Saturday, 30 September 2017

September in Review...


I had big plans for National Sewing Month.
National Sewing Month begins tomorrow and the theme is to sew for the beauty of it. I have quite a bit of sewing to do for my beautiful Mom. She wants a new jacket in black. I have a lovely napped wool fabric set aside for that project and splurged on some silk lining. And then she would like another dress in a navy satin back crepe. There is an Eva dress to make for a friend. For myself I would really like to concentrate on sewing some comfortable pieces of sleepwear. I'll see how these plans work out.    

So how did I do? That new jacket for my Mom is in the works. It's all cut out, the underlining is hand-stitched to the fashion fabric and that's about it. I have two weeks to get it done. Yikes! I did manage to get her dress done this month. And same with the Eva dress for my friend. I actually made two, one didn't work out and then there was some unforeseen pattern grading before sewing a second one. Sleepwear for myself didn't even make it onto the radar.  

Clockwise Top L to R: Microwave cozy, no pattern used; (centre) linen Eva dress, Tessuti patterns; silk infinity scarf, no pattern used; satin back crepe dress, Simplicity 2372; (bottom L corner) linen Eva dress, Tessuti patterns.  
As seen above two unplanned items made it out of the sewing workspace. A silk infinity scarf when this beautiful fabric went on sale. And I sold another microwave cozy, this one was a made-to-order request.    

The Fasts:

I can't say that I stayed away from buying any fabric this month (see the silk infinity scarf) but I do believe I lost my desire to shop for fabric after recording my fabric collection in binders. 

Yes, it certainly was an eye-opening experience. This just might be the thing that helps me stay on track. 

The Stats:

Quantity Used from the stash this Month 
Quantity Used this Year
Added to the Stash this year
Basting Tape
1 metre
4.83 metres
Bias Tape
 5.6 metres
21.2 metres
10 metres


Cord Stopper


32.3 metres
38 metres
9.3 metres
103.9 metres
Fusible Tape
 2 metres
43.26 metres
6 rolls
Hand needles

Hook and Eyes

0.5 metres
7.2 metres
6 metres
Lace trim
2.6 metres
Pattern (new)

Pattern (previously used--TNT)

1.1 metres
5.3 metres
Serger needles

Serger thread

Sewing machine needles

2 metres
7 metres


The Plans

I don't even know if I should attempt to make plans since this month's plans turned out to be such a disaster. But here goes, 
  1. Sew that cardigan style jacket for Mom.  This one is a priority.  
  2. I need a fancy dress for an upcoming event in two weeks.  I was thinking about another Eva dress in a grey silk fabric but I'm not all that excited about sewing another version of the dress. I might have over-dosed on the pattern. But if I don't sew it, I have no idea what will replace it.    
  3. A jacket to go with said fancy dress. 
  4. I still want to sew some sleepwear.  
  5. And could you believe that I entered the coat contest over at Pattern Review. I have OOP Vogue 1213 that looks like a fun pattern to try. We'll see if there is time.    

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Blue Linen Eva Dress

Okay, I've made a few of these but the latest one was the wrong size. So much so that I had to do some research into how to grade the pattern to achieve the correct size.  

After getting the nod that the muslin was a good fit, I got to work cutting a new dress.  

I'm thrilled that this project is finished and I can't wait to deliver it to my friend. I hope she likes it.  

The Stats:  

Fabric:  3 metres 100% linen

Bias Tape:  3 metres

Thread:  finished off 1 spool

Knit-N-Stable tape:  1 metre

Pattern:  The Eva dress by Tessuti Patterns

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Burda pattern paper, pencils, pens, cutting table, pins, pin cushions, scissors, thread clippers, sewing machine, serger, threads, iron, ironing board, measuring tape, rulers (straight and curved), tweezers, screw driver, and coffee.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 24 September 2017

In Sewing News Today...

I picked up some new cotton fabrics recently to make microwave cozies and here is the latest one.

I'm calling this one, "Waiter, there's a fly in my microwave bowl cozy!" Haha, sometimes I crack myself up. I really need to replenish the microwave bowl cozy stock for the upcoming holiday season but I've been busy with other projects.  

