Sewing Vloggers

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

About making our undies...............


It has recently become pretty obvious that I could use some serious batch making of undies. That got me thinking a lot about the process, which really is so simple. I also thought a lot about the pattern and design, both in sewing and in retail. I looked long and hard at what was available on line and in the store, including my own undie supply of purchased pants.  I refuse to use the "P" word, just don't like it. 

My deep thought brought forth two questions. 

"Why does the front of the crotch gusset end in the middle of the crotch directly under my lady bits and not further up where, frankly, I think it belongs?"

"Why does the front edge of the crotch gusset stay open? Is it to grab profit margin at the manufacturing level?  Does something get stuffed in there I never learned about? (Stop laughing.) Really. "

I went where all sewists seeking knowledge go --- to the Worldwide Masses of Sewists on Pattern Review. It abounds with opinions, multiple levels of experience and always a lot of interest. My visit was well rewarded.  What ensued is now up to 14 pages of incredible information regarding making our own underpants, PRICELESS INFORMATION.  I highly suggest a visit there and you can see it all here.   In the meantime, so much is helpful that I thought it would be nice to sort it all out and organize the info on this blogpost along with some  linkable recommendations. 

Links to actual recommended patterns for underpants:

The Julia Pattern from Jalie 

Zero Waste Underpants from Liz Haywood

The Smoothie Pattern from Jan Bones

Pattern with an ostomy option from Jalie

Kwik Sew 2908 - High Cut Leg

Olive Undies - Full bum,  high cut leg

Maternity undies w/ scooped out tummy

Daisy Briefs, full coverage, higher front gusset

Ohhh Lulu Grace panties for wovens and knits, bias front to back

Muna and Broad, Kapunda Undies "designed specifically to fit large bodies, high rise"

The Rad Panel Undies, lots of style options on one pattern

The Floozy Doozy Undies, paneled and low cut legs

These are in order as they appeared in the PR thread or given to me later. 

Great Teaching Videos

Three styles of undies from Tom Kat Stitchery 

Liz Sews DIY panties from measurements

Sewing Lingerie Elastics with Liz Sews,  I learned a lot on this one. 

Great Tips

-Measuring the gusset and other brilliant measuring lessons are found in this link.
-Merino Wool makes a great gusset.
-Black or red cotton knit recommended for gussets of those concerned about staining as in blood.
-It's OK to keep the leg elastic flat on flat parts of your anatomy. No need to stretch.
-It's Ok to put side seams on the outside if they bother your tender skin. I will.
-Sergers make lumpy seams and many prefer a narrow zigzag on the machine instead.
-It's OK to machine sew the gusset and then grade the seam allowance, much less bulk than serging.
-The Underpinnings Museum
is a great place for ideas and you will be there a long time. 
- The Liz Sews undies are really exquisite bits of lingerie. Make sure you visit her site listed above under teaching video links. 

Please read  Pattern Review for a great discussion on elastics, fabric advice, patterns, stitching choices and pages of so much more. It's fascinating with  wonderful contributions from so many.  I hope you've enjoyed some of these links and the conversation that preceded this post. It was a bit of work to put it together but it helps me as well as you so we all benefit.  I will add more links and tidbits as they appear. Thank you to all on PR who so kindly and generously answered my question and shared their opinions. Now, why do you think the gusset is only sewn on one end and is so short?

ETA: I have added this post to the Tutorial Page above.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Merchant & Mills


photo courtey Merchant & Mills

While they call it their "Style and Purpose" it appears to be what we in the US call a mission statement. 



Are they bringing style and purpose to your sewing? And just who is overlooking us?

I see their patterns in my local quilt/rogue garment fabric shop. I am not intrigued to buy them. Who are they appealing to? This sort of merchandising does not motivate me to buy their patterns and I would venture that anyone who has a love for this craft might feel the same. 

These pattern covers do nothing to promote sewing at even the most basic level. Denham and Field have clearly chosen to appeal to an unknowing new sewist and pretty much tell them it's OK to make clothing look like crap. Iron? nevah. Fit? What's that about? Color? This year and all others it is  female Russian prison warden blah and if you use any semblance of  the primary colors you have your garment merchandised to the masses in a dark room, what you would imagine as a place where the first stages of war time torture take place. 

photo courtesy Merchant & Mills
While they are entitled to their aesthetic, what the hell does this anorak really look like before it is washed fifty times?  Now I know I can go on line and see it modeled in a dark room by a sullen faced model who seems a bit depressed over their clothing or maybe even something else. I don't know. Field is a photographer and the photos are quite artsy, but are they selling me? Not really. They just tell me he is a good photographer.  This appeal to my wallet is just too dark and heavy for my dollars to fly out. 

photo courtesy Merchant & Mills
Now this is a tee shirt I would be really proud to spread compost in. I mean, really. I know my husband got mad at me once for buying him tee shirts like this from Walmart with a lecture to never buy him tee shirts again. He will take care of that part of our relationship, thank you kindly.

