An unusual (for me) craft

Just a quick post today.

I don’t usually do non-sewing fabric crafts. I mean, why play with fabric and not sew, when I can sew? Anyway.

While I was cleaning my house for ‘s visit last weekend, I pulled the cover off our Ikea Grundtal Magnetic knife rack. had one at the townhouse, and liked it enough to install it in our new house. You can see it in its native habitat here [link removed].

I’d seen a couple of examples where people had recovered it (just one example [link removed]), and I decided now was the time for me to tackle it. I found some cute kitchen-related fabric that totally doesn’t match the kitchen. I’ll change it again when we repaint the kitchen. You know, in a few years.

Anyway, just one fat quarter (I had to cut it across the diagonal, so most of the FQ is now scrap) and some double-sided tape (just to keep it in place until the cover was reattached, which is held in place with really strong magnets – it’s not going anywhere). 10 minutes.

The rest of the knives were in the dishwasher. Usually this rack is full. Also, I highly recommend a pair of kitchen shears like this, that are only ever used for food and kept food-safe (in terms of cleanliness).


Silverware-themed fabric!



Like I said, pretty much a one of a kind project. I’d really rather use my sewing machine. But with just a few minutes to spare, this was a fun project.

Christmas projects are so much fun!

I have to tell you that I am so thankful for my co-workers today. They have been really supportive about all the time I need to take off to be in the schools, and then they want to hear all the stories, and even though making it through the program means I’ll be leaving them, they are still encouraging. (That said, of course there are plenty of days when I want to hurt them, but right now, I’m feeling the love. Between the Celexa and getting to be in a middle school two days a week, my mood has majorly improved lately.) By the way, yesterday was just as awesome as Tuesday – I am LOVING my time in the middle school!

But, I promised you pictures, didn’t I?

First off, the pillows! (See what I mean about it being sunny the other day? Lovely!)

The fronts

The patterns were in the latest American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. You can see their versions here [link removed], but you have to get the magazine for the pattern.

Pillow #1 – not my favorite only because of the gathered panel that doesn’t match perfectly (yes, there’s technically green in the bottom print, but it just seems out of place). I love the other three fabrics though. There were supposed to be buttons on the middle (non-gathered) panel, but the snowflake buttons I have just disappeared on the business of the ornaments print. Sad. Korben has been enjoying knocking them off my cutting table, a different one every day.


My favorite, and Prince Charming’s favorite too! I have been dying to use that center print for years, and still have some left that I will use judiciously. So cute!


You wanted a close-up on those skaters, didn’t you? How can you not be in love with them? You can’t.


The backs. (They have invisible zippers at the bottom, so both sides are usable.) Matea just wouldn’t leave the frame. You’ll see these pinwheels again in a bit.

How about some details?

Christmas pillows detail shots
Top to bottom: close-up on the pleats, the gathered panel (I didn’t like the instructions given, and if I use this design again, I’ll do it differently), and the matching prints for the borders of the pinwheels.

And now, a project that went much faster, and involved math! (Also, a sneak peek at our dining room that I still haven’t shown off. Bad blogger!)

A Christmas table runner! It fits the table perfectly, with just two or three inches at either end. I used the rest of the pinwheels that I’d made for the backs of the pillows. You can tell that I didn’t do math when I originally made those up, since all 9 were supposed to be the back for one pillow. I mean, I was planning on cutting them down, but not that much, and in the end I couldn’t bear to do it. (Sneak peak: in the background, our new buffet, and in the foreground, our new dining table. I promise I’ll show them off soon, and tell you about all the work we did to get them to this point.)


The binding is in the same line as many of the prints, and even shows up in one of the pinwheels. The red border is the same as I used on the pillows. Print-on-print pinwheels are a little bit harder to see, but I tried for as much contrast as I could get. There are red and white pinwheels, green and white pinwheels, and dark print on light print pinwheels. Each is technically unique, though each print appears twice (I made my favorite no-waste half-square triangles). The back is some green felt I had stashed. Everything, in fact, is from stash. Absolutely nothing was purchased for the pillows or the table runner (except for two invisible zippers in the right color/length). Go me!

