Saturday, May 30, 2009


I finished these last week, but my little brother came into town to surprise my parents with a visit over Memorial Day weekend so the weekend was instead stuffed with spending as much time with our soldier man as possible. I thought that was the perfect way to celebrate Memorial Day and HOO BOY was it fun to see the surprise on Mom and Dad's faces when they came over!

So here's what I've finished lately. I decided to turn my beloved Jalie 2562 into a T-shirt as well. Being clever, I call it my TNT-Shirt. I've made two so far, here's one out of the same fabric my polo is out of.
From 2009-05-24 Jason's Here!

I love it! The knit is super comfy and the fit is of course perfect. I think it takes me under an hour start to finish on one of these. I did a pink one Saturday morning before Hubby or Brother woke up, start to finish!

Last week I had gotten started on the vest BWOF 05-2009-109. For some reason the May issue isn't in the archives yet on the website, so you'll just have to go off of my finished one. The instructions were of course fabulous because it is the sewing course for May. I left out the piping and side thingies (tabs?) and made some shoulder and waist adjustments for fit- the neckline was gaping really badly. I LOOOOVE it now though! I probably over fit it just a tad on the waist, it fits absolutely perfectly standing, but sitting it's a little bit tight. I think I'd rather just lose a few pounds though than rip apart all that hand stitching holding the lining in place!
From 2009-05-24 Jason's Here!

From 2009-05-24 Jason's Here!

Speaking of lining, there it is! Isn't that cool? This vest/top combo is probably my favorite outfit right now with my white jeans and black loafers (not in the picture because Brudda helped me and isn't well schooled in blog photography...). I think I should put some edge stitching around the armholes to keep the lining from popping out because it doesn't really match anything. We'll see if I get that patient any time soon.

Last night I traced Jacket 107B from this same issue which will be my next project. I'm using black corduroy so I'm keeping the grain lines they recommend. This jacket was from the Madras section and has the two front panels cut on the bias to show off the contrast, I like that. Hopefully it will still look cool in baby wale corduroy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

BWOF 05-2009-114 Summer Dress

I completely forgot to take photos of my Mom's Mother's Day shirt- it turned out great and really looks good on her, but I didn't think to get photos.

In other news though, I did finish BWOF 05-2009-114 which is a great little summer dress! I didn't think twice about it when I flipped past the photo of it because the dress is completely obscured by all sorts of accessories and artsy camera angling. I did like the line drawing though. Ultimately I decided based on yardage though. I had some fabric that I recently found in a box that hasn't been opened since I packed up my college apartment (so it has moved three times with me unopened) and I decided it was about time to make something out of it. This dress fit the yardage bill and voila! Here we are!

From Grillo Originals

The fabric is some kind of cotton batik with a bit of stretch. I'm actually surprised I bought so much of it since I bought it in college, I think I wound up with almost 2 1/2 yards.

Yesterday the weather here was really nice, it was 80 degrees, but today was a bit cooler and I hadn't finished the dress in time to wear it yesterday so today I'm wearing it with a jacket that was given to me and that has never matched anything in my closet- until today! Speak up if you think it still doesn't match anything in my closet. Also- look at my shoes from the above photo- do they really go? Hubby says yes, but I'm not sure how I feel about the cream plus white deal.

From Grillo Originals

The sleeves are rolled up until I can find some matching topstitching thread to move the cuffs up. The sleeves are about 4 inches too long (my arms aren't THAT short). I think I can probably take at least 2 1/2 inches off without the sleeves looking too crazy. Then maybe they'll be sort of fashionably long instead of "Ok little girl, where's your mommy," long.

I'm about to go post a real review on pattern review. So if you want to see it it will be on the widget to the right momentarily. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Toy for Shaya

Another thing I made recently is a toy for my pup. A while ago I went thrift store shopping for some denim to turn into dog toys and came up with a size 24W pair of black jeans. When Simplicity patterns were on sale for $1 each a few weeks ago I picked up this stuffed animal pattern and voila- here's the result.
From Grillo Originals

I really like the pattern (Simplicity 9524). It was super easy with only 2 pattern pieces for this bear (4 fabric pieces.) He took up all 4 thigh panels on the jeans COMPLETELY, there's no way I could've done this with a smaller pair without chopping up the pattern a bit. I stuffed it with fabric scraps so the guts are easier to pick up off of the carpet when Shaya pulls them out. The unintended effect with the scraps is that the bear is incredibly heavy even though I didn't stuff it very full. When Shaya shook it back and forth it threw her off balance, pretty funny! Here she is chewing on it. She loves it. She hasn't even torn him yet, she's just carrying him around the house now. I even caught her sleeping with her head on it like a little pillow. Awwww.
From Grillo Originals

From Grillo Originals

It took me about an hour from tracing it to tossing it to Shaya so this was a perfect quick little project. I think the next baby born in my circle of friends and family is going to get an armload of stuffed animals instead of a quilt. I had a serious thing for stuffed animals ("stuffies" as I called them) when I was little so there's no reason not to continue the love affair by making them for other people's children.


