2015, where did you go?

It’s safe to say I’ve failed at the blog game…at least in any typical sense.

Things I’ve learned:

  1. I have a tendency to want to do things perfectly or, at least, like a professional or not at all.
  2. I want to be able to learn by reading as opposed to doing and thus tend to not get anything actually done (sewing-wise).
  3. I am actually a private person so I have difficult time with the blog/social media world.

I lieu of all the things I’ve learned it seems a bit contradictory that I would “soldier on” (so to speak) with the blog.  BUT, I am constantly getting inspiration, ideas on what patterns to use, places to buy fabric etc from other sewing blogs so I’m hoping a can make my way into that community.  Forgive me if my posts are simple or boring, I’m trying to forgive myself for imperfection.

I want to share some garments that I made last year that have become staples in my wardrobe.  First, grainline’s scout tee in a knit:

DSC_1104The knit fabric was purchased from girl charlee (one of my favorite sites) over two years ago.  I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern from when I made it up in a woven and I love the fit.

DSC_1116Now that I’ve worn it several times, I would increase the hem on the bottom of the shirt as it tends to curl up.

DSC_1107It’s still a pattern that I reach for whether I have a knit or woven, I love that it’s so versatile.

I also made up a “sweatshirt” from a semi self-drafted pattern using the Built By Wendy “Sew U Home Stretch” book.

DSC_1213I used a double knit fabric from Vogue.  It’s nice weight and hasn’t pilled as much as some of the other knit fabric I have but the polyester in it sometimes bothers my.


DSC_1170Hope to get more makes on the blog soon!

clutter and purpose


I made a terrible decision last Saturday – I went to Ikea on the weekend.  I don’t go often and when I do it’s for something very specific.  It’s usually when I’ve discovered a need for something in my house and found the solution to that need in one of Ikea’s particle board products.  The trip is not (or never meant to be) frivolous, and yet, frivolity often wins over.

stripey burda side viewWhen I wander (fight my way through) the aisles of this popular home store, I am overwhelmed with all of the items they have on display.  Things for organization and decoration, things that have a great design aesthetic or happen to fit the color scheme in my house perfectly, and most importantly, all these things happen to be inexpensive.  Inevitably, I walk out of the store with five times as many things as I had intended and my life gets a little more cluttered.

burda stripey front viewI’ve been trying to fight the clutter in my life.  I’ve been doing well with food, I buy purposefully, only getting what I need for certain recipes and only enough to feed my family.  I’m trying to avoid waste, it’s difficult but a great habit to get into.  I really want to be more purposeful when building my wardrobe since I often shop for clothes in the same way I shop at ikea: pretty! cheap! must have.  The idea of a capsule wardrobe that Sarai speaks of in the wardrobe architect and that has shown up on many fashion blogs (my favorite being the Un-fancy) really intrigues me.

I made the above knit shirt almost 2 years ago with intention.  I wanted to make a grey stripe knit shirt to go with kelly green skinny pants, two basics that would go with other things but also make a great outfit.  The pattern is one from an old burda magazine.  I have yet to make the pants but I have the fabric.

burgundy burda shirt front view

This orange version is my muslin.  I ended up taking the neckline in a bit for the striped version and I made the back band the same size as the front, a deviation from the original pattern.

burgundy burda knit side view

I’ve worn both shirts quite a bit and I’m a big fan of this particular pattern.  The orange knit is from Joann and the grey stripes are from Haberman’s.  Both are made of polyester which I’m not keen on and I’m now being much more deliberate in my fabric choices.  When making basics that will be worn a lot, I’ve realized that quality fabrics are key.  I still have more knit tops in my queue but I’m moving on to pants as those are obviously key in a diy capsule wardrobe.  My plan is for a pair (or two) of hudson pants, and I’m knee deep (no pun intended) into Kenneth King’s Jeanius class but I’m looking for other patterns.  Anyone have success making pants and can recommend a good pattern?


