My Sew Called Life

A Journey Through the World of Sewing

My New Sewing Room February 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 10:33 am









I thought the best way to restart my blogging would be to show off my sewing space. In Knoxville I had a makeshift sewing space which was barely large enough to walk around. Now that we’re in GA, I have the spare room all to myself! The last photo is my view when I’m actually sitting at the machine.


I’m Back! September 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 11:18 am

Well, when I left off at the end of May, my hubby and I had just returned from an interview on St. Simons Island in GA. Fastforward three months and here we are! He got the job and we left our home in TN and moved to the island! It’s been a big change but we love it nonetheless! My lack of a stressful (and miserable) full-time job has meant my sewing has blossomed. I’ve finished three Hazels, been working through Peony, found some awesome books and have started doing some drafting! I’ve also been super-inspired by all of the blogs I follow AND ordered my very first vintage pattern, which should arrive today! 

I’m really excited to get back into blogging, and I think I’ve gotten over my fear of taking photos of myself. The only issue is that my entire wardrobe planning had to be scrapped when we moved – no more cold temperatures for me. I’m thinking frantically about how to use all the wool I bought when we were in TN. 

Until next time!


Wayward May May 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 11:19 am

Here we are, the last day of May. I did not, as planned, participate in Me-Made-May ’12 simply due to the fact that I have maybe 4 completed garments and it seemed pointless to take photos each week of the same four outfits. To be completely honest, I didn’t get much sewing done at all this month, despite having two dresses 80% complete that only need zippers, facings and hems. Oh well. Here’s a quick overview of what I did accomplish this month:

1. I began working on my Peony muslin. I cut a size 14 based on my accurate measurements, not high bust, and added a 2″ FBA which is my standard. After further reading I learned that Colette patterns are drafted for a C cup, so I tossed that one and reduced the FBA by 1″. It’s still waiting to be marked and sewn up, but I think this will take care of the issue. I also shortened the bodice by an inch or so which I think should be fine – hopefully the waist seam will be near perfect.

2. I purchased, printed and taped together the Burda Jenny skirt. This skirt looks soooo cute on everyone who has ever sewn it, so I figured it was time to fork over the $7.50 and just make it. The measurements look like they’ll be fine, I just need to make my muslin. I usually don’t like pencil skirts since I have a bit of a lower belly paunch. It seems that pencil skirts just make it more noticeable, but the high waistband on this skirt is super-cute. Here’s hoping it works with my large-busted, short-waisted figure.

3. I broke down a purchased Sewaholic’s Cambie! Tasia has been posting photos from her pattern testers’ versions and oh-my-goodness they are so cute! I especially love the tutorial for a straight bodice. And I am super-thrilled that the a-line version only needs 2 yards of 60″ fabric. I have a ton of it laying around, ready to be whipped into fabulousness!

On a non-sewing related note, my hubby and I just got back from St. Simons Island in GA, where he interviewed for a full-time Minister of Music position. The weekend could not have gone better, and we left before Beryl decided to make landfall. We are hopeful that we will hear good news! This does, though, have me thinking about my fall sewing plans, as our next home will determine the types of garments I make. Anyway, I’m trying not to think too much about it, but it is exciting to say the least!


Estate Sale Finds & A Super-Fabulous Acquisition May 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Burke @ 6:40 pm

First things first: my royal Kate was an absolute disappointment. Those damn darts are giving me serious trouble. I didn’t wear it in GA, but I did wear it to work this week and it was fine I guess. I did notice (rather my husband discovered) that the bodice and skirt do not line up on each side of the zipper. After all of that energy with small details – seam finishes, bias bound armholes – only to find that I had flubbed the zipper! At least they’re both the same color. I have promised myself that I will go back and try to reconcile those darts. GRR! I’ve had some help from fellow bloggers (thank God) and I’m hopful that I can fix it. Afterall, I love the S2209 style.

Second, I’ve been hearing so many bloggers talk about their treks to flea markets and antique stores, so I decided to try some out this morning. With the hubby in tow, we visited two estate sales, an antique store, and a local “public market” which is really just an indoor flea market. I lucked out majorly at the estate sale, although visiting these always leaves me blue: this is someone’s life and memories you’re sifting through, usually in their home that you know they were just in a week or so ago before they died. You could tell that the husband of this couple passed first, but the wife had kept his ties and engineering books, it seemed, where they had always been. She was a fellow sewer, and I delighted in the fact that I could now use some of her beloved treasures for my own sewing.











What we have here is an old sewing box with two trays and a lid – this box had a ton of thread, some hand-sewing needed, buttons, old lace rolled gently on old wooden thread spools, a tracing wheel, covered button kits and even a cardboard bobbin! The best find, though, was this:



An antique pin cushion with what appear to be children holding it. My husband thought this was super-creepy, but I instantly fell in love. I don’t have any sewing friends in town, so I think part of this experience was also knowing that I had “met” a fellow sewing enthusiast who seemed to enjoy the hobby as much as I do. There was also a very old Singer with a table, which I would have purchased had I had more money. Alas, I’m pleased with my finds. Oh, and I almost forgot – I found this too, a long scarf about 4″ wide which I think will make a fabulous tie belt:

I can just picture this with a white linen dress! Yum! And last but not least, an acquisition while we were in North Georgia for my hubby’s three-day interview with a church:

I have been lusting over this puppy for months, and I FINALLY own it! I’m in the process  of working on my bodice muslins, this time size 14 with a 1″ FBA instead of 2″ which was humongous.  We went to a very questionable part of town for me to snatch this up – it took me about 30 seconds to hone in on its whereabouts. So exciting! I am 200% sure that this will end up being my most loved TNT dress EVER, and it will solve all of my woes of fitting patterns and finding one that works completely for my body shape. Fingers (and limbs) crossed!

In conclusion: I’m looking forward to scouring Knoxville and the surrounding counties for more vintage and antique finds. Everything nowadays is so mass-produced, which is part of the reason why I’ve taken up sewing in the first place. It’s nice to find things that have been loved for years, that are now ready for you to love them.

Oh, and I desperately need to start taking photos for Me-Made-May ’12, although I need to abbreviate my plans: I think three days per week will suit me just fine. I don’t have nearly enough hand-made garments to wear them even 5 days a week, although I’m working on it!

Happy Saturday!


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!)