All posts by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

August sewing plans

Time for a life update! Before you close your browser in disgust over the lack of the sweet, sweet sewing content you have come for, rest assured: this post is almost 100% about sewing, because I am almost 100% about sewing!

The biggest news: we live in Portland now! We used a moving pod companies, where you load all your possessions into a big metal box & a stranger drives it across the country for you on a giant truck with a bunch of other big metal boxes. We set our separately in the car—me, Jared, Ramona, & Catberry Butterton (the cat formerly known as Biscuit; Ramona changed her name). We thought that would be easier than renting a moving truck & towing the car.

The harness didn’t always work out as planned.

The drive from Lawrence to Portland was a lot easier than I’d anticipated. My family took a lot of road trip vacations when I was a kid, & I remember how awful it was for my parents to be driving with kids. We were loud, whiny, constantly asking to stop for food & bathroom breaks. I expected the same sort of behavior from Ramona, but she’s a great traveler! She amused herself with LEGO, toy cars, & stuffies, barely whined at all, & she LOVED staying at motels. I recommend her for all of your road-trip-with-children needs.

We got to Portland a day early because we made such good time, so move-in day was pretty relaxed. However, our new house is SMALL. Thank goodness I had the foresight to rent a studio for my sewing, because there’s no way my sewing stuff would fit in the house. My friend Alex, who has studio space in the same building, has a truck, & she came over soon after our pods arrived & helped me drive all my sewing stuff over to the new studio.

Me & my studio.

Fabric Depot, a big independent fabric store in SE Portland, hosted a “Block Party” event the day after we moved in. Ramona & I went to check it out…in large part because I decided I needed to replace all the mismatched, mis-sized curtains in the house (I think one of them is seriously a shower curtain) with proper self-sewn curtains. I let Ramona choose the fabric for her room. She fell in love with a comic book print, & because she scored a 60% off coupon when she spun Fabric Depot’s “Deal Wheel,” I also let her pick out a superhero print jersey knit for new pajamas.


I also stopped by Montavilla Sewing shop that operates out of Fabric Depot, ostensibly just to browse. I’ve found myself often wishing that I had an embroidery machine. I’ve had my eye on one from Amazon, but kept telling myself I couldn’t justify the expense. So…surprise! I bought one that cost more than twice as much from Montavilla Sewing. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. But I’m really enjoying it! It has some fancypants features, like a low-bobbin indicator, & automatic threading. & my vast collection of presser feet (foots?) works with it without having to put on a whole new shank.Invisible zippers just got a whole lot easier!


My studio is not large–only 80 square feet, but it’s of course a dream to have a dedicated space for it. It’s a game changer to be able fully focus on my sewing without worrying about Ramona putting LEGO creations on my sewing table, or interrupting me to demand bowls of frozen mango or new episodes of “The Magic School Bus”. I’m hoping to be able to spend a lot more time there once Ramona starts kindergarten (this month! How is she already such a big kid?).

I have some exciting sewing plans lined up for August. Aside from the curtains, & the 87th pair of pajamas I’ve made for Ramona. The theme for the Monthly Stitch this month is Denim Never Dies, & I’m making a paid of railroad striped Lander shorts (in part because I am still in disbelief over the incredibly short crotch curve). The Monthly Stitch is undergoing an editorial transition, incidentally, & I’m one of the new folks that has come on-board. My role right now is coordinating & announcing the challenges. Go check out the post I wrote announcing the Denim Never Dies challenge! I put A LOT of work into brainstorming pattern ideas & coming up with unusual examples of denim yardage available for sale for folks that maybe need a little inspiration beyond your basic indigo. I truly love the Monthly Stitch project & am excited to be part of its future!

Curtains I have finished so far.

I have a few mending projects that need attention, & a few projects that are all done except for a bit of hand-stitching. But new projects are where the excitement is! I desperately need a new bag. I have everything I need to make both a new Noodlehead Supertote (my viewfinder print Supertote has been my daily bag for a couple of years now) & a Swoon Patterns Nora doctor bag. I will make them both eventually. I just can’t decide which should come first.

I’m also working on a commission for a friend who needs a dress to wear in a wedding party. She wants a black lagenlook style. We’re brainstorming patterns & we’re going to talk textiles this weekend. It’s going to be fun to sew something a little more dressy & dramatic than I would ordinarily sew for myself!

