May 19, 2022

All The Fancy Shirts - Finally!

 I am so blessed to have welcomed a grandson back in 2020!  Because now I can make all of my shirt making dreams come true.  I talked about wanting to make shirts with all the fancy details and contrast here:  Shirt Inspo

SewMuchKnitting's Easter Sewing Inspo

 It all started when I got a text from my daughter about 2 weeks before Easter, asking if I was making E's Easter dress that year.  Umm, I hadn't planned on it, but I could.  Thankfully, I had saved the above photo from Patty's Instagram and I knew I wanted to just basically knock these outfits off!

 So off I toddled to Zooks Fabrics with the idea of finding a beautiful floral with a coordinating gingham. Zooks had hidden way in the back this beautiful, lightweight cotton from France with coordinating gingham in several colors.  The best part?  These beauties were $8 a yard! Krystle and I choose orange. And I ended up buying every last piece of that floral.

 I reached out to Patty and asked her what pattern she had used for the boys shirt and just bought the same exact one.  She used the Patterns for Pirates Lumberjack Shirt which goes from a size 3 months to 14 years.  The only change I made was to cut the front facings and add a seam allowance so I could make them up in a different fabric (refer back to my fancy shirts post).

 For the most part, the shirt for Harris was cut from the orange gingham.  I cut the back yoke on the bias.  And then the yoke lining, placket, cuff lining, under collar, collar stand and button bands were cut from the floral.

 While the pattern instructions are very good, I did refer to David Page Coffin's Shirtmaking book for how to do the sleeve plackets.  Also - I did not add a button & buttonhole to the plackets.  Not on a 12 month size! 

 I did learn that while you can turn the accent button band to the front side, when the collar is open the inside of the shirt shows.  For future shirts, I've turned both button bands to the inside of the shirt, so that the contrast shows at the neck when the shirt is opened.

 The Easter Bunny so thoughtfully stopped by and picked up the kids Easter outfits - umm, I mailed them a box and crossed my fingers it would arrive in time ;)  Here you can see that not only did sister get a dress, she got a matching mask.

 And here's the little man on Easter, wearing his fancy new shirt.  I've since made him 2 more shirts from this pattern.  Now to just get better about taking photos because soon I won't be able to post his face.  Might be time to get a kids sized mannequin. 

 Do you sew for your kids and/or grandkids?  Would you make a shirt with this much detail for a 9 month old?  I think he wore this shirt 4 or 5 times until it didn't fit.  I do hope that my daughter passed it on to someone with a tiny baby boy. 

May 16, 2022

Grass Whispers with Foxhill

 While my sew-jo has been lacking, my desire to knit has been blossoming.  So far this year, I've knit 3 pair of socks, a sweater for myself and one for Eleanor and I currently have another sweater and a pair of socks on needles - All from Stash Yarn!

 So, why the resurgence of knitting - I think it has to do with a beautiful pattern catching my eye.  While scrolling Instagram one day I saw a sweater that literally made me catch my breath.  Then the designer had a test knit call.  You can see some of her work on her blog and it's lovely!  So, I volunteered to test knit.

 I have some lopi in my stash, a sweater's worth and it was perfect for this project.  I still have enough for another sweater.

 What I love about this sweater is the loose cowl neck.  I started the neck with a tubular cast on and the size 7.  Why?  Because Lopi is itchy!  And I knew I could decrease the extra stitches out later.

 Another thing that I really love about Teti's designs, is she designs sweaters to be work with dresses.  This particular sweater looks amazing with my black & white gingham ESP dress, as well as the solid violet Foxhill dress that I tested for Cashmerette.  I also have a piece of pink gingham ready to roll as well.

 Anyway, after working the color work section there is more of that twisted cable dividing the yoke from the body.  The original pattern had short rows right in the middle of those cable and had you stop working them half-way through.  Well, I continued the cables through the entire section and into the ribbing at the bottom and sleeve cuffs.  Because consistency.

 Finally - because the size 6 was perfect for my bust, but way too large for my waist, I decreased out another size worth of stitches (12) before starting the ribbing.  Because I'm tall, I added 1 1/2" before starting the waist ribbing and it was the perfect amount for wearing this sweater with a dress, but it's a bit short for wearing with jeans.

 You can find all the important details about the sweater on my ravelry page.  

