Category Archives: Hot Patterns

Pregnant clown anyone?

After all the searching for a pattern, trying to translate directions, the Singer that died, and the endless questions on PatternReview, I made a clown costume for a pregnant woman.  Thank god it was only muslin.  Here’s a pic (please ignore the incredibly bad sewing)…hp101muslin1


I can’t believe it’s taken me weeks to create a wadder.  I made a size 12 (for 38 in bust) and definitely could have gone down a size or two.  There is just too much fabric going on here.  The guidelines for how much elastic to use for the neckline was too generous; I don’t think there was enough gathering for that much fabric.  I didn’t bother hemming the sleeves or elasticizing the waist as I was checking for fit and whether I liked the style on me at all.  I think it would have been even more comical had I gone ahead and elasticized the waist, I could have looked even more like a pregnant clown.  Have I mentioned that I looked like a pregnant clown yet? 

Saturday afternoon, I still was under the impression that I could salvage this project.  I went upstairs to my sister’s apt (we live in the same building — how awesome is that???!!!!) and borrowed one of her belts to see if I liked it as a tunic.  We came up with the following workarounds:

  1. Lengthen the top to tunic length (easy fix).
  2. Go down 1 sizes (now I think even going down 2 size wouldn’t work)
  3. Skip elasticizing the back neck and decrease the width of back pattern sheet to accommodate not needing to be gathered anymore (with my limited sewing knowledge, I don’t know if this is feasible without irreparably distorting the pattern).

It would probably work… if I used a different pattern altogether.  This pattern (HP 101) is just cut too wide.  There’s too much fabric around the middle and you will look fat no matter if you are a starving model or not.   Or maybe you need to have a long torso to pull it off or maybe you just shouldn’t make it.  Ok, in all fairness, if you used a much drapier fabric than unwashed muslin, it might work.  But I really wanted to use a cotton for this top and I don’t think any cotton would be drapey enough for this pattern.  Of course, I am no fabric expert, so if there is a really drapey cotton, please let me know.  So, sadly, I did not finish a top for Rae’s Spring Top sewalong.  But you should check it out and vote on the best one! 

Without further ado, here are some “tunic” pics…




It wasn’t all for naught though!  I did learn a lot on this top:

  1. How to use single fold bias tape (and how not to).
  2. I can sew straight seams pretty well, but really need to practice my curved seams.
  3. PatternReview is my friend!
  4. I still need to fine tune the tensions on my serger.  The side seams I created on this top were really loose and when you pulled the fabric on both sides of the seam, it exposed too much of the threads. 
  5. I still want to sew despite all the frustrations and setbacks on this project.


So now I need a super duper cute and easy spring/summery top pattern.  I don’t think I have anything suitable in my pattern stash.  Most of my patterns are for knit tops.   Any suggestions?  The search continues…

Happy sewing everyone!


Not much progress, but some success…

Apologies for leaving you hanging after the last post.  I have used my new Emerald 183 only 3 times for 3 lines of stitching only so far.  I know you’re sitting there in disbelief, but honestly, I have been stuck on a certain part of my top for awhile now.  The single fold bias tape was kicking my butt.  Actually, I was all ready to quit on sewing altogether after 2 hours of struggling to get the elastic through the bias tape casing unsuccessfully.  Seriously.

But PatternReview came to my rescue yet again!  I love this site.  I always get fast answers to my questions, no one is ever condescending about my dumb questions, and there are tons of pattern reviews to look up and be inspired by. 

So to catch you up:  I had cut out the pattern and muslin weeks ago.  I had to run out to buy the elastic and single fold bias tape.  Then in trying to attach the bias tape to the neckline to create the casing for the elastic, my Singer 5160 failed me in a very dramatic way.  The hunt for a new machine was on.  This past weekend, I bought my new machine, the shiny Emerald 183, and returned to the single fold bias tape.  I sewed one side on with no problems.  I sewed the other side of the tape no problems.  My new Emerald 183 is great!  That took all of 10 minutes at the most.  The next two long and frustrating hours were spent trying to get 1/4 inch elastic through a less than 1/4 inch bias tape opening.  I tried sewing the elastic to a sewing needle to feed it through; it kept escaping the needle.  I tried a large safety pin; too big.  I tried a small safety pin which worked until about 2 inches from the end when it broke inside the casing; too flimsy.  I couldn’t get it any farther and I couldn’t remove it.  It took me two hours to do absolutely nothing!  I was not a happy camper.  It was day two of owning my Emerald 183 and I was only able to use it on two lines of stitching.  That’s it!

