Monthly Archives: February 2009


FOZ or Fear of Zippers has gripped me, my friends.  All I have left to do on my niece’s halter top, is to sew on a little 8-inch invisible zipper.  How can that be what’s keeping me from finishing this now late birthday present?  How can I be brought to my knees by a small thing like that? 

Easy.  A zipper can make or break this piece.  

To be honest, there’s one other aspect that’s holding me back.  I can’t recall if my humble Singer (and n0 I don’t know the model number off hand) has a zipper foot or a piping foot.  Most likely it’s a zipper foot which can pinch hit as a piping foot, but it most definitely is NOT an invisible zipper foot.  So last week, when I was purchasing the fear inducing zipper, I picked up a doodad.  That’s an Elizabethism for doohickey.  Apparently, I am the only person on this planet that says doodad, but I swear I heard it from someone else before.  Anyway… I bought this doodad that fits most sewing machines and becomes (from the two pieces) an invisible zipper foot.  Seriously.  Here’s a pic and the link (just scroll all the way down). zipperfootattachment

Has anyone used this before?  Is it a piece of junk?  Let me know please before I ruin my first garment!!! 

Hopefully, putting in this zipper will be just as easy peasy as the pintucks were.  Although I have to say my FOP (Fear of Pintucks) isn’t nearly as paralytic as FOZ. 

Wish me luck and happy sewing!

Am I the only one???

Am I the only one who thinks, “If I sew X pattern, I will look exactly like the X model in the picture/drawing when it’s finished.”  And how long does this affliction last?  Until the first garment is done?  Or is this delusion a life long battle for a sewist?

Can I please look like this please when I make this dress?  v1089

Oh no!

Well I attached the halter top bodice tonight and the dress looks great!!!!


 Except for this tiny little thing………………  It’s too small to actually work as a dress.  It came out to be a top only in length.  So now what to do?  I have enough fabric of the skirt print to make some cute pants for Katie to go with the now top.  But would that be too matchy matchy?  Maybe I could buy a solid coordinating color and use that print as an accent, like a hem ruffle?  Or is that too clownish?  Any ideas from you out in the ether?  Maybe a side seam insert, like tuxedo pants?  hmmmm….  Of course now that means I need to buy a new pattern.  I’m up to 26 patterns total now; I’ve used 2 so far.   But only one is a children’s pattern, this one, which is only dresses.  Uh… OMG!  I can’t believe I’m going to say this now… But this pattern also has tops on it.  Guess which view I made?  Yep, you guessed it, a TOP!!!!!  What an imbecile!  Me, not you.  How could I have not noticed that before??? pattern-envelope2



Also, I am not sure how to treat the seam that joins the bodice to the skirt.  The way the instructions tell you to deal with it is to just press the seam upwards.  No notes as to a zigzag finish or binding.  I zigzag stitched part and pinked the other part.  Here’s a pic of the interior…

bodice-construction1Let me know how you think I should deal with this please!  I am thinking I need to bind it so that it won’t be scratchy against her skin.  N’est ce pas?

Until then, happy sewing.

Some progress, some ripping and a lot of confusion

Well, I have pictures to show of my New Look 6821 progress thus far, but not a finished project yet.  Still, something’s better than nothing and I’m pretty proud of my first project so far.  I must warn you, I made no attempt to match the patterns and boy do they not match!  But I think it will still be cute.  I decided to not make myself crazy in the cutting process and try to match the prints of the fabrics; I’ll work on that skill later on.  But I still had enough crazy to sate me with trying to decipher the instructions along the way.  So onto the craziness…

As to be expected, I made numerous mistakes along the way, but that’s how you learn, right?  😉  I stitched the staystitching too close to the raw edge, but I am not sure if that matters much.  It was later trimmed off after I sewed the actual seam.  So you tell me — mistake or not?  The understitching was complete stumper for me.   How do you understitch a tube I ask you???  I’d have to release one of the seams to understitch the halter top straps and then only one side would be understitched.  So I opted to edgestitch the entire top instead.    Here are two pics of the halter top. 