 I would like to say one thing about test knitting before I move onto talking about the dress.  It's a little disappointing to me that while testing for sewing pattern designers has moved into a paid position in some cases, or providing fabric in many others, knitting has not.  If I had not had the yarn in my stash to knit this, I could not have afforded to purchase enough yarn for this project.  And my final payment was the pattern for free and a DISCOUNT (!!) for another pattern.  And yes, I did volunteer, and I'm still happy I did because my joy of knitting has returned.

 Next, I'll tell you very briefly about the Foxhill dress from Jenny's book Ahead of the Curve.  This is 3rd pattern I tested for the book.  First, if you know me at all, you know that I don't really wear solid colors - I feel like a giant target in solids - it's just me.  But when I made this dress back in 2020, I decided to add a "Kangaroo" pocket which I ultimately put too low and it droops and sags.  And when I finished it, honestly, it was too tight and very unflattering.

 You may be asking why I made a solid color dress when I don't wear solids?  Well, I had this pretty violet ponte on the fabric shelves.  I also pulled a print and then I had a video call with a certain little lady who has definite opinions about things.  She didn't have a purple dress!  I'm guessing by now, she has a purple tunic.  Anyway, we both got purple dresses and no fabric went back into the closet!

 2 years later, this dress fits much better.  I just need to figure out how to 'shore up' the pocket on the inside of the dress and I'll be that much happier with it.  

My daughter was here over Mother's Day weekend and we took the kids to the park on Sunday.  She snapped these photos on my phone.  Again, they are better than what I was getting. Now - I have questions:
 1.  How do you feel about testing?  Sewing and/or knitting?  Do you do it?  
 2.  Where do you stand on solids?  With very few exceptions, I'm a straight up print gal.  

May 12, 2022

When Your Hobby Feels Heavy

 I don't even know how to start this post.  I'm not really whining about being able to afford a fabric collection. Nor am I whining about owning my own business which is finally doing really well. I guess what I am doing is mourning the loss of days of uninterrupted sewing time.

 As we all know, 2020 was a weird year.  It was the year that the world changed and we're still reeling from it.  I became a mask maker and used up a lot of small cotton scraps and some larger pieces too.  I mailed fabric to friends who couldn't find any.  And I bought fabric that I didn't have time to sew.

 I've gotten in the habit of taking fabric straight to the laundry room and washing it before it heads to the fabric closet.

 This is the stack of washed fabric sitting on my dryer because there's no room for it elsewhere in my house.  Most of it is cotton, although there's a couple of linens in there and with the exception of 3 pieces - they are all florals!!  At least I'm true to myself.

 With very few exceptions, each piece of fabric was bought with a specific garment in mind.  Because, honestly, that's how I've always bought fabric.  That doesn't mean that garment always gets made, in fact, that often isn't the case.  But I do try to start with a plan.

 On top of the fabric in the laundry room, there's a basket under my ironing board filled with shirts cut and ready to go for JB.  The interfacing is cut and the buttons are folded with the pattern pieces.  So there's no reason they aren't getting made - except time.

And then there's the washed fabric that I found stacked on top of the sewing machine cover.  I piece mostly cut, and several others matched to patterns with the notions already gathered. 

McCalls 7969 with a pretty floral from JoAnn Fabrics.  Top cut, hesitating to sew because shapeless sack.  Also predominately white.

Vogue 9299 Inspired by Carolyn in lightweight polka dot chambray

SBCC Stinger Dress - Green on the left is from deep stash (what is deep stash? How old?) for a wearable muslin and then the purple floral is for the final dress

Cute cotton ditzy print Fringe dress with snap closure.  Might have to get snap pliers to put the snaps closer together than I can get them with the snap source setter.

 So - all of that to say that this all feels heavy lately.  Like the dreams of new garments are mocking me and I'm feeling a bit guilty for not sewing up it fast enough.

 And in the next moment, I'm looking at FabricMart for a piece of fabric to make another Hope Woven Dress or the Vali.

 How do you handle having an excess?  Does it feel heavy?  Does it block your creativity?  

May 9, 2022

Style Arc Hope Woven Dress

 Just like most of my stories, this one begins with something that Carolyn introduced me to.  This time, it was a new account on Instagram that I wasn't following.  I'm willing to be that you already follow Birdy-Sew-Obsessed, but I didn't before Carolyn and I were chatting about something she made.

