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!



#365DaysofSewing: week 3

day 15: Federal holiday means no work for Jared! Since he was around to entertain Ramona for one more day, I got to go upstairs & see what I could do with the weird denim I bought that faded & had weird dye marks on it. I mixed together some various Rit dyes I have to make something approximating dark gray/black & started dyeing swatches. But no matter how long I left them in the mix, no swatch really looked any different from any other. The right side of the fabric did seems a little darker after it was all said & done, but it wasn’t a huge difference from where I started. I decided to just say fuck it & started cutting out my project anyway.

day 16: Snow day! Jared woke up before the crack of dawn to get ready to go to work, & luckily all of his wandering into the bedroom to retrieve belts & shoes & keys & jackets woke me up too, & I thought to check for school closings. Turns out the job he’d taken for the day was at a school that was closed for wind chill (like 30-below!). Seems like the substitute app they use could maybe send out school closure info as well as job posts, but what do I know?

I didn’t feel like doing anything today, so all I did was a little bit of cross stitching for a jeans pocket, because I can do that while all snug in bed under blankets. I also made an exhaustive to-do list of all the sewing I want to accomplish in the next two months, with a day-by-day breakdown of what exactly I’d have to accomplish each day in order to meet my goals. Then I instantly felt overwhelmed & stressed out & so did nothing.

I also bought some jeans buttons for the 97 pairs of jeans I am making in the next month (actually only three or four pairs, BUT STILL) & considered blanket stitching the hems on the embroidered hand warmers I made, but ultimately did not because I couldn’t remember how to blanket stitch, & I was too lazy to look up a video to remind myself. That is pretty damn lazy.

day 17: Started embroidering a jeans pocket, which is SO much faster than cross stitching. Though cross stitching appeals more to my obsessively precise, Sisyphean impulses.

day 18: Super-busy day. I had to go get more x-rays for my foot, meet with my orthotist, go to physical therapy, go to regular therapy, & also run a bunch of car errands I’d been putting off because it was all snowy out & I am not used to driving in snow.

All I really had time for was more embroidering/cross stitching, which doesn’t make for the most fascinating photos, so I posted an outfit photo instead. Because this outfit was especially cute:

All self-sewn except for the socks. We have self-drafted black suba leggings (so warm & cozy), a pink gingham M6696 shirtdress (sleeveless, but not just for summertime if worn with layers), a black henley, the Jenna cardigan I just made last week, & of course, self-sewn bra & undies. I wore the shoes I was wearing the day I broke my foot for the first time since the break. I haven’t worn them much because they’re really hard to get on without twisting my foot in a way that really fucking hurts. But I did learn that the break is now completely healed, & the lingering pain I still have is most likely just muscle & tendon aches from my foot & lower leg being immobilized for so long in a cast & a medical boot. Hence the physical therapy, & the motivation to fight my way into cute shoes.

day 19: Finished some jeans pocket embroidery.

I think this is a hilarious pun (which I’ve always employed on my custom garment labels), but Jared was like, “What if people just think you don’t know how to spell, since it won’t be immediately obvious that you made the jeans yourself?”

day 20: I actually sewed a lot today! I whipped up a pair of True Bias Lander shorts from the denim that I was trying to dye.

Look at that facing. Just look at it! I have been sewing the waistbands on my shirtdresses facing-first pretty much from the jump, in order to get a nice, tidy finish on the inside. I don’t know why it took me this long to try it on a pair of pants/shorts. I am definitely never going back, that’s for sure.

Incidentally, the Lander pants/shorts are drafted with an all-in-one waistband/facing. I just prefer a softer fabric on the inside, as well as an opportunity to use a fun print, so I cut the waistband as drafted in half the long way, added a seam allowance, & then cut one from my fashion fabric & one from my lining fabric. I seamed them together & understitched, & voila: a customized waistband. I’m planning a blog post on this pattern soon (tomorrow, even?) with more detail on the alterations I made.

day 21: I decided I needed to stop being a lazybones & start making a muslin for the McCall’s top I have been intermittently working on. I did all the flat pattern adjustments while I was dyeing my denim at the beginning of the week.

Over the summer, I placed in one of the Indie Pattern Month challenges on the Monthly Stitch & won a box of free fabric from Minerva Crafts. I didn’t get to pick what went into the box, so some of it was pretty great & some of it was just not to my taste. What to do with fabric you don’t care for? Use it for a muslin!