Chambray Scout Tee opener

Chambray Scout Tee

August is a free-for-all month.  The fall, winter, spring is filled with school, holidays and so many activities it’s hard to break away from rigid schedules.  When school lets out in June, the summer activities swing in full force.  But somehow, come August, everything grinds to a halt.  Summer camp is over, school hasn’t yet begun, even the activities that go on all year, storytimes and special events seem to hold their breath for thirty one days so we can all regroup. 

chambray scout full length 2

My kids aren’t in school yet, but I still feel the disorderliness of August.  I often like it, we can choose to do whatever we want on whatever day we want.  This means that, when we’re dressing in the morning, I have to wear something that’s all encompassing: comfortable, not too casual, and easily matched with other items (in case I get some kid detritus on one item and have to change).

chambray scout back 1

I have made another scout in the past and I love how simple the silhouette is.  I decided to make one up in a chambray that I found at Haberman’s several months ago.  Chambray is such a lovely fabric, it’s comfortable, light, simple, and perfect for a piece in my August wardrobe.  I knew it would also transitions well as it’s easily layered under a chunky sweater or over a light knit t-shirt or even under a structured blazer for a little more put together look.

chambray scout pocket

I added a self drafted pocket and changed the hemline to make it a little more visually interesting.   I love Grainline Studio patterns because they are simple, you can make many garments from one pattern, even altering some thing here and there is relatively easy.

Sadly, August is already drawing to a close and I am in the midst of sewing pieces for my fall wardrobe.  I am not looking forward to the cold weather, but I love all the fleece and wool that fall clothes have to offer.

chambray scout side 1

cake or one of (what will be) many plantain tops

Plantain blog photo 1

It’s 7:13 AM and I’m dreading the arduous task of getting myself and two kids dressed.  It seems silly to worry or even think too much about a quotidian, essential task but we will spend the whole day in whatever outfits are chosen and that’s important.  Not only will it mean our comfort (or lack thereof), in our hyper-exposed culture, it is the story we tell upon meeting anyone new.  I don’t mean to say that clothes tell us EVERYTHING about a person but, whether we like it or not, they are a first impression.

In my former line of work, clothes, or “costumes” as they are more appropriately named in that field, were thought about, labored over, designed for months.  It was important to tell the story of a character through their appearance, and clothes were meant to resonate their personality, their mental space on that day and time.  Not that I think that deeply about my outfit choices on a daily basis, but I do think about it.

 plantain blog photo 2

I began sewing because I wanted to have greater commitment to the conversation I was having through my clothing.  There is something very satisfying to me to be able to create from beginning to end, a garment that I will wear again and again.  As I’ve transitioned in my life, both with career (going from two jobs to stay at home mom) and body (pregnancy and nursing), I want to be able to create a wardrobe that tells the story of who I am now.

There is a lot of talk in the sewing world about cake vs frosting, a metaphor I love because it works so well.  I am in the cake part of wardrobe building, lots of knit tops and pants.  I was working on fitting the clover pants forever ago and then I got pregnant again so had to put that on the back burner.  I am now working my way through the craftsy class, Jean-ius with Kenneth King, and thus far, I’m loving it.  

 plantain blog photo 3

I’ve been sewing up knit tops, and right now my favorite is the plantain top by Deer & Doe.  I made it up in and incredibly soft cotton jersey from Girl Charlee and, while I had a bit of trouble because I cut the fabric slightly off grain, I was able to finagle my way into (almost) matching stripes.  

