Monday, April 14, 2014

Winter Street Dress from Patternreview

I'm pretty excited to share with you my two new Winter Street Dresses which are the result of my pattern testing for Deepika's new pattern available here at This is Deepika's version which is so cute on her with the ruffled sleeves and pink polka dots.

Winter Street Dress Patternreview

I downloaded the pattern and put it together very quickly. I sometimes dread this aspect of downloadable patterns but this was probably the most well planned pattern I have ever assembled. I traced the extra small size for my daughter so that I could use the pattern again for myself. The dress is described as "an easy to sew knit dress with a waist seam and a narrow pleated skirt." And, easy to sew is right!

After sewing together the bodice with a similar weight knit and getting a perfect fit, I cut out Hannah's purple ponte knit dress. Hannah is very petite so I took the dress up at the side seams and also moved the pleats in a bit more toward the center. I raised the waistline seam slightly as well just to keep everything proportioned for her height. Since this pattern works well with many different types and weights of knit fabrics, I think it is important to be flexible and let the fabric "speak" to you. For example, since ponte is a heavier knit, I stitched the pleats down for an inch or so.

Winter Street Dress

The assembly is streamlined on this dress. After sewing the bodice front to skirt front, the bodice back to skirt back and sewing the sleeve in flat, the entire side seam is sewn in one swoop from the bottom of the hem, up the skirt, the bodice, and finally the sleeve. This method made it extremely easy to take the dress in a bit at the side seams.

Winter Street Dress Patternreview
Patternreview Link

Winter Street Dress Patternreview

As soon as I started sewing up Hannah's dress, I realized that the possibilities were endless for this pattern. I couldn't wait to finish it so that I could start another for myself. I really stepped outside of my comfort zone for this one because I don't wear a lot of prints and I haven't worn a maxi dress since high school when they were popular for a short time!

Patternreview Winter Street Dress
Patternreview Link

I chose a rayon jersey knit for my dress with a rather bold pattern. I had to be careful about pattern placement so that I didn't have a large medallion in the wrong place. I'm about 5"4" and was able to get this version from about 1 3/4 yards of 60" fabric for a size medium. The armholes are perfect for a sleeveless version. I didn't change a thing. I cut fabric strips for the neckline and armholes and added with the same method that I use for ribbing. I folded in half lengthwise and sewed them on with the serger, stretching the strips as I sewed. I used the coverstitch on the right side to hold everything in place. The coverage is great in the arm area for a 50 something mom like myself.
Winter Street Dress Patternreview

As Deepika, suggested, I stabilized the waist seam with elastic and that worked great to keep the weight of the long skirt from pulling down on the dress.

To adapt the skirt to maxi length, I drew a new side seam straight down from the widest part of the hips to the hemline. This basically changed the skirt pattern from the tulip shape to a rectangle. This gave me plenty of room to walk.

The pleats in this rayon jersey lay nice and flat across my hips so I didn't need to stitch them down as I did in Hannah's ponte version. 

Winter Street Dress Paternreview

Every time I tried on this dress for a fitting as I sewed, I would model it for my family and say, "I just love my new dress!" Eventually, as I walked into the room, they would just go ahead and say, "I know, you love your new dress!"

It was such fun to be part of the pattern testing group and the blog hop. I think you'll be amazed as you visit these blogs at how versatile this pattern is. It's hard to believe they were all made from the same pattern. 4/2/2014 4/3/2014 4/4/2014 4/5/2014 4/6/2014 4/7/2014 4/8/2014 4/9/2014 4/10/2014 4/11/2014 4/12/2014 4/13/2014 4/14/2014 4/15/2014

Thanks to Deepika and Patternreview for the opportunity to test this pattern and join in on the Winter Street Dress Blog Hop!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Aloha Shirt for Hubby

Last summer, my family took a trip to Honolulu to show my daughters where their Dad grew up. He was born and raised in Honolulu but hadn't been back to visit for 30 years. We visited Pearl Harbor, North Shore, Blow Hole, and all the must-see sights of Oahu. We had a small Memorial Service for their grandparents at Hawaiian Memorial Gardens and took the girls to Punchbowl to locate their great grandparents' graves. We went to Leonard's Bakery for malasadas and W & M Burger for teriburgers.We found all of the nine houses that my husband lived in while growing up there.


Now this is a sewing blog so you know where this story is going. I asked my family if I could make a quick stop at Fabric Mart. I knew this would not be a quick stop. Thousands of rolls of fabrics! I bribed them suggested to them that if they would each choose a fabric, I would make everyone a garment to help them remember Hawaii.

Fabric Mart Honolulu

They were agreeable and this is what we came up with. Shirt for hubby, shorts for son-in-law, blouses and dresses for my daughters and myself.

Fabric Mart Honolulu

I bought the Hawaiian Classics aloha shirt pattern from the Victoria Jones Collection at Fabric Mart for my husband's aloha shirt. He likes the authentic aloha shirts. He also likes his aloha shirts made wrong side out for a more muted appearance.

