be the busiest sewing month so far this year. I guess it helps that I'm laid-off from work. Although I enjoy sewing, I rather be working and have sewing as my escape. Oh well, the up side about being laid-off from work is that there is no spare money to be hanging out at the fabric store. And more time to focus on this stash-busting journey. Sew, here's the breakdown on my stash-busting journey this month.

  • 63.06 metres of fabric, 
  • 23 previously unused patterns
  • 6.6 metres of trim
  • 15.50 packages of seam binding,
  • 8 zippers
  • 16 spools of thread
  • 4 sewing machine needles
  • 18 snaps,
  • 1 hook and eye
  • 52 buttons and
  • 2.8 metres of elastic.
And this this year I've added to my stash:
  • 37.4 metres of new fabric
  • 15 new patterns,
  • 2 metre of trim,
  • 15 packages of seam binding, 
  • 7 spools of thread
  • 2 sewing machine needles,
  • 12 buttons
  • 2 new sewing feet
  • 4 metres of elastic.  
Happy Sewing!

Cool Blue Dress: Simplicity 8024

Stash Busting 2013:  Project #28

Fabric Used:                2.6 metre of stretch polyester crepe

Pattern Used:              Simplicity 8024, circa 1998

Basting Tape Used:   44"

Zipper Used:                22" invisible zipper

Thread Used:               finished off another spool of thread


The cool blue dress is for Mama R and she's pleased. The dress matches a sweater that I made for her a little while ago. Unintentional that the two pieces work well together.  

The fabric has been in my stash for years. I picked up over four metres of this when Fanny Fabrics was closing down in the city. This could well have been in my stash for over a decade.  

I think the colour looks great with Mama R's salt and pepper hair.  

The pattern past the Mama R test, non-irritating neckline and ample ease through the tummy section. I'm actually surprised that she didn't request pockets.  I'm sure she forgot and the dress will end up back on my sewing table when she discovers there is left-over fabric.  

The pattern is Simplicity 8024, and an "It's SO EASY" pattern but I would argue that it is actually an "It's SO A PAIN" pattern. It is an out-of-print and the pattern illustration does not truly represent the width of the shoulder seam. The armhole draped over the shoulder and not in an attractive way. I re-cut the shape of the armhole to make it work from notch-to-notch over the shoulder seam. I also found that I had to take in the side seams to try and fit some back lower underarm funk that was going on. In the end, it all worked out but I was a little worried while working through these issues.  

The sleeves are suppose to be lined but I only cut two sleeves because of the weight of the fabric and I didn't want to add more bulk. I did a narrow rolled hem on the bottom of the sleeves and it worked out fine.  

I'm glad everything worked out fine in the end and that Mama R is thrilled with her cool blue dress but if you pick up the pattern and decide to give it a whirl I would recommend a muslin first.  

Monday, 29 July 2013

Mama Needs a New Dress! (or two)

Mama R has put in another request for a new dress. Actually, she has patiently been waiting for me to make another version of Simplicity 2372 for quite some time. She has some satin crepe, the same fabric as in this dress but in a different colour. I should have made a new pattern with the changes made to the last Simplicity 2372 I made. Oh well. But can you believe that even though she has been patiently waiting for another Simplicity 2372 I'm making her wait a little longer?

On my sewing table for Mama R is Simplicity 8024 in a baby blue stretch crepe. It needs some tweaking. The shoulders are awfully W--I--D--E.

The shoulders don't look as wide in the illustration as compared to the pattern piece.  Oh those deceiving fashion illustrations!

I am pleased with how the invisible zipper turned out. I thought that I would have a bit of a challenge sewing in the invisible zipper with the stretch polyester crepe but it was actually the bottom seam below the zipper that provided the challenge. Thanks to basting tape, everything worked out fine.

Right now the dress is hanging on the dress form to be tweaked.  I reshaped the armhole making a narrower shoulder line and I have the dress pinned at the sides to take it in at the bust line. So far, with the first few fittings Mama R seems pleased. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed with proceeding with the rest of the dress and inserting the sleeves that everything will work out fine.

