Sunday, March 29, 2009

Projectless Weekend...

Nanny Ogg sent a number of cards home to her family, not a single one of which got back before she did. This is traditional, and happens everywhee in the universe.
- from "Witches Abroad"
- by Terry Pratchett

My nephews spent the weekend with us, visiting from the frozen hinterlands up North - a spring break tradition for them. If you are wondering why two teenagers would voluntarily spend their school break with a middle-aged childless couple, maybe these pictures will shed some light on the topic. This year we went to Discovery Cove, for incredible snorkeling, an aviary and a swim with the dolphins...

It was OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive, but later this year we'll be assuming false identities and moving away in the middle of the night without alerting any family members, so we won't have the expense again next year... ;)

I hope you had a productive weekend and best wishes for a great week! :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Confession

Okay, the recent series of confessions have been kind of heavy - how about a light one?

I enjoy Project Runway! ;)

And I want to see Season 6! :(

How about you? Thumbs up or down? If you watch, are you good at guessing who'll win each week? And do you ever think that you'd like to be a contestant...?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Wendy, BJ, Gaylen, Faye Lewis, Gwen, SunnyQ, Celeste, Caity and Summerset for talking back to my confession last week! I confessed that I've never used any pattern drafting software.

I found it very interesting that, while some people have tried it and others haven't, no one who responded really raved about any of the pattern drafting software.

Based on the comments I got, it sounds like these programs present you with TWO learning challenges - first, you need to learn (or already know) something about pattern drafting in general and second, you need to learn the software interface.

Additional comments focused on the expense of the software, the technical hassles of getting it to run on anything other than a Windows platform (i.e., Mac or Linux), and the nuisance associated with taping together a bunch of 85. x 11 inch pieces of paper (although that doesn't bother everyone and there are other options - like going to a print shop, etc.).

(On a side note, when you consider pattern drafting software and this new trend of allowing you to download patterns from the internet, it does seem like there should be a market for some kind of specialized extra-wide printer for sewers...)

It seems to me that the software is supposed to serve two needs - pattern drafting and pattern fitting. It is certainly the case that everyone cares about fitting, but we have other ways to accomplish that (including BJ's recommendation of the Lutterloh system). And as for pattern drafting (on paper by hand), several people expressed a desire to learn how to do it and Wendy mentioned how much she loves it. So, we do care about those skills...

But as for the software itself, it doesn't sound like it has reached the status of indispensable tool for every sewer...

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to share your experiences and insights! :)

Good news - I just found out that a regular blog reader, Gwen of Gwensews, has started her own blog! If you haven't seen it yet, stop in and welcome her to the world of blogging! :)

Photo credit: (PatternMaker Drafting Software)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

Here is the first of the two patterns that I bought at the Expo last Saturday. It is KwikSew #3682.

I picked this out because the dress on your left (with sleeves) was modeled (in the exact same fabric & color) during the runway show. It looked feminine, but professional. I may make the v-neck version on your right.

I don't have any fabric picked out yet, but I think I'm going to try something nicer than my usual cotton print. ;)

No idea when - sadly, it's not top priority. But, don't worry, I'll get to it someday. It's in the queue... ;)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekend Project: Expo Inspiration!

It's a good thing to turn your mind upside down now and then,
like an hour-glass, to let the particles run the other way.
--Christopher Morley

I don't know if attending the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo really counts as turning my mind upside down, but it certainly is a refreshing and re-invigorating time! :)

Ana, Juana, Susan and I spent yesterday browsing the exhibit floor of the Expo in Tampa, Florida. Susan and I have attended together for several years, but this was the first time for Ana and Juana.

This year, I didn't have the time to attend any classes. But it was still a wonderful day! I did try something new - I attended one of the model shows. Women modeled clothes made with patterns from "alternative" pattern companies (i.e., not the Big 4) - patterns that we could buy there at the Expo. It turned out to be a really great idea - I bought two patterns - a skirt and a dress - that I otherwise would not have. (I'll save the actual patterns for my Wednesday posts.)

I think that Ana and Juana also really enjoyed it. They saw lots of new things - embroidery machines and quilting machines, for example. One booth was selling zippers for 5 cents each (one length only), fabric remnants for 10 cents each (fat quarter size or smaller) and lace for 20 cents per yard - they stocked up! Ana got a pattern for a patch quilt purse (seams on the outside) and picked out the fabric remnants to make it up for only $1 ! :)

I wanted to get a picture of the 3 of them at the Expo. Ana wanted me to be in the picture too, but I'm not a big fan of having my picture taken, so I tried to get out of it by saying that I had to take the picture. Ana promptly turned and, in English, asked a bystander if she would take a picture of all 4 of us. "Oh," I exclaimed in Spanish, "so NOW you can speak English!". She smiled smugly at me and replied in Spanish, "I can speak English when it is necessary." ;)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday Surplus

Remember my confession about copying from RTW? Bunny pointed me in the direction of this YouTube video by David Coffin on creating a shirt pattern by copying an existing shirt. Thanks, Bunny! :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Confession

So, while we're on the topic of creating your own patterns, let's talk about computer-aided design. I have never used any pattern drafting software, although I've seen some of it demoed at the Expo (and the most recent issue of Threads had an article on it).