This is the completed polo for my MIL.
From Grillo Originals

I like it a lot. The one thing that I still find irritating is my inability to sew the inside of the placket and the inside of the collar stand neatly. I may just resign myself to hand sewing that in the future. I pinned it SO CAREFULLY I just can't think of anything I could do to make it neater in the future without sewing it meticulously by hand. Speak up if you have a suggestion on that one. You can see in these photos that the outside is really neat and pretty, but the inside is not so good.
From Grillo Originals

From Grillo Originals

And here's the other shirt. I decided that the other fabric would become a t-shirt for my MIL instead of another polo. The only real option I had for the collar is to make it out of stripes (which I think will look funny) or to do it in white- which does not match the feel of the fabric really as the fabric is pretty dark pink and the stripes are silver. So here it is as a tee. I'm glad I decided to do it that way. I still used my beloved Jalie pattern, I just scooped out the neck a tad more and made a band to finish it.

From Grillo Originals

Here's the neck band, I used two stripes width so I could get the band to be just one stripe color, I like how it worked out. The serger thread in there is actually pink, but such a light pink that against all of the pinks in the shirts it looks white- bummer.
From Grillo Originals

And here's the twin needle stitching. I think this is the best job I've done on twin needle stitching so far. There is still a tiny bit of tunneling, but not enough to fuss over! Do you like that my nail polish matches the thread? Ha! I guess I'm in a bit of a pink mood lately.
From Grillo Originals

Next up is my mom's shirt which will be made out of this bamboo fabric. I tried to photograph it, but I can't really do it justice. It's a bit more navy in real life but you can at least see how beautifully it will drape. The stuff is amazing, it's a 100% bamboo knit from the Bamboo Fabric Store and to really show you how great it is, I'd have to let you touch it.

From Grillo Originals

The fabric has a bit more of a story to it. I ordered a sample of it probably two months ago with this in mind and I loved the sample. Now if only I could be as organized and efficient as I want to be, I would've ordered the fabric shortly after getting the sample. That's not what happened. I went to order on Friday and realized that I wouldn't get the fabric in time based on the shipping time- oh no! So I e-mailed them (Friday morning here, lunchtime there) to find out if I could pay for expedited shipping or something to get it by Wednesday (today). Not only did they NOT CHARGE ME AN EXTRA PENNY to get it to me more quickly, I got the fabric on Monday! Woo hoo! I get really excited when I get service like that. I can guarantee I'll be shopping there more. The fabric is delicious and I really love to support businesses that go the extra mile even when they don't have to.

What's the best service you've ever gotten?

Monday, May 4, 2009


I picked up the May BWOF over the weekend- I couldn't wait for it to come out! I've been jonesing for some good dress patterns, and this was just the ticket. This week I need to finish my Mother's Day sewing in addition to my Mother's Day baking, but once all that is done, I barely even know where to start! Here are my immediate plans:

(I apologize for no photos- the Burda website and I are having a little tiff over file types)

Vest 109- this is a plain vest that I've already made a muslin for. I'll be making the real one out of some black twill cotton I have left over from a previous project.

Dress 114- I have some purple cotton with a flowery island feel design in white that's been in super deep stash, I think this is what it wants to be.

Dress 122- I think the photo they have in the magazine is lame. I didn't like this dress at all until I saw the line drawing! I have some blue linen-look cotton that will be the body of the dress, then some white crinkle cotton with little blue roses on it for the sleeves. Since the dress has belt loops I think I'll also do a sash kind of belt with a serged lettuce edge on the ends to go around the waist and tie it all together.

Dress 126- I love this one just how it is! I'm going to go the really imaginative route and make it up exactly how it is shown. I just love it. It will probably be a bit further down on the to-do list though because I'm not sure I have the patience required for all those details at the moment.

Jacket 107- Last but not least, I love this one too. I think I may wind up making it out of some black pinwale corduroy I have hanging around. I'm not sure if I have enough for it and I'm also not sure how much I'll be wearing black pinwale corduroy in the summer, but I tend to get chilly in the evenings since even in the summer the nighttime temps drop quite a bit here in lovely Colorado so I may wear it more than I think. If all else fails, I'll have it for fall.

One more detail. I've planned out my summer wardrobe (there's a first time for everything!) and it centers around having nice white, khaki and black pants. I have the fabric for the black ones and was getting ready to make the white and khaki pants, but I decided to go thrift hunting this weekend. I found two perfect pairs of pants! They were Ann Taylor pants (which fit me like they were made with me in mind), I got both khaki and white. Both pairs are fully lined and were a whopping $3.50 each. I love making my own clothes, but there's no way I could even touch that efficiency! They do need to be hemmed so it's a good thing I'm handy with a sewing machine- but what a find!

Friday, May 1, 2009


I'm making progress on my MIL's polos, good thing since I really need to get them shipped by Monday or so to make the Mother's Day deadline. What a slacker I am! Here are the photos- the collar is now pinned in place and ready to be put on for the solid pink one. I've yet to cut out the other one, but I plan on locking myself in my sewing room all day Saturday to get this done.

From Grillo Originals

I'm really happy with how well the placket came out. It's still not 100% lined up on the inside, but the outside is perfect (in my opinion anyway). I suppose eventually I'll have to resign myself to fact that I should likely be hand basting in place before really stitching this down to get it to look just how I want it.

From Grillo Originals

In other news- I've started teaching very beginning sewing classes as another side hobby. I have a student ("Sewing Protege") in particular that I'm really enjoying working with. T had never been near a sewing machine and was interested in learning a bit about sewing to see if she liked it enough to invest in a machine. For the first lesson she came over and we made a simple dog bed for her pups. She was THRILLED with the outcome and for her second project we made BWOF 04-2009-121. It's the short tunic- which has two dots- and we made it completely underlined. I've got to tell you, T the sewing protege is one smart cookie! We finished the tunic last night in time for her beach vacation and it looked awesome. She is picking things up with lightning speed. She's planning on buying a machine now- I'll go ahead and take that as a testament to my amazing ability to spread the love of sewing (don't burst my bubble here). Anyway, I'm happy that I've been able to introduce her to something that is obviously bringing her a lot of joy and pride and I'm looking forward to showing her everything I know.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What? No sewing?