I almost don’t need a tree, these are so cute!

Last night I went to JoAnn and bought some fabric to make two fun and flirty yet winter-appropriate skirts. I was so sad to put away my summer clothes – all the fun dresses and skirts I’d made are no longer right for the season. It took me forever to find darker prints and things that weren’t overly floral, but I finally did it. Skirts are so quick to do, and I love making them. I know, I’ve got a ton of other projects to do too, but self-made winter clothes are a goal and I want at least some of them to be fun. Not everything has to be boring and “perfect for student teaching” (as in, browns and blacks, sedate, nondescript and/or classic blah-ness). I got some cute beads too – I think I’d like to make some more jewelry. The early sunset lends itself well to my hobbies, which are all indoor crafts, but now that the semester is almost over, I’d like to spend more time with ERIC, which means not spending the whole evening upstairs sewing or doing homework, but hanging out with him on the couch in the basement. Beading is perfect for that. I can stay busy, but we can be together. Plus, I’ve got a new plan to make jewelry to match clothing that I make, so that I’ve got outfits (or parts of outfits) ready to wear. It seems smart to make jewelry to specifically go with an item of clothing (especially necklaces), and it’s always nice to have things that coordinate with a newly made item of clothing.

Back in the saddle

Last night, I surprised myself by actually turning on my sewing machine and working on a project. I know, I know, shocked me too.

I haven’t yet switched over my wardrobe from summer to winter yet, so I have very few skirts hanging in my closet that I can actually wear. And skirts are easy to make, and I like making them. So I decided to make up Simplicity 2191. It’s new to me, and there were only two reviews on, neither of which were on the skirt. But it was 4 simple panels – it certainly wasn’t going to be a hard project (I did pull out the instructions and glanced at them to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, but then I put them away and went on my merry way).

Described as “lightly flaring.” There are darts in the back (not shown here), no facing, and seams down the front and back (as well as the sides).

The only thing that was difficult was my fabric – it’s a lovely satin charmeuse, which meant binding all of the seams lest the whole thing fall apart in the wash. That’s fine, I don’t mind binding seams; it just means that the project time was increased. I still haven’t figured out if this fabric is navy or black. When I cut it out (last week or the week before), I noticed I had a lot of fabric left over. The pattern says I needed 1 1/8 yards (my fabric was 60″ wide), but out of the 1 1/2 yards I had, I barely used half.

Now, what I should have done was cut each panel out separately, not on the folded fabric. My mistake, but I don’t think that actually affected anything in the long run. The other thing I should have done was figure out a way to mark the fabric so I could tell where the notches were supposed to be (as I bound the edges before sewing). I know which part of the project I can blame on that problem, but it’s pretty minor.

What I really should have done was take into consideration what was posted on Both reviewers (one of the tunic and one of the cropped pants) said theirs turned out about a size too small. I did think about this, but I checked the finished garment measurements and thought I was safe (had at least 1″ of ease at the hips, which should be plenty, right?).

I was not.

I had to take out both side seams (I’d put the zipper in the center back, since I didn’t have an invisible zip to use and I thought it would be more flattering on my hips if the seams there were smooth) and stitch them as narrow as possible, and even then it barely fits. I made it work… kind of. I pinned some cute lace to the bottom hem, but didn’t actually stitch it down. But other than the hem, the only other thing I need to do is do the waist stay (the pattern calls for twill tape).

Instead of finishing it, however, I think I’m going to rip it apart. I came to this conclusion this morning, though I had been thinking about it last night. It’s the reason I only pinned on the lace and didn’t complete it (I certainly had the time to).