Who and what are we appealing to here?  Is it me? Am I missing something for liking a neat neckband on a tee? Am I odd for wanting a pattern to show me something that will make me look pretty or at least a little special while going about my simple day? Am I being a snob for expecting someone who wants me to sew their pattern to show me a well made garment that fits well? Is it not OK to want a photo on the cover of something I can aspire to, dream about, buy fabric for? What do you think? .....Bunny

ETA: What is really sad is that the newbie sewist that is drawn into this is being led down a path of low standards. They believe designers with pattern envelopes all over creation must be experts, must know style, must know quality.  Well I am here to tell you M&M proves they don't. There is a whole world of patterns out there for all sewists and there are all sorts of patterns for all of us and so many are wonderful.  Surely M&M can set a higher standard with its marketing and merchandising. ....Bunny.......more below...

Another ETA: Last night a great analogy occurred to me for this situation.  Waffle Patterns makes absolutely fabulous and detailed outerwear patterns as well as other garments.  They are modern and expensive looking and I would buy this one in a heartbeat if I go to make this sort of jacket, which I may for next winter.  Since their photos are locked, please check out this link: the Waffle Patterns Walking Jacket.  
Here is a link to their main page.   How does their marketing compare for you?  If you had never seen either pattern before and then saw each in an envelope on a spinner rack, which would you buy?  I sure know which I would walk away from. I love the detail on the Waffle designs, they are clearly presented, in enticing color, and for those who want models who look like them (which I personally don't insist on but get it), the focus is on the garment, not the model, as most designs are on mannequins or faces are cut off.  I know which one I would buy, no brainer for me. I am sure we all have things appeal to us for various reasons deep in our psyches. For me, Waffle is the gold standard. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

A Tale of Three Tops


In the week and a half that followed the making of the batik Eureka top I made two more, each quite different from the first and each with it's own story. Bear with me as I go thru their individual dramas here. I won't be focusing too much on construction as you got that on the first batik version and can read all about that here.  Instead, I will tell their stories. 

Far right:

This is a knit version of the Eureka top. 

 First, pardon the horrific lighting on this photo. Now, more importantly, pardon the fact that I even made this top. Here is my story. I was in Joanns walking the aisles hot with triumph on the little Eureka top and itching to make another. I thought I'd try a knit as that is what the top was originally designed for. The knits all looked rather blah.  As they hung together, draped on their boards, this one, with its gray background and blobs of color called out to me more than the others. This was the one.  Those blobs were interesting, colorful, and the gray background would go perfectly with fabric I had at home for some matching cargo pants. Let's go to the cutting table. Done, on to home. 

I washed the fabric and set it aside for the moment and dealt with other distractions.  Was the fiber poly or rayon or a blend? It was a very thin knit and very very drapey. The knit section is all mixed up so it could be anything and I forgot what the bolt said. I got my receipt and looked up the sku on their website and was mortified. It was part of a whole collection of prints called various names but all together as "African Print Fabric." They were called Kente fabric, Ethnic fabric  and Global fabric.  Seems my sideways blobs were the continent of Africa. I never felt so stupid in my life but more importantly I had this awful gut feeling that this fabric was not mine to sew.  Hubs walked by it later and I asked him what it looked like and he said " a continent", which one,  " Africa".  OK.  So I thought and thought. I know I did not want to appropriate that fabric for myself and apologize for my ignorance to all my sewing sisters. They did have similar fabrics in the store, which I found on a later visit, but this bolt was in a totally different area with the knits. Here's what I decided. I am going to make this and figure it out as I do.  I'll comment a bit on the making and wearing first. 

Above you can see I used the selvedge to make the collar binding which is a french fold binding to the front of the garment. It took a bit of fuss to  get things to lay just right but not too hard. 

I also utilized the selvedge to add a small pocket on one side. You can also see here the sleeve cuffs.  I ditch stitched them at the top and bottom as I did on the batik but they insisted on drooping open and looked awful. I tamed them into submission with a bit of  Steam A Seam Lite mid cuff and it hangs nicely now.  As I am making this my mind is coming up with various ideas of the best and final use of this garment. 

The hem was stitched on the edge as well as in inch further up.  I gave this garment my best efforts. 

