Monthly Archives: November 2010

Barely treading water

With my blog reading that is…  I can’t believe how the sewing blogosphere has exploded over the past year.  Every time I turn around, there’s a new sewing blogger that I want to check out.  I think my google reader has over 250 subscriptions.  I am so behind in reading and making comments, it’s scary.  And to put salt on the wound, I am blocked from commenting on blogs at my day job, so I am forced to choose between blog commenting or sewing in the evenings.  I think you know which one I’m choosing, right?

How do you handle all of your blog reading?


I have been sewing and sewing my friends.  Sewing my little heart out on my super secret surprise.  It’s taking a surprisingly long time to finish my little surprises.  There have been unanticipated hiccups, longer than anticipated processes and constant tinkerings.  The old adage to test your stitches on each new fabric has proven itself over and over again. 

While I am pleased to be working on my super secret surprise, I am missing my dressmaking.  I am missing working on something for me to wear.  After my recent realization that I am getting fat and crabby sassy, I thought I would be thankful for the break from sewing for myself and my TNT resistant body. 

But I must be more “selfish” than I thought because I miss sewing something for myself.  Although I love the holiday season, I almost can’t wait for it to be over so I can get back to making dresses and skirts. 


Jack and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family and my best friend Cayce.  Yesterday, we put up our Christmas tree.  Jack was extremely helpful; I loved seeing him have a strong opinion as to where each ornament should be placed.  He seemed to favor the cluster style…

Happy sewing everyone!

Learning Curve

Lately I’ve been thinking about my sewing learning curve.  In some ways I feel I’ve come far and fast (I’ve sewn two coats, sewn a little boy’s shirt complete with collar and stand, and have found and fitted one TNT to name a few of the things).  But in others I feel so dreadfully behind, like fabric selection. 

There are a few fabric pieces in my stash that I just have no idea what I would make with them.  They’re beautiful, but just completely overwhelming because of their individual characteristics that either make them hard to sew and or just plain hard to figure out what I would sew them into.  They came into my stash based purely on their beauty with no other consideration going into the purchase decision.  See the lovely lavendar silk below?  I bought it at the PR weekend in Philly this past May.  It’s the most unique weave that ravels at the slightest touch.  I have no idea what to make with it or how to sew it so it will stay together.  It’s like a silk linen with a stiff hand.  It seems like it’s silk yarns woven with cotton threads.  That’s the only way I can describe.  I can’t imagine that just stitching it together would hold up at all.  but it is beautiful….

PS Fabric Outlet silk linen and matching trim

Recently, I bought a collection of doubleknits in a wide array of colors, but I am hesitant to use them.  I don’t know if I will look good in a double knit as I have such a lumpy body now.  Doubleknit fabrics might show off all my lumps and be to0 figure hugging for my comfort level. 

T to B: RL Wool, silk charmeuse lining, red d-knit, black d-knit, interfacing

And then there’s the moving target that is my body, constantly changing on me.  I don’t understand how anyone can have a dress form when our bodies change so much all the time.  I’d probably spend more time changing the padding on the dressform than actually sewing.  *sigh*

Nancy K wrote an interesting post about learning to sew recently and how she likes to help out on PatternReview answering newbie questions.  I was once like those people.  Wanting all the knowledge right away, not having the patience to learn from my own mistakes which is how most people learn.  I remember pestering Carolyn and Karen with questions all the time until I found my teacher Thea.  They were very patient with me but still managed to show me that I would have to learn through trial and error,  that being the best method to learn anything.  Not because they were withholding information, but for the very practical reason that they weren’t in the room with me handling the fabric.  Each fabric is unique.  Even if it’s 100% cotton, the weave, the weight of the fabric is different from bolt to bolt.  Every fabric handles differently and requires different sewing techniques.  There’s no way to teach fabric hand over the phone or in an email.  It’s a skill and hard-earned knowledge learned over time (a lot of it) and with many different fabrics passing through your hands and under the needle. 

