Monday, 31 March 2014

March in Review


Can you believe that there was sewing this month? It was a rough month, I worked on the dress that almost broke me and working through a sinus headache it took four attempts to get a waistband right. Yeah, four attempts! This was not a good month for sewing. In the end, I ended up with the pneumonia and two garments that I'm pleased with. At least there was a happy ending (the garments not the pneumonia).  

RTW Fast

This month I was tempted by an animal print wool sweater. I don't know why I was tempted by this cardigan sweater, animal print is not typically my style. I must still have a bit of that Jungle January fever that was going around. 

Mental note:  must stay away from stores during the end of season sales. Could be in danger of coming home with crazy things that I don't need like this:  

I did buy a pair of red leather shoes which is allowed. They have a one inch heel. I'm trying to be kinder to my knees. So, I'm thrilled to report that have not broken any RTW Fast rules. Three months down.  

Stash Busting

Oh my! I went shopping for fabric this month.  I went searching for kid-friendly print cotton to make baby onsies and instead I picked up 4.2 metres of a polyester knit with a fun print. And then there was some mint coloured silk on sale. Did I pick up any printed cotton for the onsies? No. I found some cute prints but the fabric quality was awful, so light and see-through. I left it at the store. I have way better options in solid colours in my stash.  

Well that is my month in review. Happy Sewing! 

Added to Stash
22.5 metres
21.4 metres
1 metre
1.5 metre
Sewing Patterns
Spools of Thread
Sewing Needles
Pant Hooks
0.40 metres
1.3 metres
6 metres
Bias Tape
0.50 metres
Hook and Eye or other Closures
Basting Tape
1.016 metres

Saturday, 29 March 2014

In Sewing News Today...

This printed cotton sateen is a recent addition to my stash. I picked it up thinking that it would make a cute sailor's dress.  

As quickly as it was added to my stash, it left. This gorgeous printed sateen fabric will now be used for a new navy dress for Mama R. How can you say no to your Mom? You just can't. Especially when she expresses such good taste in fabric. It will make a lovely dress for her. As for a sailor's dress for moi, I do have a solid navy sateen in my stash.  

In other sewing news, I have in my hot little hands McCall's 8943. It is a vintage 1997 pattern.  

This is a shirt pattern that I've been searching for the longest time. It has french cuffs! I found it over at and it arrived this week to my absolute delight. 

And I think I have made a decision.  

These are the items that I will use to make my Chanel-esque jacket. An orange jacket with orange lining and blue trim. 

I have a few things to clear off the sewing table as soon as I stop coughing up my lungs. It has been a rough week away from the sewing machine. How I miss that soothing hum from the sewing machine. In the meantime, I've been watching Claire Shaeffer's DVD The Couture Cardigan Jacket.  

Until then, Happy Sewing!   

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New Vogue Release

I know I'm late to the news that Vogue released their Spring/Summer line of patterns. But oh my! There are some patterns sitting in my wish list.

There is a new Chanel-esque jacket pattern on the scene, Vogue 8991. It is another Claire Schaeffer pattern and the sleeve detail is divine.

Another cute jacket pattern, Vogue 9009.

This pattern, Vogue 9014, doesn't look like much from the drawing but the top has a full back buttoned closure! And that alone makes it a wish list item.

I don't need sleepwear but I can certainly use a good slip. A nice slip, not those lycra knit things they try to sell in the store. The kind of slip that makes you feel like a million bucks under your dress. And this pattern, Vogue 9015, will fit the bill.

There are lots of dresses too. I don't need another dress pattern. I have enough in my stash to keep me going for a lifetime but if you're looking for a dress pattern this may be the release dedicated to the dress.

How about you, any favourites?

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Apologies and Give-away Winners

First off, apologies for the delay in announcing the give-away winners. I was am sick. I'm coughing up both lungs and I'll also apologize that these items may take some days to make it to the post office. But isn't about me, it is time to announce the give-away winners.  

The Vogue 1219 is RhondaBuss

Rhonda blogs over at Rhonda's Creative Life. If you haven't checked out her blog please do, you won't believe the amount of creativity, talent and inspiration this lady offers.  

And for the book.

 I'm going to need the assistance of True Random Number Generator.  

The winner of the Pattern Magic 2 book is Annette. 
I've had this on my wish list for so long. I don't think my family understands that I really do want this.

Annette blogs over at Mrs. Toad Sews. It is a new-to-me sewing blog that I'll have to check out. I do see that she seems to be another Vogue pattern sewer and what?! There are new summer Vogues out. I'll have to check that out too when I'll feeling better.