So I grabbed a length of this blue & white paisley rayon challis & cut it up to make a muslin. It’s not fabric I’d ordinarily wear because I hate paisley, & I HATE rayon challis. I know this is a super-minority viewpoint. It’s weird, because I love cotton voile. But rayon challis may as well be woven from the chin hairs of Satan himself, I loathe it so much. So I didn’t mind sacrificing it to a muslin.

Except that it was fucking impossible to sew! My stitches kept skipping & gathering & breaking. I threaded & re-threaded my machine, I tried new needles, different types of needles, larger stitches & smaller stitches, but this demon cloth thwarted me at every turn. I think I got like 80% through the muslin before I was like, “You know what? Fuck this, fuck this fabric, fuck everything, I quit,” & I went downstairs to cross stitch instead. Trust me, cross stitching denim using waste canvas is NOT fun. It kind of fucking sucks. But it was like a spa vacation compared to working with that godforsaken rayon challis.

So. Really, not the most productive week. But I still did some kind of sewing thing every single day, even when I didn’t want to or when my projects seemed to be conspiring against me. Victory!

#365DaysofSewing: week 2

day 8: Jared started a new job today! He’s a substitute teacher in the Kansas City schools. So I was really looking forward to the day, knowing I was going to be spending it with Ramona, just like it used to be when she was a toddler & Jared was teaching at KU. He basically stopped working after my cancer diagnosis, which was more than a year ago, because I needed so much extra help with my health in decline. So his starting a new job was a sign that things are returning to normal.

Ramona & I had a great day playing together, & mostly I just worked on my sewing plans for the next couple of months. I’ve committed to a couple of guest blog posts, which require sewing on a deadline, & I’m participating in a few other challenges & thinking about trying a Pattern Review contest.

Patter Review could really stand to update their branding. That swirly-headed stick figure character is giving me major flashbacks to, like, the 1992 Rock the Vote campaign. & not in a fun, nostalgic way.

I didn’t really get my hands on any fabric until Jared came home, when I finally had some time to go upstairs & cut out a few new projects.

(PS–I love my cutting table set up! The dedicated lights & the hanging bar for my rulers, scissors, & pattern weights–the best!)

day 9: One of the challenges I am trying my hand at is the 52-Week Sewing Challenge, which seems to be consolidated primarily in a Facebook community. There’s a different prompt for each week, but the goal is really just to sew something every week. You’d think this would be kind of an irrelevant gimme in the face of my own personal #365DaysofSewing challenge, but I enjoy interpreting challenges (mostly), & I like seeing how other people interpret them.

I’m putting together a sewing planning binder to keep track of the prompts, as well as my plans for other challenges/contests, & my own personal seasonal sewing plans. I bought the binder & the special six-hole punch during a 50% off everything planner-related sale at Michael’s, stacked with a 20% off everything coupon. I just love that moment at the register when they’re like, “Your coupons saved you $37,” or whatever. The best is when you buy a bunch of patterns during a JoAnn $1 Simplicity sale & they say, “You saved $213!”

The one annoying thing about putting together this binder is that I was using construction paper that Jared bought several months ago to make a paper chain counting down to Ramona’s birthday. So Ramona views the construction papers as HERS, & of course threw a tantrum when she saw me using it.

day 10: https://www.instagram.com/p/BdxoW0FnA7k/?taken-by=ciaraxyerra

This was my to-do list for the day. I managed to get like three things done. One of those three things was embellishing these handwarmers/fingerless gloves I made. I was using flat-back plastic rhinestones & hot glue. Turns out…hot glue is not the most intuitive tool a person could employ. But bonus: the fact that I have very little feeling in my extremities due to mysterious medical issues (doctors are leaning toward MS) meant I could burn the crap out of my fingers with 400-degree hot glue without it actually hurting that much.


I also whipped up a Muse Patterns Jenna cardigan. I made one a few years ago but rarely wear it because the fabric I used likes to ravel & is viewed by cats as essentially just an irresistible ball of yarn that I happen to be wearing. I made a waist-length short-sleeved version last spring & found that I really liked that length. But I never blogged it because Kansas basically has two settings: cold & hotter than hell. We just don’t have a climate that invites things like short-sleeved cardigans. I also used black interfacing on a yellow hacci knit, which was a dumbass move. So this was my attempt to make a cardigan that will actually get worn, & I think I nailed it!

day 11: I was not really pleased with the hot gluing job I did on the handwarmers. So I made another pair. I just “drafted” the pattern myself by tracing around my hand & adding seam allowances. They were sewn from scraps. Jared suggested embellishing them with a knuckle tattoo motif, so this is what I came up with:

Hand-embroidered! As if you couldn’t tell.