How about you? Have you ever tried any of these programs? If not, are you curious? If so, what was your experience? Do you recommend it? Why or why not?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Here is a video on draping from YouTube. The author, Mimi Goodwin, has more videos on this topic - check them out! :)

Thank you so much to Mamafitz, Gaylen, Summerset, Karima, Elaina, Faye Lewis, Sarah and Becky for talking back to my confession last Friday! I revealed that I have never done any draping.

Two of the eight commenters, like me, haven’t tried draping – yet! ;) One person has done bits of draping here and there, but plans to get serious about it (and, knowing Summerset, master it!) sometime soon. The other five people all are reasonably experienced with draping – three had formal instruction in draping techniques and two have taught themselves.

It sounds like a dress form that is actually matched to your body measurements is a requirement – like several others, I’m not there yet… ;)

No one reported that it was particularly difficult (although apparently it can be time consuming), and most people said that they really liked it and it was a lot of fun. Becky mentioned that it’s especially well suited for reconstructing a new piece from old clothes. Elaina is not crazy about it, but it seems like that is not so much because she doesn’t enjoy the process, but more because she feels it can be a waste of fabric (when you use muslin to create actual pattern pieces) compared to flat pattern drafting.

Speaking of flat pattern drafting, several people brought up alternative techniques to draping. People reported unanimously preferring modifying an existing pattern to any other technique. After that, people split on whether they prefer draping over flat pattern drafting or vice versa.

Thank you again for taking the time to tell me about your sewing experiences! I love reading your stories and always learn something! :)

(PS - Sarah is celebrating her 100th post with a give-away - stop by to say Congratulations if you have a minute!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

In a recent Friday Confession I brought up the topic of copying RTW. The reason I thought of it is that I recently purchased two dresses that I think are amazingly flattering on a person who still needs to lose 20 pounds. ;)

Here's the first one:

I think it should be relatively easy to copy. I've made (with a pattern) one dress with a bodice that crosses over like this, but it had one big triangular piece for each side (shaped with darts) - whereas this bodice has more shape built-in with two pieces per side. There is also a dart on each side of the skirt front that lines up with the seam in the bodice pieces.

The back has center darts to pull it in at the waist.

Part of the success of this dress is the fabric - it is slightly heavy-weight with a bit of stretch. So the skirt, for example, keeps it shape moving gently outward from my waist, leaving it a bit ambiguous how much of that spread is in the pattern versus in my hips... ;)

I'm certainly not averse to using a pattern if anyone knows of one that is close to this outfit. However, I think this would be a reasonable project for a first attempt at copying RTW.

Truthfully, it's pretty low priority, but I'll get to it eventually. It's in my queue... ;)

Monday, March 16, 2009

And The Winner Is...

I really enjoyed reading all the notes and truly wish I could give this gift to each one of you! Unfortunately, I haven't won the lottery yet, so it's only going to be one...

With (exactly!) 100 entries, I passed on the "slips of paper in a hat" routine and went for Excel's random number generator. And the winner is:

Number 17: Becky

Congratulations, Becky!

Shoot me an email at:

My best wishes to everyone - I hope you are all able to enjoy your own Spoonflower fabric soon!

Photo credit: Saquan

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend Project: Jackie O Jacket? Umm, Not So Much...

Peanut butter is pate for children.
--Brigitte Bardot

I started on my younger niece's jacket this weekend. You may remember the pattern - I'm making her view C in a (brace yourself) bright-pink, fake-fur-like, semi-stretchy fabric.

I was inspired by many of the bloggers I read, who often add a little something extra to their jackets by using a beautifully colorful fabric as lining. I had some colorful flower fabric (also with a bit of stretch) left over from another project, and decided to use it to line the bodice.

I've never made a jacket before, and am finding the facing / lining bit quite interesting. I am used to completely constructing the outside of a garment and then completely constructing the lining and them attaching them, but this pattern had me connect the front bodice pieces to the lining pieces along the front edge. And then it had me sew the bodice to the body like so:

Here it is after sewing, flipped sideways courtesy of Blogger. (Sorry, I don't know how to get it to flip back to normal.)

The facing will fold to the inside along the seam at the bodice, like so:

And it will look like this on the inside:

Finally, the two front halves together:

I've still got quite a bit to go, but it has been nice to dive into something new!

