My Sew Called Life

A Journey Through the World of Sewing

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! ūüôā

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!


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!