Sewing Resolutions? So Far, So Good

I made eight sewing resolutions for 2018, and I am happy to report that I have done two of them, made progress on a third and am starting on a fourth. That’s half my goals – and we are only 20% of the way through the year!

Resolution #1: So far, so good. I have done zero sewing contests and sewalongs for far this year. I was very tempted. Sewcialists had a “Sew Stripes” sewalong, The Monthly Stitch was on a “Flora and Fauna” kick,” and had two cool contests – “Match Your Shoes” and a 6-piece capsule wardrobe. I had the fabrics and patterns picked out for all of these, and then I said “nope.” My priorities did not align with these events.

My top priority was to fit pants so I could move on to making jeans (resolution #2). This remains frustratingly undone. (Cue the sad trombone music.) I am passing on pants for now. But the year is young! I want to take another stab at it later in the year, with a better pattern to work from.

Skip ahead on the list to resolution #6. Done! I am going to PatternReview Weekend in Stratford, Ontario, Canada June 1 & 2. (OK, technically this isn’t done until I’ve actually been to the event, but it’s all booked and paid for, so I am calling it a win.) I’m really excited to connect with sewists I’ve known only by their makes and comments on that site. And I am up for some shopping and sight-seeing too. We’re planning a vacation around it, to see Toronto, Niagara Falls and parts of New York state.

Resolution #7 is done. I visited two charity shops and upcycled items I bought into Pussyhats for the Women’s March in January. I didn’t find any yardage or nice sewing supplies at either place, but I tried. Now I know that they’re probably not great resources for a big project, but they’re perfect for upcycled work.

Resolution #8 is in progress. I wanted to make something for my mother as thanks for the nice sewing materials she bought me for Christmas. She wants me to make her a cold-shoulder top for summer. She’s mailing me some pictures from catalogs and magazines, as well as her measurements. I will need to pick out a pattern and sew it for her once we decide what to do. Luckily, the Big 4 went overboard on this craze, and cold-shoulder looks abound in the pattern catalogs.

As for the other resolutions…

Holding firm on #5, making fewer damn mistakes. I didn’t make so many mistakes with what I’ve done so far this year, but then again, I haven’t made much. Way too early to declare victory on this.

For #3 – the embroidery unit’s still snug in its box. I was thinking of taking a class on it at the dealer this summer. The classes are always in the middle of the week, so I’d need to use a vacation day. I’m holding off for now. I need a project to tie this to, or it won’t happen.

Finally, #4 will have to wait for May. I think I can wear at least one me-made thing every day, as long as we’re talking tops, dresses, skirts and jackets – not whole outfits because of the aforementioned pants problem.

How are your resolutions coming along so far?

More Pussyhats for More Fresh Hell Ahead

I’m making more Pussyhats for the Women’s March in New York on January 20th. Last time, I made 22 hats out of remnants of polar fleece, about half from my stash (leftover from my niece’s Halloween costume) and half purchased off the Joann’s remnant rack.

This year, in the spirit of environmentalism, I am upcycling fabrics for the hats:

On the right you’ll see the old hooded bathrobe I retired this year after faithful service left it with too many stains, tears and pills to be quite decent anymore. Each hat takes about a fat quarter’s worth of fabric, so I estimate I can get about 12 hats out of the robe. I will definitely use the striped front band as headbands for the hats, and I may do something creative with the hood.

The pink garments on hangers are two items I bought at Goodwill for $5.25. The item on the left is a tennis dress in French terry that has a little stretch. The item on the right is a short nightgown in four-way stretch jersey. I estimate I can get 8 hats out of both, maybe using the nightie’s lace and rouleau straps creatively.

I got both items at my neighborhood Goodwill store. I have donated many times to this store but have never bought anything there. I was disappointed to find no sewing supplies or yardage on sale, just a sad-looking Singer from the 1970s.

As I perused the clothing racks in search of suitable fabrics, it occurred to me that my sewing project might pose a hardship to someone. I found a couple of pink sweatshirts, but I thought, “It’s so cold. Maybe someone needs this sweatshirt to stay warm. Is it right to buy it?” So I chose items that I imagine no one needs, at least not in January in Connecticut. Maybe this is presumptuous of me? Anyway, it’s done.

I plan to make 20 hats in all. I already have orders from a few friends and neighbors who missed out last year, and I imagine others will roll in. A bunch of us, including my sister, are going to New York on the train for the day. A friend from has drafted a hat for this year’s march. If yo want to try that pattern, send me a message with your email and I will send it – it’s on a .pdf.  I am going to use it instead of the free “Fleece Fun” hat I tried last year. While it got the job done, it was rather inelegant and ill-fitting.


Are you marching too?


