Exciting News!

I just realized, it has been quite awhile since my last blog post. So much has happened since September 2020! Covid is still around, but with vaccinations, I hope a return to normalcy returns soon. I’ve been fully vaccinated as of the end of January. Yay!

Along with covid, I’ve been staying home more and sewing more. Which brings me to my exciting news: I’ve been approved by insurance to have a breast reduction done this summer! I have been suffering from back pain for awhile to which the chiropractor has done minimal to lesson the pain. Massages help, but even standing to cut out fabric causes so much pain. For those who are curious, I am 5’7’, around 170 pounds, and a UK 32GG. Very excited to require less full bust adjustments! I have also been working to lose weight (started around 180, so making progress!).

So, with that in mind, my sewing has been related to making post-surgery recovery outfits. Currently, I have finished up two items: the Carolyn Pajamas using the short-sleeved shirt and shorts with my first time making this set with piping and the Hawthorn by Colette patterns. I have plans for at least one more pair of Carolyn pajamas and a few other pieces.

First, the Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Core patterns. Love these! I’ve made several sets (shorts, un-cuffed pants, un-cuffed long-sleeved shirt). This time, I made a size 12 for the bust with no FBA, graded to a size 14 at the waist and size 16 at the hips. Overall, they fit great! The instructions for Closet Core patterns are always excellent.

Now, I bought pre-made piping from my local fabric store, Textile Fabrics, so to ensure it was within the seam allowance, I basted a line of stitching at the 5/8” seam allowance, then placed my piping along this line, then stitched the piping down before stitching the collar, facing, and cuffs together. It’s an extra step, but so worth it! Then when I sew the piece with the basted piping to the non-piped piece, I follow the basting lines on the piped piece. You can see the nice piping below. Side note: I did not try to pattern match the breast pocket at all.

Close up of piping.

Love how they turned out! the cat knitting fabric is perfect! It was purchased from another local store, Craft South. I didn’t have quite enough for the cuffs and facings, so I did those in a contrast color. So comfy!

Carolyn Pajamas

Since I used the size 12 bust, the top is plenty roomy. I was between a 10 and 12. Since I wanted comfy pjs, I went with the 12 for a looser fit.

Fits well!

Now, second up is the Hawthorn dress by Colette/Seamwork. I made this is in Version 3 with this gorgeous floral cotton voile from Mood Fabrics.

Overall, directions were good. When I got confused, the Colette sew along posts were very helpful.

Bodice portion of the Hawthorn dress.

The only pattern change I made was to add inseam pockets using the pocket pieces from one of my Gertie dress patterns. Generally, these are placed around 1-2” below the waist. I just used the notch marks off the Gertie pattern and applied them to the skirt pieces of the Hawthorn. I made a size 10 bust graded to size 12 waist/hips. This turned out to be a little big in the waist, so I nipped in the sides 2”, 1” on each side. Perfect! I didn’t do my usual sway back adjustment. If I make this again, I definitely will. Usually this entails taking a bit off the bottom of the center back and grading up to the sides. 1” usually does it for me.

Hawthorn front
Hawthorn back

And these buttons! There are a total of 13! So thankful for my automatic button hole feature of my sewing machine! Also, per my Janome manual, I machine stitched my buttons on. Overall, this is really simple. You turn off the feed dogs, use a wide zigzag, then pull the strings to the back and knot them. The buttons were purchased from Etsy. What is really awesome about them is they were produced in the 1940s, so they really are vintage. They are listed as mother of Pearl vintage shirt buttons from AddVintage seller on Etsy.

Also, I made my own bias tape for the shoulders using this Seamwork tutorial. I needed 1/4” double fold, so I used 1” strips and my bias tape maker from Joann’s.

Overall, very happy with these two makes!

Centauree Dress

I bought another Stay Home and Sew box from Needle Sharp, this time the Centauree dress by Deer and Doe patterns. Love it!

I traced out a size 44 bust and graded to size 46 waist and hips. The only changes I needed to make were a 3” FBA (full bust adjustment), 1/2” sway back adjustment, and lengthened the waist a 1/2”. Deer and Doe had an awesome tutorial on how to do the full bust adjustment. Considering the unique style lines of the front, this was an amazing discovery. The other change I made was to add in seam side pockets using the pocket pieces and instructions from the Colette Chantilly dress.

Overall, the construction was easy and the dress came together quickly. The part that took the longest was making the self fabric bias tape. On the inside, I serged all my seams so they would stay pretty.