I hope you ladies will have a wee more patience while on the mend and I promise I will get it out as soon as I'm back on my feet.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Blogaversary Give-away #2

This is part two of the blogaversary give-away, Pattern Magic 2 (English Translation).  

I will ship internationally. I just ask that you do not sell it, give it a good home, cherish it, use it, share it and make fabulous garments with it.

I'll draw for both give-aways on Saturday, right after my morning coffee.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Pattern Give-away: Let's Start This Week Right!

Now that the weekend is behind us, let's start this week off right...

Today marks the third blogaversary here at Sew Essentially Sew. Hmmm, this calls for pancakes for breakfast, dessert for later tonight and a give-away, don't you think?

Okay, how about two give-aways? I'll start with one today and the other one on Wednesday. I'll draw for both of them on Saturday.  

I made Chocolate Mousse this weekend from Carla Azevedo's cookbook. It is chillin' in the fridge for the big celebration. The chocolate mousse is perfect for celebrating as it has a good splash of port thrown in. Now that I have pancakes sizzling away and the dessert chillin' lets get to the first give-away.  

Vogue 1219 came out in 2011, the year that I started blogging.  

It is a Vogue American Designer, Donna Karan Collection pattern. It is a "below mid-knee dress with a stand-up collar, extended shoulders, mock wrap bodice with blousing, drop waist, pleated, flared skirt with side seam pockets, back zipper and wide, stitched hem, bodice front is cut on bias, skirt is cut crosswise." The pattern is a multi-sized pattern that contains sizes 6, 8, 10, 12 and is uncut and factory folded.

This pattern had a good run as it is currently still available in the out-of-print section over at Vogue pattern's website. Or you can pick it up here.   

I will draw for the lucky winner of this pattern on Saturday morning (March 22nd) right after my morning coffee. Anyone can enter, I will ship internationally. Just promise not to sell it, give it a good home, sew it up or share it.

Just leave a message here right after you do a little Irish jig in honour of St. Patrick's Day. Have a great day and I'll see you Wednesday morning for the next give-away item and Saturday morning for the draw.    

Happy St. Patty's Day and Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

New Spring / Summer Fabrics

What can I say? I bought fabric. I actually bought it last week.

Do you want to see?

I found this fabric in the home decor department. It is 100% cotton and I have a vintage Vogue pattern in mind for this fabric. Vogue 1918 has a back-buttoned skirt pattern. The front of the skirt has no seams and I thought would work to show off the print.  

I'm not sure what I will make with this white and lime green striped cotton knit fabric. All I know is that I like it and there is enough for a dress. Perhaps the newest Marcy Tilton dress?  

Okay, this fabric is a polyester knit. Not the kind of fabric that I would go for but I fell for this print and bright colours. I bought enough to make another version of Vogue 1312 and it was the dress I had in mind when I picked up this knit. Now, I'm also thinking it would be lovely as a wrap dress using Vogue  8896 (the longer version with the short sleeves).   

Believe it or not, the fabric here is a white cotton with a thin black stripe. I have enough for a long sleeve shirt. I just haven't decided on a pattern yet. And I still would love a shirt with french cuffs. Any suggestions on a pattern?  

Well, there goes my stash-busting efforts for this month. My bad.  

Happy Sewing!  

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Vogue 1239: Big Floral Print Skirt

Stash Busting 2014:  Retro Skirt

Fabric:  2.9 metres printed stretch denim and .5 lining fabric

Hooks and Eyes:  3 large hook & eyes from my stash

Thread:  I managed to finish off another spool of thread from my stash.  


Where to begin?  

Let's start with the fabric. This denim fabric has been in my fabric stash for about a decade, at least. Don't ask me why I bought it since pink is not something I'm usually drawn to. It must have been on sale dirt cheap. That is the only thing that I could come up with to explain how this fabric ever became part of my stash. It probably explains how it stayed in my stash for that long too. It became my muslin fabric for this skirt that ended up turing into a wearable muslin.  

The pattern is a vintage Vogue Perry Ellis designer pattern, Vogue 1239 (circa 1987). I currently have two copies of this pattern. The second copy arrived today in the mail. I started off with the first pattern in a size 12. I haven't been a size 12 in quite some time but I had my eye on this pattern hoping that one would appear in my size. I finally broke down and ordered the size 12 thinking that I'll just adjust it up to my size.  

