Edmonds Community College “Holiday” Craft Fair


Guess which holiday? I made upcycled Pendleton wool pillows and stockings with scraps I bought by the pound at their factory mill store. I also made felt wreaths, pillows, and garlands in the approved 2011 Pinterest-crafty style. I’m planning on putting whatever is left on Etsy in the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

Collars and button bands


So, it’s been forever since I lasted posted. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the outcome on the collar stand, and I’m pleased to say it was a resounding success!


I am officially deeming this tutorial The Great Enabler. It enabled me to sew not one, but four button-up shirts in four days. Two for me, one for Tim, and one for Gideon. Admittedly, Gid’s does not have a stand, just a convertible collar, but the tut got me so jazzed about sewing shirts that I have been going pretty much nonstop ever since.

Is “tut” an acceptable word? Seems wrong somehow.

I pinky swear that there will be modeled pictures of the finished shirts.


Butterick 5678 step 1: fit your paper pattern


The same force pushing me to sew black pants (the approaching school year) is also driving me to pursue collared shirts in a frenzy of pins, darts, and fusible interfacing.

My chosen victim is Butterick 5678 , which features shoulder princess seams, a collar with a stand, and a classic cuff. If I can make it fit perfectly, I will make three or four different versions and wear them throughout the school year.

Now I often put a lot of work into fitting patterns, but for something like this, that I intend to make several times, I will go above and beyond my usual fitting process. Fitting basic pieces carefully always pays off, because who is going to notice if you make ten variations on the same collared shirt? I have a yoked, darted shirt that I have fitted, and this princess-seam version will be the perfect compliment in my wardrobe. image

There are several things I like about this pattern. First, the front band and facing are attached, which saves a seam and the potential stretching of the uninterfaced front section against the interfaced front band.

Second, and most important, the pattern comes with A-B, C, and D cup size pieces in the envelope, saving me an annoying princess seam FBA.

Before I even cut out my muslin, I made a 1-inch swayback adjustment, because I knew I would need it. I pinched out an inch on the center back piece and pinched out a wedge in the back side, tapering to nothing at the side seam.



I then cut out my muslin, which fit remarkably well. The only major alteration I needed was a forward shoulder adjustment, which also required me to take an inch off the sleeve cap. For all of these fitting issues, I highly recommend Pattern Fitting with Confidence, by Nancy Zieman. I got a copy out of the library, and it works great.


Don’t fear taking height off your sleeve cap! Pattern companies nearly always make them too tall and narrow, restricting arm movement and causing you to weep tears of frustration as you try to ease the fabric into the armscye.

Next up, button bands and collar.

Do bad pattern envelope photos stop you?

Have you ever considered how revolting most pattern envelope photos of pants are?

I find myself in need of pants, but have been severely put off by the envelope photos on all the pants patterns I own.

The pants in the photo above, Butterick 5539, look awful. Do you see the drag lines in the red ones in the center? Terrible. But I have some nice black poly double knit from Fabric Mart in the right weight for work pants, and this pattern has several different leg styles, not that you can tell from the pattern envelope. Should I risk it?

How about this one:

Amazing fit, eh?

Then why are you sitting so awkwardly on that stool, Pattern Envelope Lady? Is it because your pants appear to be made of Kevlar?

I have actually sewn this pattern, and the fit is pretty amazing. After a muslin and eight separate alterations.

How about Melissa Watson for McCalls, M6405:

You look so uncomfortable in your Mom jeans, Center Pattern Lady. Maybe it’s just your hair?

I own all of these patterns. Can I make acceptable work pants from them?

What do you think? Do bad pattern envelope photos keep you from sewing something, or do you try to see the gold glittering in the dross?


Collar Stand Tutorial

I sew a lot of collared button-up shirts. Between my husband, my son, and myself, I have probably made more than a dozen in the last year, and I have plans for many more.

Why sew this wardrobe staple myself? I have found that no store-bought collared shirt ever fits me properly. If I don’t have the shoulders falling off, or the waist hitting me too high or too low, or puddled fabric at the lower back or upper chest, I have the worst case of chronic gaposis between the front buttons known to womankind. I have been driven to mastery of the collared shirt by sheer desperation.

My husband, being a man, has none of these fitting problems. I just make him shirts because he needs them. My (toddler) son gets collared button-downs because I’m insane.

One of the most difficult things about a collared shirt is getting the place where the collar stand meets up with the front band to lie smoothly. SunnyGal has the best tutorial ever on how to deal with this problem.

While I’m on the subject of collared shirts, check out this beautiful example made my one of my real-life friends.

Renaissance Fair costumes

Since it has now been a solid week since we wore them, I figure it’s high time I posted the final pictures of our costumes for the Renaissance Fair.I apologize for the delay: I had some major dentistry this week that set me back in my creative pursuits.

First up is me:


The corset-bodice you have already seen, and it was sewn from McCall’s 4109 view C, with the front opening eliminated, two extra boning channels sewn into the center front, a raised top edge, and smoothed bottom edge. I chose to wear the red side out because it was more fun.

My shirt is Simplicity 3732 view A, lengthened in the body and sleeves, with the sleeves gathered and sewn into a simple cuff, sewn in a very pretty embroidered white cotton voile from Fabric Mart. I promise a pattern review as soon as I can get some non-corseted shots of the shirt.