I think that I might be able to re-use the panels and my leftover fabric and make up either Simplicity 4494 or Vogue 7735, both of which I’ve made up before. They’re 6 and 8 gore skirts, respectively, instead of this stupid 4 gore skirt. And they both fit. I’m leaning towards the Simplicity one, simply because it has the flare that I was looking for. I’ll be cutting out single thickness of these pattern pieces, and I think I’ll wait to bind the seams until after I’ve done most of the stitching, even though it will be harder to do then.

And the next time I attempt to make a skirt out of charmeuse, I’ll pick a bias-cut pattern. I think that would be better. (I don’t think I have enough fabric to fool around with at this time to try it now, otherwise I would.)

What I really should have done was make up the skirt I’ve been thinking about.

Basic pencil skirt, with a bit of pretty in the back. The fabric is a poly poplin, and the color is oyster. Totally seasonally acceptable, I think, as it’s a shade or two darker than “winter white.”

I have honestly been dreaming about making this skirt up for over a month, since I ordered the fabric. Perhaps before then. I didn’t have the pattern until this weekend, though, so this is not one of the projects I already have prepped.

Here’s what I do have cut out. All except that last one are knits. Notice that the last one is the same pattern as the failed skirt; its redeeming quality is that it has different pattern pieces for each cup size, so I feel like I have a shot at it fitting. Plus, tops are often big on me, so it’s possible it will fit better than other peoples’ attempts. The first two in the bottom row I have made up before, and I love the other versions, so I have no qualms about them. I’m not as sure about the top row, but they’re knits, so it’s unlikely they won’t fit. And there’s no seam binding required on knits, so that’s good. I should have made up Butterick 5525, but the fabric I have is a sweater knit, and I’m not totally confident about that yet. Might need to do some Google-ing.

So then, tonight when I get home from class, should I rip apart the black skirt? Should I prep the oyster skirt? Should I spend my time repainting my nails (they’re currently “hooker red” with a gold wavy pattern subtly stamped on them, and they just started chipping today – and honestly, the gold pattern totally tones them down from the brightness they were originally, believe it or not)? What’s a girl to do?

Little squares of fabric

Everyone who sews has a different way of dealing with scraps. Myself, I toss them into a pile in my closet until it gets too big, and then I pull out my rotary cutter. Every piece big enough gets cut into charm squares (5″), and those not that wide get cut into jelly roll strips (2 1/2″ long). Whatever doesn’t fit gets tossed, unless it’s non-cotton (different rules there), or very special cotton (like very popular OOP fabrics or especially pretty pieces). But, basically, this leaves me with a lot of squares and strips. I have a nice stack of charm squares. Sometimes I buy charm packs to see if I like a fabric line (or because I love the line but don’t want to buy a half yard of each print, which would cost a ton of money), or to see if it will match (this has worked well for trying to match fabrics to the paint color in our bedroom), or because they’re cheap. I’ve also done a few charm square swaps on Swap-bot (though not for a while), where I’d send out 25 squares to 2 people, and would receive the same. This means my stack of charm squares is quite large.

My pile of jelly roll strips isn’t nearly as big, but is a bit more diverse. I have bought some jelly rolls, for the same reason I’ve bought the charm squares, but more of my stash has come about because jelly roll strips happen to be the same size as quilt binding, so I have all of the leftover pieces from the scrappy bindings of ‘s quilt and ‘s quilt. And when ‘s quilt is done, I’ll have even more.

Jelly roll strips happen to be perfect for making nine patch blocks. Charms are also good for this, but I like to make half-square triangles out of them. There’s lots of things you can make with half-square triangles.

So, to sum of the above, I have a large pile of charms, a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of jelly roll strips, a several-inch high stack of half-square triangles, and a slightly smaller stack of nine patch blocks.

Really, I’m going somewhere with this.

One of the plans I’ve had for the half square triangles was a table runner. Earlier in the week, I finally sketched some possible designs out – our new dining table and buffet definitely deserve something pretty (that will protect but not cover up). I should have taken a picture of my sketches – colored pencils and graph paper, so exciting. Oh, here’s the part where I tell you that I still don’t have any pictures, because the weather has not cooperated. To make up for it, I’m going to pepper the rest of this post with pictures from other people – they’ll all link back to the original picture on Flickr, with proper credit given to all.