Until then, Happy Sewing!  

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Sewing Through the Decades through the lens of Popular Culture

Rhonda over at Rhonda's Creative Life reflected this week on her past sewing life with "Cracking the Shell" after reading Sew Sister's piece "Sewing in the 70's". You have to go over and read Rhonda's inspiring and personal story and the post that got her thinking about it. Go on, my post will be here when you come back.

Rhonda's and Sew Sister's posts had me thinking about how sewing and how the perceptions surrounding it has changed over the decades. I'm also reading Patricia Volk's Shocked:  My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me which has me thinking after reading a wonderfully descriptive section about sewing.

Sister Sew asked, "Do you consider the 70s vintage?"

I didn't give much thought to that until the two posts written about this by-gone era and looking at the new Vogue fall patterns.

There is a perfect definition of vintage over at Americana,
Time is not the only criteria used to define vintage, but rather other elements such as enduring style, perceived quality and accrued value.
That had me thinking if we define clothing as vintage based on various factors, what about sewing?  Would you consider the act of sewing vintage?

I started sewing in the 1970s and even took Home Economic classes when I was in high school. It was not the cool thing to do. I wasn't trying to be cool (that was a lost cause), I just liked to sew.

It was the beginning of the second wave feminism that lasted into the 1980s. During the 1970s strong feminist women were portrayed on television. Maude, Rhoda, and Mary replaced the older generation of TV woman Lucy, Harriet and Margaret, who embraced domestic life. Maude, Rhoda and Mary were too busy making a name for themselves to be stuck at home doing... domestic stuff.

During this time, it was the beginning of the end of Home Economics classes. And television shows were moving women away from the sewing machine and towards being the mover and shakers in the world. Televised domestic work at this time was reassigned to Alice, an older woman happy to take care of the modern family. The 80's with the shoulder pads and power suits came the backlash comedy (I use that term loosely) of Andrew Dice Clay, and American comedian who was quite vulgar and vocal about his opposition to women's rights back in the day. It was another nail in the lid of the sewing machine moved into attics as the fight for equal rights was on.

Was popular culture playing a role in the decline of sewing and the negative attitudes towards those who sew their own clothes? I don't believe it helped. During this period I don't recall positive representations of sewing, rather it was presented as a relic from the past that we should run screaming from. CabinQuilter's: Sewing Machines in Movies highlights television shows where sewing machines appeared. Most sewing machine appearances are as reliacs of the the past.

1900 House PBS (2000): Singer treadle
American Family, PBS (2002):"The Sewing Machine" Singer Treadle
Blue Valley Songbird (1999)
Dogs and More Dogs, Nova, PBS (2003): Singer, 5-drawer treadle
Dr. Seuss's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966) He and his dog sew the Grinch's santa suit on a black treadle with gold decals
Extreme Home Makeover (ABC 2004): Several Featherweights
Geico Commercial (2006): Peter graves is sitting in the homeowner's sewing room. In the background is what looks to be a mid-arm machine. See a video clip HERE
Gilligan's Island (believe it or not!): "The Matchmaker" episode; combination bamboo exercise bike/sewing machine
Gilmore GirlsSinger Model 12 treadle
Hometime (PBS): Closed Singer Treadle cabinet
I Dream of JeannieSinger treadle, on the beach
Jeff's Collie (Original Lassie series): 5 drawer coffin top treadle
Jericho: Treadle table against the wall between the kitchen & living room at the Richmond ranch.
Laverne & ShirleyTreadle stand in the bedroom
Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe, The (BBC 1988): Mrs. Beaver is sewing on what looks to be a Frister & Rossman handcrank
Mad About YouFlashback to his dad's tailor shop, with an industrial machine in the background
Manor House, PBS (2003): Jones handcrank and a treadle
Martha Inc.:The Story of Martha Stewart (2003): Black Singer in an old, treadle-type base
Monk: Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame (2003): Treadle base only (!) used as a foyer table.
Papa's Angels (2000): 7-drawer treadle
Pimp My Ride (MTV 2004): Industrial used to sew custom, green suede/black leather auto upholstery
Reba (2002): Reba McIntyre sews a bridesmaid's dress on a Featherweight
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1978):
Seinfeld: Episode #149 "The Pothole" (2/20/97) Kramer 'adopts' a mile of the freeway. A Singer 99 sewing machine falls off a dump truck and is shown bursting into flames caused by igniting paint thinner.
Six Feet Under (HBO 2001) The daughter found her grandmother's sewing machine in the attic. While high on drugs with a girlfriend she makes her mother very colorful slacks. The machine was dark green, full size, Singer 500.
Texas Ranch House (PBS 2006): Wilcox & Gibbs handcrank
Tommyknockers, The (1993): The boy who makes his brother disappear powers his machine with a treadle
The Brady Bunch (Peter the Magician/Cindy's fear of the dark):
The Real McCoysTreadle
Who's the Boss?Possibly a Stylist, sitting backwards on a shelf in the garage (of course!)
Willing to Kill: Texas Cheerleader Story (1992): Featherweight
I made clothes in those high school years. Come to think about it, I used to sneak downstairs to the basement and sew on my mom's Singer treadle. We didn't have an attic. My makes weren't anything to write home about but it was the creative process that I enjoyed. In the 1980s, I dreamed of a career that would incorporate the skills that I was learning, instead it remained a hobby as I retreated from sewing jobs that did not pay. The act of the creative process had been belittled to the point that people did not see the worth of sewing.  And yet, they didn't want to take their garments to a tailor or seamstress.