Here is a back view of the corset, showing the ties:


My skirt is a Scarlett O’Hara style remake of some of our old curtains, which yielded six yards of semi-sheer cotton blend fabric. Four yards went into the skirt, which I sloppily pleated into an elastic waistband. I then had to hem the whole thing up six inches, foiling my clever plan to use the original curtain hem, because it dragged on the ground when I walked. The little bag was made from scraps and ribbon.


Tim’s costume was simpler–I sewed a baggy shirt by adding more width to the sleeves and body of McCall’s 6044–which is my favorite shirt pattern for him. I gathered the sleeves into the shoulders and into an elastic casing at the wrist. I applied a placket to the neckline, eliminated the collar stand, and added buttonholes for ribbon ties. The fabric is an old poly-cotton bedsheet which had the advantage of being free and the disadvantage of being far too blindingly white for the period.

The pants I traced from a pair of his jeans and constructed with a button fly and cuffed legs. The fabric was a pinstriped bile-yellow stretch denim I found in the clearance rack at Joann for $1 a yard. He said they were very comfortable.


Tim’s hat is my pièce de résistance–without it, he looked like any random villager from the 1400s to Colonial times. Thankfully, headgear is very period-specific, and this flat cap, made using this tutorial, placed him firmly in the Elizabethan period. A couple of feathers added the necessary flair. On the upside, if I ever want him dressed for a different era, all we have to do is acquire a tricorne  or a biggen.

So successful costumes all around, though perhaps not quite as authentic as may be. I have to think that any thrifty Renaissance housewife would have reused old sheets and curtains without batting an eye.

Simplicity 2250 Pattern Review


Pattern Description:
Misses’ Dress in two lengths, jacket and tie belt by Cynthia Rowley.

Pattern Sizing:
6-22, I made a modified 14.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
It looks remarkably like the photo on the envelope, though I oriented the stripes on the skirt vertically rather than horizontally.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions were very good–be sure to follow the bodice construction directions closely, and everything will turn out all right. Like another reviewer, I did not bother to sew the pleat in the bottom of the center, and it looked all right, though I ended up with an extra fold of fabric there, so I might as well have sewn it anyway.

The instructions for attaching the bodice pieces to the upper edge and enclosing all the seam allowances are very good and well worth a read.

One thing to watch for–one side seam of the bodice is a quarter inch too short. I just compensated by narrowing my seam allowance in that area.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the ready-to-wear style. Fashion right now is about embellishment and details, the more ornate the better. The bodice pleating, asymmetrical skirt gathers, and back tie on this dress all work together to make a very wearable, very on-trend garment.

The one thing I didn’t like couldn’t be helped: there’s no way to make an FBA in this pattern. Not without a major headache and hours of time, anyway. There are just too many things to consider with all the cross-pleating and the separate pieces for the outside and lining.


Fabric Used:
Cotton seersucker from Joann Fabrics that I bought a year ago for another pattern.

<b>Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:</b>
Because I couldn’t do an FBA, I cut the front pieces and front skirt size 18, and the back pieces, skirt, and straps size 14, which is my regular Big 4 size. It worked out, though it wouldn’t have in anything with shoulder seams or sleeves.

The big improvement I made was to sew a bra into the bodice before I closed up the lining. I just took an old bra, cut off the straps, tried everything on together, pinned the bra into place along the seam allowances between the main bodice and the upper band, then trimmed off the excess foam in the bra and zig-zagged the cups to the seam allowance. If you’re slender, you could probably wear this dress with nothing else, since there are three layers of fabric between you and the outside world, but anybody who normally makes an FBA will either need to add support to the dress, wear a strapless bra, or fight the strap wars the whole time you’re wearing it.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
It’s too distinctive to have more than one in my closet. I do recommend it–it’s flattering and not very difficult. Before you start, though, invest in a tracing wheel and tracing paper. Trying to make all those darts and tucks with pins or tailor’s tacks will drive you batty.

This is a cute dress. I wore it to dinner for my anniversary, and it was comfortable and chic and plenty dressy enough for 5 PM in Seattle. I intend to make the jacket later out of navy linen, and I look forward to wearing that as well.

Pattern Acquisition, Vogue Designer Edition


I’ve had my eye on Vogue 1255, a designer tunic from Rebecca Taylor, ever since it came out. Unfortunately, Hancock Fabrics didn’t have it yet during their last sale, so I had to wait for it to go on sale again before I could get it. I don’t know why I love it so much–maybe it’s the ruffles?

Whatever the reason, I have been minorly obsessed with it for a while, to the point that I acquired a pair of skinny black pants to go with it when I saw them on sale, and bought the fabric for it in my last Fabricmart order, all before I even got the pattern.

The fabric was a purely defensive gesture: this pattern takes 4 1/8 yards of 60″ crepe de chine, which is definitely not in my budget, at least in its silk form. Fabricmart had a poly crepe de chine in a not-too-hideous shade of green for $1.99 a yard, so I snapped it up.

I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to sew this, since I’m booked solid for the next few weeks, but I promise a full review when I do.

Public Service Announcement

Do not reach down to scratch your bare leg with the hand in which you are holding your sharp-pointed embroidery scissors.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.