I posted my woes on PatternReview and had a workaround within hours.  One of my rescuers said: “You can *Not* fold under the second edge of the bias tape, leaving a raw edge (since bias doesn’t ravel, you can do this without anything more than a slightly messy inside of your garment that no one else will care about), and this will give you extra room through which to thread the elastic.”

I tried that last night.  I unpicked one of the seams of the bias tape, opened up the fold and stitched it down unfolded to the wrong side of the muslin.  When I was done, I threaded the elastic into a tapestry needle and had that neck band elasticized in about 3 minutes.  OMG was that easy!!!  Of course my muslin is a little beat up now.  Too beat up in fact to use.  I am actually considering ditching the muslin and going straight to my fashion fabric.  Am I crazy?  Should I stay with making up the muslin first?  I really want to finish this top this week to participate in the sewalong.  Am I being too impatient?  Let’s ooh and aah over the pretty fabric again, shall we?cotton-brown-dots-with-flocking2

Ugh.  I can’t decide.  I think I’ll make a game time decision tonight when I get home and get cracking, I mean, sewing. 

I’m so excited again.  I don’t know why I became so discouraged right away.  I just have to ask the gods at PatternReview and I receive.  It’s awesome!!!

Till next time, happy sewing everyone!

One fat mess

First, some blog business before the actual post:  I haven’t uploaded pics yet to my last post.  Sorry the holiday weekend got away from me.  I promise to update it soon.

I forced myself to face my intimidation of the single fold bias tape last night.  I’ve been procrastinating thinking about the process of sewing the last week or so, hence the lack of sewing posts of late.  I’ve had the muslin cut out for about two weeks for the Spring Top sew along and it’s been glaring at me accusatorily from the dining room table ever since.  The pattern calls for single fold bias tape to make a casing for the elastic so that the neckline and hemline are elasticized.  See picture below…

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

My question is why use bias tape to encase the elastic when you could use the fabric?  I am using this pattern not only to create a top for me to wear, but also to learn to sew, to increase my skillset.  So I am going to do the muslin exactly as the pattern says to sew it.  However, I reserve the right to change it on the final fashion fabric version later (try saying that last part 10 times fast). 

Back to last night’s adventure…  I read the instructions for the bias tape attachment.  Of course they didn’t make sense at all to me until I had read them about 40 times, but who’s counting?  The first thing I notice is that they have you stitch the crease of the bias tape to the seam line (5/8 seam allowances) and then have you trim the excess seam allowance.  Why not properly size the pattern so you don’t have to trim?  Seems like an unneccessary step to me.  Can anyone tell me why?  So I obediently in a dog-like manner (no offense to dogs), pin my bias tape crease a 5/8 inch away from the edge of the muslin and go to my Singer 5160.  I have black thread in the bobbin and needle, but who cares; it’s a muslin, right?  I check my stitch and tension settings and rethread my needle just in case.  And I start to sew.  Well, except that my needle jumps to the side about 2 inches into my line of stitching.  Why you ask?  Well just take a look…one-fat-mess

That hot mess, my friends, is what my sewing machine wants to produce.  That’s what comes from the bobbin thread.  I checked my bobbin several times.  I changed the tension.  I rethreaded.  I prayed to unnamed gods.  I watched tv.  I took a sip of coke.  I had some parmesan cheese (did I mention my addiction to parmesan cheese yet?).  I rethreaded again and played with the tension for the sheer fun of it again.   And nothing worked!!!!!

Why can’t I just go to the sewing machine and sew?  Why is it I am always troubleshooting?  This might be a serious killjoy for me.  Is it the machine?  Or is it user error?  Should I get a new machine?  Is the Singer 5160 a piece of junk?  I searched on PatternReview for a review of it and couldn’t find any. 

What do the people say?