I followed as Birdy made a Style Arc Hope Woven Dress in her stories and loved it!  It absolutely didn't hurt that she made hers from black and white gingham and I'm still in need of replacing my absolute favorite dress.

This all must have happened around October last year, because I was on a mission to replace my black and white gingham ESP by Decades of Style.  Also, if you've made this dress and like me, think the neckline is too high, see the 2015 post linked about for how to lower the neckline and adjust the sleeves.

Because I've fussed with the bodice of my ESP pattern since making the Picnic Dress, I know that the bodice needs some fine tuning before I'm really happy with it again.  And for the record - I still wear that dress I made in 2015 because I have yet to make another fabulous dress.  Anyway . . . 

I received a gift certificate for my birthday and used it to buy the Hope Woven Dress pattern.  Then I carefully took my measurements and using the finished garment measurement decided which size to make.  I then pulled a really fun floral linen bought at FabricMart during a #CarriageCornerSewCamp

The dress is a quick sew - even adding pockets.  I use this method of putting pockets in skirts and pants.  It's really easy. Also, using Teri's method for putting in the pockets, still lets you add pockets, even when you don't have enough fabric.  In fact, I often use complimentary fabric for the first piece sewn on.  The only step I do that Teri doesn't show in the story highlight I linked to (Sorry if you aren't on instagram, I couldn't find any video's for putting pockets in this way.) is that I like to also sew my pockets to the front of whatever I'm making.  The benefit of this is that when you put your phone in your pocket, the weight doesn't pull the pocket down pulling everything out of alignment.   Also, don't make your pocket opening too large, just large enough for your hand.

If I remember correctly, the changes I made were to cut the back on the fold eliminating the button loop closure and I lowered the neckline a little bit. For future versions, I would like to try lengthening the sleeves about an inch.

Also, because this dress has a full gathered skirt - I didn't use the skirt pieces.  I just gathered 2 full width lengths of my fabric.  Clear as mud, right?

I don't think the photos show how truly oversized this dress is on me.  Even using the closed finish garment measurements vs my pattern size.  But I love this dress - the print makes it fun, the full skirt and full gathered sleeves give it drama and it has pockets! 

In my search for the perfect gingham to remake my favorite dress, I bought a purple uneven plaid.  I retraced the bodice 2 sizes smaller to get a closer fit.  Well, that ended up with very unattractive folds going from the bust to the bottom of the raglan seam.  I finished that dress as a maxi and gave it to my daughter - who says it's too large (also maybe a little bit sister-wife-ish).  But I will keep trying to get a fit closer to what Lisa from Mabel the Mannequin has achieved.

So, I'm curious - what do you think about this sorta shapeless dress trend?  I like it, but I think it can be hard to pull off well.  Of course, it absolutely won't stop me from trying ;)

April 25, 2022

Carolyn Top

Many of my garments are because Carolyn made something and I liked it!  This one is no different.  Back in November 2016, she made Vogue 8935, adding a special Carolyn twist!  The very first time Carolyn came to visit us at the B&B, she brought that top and I tried it on and loved it - aren't sewing friends the best?

Carolyn in the version that inspired me

So, I traced her pattern and pulled fabric that very weekend after Christmas when she was here.  I even got the top and the 'undershirt' accents cut out.  Then it sat and got moved from spot to spot to be out of the way.  Until the March 2018 sew camp! Then I decided to sew it up.  The trickiest part of this entire top is the neckline and figuring out how to get the accent fabric in the right spot.

The only photo of my version

My top was made in denim with a bright floral for the undershirt accent.  While it was a fun make and I love the individual elements - can I just tell you, I don't love the shirt itself.  I cut the 'shirt hems' a bit longer than Carolyn did hers, because I'm all about odd numbers and I wanted enough space for 3 buttons to show at the bottom - like who's even going to notice that besides me?!  But the denim is too stiff and the top as a whole is a weird length.

I even made bias to bind the neckline seam

I have another beautiful combo of fabrics to make this again - a floral ponte and a beautiful striped shirting - so tell me, would you make it again?  And if not - what do I do with the fabric that was bought specifically with this top in mind? 

April 18, 2022


 Let's jump right in with the pattern picture, because ya know what?  Mine doesn't look like this.  In fact, only one version even comes close to looking like this.

This is the Myosotis Dress by Deer & Doe patterns.  I bought the pattern at FabricMart during a Carriage Corner Sew Camp in either late 2019 or 2020.