haltertop1st one is before edgestitching.

halter-top-bodice2nd one is after edgestitching f/f right side up.  The halter is self lined.

strap-edge-stitching3rd pic is a closeup of the edgestitching on the strap.  At each step of the process so far, consultations with Mom were required as well as panicked posts on PatternReview in the Beginner’s forum.  Thank god for the Beginner’s forum; it’s awesome!  The responses to my questions were so prompt and really helped me.  What a great resource!!!  Love, love!  And props to my Mom who was able to understand my questions without having either the instructions or pattern in front of her.  I couldn’t do that.  She lives in Madison and I called her late at night and she was still coherent enough to talk me off the proverbial sewing ledge.  I can’t imagine life without her, sewing or otherwise.

Next up were the pin tucks on the skirt portion of the pattern.  I was actually scared of pin tucks, but now having conquered the pin tuck territory I’m wondering what my fuss was all about.  They’re really easy and look so darn cute!  I am so proud of those pin tucks.  Here’s a pic…pin-tuck-detail







Now onto the “hem” of the skirt (I used quotation marks because it’s not the true hem of the skirt since there’s a band in a contrasting fabric below the skirt which is the real hem).  The instructions called for folding the “hem” twice, pressing each time, and stitching the hem.  Since this isn’t the real hem and you don’t see it on the finished dress at all, I am not sure why you have such a finished hem for this part.  It doesn’t make sense to me and makes the skirt a bit stiff.  Also, all that pressing with steam seemed to stretch out the fabric just a wee bit.  I’ll tell you how I know that it did shortly.  Here’s a pic of the inside construction of the skirt. inside-skirt-construction

Note that I did not serge the seam allowances.  I bought this fabric and thread last summer before I owned a serger and didn’t buy enough thread to use on a serger.  So instead I zigzagged the seam allowances where they needed it.  There was no mention of finishing the seam allowances anywhere in the instructions that I can recall.

Some of the craziness (i.e., ripping out the same line of stitching FOUR TIMES!!!) of this process occurred when I was putting the CB seam together.  My notches matched up, but I couldn’t remember which seam was the CB seam and had to look at the pattern over and over again.  I finally figured out that I was sewing the wrong seam and finally found the the right notches and finished the skirt of the dress.  Most of the ripping had to do with forgetting on what stitch my machine was set.  So I had to rip out zig zag stitches, then basting stitches.  It was a nightmare.  But now I am an expert ripper!  I probably should have put the sewing away for the night, but I wanted to finish that step.  And I did!  Yeah.  🙂

The next craziness was applying the hem band in contrasting fabric to the skirt.  I could not figure that out for the life of me.  My mom was stumped.  It took 3 people on PatternReview telling me the same thing 3 different ways before I finally got it.  Some of it was actually semantics, but mostly it was my lack of ability to visualize instructions.  Translating words or instructions to the visual is not my strong suit.   I can’t tell you how many times I read those instructions and still I didn’t get it. 

instructions1Check them out… Part #40.  What tripped me up was the OUTSIDE part.  Also there is no mention of right sides together, although that probably would have confused me too, come to think of it, since both sides of the band are the “right” side of the fabric.  I finally figured out that you needed the raw edges of the hem band laying on top of the hem of the skirt, so if you’re looking the the skirt right side up from top to bottom with the hem band on top of the skirt ready to sew the seam, the hem band would be upside down (the folded edge would be north and the raw edges would south).  So you sew the seam and then press the seam allowance up thereby simultaneously pressing the hemband down in one step.  How simple was that?!?!  Why couldn’t I figure that out?  It’s just like any other seam, just horizontal instead of vertical.  Maybe that’s what confused me.  But at this point I don’t care.  It’s done and it looks great. See!skirt-with-band

Now here’s where I tell you about how the skirt hem grew when I pressed it.  When I pinned the hem band to the skirt in preparation for sewing the seam, I found the skirt was slightly larger than the hem band.   Not by much, maybe 1/2 an inch all around, but I had to pin carefully to distribute the excess equally and not create any unwanted puckers.    I think it turned out nicely.  Not one pucker in sight!