Not far from my home is an organization that specifically helps women in need for various reasons. One of the groups they help are new refugees. They take donations of clothing and I have often donated there as opposed to Good Will and SA as I see it go directly to these women in need. I know for a fact that they are helping out a large group of Somalian women and their children, refugees. I will donate my top there, along with some other summer clothing. It makes me feel good to see it go to one of them. When I did hiring at the axle factory years ago, I dealt with Lutheran services and many "Lost Boys" and other refugees from war ravaged areas of Africa.  The women would come for interviews in their beautiful ethnic garb and wore the most magnificent large smiles. I always remember their smiles. How they could muster them after what they had been thru......any way, I will donate this shirt and a bit more to the organization that helps this community and I feel good about that. 


My third Eureka based top, but this one is quite different.  I have been ooo-ing and ah-ing over the Sewing Workshop Gardenia Dress for some time.  I went on a great fabric buying trip last week and wanted to check yardage and details on that pattern in case I actually did get to make it. The more I looked at the pattern the more the Gardenia dress looked like the Eureka top with a few changes. Could I knock it off? Do I dare try? WTHeck and get out of the way!  I studied the details and measurements. I definitely didn't get it exactly but close enough to have a cute top called whatever. When I was all done I compared and I did get a few things wrong but dang, I think I got a pretty cute top out of the attempt. 

First I lowered the neckline by about a half inch in the front to the shoulder seam. I then redrew the pattern front and then divided it into two pieces with that division being about 2 inches to the right of center front. Each piece  had 2 1/4 inches of fabric added to it. This became seamed together and made into a big tuck. I stitched my tuck down like a zipper fly which you can see if you look closely. It is included in the neckline binding. The Gardenia does not have big binding like this and it is not secured down.  This gives it a lighter look than my top. 

On one side of the garment, my left, there are  four tiny tucks between that large tuck and the side seam. Inserted into the big tuck and the side seam is a bias tube that pulls and gathers the excess fabric. I had to open this side of the top with wedges to extend it out about 3 more inches. At the hip, the Gardenia is 8 inches bigger than the Eureka.  I made those tucks and wedges from about an inch below the apex down to the hem. . The tucks are a fat 1/8th inch and about 4 1/2 inches long. You can barely see them in the pic. There is a lot of comfortable volume here but controlled by this tie.  I LOVE this top. I am going to redraw the tissue neatly today and plan on making more. It is not quite the Gardenia, but it is a nice top and could be a dress if need be. Most of all, I had a blast making this pattern work. It was a really enjoyable after noon of brain work, looking at the pic and transferring it from my brain to a new tissue. 

ETA: The fabric is Brussels Washer Linen from Kaufman. It is 55% linen, 45% rayon, easy to sew, easy to wash and maintain. 

I can't thank you enough if you have made it to the end of this blogpost. Like I said, lots of story here. I am now moving on to a batch of undies for myself and than I am going to start on some summer pants. I have lots of fabric to play with and McCalls 8099 which looks great on those I have seen it on. Fingers crossed!.

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Eureka Top!!!


 Eureka! And what an appropriate name that is for this simple top!  This boxy little number is designed and sold by Linda Lee and the Sewing Workshop and you can find it right here.   I really have fallen for this simple design. It begs to be part of the "simple design, fabulous fabric" club and succeeds quite successfully at it, IMO. 

I was not sure how it would work out for me. It was quite wide, quite shapeless and I was quite smaller, and with shape. Would it be another artsy type garment I have purchased from other artsy type designers that I have long since learned don't work for me? Big volume overwhelms me. But this design did not come across on me as big volume despite the bust size on the Xsmall being 43 inches! Somehow Lee knows how to make innovative designs without gooping them up with gobs of fabric and it's delightful. Let me get into my review for you. 


I have my hand on my hip and not pushing any fabric to the back here. There is fabric hanging toward the back from the sideseams back where it should be but not a big oversized looking amount.  The garment is cut wide but hangs directly from below the armpits, which are quite low. I found with the cuffs there is no bra showing on me and that is usually a problem on most sleeveless garments for me, never mind one cut like this. I did not have to adjust the angle of the shoulders at all. My shoulders are narrow and a bit sloping. There is a nice curve to the angle of the shoulder area.  

This pattern is sold online at the Sewing Workshop website and includes the skirt, which for some reason I am not a fan of but you will see more of these tops from me. It can be made in wovens or knits. I have bought directly from SW which of course means I pay shipping but it also means that it is on sale now and then. Every week SW features certain fabrics and patterns at a discount and it pays to be patient. However, my local gourmet quilt shop now sells these patterns and I bought my Eureka directly there. They are getting more and more great garment fabrics and patterns all the time which thrills me. I wear the XS in this top but the XXL goes up to 50.75 bust. There are no darts and the garment is much longer than the way I adjusted for my height with the hem. 


I fell in love with this fabric the minute I saw it. I have always loved cotton batiks. They were made for clothing long before people appropriated them for quilting.  I love their tight weaves and distinct coloration but this one was really unique. It shaded with an ombre effect from selvedge to selvedge so I could not use the layout needed for a 45 inch fabric and I just, JUST managed to squeeze it in and match the front and back of the design. It took some serious juggling but it all was on grain and matching in the end. 