One thing I've been busy with this past week is pattern grading. And the pattern that I was trying to grade worked out! I was pretty thrilled and it has given me the confidence to work on a pattern that is in a smaller size than I need.  

I've made this jumpsuit back-in-the-day when I was a smaller size and I wouldn't mind to make another one so once I get all the projects I have on the go done I'll be able to tackle this project. I have some navy sateen fabric in mind for this project.  

First up is to fix the Eva dress for my friend.  

I might actually have to start from scratch if I can't make the skirt portion work with the new bodice. And then I need to get to work on a wool jacket for Mama R.  I'll be using out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 8916 and know the changes she likes so there is have the battle won. I just need to find the time.  

And then I need a special occasion outfit for myself. I plan to make another Eva dress in a steel grey silk with a black velvet jacket using this pattern.   

I haven't used this pattern yet so fingers crossed it works out because I don't think I have time to sew a muslin. The two jackets and silk Eva dress have to be complete in less than three weeks. Yikes! And the linen Eva dress is up first. It's going to be a busy couple of weeks. Throw in there that I signed up to enter a coat project in the Pattern Review Coat contest next month. Oy! Well, I should get busy and stop procrastinating.  

Happy Sewing!  

Friday, 22 September 2017

With Some Focus, Careful Measurements, and Coffee...

I was able to grade a pattern.

This is the first time that I have actually sat down and tried to grade a pattern by hand. It's a big deal to me. This just might open up a whole world of possibilities. But before I get ahead of myself. I used two different methods. First, I tried the shifting method. The promise is that "this is simpler, quicker, and quite as accurate as the [marking and slashing method] (Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences, 17)." But it came with a warning that "the beginner will do well to master the [marking-and-slashing method] before taking up [the shifting method]." 

I have to agree. The marking-and-slashing method was certainly more time consuming but I have to admit that I felt more confident doing this method over the shifting method.  I found that my side seam and shoulder seam were off by an 1/16" to 1/8" when I did the shifting method, where I didn't have any issues when I did the marking-and-slashing method. 

I was most worried about how the sleeves would turn out on the marking-and-slashing method but they fit perfectly. That has made this little vintage Pattern Designing book a treasured item in my workspace.  

All that is left is to have these muslins fitted. Fingers are crossed they work out.  

Happy Sewing!  

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Grading for a Larger Size

This will be good practice. That's what I'm telling myself.

Remember the latest Eva dress that I made for a friend. Well, it's back to the drawing board on this one. It doesn't fit. I've been informed that the sleeves and bodice are too tight. My linen dress was given as a test garment and I proceeded after being told that it was a size too small. Sadly and foolishly, I proceeded without seeing it on my friend or getting her measurements and just went ahead with sewing the largest size that the Eva dress came in. I know, I know, what the heck was I thinking? This is why I typically stay away from sewing for others--fit. Fit is always the biggest challenge.   

There is only enough linen fabric to make one more Eva dress so I have to make a muslin. I should have made a muslin in the first place.  

Grading a pattern. Yeah if you listen to all those folks trying to sell patterns on Etsy they'll have you convinced that it is an easy process. They must be professionals. And why is it that there are no modern sewing books that help with grading a pattern? There is a lot of information out there about alterations but there is a difference. Grading is used to change a size whereas alterations are more specific changes to a certain area of an individual's shape. I guess it's deemed un-necessary in the day of multi-sized patterns.  

The only mention of grading for changes in size can be found in my vintage sewing books from the  early to mid-1900s or my vintage Threads magazines.  
Grading, or the increasing or decreasing of the size of the pattern, is a fundamental process of pattern making that every user of patterns should understand, especially the professional worker (Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, Ltd.). 
And this is why I shouldn't be sewing for others. I found some encouragement in the April/May 2017 edition of Sew News when I read, "[g]rading up two or three sizes is definitely possible, though it's easier on simpler patterns with few pieces." The Eva dress is a simple design. I can do this!  