Though I’m overwhelmed with ideas for garments I want to sew for myself. A pair of black linen Astrid pants from Named patterns. A hooded Simplicity 8447 blouse from Cotton + Steel banana print lawn. Combining the Closet Case Jenny overalls with my go-to A-line skirt pattern to make a pinafore dress—black twill? With some elaborate embroidery or cross stitching? Definitely another paid of Cashmerette Ames jeans. A hooded sweatshirt dress from this great black speckled French terry I picked up at Fabric Depot. That’s probably going to have to be some kind of Frankenpattern. & I am actually in serious need of new pajamas.

In an effort to corral all these ideas, I’m doing Seamwork’s Design Your Wardrobe course for fall/winter. This necessitated becoming a Seamwork member–something I swore I would never do. But they found my weakness: drawn-out, prescriptive, unnecessarily navel-gazing methodologies for planning one’s sewing. I truly do love shit like that! & trust, I will be canceling my subscription as soon as the course is over.

But perhaps the thing I am MOST excited about this month: SHOEMAKING. I snagged the last spot in an upcoming sandal-making workshop with Rachel Corry of Rachel Snail Sees Shoes. I’ve already starting sketching out some design ideas. I can’t wait! (Jasika wrote a post about a shoemaking workshop she took with Rachel a couple of years ago.)

I think that’s all the news I have right now! Stay tuned for some finished project posts, thoughts on the Design Your Wardrobe challenge, a possible expose on the bizarre crotch curve on the True Bias Lander pants, my summer 10×10, SHOEMAKING, & more!

top 20 new sewing patterns: July 2018 (part two)

I’m back with part two of my top twenty fave patterns released in July 2018! (Here’s part one.) Putting this post together took a little longer than I expected because I went to my studio in the morning & banged out a couple of curtains for our living room, & by the time I was done, it was super-hot & I was super-tired & then Ramona commandeered my computer so she could watch “Harry Potter & the Sorceror’s Stone”.

But the curtains are nice, Y/Y?

I feel like I need to issue a warning. Some of these patterns look horrifically ugly at first glance because they are sewn up in some truly hideous fabric. The styling is extraordinarily questionable. It’s almost like people don’t want to sell patterns! But I have trained myself to look past samples that have clearly been sewn up in the cheapest available polyester at the fabric store & see the decent bones underneath. This is why it’s always so important to include technical drawings/line drawings with your pattern information. Some people have a really hard time seeing past the sample styling, & samples are often sewn up in colors or prints that obscure the style lines.

I’m DEFINITELY including fabric pairings with these bad boys, because some of them are in desperate need of re-imagining.

& again, my primary caveat: I don’t own & have not sewn all (or any) of these patterns. I’m not necessarily recommending them. I can’t speak to the drafting, the size range, the PDF options, or anything else. They are just new releases that caught my eye. On to the skirts!

McCall’s 7813


It’s wrap skirt. Not like we’ve never seen one of those before. But I like the high waist, I like the wrap-around waist tie, & I REALLY like that this pattern has a cool asymmetrical view that I’d be willing to splash out on during a JoAnn 99-cent sale. I might just be feeling the back-to-school vibes, but I’m seeing this in a plaid flannel, rather like this lovely fabric that I in fact already own! Though it’s earmarked for a shirtdress that I’m still hoping to make once the weather cools down.

Burda 7/2018 #127


This is really cute, & I wish it wasn’t styled here with that stupid “I just rode the Hamptons jitney for the first time” belt because the awesome thing about this skirt is that all that fullness is created by about a gazillion darts stitched down to create the waist shaping. Burda of course simply recommends “fabric with some body,” & I know this is kind of crazy, but I fell in love with the idea of this gorgeous upholstery jacquard. The finished skirt would weigh about forty pounds, & you’d have to snip out each dart to reduce the bulk, but it would be BEAUTIFUL.

Ready to Sew Justine skirt


Okay, this is one of those styling fails I warned you about at the top of the post. This fabric. THIS FABRIC. It literally hurts my eyes with its sheer ugliness. I know there are people out there who like this kind of thing, & if you are one of them, I’m sorry…I’m sorry that you have such atrocious taste. Kidding! You do you! Leaves more actual pretty fabric for the rest of us. If you can get past the fabric, the skirt isn’t bad. It’s also not remotely original, but it IS free, so there’s that. I personally am still here for the button-down skirt trend, I like the big pockets, & this skirt would actually be a nice showcase for a border print, which I always love. I think this is really pretty–especially for the coming spring weather in the Southern Hemisphere! But you could also make it from a solid, lightweight twill & have yourself a perfectly serviceable work-a-day skirt.