Adjusting the gored skirt pieces was easy peasy. The waistband was another story. I'm going to blame it on the sinus headache and sore throat that was interfering with my brain's ability to solve simple mathematic problems at the cutting table. After several re-cuts of the waistband pieces it finally worked. Luckily, there was left-over fabric to play with as I struggled with fractions. Did I mention the sinus headache? The sewing gods must have felt sorry for me because the second pattern appeared after I had already cut out the skirt. And it was in my size! I was thrilled beyond words. 

I have plans to make view B and now I won't have to worry about any more pattern adjustments. The big floral print skirt shown above is view A. It was suppose to be a lower calf length skirt but it looked more like the evening length (or maxi skirt length) during the first fitting. I chopped three inches off the length and hand-sewed a two inch hem. Other than shortening the hem and adjusting the size of the first pattern, the pattern is perfect. Did I mention it has pockets?   

I found something interesting about the two patterns. The pattern fronts were 99% identical (one of the envelopes has the word(s) "PATTERN/PATRON next to the pattern number where the other does not.  The big difference between them was found on the pattern envelope back.  

There is the difference in orientation of the text and information found on the pattern. One list the year the pattern came out, whereas the other does not. On one of the envelopes flaps there is a picture of the designer, Perry Ellis, along with his design philosophy. The other envelope flap contains a body measurement chart. I wonder why the design and information changes. Could it perhaps reflect where the patterns were sold? One envelope meant for the U.S. market and the other for the Canadian market? Both patterns offer metric and imperial references but only one envelope is bilingual (English and French). In a geek moment, I thought it was neat to see the differences between the two envelopes for the exact same pattern.  

I leave with saying that I like this skirt even though there are big pink flowers all over it.  Now what to do with the extra pattern?  

Happy Sewing!  

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Adjusting My Adjustments

Before I get into any sewing news.  Happy International Women's Day!  

Okay, now back to regular scheduled programming. There has been sewing. I found this pattern, Vogue 1239, over at etsy awhile ago. I've had my eye on Vogue 1239 for quite some time before I gave up and went ahead and purchased the size 12 with the twenty-six and a half inch waist. It wasn't my size but I convinced myself that I could adjust the pattern to fit.  

I'm making version A, the skirt on the left. It is an eight gored skirt with a wide waistband and side pockets. There is no zipper, the closure is located on the side and it closes with snaps and hooks. I altered the pattern by adding 1/4 inch to each seam line adding an additional two inches.

It seemed to work as I tried it on prior to sewing the waistband. Sadly, I didn't adjust the waistband as well as I managed to adjust the gored skirt pieces. It was too small and I didn't notice that even after I had cut out another waistband lining piece because I sewed the wrong sides together. I didn't even figure it out as I had to ease the front waistband to fit and then also had to take in the front. Not enough coffee is my defence and I'm sticking too it. I finally squeezed out the denial when I tried it on, one more time.

Thank goodness a seam ripper was near by and there is extra fabric to play around with. I think I know what to do. Drink more coffee and then I'm going to slice the waistband pieces along the centre markings and add one inch to the centres of these two pattern pieces. Hopefully, [fingers crossed] this will do the trick. We'll see if I have a new skirt tomorrow...

Until then, Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Tim Gunn Project: The Day Dress

Stash busting 2014:  A Vintage Vogue Couturier Design

Fabric:     2 metre of fabric, 1.5 metre of organza underlining fabric.

Pattern:    Vintage Vogue 2103

Thread:    I found orange and navy coloured thread in my stash for the overlock and sewing machine.

Zipper:     20" invisible zipper

Basting Tape:  40" basting tape


The making of this dress is comparable to a roller coaster ride, filled with highs and lows. At one point I believed that I declared that I would never make this dress again. I'm over that low point and I'm thrilled to pieces that it finally finished.  

There are three fabrics that make up this dress. The main colour is an orange suiting fabric in 100% polyester. I picked it up a couple of years ago when yet another fabric store was shutting down. I had enough fabric to cut out all the pattern pieces but I thought it might be too much orange. I know, I can't believe I just typed that!

I went shopping a few months ago for another fabric that I wanted to use for the bodice front yokes. I found a cotton blend fabric that I thought would work colour wise. I thought that I picked up more than enough and even cut out the sleeves which was not my original plan for the contrasting fabric.

All was working out fine until I was piecing together the lining pieces also cut in the contrasting fabric when I realized that I forgot to cut out the curved section and there wasn't enough left over. I should not have cut out the sleeves. I hit a low point then when I feared that I would not find the navy fabric that not only makes up the sleeves, yoke but also the bodice lining pieces. Luckily, I find that there was some sitting in the discounted section, a high point in the production of this dress.

