Monthly Archives: December 2009

Giving in to peer pressure – 2009 Recap

I wasn’t going to do an end of year recap at all as I thought I had not completed enough projects this year to merit a recap.  But after reading so many thought provoking posts about it, I changed my mind…  It might be a worthwhile exercise after all.  Let’s see…  My tally is:


1 quilt

1 child’s apron

1 scarf

2 dresses

3 skirts

1 pair of pants

1 trench coat

1 child’s top

4 children’s PJ’s


1 child’s sweater vest

5 children’s hats

3  pairs of children’s mittens


1 blouse (the HP blouse that I only made a muslin of and decided not to proceed with as I didn’t like the style on me AT ALL)

2 sweaters (one which I have not mentioned at all on this blog, and the Whisper cardigan which will be completed someday, but not soon)


I am quite surprised that my total sewing output for the year is 14 garments and 1 quilt.  The trench coat took so long to complete, especially since I was only working on it with my teacher once a week, that it seemed as if the whole project took eons.  I had completely forgotten about my pants (can you believe that?  I can’t).  I also forgot about the wrap skirt I made at the beginning of the year.  So I am very proud of what I have completed and how much.  And let’s not forget how much I have learned!  Wow!  It’s a lot, but I am saving that topic for the next 2010 goals post I will write soon.

2009 Highlights

So what was my favorite thing that I made?  I think you’ll be surprised.

It’s the purple rain dress.  I love this dress. It’s my favorite color.  I love the print and the drape/hand of the knit.  It does not look home-made but rather well-made.  And I feel beautiful wearing it every time.  Beautiful.  And that’s saying a lot for this lumpy post baby body.  🙂

However, that does not mean I am not proud of my trench coat.  There were so many firsts on this project.  I am still in a state of disbelief that I actually made this coat.

And the final highlight of 2009 would be attempting my first Burda garment.  I had been very scared to work with Burda before this but I just fell in love with this skirt the moment I first saw it in the magazine.  I was able to understand the directions (shocking to me actually because of Burda’s notoriety and also because I am a mite challenged in the reading directions area).  Also, I made this skirt almost completely on my own, with my teacher instructing me on the finishing details only.

as worn at work

So, can I say it again?  I’m proud of myself.  I may not be the fastest or most prolific sewist in the East, but I have come a long way.  I look forward to sewing a lot more in the next year.  I can’t wait for 2010.  Bring it!

Happy New Year everyone!  May you be filled to bursting with sewing mojo and may fabric fairies gift you with bounteous yardage.

New Patterns!

Still at my parents.  We stopped at Joann’s today because I mistakenly thought there was a Simplicity pattern sale.  Not. Oh well.  I still bought my long list of patterns (except the OOP ones of course). One of the major holes in my burgeoning pattern collection is tops. So I stocked up on a few of those.

Ok, I snuck a dress in there.  I also bought a few Burdas!  All dresses naturally.  😉

Burda 7696

Burda 7628

Burda 7636

I’m excited about these patterns, but don’t know when I will get to them.  I’m just really wishing I could sew right now.  *sigh*

I also bought my first vintage patterns thanks to Carolyn’s prompting. I will post them once they’re in my hot little hands.

Happy sewing every0ne!

Un petit peu

Jack and I are en vacance and I had a moment to update you on some completed and gifted projects. The second set of PJ’s were a hit, Jack’s and Baby Haley’s. Here are some fuzzy snaps. I couldn’t get really great pictures with these ever-moving targets!

Baby Haley

Jack saying cheese!

Here’s the first of the two knitting commissions, for a beautiful girl named Hannah. By request, I used the same colorway as the original commission. I think the set turned out nicely. 🙂

Hannah's hat and mittens

I have started on the second (or third if you’re counting) commission but did not bring all the needles with me, so won’t be able to complete while we’re here.  😦   Here’s the hat in progress…

Baby Haley's Hat

It’s a slightly darker (brighter?) colorway than the other hat/mittens.

In other knitting news, I washed Jack’s 2009 Xmas sweater and there was serious damage done. I washed it in cold, with little agitation, and air-dried it. When I looked at it after the sweater had dried, I noticed that the blues had bled into the burgundy areas. I have no idea if this sweater can be saved now. Any thoughts on this from other knitters out there? It’s a cotton and supposedly washable yarn.

Bleeding heart yarn 😦

In sewing news, I have to confess to going through major sewing withdrawals right now. I am seriously jonesing for some fabric in my hands and to hear the whir of my sewing machine. I can’t wait to get home and get started on a project for me. ME. MEEEEEEEE!!!!!! I think I’m jumping on the Selfish Seamstress train here. I want to only make things for me for a while.

Happy knitting and sewing to all of you who can do so right now.  I’m jealous!