It is 100% cotton and its bit of stiffness worked well for the pattern. Today I made another Eureka out of a soft knit. This pattern works better with a fabric with some body, IMO. The exception to that would be the versions I have seen worked up in sweater knits, beautiful! IRL, this fabric is even more interesting. It looks like sewing threads are stuck all over it, glue has rubbed off on it and stuck on, and kind of like it was used to wipe up the garage floor, but in exquisite shades of blues. My husband really loved it. I believe it is made by Kaufman. It came out of the wash and dryer with that pebbly "you don't have to iron me" look like linen gets, really nice fabric. 


Obviously, this is quite easy to make. Here are some bullet points regarding the fit and sew:

* I reduced the hem by 4 1/2 inches total. I folded up a 2 1/2 inch hem and the rest I cut off.  I tried my second Eureka today with the designed hem and its proportions were really wrong on my height. Test to see what works best for you. 

* The hem is interfaced with Fusi Knit, serged and topstitched. 

* Lee has you stitch all seams, serge them and iron to the side.  I like how she always goes for an easy but clean look. I have a thing for deep hems lately. 

* The neckline is interfaced for about an inch with Fusi Knit, not in pattern. 

* The shoulder seams are stayed with  a strip of selvedge, not in pattern.

* The only issue I have with this pattern, and quite a few others from PR did as well, is the method shown for the neckline. It is odd and confusing and a crossgrain strip is recommended for all fabrics,  knit or woven.  I tried it and was confused and unhappy with the results. There are just so many ways to bind a neck but not use a bias strip on a woven?  I used my preferred French fold stretchy strip on the second Eureka today and it went together so easy peasy. I will say the strip did fit the neckline perfectly despite being woven and stretched as I sewed but did it lay nicely when done? No. Luckily the weird design of the fabric and the dark spots hide a lot of sin here. I wasn't about to undo a bias neckline of all those stitches and stretch it out and start over. It doesn't look bad, just not great, so I left it. If you have your own method of finishing a neckline that works for you, just use it. 

* The "sleeves" have folded cuffs that you attach easily to the garment.  There is no easing or gathering.  Then you are advised to fold them back, if desired, and tack them in place to keep them in place.  In the picture you can see two tiny red arrows. After I had the cuffs attached,  I ditchstitched them at the underarm seam of the cuff and at the opposite area, on top of the cuff in an arbitrary spot  that just was where the dark blue met the light blue.  I stitched for about 3/4 of an inch and you can't see it at all. I used a 1.5 stitch length. It keeps the fabric cuff in place nicely. Do you see how it looks like threads are all over the cuffs? That's the design!

In Conclusion:

This is a great pattern that I highly recommend. I finished this yesterday and today I made another one and starting cutting out a third. My second is a loosey goosey knit with a totally different look (and story).  Today I started working on my third. The third is very different as I really played with the design.  I had a lot of fun playing around with this wonderful base garment. I think we all need  something simple in our stash that can be turned to in a moment's notice, a garment that will let the fabric shine. It is a garment whose construction is so simple that we know we will succeed and that it can handle whatever fabric we throw at it. Could be a tank top, tee shirt, or a Eureka top. I know I will make this again and again and look forward to cold weather versions, maybe some woolens with felting or applique or maybe more summer versions with painting or stenciling. This top is a canvas waiting for ideas to find their home. 

Please forgive the awful white jeans. These were the only summer looking pair of pants I could find as every thing summer is still packed away, she says as 8 inches of snow has fallen since morning. Those jeans are about three sizes too big but I keep them for the moment when I will take them apart and make them fit me once again. It's not today. I'm busy having my eureka moments. Happy Sewing............Bunny

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Down and Dirty Muslins


The topic of Muslins and sewing can really set some people off. I made one for my wedding gown many decades ago but thru the decades they really became few and far between. I just didn't see the value unless I was making a one time very expensive investment garment. 

Then, around about the 80s , when I got back into the work force and needed and wanted to make professional clothing, I realized I needed to learn a lot to get to the point where I could make my clothing fit well. I studied books, bought quite few, taped videos, bought a few of those as well. Tried loads of techniques and tricks. Eventually I gave making a muslin a try for a complicated garment that I needed to fit. It was this Vogue Bill Blass affair with curving seams that controlled the fit but were not princess seams. The were more like fitting curves on a quilt. I made my muslin, got it to fit nicely, and had a new attitude toward the whole concept of making muslins. I did them over and over, but not too often in the beginning. As time has gone on, I am a total convert. 

This is a top I just finished. Why on earth would I bother to make a muslin for this, a simple top, no sleeves, no closures, no darts, big as heck, and pretty much just a big box? 

