Category Archives: Classes

Thea saves the day

I am a little late in writing this post about my lesson last week, but better late than never.  And a warning – this is a long post.

If you will recall I had made two muslins recently that required either a trash can or resuscitation,  The grandma skirt and the knit top from hell.  That post generated the most comments I have ever received for any one post.  I was overwhelmed by all of the kind words and moral support you provided as well as for all of the good ideas.  Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for putting up with my whining about my weight and pattern sizes.  I’d like to highlight some of the comments:

Faye shared: “I am in the SAME boat … I still need clothes so I sew for where I am now, and will when I do lose the weight, I’ll sew for where I am then.”  I know you’re right, that I should sew for the body I have now, but I don’t want to.  *stamping foot like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum*  My urge to sew is negatively correlated to how out of shape I am, unfortunately.  Ugh! 

Sue suggested: “… none of us are going to fit into any clothing/pattern without some tweaking.”  As I shared with Karen on the phone the other night, I stupidly assumed that, after the sz 14 turned out to be too small, of course the sz 16 would be just right and would require no tweaking at all.  WRONG!

Robin mentioned: “I have TNT patterns that I use over and over.  When I want a new style, I work out a frankenpattern, rather than try to sew a muslin from a commercial pattern.”  I haven’t been sewing (i.e., producing) long enough to have any TNT patterns yet.  In fact, muslining the Simplicity skirt was my first attempt to find a TNT pencil skirt (post on TNT’s still in the works).  Read on further in this post, however, for more progress on this front.

Hatty pointed out: “Oh and another thing — what’s in your construction queue — that Burda cardi/jacket thing — that’s a definite no-no unless you are feeling devastatingly attractive and tall and willowy.”  OMG!  You’re right!  I am taking that out of the queue pronto.  Thanks for saving me from some more frumpy angst!

Helen bravely brought up: “You know, underneath all the stuff about your size there is that disturbing comment about ‘not expecting to date’ for some time, which we are all politely ignoring because it is so worrying.”  You are right too Helen, I should not feel that I have to be skinny to date, but while I understand that, I still can’t feel motivation to date when I don’t feel good about myself.  It’s a little bit of a catch 22.  But hopefully, after somehow working in working out again, I will feel better about myself and feel the urge to get out into the fray again.  The problem is, though, as a single parent, it’s hard to find time to work out without having to pay a babysitter to do so.  I can do it, but it’s a tricky business, can be expensive and you have to be extremely motivated work it into your schedule.

JC asked: “Did you enjoy your sew fast sew easy class?  Yes, I did.  I wrote a couple of posts about the projects I worked on in that class where I detail what I learned.  Check them out!  I highly recommend their classes.  However, one of the reasons I have Thea as my teacher now is that she comes to my apartment so I don’t have to pay babysitting on top of the class fee.

Now back to my muslin disasters…  I showed them to Thea and we went to work on them.  For the skirt, Simplicity 2452, I just needed to nip in at the hips and down the sides of the skirt a 1/4 inch on each side seam as the waist was fine.  When it was pinned to the correct size, the skirt looked exactly the way I wanted it to look: fitted but not too fitted.  It was the pencil skirt I have been searching for; the grandma skirt had disappeared.  Yeah!  I used the french curve ruler to redraw the pattern taking it in a 1/4 inch.  It was pretty easy actually.  See my adjusted pattern below.  So this could be my TNT pencil skirt pattern.  I am going to finish up this skirt even though the more I work with the fabric, the more I dislike it and I’m going to add a lining.  I want to see how it looks all finished to be sure I like this skirt pattern before I cut into any of my nice suiting fabrics.  I don’t want to make any more “muslins” for this pattern if I can help it.  🙂

2452 pencil skirt hip alteration

I haven’t finished the skirt so no pictures yet.  Be patient dear readers. 

Next I tried on the knit top for Thea and she thought it looked just fine on me.  She thought the pulling/wrinkles on the bust were part of the drape and didn’t bother her at all.  She liked the top.  I looked at it again with kinder eyes and just may agree.  Although I am waffling on it since I still feel self conscious about my thick middle section.  Thea said we could add a little more to the side seams on the front pattern piece under the arms for more room for the bust and see what happens.  I think I may try that in my ugly dots knit fabric.  Again, I don’t want to waste any of my nice knits on another muslin.  While Thea was there, I sewed on one of the sleeves and I had my first experience of too much sleeve cap ease.  New Look requires you to gather the sleeve cap before inserting the sleeve.  Ridiculous!  It’s a pattern for a knit fabric people!  How about just drafting a knit sleeve cap that fits into the armscye?  Brilliant idea.  Now let’s do that from now on.  I asked Thea to redraw the sleeve cap as I hadn’t a clue as to how to do that.  I’ll try it out the new sleeve along with the new front pattern piece on my next iteration of this top. 

