Friday, March 8, 2019


After my experience with the Willow Tank and Dress, I was anxious to try the Hadley Top.  It has two variations, sleeveless and long sleeve, jewel neck or V neck. The sleeveless top has facings for the armhole, neckline, and hem. One back version has an inverted pleat design element. The bottom is curved so it is shorter in the front than in the back.

I did my first draft as a wearable muslin using some very lightweight lawn which, although I loved, has sat idle on my shelf for a couple of years.  I chose the sleeveless, V neck version.  Many people had commented that the neckline was low, so I went ahead and raised it by 3/4 inch.  Because of the pattern design, I was unsure how to raise it. I contacted Grainline, but wasn't really happy with their answer, so this is how I did it.

As you can see, there is a notch for the seam allowance, which threw me a bit. I drew a line perpendicular to the grainline. Then I cut across this horizontal line, up the grainline, and stopped just short of the shoulder, leaving the piece attached. I then took the neckline section, which was slightly detached, and pinched up the required amount (3/4  " in my case). I then moved it back in and taped it, and inserted pattern paper to fill in the 3/4 " I pinched out above.  I did this so that the shoulder would stay intact and the V would be undisturbed since it has a very nice curved shape, see below.

But, once I was finished, the neckline is really the only thing I loved. I used the interfaced armhole facings as directed. But, with such very thin fabric, a 2" interfaced facing was overkill and just made the armhole very 'bunchy'. I probably should have anticipated that. So, in the future with a fabric like this, I would use simple self made binding.

My next disappointment is that the dart seemed to fall too high which I thought was odd because it did not on the Willow Tank. I haven't yet compared patterns, but I don't know why that would be the case with the same pattern company.  Also, the front really ends up quite short, not a  look that is good on me.  So this one will be strictly a learning experience before it is tossed.

Would I make it again? Yes, I think it has some nice possibilities. I would take advantage of its structural elements by using a heavier fabric. I would add length all around so the front doesn't end so short. I would also go up to a size 12 even though the finished measurements are larger than the Willow Tank. It just looked skimpy.

By the way, if you are a V neck fan, as I am, another wonderful V neck pattern is the shell in Loes Hinse' Sweater Set. Scroll down to look at the shell. Really lovely - also center seam, like the Hadley. It does not use facings, just gets turned under. And, even though it it made for a knit, I have made it in a woven, and it works just fine.

Some days are just learning experiences. Unfortunately, I wanted another sleeveless top for my trip!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Grainline Studio Willow Dress and Shell

I had said in an earlier post that I had too much stuff! However, at the same time, I did not seem to have what I need! I am trying to be more judicious both in my pattern and fabric purchases. I also needed some things for vacation in Florida and my preference, in hot weather, is dresses and skirts. 

I have been intrigued by some of Grainline Studio's patterns. They are getting posted a lot on Pinterest and they are modern and breezy. I purchased their Willow pattern which has a Tank or Shell variation and a Dress.  It's available as a PDF download or a paper pattern and I chose the paper pattern.  This is a very roomy pattern so I cut a size I normally would not. So in addition to looking at the sizing, make sure you look at the finished measurements so you can judge just how much ease you want.  I absolutely love when pattern companies include finished measurements!

I cut a 10 on top based on my bust size and increased it to a 12 through the hips and straight through to the hem.  Normally, I would cut a much larger size through the hips. Oddly, even though I cut the appropriate bust size, I think there is a tiny wrinkle across the bust. It doesn't feel tight and there is plenty of room in the armhole, so in the future, I may just move the pattern a tiny bit away from the fold, rather than going up to a 12 which would be too big.  There are darts at the bust, and they seem to hit me in the right spot. 

This is a very simple pattern, front and back of the bodice and the skirt are cut on the fold. When they are attached, there is an interesting fold that is built in which, I think, adds a lot. I put four buttons across the fold. 

The neckline and armholes are finished with self made bias.  I find it a bit fiddly - I'd rather work with facings, but that's just me!

The fabric is by Robert Kaufman and is called Linen Malibu.  It is a cross-dye, 55% linen and 45% cotton, purchased from Portsmouth Fabric Company

After finishing the dress, I made the pattern in the tank/shell, using the same sizing and a very light weight lawn fabric.  All in all, I like the pattern. I'd like to try to get rid of the tiny wrinkle which looks, but doesn't feel like pulling.  Again, I may just try to give a bit more room in the top, without going up a whole size.


Monday, February 18, 2019


I was very sad to learn today that Cynthia Guffey passed away in January.  The Worcester Sew and Quilt Expo is taking place in September and I searched Cynthia's name to see if she was teaching at it.  I came across her obituary instead.  She was only 67 years old.

I had the chance to take classes with her on two separate occasions.  She was a magnificent dressmaker, a wonderful teacher, and one of the funniest people I've met, in a very charming, southern way.  She wrote many patterns for elegant jackets, dresses, and skirts.  I made one of her jackets years ago and it was a work of love -- lots of handstitching, a lining that was whipstitched in by hand.  Everything fit together like a puzzle and the result is one of the pieces I'm most proud of, although not the best picture. I love the detail in the belt that slides through a slit in the band.  Those were the kinds of details she was known for.

Cynthia also wrote a number of sewing books, small paperback books, written by hand, with illustrations by her.  She didn't own a serger; she was a believer in hand overcasting, understitching by hand, and all those lovely couture techniques. 

I am sorry not to study with her again, but very grateful that I had the opportunity.  She was one of a kind!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Taking Stock or How Did I Get All This Stuff??

Warning - no pictures! :(

This week I made up a pattern I have been wanting to try as a wearable muslin, using up some fabric that I had to have, but that has been sitting for several years.  I finished the top, hated it, chucked both it and the pattern, with no hard feelings.