Alas, the sewing has taken a back seat this week. I do have some mending I really need to get done, and my plan was to have both MIL shirts done by Sunday- so there will still be some stitchery by the weekend. In the meantime, I thought I'd let you know why there's minimal sewing going on and then treat you to a wildly delicious recipe I've recently discovered.

The reason for the lack of sewing is that I'm exhausted. Completely W.I.P.E.D. O.U.T. I have decided that this is the year to run my first (sprint distance) triathlon. I've been thinking about it for several years, but this is it and I'm letting everyone know so that wimping out is not an option. The big day is six months away because I'm not in great shape now, but look out September 13th, here I come!

This is the first week of training and so far I have run 6.23 miles, biked 9 miles and swam a measly 300 yards (6ish + 4 + 600 to go). I have been not so good about keeping in shape so far this year so my body is screaming in protest this week, but I am adjusting pretty quickly so I expect I'll be back in full swing by next week.

In the meantime, I recently discovered a recipe for bagels. It is so much simpler than I would ever have guessed and has yielded perfect bagels three times so far which makes it a TNT in my kitchen. Hubby has been in a breakfast rut (all of his adult life) and only wants 2 fried eggs and 2 pieces of toast every single day. Every. Single. Day. Until now! Now he only wants bagels during the week, what a testament! We dip the bagels into a mix of parmasean cheese and garlic powder before baking them... mmmmmmm. Here's the link to the recipe! He says it's as easy as baking a loaf of bread, but I say it's easier because it's too simple a dough even for my trusty bread machine! They take about an hour and a half from start to finish.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A learning experience

I'm making progress on my MIL's shirts, I'm mostly through the first one which is the solid pink. I've opted for 3/4 length sleeves on that one and short sleeves on the stripey one. I think what I'll do to settle the collar issue is make up a self collar in two pieces for a chevron effect and then make up a white one and decide what I think when the top is nearly done.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a learning experience with you. I almost never make a pattern as it was intended. I'm always making some kind of design change or combining this part with that part to come up with a hybrid. Because of this I would really love to learn to draft patterns myself and have been working on that. I've made several attempts at drafting my own patterns, sometimes from scratch and sometimes from BurdaStyle patterns (which I downloaded when they were free, it still annoys me that they're $4 each now).

To kick my drafting attempts up a notch I had decided that I would try to draft a polo shirt for my MIL. I used a BurdaStyle tank top pattern for the base and drafted sleeves (with instructions from Shirtmaking) and then also drafted a front placket based on the sleeve placket from Shirtmaking. This worked fairly well. Somehow I was off several inches on the collar when it came time to put that on, I'm not sure if that was a measurement failure since I am not great at math or if it was a failure to stay stitch the collar. Maybe it was a combination. (The photo is blurry because my photographer is impatient and doesn't believe in re-doing blurry photos...)

From Grillo Originals

From Grillo Originals

The part that kept me up at night was the part where the placket met the collar. On the RTW shirts I analyzed the collar comes halfway into the placket and the placket is about 1.5-2 inches wide. I couldn't work out how all the seams were finished or in what order everything was made. It made me COMPLETELY NUTS for about a week. Finally I wound up with a workable version only to realize that I had inserted the placket crooked. Ugh. I used snaps instead of buttons too because I didn't interface the placket and was not looking forward to digging the flimsy knit out of my sewing machine. I liked the snaps, I will probably do that again sometime. I'll try not to repeat the crooked placket though.

Here's what I wound up doing at the collar/placket junction. Not the neatest finish, but not that different from RTW.

From Grillo Originals

I wore the shirt a couple of times, but as it turns out the crooked placket is irritating. I'm thinking I'll cut the shirt either into a tank top or into a little polo for my friend's daughter (she wears a 2T so it would probably fit!)

Anyway, chalk that one up to a learning experience. Someday I will get to a point in my abilities where I can just dream something up and more or less make it. For now even the failures bring me some enjoyment so I'll just continue trucking along.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter! And a shirt

Here's the finished shirt- it was BWOF 04-2009-105. I have to say, I'm not impressed. Not that I expected this to be perfect, I'm not sure what my fitting issue is with shirts, but it is certainly not better with the alterations I made.

This shirt didn't have much of a chance from the beginning anyway, seeing how it had no darts. What's with that anyway? No darts? I see that it fit the super slender boyish bodied model in the magazine, but anyone with curves or a chest shouldn't go with this style I don't think. I also don't like the sleeve cap height they've got on this pattern. I was thinking it was pretty extreme when I was tracing it but didn't fix it. I should have.

I made some unsuccessful alterations- I added the darts from my last Vogue dress... which worked in the front, not in the back. I also made a forward shoulder adjustment and an arm flab adjustment and a full bust adjustment.... none of which fixed the fact that I can't reach forward in this shirt without popping seams. Please pipe up if you have any idea what causes this tightness- Hubby says I look like I'm doing a dance in this photo so you have to click through to it. It's super tight across my back about where my bra strap goes. I have my arms up as high as I can reach in the shirt.