I really like pinwheels. For the buffet, I’m planning two rows of pinwheels.

Modern Spring Table Runner
Modern Spring Table Runner by Andrea (Knitty Bitties)


Meadowsweet Table Runner Close Up
Meadowsweet Table Runner by Andrea (Knitty Bitties)

Incicentally, table runners seem to be a great way to practice a new skill, like hand quilting (couldn’t post that picture directly).

I also like the concentric squares idea. I used this design for the dining room table. Each square is a different color.

Amy Butler HST
Amy Butler HSTs by snip snippets


Project Plume for the KCMQG
Project Plume bylolliquiltz

More ideas for future table runners….

This would be fairly easy to make out of jelly roll strips.

Modern Table Runner
Modern Table Runner by badlandsquilts

Straight-up charm squares (love the mitered corner).

Urban Charm Pack Table Runner by velouria73

More options for jelly roll strips….

Beachy Table Runner
Beachy Table Runner by knitting_elixir


quilted table runner
Strips Quilted Table Runner by sonnetofthemoon


Day at the Lake #2
Day at the Lake #2 by two.hippos

A nice design for bigger blocks of fabric….

Quilted Table Runner by Mama Quiet Minutes

I love this tree one!

Fall Table Runner by Andrea (Knitty Bitties)

And I’ve had dreams of making a Christmas runner for years now (I manage to collect Christmas fabric but never find the time to make something out of it – that needs to change!).

Christmas table runner
Christmas Table Runner by janssendesigns

So, I separated out the yellow and the green half square triangles and laid out the dining table one (the concentric squares). When I sketched it out, I’d already realized that I didn’t have enough yellow squares, so I decided to do a square out of pink too (this after looking at color scheme ideas and really liking the yellow-green-pink combo – thanks, Pinterest!).

I make no-waste half square triangles, which means that I get two identical squares from each charm. So, I used one of each print for the dining table runner, and one for the buffet runner.

However, when laying out the buffet runner (pinwheels), I realized that the buffet was much smaller, and I wouldn’t need as many squares. I’d still run a bit short of yellow, though, and the dining table needed a lot more yellow. So, I guess I’ll be digging into my stash and cutting some more charm squares.

I’d laid each runner out on a spare piece of batting, so I was able to roll them up and stow them away from the cats, and they’ll be ready to work with when I’ve made more half square triangles.

Unfortunately, this means that I won’t have anything completed for this weekend, when we’re having family over for dinner at least once (will it rain tomorrow?), but that’s OK. I’m more concerned about the holes in the walls from removing the wine glass rack, and the giant empty space from getting rid of a no-longer-needed piece of furniture (Craigslist-ed it). We’ll have to make do with place mats (because I’m not covering up our newly finished dining table with a tablecloth – that seems wrong).

The hot weather I mentioned (at least, I think I mentioned it – it’s been hot and extremely muggy and not terribly sunny) has prevented us from burying any of the irrigation ditch – so no children will be playing unattended in our yard, that’s for sure. In fact, maybe we’ll just close the blinds and not let anyone look out there.

And one of these days, I’m going to come home to find that the neighbors have their new siding up (they’re doing it themselves, so it’s not going as quickly as one might think), and I’m terrified that they will have picked the same color that we want to paint our house. They’re obviously not going to re-side in white, because that’s what the house was before, and their next-door neighbors on the other side recently re-sided, also in white. But… what color will they do? Please, please, please don’t do the pretty blue we have picked out! (Their house would look so much better in blue than ours would, it would be incredibly disappointing.) We need to get that trench filled so that we can get our house painted before it snows – and for that to happen, the weather really needs to cooperate. In the mean time, I’m stuck inside, cutting out little squares of fabric and putting them in piles.

