Friday, January 12, 2018

Early year hiccups

Hello everyone!

I had so hoped to show you a pic of my first finished garment from my wardrobe plan, but...well, it has been a litany of mistakes in my household.  I have started a total of THREE garments! I ended up throwing (ok not literally) one to the side, leaving one unfinished never to return, and  re-starting one that I swapped out for the one that didn't work.  Whew!  I don't know if you followed all of that, so I will give you an idea of what I mean:

I started out with the Love Notions Margot Peplum in an snazzy printed knit.  I was so excited because the top was easy to construct, and I would be trying my hand at a style I have never worn--a peplum.  As you can see from the photo above, this is NOT what I had in mind, lol!  It just hits me at the wrong place on my hips, and looks like a badly shrunken maternity shirt.  So I laughed this one off, and decided I would move on from this pattern.  I had recently purchased Butterick 6526, and knew it could work out better.

So I adapted my Fall/Winter plans to include the change.  I also made sure I could access the document in case I needed to easily change other patterns in the future:

I used a beautiful French terry knit from my stash to sew Butterick together, and it only had 3 pattern pieces.  So, altogether 4 pieces once you cut the sleeves!  I definitely thought I was well on my way to wearing my first finished top of the year!

Alas, this is how it turned out:

It isn't horrible, but I got turned around on the directions, and I think there is an error in the pattern instructions. The illustrations did not match the instructions for the crossover yet I still ended up with it done correctly in the end.  Also, upon closer inspection of the pattern pieces for this design, I noticed that I had cut the back too big, even though the front is in my usual size. How did that happen?  So, I am re-starting this top with the correct sizing and instructions.  Hopefully I will finish it soon.

My third top I started was the Burda wrap top.  Now I will start by saying that I ALWAYS love Burda.  But, not that day! The construction was different than what I was used to in some places, and I decided to just take a break from that one.  Funny thing is, everyone on Patternreview said it was super easy.  Leave it to me to take a simple top and turn it into a geometric equation!

So now you know the story!

Nothing is done yet, but I do plan to recover from the Mayhem of destroying fabric left and right.

In the midst of it all, I do have good news, though.  I FINALLY started my pants sloper class with Craftsy!  It is AMAZING!  I never thought I could take my measurements and create a flat pattern for myself.

I have created two muslins to date, and I think the fit is soooooo close.  Here is a pic of my second muslin:

I was in my daughter's room when I took this photo, but really like the direction I am headed in.  I think the answer to my fitting issues may lie in combining the front of my first muslin with the back of my second muslin.  Just a guess, but I need to go by Joanns and pick up more tracing paper so that I keep my original pattern intact for future tweaks.  I DID get rid of the wrinkles I had under my butt, and that was no small feat!

I plan on doing an updated post about the class once I get closer to finishing my sloper.  I originally wanted to use the sloper to help in fitting commercial pants patterns, but I think I may go ahead with drafting one of the options Suzy Furrer offers for the class.  I mean, why not?  So, whatever I decide to do, I will keep you all in the know as soon as I can.

I hope that your sewing plans are off to a better start than mine!  If they are not, then plan to recover! There's plenty of month left to head in a better direction.

Until soon,

Stay sew filled!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sewing organization tips for 2018

Hello everyone!!

Thank you for your kind comments about my look back at 2017!!!

Up until now I have been on a sewing break so that I could prep and plan for 2018. I like to take the end of the year and use it as a moment to pause and reflect.  The end of 2017 found me thinking about how well my sewing space has served me for the year. Did it inspire me to be more productive? Did I have the tools I needed to enhance my sewing journey? Was there something I didn't use, or could have made better use of?  In essence, how can I improve for the future?

Maybe you ponder those same things!  Or, maybe you wandered away from your sewing mojo/path, and want to dive back in.  Well, today is a great post for you because I will be sharing some of the things I found helpful, as well as linking some tools I found and want to try myself.  And better yet, these are all things you can do at MINIMAL COST!