Now…I did end up putting the back bodice piece in upside down. Wow. Not sure how I managed to do that. So, it looks a little off, but not enough for me to undo and redo everything. Overall, love the dress and the fit, :).

The fabric is this awesome cotton with a slight texture and so soft. Plus, this color is so pretty.

Overall, love this fabric box service so much, I decided to subscribe to their monthly boxes. And the awesome part is, you can skip any month you don’t want. So easy! The fabrics are always such great quality and usually have a bit left over.

By Hand London Rumana Coat in Pink!

So… I made this coat a long time ago… in November 2019. Life got a little away from me this year in terms of blogging. I believe the last thing I blogged about was summer 2019.

Now for the coat. This is the Rumana coat from By Hand London. Love it! I traced out a size 12 and did a 2.5” FBA, then graded the seams from 5/8” to 3/8” at the hips for about 2” of extra ease. I also did a 1” away back adjustment, moved the buttons up 4” and made 4 button holes, and shortened the pattern, but I can’t remember how much, somewhere between 4 and 6”.

Overall, the instructions were well written and I didn’t run into issues in constructing the garment. The issue I ran into was when I decided to interline my coat with Thinsulate. I used a medium thickness, CS150. So first I underlined the lining pieces, a gorgeous light pink Bemberg from Vogue Fabrics (where I purchased the Thinsulate as well). This part was time consuming, but went well.

Lots of pins needed for underlining the slippery Bemberg!

All was going well: awesome pockets, beautiful Italian fuchsia wool/cashmere coating from Mood Fabrics, slippery Bemberg, warm Thinsulate… Then after trying on the coat with both exterior and lining… too tight! I misjudged how much extra space the Thinsulate would take. I’d gone up a size thinking that would be sufficient, nope! So I took in the seams of the lining, let out the seams of the exterior fabric and much better. Note to self: cut out lining regular size and cut out exterior fabric 1 size up.

You can can see how much extra bull the Thinsulate caused here.

Also, Thinsulate is very sensitive to heat, so be careful with the iron! I accidentally melted the Thinsulate in the upper back a bit. Oops! But you can’t tell thankfully.

And I added a tag!

My sewing machine’s automatic buttonhole maker really didn’t like the thickness of the coat and “ate” several attempts. I ended up having to zigzag and do them manually.

The messed up button hole.
The button holes I completed manually.

All in all, love how my coat turned out and it was perfect for colder winter days. The cashmere wool is so soft. And that color!

Side. Lovely slightly curved 2 piece sleeves.
Wearing my lovely coat out.

Isla Trench Coat

I’ve realized I’m a bit behind on my blog posts… I made this coat prior to my trip to Paris in early June. I love it! I realized I did the back vent lining attachment a bit wrong, but most people won’t notice that, ;). The pattern is the Isla Trench Coat by Named Pattern.

Overall, the instructions were good, minus the vent lining to exterior attachment and flap pocket construction. I cut a US size 12, EU size 44, with 3″ FBA.

I realized I hadn’t lengthened the cape along with lowering the bust point, so the dart showed instead of being hidden by the cape. Luckily, I had enough extra fabric to redo the front capelet pieces.

As you can see, major difference!

The other tricky spot was the flap pockets. It was a little confusing, so I took pics as I went to maybe help others out in the future, ;). I took images each step of the way.

I made this coat out of a water resistant polyester twill from Mood Fabrics with a blue polyester plaid lining from Jo-Ann’s that was on sale. Perfect for a water resistant trench coat for Tennessee springs, ;).

I interfaced my pieces using a lightweight nylon knit interfacing purchased from Vogue Fabrics. As my fabric was already a little stiff, this offered just enough extra support for the high stress points and buttons.

Overall, the fabric was easy to work with and is water resistant enough for a drizzle but not a downpour. I wore it nearly everyday while in Paris.

Added a pop of collar to the under collar.

Photos of me wearing my beautiful trench coat in Paris, ;).

Floral Magnolia Dress

I was looking for a fun summer dress and came across the Magnolia Dress by Deer & Doe: I just had to make one, or two, ;). I perused fabric options at fabric.com and came across this gorgeous Floral crepe and green Dutchess stretch crepe that will make a gorgeous sleeveless long version. I used the floral for Version B. I did a 2″ FBA following Deer & Doe’s tutorial, but then ended up moving the front bust seam over an inch by cutting 1″ off the front side, thus negating the FBA. I made a 1/2″ swayback adjustment. But it fits perfectly! Plus he fabric has a slight stretch.