I also accepted the reality that I really need to wash the bolt of Cone Mills denim I bought during the mill sale over the summer before I try to make it into anything. So it went into the wash, along with two yards of other denim I bought for stripes month over at the Sewcialists blog. I don’t know what the fuck happened, but all the color leached out of the other denim, & the indigo from the Cone Mills created a horrifying kind of batik/tie-dye situation on it. The Cone Mills itself washed up no problem, even though it was a gigantic ten-yard cut.

I thanked Jeebus that I had had the foresight not to also toss in some delicate light-colored seersucker, which would have been ruined, & started pondering whether this weird light gray stripes-with-navy blue-batik situation was remotely tolerable or if I was going to have to dye the yardage to make it wearable. I’m still undecided.

day 12: Cut the back pockets for THREE pairs of jeans, each a different pattern from a different company. I was like, “Oh, I’ll just embroider these really quick so they’re ready to roll when I magically sew three pairs of jeans tomorrow.” What the fuck, Ciara. It’s not like I’ve never done embroidery/cross stitch before & don’t know that it always takes ten times longer than you think it will. I feel like I spent the whole damn day cutting out the pockets, interfacing where the embellishments will be, basting on the waste canvas…It didn’t help that Ramona was being a handful. Every time I was more than two feet away from her, it was a national emergency.

But I did finally get around to making the mosaic for my #2018makenine. We’ll just ignore the fact that we’re already like halfway through January.

day 13: Weekend! That meant I could go clean my sewing room while Jared chased after Ramona. It looked like an apocalyptic hellscape. I should have taken before & after photos. It’s still not great. There are piles of patterns & fabrics everywhere, stacked in a manner that only I understand, which means absolutely no one can touch any of my sewing stuff unless they want me to cry. But everything is useable now, & bonus: I picked up all those pins I spilled last week. Yes, it took me this long. Let’s collectively ignore that I STILL haven’t swept up all the sequins that are all over the place from when I made a pair of sequinned leggings A MONTH AGO.

I printed a pattern.

day 14: It’s so cold. I just couldn’t bear the thought of going to the sewing room. So I was like, “I’ll just work on these pockets all day & make awesome progress!” This is how far I got:

Just that tiny bit took more than an hour, after which I became deeply discouraged & fell asleep. When I woke up, I decided to just read for the rest of the day. I read two books & one magazine. Sometimes you just need a break.


#365DaysofSewing: week 1

day 1: Today was a travel day. We flew home to Lawrence from Boston. So I needed a mobile sewing project. I wound up doing some cross stitching in the morning before we had to leave for the airport. I thought about bringing my cross stitching on to the plane with me, but decided not to chance it, as I am very prone to motion sickness. Ramona barfed all over herself mid-flight on the way to Boston. I didn’t want to replicate that horror show by making myself sick trying to cross stitch in motion.








day 2: Crazy day because it was our first full day home & we had a million things to do. I did make some time to go up to my sewing room & start pulling fabric for the projects I want to work on in January. My ambitious plan was to pull everything I had for all fifteen projects on my list, including thread, needles, notions, interfacing, patterns, et al. That wound up not happening at all. It was just too much. But I did at least manage to put together a shopping list for the last few bibs & bobs I need for the first five projects on the list.




day 3: Worked on my shopping list some more. Was dumbfounded to find that I have every color of cotton/spandex jersey under the sun…Except for purple. How? I have like five different shades of green & no straight-up everyday purple (the Pantone color of the year!).

Jared took Ramona to the library & I seized the moment to print & tape a couple of PDF patterns. I discovered pdfplotting.com last year & became an instant convert to having my PDF patterns professionally printed. (I now become enraged when a designer doesn’t offer a copy shop option.) But I have several patterns I have to print myself, so I took care of some of that. I had to put Biscuit outside because she kept pouncing on my freshly cut pattern pieces & shredding them.







Cross stitched for an hour or two before bed.

day 4: Hit JoAnn after physical therapy. They were having a sale on needles so I stocked up. I looked for purple cotton jersey & struck out. They only had three solid purple knits available. One was a disgusting 100% poly that felt like a gym shirt from 1987. One was a dusty kind of mauve color that just wasn’t going to work for my purposes. I went with a cotton/poly ponte. I am not thrilled, because it has a weird hand, but it was the best I could find. & it’s just for cuffs & the neckband on some pajamas, so it’s not like the world will end if it’s not my all-time favorite fabric.

Also picked up a few different kinds of foam & interfacing to experiment with in my shoemaking. & I snagged the last tube of Shoe Goo!