The third fabric is a nylon organza which is the underlining for this dress. I picked up a nylon organza for two reasons:
  1. It was significantly cheaper than the silk organza. 
  2. The colour was a gold/yellowish hue that I thought would work with my fashion fabric.    
In hindsight, I should have gone with the silk organza. Even though I love how the dress turned out with the underlining, I don't like the scratchy feel of the nylon organza around the armhole seam. And by the time it came to finish the hem, the nylon organza was fraying. I was not impressed. Sewing is filled with lessons, this is one of them. You get what you pay for.  

I fell for this pattern the moment I spotted it over at Etsy. It is a Sybil Connolly design. She was an Irish designer that made a name for herself on the world stage and had an impressive client list here in North America that included the Rockefellers, Julie Andrews, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy. First lady Jackie Kennedy wore a Sybil Connolly design when she sat for her official White House portrait. It was a pleated linen dress. In 1965, Connolly was named into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. You can find out more about Connolly and her life here.  

With an impressive CV and international fame I have to admit that Connolly was an unknown to me until this pattern entered my life.  

I now understand why her designs are considered a national treasure. They don't make dresses like this anymore. The pattern is full of perfect details. The front bodice piece has gathers and the inside bodice lining is darted with eight delicate darts that give it the perfect shape without adding bulk. I feared that the neckline would be too tight for my liking but it is perfect. There was quite a bit of hand-stitching that went into this dress and I have to tell you that part was enjoyable especially when I noticed what a difference those details make. I have never put this much time and energy into a dress. 

If you are considering this pattern, go-for-it! Seriously, despite all my whining and the length of time that it took to complete this pattern is a gem. This, my first version, is not an example of my finest sewing but I think the next one will have all my mistakes ironed out. I have a British wool in my stash  to be matched up with silk organza underlining for the next one. Considering how much work went into this one I think I'll save it as a summer project when I'll have more time to focus on all the hand-stitching and little details.

The pattern calls for a lap zipper but I chose an invisible zipper instead. It is the only change that I made other than lengthening the hemline and sewing smaller seam lines to fit my hips. I'll have to remember to make a below the waistline adjustment to give my hips some moving room without compromising the seam allowances. Other than that this pattern is perfect.  

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Have You Gone to a Thimble Party?

Yeah, I said "thimble party." This is a term not widely used now-a-days. It was a term used to describe a gathering of ladies engaged in the activities of a Lenten Sewing Club. Lenten Sewing Club, now there's another phrase you don't commonly hear. These references were commonly used in the early part of the last century.  

Women would gather to sew for charities around the lent season. Thus the name Lenten Sewing Club. It is Ash Wednesday today and the start of Lent. God knows, I can't give up chocolate or coffee. What can I say? I'm flawed. And I would be cranky if I tried to give up coffee. It is a sad fact. Chocolate might be easier but it would just make me plain sad. So needless to say, I'm not giving up any material pleasures that I hold dear to my stomach. 

Instead, I'm going to give up some of my sewing time to sew for a charity this Lent. 

For each week of Lent I'm going to sew up a baby onsie and receiving blanket. I hope to have six by the time Easter comes around. I might not have a thimble party to attend where I will be held accountable but I believe I can manage to get these done. I'll have to start picking the fabric and cutting after work today.  

Until then, Happy Sewing!  

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

My Open Letter to Vogue

Dear Vogue Patterns, 

Don't change (too much).  I love you just the way you are and I'm always excited to see the new designs that you deliver with each pattern release. You don't have to wow me each and every time with each and every pattern because I'm still trying to catch up on sewing up all the fabulous Vogue patterns that are in my stash.  

An Avid Vogue Pattern Sewer.

Shams over at Communing with Fabric wrote a very thoughtful and thought provoking open letter about her beefs with MBV. I like what Shams had to say because she didn't leave it there. She offered solutions and extended an invitation for others to voice their concerns with Vogue. I like people like that! I agree with some of her points that she made over the years but not with all of them.

She did have me thinking about how we're all quick to criticize and poke fun at the big four pattern companies and hold up the independent small pattern companies up on a pedestal.

What's up with that?

I just want to go on the record to say, I understand Sham's concerns but I have to speak for myself on this one.  I love everything about Vogue patterns. Is there room for growth and change. For sure! But they also offer fabulous products and services. I like that they offer easy and designer patterns and what some people might consider boring, I consider work appropriate. But on my time off from work I enjoy sewing and wearing something more on the funky side. There I said it, don't change (too much).

But Shams did raise a really interesting point about fit. I can see Sham's point about having to always do pattern adjustments. My pattern adjustments are to a different area than Shams described.