Otherwise, I just followed the pattern instructions with no other changes. I made a size 44 based off of my waist and hip measurements. For reference, I wear a size 10-12 in RTW and a 34G. When the pattern mentions being drafted near a C/D cup, I would say it is closer to a D which was perfect for me.

I serged all of my seams to prevent fraying. Love this dress! It is such a nice, lightweight, and flowy dress. This was my first go at butterfly sleeves, and I love them!

J’adore Mon L’amour Dress

I love this dress!!! I purchased the L’Amour pattern as a pre-order back when Gertie with Charm Patterns was raising funds through Kickstarter. I gathered all of my materials and had even fitted the bodice this past summer, then I got distracted, ;). I was finally able to finish this beautiful dress this past January, just in time for the Spring like temps in early January before the weather got cold again.

Have I mentioned how much I love this dress? hahaha. The L’Amour dress is a 40’s/50’s dress with a fun circle skirt, in-seam pockets, and decorative straps that can be worn a variety of ways. With the structure of spiral steel boning, the straps are unnecessary for function, but love the design feature!

I did have to make a few changes to the bodice to get it to fit my body shape. Love that the bodice went to a DD cup, made the bust adjustments so much easier! I moved the apex point over a 1/2″ so that the princess seam was centered over my natural bust point, shaved off 1/8″ to decrease pointiness, and took in the neckline 1/4″ to take a little gaping out of the neckline. Otherwise, no changes were needed, :). Below I have included an image of the side and center bust lining pieces. Transferring the changes to the exterior pieces was a little tricky with the side front being split into two pieces to fit the straps, but it worked out well.

Gertie’s directions are amazing as always with a lot of detail, easy to read and understand, and lots of great pictures to help us, visual learners.

Hemming is always my least favorite part, but I managed to get that skirt done, ;). Overall, the fit is perfect. I even knitted a matching cardigan, the Vianne Cardigan by Andi at Untangling Knots.


Lastly, pics of the finished dress! I also took pics of me wearing the straps in several different ways.

My favorite is the criss-cross.


Then there is the halter-top.


The bow-tie.


The low in back.


And just an image of the amazing fit from the back.


Simplicity 1016 Coat

I was excited to finally have the opportunity to create this gorgeous coat. This is Simplicity 1016.

Unfortunately, I ran out of my thin Thinsulate before finishing the cloak. The Thinsulate I found online turned out to be thicker, so it’s not as draped as expected, but definitely warm!

The wool is a wool/polyester blend Melton from Fabric.com in a color called Petrol. Love it! Such a gorgeous teal color, and nice and warm. The fabric was wonderful to work with.

I did my usual FBA, but made the error of using the Vogue princess seam directions first, oops! Basically with the Vogue FBA method you add the extra width to the front piece, but I needed to add it to the side front piece. Once I did that, it fit much better. If I were to make this coat again I would lower the bust curve down about an inch as it’s a little high on me.

The actual construction went smoothly. I underlined my lining with the Thinsulate, and then just followed the directions. They were well written and easy to follow. This was my fourth coat, so I only had to refer to the directions a few times. Of course when I was attaching the sleeve lining to the exterior coat sleeve I sewed one the wrong direction, but an easy enough fix.

I cut out the size 14, but graded the hips out to a 16. The only other adjustment I made was the 3″ FBA. The coat fits very well and I love it, :). I haven’t had a chance to make the matching belt yet, soon though!

Photos from my glacier explorations in Iceland.

Standing on a beach in Iceland.

It survived the snow as well, :).

Simplicity Workout Tank

I’ve been looking to make more workout clothes and bought this Simplicity pattern awhile ago. I made it a few weeks ago, but just now getting around to posting about it. This is the Simplicity 8338. Other than my 2″ FBA, this was a straight size medium.

I decided to do a 2″ FBA as its already a loose pattern. Couldn’t find any tutorials so I photoed my progress.

1st I drew my 2 lines across the bust horizontally and down from the center front through the apex point.

2nd I drew my line to about half way up the armhole.

Then I cut the lines and moved them around to get my 1″. I drew and cut another horizontal line near the bottom to add some length per the usual FBA protocol.

Then I took out the bust dart that was created in the previous step by cutting along the original lines and folding it back up. Then drew out my original straight line down from the bust point to the waist.

Then moved the left side back in towards the right to take out the excess created in folding the side dart.

Then I redrew the curve along the bottom portion.

Had to add extra bits of paper along the bottom.

And voila! My finished FBA adjusted front pattern piece.

So comfy, practical, and cute. The sewing instructions were well-written, so I didn’t make any changes. Overall this was a quick and easy project.