Sometimes I feel sad that I came to sewing so late in life and despair of ever accumulating the fabric knowledge which I so covet.  But that doesn’t deter me from continuing on the learning curve. 

I think the best advice I can give to a beginning sewist who’s just starting out is this, practice, practice, practice.  It is only through doing the act of sewing that one learns how to sew.  There is a knowledge gained through doing, that no amount of reading or asking advice can give you.  There is no substitute for manipulating the fabric yourself.  The pattern instructions that flummoxed me when I first started sewing two years ago seem so simple now.  Yes, it’s confusing in the beginning, but it gets better.  It gets easier.  The really hard thing to learn and most valuable to have is fabric knowledge.   But that, I think, takes a lifetime and you probably never stop learning. 

I wish you much fabric knowledge and joy in the learning process.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. friends!

Beer goggles or a social disease?

My friends, I have a confession to make.  I think I’ve figured out what happened to my TNT pattern, the infamous B5147.  Let’s recall the travesty that was tweed, shall we?

Notice anything besides my pajamas strewn willy nilly on the floor behind me?  Look closer.  First there’s the embarrassment of riches in the bust region and then there’s the just plain embarrassing stomach bulge.  OMG!  You guessed it.  Yep, you’re right.

I’m now pleasantly plump.  If I had one of those turkey pop up indicators inserted into my abdomen, it would be popped.  I’m done people.  I’ve reached critical mass if not my personal best ahem, bottom.

How could I have not noticed the weight gain you ask?  Well, yes, I have been stepping on the scale occasionally, but those extra pounds were just water weight; they didn’t represent real weight gain.  C’mon!  Yeah, I look in the mirror occasionally when I get ready in the morning to put on my make up or when I forget to avert my eyes when stepping into the shower nude.  But, I’m here to tell you that nothing tells you the truth more than a beloved TNT pattern.  Not your mom, not your best friend.  And not, apparently, your own eyes.

How did I realize that my eyes were not being truthful with me?  Obviously my tweed dress was the first hint (let’s ignore the scale for now, shall we?).  But there were others if I’m being all honest and such, like the first date that never turned into a second date (the guy actually yawned, several times), the fact that no man under the age of 70 looks at me.  You know, stuff like that. 

The clincher though was when I received the proofs from our recent photo shoot.  I was appalled by what I saw in those pictures and none of it had to do with the actual photography (which was amazing by the way).  I had double and triple chins.  I had a torso with no waist and a bulging tummy.  No wonder the tweed B5147 didn’t fit.  I must have gained weight in the bust area too and they must be hanging a little lower as well lately, which is why those darts looked like they were on crack. 

You know how there’s an epidemic of body dysmorphia among pre-teens and teens in the U.S.?  These kids think they’re fat when they are anything but.   Well, there’s a little known disease of the exact opposite phenomenon, called body eumorphia.  It’s a common ailment that usually afflicts only men.  I’m sure you know of it:  it’s when you think you’re hotter than you actually are.  That’s gotta be what’s wrong with me. 

Seriously though, I’ve gained some weight lately, despite the running.  I guess the daily white chocolate bars and salt & vinegar chips might not be the smartest diet.  And since I am only 5’4″, even a 5 lb weight gain can be dramatic on my frame. 

Part of my shock is from me not going gently into that dark night which is aging.  I still feel immature young.  I still have high energy and joie de vivre.  But my metabolism believes I am old and just need to sit on the couch crocheting granny squares or something.  It doesn’t help that I don’t get a lot of sleep due to late night sewing binges. 

So I have decided that, at the worst possible time of the year to do so, at the holidays, I have to go on a crash diet.  No more white chocolate (except for that one bar today) and no more salt & vinegar chips.  I don’t know what real people eat other than those two important food groups, but I’m sure it’s probably green and bitter.  😉  I’m just kidding, I actually love veggies.  I do think the key is sleep though.  I’ve heard that people who don’t sleep well or enough get fat really easily because they are substituting food for rest to get the energy to make it through each day. 