I did get compliments on this at Easter dinner, so I guess it's not too terrible. Here are the photos (I did iron it before I left, what a pain it was!)

From Grillo Originals

From Grillo Originals

Overall I think this will be a wadder. I wore it, it was okay, but it was a BEAR to iron and I don't really like it. I do like the color, luckily I have more of the sheet I made it out of. I think I'll try something else with it next.

One funny thing is that the shirt was almost six inches longer than this to begin with, so I went to trim it and.... oops, too short! So I had to finish it with bias binding and it was still too short. I got so mad when I realized what I had done that Hubby made me go for a run to cool off! Ha! It worked, but it didn't fix the shirt.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I finished my Jalie top. I LOVE IT! It is absolutely fabulous. I had fun putting it together and I wore it yesterday only to discover that it is the most comfy top I have in my clost. Here's the review I put up on PR.

I am definitely planning several more versions of this top. The first two of course being for my MIL for Mother's Day. I think I've decided I'll put a white collar and placket on the pink striped one because I can't find a solid to match. What do you think? Here are the fabrics again.

From Grillo Originals

The solid pink one will just be plain and solid. The stripey one is the one I'm going back and forth on. I don't think a striped collar would look good. But maybe?

Here is a photo of the prototype on me. I really love this pattern. I think I'll be making several more of these and then I'll modify it into a t-shirt pattern too, I need more of those and this fits SO WELL when it's on!
From Grillo Originals

So... for the rest of today I've got to go take the pup to get her staples out and then I need to finish my Easter top! All it needs is darts and a hem, so I think it should be a quick fix. Hopefully I'll post on that this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My First Jalie

I broke down and bought Jalie 2562 to make my MIL's Mother's Day polos. I had drafted a polo but it didn't really turn out quite how I wanted it to. More on that some other day (if I ever get around to tweaking it, otherwise it's frustratingly close to what I wanted, just not quite there.) I read such good things about this Jalie on that I'm really excited to be making it. Here's the fabric I picked out for the prototype (I'm making her the same size I wear, but with a bigger FBA for her- so I'm getting the prototype.)

From Grillo Originals

Isn't this fabric cool? I love it! I was so excited when I found it. Here's my only Jalie beef so far though, the pattern in size V (size I'm making) calls for 1 yard in view A and another 5/8 in contrasting fabric. It wasn't really clear whether the 5/8 needed to be added to the 1 yard for an all matching shirt or what, so I got 2 yards because while too little fabric is never good, too much fabric can sometimes bring happy surprises. Just for the record though, this laid out in EXACTLY a yard. So perfectly exact it was crazy. So it looks like I'm getting another shirt out of this print too- sweet!

So far I've only cut out the shirt and made the placket. I saw some reviews that made it sound like the placket was a real PIA, but I've got to say I didn't have any problems with it at all. Maybe it's all those dress shirts I've been making, but it's going together like a dream so far. The fabric is a little tricky because it's SO stretchy, but it's super soft and pretty so I've got no complaints. My plan is to wear this to work on casual Friday, so hopefully you'll get to see finished photos then!

And one for me

I've got two projects going this week. Both are looking promising. First there's BWOF 04-2009-105 which is a somewhat unexciting button up blouse. Which I was excited about because I've been looking for one of those. I can't find a RTW button up shirt that fits me comfortably for anything, I've always got gaposis in the front and super tight across the shoulder blades in the back, so if I stand perfectly still with my arms by my side, they look good and that's it. So, with all these shirts I've been making for Hubby, I was anxious to find a pattern I can make for me. It's almost done. I hate the term "wearable muslin" because I think if you're going to make a muslin, do it right and if you're going to make a garment, do it right. This though, kinda fits into that category- I prefer to call it a prototype though. It's made out of a sheet I bought on clearance at Linens N Things when they were going out of business so I have more of this fabric and won't be heartbroken if it doesn't work out- I also took really careful measurements of the shirt that does kinda fit me better than most and altered and copied where the pattern needed altering and copying. So I suppose I have a wearable muslin. If it turns out wearable. Here it is so far.

From Grillo Originals
Sooooo wrinkly! Ha! But I like the fabric (despite the fact that it's a nightmare to iron). I did a FBA and now it fits fine in the bust, but like a tent in the waist. This pattern has no darts and I went back and forth about altering to add them, in the end I've decided to take in the sides a bit and add front and back princess seam darts. I have no idea what those kinds of darts are called, but I'm hoping you'll get the idea. I think I'll copy the darts from my Vogue dress because those worked well.

From Grillo Originals
I also changed the placket and cuffs. I used my favorite book, Shirtmaking for the patterns. I like how they came out, I'm getting really good at plackets!

From Grillo Originals
Here's my lazy part, I actually copied this from my RTW shirt that I copied some of the other details from. The seams are sewn and then serged about 1/8" away from the seam. Huh. The fabric is so thick I didn't think the flat felled seams were necessary for it to look nice. They're such a pain in the butt too! So this is a lazy shirt, but it doesn't really look that way when it's on.