Threads magazine, September 2006 (number 126), warns that "pattern sizes and ready-to-wear sizes aren't the same. As a general rule, your pattern size will be two or more sizes larger than your usual ready-to-wear size." This makes sense as to why the Eva dress didn't fit my friend. I only wish I discovered this important piece of information before I worked on the dress.    

I do like that the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Science book on Pattern Designing explains how to do both the slash and spreading method as well as the shifting method.  Threads magazine, June / July 1990 (number 29), also contains an excellent article. Off-the-Chart Sizes by Nancy Bryant details the slash and spread method for sizes up to 22 and grading measurements for collars and cuffs. I am going to try the shifting method since it is a simple design without any darts.  

Well, stay tuned and we'll see how this turns out.  

Happy Sewing!     

Friday, 15 September 2017

One More Copy: Simplicity 2372

Just over three years ago I made Mama R a navy satin crepe dress. I was surprised when she recently asked for another one. Hmmm, curious, I inquired what was up. Apparently, the original has some water stains from when it was pressed and water leaked from her iron.

Of course, it was no problem since I still had some left over fabric. When we found this satin back crepe fabric in the bargain centre at Fabricland years ago, we picked up all that was on the bolt. There was more than five metres for sure because I was able to make two dresses and a cardigan style jacket. It was a good deal and even though I was reluctant back then to sew satin back crepe, I have since overcome my apprehension as I learned a few tricks along the way.

This is the last of the fabric in this colour. I wish I could say that it was the last of the polyester satin back crepe but I picked up some more in a light blue colour thinking that Mama R would like it. I was wrong. No idea what I'm going to do with the last of the satin back crepe in my stash. Satin back crepe robe? But I digress... The fabric was pre-treated with a tumble through the washing machine, a tumble through the dryer and a good press before it made it to the cutting table.

The pattern is Mama R's go-to-favourite, Simplicity 2372. Same changes as the last half dozen or so that I've made previous to this one, so I won't bore you with anymore details. The only other change that was new was to the hem. I had to baste this one three times before I got the length right. Mama R was trying it on with a new pair of shoes.

The Stats:

Fabric:  2.3 metres

Interfacing:  0.5 fusible

Zipper:  22" invisible zipper

Basting tape:  44" double sided tape

Pattern:  Simplicity 2372

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, scissors, sewing machine, invisible zipper foot, regular zipper foot, blind hem foot, serger, threads, iron, ironing board, sleeve ham, tailor's ham, hand needle, and coffee.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Updating With Some Parisan Logic

I've been cleaning out my closet. I'm clearing out all of the items that are taking up room in my closet that I don't enjoy wearing or just don't fit into my current lifestyle. My new philosophy is that life is too short to wear uncomfortable clothes or anything that doesn't make you feel your best.  

First up is this t-shirt.

Made in August 2016, this gray polyester knit t-shirt is the worst for pilling. And I really dislike fabrics that do not hold up. Call me a fabric snob but I don't hold a lot of trust in the polyesters that I'm seeing in the stores.  Parisan Logic to apply here:  sew with quality fabrics.  

Talking about less-than-desirable polyester fabric, I would really like to throw this one out but I'll hold on to it for awhile longer because I could wear it to work where I wouldn't mind if it gets ruined. I work in a dusty environment where there is a lot of physical work, not somewhere I want to wear my best clothes. Parisan logic:  Say no to trends.  Just because scuba knit was the new fabric everyone was sewing doesn't mean it would work for me.  

Another polyester knit that doesn't cut it. It's too warm to wear in the summer and it doesn't keep me warm in the winter. This was actually my muslin it helped to see that the neckline was too wide so I guess it served it's purpose.  Parisan logic:  Know what works.  

What was I thinking when I made sleeveless pullover top in a boiled wool?  Oh yeah, I was thinking about wearing it with that gray t-shirt. It's just not practical.  Parisan logic:  think capsule wardrobe.  

Yeah, another polyester garment. But that is not why this one is getting the boot. Not everyone looks good in a wrap dress. I'm one of those people. Parisan logic:  A good fit is everything.   

That includes this one too. It was conservative enough for working in a catholic school but it wasn't my style. I did like working with the vintage pattern and underlining a garment.  Parisan logic:  Dress for yourself, and only yourself.  