Daughters of Style Mulligan skirt


I love stuff like this. Before I learned how to sew, I would pounce on anything with ribbon ruching I could find at H&M or Anthropologie or whatever. There was some episode of “Project Runway,” or maybe it was “Under the Gunn”? Sorry, I am a “Project Runway” obsessive & have even watched the spin-offs with kids. But a contestant made a skirt that you could alter using a mechanism that changed the length & drape. It was obviously ridiculous & unnecessarily cumbersome, but I loved it, because I love all this goofy stuff, even though I know I’ll adjust it to a length I like & never touch it again. One of the recommended textiles is raw silk. How insanely beautiful would this be?!

Moving on to…miscellaneous?

Burda 7/2018 #115 swimsuit

burda 115

How cute is this? I love it. I draft all my own swimsuits, so I’m not going to buy this pattern…but I might knock it off. I just love that little peekaboo of skin at the bust, & the way the bust mimics the waistline on the bottoms. I think Burda made a good choice with the gingham here, & I recommend this gingham swimwear fabric. I have it in yellow & it’s great–opaque even when stretched to the limit, really nice quality…I am almost sad I didn’t buy the mint colorway as well.

Studio Costura Mia panties

mia panties

I draft all my own panties as well. (Content warning: I’ve decided to start saying “panties” instead of “undies”. I know a lot of people are really grossed out by the word “panties,” but I think it’s sexy. Sorry not sorry.) So I won’t be buying this pattern. But it’s VERY cute, & I always love looking at the samples for lingerie patterns because they give me tons of ideas for my own makes. This pattern is obviously a real showcase for some gorgeous scalloped stretch lace, & it doesn’t have to be terribly wide. I think this 6″ pink lace is so pretty.

Tessuti Melbourne Trench Coat

tessuti melbourne trench

Before I saw the photos for this pattern, I was like, “Another trench coat, BORRRRR-ING!” I’m just not a trench coat person. But this isn’t your usual flasher-in-a-dark-alley trench coat. The thing that really grabbed me about it is its design simplicity. It seems like a perfect blank canvas for a special textile, & my mind of course went straight to RAINCOAT. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect raincoat pattern for years. I basically want to look like a cross between the Gorton’s fisherman & the Morton’s Salt girl, which I guess means I want a really simple, utilitarian, straightforward raincoat with a slightly more feminine silhouette, & it must have a hood. This is checking my boxes! I wonder if it would work in this waterproof outdoor canvas…In a shocking twist, I am REALLY feeling that pink color.

& we’ll close out with a surprising quantity of jumpsuits.

Seamwork Lucy jumpsuit

seamwork lucy

Here’s another truly lamentable styling catastrophe. What is wrong with the folks over at Seamwork? They truly have the WORST taste in colors & textiles. They are based here in Portland, & let me tell you, this town has SO MANY fantastic local fabric shops. This poop-colored knit trimmed with a white drawstring is inexcusable. & I refuse to even acknowledge the existence of those shoes. BUT! A sleeveless knit jumpsuit with a drawstring waist? That’s almost stepping out of “secret pajamas” territory & jumping right into “actual straight-up pajamas”. I’ve never sewn a Seamwork pattern & am very skeptical of their drafting, but I like the idea of this pattern. It’s downright heroic. You could even do the top & bottom in different fabrics to make it look more like real clothes. I’m thinking a really pretty print for the top & a coordinating solid for the bottom.

Mood Fabrics Ursi ensemble

ursi ensemble

This is one of the free patterns from Mood Fabrics. It includes both the top & the pants. They bill it as an “ensemble”. Not only does this look really relaxed & easy to wear, perfect for all of your laying-around-on-the-edges-of-fountains needs (I actually do do that whenever there’s a fountain around), but the sleeves are detachable. The armscye is finished & attached to the bodice with belt loop braid & buttons. I really like this effect! I don’t love the braid also being used as piping on the pants cuff. It makes the pants suddenly look like very glamorous pajamas. You’d want a fabric that can hold its shape, for the collar, but isn’t so crisp that it won’t knot well. Honestly, I would love to see someone (…me?) make it up in this fabric. Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice!

DP Studio 3001 playsuit

dpstudio playsuit

Our final pattern of the month, & another brutal crime against eyeballs everywhere. How many Urban Outfitters dressing room curtains had to die so this sample garment could live?! BUT this is a really cute pattern! & if sewn in the right fabric, you don’t have to look like a tragic hitchhiker killed on her way to Coachella. This is actually a playsuit–the bottom half of the garment is culottes! The legs are so voluminous, it looks like a skirt, but you don’t have to worry about flashing anyone when you get tangled in the nearest beaded curtain & fall over. As has become my refrain, this just looks really cool & easy to wear. I’d use a nice voile or lawn. Or, here’s a clever idea: double gauze! That links to an amazing double gauze that is woven to resemble chambray, so you will look like you’re all business, but you’re actually wearing the most luscious, baby soft secret pajamas!

