My Sew Called Life

A Journey Through the World of Sewing

Problem Solved! April 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 3:44 pm

Well, maybe there is something to 1. reading pattern directions, and 2. taking a break when you’re about to blow. I went back and reviewed the instructions for the Simplicity 2209, hereafter refered to as The Kate, and realized that I didn’t have to re-draw the stitch lines after my FBA to the bodice. As it turns out, the original stitch lines work perfectly and take care of my issue of matching the bodice with the skirt panels. So, I need to restitch all of my darts on the bodice and front skirt, and then attach the bodice and skirt, insert the zipper, and hem!

It is my great hope that once I complete my royal blue Kate, that I can simply churn out these dresses. It has been so exhausting trying to perfectly fit patterns to my unusual form. This is a common problem among sewists, right? Maybe not for all – a few nips and tucks at the side seams. If you’re a B-cup it seems that your time altering patterns is much quicker. A full bust is no easy thing to overcome when you’re a seamstress. I want to personally thank Alana over at Lazy Stitching for all of her fabulous FBA tutorials.

Anyway, I should be back in business this evening to complete my Kate dress, and I have some teal fabric for another, plus some purple cotton chambray that I picked up at JoAnn’s in the bargain section, PLUS some April Johnston light green floral cotton, although I’m still too scared to cut the latter.

I’m afraid my navy tricotine dress will never be finished. I went ahead and stitched the skirt to the bodice (remember I was using a gathered skirt which ended up as some pleats) but the pleating doesn’t match on each side, which means I will need to wear a cardigan over it, which is fine, but it bothers me nonetheless. I should really also finish my green linen/rayon dress, and make a few more muslins. So much to do, so little time! 


Yet Another Freakout

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 10:16 am

I really had a great week – I did a full bust adjustment on the Simplicity 2209 Lisette dress and finally bought muslin so I set out to mock this up, which turned out really great. I’m calling this the Kate dress. On top of all of that I FINALLY got a compliment on the one I made months ago in that crazy fuscia print and solid – my voice teacher of all people said how cute it was!

My husband has a job interview in GA this coming Friday-Sunday so I thought I would make a Kate for the occasion, in royal blue. I found the perfect fabric, a quilting cotton, which really does have the perfect drape for the skirt. Yesterday I set about working on my Kate – I even stitched and pinked the inside seams, biased the armholes (which looks fabulous), etc. Then came time to match the bodice to the skirt. It never occured to me to go ahead and make a muslin of the skirt as well to make sure they line up – and lo and behold they do not. I need to either add 5 inches to the skirt, or remove close to the same amount from the bodice. In frustration, I finally set it down last night around 11:00 and decided to go to bed instead.

On a positive, I do think I’ve figured out that the room should be taken in from the bodice, which may mean tightening up those bust stitches – they aren’t really darts, but nevertheless can be altered. In fact, the first one I made was a size 16 at the armholes, grading to a 20 at the waist which caused a great deal of gaping near the armhole. I just seam ripped where the bust was tight to give more room. I have since learned how to do a FBA, but I’m not sure that I followed the exact pattern instructions, as everything I’m seeing on Pattern Review shows them as being stiched down. Maybe I should also revisit the instructions.

Anyway, I hope to have at least a photo of a finished Kate by Tuesday!


Three Day Respite April 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 4:47 pm

Well, I decided the best thing for me to do was to stop sewing for a few days. I had Friday completely off from work due to working late the other four days, so I’ve enjoyed a nice 3 day weekend. Today I finally went to JoAnn to purchase 5 yards of 120″ muslin, as well as a bias tape maker, some discount purple cotton chambray (hopefully for a Pastille) and some sheer black and teal gingham to make into a Sorbetto. I also found some black polka dotted chiffon, also for a Sorbetto. I also ordered a copy of Fit for Real People and a narrow hem foot for my machine. The book will hopefully ease some frustration – the hem foot will just be convenient. They should both arrive tomorrow.

Today I finally started on my McCall’s 2401 muslin. I cut a size 16 and did a 2″ FBA weeks ago on both the bateau front and the v-front. I also went ahead and bought a second pattern today (JoAnn had McCall’s for $.99) so that I could get the sleeveless neck/arm facings for the sleeveless versions, and then cut the 3/4 length sleeve as well. Between my two patterns I have every possible dress from the 2401. I am still in dire need of a dressform – fitting is so unbelievably frustrating without one! I had considered padding out my husband since we have close to the same waist size but he sadly refused. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that will be my next major investment, even before a serger. The list of things I need and can use just keeps growing.