Evidence of this appeared in the 1990s. On one occasion after sewing a hooded blouse, McCall's 5640, for my brother's friend. She (yes, a she!) refused to pay for the work that I had done stating, "I already spent $30 on the materials. I wouldn't pay more than that at a store for a shirt". I was devastated and felt used. I let the issue go because she was "my brother's friend." People were becoming accustomed to cheap fashion and addicted to the convenience of ready-to-wear.

On another occasion I was verbally scolded by a co-worker after asking for payment of couch cushions I had sewn.

"Why, you can't wait two weeks for your money?" she yelled in a public place achieving her goal of embarrassing me into leaving without payment. All because she wanted to go on a cross-border trip and thought that I should wait to be paid. People back then did not appreciate the workmanship, expense, or time that went into sewing.

From past experiences, I equate bullying and feeling used with sewing for others. And as a result, I refuse to take on sewing projects or alterations for others.  

Thankfully, times and attitudes change, Sewing With Nancy appeared on television in the 1980s but the show appealed to a niche market. It did not capture the attention of popular culture immediately but thirty years later she is celebrated for showcasing fabric artists and sewing techniques on her show.   

Despite the appearance of Nancy, the decline of sewing as a necessary and honourable skill continued in the 1990s. It was also a time of the third wave of feminism. From Women, Politics and Public Policy:  The Political Struggles of Canadian Women,
The third wave of Canadian feminism ... is closely tied to notions of anti-racism, anti-colonialsm, and anti-capitalism. The notion of a sisterhood among women prevalent in the second wave, is critiqued by third-wave feminists, who have perceived this seeming universalism to be dismissive of women's diverse experiences, and the ways that women can discriminate against and dominate one another.  

It wasn't until the 2000s when reality television turned a curious eye on fashion designers with Project Runway. Project Runway first appeared on the airways in 2004 and as the show gained popularity so did the interest in home sewing. Throw in the internet with tutorials and on-line courses and
sewing reinvents itself as a means of self-expression, creativity and camaraderie with like-minded souls.  And journalists have been turning a critical eye to the high cost of cheap fashion as many of our ready-to-wear items come with cheap prices and quality from an exploited workforce.     

Sewing has certainly changed over the decades. it is a mix bag of emotions that accompany my sewing journey and it makes me wonder, what's next?

Hopefully, a continued revival and changing attitudes.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 26 July 2013

There is a 70s Vibe Going on Right Now! (Vogue releases the new Fall Patterns)

Not only do I get a 70s vibe from the new Vogue fall patterns, but they are on sale right now at almost 1970s prices! My only question is where is the disco ball?  