Wow! Getting deep into these patterns & doing these fabric pairings was almost as much fun as actual sewing! I will definitely be doing this series again. What do you think? Do you see yourself sewing any of these patterns? Are there any I skipped over that really grabbed your attention in July?

top 20 new sewing patterns: July 2018 (part one)

Hello & welcome to a new series I hope to share with you all on a monthly basis! It’s pretty straightforward: I’m going to dish on my top twenty new sewing patterns of the month. I always enjoy new pattern round-ups, but I don’t love it when they are only links & no images, or when they are limited only to indie releases, as I am a seamstress of omnivorous tastes. So I’m going to share photos as well as links, & I’m going to share a mix of indies & Big 4. However, I do not have the wherewithal to comb every corner of the internet to round up every single new pattern under the sun, so I’m limiting it to my personal top twenty. Mostly just because I had a list of 31 patterns I liked that came out in July, which felt like way too many, but culling a list of 31 down to, say, ten, seemed impossible.

A few caveats: I haven’t sewn, nor do I even own, all (or any) of these patterns. I’m not unilaterally recommending them. I can’t speak to the quality of drafting, the breadth of size ranges, or the specifics of the PDF versions that people get so opinionated about (I don’t even know how to use layers). These are just patterns that caught my eye. I’m also including a fabric pairing for each, just for fun. It’s all incredibly subjective, & if you think I have terrible personal style, you’re probably going to hate it!

Let’s start with dresses!

McCall’s 7802


This dress isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but I like it. I like the blousy sleeve (this whole statement sleeves trend has been AWESOME for me), I like the gathering at the bust, I like the wide, defined waistband. It includes a scoop neckline if this plunging V is a bit too much for you, & a simple short sleeve or no sleeves if you’re not feeling this boho jam. It also has a maxi skirt variation with a slit. A gorgeous lawn like this would be great for the drape of the sleeves.

McCall’s 7812


I haven’t bought this yet, but I think I will for sure the next time McCall’s patterns are on sale at JoAnn. This pattern is for knits, & I love the front ruching with the ribbon, the neckline shape, & the flared skirt. The sleeves are a nice length for transitional fall weather. I’m imagining it in something like this.

Cali Faye Dress 47


I love this! It looks like a cute crop top tied at the waist with a matching skirt, but it’s actually a dress, which seems really clever to me. I’m not sure how bra-friendly it is–that V is mighty deep. But it’s adorable & it looks really comfortable & easy for hot days. This might end up on my to-sew list for next summer. I’m feeling the stripes here & thinking maybe something like this?

Republique du Chiffon Florence Pinafore


I’m still waiting for a pattern company to come up with my dream pinafore dress. There have been several contenders, but no one has managed to check all my boxes yet. But this one comes close! I like the waistband, the nice big pockets, the wide crossover straps, & the button attachment for the straps in the back is really cute. I question if the shape of this bib would work that well on a person as busty as myself, & I think the neckline is a little high. But the styling here is great, & I want to keep encouraging pattern companies to develop their pinafore visions. I’d love to see this in a gorgeous metallic linen!

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Raine dress


This another dress that isn’t exactly breaking any new ground…but it’s cute! This version is my fave, with the gathered skirt & Queen Anne-adjacent neckline, but there are also scoop neckline & pleated skirt options. The print here obscures the wide, curved waistband, which is one of the best things about the design, but picture it in a fabric like this? (The only reason I haven’t bought that yet is because I’ve already made two strawberry print dresses this summer.) The style lines would shine & you’d have a near-perfect spring/summer dress (shout-out to the Southern Hemisphere!).

Moving on to woven tops.

Republique du Chiffon Paula top


Yet another pattern that is pretty simple & straightforward on the face of it. But it’s also just so elegant, & it looks cool & easy to wear. I’m seeing it in some kind of voile or lawn? I love it in a print, but it would also be just gorgeous in a solid color. I’m on a big yellow kick right now, so of course I am gravitating toward something like this.

SBBC Flora blouse


When it’s hot outside, I need my woven tops to be breezy & light. This top is figure-skimming & doesn’t bind anywhere, & looks like an amazing potential canvas for a statement color or print. Personally, I instantly imagined an eyelet fabric, & maybe keeping the scalloped selvage for the hem.