From Grillo Originals

Here's the no darts part. If anyone has good advice for how to add successful darts, I'm trying to make this into a TNT pattern so alteration tips are very welcome! Also, does anyone else have the problem of shirts being so tight across the shoulder blades? The shirt falls in all the right places with my arms down (I'll show pics soon- this is half of my Easter outfit) but when I put them out in front of me it's crazy tight back there. I don't know if I really like pleats in the back of ladies' shirts, but I'm afraid that's what I'll have to resort to! Is there some other alteration I'm missing? The armsyce seems to fit well so I don't think it's that.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Organization is Awesome

Organization is awesome, but so incredibly difficult! Last weekend once we knew what was wrong with Shaya but while she was still recovering from surgery at the animal hospital I managed to finally attack my sewing room. I didn't take before pictures because I didn't want the evidence to exist. Here's the short version of how it got so bad:

When we first moved to Colorado from Georgia I was working from home, so this room was my office. I'm in the publishing industry, so my office was crammed full of the magazines my company published along with all of our competitors' magazines (gotta keep track of the competition!) and all kinds of homeless wires and computer paraphanalia. ugh. That was August 2007. In January 2008 I got an office outside the house because I cannot handle working from home. I have no idea how people do it. I'm awed by anyone who can because holy shnikies it is so much more difficult than it sounds! Anyway, that's when the office/sewing room took a turn for the worst because then it became dumping grounds for anything homeless in the house. Double ugh. Then came the serger (last Christmas)- the only real table and area that made sense was my desk in my office because my two machines and I were no longer welcome at the kitchen table for long periods of time. As much as I had good intentions of organizing my newfound sewing haven, every time I went in there I just got so distracted by all the potential projects calling my name that I couldn't resist! So it got worse before it got better. Pins in the long carpet made it a minefield because somehow I figured those really invisible pins without the colored globes on them would be a better bet, scraps of fabric strayed everywhere, one pattern here, one over there, you get the idea. It was a nightmare.

So while I don't have any before pictures for you, I do have after pictures of my new extra happy place, complete with a table I can use to trace off patterns instead of using the island in the kitchen which gets my Hubby almost as happy as me! Now the trick is just to keep it this way. Honestly though, this is the first time I've had a real sewing studio and it makes me so happy now that it's all finished that I can't imagine letting it lapse into the sad place it was before.

Sewing table with both machines.

Fabrics hanging in the closet without doors- I refuse to iron pre-treated fabric before its purpose is known and its project is started so they look messy, but at least I can find everything I want or need!

Layout and tracing table which also works for cutting the smaller stuff.

Ironing station with two irons just in case one isn't doing the trick- ha!

And what sewing room is complete without one of these? This is Rodi (pronounced roadie), my other slavic named pet. Rodi is Americanized shortened from Rodya (Pronounced "ROAD-yah")which is the nickname for Razkalnikov who is a crazy character from Crime and Punishment. Rodi was a crazy little kitten so I decided to name him after someone equally as crazy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What a doozy!

I owe several posts here, the most notable being of the first "Little Dresses Sewing Group" meeting. I still haven't taken photos of the finished dresses (much less mailed them where they need to go) but I've got ONE HECK OF AN EXCUSE!

Here's my pup, her name is Shaya which is short for "Bolshaya" which means "big" in Russian. Yes, I am a serious slavofile loving all things slavic and more specifically Russian. Anyway, she's adorable and sweet and 4 years old.

Awww! She's usually quite spunky but she started to slow down the Sunday after the Little Dresses group meeting. We went to the vet, but no answers really, just some home remedy ideas and a big bill. Ugh. Well, I won't get into the gory details, but last Friday afternoon (almost a week later) it became extremely apparent that something was extremely wrong with her and it was getting worse, not better. Back to the vet we went, and straight to the emergency after hours clinic we were sent. They didn't really have any ideas at first either- until they did an ultrasound and determined that her spleen had twisted (What?!) even the vet said this is unbelievably rare, leave it to Shaya to explore new territory.

So long story short, Shaya is now sans spleen. She seems happy enough, despite the fact that her massive stapled up incision makes my skin crawl with empathy pain- she doesn't seem to mind a bit. I'm positive she feels better than she has for the last couple of weeks. So there's my long winded excuse for not posting over the last two weeks.

In other news, I actually did get some sewing done over the weekend, and I organized my sewing room (you would have to know me well to realize what an unbelievable accomplishment that is- ha!). The sewing project is almost done, when it is completely done I'll post a review, but so far it is turning out well. It will be a pair of shorts for Hubby who is in desperate need of new shorts. The pattern seems to be maybe out of print, but they're the exact same shorts from Simplicity 5581 which I wish was out when I bought the pattern initially because in that same trip, I bought a shirt pattern exactly like the one now included- ha! Anyway, they're turning out great but a little tight. I did my best to outsmart the big 4 sizing while not having Hubby on hand to measure directly. All things considered, at least I came out close enough that they'll be worn. I think they'll wind up TNT, but I can tell you there won't be that many versions with all the pockets included.

Well, off I go now. Hubby's best friend is coming to visit today and I've got to go make some last minute preparations before he gets here. Poor guy is coming from the UK and has just spent a few days in Miami so unfortunately I think the snowstorms we're supposed to get while he's here will be a major disappointment! I am hoping he checked a weather report so he packed sufficient clothing!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mother's Day gift plans

So, my Mom is awesome. She's sorta beyond words awesome and my Hubby agrees. She's sweet, and giving, definitely my best friend and she makes it completely obvious that she loves me to the moon and back about a hundred times. She's getting a new top for Mother's day and she got to pick out everything about it. Yay! She picked out this pattern which is New Look 6648. It will be made out of bamboo jersey from The Bamboo Fabric Store. I'm using the 100% bamboo flat jersey knit in navy which doesn't look navy on the screen but most certainly qualifies as navy in person. I'm excited about the bamboo, it feels wonderful, is supposed to wear beautifully and I think it's one of the more expensive fabrics I've sewn with (shows how cheap I am, but I am an awesome sale shopper!) I think it will be great. I'm making a muslin (hopefully) this weekend to tweak the fit.