 Ok, that’s all I’ve completed thus far.  I have to buy a zipper tonight so I can finish the rest of the construction (zipper insertion, attaching halter top bodice to skirt, etc).  But I am very excited to have made it this far and, despite the print mismatches (see example), bodice-side-seamam very pleased with the results for my first garment sewing sans teacher.  I am learning so much with this project.  Very exciting!!!!

Decisions, decisions!

WARNING: Long Post with no pics.

As I mentioned earlier, I am finding out just how much of a newbie I am working on my niece’s dress.  Every step of the way, I am paralyzed by a new decision I have to make.  I thought, mistakenly, that I knew everything I needed to know to sew having taken 4 classes on sewing.  LOL.  Oh the hubris!  So on Monday I traced the pattern pieces for Katie’s dress.  I had many questions about that and an emergency call was placed to Mom pronto.  Should I make duplicates of the pattern pieces that need to be cut out twice, but not on the fold, so I don’t have to unpin them, move them, then repin them and cut them out again?   She said no, but now I regret that, but we’re not at that part of the story yet. 

So Tuesday night rolls around.  I had grandiose plans of cutting out the fabric that night.  Now if you’re following my process so far, you’d know that I had already pretreated and ironed the fabric, so it was good to go.  I get home, make dinner for Jack, and he’s in bed by 7:30pm.  I have the whole evening to work on the dress.  What do I do?  I play on the computer for a while, watch tv and generally procrastinate.  Why?  I am scared to true up the fabric.  I am a grown adult.  Why am I scared to grain a fabric????  ARGH!  I kept thinking, I won’t do it right and the dress will be ruined.  Way to be positive Elizabeth! 

Now we’re at Wednesday night, last night, in this saga…  All day long on Wednesday, I was determined to do battle at the cutting table and get these pattern pieces cut out!  I even asked someone to pray for my sewing mojo.  Seriously.  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, she forgot.  Fortunately for me, I did find my sewing mojo last night and cut out the pattern pieces.  Which leads me back to decisions during the sewing process…

So I had picked out the pattern and the view on the pattern, and the fabric.  In my mind, the decision making process is finito, right?  NOT!  Apparently there are decisions to be made every step of the sewing process.  I don’t know why this is so bothersome for me though.  It could have to do with my fears of doing something wrong or making the wrong decision and then ending up with a wadder.   Not to mention the pressure I feel to have this dress look perfect as it’s a birthday present.  So each decision has this cloud of doom hanging around it.  But, as a friend pointed out, what’s the worst that could happen?  It could be a wadder and then I’ll just buy a toy or something for Katie.  Not the end of the world. 

Ok, so here we are at Wednesday night, graining the fabric and cutting out the pattern.  I realize a few things:  1. My dining room table is not adequate for cutting 3 yards of 44 inch fabric, much less any large fabrics. 2.  My cutting mat is suitable for small projects only, i.e., quilting projects, and I need to get more mats or one really large one (but have you seen the prices for these????? OMG!).  3.  I really should have cut out duplicate pattern pieces for my cutting layout.  Sigh… Live and learn I guess. 

And then, out of the blue, another nasty and paralyzing decision needs to be made…  (I may have to do a word count on how many times I’ve used paralyzing in this blog already.  I had no idea how strong and primal the fear of failing is for me.  Note to self…)  My fabrics have strong patterns.  One, IMO, needs to run vertically on the skirt of the dress.  The other needs to run horizontally on the dress for the bodice and hem border.  Unfortunately, that would mean folding and cutting the fabric differently for each one.  And that would mean that, when laundered, there is the potential for wonkiness to occur because the fabrics are not “running” the same with each other.  Does that make sense?  I do not know all the official sewing jargon yet.   Another emergency call to Mom and…

A compromise decision was determined.  The skirt fabric HAD to remain vertical, so ergo the bodice and hem band had to be turned vertical as well.  Not optimal visually, but in the long term, the only decision that could be made.  I was absolutely stunned that picking out the fabric was not the end of my decision making process with regard to that fabric.   I am learning so much and I have barely begun this dress.  I am even more intimidated with sewing now, but even more determined.  I am in awe of all the people out there that sew their own wardrobes, like Carolyn.  The amount of decisions that woman has to make on a daily basis (she sews A LOT), is mind numbing staggering.  I have a lot of respect for these women. 