Luckily, my FBA worked really well – I did, though, add some length to the back thinking I needed to until I realized that the length added in the bust doesn’t translate to length needed in the back, so I removed it. I also shortened the entire thing by 2″ as the hem was WAY too long, even with a 2″ hem. I’m hoping to get this started in either some wool gabardine or some cotton, although I hate to cut my April Johnston cotton – which appears to already be sold out both in store and online.

My navy tricotine dress is about 75% complete. I went ahead and cut out a pencil skirt with the remaining fabric and had to cut the waistband out of my gathered skirt – this actually took off quite a bit of the weight so it doesn’t appear so heavy when attached to the bodice. The skirt is a variation of Vogue 8664 – really I’m trying to mimic a Burda Jenny skirt with the high waistbad. I’m not convinced it’s the look for me given my ample bust, but we’ll see, and who can’t use a plain navy pencil skirt?

So, here’s a tentative que for the next two weeks:

1. Sorbetto A in polka dot chiffon

2. Sorbetto B in teal/black sheer gingham

3. Finish V8664 skirt

4. Attempt to finish navy tricotine dress

5. Muslin of New Look 6058 and Simplicity 3688 pants

6. Choose a wool gab color for McCall’s 2401: the options are hunter green, copper, oat, mint plaid, amethyst, red, fuscia black.

7. Muslin of sleeves – I’ve never had a dress with sleeves but I think I may enjoy it. I usually wear cardigans but when it gets hot it might be nice to have a finished outfit without having to wear a sweater.

(BTW can you tell I finally learned how to include links?! Yes – I am quite pleased!)


BOO! April 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 7:36 pm

Well, I am not a happy camper. I came home with a lot of zeal to get sewing. So I went ahead and cut a bodice out of my navy wool tricotine, and then cut what was remaining into two rectangles, one to be used for the gathered skirt ala this: I tried to gather, but that didn’t work. Now I’ve moved onto pleating the front, but that hasn’t worked, and for some reason I just now noticed that the bodice that I *think* fits perfectly actually gapes. Needless to say my sewing steam has been drained from the tank. I can’t figure out the perfect place for the skirt to hit the bodice, and I can’t overcome the fact that the wool skirt is rather heavy and seems to pull the bodice down despite being attached higher on the waist.

I was hoping to have this creation made by the end of the month as my hubby has a job interview in GA and is planning to wear a navy suit for an evening meet and greet and now I’m disheartened. I realize that there are 2.5 weeks left to make it work, but GRR!

This pisses me off for several reasons: 1. I envisioned something GREAT and it’s turning out like crap. 2. I have 2 dresses and 3 blouses just sitting, unfinished, that I don’t really want to finish because I’m not sure that I’ll wear them. 3. I am having a hard time altering patterns to TNT status and this is annoying. I know how to do a FBA but for some reason it isn’t freakin’ working. 4. I’ve set a deadline on myself to be ready for Me-Made-May ’12 and I’m not sure that I can hack it. 5. I NEED A DRESS FORM & MUSLIN!!

That is all.


Another Challenge & Pinterest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 3:38 pm

A strange thing happened today. Well, two strange things.

1. I got my very first comment on my blog! Woohoo! I’ve been trying to be more involved in the online sewing community and it finally worked! Yay! 🙂

2. My husband told me something that was very telling: “I’m surprised you can’t match colors!”

I was getting dressed this morning for work and had on a denim skirt that I made, some leggings, a tee and was trying to match a cardigan to it. And there it was, the comment that made so much sense and has helped put into perspective some of my issues with being creative in my sewing: I usually wear all black. No wonder I can’t match colors (or am afraid to). Tada! I’m thinking then that my work for Me-Made-May ’12 can focus on adding some COLOR to my life.

I also signed up for another sewing challenge: the Colette Palette Challenge, Spring & Summer 2012. (For those of you interested in learning more, go here: Hopefully this will help me to create a palette based on fabrics I already own, although they’re mostly solid and wool. And I’m 99.9% afraid to cut them! Oh well – I need to get moving if I stand a chance at Me-Made-May ’12 AND the Colette Palette Challenge.

On a positive note, I made a moodboard last night to aid me in the upcoming weeks –

I’m quite pleased with this, as it’s helping me to get some visual strength when it comes to decided what to sew. Although I still haven’t made up my mind about which type of waistline looks best on me. Ugh!

Finally, I finally broke down and joined Pinterest – rather I asked to join and then invited me to do so 24 hours later. That was nice of them. Anyway, suffice it to say it is just as addictive as I has posited way back when it first came out. But I am thrilled that J.Crew allows you to pin their items as it’s come in handy when creating my Spring wardrobe inspiration board.