This Lynn Mizono top was a fun make. And I do love the cotton print but the sleeves are too wide and don't quite work for my lifestyle.  Parisan logic:  Simplicity is king.  

Well, even though I'm saying good-bye to these pieces I don't regret making them. Okay, maybe the pilling polyester and scuba knit. Just kidding. All of these pieces have taught me some valuable lessons, increased my sewing skills and I had fun sewing them.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Silk Infinity Scarf

This evening there was a simple sewing project that came out of the workspace. No pattern, just a beautiful piece of silk.  

I started with less than a metre folding it in half width-wise and carefully pinning wrong sides together with silk pins. Can I just say that silk pins are excellent to use for light weight fabrics. They're worth every penny.  

I sewed a 3/8" seam and then trimmed before turning, pressing and finished a french seam.

Right sides together I stitched the selvage edges together making sure to leave an opening to turn it over and then hand stitched the opening close.  Easy peasy.  

This beautiful silk fabric is a Fabricland find. Just like working with silk pins, this fabric demands a fine needle both for hand-stitching and the sewing machine. I tested several needles and threads before proceeding and ended up going with Klassé Sharps #70, 2.6 stitch length on the sewing machine and polyester thread.  

The Stats:

Fabric:  0.7 metres

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, scissors, silk pins, thread clippers, hand needle, iron, ironing board, and coffee.  

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 8 September 2017

In Sewing News Today...

Well, that went fast!  

I'm talking about round 1 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee contest. The first round was a pencil skirt and today is the deadline for the entries. It's not going to happen for me. I'm working later today and right now I'm up icing my back/shoulder when I should be in bed sleeping and dreaming about fall sewing projects. I popped my rib last week and that has been playing havoc in my sleep patterns and sewing schedule. But I digress... 

The folks at Pattern Review threw a wrecking ball into this round and added it had to be inspired by a piece of music or by a musician. I found a photo of Miley Cyrus wearing a metallic pencil skirt  while doing an internet search that reminded me of this piece of fabric in my stash. 

I thought this could be fun but I'm not all that comfortable with knee length skirts so I thought I might try to get away with something longer.  

Enter out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 2091. I was thinking about the skirt portion of view C. I know, I was probably pushing the pattern envelope on that one. And even though I'm missing the deadline and won't enter it in the contest, I just might go ahead and make it for fun. There are so many creative entries so far, I especially like reading what song, artist or musical genre inspired the entries.  

In other sewing news... 

I recently found this pattern, OOP Vogue 9951, over at Etsy and I have a beautiful silk plaid fabric that I would like to try view B in but the pattern says that it's not suitable for plaid. Do you listen to the fabric suggestions on a pattern envelope? Or are you a rule breaker? I think I'm going to go ahead and break some rules. Fingers crossed it works out.    

Well that is all in sewing news today. I'm going to try to sneak in a few more zzz's.  

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Blue Linen Eva Dress

There are plans to sew one more Eva dress by Tessuti Patterns but this one is not it. This version is for a friend. A very patient friend because it should not have taken me as long as it did to make it.  

The fabric is 100% linen from my stash. I used the steam method to preshrink the fabric before I proceeded with cutting it out. Tessuti patterns come with all sizes XS to L which was really handy. I didn't use the order laid out in the pattern instructions, instead I sewed it up as I did the other versions I made for myself.  

The Stats:  

Fabric:  3 metres 

Bias Tape:  2.8 metres

Fusible Tape:  1 metre Knit-N-Stable tape

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, walking foot, regular presser foot, cutting table, measuring tape, markers, Burda tracing paper, serger, threads, scissors, thread clippers, screwdriver, tailor's ham, iron, ironing board, pins, many breaks and coffee.  

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 4 September 2017

Labour Day

For many of us, sewing is a creative outlet, a labour of love. I know that I enjoy my sewing time. It is a time of leisure filled music, challenges, breaks and even making time for tea. I don't enjoy repetitive sewing. Like those times when I have stacks of microwave cozies to sew for an order or metres and metres of rolled hems to sew for church decorations. I feel trapped by time trying to meet a deadline and putting my body through the strain of sitting at the machine, mindlessly sewing straight lines and repeating, over and over. And as we're celebrating Labour Day this long weekend it has me thinking about workers that have worked long and hard for rights we enjoy today? Rana Plaza is fresh in our collective memories but the plight of textile workers has been a historic one that has travelled across many borders. 