Vogue 1366:  Orange and purple and gathered sleeves.  

Vogue 1367:  Gathered tops

Vogue 8934:  Okay, no 70s vibe here but this Marcy Tilton Coat made my heart skip a beat.
There is room for my hips!
It is the only pattern that I was tempted to purchase but it is no longer found on the website.
I should have bought first, blogged second.
Or maybe the sewing gods are telling me I don't need another pattern?  

Vogue 8935:  That neckline and collar, totally a 70s vibe.  

Vogue 8939:  I thought this jacket was cute but at my height I wouldn't be able to pull off this look.
I still think it is cute though.  

Vogue 1358:  Yup, more seventies vibe.  

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

In Sewing News Today...

Remember this? It is that quilt that I am making using up all the left-over fabric that has been part of my stash for far too long. I started this project over a year ago. What can I say, it is taking me awhile. Besides, I'm not really a quilter. I'm just trying to use up the scraps.

Well, I'm happy to report that I have sewn together two hundred and eighty squares! Enough to cover the single sized bed in Mama R's house. I don't know who is more thrilled me or Mama R.

Now, I have another two hundred and eighty squares to piece together for the other side. It might take another year or so but at least there is progress.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The "Classic" Peplum: Vogue 8815

Stash Busting 2013:  Project # 27

Fabric Used:                1.2 metres stretch cotton sateen

Pattern Used:              Vogue 8815, circa 2012

Basting Tape Used:   44"

Zipper Used:                22" invisible zipper

Thread Used:               finished off another spool of thread


Okay, I'm not lovin' this top. But I don't hate it either. Let's just chalk it up to experiment gone wierd. Wrong style for the wrong body type, I guess. And do those darts look oddly off?  

Rachel Roy Mix Media Peplum Top
I've seen some cute peplum style tops in the store. Actually one, by Rachel Roy, and I thought I would give the peplum a try. Yeah, I'm not lovin' it like the Rachel Roy version.  

Rachel Roy's striped top has a shorter peplum that is gathered into the raised waist. It is made in a double knit with a open laced back. It is cute.  

My Vogue 8815 version is not cute. I guess I could get away with it as work clothing. With the high neckline and long sleeves, it is conservative enough for work. Yup, I'm calling this one boring.  

The fabric has been in my stash for quite some time. I was holding onto it with plans to mix it with another piece of cotton sateen in a dress but there was enough for this top and that was that.  

The pattern was easy to sew, six darts. I probably would like it if it didn't have darts as they don't really sit all that well. I did make a few changes:  
  • The plan was to make view B with the short sleeves, I found that by shortening the length on the sleeve to fit me I could actually make a long sleeve version.  
  • I used an invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper.
  • I trimmed an inch off the hemline and may have trimmed more if the zipper end was not in the way.  
I kind of feel like Judy Jetson in this peplum top. Cartoon character was not the look I was going for but there is a good side to this top. If I spill coffee it would blend in with the print.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 21 July 2013


1930s peplem
1940s detatchable peplums

I'm late to the 2012 peplum trend but then it had me thinking is it really a trend if it has been around over the decades?

1940's gown with peplum {Source}
It was the it fashion feature in the early twentieth century as part of jackets, dresses and interchangeable as detachable peplums.

Sew, what is a peplum?


  1. A short flared, gathered, or pleated strip of fabric attached at the waist of a woman's jacket, dress, or blouse.
  2. (in ancient Greece) A woman's loose outer tunic or shawl.

The 1950s peplum
The nineteen forties were the hay-day of peplums.

Oh wait, the 1950 certainly celebrated the peplum for its ability to make waistlines appear smaller and hips to appear curvier.

The 1960s peplum
Peplums continued to appear in the sixties despite the fashions of the mods and hippy movement being the it look.

1960s Peplum blouse

1980s peplum
The 80s peplum

The peplum continued to appear in the 1970s but it was in the 1980s that it was popularized again. Valentino interpreted the peplum with bold padding and exaggerated decorated bows.