But what it made me realize is that I have so many patterns, and so much fabric, and I become so distracted in my sewing, that I find I have lost focus.  I don't know how many others out there share my frustration.  Part of the problem, I know, is that I taught an Open Sew for seven years at a local shop, where I was really the only garment teacher and most of the patterns, fabric, and notions, were non-garment related. But I got distracted! Beautiful fabric and patterns came in daily, and I thought I might like to do a wall hanging, make a quilt, try to force quilting cotton into an acceptable garment!

What really happened is that I stopped sewing what I love, bought too much stuff, and lost myself. Now, it wasn't all bad at all! I met some very creative people. And, I did do some creative things, as you can see if you scroll back and see a wall quilt, a baby quilt, some home dec projects,etc.

That, or course, wasn't the only problem. While trying to clean out my sewing space, I counted close to 12 Style Ark patterns I have never made! They were the new kid on the block and, as usual, I had to have the patterns. Same with Cynthia Guffey. Same with Sewing Workshop. Did I make any of them? One Cynthia Guffey jacket that was so satisfying to make and so beautiful, but that is it.

I don't know if I am the only one out there who gets so distracted by looking at what everyone else does, that I spend my time buying and not doing!  One other thing holding me back, and I am probably not alone, is the pounds that have crept on, and the promise that I will sew when I lose the weight.  Not happening - either the weight loss, or the sewing.

I am trying to recommit, to discover why I want to sew. The fabric, the style, the fit, none of which can be found in the local TJ Maxx! 

So, as we prepare to head to Florida, where I prefer short skirts and tops that skim them, I aim for two skirts, and three tops.  Nothing complicated! But, beautiful fabric that I won't have if I buy disposable clothing for my trip.

I will keep you posted.  If any of you have run into similar roadblocks where you have let yourself be buried, and have come out alive, please share!


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tula Pink and Tone Finnanger in the Guest Room

With three grandchildren under the age of 3 it was time to make the guest room seriously more fun.  Only the three year old is old enough for the bed; the others are still sleeping in the crib, which is also in this room.  I am a huge fan of the fuschia, aquas, lime green, orange, and other combinations that Tula Pink puts together. Not all of the fabric strips are Tula, but many are.  The quilt is simple strips of varying widths, sewn together, with a coordinating border and binding.

The quilting is simple straight lines, stitched approximately 1/2 inch apart.  I simply used the edge of my walking foot. I was able to make corrections in the ditch where the strips met, if needed, to keep the lines fairly straight.  I like the clean, contemporary look of it.  And, since I don't do a lot of quilting, straight line quilting is my fall back.
Of course, once the quilt was done, we needed some funky pillows! The bird design is Ethnic Birds from Hatched In Africa, one of my favorite sources for interesting embroidery designs. 

 And, the animals are African Jewels, also from Hatched in Africa.

And, of course, you need friends. Tilda and Monkey are both from the Tone Finanger books.  I've made Tilda a number of times for other people, but this is the first time I've made her for myself! And, the ballet skirt on Miss Monkey is netting from one of my daughter's ballet costumes from oh, way too many years ago! Fun fact to share with her little three year old!  We need some baby boy things, so I think a snake may have to be my next project. 


Sunday, January 13, 2019


Sew Serendipity, by Kay Whitt, is a unique book with full multi-size patterns of simple skirts, dresses, and jackets, in contemporary styles.  Because there is so much packed in one book, newbies may find markings and directions a little on the limited side.  But, it is a refreshing change of pace from single use patterns.

I made the skirt above and ended up with a nicely finished and well fitting skirt.  I used two fabrics and incorporated pleats on the pocket and hem done with the ruffler attachment to my machine (which acts much more like a pleater than a ruffler.  The materials guideline for the skirt is below, as is my skirt.  The wrinkling is simply a result of how I've placed it for taking the photo and is not there when the skirt is worn. I did add a lining, not included in the directions. This is where a newbie may run into trouble, but inserting a lining into an A-line skirt can be found easily enough.  Connie Long's book on linings is a fabulous resource for putting linings into anything!

The second skirt I made is shown below, along with the materials guideline.  I made this one with multiple home dec fabrics.  Because of the weight of the fabric I needed no lining on this one.  


All in all, fairly well drafted and a fun change of pace! Unfortunately I've yet to find something to match both of them.  It is amazing how difficult it can be to find the exact taupe and cream and how badly an unmatched one looks.  May have to go with something completely different for a color..


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bento Tee by Liesl & Co, My Woven Tee

I'm not generally a fan of instant download patterns.  I just find the effort to print, tape, and draw off on a more usable pattern paper to be more effort than I can get excited about.  The exception is very small patterns for my grandchildren which require very little paper.

But the Bento Tee by Liesl & Company was either a free download at one time, or it just caught my eye.  I honestly don't remember, but somehow it ended up on my sewing table!.  I don't find the picture on the pattern to be flattering (for me), but I had seen it in other versions and liked it a lot. So don't let the picture discourage you.

It is a Tee, so obviously is meant to be sewn with knits.  But I did my test piece as a woven, cutting a Medium, and flaring it a bit toward to bottom to give me a bit more room.  I made it in a cotton from my stash, purchased a long time a go at Delectable Mountain Cloth in Brattleboro, VT.  The shirt has a short sleeve with cuff option or long sleeve.  I chose the latter, but shortened them to my favorite three/quarter summer length.  It fit perfectly, going over my head easily, even though it was a woven.  The sleeve is dropped which made it comfortable and non-binding. 

I think it's an attractive pattern.  The bottom is constructed so it has two small pockets as a detail in the front.   I liked it on enough so that I think I will make it up in a lightweight sweater material, also from my stash.  I hope it is as successful!