I have a knitting meet up tonight, so I won’t start the actual sewing portion of this dress for Katie until Friday night.  I’ll take pictures of the process then. 

Until then, happy sewing!

Identity Crisis

I’ve changed the name of my blog!  The domain name is still the same, so if you’ve added me to your rss feed, you’ll still be able to find me.   While the theme of being unintentionally funny (the former name of this blog) runs throughout my life, I think “Sew A Beginner” is a more accurate descriptor of the type of blog I am writing currently.  I am just starting an avocation  in sewing, so I am really a beginner.  This status of a beginner was painfully made plain to me as I started my niece’s dress this week.  But more on that in my next post.  

This blog will be a “record” of my sewing learning process, so it will probably appeal to mostly beginning sewists.  However, I hope my learning curve is not a long one and that my process will appeal to sewists of all levels soon.  Here’s to hoping!  😉  I may in the future write about my knitting or mosaic projects, but primarily my focus will be sewing. 

Happy sewing!

Emergency Sewing

There’s nothing like a birthday sneaking up on you to push aside some self- indulgent paralysis.  My niece Katie’s birthday is this Wednesday and I promised to make her a dress.  I bought the Amy Butler fabric last summer (fabric 1 and coordinating fabric), but my plans were too ambitious for my then less than beginner skills.  So as I type, I am pre-treating the fabric for cutting later on tonight.  I have to trace the pattern as this is a mix and match pattern and I don’t want to lose any of the other views to just one dress.  So this will be a new skill for me and I will use the tracing paper I bought online on Deepika’s advice, thumbnail sketch paper.  I am using New Look 6821, view C+G+J.

Wish me luck!  I’ll need it.

Happy sewing everyone.


I am paralyzed.

(Warning: a really long run on sentence follows)  I have over 20 patterns, probably around 30 yds of fabric in the stash (not including the 50 yds of muslin), a couple of different kinds of paper for tracing, my first Burda issue, I’ve taken 4 sewing classes, read tons of sewing blogs every day and bought a serger but still can’t bring myself to actually make anything.  (The wrap skirt I made for Puerto Rico doesn’t count – don’t ask me why, but in my mind, it just doesn’t.)

I have heard of people being scared to cut into their fashion fabric and thought they were crazy.  But now I can’t even open up a pattern.  I’ve already made an incredible investment in this new thing I want to do, sewing, but I am paralyzed.  (see above for my list of purchases made and time spent) 

How do I get out of this initial stage?  Any suggestions?  I’m beginning to think I am a wimp.

Speaking of the Feb 2009 Burda issue…  I jumped in whole hog and bought a six-month subscription.  Apparently, a lot of people are finding a whole bunch of patterns in this particular issue that they want to make up.  I perused it as soon as I received it and completely agree;  there are at least 5 or 6 patterns I want to make up, not the least of which is the lace pencil skirt.   I don’t have the issue in front of me, otherwise I would give the pattern number.  I have black lace and a deep red silk charmeuse that I want to make with that pattern.  I will underline the lace with the charmeuse utilizing all the new techniques learned in the last class I took on PatternReview. 

Hopefully writing this blog will keep me on track.  Stay tuned for progress with my paralysis…

P.S. A shout out to my mom: Happy Birthday!!!

Picture of the year award… Not!