Now I realize that I'm lucky to have an awesome Mom. I also happen to be double lucky because I have an awesome Mom in Law. So awesome, in fact, that the "in Law" here is only for your benefit because I also call her Mom. She's wonderful. She's sweet and loving and adorable and I LOVE HER TO PIECES. My Hubby and I were actually married before I met his family (yipe!)- it was a quick engagement and we eloped, so the day I met his mom we had been married almost exactly a month. That was scary for everybody, but I think we all feel great about the family we've got now. Here's a picture of MIL and I. Awww!

So since she and FIL live far away, I don't get to see them often. I have so far been hesitant to make her clothes because I'm not sure if she'd like clothes made by me because I'm not sure about size, style and whether or not she'd actually like to have something homemade. I ran this by Hubby and he seemed to think there was no question and that she'd love something, so I'm going to make her tops for Mother's Day too. She loves to golf, so I'm working on a golf top. I read reviews about the Kwik Sew golf polo out there, but I was unimpressed with the PR reviews, so I drafted my own. Now.... I may yet be purchasing a pattern (if I have to go that route, it will be the Jalie one though) but so far I've got it drafted and cut, so we'll see if my end result becomes a wadder or not. I picked out some really adorable pink knits for the tops. Here they are.

From Grillo Originals

The funny thing is that I realized the darker pink bears a very striking resemblance to the beloved PINK VS top that I talked about before which she and FIL picked out for me for Christmas. Ha! Hopefully that means she'll like it, it may be a bit too bold but Hubby says he doesn't think so.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Am I the crazy one?

So today I have been digitally snooping around shopping to find some styles to copy this summer. I'm not very creative, so I usually need to shop in online stores that will put the whole outfit together for me like Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, Saks even... they're all good about giving me some semblance of style without me naturally having any.

While I was poking around the Saks website I found that they have a "most popular" section which is neat. That way I can look at things that are actually selling (so in theory they look good on real-ish people, right?) and I was dumbfounded. First of all, I was right about being able to find good styles in the most popular section, there are a few great Diane von Furstenburg dresses, some neat Burberry polos, a great Ralph Lauren dress (if it weren't white) and a really sharp looking Prada dress.

Here's where I got dumbfounded: that Prada dress in all its simplicity is selling for $625.00, and it's on a best sellers list, so apparently that's what it's going for. Now I understand the value of well made pieces in a wardrobe, especially something as versatile and classic as a LBD but seriously?! Do you even know how far I could go in a fabric store with $625 to play with? I guarantee I'd come out of there with way more than a measly LBD even if it was made out of some outlandishly luxurious and therefore expensive fabric. Don't start at me with the brand thing either- I work in the advertising industry so I know exactly what it takes to build a brand and yadda yadda yadda - I'm still not sold on why I need a Prada anything over a non branded but exactly as well made alternative.

Continue the dumbfounding with looking at the prices on all the rest of the pieces on the same best sellers list. Admittedly, I usually choose stores to snoop based on the fact that I won't be tempted to shell out the cash for the already made version, but I find it hard to believe that even if Hubby was raking in a cool million a year (which goes a long way where we live- not quite like living it up in NYC) that I would be able to justify this kind of purchase- $625 for a knit dress. Or $195 for a Burberry polo (though understandably that Burberry check on the outside might be necessary to be allowed to schmooze with the other wives in whatever posh country club we would be members of...) Nevermind the fact that in this little fantasy land these purchases would fit reasonably into our clothing budget, I still don't think I could do it. Just knowing what else I could be doing with the money would make me sick. 47 yards of Loro Piana suiting anyone?

So here's my final point and I promise I won't abuse any more parentheses. As someone who can go into a fabric shop with $100 and come out with a garment worth substantially more, aren't I lucky? All of us sewists are, because when we make clothes that have awesome couture finishes and details even on the simplest of garments and we're making things with absolutely custom fit, we are spoiling ourselves completely rotten in a way that our non-sewing sisters just can't get without some amazing sale shopping or some major cash dropping. That's good stuff in my book!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Apparently me stating that something is "next up" keeps me from doing it. Aaargh. In the meantime, I've been sidetracked into two new projects (Mother's Day is coming and I have both a wonderful Mom AND a wonderful Mom-in-law that both deserve lovingly hand-made gifts.) AND I've discovered something fascinating that's been on the web forever, I can't believe it has taken me this long to find it.... ready?
I'm not sure what the rules are for using pictures that aren't mine so I'll not touch this, but just quickly click on that link and tell me this dress isn't awesome. I'm in love. One dress (modified skirt, really) with two looooong tabs/straps and seriously, the variations are endless. I have got to make myself one!

When I get around to it, this will surely be my summer go-to outfit. Hubby often gets annoyed when I get fixated on a specific awesome article of clothing and pretty much refuse to take it off. I will take it off long enough to wash it, but then it goes right back on. First, it was the t-shirt I got for running my first 5k. I don't have a photo of the shirt, but here's me looking dorky finishing the race. I had never been a runner, so training for and finishing a measly 5k was a seriously self proud moment which is why I have such an attachment to that t-shirt. I wore it every day for about 2 weeks (washing it while I went to work...)