Somehow, JoAnn sells like three different kinds of dungaree hooks & four different kinds of jeans buttons, but no rivets. I bought rivets for leatherworking from Michael’s instead. They’re not the same. They’re a little wider & more flat. But I kind of like the different look, & I think they’ll work fine.

I came home & used my new chartreuse upholstery thread (JoAnn has that, but no jeans rivets?) to sew up the couch cushion that has been detaching from the back of the couch for literally years now. It was the kind of sewing that was not fun, but I had a fancy chocolate bar to keep my energy up, & now we can invite people over without feeling like hobos. Because of the couch, anyway. I also fixed a little hole in the underwire channeling on my most recent bra so the underwire would stay put.





day 5: I volunteered for a social media assignment that requires me to sew at least one garment that was not on my list before the end of the month. & I also had to buy fabric for it. I got really stoked about my fabric choices. But I mean, pink striped seersucker. It’s a classic.






Measured Ramona for a pair of pants I want to make for her, & did some flat pattern adjustments on a pattern for knit pajamas. Went upstairs to cut out some projects & was confronted by the reality that my sewing room looked like a tornado had swept through. Spent a shockingly long time cleaning it, including crawling around on the floor picking up every single loose pin. Returned all the pins to their bowl…& instantly knocked the bowl off the table again. The pins just live on the floor now. That’s fine. Cut & started sewing a shirt.


I volunteered for a second social media assigment that requires a metric ass-ton of sewing between now & mid-February. With actual deadlines on the calendar, I decided to write down all of my sewing plans & when I’d like to have them finished. It was…um…intense. Let’s just hope I don’t come down with a cold.

day 7: Had a sleepover with Ramona last night, so I didn’t sleep well. Even though I was in her bed & she was in the trundle, she still kept me up late asking questions about pirates, & every time I dozed off, she would shriek that I was gently snoring. So I wasn’t firing on all cylinders when I went up to the sewing room to work on the shirt a bit more.

I dropped a needle into my throat plate. I’d never done that before, so. Now I know there are some little furrows built into the base of my machine, & loose needles can be set free with some gentle tipping to & fro. But before I realized that, I took off the throat plate, & then I spent half an hour trying to screw it back on upside down. I was wondering why the tops of the screws were protruding from the plate, & why there were all kinds of weird plastic bits sticking up. Wouldn’t they get in the way of the fabric? But I figured, I’ve been sewing for over five years & it hasn’t been a problem yet, so full speed ahead! Once I realized my mistake, I flipped the throat plate over & screwed it down properly, & then I went & played some board games with Ramona, because clearly I could not be trusted around a sewing machine.



(PS–This is a sewing meme I am trying to get off the ground. It’s based on the line drawing for a new Butterick pants pattern that looks like a grumpy face from the back. Use it for all your sewing complaints!)

Stopped by my local independent fabric shop & picked up some really lovely cotton sweater knit with which to make another cardigan. Drove out to Michael’s to buy rhinestones & a hot glue gun with which to bedazzle said cardigan. Wandered for literally an hour looking for the mysterious “aisle 78”. The aisles only seemed to go up to 74. Turns out the last few aisles are in the middle of the store. It also turns out that my local Michael’s has three separate aisles almost entirely devoted to various adhesives & sticky unguents, & there’s not a glue gun to be found in any of them. No, the glue guns are stocked in the same aisle as the florist wire, because why not?

Finished the shirt.

achievement unlocked: two Toaster sweaters

I have finished garments to show!

I made two Toaster sweaters. The pattern is by Sew House Seven, & I used the version that was licensed to Simplicity–pattern number 8529. It only cost me a buck in one of the $1 Simplicity sales at JoAnn. For a while, I was like, “Who needs patterns! I’m going to draft everything from scratch!” But in my personal opinion, the Big 4 (which is now the Big 1, as they are all oqwned by the same corporation) have been upping their game lately & turning out a lot of designs I’d like to try. & when the cost is only a dollar or two during a sale, why the hell not?


I made view B, size XL with both sweaters. The gray one is sewn up in the snuggliest, softest cotton fleece sweatshirt knit. It’s super-cozy. The black one is a slightly more lightweight organic black cotton sweatshirt fleece. I splashed out for organic because it resists pilling better, as I have discovered the hard way with a couple of other sweatshirt projects over the years.