Sewing Project Planner
Personally, I like to organize projects that I am working on in a binder.  Last year around this time I created a small binder with beautiful planner worksheets to keep a log of my projects:

You can find the planner worksheets I used here.  This site also includes FREE printables for fabric or notions inventory (which I need).  There are a few different color options for download at the bottom of the page too!

So, anyhow, I used the sewing worksheet planner quite frequently for the first half of the year, and then forgot about them.  It is my fault because I was so busy with projects that I didn't feel like taking the five minutes to write out the details.  But, I will say that the sheets helped me to record notes pertinent to my project.  Because, to be honest, once I have completed a garment, I tend to forget what I did (even when writing my review, lol).

So, I will definitely get back to using these again.

Now, I also had an AMAZING planner that I used for last year.  The only thing is, it wasn't too helpful for planning out my sewing.  I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I used it for planning my whole life too.  This year I am trying to have a separate planner just for sewing, while keeping my life appointments and details on a calendar app.

To help do so, I found this simple yet LOVELY printable sewing calendar from SEW DIY:

Already getting started!

I love that you can write down your sewing goals for the month, create a start date, and then check off the box and write an end date when you finish.  These will go in the front of my binder to keep me on task each month.

Since I am participating in the Ready To Wear Fast this year, I am going to try sewing for the seasons by creating capsule wardrobes.  I figure this can make good use of pieces I already have in my wardrobe, while also creating things that will be cohesive.  It will take some focus to stay on task, but I think the results will be worth it.

Organized sewing all in one binder
So, I am using a 3" binder my oldest son no longer needed for school in order to organize the plans I have for each season.  For the Fall/Winter plan I revealed in a previous post, I copied all the patterns, as well as the color scheme, and printed it all out as a visual until I finish.  It helped to pull my sheet out and coordinate my chosen fabrics with selected patterns.  I will consider this method a win if I can at least get most of my outfits to go together.

Now, if you are looking for a similar sewing planner method, you can use the links I mentioned above, or check out another FREE planner from Colette here.  This one is a Collection planner that takes you from concept to design.  I love the area to sketch, and the section about what inspired the item you are making.  All you do is fill in your email address, and you can download the planner.

Idea for Pattern Storage
I have seen some wonderful ideas for storing patterns.  But personally, I like to store them the way they do in the store.  I have a HUGE binder, a package of tab dividers, and a stack of protector sheets.  This houses all of my pattern envelopes, and has tabs to differentiate the different categories.

The contents of the pattern envelopes are put into a storage container.  I found some nice inexpensive ones in Target.  Walmart has some too.  I easily fit the contents into a gallon size Ziplock bag, label the outside, then organize them chronologically.  Since I am running out of space in my sewing closet, you can see why I don't buy a lot of patterns, lol!

This is the first of two sets of drawers

Patterns in order
Easy to find!

For magazines, I saw a wonderful idea on Dressmaking Debacles' blog.  She put copies of the line drawings from her Burda magazine into a binder!!  Genius!  I have been wanting to make use of my Burda magazines this year, but get annoyed when I have to pull them out and put them away again.  Now I can see what I have, and only pull what is necessary.  I have already copied the line drawings from my stack of Burdas, labeled them, and placed them inside the binder for all my patterns. Easy peasy! Thanks Nakisha!

So excited to have Burda line drawings in one place!
Now PDF pattern storage is a tricky one!  Why? The paper is so thick, and does not easily fold or lay flat for you like the thin recycled pattern paper.  So, this is what I do for now.  My neighbor recommended this to me, and it has worked so far.  For the PDF instructions and information, I put those into a folder with the pattern photo on the front.

Front of Folder with PDF pic

Inside with PDF instructions
For the actual pattern I printed out, I punch a hole in the pattern pieces, tie a string around it, then hang the pieces on a hanger. You can also use a binder clip to hold all the PDFs together without punching a hole in them.  Needless to say, if the PDF pattern DID NOT work for me, I usually throw it out (recycle).  I only keep what works because it takes up more space to have PDFs.

