Monthly Archives: May 2010

Detour to Wadderville

OMG! What happened here?  Things were going swimmingly well with my version of the Knip Mode skirt… that is, until tonight.  I bagged the lining and attached the waistband last night.  Tonight was going to be all about the buttons and buttonholes.  I was at my sewing machine testing my buttonholes out on the fabric and checking to see if I liked how my Emerald 183 attached the buttons by 8:15 this evening. (Oh, fyi, I decided to go with the white buttons.) 

The testing was very successful.  I cracked my knuckles and got to marking  my buttonholes and button placements on the skirt.  The first pleat was beautiful.  The rest of the pleats are one fat droopy, slobbery mess.  Ok, there was no actual drool involved, but if pleats could drool, these would be dripping oceans of drool.

Where did I go wrong?  I ask you.  I beg you.   Can this wadder be moved back to the land of beautiful clothes?  (Oh, and if it could make me look 20 lbs thinner, I wouldn’t complain.)

Here’s my sad wadder:

And here’s Cidell’s gorgeous sculplted pleat beauty, full of life and awesomeness:

Cidell's amazing Knip Mode perfection

My skirt needs a makeover.  HELP!!! 

Any and all suggestions will be desperately accepted.  Thank you!


Need your opinion

I have a very limited button stash with very few “sets” of buttons, i.e., more than one button in a particular style.  But at my recent outing with fellow PatternReviewers, we stopped at Botani Buttons and I picked up a bag of buttons.  There were a lot of one offs in the bag, but it did include some sets. 

My Knip Mode skirt calls for 5-6 buttons.  I found one set that might work, but need your opinion.  I am thinking this button might be too noticeable and become a design feature where I might not want them to be.  So tell me, should I go on a search for different buttons that don’t cry out “Look at me!”?

Here are two pictures.  One shows the fabric as it really looks, the other shows the buttons as they really look.

true representation of the fabric (navy/white cotton woven)

true representation of the swirly white buttons


Let me know what you think please!

Question of the Day: Mojo

Merriam-Webster lists the definition of mojo as follows:

    Etymology: probably of African origin; akin to Fulani moco’o medicine man Date: 1926 : a magic spell, hex,  or charm; broadly : magical power <works his mojo on the tennis court>.

When sewists speak of mojo, I believe they mean something more specific like the will to sew, an inexorable pull into the sewing area, a compulsion to create something through the act of sewing.  I find that my sewing mojo waxes and wanes in indirect corelation to the difficulty of each project.  Funny how that happens, isn’t it?  I am working on the crazy skirt (as my teacher Thea calls the Knip Mode skirt).  By all rights, I should have been done with this baby already.  But I keep procrastinating.  Each step is excruciatingly slow and not because it takes long to do, but because it involves a lot of procrastinating. 

Much as I am wont to complain about pattern instructions and their inscrutable-ness, I still feel at sea without them.  I am such a play by the rule book girl (on most things, but not all).  I use recipes.  I follow directions (when I can understand them).  I like knowing the “proper” order.  Not having directions on how to construct this skirt is such a rudderless feeling to me and causes me to have slight panic attacks.  Ok, ok.  I’m not having panic attacks really, but it does make me procrastinate. 

So I’ve cut out my fashion fabric (LOVE IT!!!!) and of course made my requisite cutting error by forgetting the hem allowance on one of the pieces, but I am ignoring moving forward anyway.  I have yet to cut out the lining (will do that tonight) and need to decide how to interface for the button area.  Should I interface all the way down or for each button individually?  And since this is a wrap skirt, should I piece the waist band to match the skirt pattern pieces (i.e., one for the back, one for the wrap and one for the under wrap?  Or just make one long continuous waist band?

Going back to mojo though, as I mentioned earlier, I find that my mojo mysteriously disappears when I am working on an intimidating project or the difficulty meter heads north.  But something miraculous happened last night.  I was procrastinating as usual and it was 9:30pm before I actually started working on my skirt.  If I want to wear this skirt to the PR Weekend in Philly, I gots to get moving on it pronto!  So, I set up my navy thread, did some practice serging and stitching, and just started working.  (Because my fabric is ravelly, I serged all the sides of the cut pieces before I handled the fabric too much.)  I did one seam, and thought, let’s do another.  Next thing I knew, I had the fabric shell finished (except for hemming and the waistband of course).  I couldn’t believe it.  It was 1/3 constructed in a couple of hours.  I was just going to do my 30 minutes a day, but once I got into the groove, I didn’t want to stop.  It was amazing. 

So the question of the day is this: How does your mojo work for you?  Do you have to just do the work so that it magically appears?  Or do you have to wait for the mojo to appear to do the work?  Which comes first?  The chicken or the egg? 

When I originally set up my 30 minutes a day discipline, my secret hope was that it would jump start my mojo.  And I think it really works!!!  Now I just need to start earlier in the evening, so I have the whole evening to work.  This stupid procrastinating thing is cutting into my mojo time!