Quilt top done!

In the previous update on ‘s quilt,

I'd finished the sashing and laid everything out, and started assembling the rows.

I took the rows two at a time, piecing the row and then attaching the rows to each other. This way I didn’t have to deal with too much bulk.

Late last week I started piecing the 2-row sections together, and by Sunday, I was done!


More pictures? Of course I’ll oblige.

I like the scrappy sashing. It's just three different colors of solid green. I could have done just one color, but I would have had to go to the store and buy fabric, and I didn't think that was necessary.

All pressed, it’s now folded safely away until I complete the other side. I measured it, so now I just have to draft out the initial side and do some calculations so I know how much of the border print I need to buy. My binding is all cut, so I suppose now that I have “finished” dimensions, I could piece that together and prep it too. Then some testing of quilting thread.

It's so... colorful and playful and comfy!


This round, I got a partner who really likes color, and I think, after looking at her favorites and her inspiration mosaic, I really nailed this one. I’m not always confident about matching what I want to / can make to my partners likes, but I feel good about this one.

DQS11 Fabrics
Here was my fabric selection. The plan was to do little log cabin squares, using the green birdie print for the fussy-cut centers.

I totally didn’t do any math or planning, and I probably should have, since the rules for this round were quite specific. 9-18″ on each side, at least 6 blocks (no “art quilts” – bed quilt styles only).

I hadn’t done any fussy-cutting before, but I was prepared for it, as I had a package of template plastic sitting around, just waiting to be used. I cut out a 3″ square and drew the seam allowances on, so my center squares would be a finished size of 2 1/2″. The print is a bit bigger than that, but I made it work.

Little log cabins

I cut strips out of the other fabrics (except for the brown birdies) that were 1 1/4″ wide, for 3/4″ blocks. Then I just randomly pieced them together so that no two blocks were alike. I really like how it came out!

Very narrow sashing on this, as I was quite close to the maximum dimensions – 3/4″ strips for 1/4″ sashing and borders! Even with that, I came out just a tiny bit over the size guidelines (9×9 to 18×18 – this one is 18 3/4″ square).


I only did minimal quilting on this one – seeing as how it probably won’t get tons of us, I figured it could handle it. I used Fusi-boo for the first time (they no longer make the bamboo batting I love, but I bought a small package of the Fusi-boo to see if it would be a suitable replacement), and it worked well. I’m not sure how it would work on a bigger quilt – can I use my iron on my hardwood floors? This wasn’t the greatest test of the stuff, since I didn’t wash the quilt when I finished, so it wasn’t a good simulation of a finished quilt. But, the fusing part worked well, and was so much easier than pinning! I still have plenty left (I bought a crib sized piece, so I still have about 3/4ths of it left), so I can get a little more practice in before using it for ‘s quilt.


I cut the binding a bit narrower than I usually do – 2 1/4″ instead of 2 1/2″. I probably could have gone narrower, but this gave me plenty of fabric to work with, and I just pulled the excess width around to the backside.  I used the hearts for the binding and the birdies for the backing, since those two prints go together (part of the same line). I wanted to use the birdies in the quilt, but they were just a bit too big to work for the log cabins.


I made a label up that matches the center blocks – I used the bird bath square. It’s cute, but I didn’t get any photos of it. Ironed it on just before dinner on Friday, and dropped it in the mail Saturday morning after buying bread and green beans at the farmer’s market.

And now, it’s on its way to… somewhere in the US! It shipped out Saturday and should arrive today or tomorrow. And the one someone made for me should arrive sometime in the next week or so. Such a fun round!

More pencil skirts

I am in love with Butterick  5466! After I made one in July (and got nice compliments at work), I picked out fabric for 3 more. I know, I know, but… it’s a pencil skirt! How can you go wrong?

If you remember, originally I wanted to make this skirt out of a different fabric, but didn’t have enough of it. I had posted on that I was considering laying out the pieces perpendicular to the selvedge (instead of parallel). Someone commented that she had, in fact, done that, and it turned out fine. This only fueled the fire! (Because you can make this skirt for under a yard then (though it will be shorter than knee length).