{Source:  Eaton's Archival Collection}

Many battles were won and lost in the fight for workers' rights. In nineteen thirty-one Canada was home to a general strike of dressmakers, resulting in an unsuccessful fight for workers' rights. Many working in the textile industry here and abroad still work for the legally allowed minimum wage and in physically demanding jobs putting their lives and health at risk. Yet, we still seem to be oblivious to this when we're out shopping.  

British journalist Lucy Siegle highlights the fact that despite campaigns like Fashion Revolution and patting ourselves on the backs for labour right gains there is still a great deal of exploitation that's occurring through fast fashion. It is not just fast fashion that is the culprit, there are other areas that we can make a difference.  

So, how are you marking this long weekend? Will your sewing be making a difference?  

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Pencil Skirt

If it weren't for the first round of Pattern Review's Sewing Bee contest, would you consider making a pencil skirt? I could honestly say that it wasn't even on my radar until I starting reading the contest rules. Even though a pencil skirt wasn't on top of my list, after doing a little internet research while nursing a sore back yesterday, I'm starting to consider it as a quick little project that I can whip up just for fun. Yup, last night I had another SQUIRREL! moment.  

The pencil skirt has a very interesting history? Check it out here. Christian Dior is credited for making the pencil skirt popular but there seems to be some debate as to the date line as to it's first appearance. Many resources say it was the 1950s and others argue the late 1940s.  

{Source:  Glamour Daze}

All seem to agree that it was popularized after the war and the emergence of Dior's New Look fashions.  

Even though Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn helped to promote this style into iconic status there is evidence that it had an impact well before those iconic big screen moments.  

What all can agree on is that the pencil skirt in it's many lengths and form has stood the test of time. As fabrics change and evolve so will the classic shape of the pencil skirt. 

Pattern Review has a little twist thrown in to this first round. The pencil skirt has to be influenced by music or a musician. When I first thought of pencil skirt in music history I though of those guitar slinging back-up singers hip swingers. 

{Source:  Robert Palmer music video for Addicted to Love}
However, my pencil skirt inspiration is coming from a different source.  

{Source:  Miley Cyrus at the 2012 iHeart Radio Music Awards}
Yes, never in a million years did I think that Miley Cyrus' pencil skirt would be the skirt that has inspired me. But it did. I'm not copying this one in colour or shape and she's certainly not my body double but it led me to a fabric in my stash and a DKNY pattern that I can tweak. You'll just have to stay tuned. Unless, there is another Squirrel! moment.  

Happy Sewing!  

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Sad News...

Many of us woke up to the news that Nancy Zieman posted a message to the sewing community early this morning. By the time I learned of her retirement news, the link to her message wasn't working. Linda, a Pattern Review member, posted a copy of her announcement for those who were not able to access it and I thought I would share it here as well. Grab some tissue.  
A Personal Note From Nancy
by Nancy Zieman

There are many ways to celebrate a retirement and to say goodbye. Some might choose a gathering of close family and friends, a big party, or perhaps a quiet goodbye. I’ve decided to say goodbye to you—my loyal viewers, readers, and customers—with a personal note.

My retirement came as a shock to my family and me. As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in March of 2015. Another primary cancer—breast cancer—was found four months later. I was treated with surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation through May of 2016. During this time, my staff, friends and I continued to produce Sewing With Nancy shows, some creatively repackaged, and other brand-new episodes. My amazing team worked diligently to help me with the book-writing process, develop new products, and keep me up to speed. We skipped a few beats, but not too many.

Earlier this year, my husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary and vacations were enjoyed. Then, life changed. A scan in July showed that one of the cancers had metastasized and additional treatments would not be helpful. It was a devastating day, realizing that my life and my career, as I had known it, would end.