The 1990s
The 1990s peplum shirt
The peplum took a more streamline look in the
1990s but it never left the fashion landscape.

The peplum continues to grace the fashion landscape.

Sew, is it really a trend? Or can we consider the peplum a classic?

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Quest for a Great Fitting Pair of Pants: Chapter 7

Stash Busting 2013:  Project #26

Fabrics Used:       3.5 metres (navy wool, blue lining fabric and interfacing)

Pattern Used:      Vogue 1325, Anne Klein design

Bias Tape Used:  30" burgandy bias tape

Zipper Used:       7" recycled zipper

Hook Used:         1

Thread Used:      1 spool


Okay, this is photographic proof that I consumed too many of those chocolate covered blueberries and need to do a serious amount of sit-ups.

Other than that, I don't plan to wear these pants with a shirt tucked in so really I'm all good.


It is a "semi-fitted, slightly flared pants" with a raised waist and side pockets. I used Vogue 1325 to make these pants and they are so comfortable. I've already have fabric picked out for a second pair.

The fabric for these pants has been in my stash since last autumn. It is a medium weight wool. A little warm for this time of year but I know I will get a lot of use out of these when the temperatures cool down.

All of the notions were found in my stash and have been there for quite some time as well. Instead of cutting a bias strip of the fabric for the facing finish I opted to use up some double fold bias tape from my stash.

I also left out the belt loops. I couldn't see myself wanting to wear a belt with these pants. All that is left to do (besides waiting for cooler temperatures) is to have these hemmed.

I'm going to need help in that department and with the garden exploding with produce to be picked up, it might have to wait a couple of days.

Until then, happy sewing!

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Quest for a Great Fitting Pair of Pants: Chapter 6

Have you seen the latest issue of Vogue Patterns (The Ultimate Sewing Magazine)? The August / September 2013 issue is my favourite issue EVER. It is full of upcycling ideas and sustainable designs. I'm lovin' it!

Even the pants pattern, Vogue 1325, that I am currently working on is featured in "Making Do:  Transforming Midcentury Thrift into Modern Style" (70). They utilized the pants pattern to make the most adorable shorts from a recycled mens' tailored jacket. Très chic!

Talking about Vogue 1325. Oh my goodness! I love this pattern. It is coming together beautifully.

I just have to stop munching on the bag of Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai Blueberries that are sitting too close to the sewing machine because these pants seem to fit!

I've mentioned that I'm sewing these with my fingers crossed instead of sewing up a muslin first. Yes, I'm full of bad habits besides munching on chocolate while I sew.

The pants are being sewn up in a pre-treated navy 100% British wool fabric. I used the damp towel in the dryer method. I've had good results with this in the past. I shortened the length of the pants by 4" because lets face it, I'm no Vogue model. After making the New Marlene Dietrich-style pants, Burda 7122, I realized that I'm different sizes at different parts of the pants. I returned to the size 14 crotch length. The inner leg I went up a few sizes where the outer leg seam I stayed at a size 14. It seems to have worked.

This morning I was working on the front fly. The instructions are different than others that I have done in the past. There are no complaints, everything is working out fine.

I'm just taking a wee break from sewing and trying to find a good hiding place for these chocolates sew that I can make sure I fit into them finish these pants

Happy sewing!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

In Sewing News Today...


I was able to finish off another mending project as my own mending sits in an out of control pile.

This mending project was a priority project for the parish priest, a beautiful handmade silk vestment that his mother had made. No pressure.

The parish priest did not request this as a priority project. Instead, he encouraged me to take the time I need to finish this, the priority was self-inflicted.

I've had this for far too long as I struggled to figure out how to proceed with this repair. Like the other one it was fraying at the shoulder. Let's just say that there were a few sleepless nights as I played out repair scenarios in my head.

Before I could repair the vestment I had to remove a hand pleated collar. As I did this, I was in awe with the amount of work that went into the hand stitching and basting that I was removing. There was an incredible amount of sadness as I did this, as I realized the amount of work and love that went into the pleating. How difficult it must have been to do this by hand.