I embellished the sweaters with squares from the Cotton + Steel panel they released as part of the Beauty Shop collection. I bought it several months ago on a whim, not really having any particular plan for it. That’s unusual for me. I usually don’t buy without a purpose. Then I made a couple of t-shirts for Ramona’s doll, embellished with little designs cut out of quilting fabric, & I liked the combination a lot. I realized I could embellish my own tops the same way!


I’m pretty into this pattern. I made the cropped version with a funnel collar, & finished with a banded waist. It’s deceptively simple. The funnel is created with a cut-on facing. I don’t love the way an exaggerated drop shoulder looks on me, because I am kind of narrow-shouldered to begin with, but I can’t deny that it is comfortable, & definitely elevates the design beyond a basic boring sweatshirt. & imagine it in stripes, with the body meeting the sleeve with the stripes running at a nice crisp 90-degree angle! I’m unlikely to ever sew anything like that, as Breton stripes are not my style, but I suspect other people would be all over this idea.


The whole thing came together super-quickly, which is why I made two in less than 24 hours. I feel that I should mention that I sewed the cuffs & waistband using the ham-hot method I learned from Mallory & Zede at sewhere.com. They do the podcast “Sewing Out Loud,” & I’m a member of Mallory’s Facebook community, The Self-Sewn Wardrobe. I think I was one of the first hundred people to join, & now there are over 12,000 members. That is bonkers! I also coined the hashtag #teamcutthatshitout (in reference to cutting directly into patterns, rather than tracing & then cutting) in the group, which has kind of become a thing.

Ham-hot means that you fold your cuffs right side together “hamburger-style” (so the shorter ends meet, & then you fold again “hot dog-style”. Then you stitch the short edge where all the raw edges meet. Flip the cuff (or waistband, neckband, whatever) right side out & boom! It’s all sewn together with only one line of stitching, which reduces bulk. & it has the added bonus of securing the inside & outside cuff seams together, so you have a better chance of getting perfectly aligned seams when you join your cuffs to your sleeve.

For real, people have been going nuts for this technique for months in the Self-Sewn Wardrobe, & I was like, “What’s the big deal? Who cares about having two seams?” Then I tried it for myself & seriously, it’s a gamechanger.


I sewed these sweaters up right before Jared, Ramona, & I left to spend the holidays in Boston with Jared’s family. I have been wearing them almost non-stop ever since. I have always avoided cropped tops because I thought they didn’t flatter my top-heavy body shape. But the magic of sewing for yourself is that you can make adjustments to make sure a cropped shirt still reaches the waistline, even if you are busty (the main problem I’d always had with cropped RTW tops). You can also make fit adjustments for your pants & skirts to make sure they fit well across the belly, so you can feel confident about that area rather than attempting to obscure it with a longer top (to name another styling issue I have struggled with). Sewing has also just made me more confident about my body overall, because I can sew things that fit, rather than feeling constrained by all the RTW that wasn’t drafted & adjusted perfectly for my specific body. I’ve also accepted that nothing I wear is going to trick anyone into thinking I am thin, so I might as well just wear what I like!


Another thing I love about these sweaters is that I think they are my first truly perfect sews. There’s usually always something I can quibble about with a sew, even if it’s just an interior seam that got flipped over & stitched down the wrong way at an intersection, or a wobbly bit of topstitching, or a button placket that is just slightly misaligned. But these are both absolutely flawless in their execution. If I had to identify a flaw, I’d say that I probably could have sized down to a size L & done an FBA, & then maybe the sweaters would be a little more fitted & flattering through the shoulders. But since I made these guys to layer them over long-sleeved tops in cold weather, I ain’t mad at the looser fit.

A quick note on my schedule of posts: I am going to aim to post my #365daysofsewing round-ups on Mondays, & completed project posts on Thursdays. I really wanted to get this one up on Thursday, but there was a pretty steep learning curve on figuring out exactly how to use my new camera. I am obviously still fiddling with it. But hopefully I will be able to stick to this schedule!

pattern: Sew House Seven Toast sweater/Simplicity 8529
view: B
size: XL
fabric: gray cotton sweatshirt fleece, black organic cotton sweatshirt fleece, & the Cotton + Steel Hankies panel, pink colorway
likes: They are so comfy & so cozy. The funnel collar & dropped shoulder set them apart from the average sweatshirt. Construction is quick & easy. I love the panel embellishments I added, especially the “measure twice, cut once” one.
dislikes: The gray fabric is already starting to pill a bit. The funnel collar facing is only secured at the shoulder seams, so it is inclined to flip out. I fixed this in the back by adding my label, but it’s still an issue in the front.
quality of sew: 10 & 10
make again?: 100%

sewing & complaining with Ciara Xyerra