My Sew Called Life

A Journey Through the World of Sewing

Time to Be Ballsy March 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 8:53 pm

In the last few days I have signed up to follow at least 10-15 sewing blogs. These women are creative, sassy women who create clothing they love that looks fabulous on them. It’s a bit intimidating. I’m still trying to figure out my body type – and what’s harder is then coming to terms with the type. In preparation to receive my Colette Sewing Book, I’ve decided to make a croquis – a sketch outline of my body shape in order to test pattern shapes on my body. What a way to smack in your face how your body looks. It’s kind of scary to be honest. But it crucial if you want to make clothing that fits and flatters. I’ve learned a few things since starting to create this little mini-me:

1. I have been covering up my chest for years. I am not slight chested, wearing a 36-38 D bra. I grew up as the only girl in my generation on my father’s side, and I developed early. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to wear a bra! Breasts have a weird way of shaping you – they draw attention but you also get made fun of for them. I was the bustiest of my group of friends and I still remember the painful remarks some of the skinny, barely breasted girls made. We didn’t remain friends, but the pain was permanent. Now nearly 15 years later I am still covering them up.

2. I actually have a nice hourglass curve. I’m not a full hourglass, but I think I may be hourglass enough to embrace some flirtatious styles that emphasize my curves. My belly fluctuates and will never be trimmed and toned. I know some women whose lives seem to revolve around the gym and the latest at-home workout DVDs. I will never be this woman. I love food – veggies, fruit, red meat, butter, chips and dip, pizza, ice cream – the mind boggles when I think about what foods I love. So, there will never be hours and hours slaving away at the gym. Life is too short. I will be healthy, but not obsessed.

3.I am short!HAHA! My first license had my height at 5’6″ which was a complete and utter lie. I’m more like 5’3″ or 5’4″ and should really measure myself to be sure. I’m also short-waisted with longer legs. It’s good to know this.

4. I need some inspiration. Most of my wardrobe is black. Boring old black. Boo. I think it’s time to mix things up and lighten up my entire wardrobe and mind with color.

Some other things I did within the past few days:

1. Downloaded and adjustment the Colette Sorbetto free pattern! (So exciting!)

2. Started my makeshift peplum dress in green linen by combining two patterns.

3. Cut out my very first blouse!

4. Decided to make a pair of kelly green ankle-length denim pants. Not quite the jeans I envisioned, but hopefully much cooler.


Happy Monday.


(i want) Compliments March 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 10:05 am

I’ve worn my Lisette fuscia dress several times now to work, and guess what? I’ve received no compliments. Nada.

I wish the part of me that didn’t care was larger than the part that needs the confirmation that I didn’t spend hours constructing some ugly-homemade-looking dress. I know that the bust darts look hideous – I created them pre-knowledge of my own fitting challenges. I know the skirt fabric is busy – but it’s so pretty! I also know that the dress is 100% cotton, of a color that is extremely flattering, with a zipper installation that I am quite pleased with. So why do I need compliments?

Because I labored intensely over this dress. It took an hour to perfectly choose the two fabrics, time to wash and dry them, time to figure out the correct pattern size to make, how to do the understitching on the facing (thank you Colleen G. Lea!) and then to finish the armholes and trim with double-fold bias tape. This dress was “In Construction” for weeks, even a week of 30 degree weather when I thought we may have more winter. I LOVE this dress. And no one else in the world has it! I really like that. But I also want the satisfaction of someone saying, “Great dress!” and me beaming, able to say, “I made it!”

This happened with my black wool crepe dress, which I wore most recently with a black cardigan, black patent belt, black tights and black flats. I can understand that the dress was covered up and no one would even think to compliment it. But this fuscia dress is different – it’s lovely! So, why does it matter? Better yet, why should it matter?

It shouldn’t. And that’s my new motto. Who cares who else notices my dress? I know that I put sweat and tears into this dress, and I think it’s fabulous! And so I will wear it until it falls apart and I will love it for what it stands for – PROGRESS of technique and skill. The whole reason I decided to undertake the monumental task of teaching myself to sew clothing that I will actually wear was to have a hobby that was all mine that I could dredge myself in like chicken in buttermilk. I should remember that.

Speaking of progress: I’ve sought assistance in completing the pleats on the S1873 Cynthia Rowley dress…eh…and I downloaded a free Colette pattern after reading about it on another blog. How cool is the printable pattern? Although I used the last of the hubby’s toner…oops!

AND coming my way is the Colette Sewing Book ( PAHA! I am so excited!! Oh and since I bought it through their website it will come autographed! So excited!


Good Intentions March 19, 2012

Filed under: Fabric,Patterns — Burke @ 5:51 pm

Well, I had perfectly good intentions of sticking to my plan, afterall, I work well within the confines of a plan – you establish the goal and then you get going. Unfortunately, I get far too distracted and seem to change my mind depending on the weather. In short, the plan from last week has been reworked. I didn’t mean to change my mind, but I’m trying to marry interest with things I will actually WEAR. Yes, that’s right. I spent some time cutting out things that I will never wear, ever, even if forced. So, here’s an update of this past week or so:

1. I finally finished by Lisette 2209 in the fuscia/floral cotton quilting fabric. I even figured out how to understitch the neckline facing which was super-exciting. I finished the armholes and hem with single and double-fold bias tape. I wore this to work on Thursday and it was super-comfortable and super-cool given the mid-70s weather we had.