Eight Sewing Resolutions for 2018

I realized this week that I sewed about 30 items in 2017 – a record for me and a major step forward in my growth as a sewist. I almost always had a project in the works, I learned to use a serger, and I made a lot of garments that I wear regularly as well as items for gifts, charity, home dec and upcycling.


I also wasted time and money on a few things, so I am circumspect about what I might accomplish in 2018. I will have less time to sew in 2018. I have enrolled in a graduate program related to my job, so that will take priority, at least from January to May for the first class.

Eight resolutions for 2018, then:

  1. Participate in fewer sewalongs and contests. In 2017, I entered 8 contests on, sewing 20 items in all, and sewed garments for five sewalongs with The Monthly Stitch and one with the Sewcialists. (Some of these overlap.) The PatternReview events included stash-busting and wardrobe contests, which account for much of the volume, as well as the annual PR Sewing Bee. In discussing the contests with friends on PatternReview, I am have been in the “it’s fun to participate” camp while many are in the “in it to win it” camp. I never win. I never come close (OK, I came in a distant third once). I was pissed that I didn’t make it to the third round of the Sewing Bee – that really hurt my pride. I did win one random drawing prize this year, which was nice, but I lack the skill, fit and finesse to really compete against the experts. I am going to sit out all the contests and sewalongs this year unless they happen to coincide with my established sewing plans. There’s also no Sewing Bee this year to tempt me. I volunteered instead to moderate a contest.
  2. Make jeans. I really need to do this. I need new jeans, for one thing, and I also really want the challenge. I might take a class at Workroom Social in March.
  3. Bust the embroidery unit out of its box. My husband bought me a Bernina 580 for my birthday two years ago. It came with an embroidery unit, which I didn’t really want. I am just not in to the whole embroidery thing, and I really don’t want to spend a ton of money on special threads. But I see a lot of RTW with nice embroidery details, so I figure I should at least try it. Perhaps if I make jeans, I can embroider a cute detail on the pockets?
  4. Truly Do Me Made May this year. I have participated in past years by doing “me-made” 4 or 5 days a week in May. This year I am almost ready to do it every day. I have almost enough seasonally appropriate garments, although I could use more pants  for work and definitely need jeans (see #2).
  5. Stop making so many damn mistakes. It takes me a while to sew garments because I make a ridiculous number of mistakes. “Sure,” you’re thinking, “we all have a seam that goes awry once in a while. Quit being such a perfectionist!” That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about sewing things wrong-sides together. Upside down. Accidentally pleating or tucking. Slicing off chunks of fabric with the serger. Stuff like that. I usually buy fresh seam rippers in January because they get dull with use. No more! in 2018, I will baste, double-check, triple-check and baste some more to be sure I have it right.
  6. Go on a sewing retreat. I want to have a long weekend away from the house where I can just sew and learn and maybe make some new friends. It would be ideal to attend a retreat that’s far enough from my house that I will stay overnight but close enough that I can drive or take Amtrak (East Coast, as far south as DC). It seems like a lot of retreats are for quilting. Any garment-sewing retreats out there? Let me know!
  7. Try charity shops. So many sewing bloggers come back with great finds from charity shops. I donate to these shops all the time, but I never shop at one myself. I want to try out a few this year to see what they have to offer, either for yardage and other sewing materials and patterns, or for upcycling opportunities.
  8. Sew something for my mom. She gave me the sweetest Christmas gift this year – a bunch of sewing supplies including a fabulous pair of Kai scissors, some Swedish patternmaking paper, a snap kit and a new quilting ruler. IMG_20171228_122726I asked for these things through an app we use to manage our family’s Secret Santa gift exchange. I was happy that she listened to me about what I wanted and that she read over all the info I provided in the app. “I never knew your favorite color was red!” she said. I want to make her something, both to thank her and to give us something to do together. I thought I’d try to replicate some garment that she really likes or wants. It will be challenging to sew for a different body type and size, but I am up for it.

What are your resolutions?

Sari Refashion Completed!

Here’s my completed project for the second round of the Sewing Bee: New Look 6498 done up in a refashioned sari. I got it in India in April (more here about this).


I am standing all dramatic like this to accentuate the sleeves. The theme of the second round was “Fabulous Sleeves.” I don’t know how fabulous these are – certainly they were not as creatively done as many other entries into the contest – but they are voluminous and eye-catching. They’re twice as wide and about 50% longer than the pattern called for. They’re done up with a simple gathering stitch and attached to the sleeves – no fancy needlework required. I did my usual full-bicep adjustment to accommodate my dinner lady arms, but I did only a 3/4 inch instead of a full inch because I wanted the sleeves a bit close-fitting, in keeping with the style of the blouse worn under a sari.


 I am delighted with how the bust turned out. When I made a muslin of this in April, I ran into a big fit problem with the bust. It was too high and too low at the same time. Yeah – no problem! That is, the waistband sat about a quarter of the way up my bust instead of just under the bust, and the neckline was too low and a bit too revealing.