I had to figure out how to repair the fray and remodel the vestment without the pleated collar, a facing of course. But I didn't have fabric to match the beautiful silk.

I opted for an interfaced blanket binding that I then cut into a smaller width. The raw edge was stitched to the re-shaped neckline. The binding was wide enough that I was able to fold it over to hide the inside neck curve.

I then hand-stitched the binding to the vestment using invisible thread. If I had ivory silk thread I would have preferred that but I think the invisible thread works well. It is all pressed and ready to deliver and then I will be looking forward to a good night sleep tonight.  

In other sewing news...

I've started the pants. Yes, that is not muslin. I am really bad for not making muslins. What can I say, I'm not perfect, I'm flawed. Who wants to be perfect anyway?  

But I've put a lot of thought in to my body quirks and cut these out with my fingers crossed.

Well, there is no looking back now.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Quest for a Great Fitting Pair of Pants: Chapter 5

I'm about to venture into unknown territory in my quest for a great fitting pair of pants, Vogue 1325.

Vogue 1325 does not appear to be reviewed anywhere that I can find but I'm going to give it a whirl anyway.

Vogue's description:
semi-fitted, slightly flared pants have raised waist with mock band, carriers, side front pockets, fly front zipper and hook closure. Bias, self-binding finishes waist facing.

The pattern is rated advanced but the most challenging details in this pattern are found on the blouse and tailored jacket.

I just have one question, why would Vogue photograph a pair of pants that have back welt pockets that are not found on the pattern.

Hmmm. I guess I'm going to try bound pockets another time which is fine with me since I've gotta focus on fit.

Well, I'm off to pre-treat my fabric and prep the pattern.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 15 July 2013

kAtheRine Tilton Top: Butterick 5891

Stash Busting 2013:  Project #25 

Fabric Used:    3 metres (the fabric I used was quite narrow)

Buttons Used:  3

Pattern Used:  Butterick 5891


This is such a fun pattern. I will admit that I was a wee bit fearful about making this jacket after reading several review over at Pattern Review. It had received more "recommend with modification" ratings than "highly recommend" and that made for some apprehension.  I'm so glad that I went ahead and made it anyway. I'm thrilled with my new jacket.  

The only modification that I made to the pattern was lifting the placement of the pocket up slightly after reading this review. I didn't adjust the sleeves and the three-quarter length sleeve in the Butterick photo turned out to be a full-length sleeve on me. I'm happy with it. I did keep a deep hem on the sleeve so that I could roll it up once and make it look like a three-quarter length sleeve.

I picked up this fabric just over a year ago with the thought of making the Lynn Mizono shirt but the fabric wasn't wide enough. It was perfect for this top! The folded single layer collar exposes the wrong side of the fabric but this fabric it is hard to tell.

The buttons are a recent addition to my stash. I just picked them up because I liked them and without any specific project in mind and it works with this print.

The pattern is easy peasy. I literally stitched this up in an afternoon.  

I can't wait to wear it!

Happy Sewing!  

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Baby Blues

Stash Busting 2013:  Project #24

Fabric Used:       .80 metre of cotton lace knit

Pattern Used:     Burda 9752

Snaps Used:       6

Thread Used:      1 spool

Trim Used:           1 metre


Oh my goodness, I adore this pattern almost as much as I do the fabric used to make this little dress.

The fabric has been in my stash for I don't know how many years. Let's just say many. It is a light-weight cotton knit that has a laced pattern through it. I've been reluctant to cut into this fabric for far too long and it is long time coming that I made something out of it.

I broke the current gender rules in making this little blue dress. I did say current. Back in the early 20th century, blue was perceived as "more delicate and dainty" and "prettier for girls" (Maglaty 1). To make this look more current, I did add some pink in a floral trim.

The trim has pink for the current notion of gender identification. It has been part of my stash for many moons. The wooden spool of light blue 100% cotton thread that I used has been in my stash for over three decades and it was a perfect match.

The pattern, Burda 9752, is perfect and so adorable. It came together without any issues. It is a multi-sized pattern and includes sizes 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. If you are in the market for an infant pattern, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this one.

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...