Category Archives: Gifts

Birthday Dress Pattern Review

Since Haley had her birthday this weekend, received her presents, and opened them.  I can  now show you pictures of the finished dress.  However, I forgot to take interior construction pictures before I wrapped and sent it off, so my apologies for the dearth of those photos.

By all accounts, Haley loves her dress and she looks so pretty in pink.

Construction notes:  I used no pattern for this dress.  With the help of my teacher Thea and some measurements of a RTW dress that Haley already owned, we drafted a pattern for this dress.  The bodice of the RTW wear dress was 18 inches in circumference and the straps were 2 inches in from the sides.  Since elastic thread for shirring cuts the width down by 1/2 I started with 2 pieces of the floral fabric (front and back) 19 inches wide each (1 inch added for SA’s).  I pressed the top of the bodice under twice and used the elastic on top of the hem to secure and start the shirring at the same time.  I shirred for about 7-8 times around until it looked right in length from top to bottom.  I seamed and gathered the solid pink band using my gathering foot, remember my new boyfriend?  In retrospect, I realized that I had forgotten to tighten my stitch tension, so the gathers are not as gathered, but I still like it.  It’s subtle.  Then I added the lace at the bottom.  I bought the lace in Philly when I was there for PR Weekend.  Doesn’t it just take this simple dress to a whole new level?  It’s definitely “one more louder.”  I must give full credit to Thea for turning the straps for me.  I have been very frustrated with my turner, but she seemed to have no problem whatsoever with it.  Hmmm…  I attached the straps and this dress was done!  Very simple.  I constructed the entire dress (minus attaching the straps) in one evening.  I can see a sweatshop in my near future making little girl dresses.  😉  

And here’s little Haley in her dress.  Isn’t she super duper cute?

In other sewing news, I finished my Burda dress and love it.  Lots to tell about that little adventure, but I must save it for another post.  Not sure if it’s work wearable though.  It might be a little too sexy momma for the office.  I’ll have to ask my sister’s opinion.

Happy sewing everyone!


Sneak Peek – Birthday Dress

Well, I am at it again.  Drafting, that is.  Well, I wish it was me alone, but I definitely needed Thea along for the ride this time.  Together, we drafted a simple little girl dress.  I knew what I wanted and could see it in my mind’s eye: a shirred empire waist bodice, spaghetti straps that tied, a contrast band at the bottom with a lace hem. 

Here’s a sneak peek of my niece Haley’s birthday dress…

More on the construction and full pictorial disclosure after the gift is given this weekend.

Happy sewing everyone!

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.  🙂

Mish Mash

This was supposed to be the post with the tutorial on lengthening a bodice, but instead it will be a mishmash.  I thought that I had taken all the requisite pictures for said blog post, but upon writing the post, figured out there were quite a few missing pictures.  So, suffice it to say, the tutorial is still forthcoming.  It’s almost finished.  I promise!

Also, I am dying to show you all what I made my Mom for Mother’s day, but she reads the blog, so I can’t.   But since I can’t keep a secret (about presents anyway), I at least got to tell you (and her) that I made her something.  And in her favorite colors (oops!  that might have been a little TMI for a secret).  Oh well…  You’ll all have to wait to see it until she sees it.  Sorry!  But that’s what I sewed this weekend.

Last night, I went through my entire collection of Burdas (back to Jan 2009) looking for a great dress to make for a family wedding scheduled over Labor Day weekend.  I have a few contenders and will post them later.

I also pre-treated my fabric for the Knip Mode skirt.  I will start working on it this week!  I had a lesson last week with Thea and we tweaked the fit of the muslin a little bit.  We did really well with our drafting.  Only minor tweaks were needed. 

So, even though I have been radio silent the last little while, I actually have been working really hard.  Honest!

More to come soon.  Happy sewing everyone!

(Sorry, no pictures for this post.)

Kwik Sew 3146 Pattern Review

It’s finally finished!!!  Thor’s camp shirt.  I just posted the review at  Here it is with a few more pictures… 

Thor, God of Thunder, in his new camp shirt


Pattern Description:  Toddlers’ shirts have collar with collar stand, yoke, front placket with button closure, and shirt-tail hemline.  View A has long sleeves with buttoned cuffs and breast pocket.  View B has short sleeves and breast pocket.  View C has western-style yokes, long sleeves with buttoned cuffs, and front pockets with buttoned flaps.  I made view B. 

Pattern Sizing:  T1-T4 — I made a T2 for my nephew Thor; he just turned two.  It’s a little big on him, but I think that’s fine for this kind of shirt and he’s got room to grow. 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  YES! 

Were the instructions easy to follow?   The instructions were very easy to follow. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?   

LIKES: I thought the collar/stand instructions were great and made for a great looking collar.  I am really proud of my first collar and stand!!!  

my FIRST collar with stand!


Even David Coffin thought so.  Really!  We’re FB friends and when I posted a picture of the collar and stand he commented, “Nice collar.”  I was blown away!  In my shirtmaking research I did read David Coffin’s book on shirtmaking from cover to cover.  I thought it was fantastic and it definitely helped me with this project.  The Kwik Sew method for making a clean finish on the yoke was also great.  

DISLIKES: I didn’t like the tiny seam allowances which did not allow for flat felled seams at all.  1/4 inch SA’s???  You can’t even serge them to finish them off.  I accidentally serged off part of one of the sleeves.  It was minor and I was able to fix it, but it could have been a disaster.  I ended up overcasting with my sewing machine to patch some sections. 