I am small. I needed to know if it would be too big and look ridiculous. 

I needed to know if I could get the neckline over my head, sewing it in a woven fabric.

I needed to know where to cut for a hem that would be just past my waistline.  The original is at the end of my hips. 

I needed to know if my bra would show at the side seams with the deep exposed armscyes. 

Now, when I make a muslin, it is down and dirty. People hate making muslins. The way I do it, I am done within a half hour, the most, even that Memphis dress I just made. You can see the blogpost on that muslin here. A muslin takes very little time, yet gives  you incredible feed back. 

I do no closures, using pins instead.

I cut off the hems to see where they land.

I  stay stitch my necklines and sleeveless armscyes and clip them back to the stitching line.  I have seen more people complain about their armscyes being horribly tight but they haven't trimmed the armscye back as they would in the real garment and they proceed to make a fitting adjustment. Oh,my.

There are no pockets, collars or other fussy details.  Although, sometimes I have placement concerns on my short body, wide hips and boobs. In that case I just cut an outline of fabric and pin it on. 

My muslins are brought to their absolute essence of the garment's fit and not much else. Then I try it on. I've seen people do all the details in a muslin. 

My muslins aren't made in printed fabrics. That distracts the eye and plays games with your assessment. Not a good idea to use leftover prints to make muslins, ever.

Then again, some people think they need to make an entire wearable garment in a muslin. Now that, IMO, is downright ridiculous. Hey, I'm entitled to my opinion.  A muslin, in order to give you proper fit feedback, needs to be able to be written on. You need to mark your bodices and bottoms with horizontal balance lines and vertical grainlines. You see those marked with red Sharpie on the pics here.  Why, you ask? Because the minute you put that garment on and those lines are skewed, they will show you exactly what your fitting problem is, no getting diagnoses from the tons of experts at Pattern Review. Instead you can see right where the fit is off with your lines. Next, you can write on your muslin---"decrease shoulders 5/8ths of an inch." Raise hem one inch." Etc, etc. etc. It's priceless and you will know exactly what to do when you correct and cut out your pattern. 

I know, you are a Wearable Muslin Maven, a WMM. I know for a fact that the near total percent of those who sew patterns simply are not the exact height and measurements of what is on the pattern envelope for one size.  Do all you WMMs really enjoy walking around in clothing that doesn't fit? If it fit you probably would not have tried making a muslin to begin with.  The other,  how does it help you?  You can't change much of anything if you need more room or length or have to push things forward, insert wedges, do FBAS. How can you tell if you made the right change? Perhaps another technique would be better. Wearable muslins give you ill fitting garments. Why do that, just why? That would be a huge waste of money for me as I am not about to go out in sloppy fitting clothing of my own make. Oh, but you think you are being thrifty buying cheap fabric instead of unwearable muslin. Uh, no. I use old sheets, many from the thrift, some of my own, very very  cheap. I also re use them, cutting up large pieces into small for newer muslins. No money is wasted here but by now you know me and that I have that cash angle all figured out. It's what I do. 

Then there is the " I don't have the time for that business." Well I guess you do have the money then because clothes that don't fit usually don't get worn and are eventually taken out of the back of the closet and donated or chucked.  In my world, time is money and I hate to waste it.  Again, I don't think I have ever taken more than half an hour to make  a muslin, moments very well spent. 

The fabric above became my extremely simple Eureka top. I have two more in the lineup. It is fast and simple and the next is a snug knit so I will take out some width. I went for the current very popular boxy look with my batik that you see in the first pic. There will be more on the pattern to come but I wanted to share my opinion on the value of muslin making with you all. I know you definitely have your own opinions and I do respect. If you would like to see some great examples of this simple block-y tee shirt which you are probably shaking your head at, click here for a gallery that will show you why I got hooked. Now that the fit is worked out this top can be whipped up in no time. Thanks for letting share my thoughts. 
I was going thru my woolen fabrics the other day and found this tag on a piece of nice gray wool I picked up at a neighbor's yard sale. I thought you might enjoy seeing the tag from the original store, not the yard sale, that was on it.  If only 100% wool were that price today!

I had to really up the contrast so you could read the faded tag.  Happy Sewing..................Bunny

Monday, February 14, 2022

Don't sew with Covid!!!


This picture is really the solution to one of my sewing issues right now but you will understand that in a moment. If I have learned anything in the past couple weeks, it is do not sew under the influence of Covid 19 and it assorted variants. This I have learned first hand. It is just not worth it and I promise, you will mess up whatever you will work on. You won't succeed, as much as you want the endorphins emitted by your usual joy of sewing to work their magic on your exhausted body, they just won't. 