I am really feeling these patterns for knit tops!

Indiesew Kila tank


I know. It’s a tank top. But I love it! When you sew all your own clothes, like I do, a decent pattern for a basic like this is worth its weight in gold. I am really choosy about my tank tops. I like a lot of back coverage, & this one nails it. It has a nice scoop & is long for layering purposes. The neck & arms are finished with a narrow binding. This seriously rings all my bells. I’ll probably buy it. My favorite part is that the recommended fabric is rib knit, which is my #1 preferred fabric for tanks. I want one in every color, starting with banana.

Burda 7/2018 #107 wrap shirt


I’ve never sewn a Burda pattern before. I know! It’s because I didn’t start sewing until after the Burda boom calmed itself. & they have a weird size range, & there’s the notoriously sparse instructions & complicated tracing…But maybe this will be my first? I really like this top. I’ve been wanting to make a ballet-style wrap top & have been comparing different patterns. I like that this one looks like it has decent chest coverage & is a good length for both tucking & not-tucking. I don’t love the squared-off ends on the ties. I think they’d look better cut on an angle. I’m also grappling with the fact that even the cutest wrap tops still kind of make a person’s boobs look asymmetrical. It’s just the nature of the beast. This would obviously be great as a print or in a solid. I, of course, would start with a solid in my preferred color of Pepto-Bismol pink.

Itch to Stitch Plitvice top


I read Itch to Stitch Patterns for filth a few months ago when I reviewed the Liana jeans for the Curvy Sewing Collective. But I could tell just by looking at the pattern that adjustments were going to be needed, & I’ve heard good things about Itch to Stitch tops (I’m actually wearing a Lago tank right this second!). So I will permit my intrigue regarding this top. Love the princess seams, love the banded finishes, love that it’s not just another everyday tee. I feel like this is the obvious choice for a print, Y/Y?

Check back tomorrow for part two!


We’re moving to Portland!

Hello, Constant Readers! Long time, no talk. There’s been a lot going on.

I mentioned a few months ago that our family may be moving to Portland this summer. It was kind of a slow-motion decision, but it’s happening! In less than two weeks! We are scheduled to arrive in Portland & move into our new house in the Humboldt neighborhood in North Portland on July 20. For any Portland sewing folks who may be reading this, the house is about nine blocks away from Modern Domestic on Alberta St.

The house is teeny, less than half the size of our current place. I could probably make space for my sewing stuff–it’s not the smallest house we’ve lived in. But instead, I’ve decided to rent real studio space! There’s a warehouse about a mile & a half from our house that has been converted into a warren of art studios, & I’m renting one. A friend of mine runs her button-making business out of the building. My hope is that I will sew more & better with a dedicated space for it–especially once Ramona starts kindergarten at the end of August! Plus it will force me to leave the house, enjoy the Portland weather (a huge factor in making the move–rumors of how much it rains there are greatly exaggerated, & I’m looking forward to more a more temperate climate, after nine years in a place that is 100 degrees everyday for six months), & perhaps most importantly, actually WEAR all the fabulous outfits I sew for myself! Left to my own devices, I will just wear pajamas all day & never go outside.

The rent on the studio is pretty reasonable, but it’s still a new expense, which is scary. Rent is also going to be more expensive. Not by much, because we did luck into a pretty affordable place, but still. In general, our expenses are going up, & my base income is staying exactly the same.

So I need to make some money! To that end:

1) I signed up for the Amazon Associates program. Yeah, affiliated links. Consider this your official disclosure. I’m not going to link to stuff all willy-nilly. The vast majority of links here are still going to be to other blogs, patterns, etc. But there will be a few here & there that will hopefully generate a little pocket change I can put toward studio rent.

2) Sewing commissions. This is perhaps not of much interest to most people reading this, because I assume most of my readers sew. But if you don’t, or if you just really want something & don’t want to make it yourself, hit me up! I charge for materials plus $20/hour for my labor, & I can sew pretty much anything: clothes, bags, accessories, toys, quilts, home decor, you name it. I’m also happy to do commissioned cross stitch pieces. Let’s talk!

3) Sewing lessons. If you’re in the Portland area, come by my studio or schedule a time for me to come to you & I will teach you how to sew/cross stitch! I can teach you the basics or walk you through a project of your choosing–a quilt, a garment, whatever! $15/hour if we’re using your supplies, $25/hour if we’re using mine (you supply fabric either way).