2. I started the S2250 jacket in a lightweight denim – I love the dress too, but when you unpack the pattern pieces there are about 10, which seems a bit overwhelming at the moment. So, I’ve worked up the jacket which I think will look really cute over all of these summer dresses I have planned. I don’t wear sleeveless without some sort of cardigan or jacket so I’m very excited about this style that can also be tied at he waist. I did NOT cut out the tie from the fabric as I wanted to save some, and without it (it is cut on the crossgrain) it’s only about 1-1.25 yards of fabric. I am having some trouble with the sleeves, though, as I was so impatient that I forgot to mark the pieces and my first attempt without markings looked horrid. Which leads to…

Lesson # 12: Pattern markings exist for a reason!

Yep. Moving on.

3. I also started the Simplicity 1873, Cynthia Rowley dress, version C but with the longer skirt. I bought some linen/rayon from Joann for this but I’m also making it in a red/white floral that I’ve been stuck on for weeks. I bought it on sale and haven’t been able to figure out a good fit for it until now. And it will give me some practice before cutting into my linen. I made a FBA on the size 16 bodice, and when I tried it on today I actually ended up taking out the two front waist darts and the drape was much nicer. I cut a size 20 in the skirt, so I may be taking in some additional amounts but I wanted to have plenty on the waist given my adjustment.

4. I went back and reviewed my work on the McCall’s 6503 – I’m not sure that it’s incredibly flattering on my shape. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly is flattering on my shape. I’m not an hourglass, more like an inverted triangle, and my default has been to wear black at all times which covers up most of the top and will occasionally emphasize the bottom. I’m not incredibly hippy, though. Anyway, I like the full skirt of the Lisette dress simply because it covers up the pudge on my lower belly. So, I’m scrapping the McCall’s. Maybe in a few months.


On a high note, I did manage to locate two Vogue patterns that Ireallylike and are both suitable to use with wool, since I had a pile waiting to be whipped into fabulousness:

Enter Vogue 1025, an Anne Klein dress, and Vogue 1137, a Vintage Vogue dress. Both are suited for the inverted triangle and both can be made from lightweight wools. I’ve already done a FBA on 1137 and just need to make a muslin. Vogue 1025 has gotten decent reviews but I’m going to make a muslin anyway. I figure these will be on the docket for April, in addition to a peplum dress I will be attempting using a New Look skirt and a Simplicity bodice (again, need a muslin), and another Vogue design suited for the ample bosom.

I also tried out the suggested method of pretreating wool on a piece I had and it worked beautifully. Here’s how to do it:

1. Wash a large towel in hot water and spin.

2. Place in dryer with your piece of wool on high for 30 minutes.

Voile! I didn’t notice any major textural differences (I used some wool gabardine), but my Anne Klein number will be made out of my coveted piece of amethyst wool crepe which I am scared to use, and I was warned that there may be a minor texture change with crepe. Here’s hoping nothing happens to it!

Until next time!


Hello SPRING! March 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 4:43 pm

Literally as I’m typing there’s an ice cream truck making its rounds through our neighborhood. It is a warm 78 degrees today, and I decided on my way home from work that it’s time to get serious – it’s time to start sewing! February, to be honest, was a bust. I didn’t get much accomplished except for gathering up some fabulous wools which are neatly labeled and color-coded in my sewing room. In the midst I have some cottons that I am getting a hankering to start working on. To beat my chronic procrastination I even made a 6-month plan of all of the items I hope to make each month. I did this a week ago today and I already want to change it and mix it up, but, for the time being, we’ll try to stick to it as best as possible.

Here’s what I have planned for March:

1. Simplicity 1873 – a Spring 2012 Cynthia Rowley pattern in teal linen/rayon. This will be my “Easter dress” which means I have approximately 4 weeks to complete it. I’ll be making Version C but with a slightly longer skirt as the one shown is above the knee. I’ve already done a full-bust adjustment on the pattern and the fabric is in the machine as I type.

2. Butterick 5733: This is a Spring 2012 pattern and has this great ruffle detail which excites me. I think I’ll make this in a red floral cotton I’ve had washed and waiting to use.

3. McCall’s 6503: I made this one earlier in denim, and made the horrible mistake of adding too much length to the bodice. I think I’ll try it again though – and again, it has a fun ruffle detail.

4. I also have the Simplicity 2250 jacket cut, pinned and ready to be sewn. I’m building up the courage to work on the dress that accompanies the jacket.

I think this is doable for March, at least I hope it is. I also have a Lisette dress that I had lost the motivation to finish until today’s hike in temperature.

Also, I got a tip on how to pre-treat wool that I plan on trying out this afternoon: I was instructed to wash a large towel, and then dry it will your piece of wool on high for 30 minutes. This should pre-shrink without making major textural changes to the fabric. We’ll see how this goes, as the thought of tossing wool into a dryer makes me want to cry, but I also don’t want finished items to shrink later on. The big decision is which color I am willing to part with if something goes ary.