Now to get sewing…



Photographic Proof of Procrastination April 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 2:17 pm

I was up until 1:30 this morning puttering around my sewing room. Committing to Me-Made-May ’12 has me a bit nervous. I mentioned yesterday that I have TWO completed garments, and EIGHT incomplete garments. Let’s take a look at the evidence:To the left we have a teal linen Sorbetto, then a Cynthia Rowley spring top, and to the far right we have my Easter dress. For those of you who don’t know, Easter is TOMORROW! Yep. Don’t worry though, I have a back-up plan just in case I can’t get this puppy finished by tomorrow at 8:00. Moving on…

Next we have my fine stash of wools – to the left we have some treated and ready to cut wool gabardines sitting atop some shetland wool, and to the right we have more wool gab, crepe and worsted flannel. In my panic last night, I went ahead and prepped four pieces of gabardine:

Part of me is too afraid to even cut into these, as the thought of ruining them is too great a risk at this point. I have 2 yards of a fabulous amethyst wool crepe that will render tears if I don’t create something fabulous out of it.

Alas, my efforts have not been totally wasted as I have made progress with my slopers. This seems like a good investment of time for 2 reasons: 1. Patterns do NOT fit me straight out of the envelop – I am a 16 bodice with a 1-2″ FBA, and I have narrow hips. It makes sense to focus on creating some TNT patterns that I can then churn out – hopefully in fabulous colors of wool gabardine:










You can’t really tell it in the second photo, but that’s a skirt sloper on packing paper – there’s also a simple dress (slim), bodice and a-line skirt under there in addition to the other a-line skirt I just whipped up using a NL pattern. There’s also a to-be-used pant pattern lurking in there…and maybe a cat. I need muslin though, and I’m waiting on another 50% off coupon to JoAnn so I can buy a 10 yard bolt for only $35…I’m getting pretty impatient though, especially now that I have a quota to reach by May 1.

And finally, my humble sewing corner! It seems like every sewist who has a blog also has an Expedit from Ikea. I have two actually, but the other is on the other corner of the room. My husband is in the process of looking for a full-time job as a Director of Music in a church. When this happens, I will get my own room in our next house (this is a non-negotiable) AND I also get 3 months off to clear my head and settle us in. I’m looking forward to the latter only slightly more than having my own dedicated ROOM to store my creations. I’ll be like a mad scientist!

If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the white thing on the floor is actually my Colette Sorbetto pattern backed with hardpress watercolor paper. Yep. I love that pattern that much. And it’s super-easy to trace around it on the fabric. I recently made it in linen (big mistake as the fabric is way too thick). Blouses should really be in thin material.

Lesson # 13: Heed the fabric recommendations on your pattern envelope!

Didn’t I already write that one somewhere? Yeah…I think so…


Me-Made-May ’12 April 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 11:40 pm

I just did something crazy: I signed up for Me-Made-May ’12 on This makes me nervous for several reasons: first, I only have 2 completed garments even though I’ve been sewing since last November. Second, I have about 8 unfinished projects in my sewing space, just waiting to be completed. Third, that only equals 10 garments to cover 31 days. Fourth, this will be a serious challenge.

Alas, I think this is exactly what my sewing hobby needs – a firm kick in the rear! But it also means that I have to get busy with actually finishing garments prior to the beginning of May. Eek! It also means I’ll need to spend more time sewing than I do planning my sewing. Currently I’m about 75/25 planning vs. sewing time, and those two really need to swap places.

On a progress note, I did manage to de-clutter my sewing space (which is currently in the front room of our house), reorganize and downsize my pattern collection, and read through the Colette Sewing Book! I ended up reducing my pattern collection from 50 down to 15, setting aside patterns that aren’t what I would call “basics.” I also worked on creating some slopers from some of my favorite patterns thus far: a bodice, a skirt, two simple dresses (one a-line, one slim), an a-line skirt and I’m working up a blouse now to determine if I want to make it into a sloper to be used to do some designing. I’ve checked out another bundle of books from the library on pattern design and I’m really looking forward to making some basic garments out of a handful of patterns.

I also figured up the other day that here in Knoxville there are roughly 8 months of warm/hot weather, and only 4 of cool/cold weather. I had considered starting on my Fall 2012 wardrobe items, but after tallying these up figured it would be best to make a few more summer dresses. I also took an inventory of what I wear most and it boils down to dresses throughout the year, occasionally pants or skirts, but mostly dresses, worn with tights and sweaters in the fall/winter, and with cardigans in the spring/summer. That also reminded me that I need more cardigans! Maybe I should learn to knit too…

I’ve also learned that I have a terrible habit of starting a garment, getting 75% way through it, and then starting something else. Am I seriously this ADD or does this plague every sewist? Panic set in when I finally agreed to do Me-Made-May ’12 and realized that I only have TWO completed garments, both dresses. The next three weeks need to be filled with some serious sewing, lest I completely lose this challenge. I’m also determined to get some photos up here too…that’s going to be a wonderful experience…cough…

Until next time!