Monthly Archives: August 2009


Jack and I are officially on vacation.  I am wearing my pants on the flight today so we’ll see how they after a full day of traveling.  Wish me luck on surviving a 6 hour flight with a toddler.

I am sans blackberry until I start my new job next week, so I am going to be unplugged this week.  I haven’t been this unconnected since the early 90’s.  I might go into withdrawal.  My parents have a computer, but we’re visiting, so it wouldn’t be nice to be on their computer the whole time, now would it. 

Anyway, I will catch up with all of you when I return.  I’ve heard the withdrawals from the sewing world are brutal.  I hope I survive.

Have a great sewing week!

My first pair of pants!

But not the last. They’re not perfect, but I will still wear them proudly, this weekend as a matter of fact.  Since my last post on the capris, I attached and topstitched the waistband, hemmed the pant legs, hand sewed the crotch seam below the zipper closed and hand stitched the closures on.  I am so proud of these pants.  It was a long journey, but so worth it.  I see many pants in my future!  Here are some pictures (I’m not sure why the quality isn’t great again, sorry!)…

front capri hemmed

rear capri hemmed

hem on pant leg

I folded the hem twice and stitched the hem. 

stitch in the ditch waistband

I topstitched the waistband and you can see my stitch in the ditch stitches right below the waistband where I attached the waistband facing. 

suit closures

I added two suit closure type hooks and eyes.  Thea taught me how to correctly sew them on:

  • Make 3-4 stitches per “hole”
  • slip needle between the facing and waistband to the next hole so your stitch doesn’t show on the facing or the front
  • when finished stitching to waistband, make a loop with the final stitch, pass the needle through twice, and pull taut.  Then slip needle between the facing and waistband again about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch and out.  Cut the thread and you’re all done!!!

It looked way more professional than when I stitched the hook and eye to my niece’s blouse.

The next picture shows some puckering when I attached the waistband to the pant.  😦

waistband mistakes


Things I learned on this project:

  • How to hand sew hooks and eyes properly
  • How to stitch in the ditch (maybe I’ll do a tutorial for the other beginners out there soon)
  • sewing with wovens is not as forgiving as with knits, every mistake shows.
  • order of construction matters! (I was going to add pockets, but didn’t know you had to add them before sewing the legs together.  Oops!)
  • It pays to make a muslin for pants and to muslin again for fit.
  • Why invisible zippers don’t look good in the front of pants.  (I should have bought a regular zipper)
  • I need to make more pants to perfect my sewing skills. 

Overall, I am quite pleased with my first pants.  I don’t think they come off as “loving hands at home”, but they’re not perfect either.  I will definitely be making some more.  Maybe shorts too!

I am taking a vacation next week with Jack to visit my parents and start a new job after that, so sewing might be a bit scarce for awhile.  I hope you’ll still be here when I get back.  😉

Until then, I wish you all happy sewing!  Oh and don’t forget to visit the Trench Sew Along and see what’s cooking there!  I picked out my pattern and bought my fabric today.

Just popping in to say…

I hemmed my suit pants today by hand.  It’s been bugging me that my brown suit pants’ hem was coming apart the last few weeks.  Ordinarily, I would send it to the cleaners to have the tailor there fix it.  But now that I know how to sew hems by hand, that would just be silly wouldn’t it? 

It’s such an ordinary thing, hemming pants, but I found it so empowering that I knew how to do it so professionally.  I am quite proud of myself I have to say.  I love this new interest of mine.  I love making things and then being able to wear them.  LOVE. IT.

Anyway, I just had to share my simple pleasure.

Stay tuned for the final post on my navy capris tomorrow.

Happy hemming!

Trench Sew Along Update

Trench Coat Sew Along button 

Things are starting to percolate at the Trench Sew Along!  We have a few new members and some have already introduced themselves/started discussions on the planning process.  We’ve been posting different pattern ideas (I posted more today).  There are some fellow newbie sewists, so don’t be afraid to join thinking your sewing chops aren’t up to snuff.  We’re all jumping off into the deep end on this one.  We will learn so much from this project and it will serve to push us to another level of sewing while demystifying some techniques.  Don’t be afraid of messing up.  I hate making mistakes myself, but the main thing I’ve learned on my sewing journey is that mistakes are how you learn.  Besides, that’s what the muslin is for, right?! 