I have two more knits in my queue to sew up in this pattern and pants on the way.  Even though summer is still heavy in the air, I have fall sewing on the brain, and with limited sewing time it’s never too early to start planning for the upcoming season.  I have my eyes on the hudson pant pattern from true bias and the minoru jacket from sewaholic.  We’ll see what the season brings.

plantain blog photo 6 



I’ve been thinking a lot about fashion and style lately, and the topic seems to have come up a lot on some sewing blogs.  Sunni has a great post about it on her blog, Fashionable Stitch.  I can’t say that I’ve ever been particularly fashionable, but, up until about two years ago, I definitely had a particular style.  It also happens that I started to learn how to sew two years ago.  You would think that the cause of the former would have been the latter, but, I also happened to get pregnant at the same time I was learning to sew.  So, for the next 9 months (or, more like 7, after the first trimester) I lived in maternity clothes.  I was excited to whip up a bunch of cute maternity outfits but my fatigue and endless before-the-baby-comes obligations prevented that from happening.

I thought I would get back on track sewing up the loads of cute dresses I had planned on making once the baby was born, I had 3! whole months of FML before I had to return to work and infants just sleep all the time, right?  Unfortunately, my little guy did not sleep.  He had lots of health issues from the get go, nothing life threatening, but enough to make him VERY uncomfortable all the time.  Suffice to say, I ended up NOT going back to work but becoming a full-time caregiver.  I am very lucky that we have the means to do this, but I can’t say that the total lifestyle change hasn’t been challenging and has also changed my “style” as for as clothing goes and my sewing plans quite a bit.

Before becoming a stay at home mom, I worked in an artistic, non-profit office setting.  I got to wear dresses and skirts (my favorite), to casual slacks and jeans on Friday.  This gave my wardrobe a lot of room for variety and I was thankful for that.  Now, the dresses and skirts don’t really have a place in my everyday wardrobe but I don’t want to cut them out completely.  I’m excited to discover my new style through my sewing as I continue to discover this new phase in my life.  I have a feeling I’ll need to become proficient at sewing knits.

That being said, I have a lot of separates on my sewing agenda and I recently made up a wearable muslin of grainline’s scout tee.

This is my first time sewing sleeves!  I’m a big fan of Jen’s (grainline) style and patterns.

Because the style is pretty loose and casual, I didn’t need to make any fit adjustments.  I’m excited to make up a couple more of these, maybe a using some drapier fabric

I am just about to complete the FOURTH attempt at some clovers.  Pants might have been a little beyond my skill level, but I saw SO many cute versions on the internet, I couldn’t help myself.  My fingers are crossed that the fourth time is a charm.

I will eat you up, I love you so


Happy belated Halloween!  I made a “Max” costume for my son for his first Halloween.  I used McCalls 6105 as the base and got all fabric and supplies from my local Joann (except some sew-in interfacing for the crown which I had in my stash).

For everyone on the east coast, I hope you’re safe and faring well.  My thoughts are with you!



I finally got around to taking pictures of some of my latest garments the other day, after months of not being able to get in front of the camera.  I modified the sorbetto and made it into a little peplum top using a tutorial from four square walls.

It’s not a style that I would be typically drawn to if I was buying it off the rack, I think my torso is too long and it breaks up the middle of body in a weird way.  I lengthened it a bit and I quite like the way it turned out at the end of the day, and I’ve worn it more then once.

I brought home some vintage patterns courtesy of my mother-in-law when we were there for a visit about a month ago.  I’ve never worked with vintage patterns, but I like several of them so I might have to give it a try.  They’re all a little small, bust 32 and waist 25, so I’ll also have to try my hand at grading.  It’s something that I’ve wanted to learn how to do, so I’m looking forward to learning.

What I find most shocking about vintage patterns (and many contemporary patterns) is the sizing.  At bust 32 and waist 25 1/2 you’re a size 12.  If you were to find those measurements in a contemporary RTW garment, it would probably be a -4.  All joking aside, they had a snippet on the Afternoon Shift awhile ago about “vanity” sizing and how much garment size have been manipulated by the market over the years.  A size 12 in the 40’s became a size 8 in the 70’s, which became a size 4 in the 90’s.  I would wager that sizes have been reduced since then, and, what was a size 4 in the 90’s has become a 2 or 0 now.  Apparently, the idea is, if the consumer is able to fit into a smaller size then what they would normally wear, they’re more likely to buy that particular garment.