Leave your mojo talk in the comments section below please.

Happy Mother’s Day!

So as I alluded in an earlier post, last weekend I spent an evening sewing my Mom a Mother’s Day present.  I saw Dana’s Summer Scarf Tutorial and thought it would be great for my Mom.  I used this cotton voile remnant I bought at Metro Textile a couple of months ago.  This floral was perfect for my mother.  She loves that peachy color and has a lot of items in her wardrobe that would match with this color scheme.

floral cotton voile

I did a couple of things differently than the tutorial.  I used my new boyfriend, the gathering foot, instead of elastic thread.  And I used french seams to join my pieces since the cotton voile was so delicate (remember, I had to fix Katie’s dress which had a cotton voile bodice.)  Oh and this is the first time I used french seams!!!  Pretty cool technique.

If I were to make this again as a gift and I might because it’s pretty quick to do (although the majority of the project is probably spent on the hem since I didn’t serge finish it), I would make it shorter than the 170 inches long Dana suggests, but that’s only because I used my gathering foot instead of elastic thread.  I think the elastic thread made her scarf shorter.  Or I would just try the elastic thread; it looks like it would be bouncy.  My only worry with the elastic thread was that it looks a little casual which, depending on your fabric, could be just the ticket.  So really, your fabric will tell you how it wants to be made up. 

Here are some construction photos:

narrow hem


french seam join

pile o'scarf

dangling scarf

And of course, the scarf in action on my Mom!


Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.  🙂


I have been procrastinating the start of my Knip Mode skirt a la Cidell by researching FBAs (Full Bust Adjustments).  There is a plethora of information out there on the interwebs and frankly, I’m drowning.  Each tutorial I read brings up more questions than answers for me.  (Is this sounding like a trend to you? Because it is to me.)  Karen’s probably going to say that I am thinking about it too much.  I have found two methods so far that are promising (i.e., I understand them).   But I still have some questions.  

Let me back up a bit and tell you how I came to the conclusion that I need to add an FBA to my tops.  Remember when I started my TNT (tried and true patterns) project a couple of months ago with the failed pencil skirt and drape neck top disaster

NL 6901 Muslin


NL 6807 Muslin


My teacher Thea saved the day with two of the muslins.  I really like the fit of my pencil skirt now (please don’t notice that it hasn’t yet been put into production yet though).  Tuesday night I tried on my NL 6901 muslin again and the pendulum has swung back into the hate territory.  This muslin is not salvageable.  Since I had to cut off the binding due to not being able to rip the stitches out, the neckline is too huge.  Overall the size is too big, yet too small in the bust.  The armscyes are huge.  I think I need to go down one maybe two sizes to get this to fit correctly.  However, since the bust area is already too small in this size, I now know that I need to do my first ever FBA.  

Which leads me to all the research I’ve been doing this week on FBAs.  I’ve found tons of tutorials for FBAs using darts for woven tops.  I even found a tutorial for wrap bodices.  Specifically I need an FBA tute that does NOT utilize a dart and is good for knits.  I found a cheater one on Debbie Cook’s site that I think my work, but I am wondering if it would make my armscye too big.  Hmmmm…  I guess I just have to put the big girl panties on and try it, right?  *big breath* 

One question that needs to be answered first though is, how much of an FBA should I make?  Most patterns are drafted for B cups.  I am well into C cup territory.  In all my research, I have yet to find the amount per cup you should add for going up one size.   Do any of you, my lovely readers, have any suggestions as to where I can find this information?  My newbie sewist intuition is 1 inch, but who knows, I could be off by a mile.  

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to.  What have you been up to?


Ms Choize commented on the tutorial I posted today on how to lengthen a bodice and pointed out that I had forgotten to include changing the facing pattern to match the new length of the bodice.


Here’s the updated tutorial.

Thanks Ms Choize!

A Beginner’s Tutorial to Lengthening a Bodice

As promised here is my tutorial on how to lengthen a bodice for those beginners out there who are just like me (i.e., one who needs a little more direction than a shorten/lengthen here marking).  Oh, I may be the only one who needs this tutorial?  Oh ok.  Well then, here you go Elizabeth… 

Step 1: Determine how much length you want to add to your bodice.  In the case of this Vogue 8379 wrap dress, I want to add 1 inch (in reality, now that I’ve made up this dress, I know I need to add at least 1-3/4 inches and maybe even 2, but I started taking the pictures before I realized that.  So this tutorial will depict a 1 inch lengthening alteration to the pattern).  

Here’s your lovely pattern unadulterated and unmolested.  See how cute it is in its pristine state?  Note the Shorten/Lengthen line in the bottom third of the bodice.  That is the place, dear friends (or dear self since I may be the only one in need of this tutorial), where you will cut your pattern piece apart.  Now go ahead and cut. 