Kwik Sew 3510 Pattern Review

Kwik Sew 3510

I just uploaded my review on Pattern Review, but here it is here!

Pattern Description:  Toddlers’ pajamas. View A pull-over top has crew neckline with neckband, full length sleeves with cuffs, and front from contrast fabric. Pants have cuffs and elastic in casing at waist. View B pull-over top has crew neckline, short sleeves, and contrast fabric lettuce edged ruffles at neckline, sleeves and bottom edge. Shorts have elastic in casing at waist and leg openings.  I made view A for both the girls and boys.

Pattern Sizing: T1-T4.  I made three sizes, T2-T4.  All were pretty dead on for sizing. 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, even better as I used really cute fabrics. (if I do say so myself)  😉 

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Very easy!  I am pattern reading challenged and I understood these from beginning to end on the first read. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I liked the sturdy pattern paper (this is my first KS pattern).  I liked the simplicity of the pattern and the clear instructions.  The PJ’s are less fitted than RTW, but I like that.   I also liked that you can almost completely construct this garment on your serger, which I did, except for the hem of the shirt and the waist of the pants.  I also managed to serge some pins.  I hope my serger knife is still ok.  😦

No dislikes at all!  🙂

Fabric Used:  I used cotton knits from The Fabric Fairy for the prints and for the cuffs/contrast pieces, I used a ribbed cotton knit from  I loved the super softness of the boy’s tools fabric.  The girl’s hearts print was less soft, but still soft.  I bought other prints as well, but didn’t use them… yet! 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I did not make any alterations to the patterns. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  DEFINITELY.  I made this up four times already (one for each of the kids in my extended family and my own son for Xmas).  I plan on making my son’s jammies from now on.  One caveat, it’s not cheaper than buying them from the Gap or Old Navy, but the satisfaction that you made them yourself for your loved one can’t be beat.  

Conclusion:  This is a great basic pattern.  The star in this pattern is the fabric choice and the child in the PJ’s of course.  I loved making these and will do so again and again.  It’s not as fast a project as I thought, but I am a beginner and still a little on the slow side.  For an experienced sewist, this should be a 1-2 hour project from cutting to finish.  It took me an average of 3 hours for each of the four I made due to various user errors I made.  😉 

Now for some pics.  I am repeating Katie’s and Thor’s pictures because they are so stinking cute.  And I will have pics of Jack and Haley after our trip to San Diego.  I also have some close up shots. 

Thor saying "Cheese!"

Katie looking super duper cute!

Haley's PJ's, neck closeup

interior of PJ top

PJ Pants with elasticized waist

Closeup of elasticized waist

The best I could do with the stretch stitch

As you can see above, the stretch stitch is a little wonky still.  After the trouble I was having with it two nights ago, this is markedly better.  Not sure why it’s still not even though.  I took the suggestions of the commenters  and Karen, and changed my needle, rethreaded the machine and bobbin as well as cleaned out the bobbin case and it started working again.  The weird thing though was that the bobbin case didn’t even look dirty or dusty.  Strange!  

Anyway, I am really pleased with how the jammies came out and am super proud to give them as presents this Xmas.  I loved seeing Katie, Thor and Jack in their jammies and can’t wait to see Haley in hers.  I haven’t even started Haley’s hat and mittens set yet, so I am a little stressed about that, but tonight’s another crafting night, so at least I’ll get started.  

I have one or two posts planned over the next week even though Jack and I will be traveling to San Diego to visit my family over the holidays.  When we get back, I have so much sewing I want to do and none of it is SWAG (aka Sewing With A Grudge — stolen from The Selfish Seamstress).  🙂

Happy Holidays to you all!  I wish you lots of fabric and yarn and the time to sew and knit with it. 


What’s my problem?

I am suddenly having problems with the stretch stitch on my sewing machine. I’ve tried fiddling with the tension in both directions, changing the pressure of the presser foot, and using a walking foot but my stitches are still irregular. Can anyone tell me why or suggest anything else I can do?


I’ve made three of these pj’s so far and this is the last one.  I needed to finish this last set tonight and now I am behind schedule.  I would appreciate any suggestions anyone might have. 


Sneak PJ peek

Writing this quockie post on my iPhone as a test and to give you a sneak peek of a couple of the pj’s I made. They were already given as we are traveling over Xmas and so is my sister. So here’s couple of photos…

That’s me!

So many people forwarded this NYT article to me today.  It could have been written by me it was so similar to my sewing experience thus far: my new machine, my sewing failures, my grandiose ambitions and dreams.  I guess this means sewing has hit the big time again if it’s showing up in random places in the NY Times now.    It’s a very funny article. 

