October 31, 2012

Promised Treat

Magic Pencil Skirt
I almost forgot about this today!  Sorry. 

I had lots of comments on this post.  Seems we all love good customer service and want to share the love.  Many of the commenters didn't want to be entered - but there were 11 people who did.

I went to Random.org and entered 1 - 11.  The thingmabob said 4.  Then I had to go back through comments and count the ones who said yes please to find the 4th person.  It was Marjie!  I have your contact info - I'll get the pattern out in the mail.

Tonight I'm ordering Pamela's Perfect Tee Shirt as well as the neckline and sleeve options.  In November - I'll be working on Magic and Perfect Outfits!  Who wants to join me?

October 29, 2012

JB's Birthday

For JB's birthday we headed off to Las Vegas so he could participate in the SRT Track Experience

Earlier this year, he bought his midlife crises car - a Dodge Challenger SRT8.  I'm okay with this as long as he doesn't want a midlife crises wife!

The car came with enrollment for one person in the Drive Experience.  Since they were holding the drive day on his birthday we decided that was the perfect day to attend!
While it wasn't what he expected - he had a great time!  In the top photo he was finishing the Autocross Challenge - this is a low speed obstacle course.  Our team won the challenge between the two meaning we had the best time and least penalties of the day!  Whoo Hooo!!

In the next photo, he was participating in the Performance Drive.  He's in the red Charger at the back.  In this portion of the class there is a professional driver in the lead car.  This is the car I rode in when I went along.  They went around the track (not a NASCAR Loop) as fast as the 2 people could keep up. 

Birthday Boy!

October 25, 2012

Birthday Dress

This is the second version of McCalls 6503 and there will be more!  I love this dress.  It was fun and easy to wear and got lots of compliments from strangers. 

Why the birthday dress?  Well because Monday was my birthday and it was the first day I wore it.  This time, I faced the collar with the solid contrasting fabric so it stood out.   I also added tiny, tiny (barely visible) yellow piping to the bottom of the sleeves and the yellow bow belt. 

I took out the extra length from the front bodice at the side seams only and it worked great! 

I added as much length to the skirt as my fabric would allow - which was only 2.5" and still wasn't quite enough.    With wider fabric I think I can get a skirt that long enough I don't have to do something funny to get it hemmed.


For this version I cut 2.5" wide slightly bias (cut on the 60 - because that's what I had room on my scraps for), seamed them together and then sewed it to the dress with the tiniest seam allowance I could.  I finished those inside edges, folded a tiny little bit at the top down and then hemmed the dress with a blind hem. 

It's a bit short - but it's fine.  With tights nobody can really tell anyway. 

I had company for dinner on Monday and they had just arrived as I was corralling JB to take photos.  The good doctor was playing 'model photograher' and whooping and hollering.  Yelling - "yea baby!  Work it!  That's what I want to see."  I was laughing so hard - there wasn't a decent photo in the shot!  But it was very fun!

Next up - what we did for JB's birthday.  Don't forget to enter the drawing to win the extra copy of Pamela's Perfect Pencil Skirt pattern. 

October 22, 2012

Guess What?

I made a dress!  Taking a page from Carolyn's book - I made the retired Simplicity 3744.  This is now the 3rd version of this dress. 

This version is unlined and made from a fabulous cotton print that screamed at me last weekend when I was sick and finally stir crazy by Saturday.  I decided to run out quickly and get some supplies needed for the polka dot dress (you've seen it on Instagram) and this spoke to me. 

Originally it told me it wanted to be a different dress and while I was pretreating the fabric, I heard the call of this Simplicity pattern.  Saturday night I slept on it and went back and forth between the two pattern, but I think (hope) this one was the right choice. 

This is the first time I've put sleeves on this pattern.  And honestly - I have share that while I was showering yesterday I was totally wondering how I finished the armholes because I didn't remember doing it.  Crazy!

The only changes I made to the pattern was to open the neckline up a little bit.  Apparently I'm quite narrow though my upper chest.  The first version gaps at bit at the neckline - which I fixed with 2 strategically placed tucks.  For the second version, I moved the top of the center front slightly off the fold and it still doesn't lay right.  This time, I moved it 1/4" off the fold - just the very top, getting back to the fold within 5" of the top of the pattern piece.  Then I also widened the opening using my french curve for a graceful curved opening.


Carolyn - I told JB you said he had to take more than 3 photos and it was his job to get me to relax and not be so self conscious while he was taking the photos, to talk to me and make me laugh and get cute, flattering photos.  He said - why is that my job?  Because you are behind the camera dear!

This dress was easy to wear and while we were yarn shopping the girl at the counter said "That's a cute dress.  Did you make it?"  Why does that follow up question always make me freeze?

Happy Monday!  I have 4 more dresses waiting to be worn and shown - including the border print (that still isn't hemmed) from retreat!

October 19, 2012

Share the Love

I believe in pointing our good customer service.  And what I received was not good customer service - but above and beyond excellent.  And I want to share the love with one of you.  


Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt
First - the back story.  Earlier this month, inspired by the skirts I'd seen around blogland, I ordered Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt.  And then I waited and waited.  Honestly - we all know when a woman (and one who sews at that) has decided she wants something, we don't wait very patiently.

Finally, on Monday, Oct. 15th, I emailed Pamela and asked where my pattern was.  Turns out that Pamela had been away teaching so it didn't get mailed until October 8th.  But still - it was the 15th and I still didn't have the pattern in my hot little hand and anyone who follows me on Instagram knows the 'sewjo' is hot right now! 

Pamela emailed me on Tuesday.  We emailed back and forth on Tuesday and ultimately Pamela said she would put another pattern in the mail - she offered, I did not ask.  Of course my pattern turned up Tuesday night.  I very quickly emailed Pamela and said it's here.  If you haven't sent the replacement - please don't.  She replied, I'm taking this directly from her email:  "Of course it went out already - haha! I also included some Fantastic Elastic for you as well. So maybe you could give the extra pattern to a sewing friend and work on them together! Let me know how you like the pattern."

So - I have an extra copy of the Magic Skirt pattern that I'm happy to share with one lucky blog reader.  I'll send the pattern anywhere.  Just let me know you are interested.  I'll close the give away on Oct. 30 and draw one lucky winner on the 31st for a nice treat for someone. 

And for the record - I WILL be ordering from Pamela again - I have no idea how her pattern will work for me - but her customer service is above and beyond and that deserves my repeat business.   How do you reward excellent customer service?

October 17, 2012

Butterick 5454 - Thanks Elizabeth!

Butterick 5454 is another dress that I saw on a blogger (Elizabeth of Sewn!)  And thought - Oh, I love that dress and I have a ton of dress lengths of knits - wonder if I can wear that. 

The weekend before retreat I had run to Hancocks to looks for some ponte knits and came home with 2 knits.  They both took a trip through the washer and dryer and then one of them got cut out as 'fake fabric' for the Butterick dress.

Just like the other dress - I worked on faith.  I made very few adjustments  mostly to the back .  I adjusted the sleeves to be short.  These days I prefer short sleeves or sleeveless - because honestly - long sleeves are just too hot.  I raised the front by half and inch.  And I cut the skirt at the biggest size on the pattern - trusting the finished garment measurements printed on it that it would in fact fit my hips without adding more room.   Oh - but I did add length - 6 inches!
This is such a quick dress to make and I sewed it completely on my sewing machine!  Yes - it would have been much, much quicker with the serger and maybe on the 3rd version I'll use the serger. 

After sewing it up - the only changes I had to make were to unpick the back pleats in the skirt by an inch and half - they weren't falling nicely and needed to be shortened.

I think because of how I raised the front neckline, the hem didn't fall evenly at the bottom and I had to have a friend mark the hem - which is why the border print isn't hemmed yet.  I'm going to attempt to figure that out on version #3 - because there will be many, many more.

This dress was comfortable and easy to wear.  It stays overlapped with no fear of anything horrible happening - even when the wind blows. 

One of the best parts of sew camp?  Besides coming home with 2 patterns I feel comfortable sewing over and over?  I gained confidence in my skills and came home feeling pretty and not nearly as big as I thought I was!  Win / Win / Win! 

October 15, 2012

McCalls 6503

 First - I have no idea who the average is for dresses these days.  I added 2" to the skirt when I cut this out, but it still wasn't enough. 

The first version of this dress is what I think Karen of Did You Make That? would call an 'ickle' print - or rather childish.  But I wanted what I've started calling 'fake fabric*' in case my alterations didn't work out. 

The only alterations I made to the pattern tissue was to shorten the back for both my sway back and my very short back waist.  What I didn't do was shorten the front so the side seams matched.  I thought I could create a fake full bust adjustment by just gathering the extra front into the side seams.  It worked ok - but it's not perfect, there is a bunch of extra fabric under my arms at the side seams.  I have adjusted that and have the next fabric ready to roll (or be cut).
I like this version - but I think it's a bit boring.   I've dubbed it the prison matron dress - but seeing the photos -  it's not nearly that bad.  I've bought some lovely, tiny white tatted trim to put around the collar and will add it to the hem - maybe.  Will have to take a look at it.

As I said earlier - I added 2 inches to the skirt when I cut it out.  but that wasn't enough. To hem this version, I cut a 3 1/2" band, folded it in half and added it to the bottom.  It's just about the perfect length.

I wore this most of the day with a white cardigan.  The sleeves look tight, but they are not and there was plenty of room to move.   I was quite surprised by how well the pleated skirt laid over both my belly and my rear. 

The best part of sew camp?  Coming home feeling cute and not nearly as fat as I thought I was!

*Fake fabric - something old from the cupboard that would be alright to wear, but if it didn't work out wouldn't hurt my feelings at all.  This time it worked out!


October 11, 2012

Still No Dresses

How about some old business for Dogs on Thursday and Thankful Friday?