So my coworker Victoria has the most amazing wardrobe and looks stunning every day.  She also knits and used to sew.  Oh and she’s pretty cool too.  Well this week she came traipsing in with the most amazing scarf.  Now I’m not talking of a winter scarf here, but more of an accessory kind of scarf.  You know, like the kind French women wear so wonderfully and oh so casually.  Maybe Victoria is French and she hasn’t told me yet.  Hmmm… 

Anyway, back to the scarf.    Darn!  I should have taken a picture of it; my written description of it will surely pale in comparison to the beautiful thing that it is in real life.  It’s a chiffon print with a rolled edge hem all around.  Now to the “beautifulest” part:  it has wavy strips of the same fabric sewn with a single line of stitching all down the width of the scarf (meaning perpendicular to the length).  The edges of the strips are left unfinished to fringe as they will.  It’s such an ephemeral look.  I have been plotting to steal it thinking about copying it for myself the past few days.  I have some chiffon in the stash that would be lovely as a scarf.

chiffon-and-silk2Either the one on the left or right will do, but I’m thinking I’ll probably use the one on the left. 

AND, I have another emergency gift to give this weekend.  So guess who’s gonna get this scarf now.  NOT ME, but Jack’s nanny.  People who know me, know that birthdays tend to sneak up on me even when I know when they are.  Anne’s birthday is this Saturday, and I know she likes to dress up for church and she likes handmade things, so what would be the perfect gift?  But this beautiful beautiful handmade scarf of course.  I will have to make one for me someday too.  

So this little scarf project is going to interrupt my Hot Patterns Spring top for tonight.  But I am stopping by my local fabric/notions store on my way home to buy the supplies I need to finish up the muslin this weekend.   Hopefully, I will read the directions again and this time they will magically make sense to me.

Happy weekend sewing!

The girl just can’t read directions *shaking her head*

HP101 was supposed to be a super easy pattern for me to jumpstart my beginner sewing frenzy, but already I’m stumped!!!  I thought after reading all of the sewing blogs in my reader for these many long months (almost a year now) and two classes, I would be able to read a sewing pattern.  Sheesh! 

In my own defense, I don’t have all the requisite materials for this pattern, like single fold bias tape or the elastic yet.  And I thought I should be able to understand reading the directions without them in front of me, but it’s like reading Greek.   Here they are, the directions, in all their glorious obfuscation…


Is it just as confusing to you as it is to me???  Am I just word problem challenged?  How am I supposed to sew if I can’t read directions?  I don’t want to need handholding all the time (thank you Victoria for your patience in explaining  to me the most mundane things about sewing).  I am so frustrated with this aspect of my learning curve.  Can you imagine me trying to figure out a Burda pattern?  Everybody on PR keeps talking about how Burda’s instructions suck.  So I guess I just blew money on my subscription there.  *discouraged*

Question for you all out there in sewing land:  Can I substitute FOE (fold over elastic) for the bias tape/elastic part of this blouse?  Which would look less becky home-ecky?  From my limited understanding of the instructions, it would seem that the bias tape shows on the fashion fabric side, does that look nice?  I thought bias tape was more of an innard kind of thing (do you like my technical lingo?)  😉

On a more positive note, I did cut out my muslin last night.  I just have to pick up some single fold bias tape and elastic and I can start working on this again on Friday night.  Tonight and tomorrow night I have outings planned.  This is going to be a slow process for me as I am a working single parent and still have some sort of a life (ok, I only have a knitting group on Thursday nights, but I am counting that as a life), so I can only devote a few evenings here and there to sewing. 

Until later, happy sewing!

Houston, we have a pattern!

Last night I spent a delicious evening eating wonderful food prepared by my sister, drinking a great chardonnay with the most incredible nose, and watching 24 with said sister…  All while tracing out my springy/summery blouse!  At the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to go with Hot Patterns 101 instead of the other two choices.

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

This looks like a super easy top.  I won’t have to worry too much about fitting since it’s such a loose top.  There are only three pattern pieces (four if you count the sleeves twice) and two notches to match up.  I traced the size 12.  It looks like I”m between Hot Pattern’s sizes 12 and 14, but since it’s loose fitting, I went with the smaller size. 

So tonight I am going to cut out the muslin and see where that takes me.

Happy sewing!