6901 altered sleeve pattern piece

crappy sleeve insertion due to excess sleeve cap

lovely drape front -- best feature of the top

I thought I could salvage this top by removing the back neck facing and finishing it in another fashion, but I can’t remove the facing for the life of me.  It’s on there but good.  I could only get two inches unattached.  I am admitting defeat with this iteration.

the gosh durned stubborn back facing

The reason why I am working so hard to make this top and skirt work is simple.  TNT’s people.  I need ’em.  I want ’em.  They’re worth the effort, the tweaking.  Once I get these two patterns working for me for how I look now, (*sigh*) I can start ramping up the wardrobe factory production because I need a lot more work clothes.  A lot.  I am sick and tired of what’s in the rotation. I want some variety and more of it.  And I want it NOW!!!  And to be truthful, it isn’t hard to make these patterns work for me and my body.  The changes are simple and easy, so it’s not like I am redrafting the pattern.  I just became easily discouraged at first.  I was focusing on the wrong thing, my body, not the fit of the pattern.  Not that I shouldn’t get in shape or anything, but I can and will sew for the body I have now.  It will take time and much effort to get back to where I want to be, shape-wise, and I am going to need to clothe myself in the interim.  So I better get cracking!

So I am going to do a little poll with New Look 6901.  I will show you a picture of me wearing the top and you let me know via the poll what you think.  Deal?

Oh and I almost forgot!  Thea also looked at my alhambra clover fabric that was printed off-grain.  She thinks it just needs a  better pressing than I gave it previously and it should be fine.  Wow!  I can’t tell you how relieved I was.  However, I think I need a little time off from this fabric for a while before I reattempt cutting it again.  We need a break from each other. 

Happy tweaking everyone!


Screwing up my courage

Have you noticed the preponderance of late night sewing in my posts?  Well, I have and I know why too.  Most nights it takes me a good two hours of procrastinating before I finally screw up enough courage to sew.  It’s not that I think sewing is difficult, but that I want it to be perfect.  And I’m such a beginner that nothing is going to be perfect. 

So, then I just put it off until I realize that I have to get things done and start at 9:30pm or 10pm.  I do actually want to wear this trench coat before winter sets in.  But last night, my courage never showed up.  Tonight I have my lesson with Thea.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to conquer my fear of interfacing and get further along constructing my trench.

Happy sewing!

Trench update and new skill

I had another lesson with Thea last night…  We completed the muslin for my trench coat (Burda 03/09 #115) and I learned a new skill.  Click on over to the Trench Sew Along for my post on the trench muslin

My new skill?  Hemming pants.  Sounds simple right?  Well it is.  But I wanted to be sure I was doing it correctly.  So before I butchered my suit pants on my own, I waited until Thea came over and we went through the process together.  

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Measure both legs:  One hip can be higher than the other, so just measuring one leg might give you uneven results even if you are exacting in your measurements.   Mine had different measurements, so I’m glad that I waited to do this with Thea. 
  2.  Not all thread is created equally:  On the RTW pants I was altering, the overlocked (serged) hem allowance was thin in thickness, meaning the threads didn’t create a bulky edge.  The thread I bought for my serger, Maxilock, was thick thread and was definitely bulky when I finished trimming down the hem allowance.  Now I will have to be careful when I press these pants so that the ridge from the overlocked edge won’t show through the pant leg.
  3. I don’t like my blind hem stitch on my Emerald 183:  Well at least for fine garments like suits.  I can see the tiny stitches on the outside pant and it bothers me.  No one else would probably notice, but it would bother me to the point of never wearing the pants.  Solution: hand sew the hems.  Which is fine with me, since I enjoy hand sewing.
  4. That there’s always something to learn or a little trick of the trade with even the simplest sewing task: I’m so glad I waited for Thea to hem these pants.

 For the next couple of weeks, I will be working on my trench coat pretty exclusively.  There are a lot of great projects to watch unfold on the Trench Sew Along, so please check in on us.

Happy sewing everyone!

Confession time


Remember when I said that I had a lesson with Thea on Wednesday and that I would be starting the muslin for Butterick 5314?  Yeah, I remember that too.  Well, Thea ended up not coming that day (we had a scheduling  miscommunication), and, even though Jack went to bed nicely and by 7:30pm, I didn’t work on the dress.  I procrastinated instead.  Do you know how I know that I procrastinated?  I did the dishes.  I hate housework.  The fact that I willingly did the dishes when I could have spent quality time on my dress is proof that I was indeed procrastinating. 

I’ve been wondering why I am avoiding my newly beloved craft and realized it was the project itself that was causing me to turn to housework.  Butterick 5314 is a “don’t make one mistake” woven fabric pattern, not a forgiving “don’t worry, I’ll hide all your mistakes” knit pattern.  I’m scared I’m going to screw it up with wonky seams and/or clumsy finishing and that it will look at best: “loving hands at home” or at worst: an unwearable wadder.  Is unwearable wadder an oxymoron?

And let’s not even mention the trench sew along.  Ooops, just did.  Why did I think I could make a complicated thing like a trench coat? 

I’m having a crisis of faith here folks.  I hope I get out of this cycle of negativity soon.

Did you watch Project Runway tonight?  Did you like the suit that won???  I thought it had shoddy workmanship (remember the back?).  I can’t believe it won.  I did agree that Qristal should go home though. 

I hope someone is having a happy sewing day.  Carolyn?

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.

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!