I’m also hoping to do a kind of blog re-launch in August.I’ve been tinkering with the layout & links. I updated my “sewn in 20–” pages to reflect all the posts up on the site. (I somehow got like a year behind–whoa!) I’m hoping to post more often, on a more regular schedule, starting in August. It will mostly be project posts, but maybe some other things too: planning posts (love those), posts about exploring the sewing community in Portland, takedowns of particularly egregious new pattern releases, maybe the occasional tip, trick, or tutorial.

I am still trying to make some time for sewing, even though there is so much packing to do, & all the other little details that need to be considered during a cross-country move (transferring prescriptions, lining up new doctors, making sure all the library books have been returned, training the cat to walk on a harness…)

I’m working on the Simplicity 8342 knit top right now, view B, with the cap sleeves, using this fabric, which was NOT that expensive when I bought it! Tasha has made several & they are all adorable. & I’m really hoping to whip up a Closet Case Patterns Charlie caftan in this insanely gorgeous strawberry print double gauze. I’m also putting aside some hand-sewing work (cross stitch, appliques) to work on during the drive to Portland.

While I pack & move, please enjoy a few guest posts I’ve written this year (…which would have been GREAT platforms for a comprehensive blog re-launch, had I had my shit together at all…It’s been a weird year, guys).

In February, I wrote a Pattern Throwdown post for the Curvy Sewing Collective. I sewed THREE pairs of jeans: the Cashmerette Ames jeans, the mid-rise Closet Case Ginger jeans, & the Itch to Stitch Liana jeans.

Also in February, I wrote a post on pairing stripes with other prints for the Sewcialists blog. It’s all part of the neverending quest to avoid closet orphans.

& last month, I wrote a post about my sketching process for the MyBodyModel blog. In case you don’t know, MyBodyModel is a new program that allows you to enter your measurements & generate your own customized fashion croquis! Right now it’s only available in a traditional adult female body style, front view only, but other body types & views are in the works. It’s pretty cool! I’ve been having lots of fun sketching sewing ideas for a croquis that is actually shaped like me.

You can also keep up with me on Instagram. I’ve been pretty active there, & semi-consistent about posting new sewing projects.

Vogue Patterns, summer 2018

Vogue Patterns has released their summer collection! I always kind of love Vogue because the patterns are a little more interesting & intriguing, from a construction perspective, than a lot of what is out there. But every collection is also always just a little bit batshit. Let’s go to the tape:

Make this look for Halloween. Tell everyone you’re dressed as a badminton net.

This is giving me sexy Mennonite vibes. Imagine it with the little white bonnet. Perfection.

A chic look for your next pelvic exam.

Two words:

Try it with contrasting underwear. Really push the limits of those public indecency laws.

There’s zero chance that one of those ties isn’t going to fall into the toilet the first time you try to use the bathroom in this thing. & every time thereafter.

All the glamour of a broken neck, with none of the traction!

This isn’t interesting enough to drag, but I do have questions about those lapels (?), & the choice of a tangerine manicure with a plum dress. A rainbow of fruit!

I kind of like this design, but the stripe placement across the bust makes her breasts look like they are peeking at the neighbors through the Venetian blinds.

I remember when this was originally sold as part of Fashion Bug’s prom 1989 collection.

For when your breasts require an old-time-y mustache disguise.

Honestly not a bad design, & the fabric doubles as a Magic Eye poster for when you get super-high!

Category is: slutty Easter pinafore realness!

What Sporty Spice might wear upon transitioning into life as a four-martini lunch Kensington housewife.

My grandmother 100% had this outfit. She also got drunk in her RV in the driveway while watching “The Price is Right” every day.

Summertime: when you just want to drape yourself in fifteen yards of unnecessary fabric.

Upcycle your Aunt Sherry’s old couch into this easy, breezy two-piece!

Do your bridle at the sky-high expectations of those other sewing patterns, which expect you to be able to sew in a straight line & not leave unsightly puckers every two inches? Have we got the design for you!

Nothing says fun in the summer sun like a knock-off safari vest from K-Mart with built-in saddlebags!

For everyone who found Named Patterns’ Kielo dress too flattering.

Batgirl eleganza!

For those days when your breasts are just looking a little too perky.

She seriously looks like she’s wearing a little girl’s pinafore as a top. Which…no shade. That was totally how I dressed in high school.

In case you require a pattern for cutting a hole in a pillowcase & calling it a dress.

Just because you’re not pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t look the part!

This RTW swimsuit is working hard for its money. & the cover-up can double as a windshield sun cover!

Mother/daughter pimp hats.