Fabric Used:  I bought what I thought was a plain cotton gingham fabric, but when I got it home, I noticed it had some stretch.  I just assumed it was 100% cotton because why would anyone add lycra to gingham shirting?  I just don’t understand it.  However, it didn’t really affect anything with the making of the shirt.  Because of the regularity of the print/weave of the fabric, I cut all the pattern pieces in a single layer to match up the print as much as possible.  While they were cut precisely to match, it was a little difficult to maintain the matching of the gingham at the machine.  I think it will take much more practice and maybe the use of my walking foot, but I’ll get there.  This was my first time really trying to match such a pattern. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I didn’t make any real alterations, but I did change construction order and used some different techniques.  

I did not interface the pocket as I didn’t think it was necessary.  The instructions would have you hem the shirt before you sew the side seams, but I think that’s crazy.  I waited until after I had sewn them.  I guess I’m no longer a beginner now if I am disagreeing with pattern instructions!  On the other hand, the instructions also have you sew up the sleeves before you hem them, but it’s really hard to hem tiny little sleeves.  I didn’t think of this before I sewed them up, so I was forced to hem them after they were sewn.  But if I had sewn up the T1 size, I don’t think I could have hemmed the sleeves on the machine; I would have had to sew them by hand.  Another change I made to the pattern was to use pearl snaps instead of buttons.  I just thought it was a neater look and more child friendly.  I loved it.  And an embellishment I added was to use freezer paper stencil (tutorial here) to create a red thunderbolt on the back of the shirt for a more urban feel.  Thor’s name means God of Thunder, so it was very a propos and he loved it. 

painting over the freezer paper stencil I cut


finished thunderbolt (three paint layers)


Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I will definitely make it again, but next time, I will add more to the seam allowances so I can make flat felled seams.  Why not?  You’ve already gone to the trouble to make a real collar and stand.  Why wouldn’t you also want flat felled seams as well?  Also next time, I will only interface half the placket as I felt it was too stiff after all the layers are sewn together.  It could have been that my interfacing was too stiff, but I still think halving the interfacing would be better.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone, even beginners, as long as they take their time and really understand the directions. 

Conclusion:  I love this pattern.  I think it makes a great and professional looking shirt due to the great collar/stand and yoke instructions.  


In other sewing news, I just muslined the bodice for Vogue’s DVF wrap dress knockoff, 8379.  I will start cutting out the real fabric tomorrow.  Wish me luck please.

Happy sewing everyone!

“Quick” gift for Nanny

So my son’s nanny’s birthday was this weekend.  Stupid Yahoo calendar did not remind me in time and I had to think of a quick gift for her.  She is the most amazing nanny.  She is loving to my son and my son just adores her.  I get stopped on the street by complete strangers all the time who have seen her with my son during the week and who tell me how awesome she is.  Really!

Last year, I made her this scarf. 

Anne's Scarf


Scarf, end detail

This year I wanted to do something a little different and this silk charmeuse remnant from Kashi remnant bin at Metro Textile was just the thing.   This remnant was just a little over 1 yd at about 45 inches wide, a perfect scarf size, and it feels so luxurious.

The only problem was…  I do not own a rolled hem foot.  How to do a rolled hem without a rolled hem foot?  Hmmm…   Well, that’s where Pattern Review comes in.  I posted a question on the message board at 4:30pm today and received answers right away.  Both respondents told me to stay stitch 1/2 inch in from the edge of the scarf, press a crease at the stitching line on the inner side, cut close to the stitching line and roll the hem in.  Then stitch the hem closed, rolling as you go. 

So I was all set tonight to work on the scarf after Jack went to bed.

The only other problem was…  I did not have any scraps on which to practice this new to me technique.  What to do?  Thankfully, my remnant had a rather wide selvedge, so I practiced a couple of times on the selvedge and thought to myself, “no time like the present.”  And I just started my rolled hem.

I changed only one thing to the method described above: I pressed the rolled hem so that it would be easier to sew.  I pressed one side at a time and then sewed that side.  I used silk thread and can I just take a moment to say that working with silk thread was just divine?  My sewing machine loved it.  She just purred along the entire time.  Lovely!

So here are some pictures…  Nothing too exciting, but I am quite pleased with an evening’s research and work.  Now I just need to get her a pin to go with it!

finished scarf for the nanny

rolled hem detail


Happy sewing!

Lots of progress!

Wow, either I am getting better at this sewing thing or this is just a speedy project.  After all it is a teeny tiny little shirt.  Did I mention that it was small too?  Tonight I assembled the collar and stand.

Then I attached it.

Then I attached the sleeves and sewed up the side seams.

Thank you for all your kind comments and suggestions on my last post about the matching.  I actually feel a lot better about my matching today.  Sometimes you just need some time to get some perspective.  Right?

I changed the order of construction a little bit.  (Aren’t I all grown up now?)  The instructions said to sew the shirt hem before sewing up the side seams and I thought that was silly.  Of course, now that I am typing this, I am worrying that I got too cocky and maybe should have followed the letter of the law.  Oh well, I can’t worry about it now.   😉

I still have to have to serge the side seam SA’s, make the buttonholes, attach the buttons, and hem the sleeves and bottom of the shirt.  I actually feel pretty confident that I can do all that Friday night.  Am I nuts???

Some more pics just because I can…

check out that pattern matching with the pocket!

my FIRST collar with stand!

I do have an idea to add an embellishment to the shirt, but it’s a secret as I think my sister reads my blog sometimes.  If she doesn’t she’s in big trouble.  Hahahaha!

Happy sewing everyone!

P.S.  Carolyn pointed out to me that I neglected to mention the store that was having a great sale in NYC.  It’s P&S Fabrics on Broadway below Canal and above Worth.  I’m a dork.  What can I say?