During a 2021 pre-vacation must sew a new wardrobe frenzy - I made my first version (promise, I will take photos and blog it soon).  Anyway, that version is fun, but it has issues.

Take a page from Carolyn's book and maxi-fied the dress.  I also used the SunnyGal tutorial to open the neckline up, bring the armholes in and skip the collar.

The fabric was bought at Hobby Lobby on sale and it was so pretty, I just couldn't pass it up.  You know me and a dark floral ::swoon::

Yesterday, I rearranged some of the furniture in our bedroom and pulled out my real camera.  It's nothing fancy and I could use some work on settings rather than leaving everything on auto, but this will do for now.  

All of the pattern changes are to the bodice.  Without looking, I can't even tell you what size I made - remember, I made this dress last August!  What I can tell you is that I moved the shoulders forward 1/2", I lowered the front waist 1/2" so the waist is level.  I used my french curve to bring the armholes in and then I used matching bias to finish them.  I opened the neckline up 1" and honestly, it could use a smidgen more room, and then I redrafted the neckline facings.

Sorry - for the blurry photo - again, figuring it out.  This is the best shot of the back & side that I got.  

For the skirt, I just used 2 width of fabric pieces.  I left the selvedges on the opening side and cut 3" wide interfacing the length of the skirt.  That was then folded in half to create a fully functioning button front.

But, rather than buttons, I used pink pearl snaps.  I am able to purchase these snaps in my favorite dry goods store in town for around $2 a dozen and they work with my snap source snap setter.  I have always liked the look of buttons grouped together, so I decided to put 2 snaps as close together as I could get them with the snap setter, about 1/2" apart.  I think if I had snap pliers, I could have placed them closer together, but it's fine the way it is.  The pairs of snaps are then positioned 2" between each pair.

Final verdict:  I love this dress!  It's swishy and fun and it has pockets!  In fact, I love this version so much, I'm tempted to take V.2 apart to remake the bodice.  If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen V.2 - it's the short border print version made in July 2021!

As I wear the garments I've made in the last couple of years, I will do my best to take some better photos with some different poses!

March 31, 2022

Eleanor's Gingham Quilt

    It all started with a picture on Instagram.  I mean, isn't that how all good stories start?  Miss Andrea Quilts posted a picture of a gingham baby quilt that she made.  And it was stunning! 

    Fast forward a few months and I made a whole cloth quilt for baby Harris (Harris is Eleanor's baby brother).  I have also recently (in the last couple of years) finished Krystle's wedding quilt.  So, it was time to make Eleanor a quilt.

    They came to visit for Thanksgiving.  Miss Eleanor is a little bit opinionated (but she comes by it honestly) and I'm not the greatest at matching fabric so I wanted both her and her mom's input on the fabric selection.

I found this free pattern and used it.  I still have 2 pillowcases to quilt.  Don't judge me.  

I knew the quilt was going to be gingham in design and that E wanted pinks or purples.  In my research, I had found some beautiful quilts where the medium was a print - and I really, wanted that look.  So we started with a dark solid purple and white.  Then found the tiny purple print.  The backing and binding were no brainers - we just pulled them from the same fabric line as the print fabric.  Easy peasy!  

Fast forward to January 12th.  Fifth birthday party is coming up in 13 days and I still have just a stack of fabrics.  Fortunately, I was busy with running Carriage Corner and didn't even start cutting the fabric strips until Friday, January 14th.  I was determined and had the entire top put together by the end of Sunday!  

Whew!  On track to make it to the birthday party with gift in hand!  Except when I put it on our queen size quest bed - it looked huge!  Do I take some rows off?  

The next Thursday, I was able to pin baste the backing, batting and top together and start quilting.  I quilted the entire quilt on my home machine using a walking foot, cotton quilting thread in pale pink on the front and a bluish green on the back.  The quilting lines are 1/4" on either side of every seam line!  Really play up the gingham effect!  

By Friday night (2 days before the party) I had sewn the binding on.  I stitched the binding on the back by hand with big stitch binding.  I used pink perle cotton thread and did a large running stitch to hold the binding in place.  I literally carried the quilt with me all day Saturday, stitching in the car when I had a chance!

Around 9p Saturday, I finished the quilt!  Yeah!!  And I threw it in the washer.  First thing Sunday morning it went into the dryer.  I took it out, folded it up and promptly forgot it when we left for the party!  