My suggestion for Vogue is to offer a personalized pattern grading service. Things are so different now than when I first started sewing. Now patterns are graded by computers. I'm thinking about Lekala Sewing patterns, a company that offers custom patterns according to your own measurements. Perhaps this might be something that MBV might consider to appease all of us with our own personal fitting issues and don't want to do the problem solving the old fashion way?

They can still offer the patterns as they traditionally do for those of us who do like doing the math but offer (at an additional cost) the option to have the pattern graded to your own personal measurements and body issues.

I'm totally not on board with wanting Vogue, Butterick and/or McCall's to adapt RTW sizing and RTW detailing. Or changing their sloper pattern. I find their sizing perfectly workable for my needs. And I like math. I just need to learn how to make a muslin so that I can check my work. I personally find RTW sizing to be ill-fitting and the reason I sew is so I have an alternative to RTW sizing and detailing. If I wanted RTW sizing and detailing I would shop for RTW and save myself a whole whack of cash and time. Sorry Shams, I can't back you up on this one.

And like Shams I don't want Vogue to abandon paper patterns in favour of downloadable patterns but see that it is a product offering that some people like. I don't mind waiting for my patterns to arrive in the mail when I order them online. If I wanted immediate gratification I would visit my local fabric store and pick up a pattern. Besides, for me nothing kills the mood than having to print off a pattern on the computer and then tape the piece together before I can cut out my fabric. I find downloadable patterns a big pain-in-the you-know-where. And what about those peeps that don't have internet service? I know that there are people who do like downloadable patterns but please offer both if you're thinking about going that route.

Hmm, crotch length. I don't have a problem with the crotch length on Vogue patterns and the length is such an easy fix. And I have a booty and thighs so I didn't get this issue. I do have pant-fitting issues but I found Sandra Betzina's book Fast Fit a valuable resource. Seriously, I really do recommend Betzina's book. This is another issue that Vogue can help consumers with if they offered a personalized grading and fitting service according to individual fitting needs.

The one thing that Shams did mention that I'm totally thrilled about...

Include the finished pattern measurements on the pattern envelope and in the catalog.
They will be doing this!!!! Very very soon.
This is excellent news! I will admit that I dislike having to search through the pattern pieces to find this information. It is an issue not limited to MBV patterns though. It would be nice if all pattern companies offered this.

Well, that is all that I have to say on the Vogue discussion. I guess I should put it into a letter and send it off to Vogue like Shams suggests. Thank you for the starting a great discussion.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

In Sewing News Today...

I'm almost finished the Sybil Connolley dress. I have to tell you I almost did not finish this project. And I'm glad that I didn't quit. I am really pleased with how it is turning out. It is nothing glamourously Oscar worthy but I think I can work it with my new navy colour rubber boots and a denim jacket if spring ever gets here.   

I finally decided on a zipper. I had a regular zipper that matched the orange but I was reluctant about sewing it because of the fabric. I will admit to having some fear that the fabric might pucker. I'll also admit that I'm have been known to sew less than perfect lap zippers. Needless to say, the dress does not have a lap zipper. For a couple of weeks, I also considered a hand-pick zipper. I've never installed a hand-pick zipper and I have to say that they do look lovely on other peeps blogs. Maybe one day I'll try it.

I chose a less-than-perfect colour match and went with an invisible zipper. First, I had to sit down with a seam ripper and open up the centre back before I installed the red invisible zipper. Once the zipper was installed I was on a roll.  All I have to do now is sew in one more sleeve and finish the hems. 

I'm going to call it a night soon and finish it up tomorrow. Until then... 

Happy Sewing!  

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Sew Grateful Pattern Give-away Winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered and left a comment on the Sew Grateful Give-away post. There were twelve peeps who are entered. Nikasha asked not to be entered so I did not count her comment as one of the entries.

The winner is... wait, in order to avoid any confusion I won't be using the Random number generator.

Instead, I'm going to throw everyone's name into a toque (that's Canadian for hat).

Give it a good shake.

And the winner is...

It is Macskakat, or Kat who blogs over at Modern Vintage Cupcakes and who appears to live in a much warmer place than here (did I mention that we're having an extreme windchill of minus forty-four tonight?). So this dress pattern should be perfect for a New Zealand local.

Congratulations Kat!

And that concludes the Sew Grateful Week festivities over here. Hope you had a great week! Thanks to Debi over at My Happy Sewing Place for hosting the events and organizing the links to everyone's give-aways and good reads. Until next year...

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...