The color combo here instantly made me think of:

achievement unlocked: Cashmerette Ames jeans


I made three pairs of jeans in two weeks for my Pattern Throwdown post over on the Curvy Sewing Collective blog back in February, & the most successful of the bunch was the Cashmerette Ames jeans. When this pattern was first released, I fully intended to give it a miss, as I already had the Closet Case Ginger jeans pattern & the Itch to Stitch Liana jeans pattern (won during an Indie Pattern Month challenge over on the Monthly Stitch, but not sewn until the Pattern Throwdown). I am within the Cashmerette size range, but on the smaller end, & although I often have to make fitting alterations to straight-sized patterns, I fit into the upper reaches of most brands. So, for me, Cashmerette patterns are an option but not really a necessity. & to be honest, I wasn’t especially impressed by the sample jeans photographed for the release. I felt that both samples fit their models poorly, & whenever the sample garment shows fitting issues, I become skeptical of the pattern as a whole. If I’m shelling out premium indie pattern prices, I expect the designer to go above & beyond to make the sample garments reflective of the actual intended fit & style of the design. (Rightly or wrongly, I tend to give more of a pass to Big 4 patterns, both because I pretty much exclusively buy them on sale, & because I know those patterns are professional designed & graded by people with legit industry training–which doesn’t mean mistakes never happen, but I do find those patterns generally more trustworthy than the output of people who draft for themselves & then use basic vector programs for their grading…Anyway…)

I bought this pattern with my own money, specifically for the Pattern Throwdown. If memory serves, I made a straight size 18. I chose the pear hip for reasons that are now inexplicable to me. I do not now & have never had a pear body type. I think the pattern guidelines on choosing your preferred pelvis shape said something about how the pear fit might be best for people who experience a lot of waistband gaping, & that is always a big problem for me with pants. But I am obviously an apple shape. I just tend to get waistband gaping because my waist is pretty narrow from the back. Most of my waist measurement is in the front.


I did end up shaving some excess fabric off the side seams at the hips after doing a basted fitting, & when I make this pattern again, I will use the apple pelvis, & possibly even grade down to a size 16 in the hips. I will also add maybe another inch to the inseam because the drafted 30″ looks just a little bit short on me. I feel like I am showing just a little bit too much sock at the ankle. Maybe I’ll try wearing them rolled up for a more intentionally cropped look & see how I feel about that.


A word about inseams: I read A LOT of sewing blogs & I often see people writing things like, “I’m only 5’2″ so I had to shorten the pants 3 inches,” or, “This designer drafts for someone who is 5’8″, so if you’re shorter/taller, bear that in mind.”

Obviously, inseam CAN be correlated to height, but it has a lot more to do with proportions. I’m 5’5″ & Jared is 5’10”. & yet, my inseam is actually 1″ longer than his. I have unusually long legs & he has an unusually long torso. This is why I generally ignore whatever height a pattern is supposedly drafted for & make decisions based on my measurements & on flat pattern measurements. That means an inseam of 31″ for full-length pants (my legs are literally about 2/3 of my body). For skirts & dresses, I like a finished length of 23″ or 24″, waist to hem, which hits just above the knee.


Anyway. Aside from those minor tweaks, this pattern fit me astonishingly well right out of the envelope. I specifically followed the pattern directions for all the construction in order to give a fair & accurate pattern review for the Throwdown, knowing that the post would be read by a lot of people who have never made jeans before & would be looking for a pattern with reliable, easy-to-follow instructions. & this pattern really nailed it. I think it has the clearest, more comprehensible instructions for doing a classic zipper fly that I have yet seen. All of the pattern pieces came together really nicely, including the pocket stays. (I’ve had issues with other patterns where the stays are too long & get in the way of the fly, or where they are oddly-shaped, or unnecessarily fussy in their construction.) The pattern accommodates certain curvy/plus fit challenges in its drafting, with a contoured waistband & a built-in full tummy adjustment. The pockets were well-proportioned & the fly was the perfect length for a classic mid-rise style–not too long, not too short.


I made the straight leg version, & I do think the legs turned out maybe just a hair on the skinny side. But I also sized down in the legs from a size 18 to a 16, so maybe that’s on me. I personally don’t mind the fit of the legs (aside from wishing I had just a little extra length), but a lot of people on my Pattern Throwdown post commented that the leg silhouette looked more skinny than straight.