In knitting and sewing news:

My head is not so big after completing my trench coat that I am just lying around eating bonbons.  I have been knitting and will soon be sewing.  I am still working on my two knitting commissions (one is done already) and I got into my fool head that I could sew up some pj’s for Xmas for the kids in the family.  And so for the next week, give or take a couple of days, I am running a sweatshop out of my apartment with nary an elf in sight.

Here’s the pattern I’m using for the pj’s, Kwik Sew 3510

Kwik Sew 3510

It comes in sizes 1T-4T.  I will be making 2 sets of the 2T and one 3T and one 4T.  I bought the cutest fabrics!  But you’ll have to wait until I actually give the gifts to see them.  At least one of the parents of the recipients might be reading this post.  Well at least she better be, being my sister and all.  😉  This pattern says it’s a Kwik Serge pattern, so here’s to hoping this is a quick and easy project. 

I’ll post pictures of the commissions as soon as they’re gifted.  Don’t want to ruin the surprises!

Happy knitting and sewing!

Thank you!


I am so overwhelmed by all of the positive response I have received on my trench coat here, at the Trench Sew Along, and at Pattern Review.  This sewing community (and you too Mom!) are the nicest, most supportive bunch of people.  Ever!

And speaking of Mom; she asked if Jack was about to hug or kiss Katie.  Yes!  He adores Katie, one of my gorgeous nieces, who was posing with me as my sister took the pictures.

A lot of the commenters made mention that they thought I wasn’t a beginner anymore and thought I should change the name of my blog.  *blushing*  Hmmm…  Maybe someday.  But I still have not constructed a dress or a jacket, worked with set in sleeves or a collar with stand, among many other things.  So, I think I am still a beginner for now.  But I will probably change the blog name…. someday.  😉

Karen B. said, “I’d love to hear how you attached the lining as that is a total mystery to me.”  I didn’t do anything fancy.   I just used the same pattern pieces as the fashion fabric minus the facings (plus the seam allowances) and sewed it right sides together with fashion fabric.  Surprisingly easy.  Then you tack the lining to the shell at the armpit seams and slip stitch by hand the arms to the fashion fabric.  Let me know if you still have questions.

Rachel said, “I’m particularly jealous of your perfect top-stitching!  Do you have a trick to getting it that nice and straight and even?”  Honestly, I don’t have a trick and it’s not that perfect either.  😉  But from 2 feet away it looks pretty good.  I just did all the edge stitching first and then used the edge of my foot as a guide for how far away to stitch from the edge.  It came out pretty evenly the entire time give or take a wobble here and there. 

Again, thank you so much for all of the lovely comments.  I am so proud of this trench.  I could not have done it without the help and encouragement of this awesome online sewing community.  I would never have attempted it if not for the nudging of Sue!

And a big thank you to Karen for graciously guest blogging on the Trench Sew Along.

Happy sewing!


The trench in all its glory…

Or, how I got my trench on.  🙂  Be forewarned that this will be a picture heavy post. 

Friday night I did the last bits of hand sewing, attaching the buttons, “fixing” the overly long lining problem, etc.  On Saturday, before the snow came down in NYC metro area, I wore it out with Jack in the ‘hood.  When I stopped by my sister’s apartment, my brother-in-law was floored that I had made the coat myself.  I’m gonna take that as a compliment.  😉

Here’s my PatternReview review with a few additional comments:

Pattern Description: 3-2009-112 — From Burda: Material is the special feature!  The metallic fibres sparkle on the casually crinkled lightweight poplin and its dark bottle-green colour matches nearly everything.  This coat is uncomplicated to sew: it’s not lined and also does without the traditional sleeve tabs.

Pattern Sizing: 38-46, I made the size 40 because I wear suits all the time for my job and wanted the extra ease for bulky clothes.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes and no.  I used a different fabric and it had a crisper hand and stiffer drape than the fabric used on the model in the magazine, but the silhouette was the same.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were typical Burda, a little inscrutable, but if you have sewn a coat before, they should make some sense. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I originally liked the pattern for the raglan sleeves, thinking they would be easier for me as a beginner, but with the top stitching that one does on a trench coat for style reasons, it ended up being a little more difficult.  The key point to ensure you follow in the Burda instructions is to stitch the shoulder seams’ top sleeve seams as continuous seams.  If you don’t, your top stitching won’t match from front to back.  Also, don’t forget to clip into your curved seams, otherwise you run the risk of very puckered seams.  Ask me how I know. 😉

I loved the simplicity of the pattern.  It’s a classic trench look without all the “bling” like tabs, gun flaps, or epaulettes.  I wasn’t looking for an overly intense experience for this project.