After that it was a t-shirt I made from BurdaStyle that was just so incredibly comfy that I couldn't take it off. It was made out of some kind of jersey knit I guess, it was thicker than "jersey" brings to mind, but super stretchy. I can't find the photo, but it's turquoise with Japanese writing on it. I studied Japanese for 2 years in college and am disappointed because a) I couldn't figure out which way was up on the fabric and b) while recognizing some characters I don't have the foggiest idea if this even made some kind of sentence or statement or what. Ha!

The most recent clothing item of adoration is the Victoria's Secret PJ sweatshirt top thingy my awesome MIL&FIL got me for Christmas. Hot pink and rediculously comfy I wear it all the time. Hubby gets especially annoyed if I sleep in it and then proceed to wear it the next day (come on, I only do it when we're hanging out at home and I'm sewing all day- ha!) Now I sound gross, but that top is great it makes me comfy and happy. It's kind of like this one, same pattern for sure but mine is brighter pink and has silver stripes. Really I'm too old to wear this in public (not THAT old, mind you... just too old to go around in college girl attire.)

So, long story short, the dress will surely be the next clothing item obsession. It will count as different "outfits" if I tie it differently every time I wear it, right?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Next Up

As it turns out I might not be as crazy about that dress as I originally thought. I wore it yesterday (sorry, no photos yet- Hubby left early and I got home late). When wearing it for a whole day I discovered that I was constantly yanking and pulling and adjusting to keep my bra from showing in the back. I've been trying to work my head around a way to fix this for the current dress- for the pattern the obvious answer is just to raise the back. The change wouldn't be much, maybe an inch or so- and frankly if I have my hair down it will cover any problems, but I find this annoying.

So. Deciding on my next up project is my next dilemma. Hubby has been angling delicately for me to cut another shirt for him, he wore his green one yesterday and sent me a text to tell me how much he loves it (awww). His only beef with these shirts is that the collar isn't as thick or as stiff as his other ones. This guy prefers a ring of cardboard around his neck and I can't talk him out of it. The interfacing was already so thick that I had to take my fusible interfacing and make it into sew-in interfacing with some muslin, it was impossible to turn the corners with it fused. So here's my next plan of attack- use the same interfacing fused to muslin insert, but also insert an exactly cut piece of interfacing into the sewn and turned collar and fuse it to the upper collar (the part he cares about most) before inserting and sewing the other. Ugh. These shirts make me so happy because they turn out looking so great, but then the whole collar thing really brings me down. Anyway, chances are he's getting a new shirt at least cut this weekend. Here are the fabrics again, I think he'll be getting the grey and black one. I'm making sleeve changes and some minor fitting tweaks too otherwise I'd just get all of the cutting out of the way. Never mind the wrinkles, I pre-wash my fabrics when I get them but I loathe ironing so that gets put off until just before layout.

In other news- I'm extremely excited because this weekend I will meet for the first time with a sewing group that I've organized here. When reading Erin's post about Little Dresses for Africa I hopped on over to and inquired about a sewing group around Denver (there are some around the US that regularly get togeter to sew these little dresses). Alas, there wasn't. That's when my genius plan was born! I work by myself and tend to be sort of a homebody so I've recently decided it's about time I became more social and found more people I have common interests with rather than having my circle of frieds limited to the wives of my Hubby's friends (not that those ladies aren't awesome, just that we don't have as much in common as our hubbies do). So I put up a post on Craigslist and lo and behold, I have a sewing group. We're meeting Saturday to go supply shopping together since there are a couple newbies who will need help picking out the correct supplies, then we're all getting together the following Saturday to sew some pillowcase dresses! I was extra plesantly surprised to find that there were two gents among the people who responded to my post. Yay for men who can sew (or want to)!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dress- DONE!

March already? What happened? I finished my muslin for this dress about a week and a half ago. Good thing on that muslin too, as Hubby pointed out it "showed my religion" so I added a bit of ease in the hips. The top fit beautifully, so that's good to note. I wound up making a size 12 and adding almost 4" of ease in the hips. It's probably a little too much at this point, but there's nothing worse than a tight dress to make you feel chunkier than you are, so for now it will stay as is.

This is the back view- no, the bow is not crooked. It wasn't fastened in the first photo, but this dress looks so blah without a body in it that I decided no to mess around with the photos that much. You'll have to wait 'till I wear it to work Monday and force Hubby to take better photos (with a body in it) to see how FABULOUS this dress is. I'm completely smitten with it. There will be many more where this came from.

And here's the front. Again, "meh" on the hanger- yowza on the body.

This is actually the first dress I've ever made. I've made lots of pants, some skirts, lots and lots of tops... never a dress. I bought this pattern when I first discovered A Dress A Day and wanted to sew it as a Christmas dress in red with a black lace overlay over the top but never got around to it. I'm glad now that I didn't get around to it then. Over the last two years I have discovered the value of tracing patterns rather than cutting them out and I've really cemented the value of muslins in my stubborn little head. So it turned out a million times better than it would've.

I did line/underline the top part, but not the bottom. The whole thing is basically cheap poly fabric, but I think it looks and feels nice anyway. It should be a sturdy go-to dress. I had to line the top because I was afraid it would be see-through but when I thought more about it I realized that I didn't want the pink to show on the neckline so I put the facings in over the lining, serged their edges and sewed them down where they belong. It worked out to make an interesting inside anyway. I would say the inside looks like a basic cheapy kind of dress really, but as I said, it should stand up to a lot of abuse and it looks rockin' so I'm happy with it.