The bottom line is not whether you think I’m overweight or not, but what I think.  Because it’s me who has to live with myself.  It’s me who has to look at myself in the mirror every morning as I get ready.  It’s me that has to be happy.  I’m not saying I want to look like a starving runway model.  I just want to look like me again.  The me that was happy with my body and didn’t think about it.  The me that felt good about myself.  I was never model worthy, always carrying a couple of extra pounds, but I was ok with that.  Heck, I was better than ok with that, I was happy.  I don’t want someone else’s ideal.  I want mine.  I feel encumbered by my body right now, like I’m wearing someone else’s skin and weight. 

I have no idea how I’m going to do this, but something’s got to be done.  I want to feel like me again.  Wow, I’ve really kind of ranted when all I meant to do was be funny.  I think I’ll just press publish before I lose my nerve.

Flushed with pride

Last night my friends I received an unsolicitation.  You know, an unsolicited compliment. 

I had an appointment at a tony 5th Avenue hair salon.  When I stopped at the front desk to check in, the girl behind the desk said, “I love your coat!  That color looks great on you!”

You know which coat she was talking about right?  My Simplicity 2311 of course.

Needless to say I was pretty happy to hear that.  I graciously thanked her and flushed with pride.  I did not find it necessary to say that I made it myself.  It was enough to know that a fashionable and gorgeous twenty-something thought my coat was stylish and beautiful. 

How awesome is that?  I think I can ride the wave of that compliment for at least a few days, don’t you think?  😉  

Happy sewing everyone!

Sneak Peek: Super secret project

I know, I know.  I’m being very mean to keep teasing you, but I just can’t help myself!  😉 

Here’s a sneak peek at my latest project.  I received my fabric last night from and it was just perfect.  Super soft and cozy.  I pre-treated the fabric and started the production line, my own personal sweat shop, last night. 

I am pretty excited!!!!  More details soon, I promise.

Wish me luck!

Quick and easy they said

So after my last wadder and an unsuccessful experiment (I’ll tell you about this one later), I decided to do something for me that was quick and easy.  Everyone one who commented on my tweed travesty suggested that I cleanse my palate with a quick and easy project.  I thought, “Elizabeth, why don’t you make that Burda turtleneck everyone has been raving about on the interwebs!” 


Burda 9-2010-121

I traced it out on Sunday night and would have sewn it too, but for two obstacles. 

  1. It took me forever to trace it out because I couldn’t see the pattern lines on the new Burda pattern sheet.  I even put on my big girl panties and my reading glasses and still could barely make out my three pattern pieces, much less their markings/notches.  Sheesh!  You guys weren’t lying.  I don’t know if I want to put myself through that again.  What if I want to make a more complicated project with lots of markings?  I would for sure miss most of them.  It’s darn near impossible to see all of them.  I have been considering giving up my subscription since I don’t make up a lot of Burda patterns (oh, let’s face it, I’m so slow, I don’t make up a lot of patterns.  Period.), but now I”m definitely not re-upping.  Burda has entered crazy town.  But I digress…
  2. The new show Walking Dead was on and I was too distracted by zombies to sew that night.  Word.

However, last night was a new night and I did several things that ensured this top would end up a wadder. 

  1. I just picked a random vanity size, sz 38.  Because that’s what Karen made, so that’s what I made.  Must. remind. myself. that. I. am. a. Burda. sz. 40. Repeat.
  2. I did not wear my reading glasses and therefore did not realize I was sewing the shirt with the wrong side facing out.
  3. I forgot to stabilize the shoulders.
  4. I tapered the sleeves at the wrist like Eugenia, forgetting that my wrists aren’t fairy-like.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.
  5. I forgot that I don’t like turtlenecks.  To be fair to myself, I didn’t actually forget as much as ignore.  Karen had mentioned that this top wasn’t a true turtleneck since the neck is cut on and not separate.  I thought that meant I would like it better than a turtleneck.  But combine a quasi-turtleneck neck with too tight of a fit and it’s the perfect storm for Elizabeth to hate it.  I hate having my neck covered and don’t like any fabric to rest on my clavicles ever.  Which is why all my t-shirts have misshapen necklines now, because I tug and pull at them to get them off my neckline and clavicles.