Well, I am back from my weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which I enjoyed mightily.  My friend Victoria was the perfect traveling companion and we couldn’t have been better paired as drinking partners.  😉 

Here’s an action shot of the final wrap skirt. 

wrap-skirt1It’s pretty darn blurry as it was taken with a blackberry camera, as opposed to a real camera, but it will have to suffice for now.  I am going to attempt to hand wash it and see how it fares.  I wore it every day to and from the pool and for our daily walks on the beach.  It fit all my needs for a beach cover up, meaning it covered my thigh area inconspicuously, and was sufficiently drapey.  I did manage to get it wet a few times, but it didn’t seem to do any damage, hence my bravery to attempt handwashing. 

I am presently taking an underlining class on PatternReview with Sarah Veblen so I am working on the half scale garment assignments for that class.  As I was away for four days and my full time job keeps getting in the way of my sewing, I haven’t really been able to work on them yet.  Hopefully I will be able to work on the assignments this week. 


Happy sewing!

It’s a Wrap! barely in time…

Well, I finished the wrap skirt.  There were several problems encountered along the way, but all in all, I think it turned out all right. 

Problem 1: Monday night, I spent 4 hours trying to get my serger to do a rolled hem.  Lesson learned: read your instruction manual.  It saves you time and frustration.  I don’t know what a stitch finger is, but apparently it must be removed for the roll hem stitch.  The manual also said to use the right needle, not the left, and gave the stitch length and width settings.  The funny thing is, I already had the length and width set to those settings.  Go figure.  Solved: So then I tested it out on my fashion fabric.  Beautiful. 

Problem 2: So I started to roll hem all along the outside edges of the skirt.  I made it about 1/2 way through the entire skirt when I noticed that about 2 inches of the fabric was not covered with the rolled hem.  Confound it!!!  I just kept going and finished off the rest of the skirt.  I went back and tried to stitch that section again, but it took me about 6 or 7 tries to successful hem that section.  By the time I was done, it was a little shorter than the rest of the skirt.  Solved: BUT the fabric is really drapey and when I tried it on, you really don’t notice it in the folds of the fabric drape. 

Tuesday night I was so busy making dinner for Jack, doing laundry, packing, etc. I didn’t have time to sew on the waistband/ties.   I set my alarm for 5am (first time setting it since Jack was born btw — he’s an early riser, like 4:30am early!!!) so I could finish packing, do another load of laundry and finish the skirt before leaving for work at 7:45am.  No problem right?  Wrong!

Problem 3: At 5:15am I start cutting out and ironing the waistband/ties and then attach it to the waistband.  I remember that this is the point where I diverged from the instructions on the pattern the last time I made this skirt.  But I am so tired, that I can’t think about it.  I even looked up my review on PR, but couldn’t “wrap” my tired mind around it.  (hehehe)  So I just did as directed.  The rayon chiffon was a little difficult to work with here.  I have to admit that, with the time crunch, I wasn’t as careful with my cutting and didn’t spend a lot of time pressing the creases.  These issues combined with “don’t want to stay put” fabric made it difficult to keep a consistent 1/2 inch seam allowance.  I had to topstitch the waistband part twice, because  I noticed that the first pass didn’t catch the underside completely due to the wonky seam allowances.  Whatever.  This skirt is a thigh beach cover up, not a ball gown.  It would have been nice if everything went perfectly, but it didn’t and I’m ok with it and how the skirt turned out.  Solved.

My apologies, but I didn’t have time to take a picture of the finished skirt.  I promise to take some while in Puerto Rico.  I leave tonight, can’t wait.  Although it was tough to leave my little Jack this morning.  He doesn’t really understand that I am leaving for a few days.  He probably thought I was just going to work.  😦  I have no idea how I am going to react to being away from him for the first time ever.  Or how he’s going to react for that matter.  Wow.  I really need this vacation and the opportunity to sleep in for the first time in 20 months.  I have a deep psychological need to sleep past 6:30am now.  It’s funny, because I used to wake up at 5am or 6am all the time on my own being a morning person naturally.  But now that I’m a single parent, I find that I stay up much later to sew, knit, surf the internet, watch tv or whatever, so I really need to sleep in now.  I know I’m doing it to myself, but I think it will be good for my psyche to sleep in a few days. 

Anyway, I won’t be posting until I get back, so have a great weekend and happy sewing!