Hawaiian Classics aloha shirt Victoria Jones Collection
Patternreview Link

There are lots of great tips included in this pattern. For example, the pattern not only suggests grading certain seams, it also indicates which seam allowance to cut wider and which to cut narrower. There is also a tip for preventing the undercollar from peeking out.

Hawaiian Classics aloha shirt Victoria Jones collection collar

I used Pro-Woven Shirt-Crisp from Fashion Sewing Supply for the front band and collar and Pro-Woven Super-Crisp for the neckband. This interfacing is great! I probably would not be making shirts had I not discovered this interfacing.

I think my favorite detail of this aloha shirt pattern is the side vent. It is an overlapped vent and makes the shirt look very authentic and classic.

Victoria Jones Collection aloha shirt side vent

The instructions for this vent are very good, but just to be sure that I understood them before I "clipped to the dot" on the real thing, I made a mock-up with a scrap of nonwoven interfacing.

Victoria Jones Collection aloha shirt side vent

Now that makes one finished and six more to go from my Hawaii stash. This project was the most detailed of the seven so the rest should be a breeze!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Thank you to Patternreview and Sawyer Brook Fabrics!

I've had a little excitement in my little sewing corner of the world.
I won the Patternreview Little White Dress Contest!
 Thanks to Patternreview for sponsoring such a great contest.
 The contest encouraged me to work on my fitting skills and add a few extra little touches
 to make the LWD in a classic style that my daughter can wear for years and still be quite in style.

Little White Dress Contest

Thank you to Sawyer Brook Distinctive Fabrics for sponsoring this contest. I can't wait to sew
with your beautiful fabrics!

And this is the dress that I made for my daughter to wear to the Kentucky Derby. She bought a beautiful hot pink hat to wear with it. She is all set!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Katniss Cowl

I don't often find time to blog two days in a row. Sunday night we had ice and then snow on top of ice so I haven't left home since Sunday. The mailman hasn't delivered mail for two days and I couldn't make it to jury duty today. However, I am catching up on UFO's, Ravelry projects, photoshoots, and blogging.

My daughter loves The Hunger Games and really wanted to knit a cowl similar to the one that Katniss Everdeen wore in the movie. We found a pattern on Ravelry and I helped her start it back in January. It was a quick, chunky yarn kind of knit but she would get busy with classes and put it aside for a week or so. Then we would have to reacquaint ourselves with the pattern and knit a few more rows. I helped her refashion the neck section last night to a more wearable version of the Katniss cowl and she was able to quickly finish it up. This post is a little heavy on pictures but it was good to get out of the house so we really enjoyed the photoshoot in the snow covered field, or should I say, District 12!

Katniss cowl
Ravelry Link

Katniss cowl pattern
Katniss cowl
Katniss cowl pattern
Katniss cowl

If you would like to knit your own Katniss cowl, check out these links.....

Katharina Schnorr's blog

Pattern Information on

My Katniss cowl and project notes on Ravelry

I'd love to see pics of your Katniss cowl!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Welted Fingerless Gloves and Shear Madness

A couple of years ago in Savannah, Georgia, I found this beautiful merino/silk blend fiber at Wild Fibre Yarns. It was very easy to spin so I spun it up pretty quickly and added the yarn to my stash because, as usual, I couldn't decided what to knit with it. I have always had my eye on the Welted Fingerless Glove pattern by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. In my destashing frenzy of 2014, I matched up the yarn and pattern and, after a few evenings of knitting, ended up with these warm and cozy mitts.

fingerless mitts
Ravelry link

fingerless mitts

My first Ebay purchase many years ago was an assortment of 1200 small pearl buttons! I used 10 of them to sew onto the welts of the mitts.

fingerless mitts

If you are looking for some knitting or spinning inspiration, check out Shear Madness on National Geographic about a city girl turned sheep farmer with her husband and five kids. It just started last Saturday night. I missed it but caught up watching On Demand. I don't watch a lot of TV but this is pretty interesting stuff for knitters and spinners.I had to turn my head in one scene - a little more animal science than I needed to see!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

T-shirts and Tips

I'm still working on my one and only New Year's Resolution which is to reduce my fabric stash. This is my 12th sewing project this year. I don't blog all of them because some are actually a little boring to sew so I'm sure they would be even more boring for you to read about!