Big Trench Sew Along News:  I’ve lined up a guest blogger who’s been “in the trenches” before.  She will share her experience and give us tips on how to make our very first trench coat. 

Show everyone you’re participating in the Trench Sew Along and use our sew along button/widget.  Grab the picture above and use the following html code: <a href=””><img src=”” style=”margin-left:20px;” height=”160px” width=”160px” /></a>

Please join us!

For realsies…

I have the bare bones set up for the Trench-Sew-Along.  Check out the blog site.  We are still in our infancy, still working out the kinks.  I still have to upload the header image and start populating the links.  There’s plenty of time to sign up if you’re interested.  Just leave me a comment on either blog and we’ll get you started. 

Here’s what I’m thinking of in terms of schedule:

  • August 14 — September 15:  Pick out pattern, trench coat research, fabric/notions gathering
  • September 16 — October 15:  Work on trench coat, commiserate, learn and don’t give up
  • October 16th or soon thereafter:  Wear trench coat bursting with pride and wonder.

Again, this is a work in progress.  If things take longer, they take longer.  No one’s going to get in trouble for not finishing or at all.  This is supposed to be something we enjoy, something from which we learn.  I want it to be as stress-free as possible.   Most likely, mine won’t be finished by October 15th since you all know by now how s.l.o.w. I sew.  But here’s to hoping!

Right now, I am considering McCalls 5525. 


BUT, it’s double breasted and I really wanted a raglan sleeve, single-breasted coat.  I am coming up empty handed on my search so far.  If any of you can point me to a pattern like that, please point away.  I am trying to steer clear of Burda patterns right now as I am already direction challenged and their directions, from what I hear, are a nightmare.  I love their designs, but want to improve my sewing chops a whole lot more before I try their patterns.

In other sewing news, I made some progress on my capri pants, but did not yet take any pictures.  I won’t be able to work on them again until Friday, but hopefully I will wear them this weekend.  I LOVE wearing something I’ve made; there is nothing better than that feeling.  I hope it never gets old. 

Happy sewing!

Need some fitting advice…

So I sewed up the legs of my capri pants yesterday.  I took care to press all my stitching at every stage.  For the other beginners out there: that means to sew a seam, press the stitches to set the seam, then press the seam open.  That makes for a more professional look and less “loving hands at home” look.  My planned order of construction was:

1. sew outside seam of pant leg from top going down.
2. sew inside seam of pant leg from top going down.
3. repeat for second leg
4. sew crotch seam from front of pant starting at zipper bottom towards back
5. sew zipper into pants
6. sew hip bands together for outside and facing
7. sew hipband facing to outside
8. sew outside hipband to pant
9. sew facing to interior of pant.


I made through step 4 and then tried them on.  Here are the results so far…


Front view navy capris without waistband


Back view navy capris without waistband


Apologies for the crappy pictures, not sure what happened here.  I am rather pleased with the front, but a bit perplexed with the back.  The seat (butt) looks fine in back, but the there are a lot of drag lines down the legs. What does that mean?  Do I need more room down both of the legs, i.e., wider?


Please let me know what you think.  I have my at home sewing lesson tonight with Thea, I will ask her, but I don’t recall the muslin being so “wrinkly” in back and I used the muslin as my pattern.  Also, the front pant leg was shorter than the back pant leg on both sides, but that might have been an error on my part while cutting or when I measured for the capri pant length on muslin.  I don’t think it will be a big deal; I’ll just use my rotary cutter to even it out.


Trench Sew Along Update:  So we have some interest in starting up the Trench Sew Along.  I will post details tomorrow.  I think we’ll have our own blog, but need to set it up still.  If you’re interested in joining, please let me know in the comments of this post or the last one and I will add you as an author to the Trench Sew Along blog.  I’m so excited!!!