I wore this one last Thursday….

I actually purchased (and wore) a belt! It was weird, but a good look (though I kept tugging at it all day - I think I need to get used to the idea of wearing a belt). We're OK with the belt look, right?

Cute details:

Ribbon trim on the facing, a contrast waistband, and hook closure.

I totally fail at using hook and eye closures, so when I installed the invisible zipper before adding the waistband, I had to figure something out. There was enough waistband fabric to do a button closure, but, well, I haven’t mastered buttonholes on my machine yet, so I needed a different option. Luckily, I found this super cool closure at Hancock Fabrics. This skirt has a back zipper, and when I wear my belt you can’t see the closure, but I know it’s there, and it is very functional.

And today I’m wearing the skirt I originally wanted to make. The longer I wear it… those shorter it gets. Minor problem. (My fabric must have been shorter than 44″ wide after washing….)

This one has the high waistband like the first version, but I chose to not display that today. I think this would look cute with my new black belt (similar to the brown one I wore in the previous pictures, with a different buckle), but I didn't want to wear "the same outfit" again. At least not right away.

One of the things I like about this pattern? It fits really well, without my having to do any alterations. Seriously – nothing.

Even the backside fits nicely. Something for those of you with booty to note - you might have to make some alterations.

Not much fun in the details on this one.

Just some colorful ribbon on the facing. I used white flexi-lace on the hem so that it would be as invisible as possible.

Trying out my new full slip today. Can’t think of the last time I might have worn one of those, but it was highly practical today, even if I wasn’t wearing a dress. It’s white, so it worked with what I was wearing, it was the right length, and it was better than wearing a half slip and a tank top /cami underneath my blouse.

Both of these will have to go away when I get out my fall wardrobe, like most of the skirts I’ve made lately. That’s OK – I’m starting to work on some more fall-appropriate clothing (or at least planning some projects). For now, I’m going to keep living up summer clothing while I can.

Remember when I said I planned 3 of these? I made some significant modifications for the third one, and it’s almost done. I just need to hem it (all the hand sewing is done). Maybe Wednesday.

Speaking of which… any recommendations for brands of nylons? Or stores where they’re not a billion dollars a pair? All these skirts and dresses are fun, but my stash of nylons is seriously depleting, and it’s so depressing to buy more when I know they’ll just get rips in them like all the others….

Sometimes, I’m quite impressed with my own genius

First things first – have you voted yet?

Last night, I started cutting out one of my next projects (I’m in a planning/cutting stage right now, prepping a bunch of stuff for when things invariably get busier in the coming weeks when school starts).

Simplicity 2925, View E (the pants on the far left), in this lovely taupe-colored suiting.
Yep… those are pants. Nice, boring work pants. Great for fall.

For Simplicity 2925, I needed 2 1/4 yards of 60″ wide fabric. only sells in 1/2 yard increments, so I had 2 1/2 yards of this Metro Suiting in Taupe that I got for $1.74/yard (+ 15% off – total cost, $3.70). When I laid it out, I noticed that there was an awful lot of fabric left over. I got the brilliant idea to lay the pieces at the selvedge edge, not the folded edge, which gave me all the space I needed to get a bonus skirt out of the yardage.

The pants only had two pattern pieces (no facing, just twill tape – I might draft my own facings, but don’t need to use the fancy fabric for that) – they’re the top row there. In the leftover space? All of the pieces for Simplicity 2475 fit just perfectly! It’s like it was meant to be! (I just need to pick out some coordinating fabric for the facings for the skirt, and that shouldn’t be too hard to do. Oh, and I need to buy some thread, and maybe a zipper or two. Details, details.)

I was planning to make Simplicity 2475 out of a different fabric, but before I do that, why not make up a wearable muslin, just to be sure, out of this essentially free fabric?