Now I'm trying to figure out if I'm going to make BWOF 09-2008-114 in a blue cotton but with a v-neckline or 09-2008-124 which I bought some fake suede leopard print stuff for. Fun times! We'll see what happens next.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And here it is-

Here's my completed purple shirt from BWOF 10-2008 #118. I think it turned out nice. It wasn't without its adventures though. First things first, I decided I'd shorten the arms- bad idea. First of all, I don't think I like the shortened arms as much as I thought I would. And second, I failed to take into account the fact that the band would have to be bigger in order to fit further back on my arm..... didn't figure that one out until I had already cut and sewn the too small bands on. Unpleasant. Another adventure was when I was trying to cut those bands out. This fabric is deep stash fabric, so there's no replacing it and I had *just* enough to make the shirt really. I grabbed one of the scraps from cutting (it was bigger than I thought) and was happily chopping away to make the band with my rotary cutter when I realized- THAT'S NOT A SCRAP! Luckily I didn't do too much damage. I wound up having to put a band on the button side of the front to replace the fabric I had taken off, and I shortened the shirt a tad to make up for the hunk missing from the same front panel on the bottom. Luckily I didn't do any real unbelievable damage. I would've cried!

The shirt gets Hubby approval which was nice. He's pickier than I am, so if he likes it, I know it's probably good. I like it too. Next time I'll make the sleeves the original length, but the point is there will very likely be a next time, so this is a success.

Next up is Vogue 8313. I bought this to make a Christmas party dress not this last year, but the year before and never got around to making it. I read the reviews on PR and got intimidated. Despite the "Very Easy Vogue" title it seemed t me that people were having quite the fitting issues, so it got shoved back in the stash. Now the muslin is all done (holy cow am I glad I made a muslin!) and I'll probably be cutting out the real fabric today. Yay!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Shirt For Me!

Next on the docket is a shirt for me, it will be BWOF 10-2008 #118. I'm not quite as good at making shirts for me. I have some fit issues I have yet to diagnose completely. Luckily this shirt is so drapey my specific fit problems shouldn't be an issue. This fabric dates back to my original sewing days! I bought it the same year I bought my sewing machine- sophomore year in college. I guess you could say I started sewing before that with Grandma and with Mom, but this was my first very own machine and I mark that as the beginning of my current sewing era. I don't remember what the fabric is, some kind of synthetic I'm sure- but super fluid and a gorgeous purple, so it should turn out to be nice.

Here's a flower I made with the shirt fabric from the Valentine's flower tutorial at Burda Style . I think the flower is cute, I'll probably make it into a pin for the shirt. I should finish it today, I want to wear it to a family birthday party tomorrow.

After that, I'm going to get really ambitious on a long term project. I've been watching just about everyone else sew gorgeous jackets all winter and I think I've finally gotten brave enough to try one. My fitting problems in RTW jackets are what have been keeping me from making one so far. First of all, I'm petite so it's very easy to make me look like a child playing dress up in a jacket. Then we get into the real fit issues; from what I can tell I think I have broad, forward shoulders along with my full upper arms and slightly full bust. I've never actually owned a jacket that fit well and was comfortable (and I've owned custom jackets... ugh). So I've nominated some stash fabric for muslin and I think I'll be cutting out BWOF 12-2008 #116. Cross your fingers for me and wish me luck!

Green Shirt and Fitting Issues

So here's the green shirt I made for Hubby. This is final draft round 2. He likes this better than the white stripe one because the cuffs are stiffer and he likes the fabric better. This guy has got a serious obsession with super duper stiff collar and cuffs. That's still his beef with the shirt- the collar isn't stiff enough! It's not like I'm not trying- I've got incredibly stiff interfacing in there, so stiff that I couldn't turn the corners with the interfacing in there so I actually had to fuse the interfacing to muslin and then insert the interfacing piece into the sewn and turned collar in order to make sure I coudl actually get decent points on that collar. Still not quite enough though- the good news is that this gives me a great excuse to drag his butt to Denver Fabrics (aaah- to live in Denver!) to see if I can't find something that suits him better. Sheesh. I did inform him that this gives me the right to work on clothes for me all weekend so I can at least have *some* positive reinforcement for all my hard work! There will be a purple satin shirt for show and tell soon.

So here's my beef with the shirt. These annoying collar wrinkles don't bother Hubby because they're covered by the collar and tie, but yowza are they on my nerves! I can't figure out for the life of me what the problem is. I did notice in the other photo that Hubby appears to need a bit of a forward shoulder adjustment which I'm going to try. I've got my fingers crossed that the forward shoulder adjustment will fix these wrinkles too, but if not I have NO IDEA what's wrong! The wrinkles go away if I lift the collar band up higher on his neck which makes me think there may be something wrong with the neck opening on the body of the shirt, but the collar band fits him absolutely perfectly and I'm not really sure how to fix one without impacting the other. Ugh. Any ideas?
Here's his monogram for this shirt. I think it turned out reasonably well. Remember- I'm a beginner at all this hand embroidery stuff. I suppose these will get better as we go too! He thinks this one is a little boring (which it is) but I kinda like it. The thread matches the pinstripes on the shirt rather than the background fabric so I think it makes the shirt pop.