Back bodice

Front Bodice

Ok, now here’s where the fun begins.  Because why should it be all simple and easy?  Noooooo.  Let’s make it hard and complicated.  All right, it’s not that hard and not that complicated.  I don’t want to scare you off, but you should know that it’s definitely not a 1 or 2 step process.  

Step 2: Place tracing paper or equivalent behind your newly cut and separated bodice pattern pieces.  Position the pattern pieces so that they are 1 inch (or whatever your determined measurement is) apart and tape them to your added tracing paper.  Are we done you ask?  Surely you jest! 

Step 2: add your additional length

Step 3:  Now comes the really fun part!  We need to connect the top portion of the pattern to the bottom portion.  If this bodice was just a rectangle, we would just draw a vertical line joining the top to the bottom and we’d be all done.  But this bodice is not just a rectangle.  So we need to join the top and bottom without doglegging the side seams.  Here’s my first attempt at dealing with the dogleg problem.  I folded over the difference in width between the top and bottom on the bottom portion and then drew the lines in.  Sounds simple enough.  Even looks elegant.  Is it right?  NO!  Why?  Because you have just decreased the size of the waist of the bodice and now the bodice won’t be the same size as the skirt portion that attaches to that bodice portion.  

Incorrect method of lengthening the bodice

So what’s the correct method?  We need to break out the ruler or any straight edge and blend the difference between the top and the bottom.  To do this, add another piece of tracing paper vertically from the bottom of the arm hole to the bottom of the pattern piece.  Now place the ruler/straight edge at the top of the side seam at the arm hole and then move the ruler so that it also meets the bottom of the waist.  and draw a straight line from those two points.  Now you’ve preserved the integrity of the waist size while increasing the length of the bodice.   If you would be so kind to notice, my addition to the side seam is almost miniscule. 

back bodice final alteration

closeup of final bodice side seam blending from arm hole to waist

Step 4:  If there are any markings that moved because you lengthened the bodice, now is the time to correct them on the pattern  so that they fall in the same place on the altered pattern as they did on the original pattern.  In this pattern’s case, I needed to transfer the markings for the slit opening on one of the side seams.  So I measured down and inch and marked it the same distance away from the side seam as the original marking (see pictures above). 

Are we done now?  Surely we are, you think.  BUT NO!  We are not done yet.  There is more than one bodice piece.  We just corrected the back bodice piece, and now the front must be altered as well. 

Step 5: Since Vogue 8379 is a wrap dress, the changes to the bodice are treated slightly differently.  We no longer need to preserve the width of the dress, so blending the neckline to waist is not necessary.  I just added to the width of the waist to maintain the sweep of the neckline/wrap.  

final altered front bodice/wrap

close up of the altered bodice front pattern

Step 6: Since I added approximately a 3/4 inch to the front bodice/wrap, I need to add that same amount to the front skirt wrap.  You could take it out of the front facing which is 2 inches wide, but that wouldn’t be totally kosher.  My teacher Thea pointed out that the facing is 2 inches wide for a reason, to weight the front of the wrap and keep it from flipping outward.  Since I am 100% against facing flippage, I heeded her advice and widened the front skirt/wrap by 3/4 an inch, adjusting the facing marking as well. 

final altered front skirt/wrap pattern

Close up of altered skirt front

Note the tracing wheel marks where I marked the 2 inch facing correction.  The red line to the left of the tracing wheel marks is the original placement of the facing line.  

If this dress was not a wrap dress, I would not just add width to the bodice willy nilly.  I would need to employ the same method I used on the back bodice of blending from the arm hole down to the waist (or bottom) of the bodice pattern to maintain the original waist length.  Most likely the neckline would be unaltered by the bodice length change on a non wrap bodice.  And then I would not need to alter the front skirt pattern at all.  

So there you have it (or at least I do since I am the only one needing this tutorial), how to lengthen a bodice.  Since this is my first tutorial, if any of the more experienced sewists have differing opinions or flat out think I’m wrong, please speak up.  I used to be an opera singer and know how to take constructive criticism (well maybe not on my love life, but for other things, sure!).  If any of the beginners have questions, please let me know in the comments. 

Happy lengthening and sewing to you all!

ETA:  Ms. Choize reminded me that I completely forgot to include in my tutorial that you need to lengthen the facings as well.  Major OOPS!  Thanks, Ms. Choize!  Here is how you alter the facing to match the lengthened bodice:

Step 7: Now we must alter the facing to match the lengthened bodice.  Cut the facing apart somewhere in the bottom third of the pattern.  Add the additional length you’re adding to the bodice, in this case, it’s 1 inch and tape it all together.  If there are any markings that need transferring lower to match the original pattern, mark the altered pattern appropriately. 

Altered front facing

Close up of altered front facing

Et voilá!  You are done lengthening your bodice!  Phew!