I cut out View A, using the “curvy” pieces – that makes more sense if you’ve seen the pattern itself. Really, the only difference between A and B is the length. All of the decorations are optional. There are different pattern pieces for slim, average, and curvy body types.
A great, albeit potentially boring, work skirt. Very… professional.

(There’s reason for concern – Simplicity 2475 is an Amazing Fit pattern, which I’ve had good luck with before, but I get a bit confused when they want me to cut out the “curvy” version. In this case, I think “curvy” means that I have both hips and a waist, but still, since I can still remember being called a surfboard for being so… uncurvy, it’s hard to trust that I’ve measured correctly.)

I’ve been making a conscious effort to plan out outfits instead of just items of clothing. The fabric above was part of this effort. What’s nice about planning outfits is that it gives me some freedom to make something a little outside of my usual, because I’ve got several other articles planned that coordinate with it (for instance, a mustard-colored pencil skirt, which is so far from something I would have ever thought of wearing, but matches perfectly with this cute charmeuse print, and spawned a whole combination of fabrics and pattern combinations that I’m quite enthralled with). It also has helped me pick out some solids, because while they’re sometimes boring and often don’t catch my eye, they are a very important part of one’s wardrobe. I’ve had to intentionally search them out – they’re definitely less inspiring, but I think I will benefit from this in the end. Oh, the fun I’ve had drafting it all….

But back to my earlier genius. A pair of pants and a skirt for under $4? You can’t even do that at Goodwill! (OK, Prince Charming clarified that it is $4 + a lot of effort, but in all honesty, pants are pretty easy, and I’ve got to spend my time doing something, so I’m considering my labor free.)

Let the voting begin!

The feedback on my dresses (and other sewing projects) has been great, but I have to admit I’m having a hard time figuring out which one is everyone’s favorite! So, we’re going to have an official voting to put the issue to bed. (I need to give credit where credit is due – suggested this.)

Here are links to the original posts, in case you need to refresh your memory (you can also click on the little camera icon next to each item in the poll below)….

If I can figure out how, I’ll close the poll on Friday. If I can’t, well, I’ll still declare a winner next Monday. Thanks for your input!

QuestionsView Results

Unemployment Dress #5

I originally shared these plans back in February of 2010.

Original idea

Here’s what I said at the time:

I’m a bit fuzzy on the fabric, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lightweight (but not too lightweight) muted-sage green. I’d make up View B, the jumper. Too boring? (It gets more boring in a pic or two.)

Well, those plans never did come to fruition. I was always afraid that the solid green would be too plain, and with the styling of the dress being what it was, that I would look like I was wearing a giant green sack. So, while planning out all those other summer dresses, I came up with a different direction to go in.

New plan: View 3 (the red striped one) in this blue paisley for the bodice and the solid green for the skirt.
The mock-up. (Some of my really vintage patterns don’t have basic line drawings, they only have these posed drawings, even in the pattern instructions. This could lead to some awkwardness in future mock-ups.)

This was the last dress I completed (I think) while unemployed. Most of my hesitation came from the fact that the pattern I had was a 14/16, so the bodice was going to be too large, and at this point I was feeling way too lazy to do a muslin and get the fit exactly right. It turned out OK in the end.

This is me, trying very hard to not point out all of the things wrong with this dress.

It’s not that I’m not happy with it, it’s just that it has some issues, and the more I wear it, the more I am aware of them.

OK, let’s put “push-ups” on the to-do list for the next three months. Ew! Sorry.

One of the problems that was self-inflicted is that I held the bodice up too high when was helping me pin-fit this, so the straps are too short, the bodice is too high, which means the waist is too high…. I think I can fix this problem, assuming I have enough of the solid green leftover (I don’t have any of the blue paisley leftover).

Imagine the whole thing about an inch or two lower on my body. Much better.

I made up a sash, thinking that would help the higher waistline, but it doesn’t, not really. I need to go purchase a real belt. I’m thinking that the $20 of Kohls cash, along with the $10 Kohls gift card we got in the mail, might help me do that tonight.