First off, I am just fine now and out of harms way with the blessing from my doc to attack life at full speed ahead. The Omicron variant made it's way through our entire family since Christmas, our daughters, spouses, grandchildren, all and more. Truth is we have deliberately avoided each other to avoid the illness so we know we didn't get it from each other. It's just sticking to and floating about everywhere out there. There is no avoiding it so don't even try. Frankly it wasn't too bad. I have had colds and flus far worse than Omicron. What Omicron had that was distinct from those was the four days of fever and absolute total exhaustion that came in waves.  Just when you think your are better and running down to your sewing space to reclaim your sanity, another wave hits and back to bed you go, FOR HOURS. So much sleep. It's a weird disease but I am glad we are here to talk about it. 

My wardrobe has been overdue for a crisp new white shirt.  In a moment of insanity I figured my bout with Omicron would be the perfect time to start.  Not quite.  Above you see two of the four collars I made before I got one that finally went on the crisp white shirt. What you really can't appreciate in this pic is the bulbous shape of the tips here. I have never made such nasty collars in my life. By the end of the fourth collar I just sewed what I had on. It was far from my usual but in the brain fog that everyone tells you comes with Covid, it was the best I could pull forth.  At least no bulbous lumps. 

When the fog hit so did another wave of fever and I retreated. Next day, in what seemed like a moment of clarity, I went for the burrito yoke, my own personal addition to the plain, flat back of the shirt. First I decided to do a bit of gathering at center back. Then, hmmm, is that backwards? Covid Brain  says "Could be, but maybe not." Not sure how I did it but my gathers look backwards. I stitched it up into my burrito yoke anyway because another symptom of Covid is just not caring. But the burrito deal came out pretty well. Fever's staying away.  Ooops, almost forgot to deal with my facing before I get Covid Collar on. That's the first picture on the top, which you are seeing inside out. Hmmmmm,,,, I made the facing with its folds, fine. Then it was time for the collar band. I did my best Nancy Zieman imitation and uh, oh, trimmed too much off.  So very ugly. 

It's as bad as a case of hemorrhoids that won't tuck back in! I tried everything and will eventually hand sew it to get compliance but I needed to lay down first. I know I went about it all wrong. It was as if parts of my brain were just missing during this four day fog part of Omicron aggravation. That happened as I was shaking with chills despite sewing in a 72 degree room with a sweatshirt and two heavy sweaters on. Back to bed. So ugly. 

Do you get the sense I am not caring? I just want to lay down. I am just giving up on this till I feel better. 

Now I do. Yay! 

Now I returned to my crisp white shirt. 

I had my healthy, brain cleared moment. I'm officially better. 

Let's go take a look at that first picture at the top. When I returned in full health and looked at my white mess, I realized that if I treated that folded front facing as a button band, turned my blouse inside out and made the inside the permanent outside, my blouse looked pretty good. The wrong side of the details were better than the public side. With the burrito yoke every thing was finished and I hadn't sewn up the sides yet.  I had a solution!

- Topstitch my CF facing on both sides and call it a button band. 
-  I could have my gathers that were folding in weird now look just right. 

This, above, instead of this below. 

My collar band could look like this instead of that horror I showed you. 

So once I made this decision to turn my crisp white shirt wrong side out and accept it's diversity among my many pieces of clothing inhabiting my wardrobe, there was no stopping me. I decided to use shiny white Kam snaps instead of buttons so I wouldn't have further misery dealing with the top button on that collar band that was already mocking all the sewing knowledge I had ever accumulated.  The other thing my release from brain fog allowed was to do the bottom of my CF button band with the David Page Coffin (R.I.P.) method of turning a corner. I was now actually able to remember such sewing gems. You simply fold the seam allowance over and turn it with a forceps, perfection!

If only I had remembered Coffin's gem when it was time to turn my collar, sigh.........I am blaming the inside out crispy white shirt  on viruses and variants. I'll show you and review the pattern when done. I have been seriously tempted to redo the collar for the fifth time but that surgical trimming I did would leave me nothing to stitch to so it is what it is. We all get a fail now and then but I will make this wearable. 

Next issue:
Buying Fabric Online

I have had two  big issues rcently with buying fabric online. Actually one issue.  IT IS A CRAP SHOOT. When I put out our hard earned money, I just hate failure. and these two purchases failed me. 

Purchase number one was one of those emails from Fabric Mart and I caved for some seven dollar a yard "French Terry" on big clearance. 3 yards later I had my garbage. The color was lovely. The fabric sucked. It was thin and nasty. If I stitch two layers together maybe I can salvage it as a beach towel. Otherwise, it is not touching my body, anywhere. 