Sewing Productivity
So what are some tips to help increase the likelihood that you will sew, and get a project finished?  Just so you know, I am still a slow sewer, but I have found some extremely awesome things that help keep my sewing mojo ongoing:

  1. Have a cutting day!!!!  Choose your patterns for the month, then choose a day to cut everything out (pattern pieces, make adjustments, cut out fabric).  I find this so helpful because I know I will not have to do any more cutting once this is done.
  2. Put it in a bin!! Place all of your pattern pieces, materials, thread, notions, etc. in a bin for those free moments you can sew.  As a busy mom, I have my bins ready, and when my son takes his nap, I grab a bin and GO!  There are inexpensive bins at dollar tree and Walmart that you can buy to suit the size of your project.
  3. Sew Simple! Seriously, this tip has been pivotal for me because I would always put all of these more challenging garments in my queue, get frustrated, and take a LONG break, lol!  Who said easy wins aren't wonderful?  I say easy wins are necessary! They keep you encouraged, ESPECIALLY after you have completed a difficult project.  At the end of the day, a handmade garment is a handmade garment--whether it was an easy sew or not (wink, wink).
  4.  Sew with a friend! If you have a friend who sews, get together!  It is not only fun, you can bring your projects and get feedback if you need it.  My sew days happen every other month or so.  We block out about four hours, bring breakfast, talk/laugh, and work on all kinds of things.  Nothing puts you in a better mood, and brings your sewing mojo back like a sewing session with friends!
  5. Find Inspiration! I get it--sometimes you CAN'T sew!  Maybe you are sick, or out of town, or your sewing machine is being repaired.  Well, for times like these, don't stop dreaming!  There were lots of rough seasons after my son was born where I did not have the time to sew.  In those times I watched Youtube videos, read articles on techniques I wanted to learn, pinned items from Pinterest, and perused sewing magazines.  In essence, I did what I could until the time came that I was able to sit down and sew.
  6. Create a routine! While I enjoy naptime sewing, my true routine is the quiet hours that happen after all my kids are in bed.  I will usually brew some tea, light a fragrant candle, have a light snack (like popcorn), and sit and sew.  It is so relaxing! I can almost smell the candle each time I sit to create something new.  You will be surprised how a simple routine can get you in the mood to create.
Use a bin, baggy, or container to neatly store all your in-progress projects

I hope you enjoyed all my tips and tricks to get you sewing in this New Year!  If you have any tips to share with me I would LOVE to hear them! Let's all grow together!

When it comes down to it...."do it anyway." Because, to be honest, the time will pass.  And at the end of this year, do you really want to be in the same place?  

I will check back with you early next week, and hope to share my first finished wardrobe item.  I have been off to a rough start (the Love Notions peplum did not work out, and I will be subbing that one out) but I won't give up easily.  At least my organized binders make me feel good, lol!

Stay sew-filled!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

Hello everyone!

This year has been one that has pushed me in more ways than one.  If I had to look for an overarching theme, I would say PERSEVERANCE.  While I was able to get a fair amount of sewing done, behind-the-scenes I struggled to balance my life as a stay-at-home mom with my dreams to SEW.  And, I will say was not easy. was worth it!!

All the late nights

All the sleep deprivation

All the bouts of sickness

All the unexpected situations

All the mental exhaustion

All the times I PRESSED THROUGH!

That pushing is what allows me to share my finished works with you.  I have learned so much.  I have grown so much.  And I look forward to much more.

For 2017 I made a total of 15 garments for myself!  That works out to MORE than 1 a month! Yay!  My grand total for the year, including things sewn for my family, is 20!

They consist of:
Dress 1
Cardigan 3
Family/Kids 5
Tops 9
Jacket 1
Tunic 1

I am so pleased with my productivity because I honestly received more wins than fails.  Here are the categories I came up with to re-cap the highlights of the year:


This is an easy one!  I made S8337 quite a few times!  It is a cold shoulder top that fit beautifully!  My three different variations have received heavy rotation as well as compliments.  This pattern taught me to SEW MULTIPLES!