The good news though, is now my sister has a brand new brown bamboo knit turtleneck!  I’m sure she’ll like it because she has none of the neck issues I have and she’s a lot thinner than I am.  And hopefully she won’t read this post and find out the fabric’s inside out.  😉  

I’m not going to bother with a review since my viewpoint is all personal about the pattern rather than objective.  In general, it’s a good pattern.  It’s drafted as well as it can be with a cut on collar (i.e., it’s not going to look fantastic because that causes wrinkling at the neck no matter how perfect the fit for you).  Just know that the sleeves are incredibly long while also being extremely slim fitting.  If I were to make this again, I would widen the sleeves in the bicep area and shorten the sleeves by 2 inches.  Oh what the heck, I guess I will review it on PatternReview anyway later tonight.

What’s next on the plate?  Well, I am expecting a shipment from today with, hopefully, better and softer fabric for my surprise.  Sorry to keep you in the dark still; I am not ready to talk about it yet.  And by the time I can, it will probably be a major let down for you all (it not being a book deal and all).  😉 

We’ll see….   Here’s to wadder-free sewing for you all!


image from

Simple title, simple question.

How do you buy thread?  That’s the question on my mind today.  Do you buy it for each project as you go?  Do you stock up on common colors when a sale comes your way?  Or do you buy a bunch of them in a whole range of colors just in case?

As I mentioned recently when working on my wadder, the problem with having a stash of patterns, fabric, notions, etc., you just assume you have all the makings to make a dress or a skirt at a moment’s notice without needing to run to the fabric store for a zipper or matching thread.  I did. 

As I gather all the stuff I need for my super secret surprise (haha, still can’t resist to torment you guys), I am considering just buying a whole rainbow of thread just so I have it on hand. 

What do you think?  What is the best method for having a thread stash for life’s little spur of the moment sewing needs?


I was nonchalantly walking into my office today when out of nowhere one of the new Butterick pattern dresses walked right by me.  I couldn’t believe it.  I took a tour of the new patterns on-line yesterday and then this morning, it just walks past me without a care in the world.

Butterick 5559

How cool is that?!

I have been buying up some double knits for the last couple of months and they would be perfect for this dress.  Now if only my pilates classes would hurry up and sculpt my body to look like hers.


I have some news I am dying to share with you, but I am still setting things up, so it’s not ready for prime time yet.  Apologies for teasing you, but I am just not a good surprise keeper.  And no, it’s not a book deal.  Sheesh!  I’m only famous in my own mind.


Crying uncle

Well, my friends, I think I have to give up the ghost on my tweed jumper.  I just can’t get it to fit around the girls right and now the fabric is looking a little forlorn.  Remember, this is how it looked last time:

  1. I tried shortening the fisheye darts — only helped a little.
  2. Then I tried letting out the side seams — no change.

At this point, the fabric doesn’t look good any more, so I didn’t have the heart to take pictures of what it looks like now though.  Trying to take out teensy tiny stitches out of a tweed just about did me in and definitely ruined the tweed.  And for some strange reason, the dress keeps hiking up in front so that the shoulder seams go behind my shoulders a bit.  I think that’s why the darts look so high.  But I can’t figure out why it’s doing that. 

I also can’t figure out why this iteration of a TNT is so drastically different from my other two.  The tweed is actually pretty lightweight and not all that different in thickness from the brocade I used for my fancy dress, so I can’t imagine that it’s a turn of the cloth issue as some of you have suggested.  So strange.

Anyway, I am just going to call it a wadder and move on.  I am pretty disappointed though.  As for the next project?  I have so many end of year projects on the docket that I am a little at a loss as to what to start on next. 

We’ll see what I feel like starting tonight. 

Wishing you a sewing day without wadders.