Purchase number two is gorgeous fabric. I am not kidding you. Another sale item but still very costly. I bought it from Emmaonesock. It is a wool sweater knit. It looks like wools I hand  dyed years back when I was into such things and had a big sink in my sewing space. It was gorgeous. It was embroidered all over with open curving vines, beautiful. The description said some of the vines had a bit of "lurex" in them. Now I know what Lurex is. It sparkles. So, I was expecting some sparkle but being sparkly  was not evident in the photo. Again, this fabric is gorgeous. I wanted one yard to make a Eureka top from Sewing Workshop. It makes a darling short sweater. I loved the hand dyed look and the embroidery was not over the top. Wrong!!! It arrived on my doorstep and I raced to open it. It is exquisite and does it sparkle? Well,  Let's just say I am ready for the Met Gala. You won't get the amount of sparkle in my photos because sparkle just does not photograph well for anyone, even Emmaonesock, which is the issue.  Just trust me. It is 1/3 plain embroidery and 2/3 highly sparkly embroidery. Think sequin sparkly. Again it's gorgeous but I don't know what I will use it for. Maybe next year's New Years Eve will find me in a Eureka Sweater in this. It will be a fabric to admire until I figure out something to do with it. 

Backside of the fabric: 

Front of the fabric:

The thin line of embroidery is extremely sparkly and is a holographic type of thread. This pic does not show any where near the amount of glitz this gorgeous fabric emits. Think solar flare. It will not be the short wool sweater I wanted to throw over a turtleneck and jeans and wear to the market, which was my goal but maybe one day it will be something special. In the meantime I will certainly admire it. Sigh..........................

I detest spending money on fabric I won't use, thriftress that I am. My sis is making a Eureka sweater out of plain, solid wool boucle and it is coming out perfectly. I think I need to check that out. Another sigh for all the disappeared opportunities to buy fabric in person..........................................Bunny

Sunday, January 30, 2022

The Memphis Dress, a la Petite

This was a really fun make. It had it's challenges but all were pretty much of my own making. I made creative decisions not recommended in the pattern which required a muslin and a bit of prayer but they worked out with less stress than I thought. It was a great project for a bitter cold couple of weeks in January and jump started my lagging sewjo. It's plan was to be part of a few garments for our vacation next June, far more enticing than winter clothing  right now!

Here were my challenges:

*The patterns specifies 2 or 4 way stretch knits. I wanted to use wovens.  What size do I begin with?

* I was inspired by seeing the pattern on a 5'10" beautiful young woman.  I am five feet tall definitely not young.  The designer is five foot six inches tall. It would need accommodating. How?

* I had limited yardage of two vintage linens. How to make them work and in what complimentary fashion? Would I have enough?

* Would I look like a clown when done?

I think I met the first three pretty well. I will let you be the judge of the last challenge. I will say hubs loved it. His words, " ...very nice colors. That's really pretty on you. What's that big thing on the side? A pocket?" 

Here is how I went about meeting those challenges. 


This is the Memphis Dress from the Sewing Workshop. I was smitten from the first time I saw it on one of their employees on their weekly youtube video. I still long to make a version like her's, a variety of textured white knits, gorgeous! But this was a good start to work out the fit. 

You can see my muslin here and read the blogpost about it as well. I did numerous adjustments I'll address in a moment some of which came post muslin. The muslin was to find my fitting issues and was made straight from the envelope. It was too long, too wide in the shoulders and just a LOT. It's easy for us petites to get overcome by style and this needed to be tamed down a bit. I do think the various fabrics broke up the volume in a good way and helped. 

The pattern itself was quite easy to put together. Instructions are clear. It's pretty much all straight lines.  Every notch and dot fit to perfection as they always seem to do on all Sewing Workshop patterns I have used. There is a lot of bias to watch out for but if being made in a knit fabric, as designed, you probably would have no issue. 

I was concerned about size. The inspiring model said that when she used a woven she went two sizes larger.  The finished measurements are on the pattern and website. The smallest size, XS, had a bust measurement of 40 3/4 inches finished, more than enough for me. I went directly for the XS. with fingers crossed. Below the apex there really was no other horizontal fitting, another plus for this pattern. 


I like to keep all my fabrics out in the open on shelving, not that I have a huge amount. I keep like types together. I had two vintage plaid linens right next to each other and not long ago they told me they needed to be put into the same garment. The each were plaids and each had  a bit of aqua connecting them. The picture above looks more blue but is is greenish IRL. Both plaid fabrics in the Memphis dress  are linens, vintage, and gleaned from thrift shop visits. The one above is an Evan Picone garment and a really nice quality. Both are yarn dyed. This skirt had 3 plus yards of length. I took it apart for yardage. It was a size 18 and is clamped around my form in the picture. Here is an Evan Picone pattern, early 80s my guess, showing his penchant for plaid skirts.  I have no recollection at all of the history of the purple check/plaid. I see linen, I buy it. 