The Aurora top by Seamworks was a super easy sew that yielded lovely results!  I loved playing around with coordinating fabric colors for the yoke, and the gentle gathers held nicely.  It is a perfect summer tank for sure!


Little did I know that adding a ruffle and V-neck to the Piedra Dress would result in such a beautiful collaboration! Sometimes you win, and this was definitely one of those cases.  Moving forward I am surely interested in adjusting more patterns to suit my personal style.


I wanted to love this top, really I did.  The challenge is the fabric I used, as well as the bra I need to put this top on.  The fabric is a bit more clingy and the fit just seems off.  I may re-sew this pattern, and close the panels up a bit more, or try something else.


Ideally, every single item I have sewn for one of my kids is spectacular.  But, the truth is that M6837 wins the prize for the best!! It was an easy sew that looked so beautiful once it was finished with the lining.  I loved seeing my little man with it made him look so grown up!


It should come as no surprise that the winner for this category is my Kelly Anorak.  Of all the items I have sewn this year, none has stretched my sewing skills as much as this jacket.  But, not in a bad way, where I was struggling and stressing.  There were so many helpful tools that enabled me to get this jacket done.  And for me, it has opened the door to a whole new world--outerwear!!  There will be more outerwear to come!


It was so awesome to go to the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo wearing my sewn Burda cardigan, and getting a chance to meet Meg Healy, one of the Burda instructors!  It was a day of sewing inspiration, and lots of smiles.  I loved the Burdastyle runway show, and had to be there once I found out about it.  I hope to go to more sewing outings in the future!

So, here are how my goals for 2017 held up:

  • Use what I have! I never fully avail myself to the sewing resources I already own: Burda, Ottobre, My Image, and Sew Now magazines, Sewing books with patterns inside, and patterns from the Big 4 (WHEW, that's a lot!)  COMPLETED SO FAR: Simple Zoe Tunic, Burda 117A
  • Sew something for my kids every couple of months. They love it, and so do I! COMPLETED SO FAR: Ottobre Minnie Overall Dress, Ottobre Hot Shot Tank, New Look 6406 Pajamas, and Mccalls 6873
  • Sew for my husband! He has expressed his desire for ties, and maybe a vest or shirt.  I avoid his requests at times because he is picky!! But, certainly starting small wouldn't be bad. COMPLETED SO FAR: OTTOBRE 06/2016
  • Sew for life events. This year has a few special times that I would like to create something for. My brother is getting married in October. I will definitely need a nice formal dress for then. Also, I used to sew my daughter an Easter dress. That would be nice to do again. I also would love to sew some items for our holiday photo in December, and possibly my birthday in June. COMPLETED SO FAR: Burda 117A
  • Finish at least four of my Craftsy classes! Again, I have a lot of great resources, including some Craftsy classes I have piled up from sales over last year. It is time to get movin'!COMPLETED SO FAR: The Classic Tailored Shirt with Pam Howard
  • Copy RTW styles I love! I don't know how many times I have seen a style in the store that I knew I could recreate at home, with a better fit.  
  • Enter a Patternreview contest. I participated in one, and submitted a cute top and legging set I sewed for my niece, but I haven't entered one since. It would be fun, and there are lots of different themes.
  • Draft a pair of pants. If you remember, I have a Craftsy class for that, and am really interested in learning basic drafting techniques for sewing.
I effectively finished FIVE of my projected EIGHT goals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not bad at all!  I decided to roll the three unfinished goals into 2018 so I still have the opportunity to complete them. 

So I am now ready to share my BIG news for 2018!!!!!

 I am participating in the 2018 Ready-to-Wear Fast!!!!

Hosted by Sarah from Goodbye Valentino, it is an invitation to sew all of your clothing for an entire year.  I participated a couple of years ago with success, and decided that now is the time to try it again.  Hopefully, my experience from before will guide me this time too!!