Eleanor got her birthday quilt

about 2 weeks later in February when they came to visit.  If you ask her she had a great weekend!  She came to visit Gigi & Gramps, went to an ice festival and Gigi made her a pink quilt that's so cozy and she sleeps better!  All worth it in the end.

And as you can see from the photos - it fits her twin bed perfectly!  She already has the pillow case that matches the backing.  She'll get the other two soon - just as soon as I make her Easter dress.

January 27, 2022

Felt Food Fun

    My daughter has always done 'themed' holidays since she became a mom.  They generally pick the main gift based on what Eleanor asks Santa for and then she asks everyone else to 'fill in' around it.  

Eleanor's Second Christmas

    For Eleanor's second Christmas, Krystle got a 'play kitchen' off facebook market place for nothing and then did her designer remodel on it.  

    Gramps built a fridge, because what kitchen is complete without one?  

Gigi Went Nuts

    I was asked if I could make felt food for the kitchen.  Honestly, I could have bought an entire house full of play food for the amount of time and money I spent.  {And I petered out halfway through the project.}

    I found Sweet Emma Jean on Etsy and I bought 6 patterns:  Pizza;  Summer Cookout (the burgers have grill marks!)); Cookies; Deluxe Lunch; French Toast Breakfast & Taco Dinner!  I then printed out all of my patterns and created a spreadsheet to figure out how much felt to buy and in which colors.  Let me tell you - I way over bought and a friends child might also have a complete set of felt food.  Also, for the Summer Cookout and Deluxe Lunch sets, I doubled everything because if you're playing kitchen you want to be able to have a sandwich with your friend, not make her one and be out of bread! 
   These patterns use layers of 'stiff felt' to give depth and dimension to the different foods.  If I remember correctly, the bread has 3 layers of stiff felt between the 2 layers of white bread colored wool felt,  The outside is a darker colored felt - to resemble the crust and then the whole thing is sewn together by hand using embroidery floss.  

This food was so much fun to make and incredibly realistic.  The strips of bacon have a small piece of pipe cleaner in them so they are flexible like bacon!  Both sides are the same with 'meat' and 'fat' areas on the strip of bacon!  There was even an incredible slice of olive loaf for sandwiches (of course I forgot to take a picture).


    The best part of the pizza set was the pizza cutter!  It actually spins!  Gramps cut the pizza peel from thin, hard wood.  The felt food set came with all the toppings!  Olives, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, pepperoni and cheese sticks with a marinara dipping sauce!  Let's not forget the 6 slices with tomato sauce and cheese!

Back Yard Cookout

    I'm pretty bad at taking photos - but these things were so much fun!  The doritos have a layer of tin foil in them so they bend!  I did sew them with my sewing machine and they are fine.

    Grilled onion on your burger anyone?  There was also lettuce leaves, tomato slices, top & bottom buns with sesame seeds.  But those onion slices were ridiculous!  

    What's a cookout without watermelon?  Can you see how the stiff felt came into play to give this slice of watermelon dimension?  The stiff felt was very hard to stitch through neatly and on the edges you are just sewing around it.  I learned to add any decorative elements first before putting it all together. 

    Finally - have you ever seen such a good looking deviled egg?  This was fun, if a little bit fidly to make.  


    I had to learn some new embroidery stitches to really make these look like the store bought version.  

    I don't think I finished all of the cookies!  

Let's Wrap This Up!

    I had to pull all of my supplies out to figure out what was what.  Little H will turn 2 in a few months so it might be time to finish what I started.  If I gift him the French Toast Breakfast - which ham slice & fried egg and the Taco Dinner then Big Sis can't be mad if he plays with her kitchen, right?  
    Also, the next time we are there, I need to ask to see the felt food just to see how it's held up to play.

January 13, 2022

Is It Possible?

     Is it possible to just start blogging again like you never stopped?  

    I miss this home, this record of creating, the connections that have been made and I'm ready, really ready, to give it the time it deserves again.  

    I found seven (7!!) draft blog posts almost ready to go.  I'll have to take a look at them and see if any are still relevant. Or maybe just finesse them and post them anyway. I mean, they are a record of things I've made and at this point, I can comment on how they stood up.

    I have been sewing.  And doing a little knitting, very little.  And buying fabric - not such a little amount of that.  

    I hope you are all well my friends and I look forward to chatting with you again in this space.  

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