During these last six weeks, I’ve been having meaningful conversations with family and friends—a bittersweet time. My staff and I have been working on rearranging my business, Nancy Zieman Productions (I sold Nancy’s Notions to the Tacony Corporation in 2003), determining how to wrap up Sewing With Nancy, and figuring out how to continue our valuable partnerships with Wisconsin Public Television—mainly Quilt Expo, which will continue.

I recorded new Sewing With Nancy shows right up to my diagnosis. You’ll find 15 new episodes this season, with reissues of programs to fill this season. Plus, my hope is that the Sewing With Nancy series will continue to air for years to come. The last episode that we recorded is entitled, “I Sew For Fun,” a show on team sewing with kids ages 5-9. My granddaughters will be featured; I marvel at this miracle.

It is not easy to say goodbye, especially since the terms were totally unexpected. I have learned during these past weeks to concentrate on my faith. You may not share my beliefs; I respect that, yet I would not be true to myself if
I did not state the verse that I am focusing on during this last journey. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all you do and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I am finding great peace today, knowing that I can thank you for your many years of dedication, viewership, and friendship. I have had a great and long career, starting Nancy’s Notions in 1979 and Sewing With Nancy in 1982. We’ve recorded 36 seasons of Sewing With Nancy, which totals 910 shows. (The first and last seasons did not have the customary 26 episodes; only I have been keeping track of the number!) I have been blessed with working with quality, amazing people.

So, with a heavy, yet humble heart, I thank you and say goodbye.

Your friend,
Nancy Zieman
It is not easy to read her message and come to terms that this is her goodbye message. It's sad. Even though she previously shared the news of her battle with cancer, there was great hope that she would win this battle.  

With sadness at this news, there is also gratitude for her contributions to the sewing community. Nancy Zieman is a pioneer, sharing her knowledge before YouTube videos and sewing blogs through her books and PBS television series, Sewing With Nancy. Many Saturday afternoons were spent with a cup of coffee, sitting in front of the television, soaking up the information she shared with her viewers. Even though I'm not a quilter I still tuned in to the program. I especially enjoyed her interviews in the second half of the program where she would introduce us to creative and generous souls that inspire us to share our knowledge and gifts.  

Well, it's time to make my coffee and visit with Nancy while sending good vibes and prayers to her and her family.  ~sigh~

In Sewing News Today, "New" Patterns for Fall

McCall's released their "New Patterns for Fall" collection last night and in "the collection" there were some previously seen or should I say previously new patterns. I only noticed when I came across this pattern, McCall's 7480.  

It's a pattern I was considering to use with a double faced fabric until I spotted this pattern, Kwik Sew 4197 a couple of days ago.  

And then my pattern decision changed. But I digress... 

The more I explored the "new" for fall collection, I realized that there were more than one or two previously new fall patterns included in the collection. Clever marketing, since some of the older "new" patterns are still worthy of an encore. But I wasn't wow'd. The only Archive Collection pattern was a previously released one, otherwise it was basic RTW styles, costumes, and kids clothing. Nothing that peaked my interest this time around. This is a good thing since I have a lot on my sewing table at the moment.    

Well, that's all in sewing news today.  

Happy Sewing!  

Friday, 1 September 2017

Happy National Sewing Month!

I have big plans to help me celebrate National Sewing Month. Since this year's theme is to sew for the beauty of it, I'm going to start off my first project for Mama R. She has been waiting for another cardigan style jacket for quite some time. Her request is for one in black and I found a beautiful wool with a soft nap and I'm going all out and lining it in silk. I have some colourful silk charmeuse but Mama R was hoping for something, hmmm, let's say less loud. The other day, I found some black silk satin that I think she'll like more.  

My most beautiful work comes when I take my time and that is what this year's theme means to me. I'm not rushing through this project or taking any short cuts. I'm taking my time with all the hand-stitching even if it means I only make one project this month. But I hope to get around to a little special project for moi. Stay tuned.   

How about you? How will you be celebrating National Sewing Month?  

Happy Sewing!  

June in Review...

As things start to re-open in this part of the country, there is certainly a shift in how I view things that I took for granted pre-pandemi...