I can’t believe I’m about to do this — A Trench-Sew-Along

But, I am starting a Trench-Sew-Along.  Yep, you read it correctly.  Me, Elizabeth of the sleeve sewn inside out dress is starting a trench-sew-along.  In comments on my Burberry Trench Coat post, Kerry and Sara both suggested that we start a trench coat sew along together and I laughed and laughed.  Especially since my exposé Burberry trench post was posted right after the Sleeve Debacle.  I thought for sure that inserting a sleeve on inside out would automatically kick me out of the sewing club, not launch me into the coat-making stratosphere.  Apparently that was just hazing or some kind of sewing rite of passage. 

I’ve never hosted a sew along, so I don’t know how this works exactly.  If anyone is interested in joining, please let me know in the comments of this post.  And while you’re at it, give me some direction on how to host this kind of thing.  Should I start another blog with multiple authors so that everyone can post their progress?  Does that sound right?  My only caveat: I sew slow.  Very slow.  I overthink every decision.  So if you think I will be done with this trench coat before the first snow, you will be sorely disappointed.  Hmm… end date.  Not sure about that one.  This might be an evolving sew along with everyone’s input into shaping it. 

Here’s my starting point.  I have no pattern in mind, no fabric, no lining, and no notions.  I am thinking that a raglan sleeve coat might be the easiest to start with and nothing too fitted.  I definitely want a self fabric belt.  It has to be lined and have two pockets (not welted though).  An interior pocket would be nice too.  Does that sound doable for a beginner?  Am I nuts?  Out of mind? 

I’m going to borrow Summerset’s parting shot.  Here’s a pic of my stretch navy cotton all cut out and ready to be sewn up tonight and tomorrow night.  Could it be that I will have a pair of capri pants to wear this weekend?  Stay tuned to find out.  🙂

navy stretch fabric cut

Happy sewing!  And don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you would like to join the Trench Along.

Pant sloper update

I know, I know…  I never wrote up the final class I took with Kenneth King working on the pant moulage.  I just don’t feel qualified to speak on the changes he made.  And I don’t want to lead any beginner sewists astray.  Suffice it to say that I got a great fitting pair of pants out of it, well at least a muslin anyway.  However, there were no design details, no waistband, no pockets, no zipper, etc.  For my first foray into pant making, I wanted to make a pair of summer capris.  Well, this meant I needed to draft a waistband and figure out what kind of zipper I wanted.  I also needed to decide if I wanted pockets, how many and what kind.  As I am discovering with each project I take on, there are so many design decisions to make.  While it’s pretty incredible to make something so customized, I do sometimes feel a little overwhelmed with all the decisions to be made. 

My teacher Thea and I have been working on these pants for the last 3 or 4 lessons.  Working and reworking the waistband, adjusting the crotch curve, etc.  We haven’t even come to the pockets yet.  We finally have a great fit I think.  Here’s the muslin/sloper on me with the waistband and a centered zipper (please ignore how it’s crooked on my waist, I had no idea when I was taking the pictures).

final pant sloper front

final pant sloper back

I took it apart already and marked the seam lines.  I just have to iron my fashion fabric (a navy stretch cotton), lay out my muslin pattern pieces and cut away.  I am self facing the waistband.  So I will cut out 4 of the back band, and 2 each of the front bands.  I will do the centered zipper with a button closure (remember the coconut buttons I bought at Pacific Trimmings?). 

Here’s a close up of the waist band.

final pant sloper finished waist band


I won’t be able to work on it today because I am working as a race official for the Interesting Race.  It’s going to be a lot of fun!  But Sunday has been declared pant sloper day, so hopefully I’ll have an update for you all on Monday.

Happy sewing!

Another Simplicity 3678

I know I said that I wasn’t feeling like making another Simplicity 3678 again the other day, but I made another one anyway.  I tried some out some new-to-me fitting techniques.  Nothing fancy, but as a beginning sewist, it’s all about learning these different methods. 