The social scientists explained the findings with another experiment.  Two different test groups were given a box of cookies.  The cookies were the same size, but one labeled them as being “medium” sized and the other was labeled as “small”.  You can guess where this is going, the group that had “small” cookies ate more, while the group with the “medium” cookies resisted.  It’s amazing how a label can manipulate our perception of something so simple.

Sewing Expo

Several weeks ago, I packed up my 9-month-old son and husband and headed to Michigan to visit my parents and attend the American Sewing Expo.  My parent’s house is about 10 minutes from the expo center and they are enthusiastic babysitters, so I thought I would take the weekend for myself to learn some sewing related stuff.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I can tell you, I was pleasantly surprised.  Gertie mentioned on her blog that she would be teaching some seminars and asked if there were other sewing enthusiasts on the world wide web that attended sewing expos and what their feelings were on the matter.  I read through many of the comments, because, not knowing what I was in for, I was anxious to hear everyone’s thoughts.  The two things that stuck out were, “sewing expos are what you make of them” and “the majority of the attendees tend to be ‘older'”  I took the former comment to heart and decided to make the best of the experience, no matter what, as I rarely get time to myself these days.


I had the pleasure of taking Gertie’s class on blogs and, in retrospect, I wish I had taken her class on vintage patterns.  I also made sure to catch Sunni’s free “demos” (as they were called), one on the anatomy of the pencil skirt and one on wardrobe building.  I’m a big fan of Gertie and Sunni, both their style and their sewing skills and they were both excellent in their presentations.  All of the seminars I took were incredibly valuable and I learned more then I expected.  Despite the fact that some of the women teaching the seminars were older and their style and aesthetic were wildly different then mine, they all were incredible talented and had a lot of knowledge to offer.  I hope to attend again next year as there were several other classes I would have liked to take.

While my posting has hit a bit of rut, I have been sewing and I plan to take pictures and get them up soon.  I was thinking of making a wardrobe plan for the fall, but, I decided to amend those plans and instead focus on sewing with different textiles and tackling some basic skills such as sleeves, linings, and fitting.  I hope to make several knit pieces and finish up some garments I intended to sew for the summer.  I want to beef up my sewing skills so that, come spring, I can make a plan for a spring/summer 2013 wardrobe.  Right now I’m focusing on getting my son’s Halloween costume put together.  More on that soon!

On the sewing table and Made in the USA

As I’ve said, I have plenty on my sewing table and I’m just about done with my third version of the Colette Clovers.  I made two muslins, one was meant to be “wearable” but the fit was still so far off, I only wore them to make adjustments.  I’m hoping that the third version will at least fit well enough that I can wear them.

BBC news was on as I was working on seam finishes a couple of nights ago and there was a quick snippet about the Olympic uniform controversy.  Apparently, Ralph Lauren designed them, but they are made in China.  I looked into it a little further and found a good article about it in the Los Angeles Times that depicts a wide range of  reactions by many in the garment industry.  I’m reminded of an old HBO documentary, Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags.  It explores the garment manufacturing business in the United States and how it’s essentially non-existent anymore.  Designers are pretty much forced to produce garments overseas if they have any expectation of making a profit while still keeping prices (somewhat) accessible.  I wonder if the recession and the downturn in the European economy will change any manufacturing for the better or worse.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m hoping to get Simplicity 1880 made soon.  I was excited to see that Sunni was hosting a sew-along, she’s an AMAZING seamstress and I love everything she makes.  But, I couldn’t get my act together in time.  I am excited to see everyone’s creations though, I’m sure it will give me the inspiration I need to get going!  I’m also planning to sew up a Sorbetto soon, using some strange fabric I ordered online.  Have you seen this with fabric?  Where the design is split down the middle?

I did not know it was like that when I ordered it.  No wonder it was on sale.