Don't forget, my one year blog anniversary drawing ends tonight (Sunday) at midnight EST and I'll announce the winner tomorrow (Monday) evening. Good luck to everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Confession

If you haven't seen my one year anniversary give-away yet, check it out here!

Threads magazine had an article on creating garments through draping. I've never done any draping - have you? If not, are you tempted to give it a try? If so, how did you learn? What did you make? How did it work? Was it difficult? easy? fun?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

If you haven’t checked out my 1-year anniversary give-away, take a look here!

Photo from - sorry, the "click to look inside" doesn't work here - link to book follows below.

Thank you so much to Uta, Joanne, Claire S., Sarah, Vicki, Summerset, MeredithP, Alison, Elaina, Becky, Delia and Linda T for “talking back” to my confession last Friday! I confessed that I have never copied a RTW outfit (although I just added 2 RTW dresses to my wardrobe that I am dying to copy!) and asked if other people have ever tried it.

I got a pretty wide range of responses:

a) I’m not really interested, it seems too technical and not so creative (1)
b) I’ve thought about it a lot, but never tried it (1)
c) I want to try it right now with a specific RTW piece from my wardrobe (1)
- This from Claire S. who has a “have you lost weight?” pair of jeans! Oh how I want one of those! ;)
d) I’m doing it right now! (1)
e) Yes, I’ve tried it once (2)
f) Yes, I’ve done it several times (3)

In general, the people who have tried it reported being pretty happy with the results! That’s good to hear! :)

People mentioned three major methods of copying RTW. The first method requires taking apart the RTW garment. I bet it would be reasonably easy to be precise with this method, although it wouldn’t appeal much if you were copying a beloved garment!

The second method involves altering one or more commercial patterns to come up with a pattern that was very similar to a RTW garment. I imagine that some skill in pattern drafting would help here. Elaina introduced me to a new term for this (maybe one she coined?) – Frankenpattern – like Frankenstein, only with less grave digging under a full moon. ;)

The third method involves tracing various views of the RTW garment without taking it apart. There seem to be several variations to this method, including covering the garment with tape (one pattern piece at a time), rub-off methods and tracing with a stiletto wheel.

I got two recommendations for resources: MeredithP recommended this book: Patterns from finished clothes: Re-creating the clothes you love by Tracy Doyle and both Becky and Linda T recommend the Jean Haas method of using tape, which can be found in the 2005 Aug/Sept issue of Threads magazine.

Finally, Elaina reminded me that you really need to be familiar with the standard pattern pieces and basic construction steps used for making the particular type of garment you are trying to copy.

Joanne raised the next big question – how about designing/drafting your own patterns? Look for this coming soon, to a Friday Confession near you! ;)

Thanks again, so much, to everyone who took the time and trouble to leave a comment! Your comments really encourage and inspire me! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One Year Anniversary Give-Away!

Please note: This give-away has been given-away.
The winner was announced on Monday, March 16th.
Two score and twelve weeks ago, my computer and I brought forth, upon this website, a new sewing blog, conceived in Lunacy, and dedicated to the proposition that somebody (somewhere, for some unknown reason) might be interested. ;)

Yup, I can hardly believe it, but it has been one year today! Frankly, I am in awe of those of you who have had a blog up and running for multiple years! My hat is off to all of you! :)

The only reason that I’m still up one year later is because of the warm, friendly and generous comments that many of you have taken the time and trouble to leave for me. Thank you!

I wish I could do something extra special for each one of you. Today, however, I’m going to offer up a very special give-away to one (randomly selected) commenter.

What exactly is this very special give-away? Here is a hint:

Do you recognize this fabric? It is my custom designed Spoonflower fabric, decorated with a graphic image of rock climbing gear, which was recently designed for me by Miss Black Pepper (aka Beth) of Etsy.

That whole adventure was so much fun, and I am so happy and excited with my fabric, that I want to let someone else have the same experience. So, my give-away is for a pair of gift certificates that will “make it so” – with a total value of $100!

The lucky winner will receive a $45 gift certificate to Spoonflower (enough to cover these two orders: a swatch + U.S. shipping, followed by 2 yards of your custom fabric + U.S. shipping) AND a $55 gift certificate towards Miss Black Pepper’s design talents (enough for 2 hours and 45 minutes of her time) to help create your design.

This is especially perfect for those of you (like me) with plenty of ideas, but not much experience drawing or using computer-based drawing programs. I loved working with Beth and know you will too! She
asked me to pass along this short message: "I'm excited to be part of this promotion and I am looking forward to helping you bring your dream fabric to life!"

And, of course, the folks at Spoonflower are simply the best! :)

If you would like to be included in this drawing, just leave a comment. The drawing will be open until midnight EST on Sunday, March 15th, and I'll announce the winner on Monday, March 16th. Good luck to everyone! And thank you for making this year so special and so much fun!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend Project: More Sewing for Babies...