McCall 6700 Knit Floral

I loved my green and blue version so much, I wanted to make another maxi version. Love the McCall 6700 pattern. This pattern is no longer available for sale from McCall’s, but there are a few versions on sites like Etsy here.

I found this gorgeous floral rayon mix knit at Jo-Ann’s. I needed about 2 3/4 yards and they barely had 2 1/2 yards on the bolt so I was fearful I wouldn’t have enough. After some creative pattern Tetris I managed to have just enough, yay! Pre-washed the fabric, then let it hang for a day after I made it (shaving off 5.5″!!!), only to have it grow another inch after wearing/washing it again…at least 1″ and not 6″, ;). That’s rayon jersey for you.

I used the same pattern pieces as last time but nixed the belt as I never used it, and didn’t do the long straps tying the back pieces together. I will be making something to connect the back pieces as it turns out this fabric is much more stretchy and floaty, thus this version requires those straps to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. I did put some tacks in the front pieces to keep those together.

I also decided to add in-seam pockets this time. Perfect! Just used pockets from one of my Gertie patterns. If pockets are an option, I always add them.

For the hem and hemming of the sleeves I used my twin needle. I use this option so much, especially with knit fabrics.

Love it! So pretty, floaty, and summery, :).

Orsola in Silk

As soon as I saw the Orsola dress pattern, I knew I had to jump on board and make my own. Rather than start simple, I went straight on as complicated as I could make it: silk charmeuse.

So, it took me about 6 tries before I decided the By Hand London method of doing an FBA on the Orsola bodice wasn’t working for me. Maybe it was the pattern, maybe it was the method. Any who, I decided to use the Basic Bodice from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. This took about 4 attempts before finally gaining a good fit. Hooray! It ended up being so simple: traced the size 8 neckline and armscye, then graded to a size 10 for the darts and waistline before lowering the side bust dart 1″ and moving the bottom busy dart towards the center 1/2″ to match my apex point. The Curvy Collective has the best tutorial. The final change I ad pinched 1/2″ out of the armscye using this tutorial from Craftsy.

Here is my Frankenpattern, ;).

After perfecting my bodice fit, I then adjusted the neckline and armscye to match the Orsola bodice front and used the Orsola back pieces with no adjustments. After putting them together in silk, I would pinch out about an inch of fabric from the tops of the side backs. As I had already cut and stitched the silk together, I basically just gathered the top edges of the back pieces so they wouldn’t flop open while wearing it.

Now the actual construction… I understand why everyone comments on the darts. Between the front, back, inside, and outside pieces, so many! Also, I decided to use a silk charmeuse…so about as slippery and lightweight as you can use. I made this a little easier by marking lots of points along each dart to reduce error to fabric slipperiness. Of course I hand knot the thread at the top of the dart (pointed end), but I backstitch at the end of the dark (edge of fabric).

After doing all the darts, putting the bodice pieces wasn’t too tricky except my server didn’t quite cut off enough of the seam allowance, so I struggled getting the seams to iron flat. Also, my silk did not want to iron, so I under-stitched as much of the bodice as I could. This helped so much! Plus lots and lots of ironing, then pressing the pieces with my wooden ruler until the fabric had cooled.

Here are a couple images of my bodice progress. Love having a made to my measurements dress form, :). (It’s from Bootstrap Fashion).

Next part: the skirt pieces. This part was so much easier than the bodice. Still some darts, but not as many, and only single layers as the skirt isn’t lined. I french seamed the skirt sides so that there weren’t any pesky strands unraveling. I loved the look of the tulip hem, so I made that version. Pretty simple. I stitched the facings together, then pinned them to my skirt. I skipped the ironing the seam allowance of the non-skirt attached side as I decided to just serge that off after stitching the facing to the skirt. I made sure to mark the dot of the v of the tulip hem in the front. Then I trimmed the seam allowance down to about 1/4″, ironed it really well to the inside of the skirt. Then I serged the excess 5/8″ seam allowance for the inside and top stitched the facing down.

As for the waistband, I decided to interface the waist parts with lightweight interfacing to add a little extra structure, but not the tie ends because I want to leave those softer for tying. Also, I decided to edge-stitch my color blocked waistband because 1) I didn’t want to hand stitch it, 2) time constraints, and 3) my silk was not ironing very well.

Pinning took awhile, but worth it!

I love this dress! I like the line’s of the bodice (next time I’ll use something easier like rayon or polyester) and the skirt. I love By Hand London’s circle skirt hack though, so I see a possibility of one of those versions…