With this upcoming challenge in mind, I am naming 2018 as a "year of learning."  Here are my aspirations, and what I hope to accomplish:

  • Sew all of my own clothing (excludes underwear and socks)!!!
  • Draft slopers according to my measurements for bodice and pants.
  • Enter a Patternreview Contest.
  • Copy RTW styles that I love (a must now that I will be sewing everything I need)
  • Finish at least FOUR of my Craftsy classes. 
  • Sew for life events.
It's going to be a GREAT year!  I hope you are expecting great things too!

I will be back soon to share some tips to help in planning and finishing sewing projects.  If you are ready to be more productive in your sewing journey, you will want to see some of the ideas I have picked up, and look forward to implementing.

Have a Happy New Year, and stay sew-filled!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Pattern testing for Empty Hanger Patterns

Hello everyone!

I am happy to be sharing my pattern testing experience for Empty Hanger patterns today.  To me, it is always an honor to be a part of someone's vision or dream.  That is definitely one of the main reasons I decided to pattern test for Emily of Empty Hanger patterns.  First, I love her designs! Second, I enjoy supporting new things that others are doing--especially when it is sewing-related!

As a mom with a busy schedule, I had a two week timeframe to complete the gorgeous Tomi dress that Emily sent to me:

I got started as soon as I got the pattern because if I didn't, I knew something would "pop" up in my household.  And yes, surely enough, the night before the deadline my youngest son got hand/foot/mouth disease.  Thankfully, I was done with the dress at this point, and only needed to put it on and take pictures. Crisis averted!!

Here is the description for the Tomi dress that I tested:

"It’s the perfect knit fit-and-flare dress: the fitted top shows off your bust and waist and then widens into a classic full skirt. And the best part: no waist seam, so nothing to pull uncomfortably if you decide to have seconds (#perfectholidaydress). The elbow-length sleeve finishes in a fun split-cuff detail. You can choose from two pockets, a patch pocket with a split echoing the sleeve, or a roomy in-seam pocket."

First, I absolutely LOVE this dress, and plan to make more in the future.  I wasn't sure how the fit would be, so I chose a size 38, and used a lightweight lace print ITY knit that I purchased from Fabricmart fabrics some time ago.

The instructions were very easy to follow.  There is an order of sewing included for intermediate to advanced sewists.  That makes it very easy to skip over parts you are familiar with, and concentrate on the techniques you need more hand holding on, if any.

Also, the Empty Hanger patterns contain cutting and stitching lines, clearly marked.  The cutting line has the seam allowance included, and the stitching line does not.  So, you can use the stitching line, add your own seam allowance, and check the fit all in one.  Because I did not want to use a 5/8" SA, I chose to add 3/8" to the stitching line for my size.  It worked like a DREAM!

Better than that, I was so impressed that I did not need any back adjustments.  My only issue was the pockets.  I inserted them per the instructions, and could not get them to lay flat without any gaping.  I tried interfacing the front and back where they joined, but that didn't help.  So, at the last moment, I decided to take them out.

Now that they are gone, this dress is one I will easily wear over and over.  

In fact, I forgot about my favorite part, the split cuff sleeves:

I hope you can see the cuff in the photo.  I used interfacing for the neckline and cuffs, and they looked great.  The neckline in particular, was the EASIEST V-neck I have ever constructed!  It was a different technique used (I believe one that is mostlly used in wovens), but it did the job for this knit dress too.

Overall, I would highly recommend this pattern for anyone looking for a staple wardrobe dress!  It fits well, works with other garments, and has just enough features to make it special, like the split cuff sleeves/additional pocket.

If you are interested in this style of garment, head over to Empty Hanger Patterns and give this dress a whirl!  I think you will find it to be an exceptional pattern!

I will be back tomorrow with my Year in Review  and my goals for 2018.  There is some wonderful news I will be sharing too!

Stay sew-filled!