I cross stitched the back pockets using a pattern I bought from Little Plastic Covers on Etsy. I adapted the font from that pattern into the extra letters I needed to spell “killjoy” & omitted the floral motifs because I just didn’t have time to complete them before the deadline for the Curvy Sewing Collective. I made a pair of corduroy Gingers using the same pattern last year, but they have a leg-twisting problem & are just too tight for my current size (I made them when I was in the middle of my cancer treatments & thus a little smaller because I wasn’t eating much). So I’m glad these turned out so well, allowing me to broadcast my feminist killjoy status far & wide!

Happy spring! I’m still alive!

Oh, hey, guys. I really just kind of noped out of this blog a couple of months ago, didn’t I? Without getting into a lot of personal details, there was some family stuff going on & it really ate up the extra bandwidth I require in order to write & share my sewing projects. Writing generally comes to me really easily, which is why I still have a blog in the year 2018 (next year is my 20th anniversary of blogging!), but the past few months were really exhausting & stressful. I sewed through it all & have accumulated quite the backlog of unblogged projects, so there’s that. Family life has also stabilized…& might even be better than ever? So I’m hoping to start writing here regularly once again.

I also want to get back into the swing of contributing to the sewing blogosphere/online community, in general. & this is where you come in. I’m hoping to make something for the April challenge over at the Monthly Stitch, after completely missing the boat for the entire year to date. (I’ve made things that fit the themes; I just didn’t get my shit together to photograph & post them.) Miss Bossy is involved, so here’s your chance to tell me what to make.

I’ll probably make all of these projects at some point, but whatever wins the poll will zip to the top of the to-do list. Get your votes in by the end of the week!

I haven’t been sewing quite as much so far this year as I would like, but I think a lot of that can be blamed on the events of the last couple of months. I’ve been really distracted & disorganized, which isn’t good for any kind of productivity. I haven’t even been reading much, which will come as a tremendous shock to anyone who has known me for a long time. I don’t even set reading goals for myself anymore because I usually read fifteen to twenty books a month without even trying. But I’m not sure I’ve finished a book since January! This is literally the most scattered & out of it I have been in my entire life–even while I was pregnant. Even when Ramona was in the NICU. Even when I was going through cancer treatments. But I do think things are turning around & I’m really looking forward to getting my shit together & become a quasi-productive member of society again.

A few of my sewing projects have turned out tremendously well & have been getting a ton of wear.



Others have been less successful:



In February, I contributed a post to the Sewcialists blog about mixing prints & stripes. & I wrote up an epic Pattern Throwdown for the Curvy Sewing Collective, for which I sewed up three different jeans patterns to see which ones worked best. If I was a good blogger, I would have capitalized upon the traffic & publicity surrounding those posts to draw more readers over here, but honestly, it’s a fucking miracle I got those posts written at all, with everything that was going on in my personal life.

I recently decided that I was in desperate need of a break & I took off to Portland for a week by myself. The schools for which Jared teaches were on spring break, so he stayed home & hung out with Ramona. I had a really nice, quiet vacation, catching up with old friends & re-acquainting myself with the city I lived in a thousand years ago when riot grrrl was still a thing & no one really knew if this whole internet situation was going to last. Being me, I of course made time to visit several fabric stores. I came home with two yards of bright lemon yellow thermal knit (from the discount annex at the Mill End store in Milwaukie, & with some minor flaws that knocked the price down to just $3 a yard!) & six yards of a really light, floaty black linen that is going to figure prominently in my spring/summer sewing. There were a million other fabrics, trims, laces, ribbons, etc, that I left on the shelves, including this gorgeousness:

Imagine that embroidered black tulle as a Charlie caftan! I totally would have bought it if the flowers were pink, but I don’t wear enough red to justify splashing out on $62.50/yard fabric.

Fabric-shopping in other towns does always give me a new appreciation for our local fabric shop, Sarah’s. I have kind of taken it for granted because it’s been my local shop since I learned how to sew, but it’s a really great store with an amazing selection of apparel-appropriate fabrics.

We are planning to leave Lawrence this summer though. We are still undecided on our final destination. For a while, we were settled on moving to western Massachusetts, but eventually we realized that we could cast the net wider & move anywhere we wanted. We’re considering Boston, Philadelphia, & Portland. Right now, I am pulling hard for Portland, even though finding affordable housing there is A LOT harder than it was when I lived there in the 90s. But really, any desirable city is getting expensive these days. We pay more than $1K in monthly rent right now to live in KANSAS. So I am willing to spend a little bit more to live in a place I really like. We are open to suggestions, & if some guardian angel out there has a lead on a great place for rent, I am all ears!

Hopefully I will be back in a couple of days with a detailed project post. In the meantime, don’t forget to vote on what I should sew next!