Everybody knows how to raise children,
except the people who have them.

--P.J. O'Rourke

All 4 of the baby buntings are finished! Yay! You saw the girl version last weekend. Here Joy models one of the boy's:

I used yellow bias tape and a yellow zipper.

And, of course, put my label on the outside, to protect the baby's delicate skin.

Ana had never seen a bunting before and thought that they were quite funny! She said that they were like bags for babies. I agreed and said that they were like sleeping bags for babies. She had never heard of a sleeping bag, so I showed her ours and tried to explain about camping - perhaps with less than perfect success. She listened thoughtfully and then reassured me that when we came to visit her in Mexico, we wouldn't need them, because she would let us sleep INSIDE her house! ;)

So, I finished these just in time, because one of the baby girl buntings got me out of a bit of a tight spot with our vet. She is 6 months pregnant with a little girl and so I gave her one on Friday, during a medical appointment. She was prepared to be quite annoyed with me, because our cat Milly, who is supposed to be on a DIET, had picked up FIVE pounds in the last 3 months! But the vet melted over the bunting and I was able to escape relatively unscathed... ;)

On a different note, I had a sewing afternoon with Ana and Juana today. Ana is making a purse (the red oriental patterned silk in the upper right corner) for Mariana - the little girl for whom I made the princess dress recently. Ana is using fabric to match the princess dress.

Juana is making an outfit for her brand new baby niece. She is making the dress and hat pictured on the right - and using a red checkered gingham as pictured.

We had time to shop for the patterns & fabric and get everything cut out.

Parting shot: Juana's boyfriend, Abel, broke his leg recently playing soccer. I picked up some DVDs for him, to help fill his days as his leg heals. As a thank-you, they got me some beautiful red roses:

Speaking of gifts, whatever you do, make sure you drop in on Wednesday for this blog's one year anniversary! I have an INCREDIBLE give-away planned! :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Confession

I've never made a pattern by copying a ready-to-wear garment. Although I currently have two RTW dresses that I'd love to try to copy!
So, how about you? Have you ever done it? If not, is it on your list of things to try? If so, what did you copy? Did you have directions on how to copy it, or did you make it up as you went along? How did it come out?
Photo scanned from Jean Haas article entitled "Make a Pattern from Ready-to-Wear" article in Threads magazine (Aug/Sept 2005), Tauton Press, pp. 56-61.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Give-Away Winner!

Announcing the randomly drawn winner of my 200th post give-away...

Congratulations to Faye Lewis!

Send me an email ( and we'll make the arrangements.

If you didn't win, don't despair. March 11th is my blog's one year anniversary and I've got another give-away up my sleeve! In fact, this one is going to be even bigger and better! The dollar value will be approximately double this one and - here's a big hint - it's related to something that I've recently experienced and blogged about... Make sure you stop by next week!

Photo credit: OziAfricana

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

Last week, while visiting my grandmother, I snuck in the guilty pleasure of a quick trip to Satin Stitches in Columbia, Missouri. While there, I found this irresistible cotton print fabric:

The scene is so complex that I had to break it into several panels to show you all the details.

Even these 3 panels don't get quite all the animals - for example, there is a crab family too!

Not surprisingly, several yards found their way into my suitcase and back to a new home in Florida! I think this would make an absolutely adorable Hawaiian shirt for a 3-4 year old boy, don't you?

Of course, I don't actually KNOW any 3 or 4 year old little boys, so this is not a top priority project. But, don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in my queue... ;)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Weekend Project: Pink and Green

A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.
-Carl Sandburg

I've been working on the baby buntings this week. Usually I enjoy sewing my TNT patterns, but these have been slow going for some reason. Maybe it's making four at the same time...? Or maybe I'm just more in the mood for something new and a bit challenging...

One of the girl buntings is completely finished and the other just needs the neck binding and my label. The zippers are in both boy buntings, but I haven't begun assembling either of those yet.

Here Joy, my build-a-bear (normally used for fitting doll clothes), models the finished girl bunting:

One of my favorite details of this pattern is the built-in mittens. Little baby hands can be tucked into the mittens or slid out through the opening to move freely.

I made the largest size available (a small) because three of the four babies are each a couple of months old. But, man, do they look big! I'm kind of worried that any child big enough to fit into them will be too old to wear them. :(

As I mentioned, I used a pink zipper and pink bias tape to emphasize the girliness of this green fabric.

I always put my label on the outside of baby clothes, so that it doesn't rub up against delicate skin.

I should finish them all up this week, and then it's on to the jackets for my nieces. Those are new patterns to me, so hopefully they'll be fun and interesting projects! I hope your sewing is going well!