Fabric Used:  Navy cotton with peach skin finish on one side for the outer shell.  Silk charmeuse for the lining.  Notions cannibalized from my Burberry trench coat (RIP 11/30/09): buttons and belt buckle.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I added a lining.  The pattern is for an unlined coat, but I didn’t want to add french seams and I wanted a finished look on the inside.  It was relatively simple to add the lining, I just used the front and back  and sleeve patterns minus the space for the facings.  I stitched the lining together and attached it to the facings after I almost completely constructed the coat and attached the collar. 

I only used interfacing in the belt.  Burda suggests interfacing the collars and facings as well as the vent.  My collar is a little floppy even with the stiffer cotton fabric that I used, so I definitely recommend interfacing the collar. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I most likely will not sew this again as I don’t need another trench coat, but it was a great introduction to coat making.  I definitely recommend this coat to anyone needing a classic yet simple trench coat.

Conclusion:   This was a huge learning curve for me.  I am a beginner sewist and have not attempted anything so complex before.  There were a lot of firsts for me in this project: buttons, button holes, notched collars, eyelets for the belt, slip stitching, adding a lining, adding patch pockets, and top stitching.  I’m sure I am forgetting something here, but that’s already quite a list. 

One more thought in parting:  This is meant to be a more casual, unlined coat, and a “quick” project because of those characteristics.  However, due to the simplicity of the pattern, this coat feels a bit unstructured even with adding a lining.  Possibly this is due in part to the lack of my interfacing, but I really feel the lack of structure in the collar and shoulders.  It’s difficult to put into words, but it feels not as substantial as I think a coat should feel.  But that may be because I am expecting more from it than I should.  If I want more substance from a trench coat, then I suppose I should put the time and effort into making a more traditional one with all the bells and whistles. 

And now for more pictures.  🙂

side view

back view

flashing the lining

See the Burberry buttons???

close up

Notice the Burberry belt buckle and Prym Vario eyelets.

belt with buckle and eyelets

To make the Burberry buttons more secure, I added small buttons on the interior side of the coat.

inside buttons

As mentioned in my previous post, the lining suddenly grew about an inch and a half the other night.  Tacking it up didn’t help; it still drooped below the hem in some spots.  I did a temporary fix of making the lining hem a little higher on one side, but at my next lesson I will try to resolve the problem a bit more elegantly and more permanently.  See below…

tmeporary fix

Here’s what remains of my Burberry trench, just the outer shell which is stained beyond recovery, devoid of all it’s notions, and the lining which I will salvage for a future unknown project.

the sad remains of my Burberry Trench

salvaged Burberry lining

 I am looking forward to wearing my trench to work tomorrow, assuming it’s warm enough of course.  I am also looking forward to working on something other than a trench coat.  😉  Perhaps Burda 11-2009-120.

Happy sewing!

Almost there! Need some advice

(Warning: No trench pictures in this post) 

Ugh.  I thought I was going to wear my trench today.  I had just the finishing stuff left to do… You know, buttons, belt buckle, hand sewing, etc.  But everything takes so long.  You think it’s going to be quick and then it’s painfully slow-going.  I’m not complaining, although it may sound like it.  Really I’m not.  I just can’t wait to wear this coat. 

As mentioned earlier in the sew along, I intended to cannibalize my existing Burberry trench coat which I detested for numerous reasons.   I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to take it apart and be able to use the things I love about the coat: the leather buckle, the cool Burberry buttons.  I am also going to salvage the Burberry lining (which isn’t slippery at all and totally useless as a lining) and use it for something else.  I don’t know what but something.  Maybe I could make a scarf for my trench?  I wonder if I have enough fabric left from my trench to use on one side.  Hmmm… 

Prym Vario-Snap Kit (image from Atlanta Thread)


I have to tell you how much I love my new Prym Vario-Snap Kit.  I put the eyelets on my belt and love them.  I want to put eyelets on everything now.  What a cool thing this is.  LOVE IT!  It’s so easy to use.  I just want to point out one thing for anyone who has not used one of these things before that’s not explained on the very spare and terse instruction sheet.  Once you’ve pierced the fabric, place the eyelet so that it protrudes through the hole in the fabric so that when you use the “pliers” to press the eyelet into place, the metal “bites” all the fabric all the way around.  If you don’t, you run the risk of not all the fabric catching and the eyelet attached only half way.  Ask me how I know this.  *nodding sagely* 

There is one itty bitty problem with the trench however.  THE LINING SUDDENLY GREW OVERNIGHT AND HANGS BELOW THE HEM NOW.  Thea and I checked and double checked the length of the hem.  I think we even triple checked.  How could it suddenly grow an inch and  half?????  Please let me know how I can remedy this situation.  PLEASE!!! 

I would really like to use my trench coat tomorrow.  

Happy sewing!