The only way to fix this was to get the bust to fit perfectly. I lengthened the bodice 1.5 inches all around so that the waistband would hit right under my bust. Then I redrafted the neckline a bit so that it was not quite so low-cut. Finally, I took in the waistband 1/2 inch on each side so it was more close-fitting. The bust fits perfectly now!


My dog, Jake, likes to photobomb pictures.

The sari is very gauzy and hard to work with. I finished the inside with French seams everywhere I could, and I used fusible stay tape and transparent dissolving stabilizer instead of interfacing for the neckband and waistband.

Here are pictures of the inside on my dressform. You can see how transparent it is. The traditional sari is draped and wrapped and pleated many times so that air moves through it yet it covers completely. I wanted to stay true to the spirit of the sari, so I didn’t line it. This might have been a mistake as far as the contest goes – I think that lined dresses are expected – but that’s not what I wanted. I wear it with a long princess-seamed slip I bought at a vintage shop years ago.

I only wish that I had made this earlier in the year, so I could have enjoyed it this summer. It’s getting autumnal very fast in Connecticut, so this may have to sit in the closet unworn for a while.

Refashioning a Sari

Have you ever seen a fabric that weighed only about 2 ounces a yard?

That would be this sari I bought on my trip to Hyderabad, India in April. It’s 7 yards of fabric, 45″ wide, and weighs 15 ounces. Here it is drying on my lawn after a soak in water to remove the starch that’s applied during the manufacture.

I got started yesterday on refashioning this sari into New Look 6498. I am doing a mash-up of View A (the ankle-length version) and View B (with the frilly sleeves) for the second round of the Sewing Bee. The competition is to make a garment with fabulous sleeves. The fabric I have is certainly fabulous, but the sleeves themselves won’t be anything special.

New Look 6498

I made a muslin of this dress back in April and ran into one two big fit problems that inspired me to shelve the project:

  1. The bust was too high. This is a problem for me with a lot of Big 4 patterns. The midriff band is meant to sit right under the bust – you can see how it’s meant to be on the pattern envelope, with the bust tucks giving it some shape, before the midriff band nips it in. Then the gathered skirt flows out again. On my muslin, the midriff band hit across my lower bust, causing the skirt to balloon out very unattractively. I had to lengthen the bodice, including the neckband, 1.5 inches so that the midriff band landed just under my bust, allowing for some space for the tucks.
  2. The neckline was too low and a bit baggy. Obviously, I can’t both shorten and lengthen the bodice at the same time! Now can you see why I put this in the “UFO” pile? I took in the center back a tad, and I hope that by fixing problem #1, problem #2 will go away.

The sari has a long decorative band of peacocks, which I am using as a border print along the hem, the bodice and for the sleeve ruffles. I am also using the pillau – the most decorative part of the sari (see close-up above) – for the sleeve ruffles. And I am using the other end of the sari, called the choli (the solid green part in the picture, closest to you), for the contrasting midriff and neck bands.

I spent all day yesterday cutting this out. Today I need to sew it up. The fabric is very loosely woven, with a bit of a burnout texture in places. It’s not hard to sew, but it ravels and it’s just unstable. Here are a couple of close-ups:

I still need to work out a lining – obviously, this dress is see-through as is!

Do You Upcycle?

I tried my first upcycling project recently, and it came out pretty well.

Through the magic of upcycling, an old tablecloth becomes a dress for a garden party.

The fabric is 100% cotton in a rather dense weave, similar to duck. It doesn’t drape like an apparel cotton should, so I chose a very simple Japanese pattern book dress for it (see my my other blog, Sewing Japanese, if you want the deets on how I put this together).

It’s not that hard to think of fabric from an old garment or other source as potential “yardage” for something else. A tablecloth is really just border-print yardage hemmed all the way around, right? Not much of an “upcycle” for the truly committed.


OK, so how about this old bathrobe? I got this years ago at a Nordstrom Rack sale. It’s nice 100% cotton fabric, very well made. It’s simply worn out – a hole in the shoulder from close encounters with a hairbrush, a makeup stain that baffles soap, fraying belt and cuffs. I prepared to toss it in the trash. And then I thought… upcycle?

I think I can squeeze a pair of PJs out of it – shorts and a tank top kind of PJs. Or maybe a nightgown. Or maybe … who knows?

I’m not going to disassemble it but rather measure it up against pattern pieces from a TNT PJs pattern to see if I can make it work. I love the striped facing. I’m thinking I can use it to make a neckband and maybe cuffs or a drawstring for the waist. You can’t tell in the picture, but this also has a hood that offers potential if I get creative with seams. I can even (maybe) reuse the pockets.

So into the laundry it goes for a good cleaning and an assessment. Do you upcycle? I’d love to get more ideas.