The Princess gave JB these lovely dog themed beer signs when we went to visit her in May.  What?  You didn't know we were in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island back in May.  Oh dear.

Bloodhound Brew
Beer So Good It'll Make You Drool
100% Howl-Ahol 


Headstrong Hound
Beer & Biscuit
"All Hail the Scented Trail
That Leads Us to a Pint of Ale"
I do love them and need to find a place and a way to add them to my decor. 

Now if you want the true take on retreat - or sew camp - click over to my friend Maris' blog and read her post all about it.  You can even see Wendy wearing the border print dress from the other days' post.

Thankfuls :: good friends who act as shrinks and help you work through body image issues :: having my own yarn shop in the basement :: new recipes that work :: Fall and the changing of the leaves - yes it happens here too :: healthy dogs :: kids who grew into responsible adults :: instagram :: good books::

What are you thankful this week?

October 10, 2012

Before the Reveal

Before showing you the dresses I finished at retreat 2012, I thought I'd finally show you the dress that I mostly made at retreat 2011.  Most of the completed garments from 2011 have been made and worn and gifted already.  But this red version of Vogue 1250 sat on the cutting table from October through August - when I finally asked a friend to mark the hem for me.  Yes - it waited a year for a hem.

I was finally inspired to get it hemmed to wear to a friend's wedding over Labor Day weekend.

I would have to say it's a bit more close fitting than I'm comfortable wearing, but I felt okay until I saw the photos.  I'm working on getting JB to take more photos - he shoots digital for goodness sake - it's not like we're burning film to take more than 3 pictures.  But whatevs.

 I'm glad this dress is hemmed and living in the closet now.  I'm guessing it will get a little vacation trip and taken out to dinner and show for the upcoming birthday vacation. 




October 7, 2012

I Am Exhausted

Sewing Retreat was wonderful as it always is.  Last weekend - before I had any idea what I was going to work on at retreat, I ordered some fabric from Girl Charlee.  I found it through Meg the Grand and then about a week later, Angie posted about Girl Charlee too. 

The fabric that made me put more in my cart and hit purchase was this one: 

And it's already been made into Butterick 5454 from my last post. 

One of the things I love most about going to sewing retreat is having others available to help you with fit.  On both dresses I took cut and ready to sew - I was very lucky - they fit!  The 'standard' alterations that I need were enough - sway back AND short back length. 

For the first time in my life, I DID NOT add extra room through the hips.  Both patterns had enough ease built in to accommodate my shape.

The changes I made to B5454 were as follows:  added 1/2" to the front wrap so it was higher; made a 1 1/2" sway back adjustment at the shoulder, AND shortened the back by another inch; shortened the back box pleats and only sewed them down for 3" rather than the 4+" in the pattern, and added 6" to the skirt length!

I came home from 'sew camp' feeling pretty, like I knew what the heck I was doing with pattern and fabric and that my hips aren't nearly as big as I think they are!  What a fabulous weekend.  Dress photos soon.  


October 1, 2012

So Much I want to do

I have so many things on my cutting table right now and I'm just not sure where to start. 

First up is McCalls 6503 - I saw this pattern on another blog and loved how it turned out.  I have a beautiful green floral fabric that would be lovely.  I plan to do either the bottom left view with the stand up collar or the top right with the cross over bodice and folded back collar.  I will do the pleated skirt rather than the full skirt. 

But I can't decide if I just want to dig in and start or spend time making muslins to make sure it fits.  Yea - I should totally do that. 
Next up is Butterick 5454 - I have been so inspired by the wrap dresses being made by Elizabeth of Sewn

I have a lot of knits that would be perfect for this type of dress.  They are comfortable and easy to wear. 

So what's stopping me with this one?  My little belly.  Can you wear this style of dress and look fabulous with a pouch-y belly?  What do you think? 

And being inspired by Carolyn, I really, really want to pad my closet out with dresses.  They make leaving the house so easy. 



Finally - I bought Simplicity 1880 way back when Sunni hosted the 2-in-1 Shirt & Wrap Dress Sewalong.  

Again - I have the perfect fabric and I got some great tips while the sewalong was going on.  But I haven't started. 

And I totally need to get my act together because this upcoming weekend is the Fall Sewing Retreat that is put on my by local ASG Chapter.  I am signed up, have a room mate for sleeping and will have my space ready.  With 32 lovely women to sew with for 3 days and get fitting help - well, see what I mean? 

This week I need to get over my damn body issues and just start tracing and cutting fabric already.  I learned long ago that I'm far more productive at retreat if I take things ready to go.  I'd be happy to work on the fit of these 3 dresses all 3 days and then make wearable clothes after retreat. 


My birthday is fast approaching and I need some new clothes.  So what do you all think?  Would you work on fitting issues?  All three of these dresses are very classic and once fitted could just be made over and over?  Should I work on all three?  Are the McCalls and Simplicity too similar to work on both of them?  Should I exchange one for a classic sheath dress? 
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