Fitting changes:

  • Since the purple rain dress was a little tight in the bodice, I went up a size for the back bodice piece and back waistband.  Now it fits perfectly and is very comfy to wear.
  •  I also took out the back gathers which required me to jigger the width of the back skirt piece.  I kept it in size twelve but then just eyeballed how much I had to cut off the sides (while still on the fold), about a 1/2 inch, and used my rotary cutter.  All’s well that ends well, and I love it without the back gathers.

If you’ll recall, I confessed earlier to serging one of the sleeves inside out.  Well, I unpicked the serged seam which didn’t take as long as I thought it would.   Then I disengaged the knife on my serger and reserged it back on the correct way.  I was, of course, very careful to attach the second sleeve correctly. 

I like this version a lot: it’s comfy, swishy and fits well,  but (you’re probably going to get sick of hearing me say this) I am still not convinced it’s a great silhouette on me because it appears slightly maternity-esque.   My teacher, Thea saw it last night and loved it.  She said that I should make it again without the front gathers.  I want to try something new now however, so it’s not likely that Simplicity 3678 will be in the queue again anytime soon.

Here are some pictures…

final dress 3

final dress 3 back

final dress 3 side


Things I learned on this 3rd iteration of Simplicity 3678:

  • Every fabric behaves differently.  Not all knits are created equally.  Ergo, make sure to practice your stitching on scraps before sewing your garment together.  It takes time initially, but saves you heartache and time later.  Honest!
  • Don’t be disappointed when things take longer than you think.  It’s all a learning process.  Appreciate it.
  • DON’T SEW LATE AT NIGHT!!!!! Bad things happen when you sew late at night and you’re tired, i.e., sewing on sleeves inside out.

Next up in the queue, my first pair of pants (made from my sloper)!!!  I know I’ve been talking about these pants for months now, but my sloper is finally tweaked for a hip (lower than natural waist) band and I’m ready to start.  Last night, I worked on the finishing touches to my muslin with my teacher Thea.  I’ll be working with the fashion fabric for a pair of capri pants over the next couple of weeks.  I’m not a fast sewist like others out there in the sewing blogosphere.  But I will get there my friends.  I will!

Happy sewing!

Why I don’t like my Burberry trenchcoat

I love the classic look of Burberry and was really excited to buy my Burberry trenchcoat.  At the time (this was about 4 years ago), I hadn’t an inkling of my future sewing interest and knew nothing about well made clothes.  For some reason, I thought, because it was a Burberry coat, that it would be well-made.  Now I know better. 

full view

At the time of purchase, there were details I loved: the close fitting bodice, the belt, the pleats.  But now, some of those very same features are the ones that bother me the most: the close fitting bodice and the pleats.  In addition, two other “design details” are quite irksome: the famous Burberry lining and the high waist of this particular style. 


  The lining is not slippery at all (except for the sleeves) so this coat “sticks” to everything I wear.  Why would you put in a non-slippery lining???  Isn’t that an oxymoron?  The high waist on me is not very flattering; my ribcage is the widest part of my torso from all the years of singing, so why I bought a coat with a high waist is a mystery.  The belt sits on this high waist, so I can’t even cinch a more flattering waist on me.  😦  The close fitting bodice makes wearing suits to work uncomfortable. 





The pleats, which look so darling when freshly pleated, become  more unpleated with each wearing, partly due to the non-slippery lining I suspect.  This coat wrinkles like you wouldn’t believe and looks rumpled in 5 minutes of wearing.  And now to the innards…  The stupid lining hangs free from the coat and sticks to my clothes. 



hem and side seam

The seam allowances are serged with a plastic thread which breaks easily and is down right annoying.  The hem’s seam allowance is so wide that it flops down and is sometimes visible below the hem.  It just doesn’t look as nice on the inside as I think it should for as much as it cost.  Am I just being picky here?


 The sleeve lining is slippery at least.  And the buttonholes are nice.  sleeve











Anyway, I just thought some of you might enjoy seeing a Burberry disappointment up close and personal.  So now I need a new trenchcoat… preferably one that skims the body and with a slippery lining.  Am I going to make it?  I think not, because remember: I’m the stupid person who serged a sleeve with the seam on the outside.  I don’t think I can be trusted with a complex project like a trenchcoat.  😦