Design 101 - do things in odd numbers. It's far more interesting. I needed that third fabric. I brought my first two with me to my local quilt shop to see what they had in their ever increasing group of garment fabrics. I found a nice Kaufman linen/cotton blend in the right aqua color to be the third fabric.  Now I just had to sit down with my pencil and sketch pad and figure out the color blocking. 

Color blocking figured out. All three fabrics picked out and ready. Let's cut! 

This presented a challenge or two. I had no idea if all the pattern pieces would fit on what I had to work with. I thought they would. They didn't. What is called the "drape", that large piece my husband called the "pocket", has bias edges and I wanted to specifically plan those big black bars. I was about two inches short of making the piece  fit. Ackkkk.... Two options: piece in a little matching piece perfectly OR put a seam in where the drape would naturally fold and match that, hopefully perfectly. I went for option #2 and you would never ever know there was an issue. It falls beautifully and you just don't notice a  thing. If anything, I think it enables the drape to fall better.  Can't see it, can you? If you click on the pic below  there are arrows pointing to the seam. 

What looks like a mismatch in the hem band at left is simply a fold in the fabric. 

I love how once you move a bit in the dress it makes this wonderful curve at the side with the drape. 

Other than that section I had plenty of fabric to lay out and cut as needed in all the colors. 


Here are the specific changes I did to change this to a PETITE pattern. I am five feet tall, very narrow of shoulder, C cup and evenly proportioned vertically. 

* Shoulders were decreased 5/8ths of an inch. This was tapered to nothing at 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the armscye. 

* Shoulder seam was decreased a healthy 1/8th of an inch, front and back, starting at neckline side, decreasing to nothing at armscye side. This removed gaping from neckline, before trimming back front neckline. 

* Front neckline was cut lower 1/2 inch all across. At shoulder seam it starting tapering. Within and inch it was back at the normal back neckline. 

* No bust adjustments were made at all and you can see fits fine. 

* Sleeves were cut 9 inches long from top of cap to raw hem edge and had 3/4 inch hem. Sleeve was reduced 1/4 inch at hem fold tapering to nothing right up at armscye. Beautiful fit on sleeves which rarely happens for me. This took approximately a half inch out of the sleeve width. 

*Hem band was folded in half.  This added weight to the hem which I felt was good for my lightweight linens. The skirt edge above was reduced by  1 inch as well. The two layers of the hem band and the skirt edge were all stitched and serged together and ironed toward the skirt. That reduced total length by 6 inches which I thought was perfect. The short side of the dress grazed my knee and the left side was about 8 inches above the floor. The proportions seemed similar to the inspiration. I am glad I did the folded in half hem band, nice additional weight. 

All seams in this garment were stitched on the machine. serged together and pressed to the side as per the instructions, fast and clean!

Next time:

The next time I make this I will double the yoke and do the burrito method for finishing. I just like my burrito yokes, their  finish, weight and strength to carry all this fabric which more than likely would be heavier fabric in the next effort. 

Next time might be another woven version as that presented no issues for me other than the additional challenge of doing a  different sort of neckline finish which in this case was a French fold bias binding cut at 85%.  I left the two ends of the bias strip long and met them, kiss style, at the end. Then I stitched the short seam to close the binding and pressed it open. Now I could finish the last couple of inches of the binding at just the right size. I do this a lot on non stretch bindings. 

I would do the band folded in half again as well as I like how the extra weight pulls my lightweight fabric down a bit. Helps that big curl on the drape happen, too. 

Some props here: 

My beautiful necklace is made by jewelry artist, Becky Sawyer of Weare, New Hampshire. She is my daughter's dear lifelong friend, all the way back to grammar school. She has been talented enough and lucky enough to have been a practicing artist her entire adult life and I am a huge fan of her work. She is a juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. My daughter gifted me last year with this necklace of Becky's for my birthday .  It is a perfect compliment for this dress, isn't?

In Conclusion:

This is my first official garment I have made for our trip to the Azores. In researching the climate I have found it will be perfect. Now I am on to tops and pants which will include another Sewing Workshop pattern as well. This pattern, like all other SW patterns I have tried, went together beautifully, and that was with my not following suggested pattern requirements which changed a few techniques. This is not a difficult pattern to sew at all  and must be even easier in the proper knit fabrics. There are no closures to deal with , no pockets or other fussy details. This is a lot of style for a beginner and I highly recommend for all sewists. If you are petite it is definitely do-able with a muslin being just the help to get you on the right track. Changing the proportions of the hem band help give it the smaller proportion petite designs demand. Great pattern for petites, great pattern for all. Happy Sewing..............Bunny

About making our undies...............

  It has recently become pretty obvious that I could use some serious batch making of undies. That got me thinking a lot about the process, ...