I decided to make a few long sleeved t-shirts since all of my RTW tees have shrunk nearly up to my belly button! I used my Kwik Sew 3740 and cut the neckline about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 higher at center front. I found this dark gray cotton blend knit in my stash which, at first, I thought was pretty ugly. Why did I buy that? I offered to make my daughter something out of it but she wasn't interested. Determined to use the piece, I cut out a long sleeve t-shirt. I had to add a center back seam since I only had 1 1/4 yards. I cut self-fabric neck "ribbing" about 1 1/2 inches wide and folded in half.

sewing knits coverstitch
Patternreview link

Once I got past fighting with the curled edges and got the thing seamed up, I couldn't stop stitching on it. I used my coverstitch to topstitch the neckline and the sleeve seams.

sewing knits coverstitch

I decided to add one of those little decorative V's in the center front just because I see them on all things casual and sporty.  I discovered that stitch 309 on my Bernina looks very similar to what I see in RTW. I drew a V with my chalk marker, added stabilizer underneath, and updated my plain, gray t-shirt.

sewing knits with coverstitch

I convinced hubby to help me with the pics. He is actually pretty good! This is the Plain Jan(e) version.

sewing knits coverstitch

A little sporty with a touch of Burberry plaid.

sewing knits coverstitch

Brightened up with a red fleece vest.

sewing knits coverstitch

I showed my daughter my trendy V in the front and she replied, "Ooooooh".  I'll bet she wishes she had taken me up on the offer to make her one!

A few of my Sewing with Knits Tips. 
  • Prewash the fabric in the manner that you plan to wash the finished garment, especially if it is cotton or a cotton blend.
  • If you are sure of your sleeve length, hem the sleeve before sewing the sleeve seam, especially if hemming with a coverstitch.
  • Sew one shoulder seam, add the neck ribbing, and then sew the remaining shoulder seam. Press the shoulder seam towards the back and stitch it in place at the ribbing/neck edge so that it lays flat.
  • Sew the sleeve in before sewing the sleeve seam and the side seam which can then be sewn in one continuous seam.
  • I usually hem the sleeve just a smidgen longer than I think I want it to be. It always works up a bit with wear and elbow bending.
  • When hemming with a coverstitch from the right side, I sometimes draw a line on the right side with my Chakoner marker. If I press up 1 1/4" for a hem, I draw a line about 1 1/8" from the folded edge. I can then "straddle" the chalk line with the presser foot.
  • If the knit is especially stretchy, I secure the hems with 3/8" double sided fusible before hemming with the coverstitch. This also prevents the hem from "tunneling" and the stitches from becoming buried in the fabric.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Little White Dress Contest

Back in January I entered a Little White Dress Contest on Patternreview. I've always wanted to enter one of their contests but always got sidetracked. This time I clicked on the "enter contest" button determined to follow through. I got a late start (a week before the end of the contest) but that's okay. I need a deadline to motivate me.

I decided to make a white pique dress for my daughter since she wears more dresses than I do. It's difficult to find patterns in size 4 but we agreed on Simplicity 1650. We looked beyond the peplum to the basic lines of the pattern. I made a muslin to check the fit and it's a good thing I did. One adjustment that definitely needs to be made before cutting is the width across the front neckline area. I had to take out about 3/4 inch from the front width by moving the pattern over at the fold about 3/8 inch at the top only. Otherwise, I would have been adding darts to the front neckline!

Simplicity 1650

The front princess seams needed to be taken up a bit but I decided to adjust that after cutting out the bodice so that I could pin the adjustments on her body. I compared the skirt to a favorite skirt pattern and it was very close so adjustments were easy for the skirt.

We liked the cap sleeve but not the gathers at the top especially for the weight of the pique. I spent more time on the sleeves than any other part of the process. I don't know a lot about sleeve drafting so I laid the cap sleeve pattern (with the extra fullness folded out) on top of tracing paper on top of the basic short sleeve and drafted a new sleeve with the parts that I liked from each.

I added self-fabric piping to the neckline and to the bottom of the sleeves. I love piping! I used a Bernina #3 buttonhole foot which has grooves in the bottom and I was able to get a lot closer to the cord than with a zipper foot. I also used the #3 foot for the invisible zipper and it worked just as well, if not better, than my invisible zipper foot. 

This is the sleeve piping before understitching with the lining opened out from the sleeve. The piping is tapered at the underarm seam to reduce bulk.

  sewing piping

sewing piping

sewing sleeve piping

I made thread loops at the side seams with a method I learned from a Children's Corner pattern many years ago when I smocked for my daughters. I think I might be a nerdy seamstress because I counted the number of loops so that the thread chains on each side would match! 

how to make a thread loop
Here she is all accessorized for an evening out.

Evening out without the belt.

Patternreview Little White Dress Contest

This is the casual daytime version with brown leather belt and strappy wedges, brown wood beads, and a denim jacket.

Patternreview LWD Contest

Simplicity 1650

Simplicity 1650

This is the blank canvas. My daughter loves the dress. I think she will be able to wear this very classic style for many years, dressed up or down, or somewhere in between. 

Paternreview Little White Dress Contest

I lined the dress with a poly/cotton batiste and inserted an invisible zipper in the back. Total cost of the dress is $16 for pique, lining, and zipper with coupons and my "over 55" senior discount at Hancock Fabrics!

Link here to my review of this dress on Patternreview.