For work, with a sweater and the sash.

For a long time, I thought the bodice wasn’t symmetrical, that I had somehow done something very wrong to mess things up. However, after wearing it for several hours, I think it’s just that the whole thing is too high, and that if I fixed the shoulder straps, everything else would be better.

Quick story about this dress: this morning I stopped in the skyway to get a pastry before work (because when you’re wearing a dress that is slightly uncomfortable and might possibly look silly, you need the boost of confidence a cream cheese danish can provide… or is that just me?). The girl behind the counter told me that she liked my dress, and asked me where I bought it. When I told her that I made it, she said she was very jealous. I have received a few compliments at work, too, though not as many as some other dresses – I know this one isn’t the best of the bunch.

I’m not opposed to making this up again, even though we had to pin out several inches of the bodice. I had to cut off several inches of the skirt when laying the pattern out, because I didn’t have enough fabric. The skirt is so full that this dress takes over 4 yards of fabric when you do the correct length! I got away with a bit less than that, but it is a tiny bit short in the back when I sit down.

Thus ends my series of “Unemployment Dresses.” I think that’s the end of my “Unemployment Clothing” posts, too. I have one “dress that wasn’t,” but I’m not sure it’s worth writing about.

Perhaps tomorrow, as requested by Mom, I’ll put all five dresses up for a vote for your favorite. Or at least by the end of the week.

Unemployment Dress #4

We’re nearing the end of the unemployment dresses… just one left after this!

The match-up


The mock-up. I chose the top print for the armhole bindings and facings. Also, I changed my mind and went with View A, which has the bow in the center of the bodice instead.

And the end product…

Voila! Perhaps not the best style for me - with the empire waist it's almost babydoll, but I made sure to keep it as long as possible to avoid looking... silly.


Back view. The bow in front is part of one long piece that looks just like a regular sash. It's threaded through a casing at the top of the back bodice, then forms the "straps," is threaded through casings at the top of the bodice, and then tied in front. It's a great idea, and I didn't have the problem of trying to adjust the straps so they don't fall off my shoulders.

Some details…

8380 Hem
*Thick* hem at the bottom. I used this lovely, very heavy jacquard ribbon on the inside. It kind of stands up on its own. Between that and the underlining, I don't need to wear a slip with this dress, which is pretty awesome. (When it's 81* with 79% humidity, one less layer is much appreciated.)

I almost wore this dress yesterday, but chickened out. Tonight, however, since we’re going out to the theater, I figured I should dress up, and that gave me the push I needed. It also helped that it’s very hot out, because I don’t have a sweater to layer over this – at least, not one that looks good. I’ve received several compliments on it today, however, and all from strangers, so it must look OK. The fabric is a lovely cotton lawn – it’s a bit thin, so I had to underline the whole thing, which was new for me, but was really easy to do. The fabric is really what makes this dress.

With all those gathers right under the bust, the skirt part has a lot of room and is nice and airy. But, the heaviness of the trim means that it doesn't get blown about too much in the downtown wind (no danger of flashing).

The only thing I wish this dress had was pockets, because I think the style could totally handle it. There is a side-seam zipper, but if it were a bit shorter, pockets could totally be placed beneath it.

Total cost: ~$15.

Quick summer pants

In my continuing quest to increase the numbers of shorts I own, I bought Butterick 5044 during the last sale.

There’s no side seams on these pants – the one pattern piece is the whole leg! The only other pattern piece is the pockets, which are stitched on. I made view B, without the ties/elastic at the hem.

[pic removed]

Apparently, I bought two yards of this fabric from JoAnn in September of 2008. I was planning on making a shirt, but that never materialized, and I’d kind of given up on that idea. The fabric had been languishing in my stash for quite some time.

Now, I realize that making up a pair of capris doesn’t exactly give me another pair of pants, but since I was rather “eh” on the fabric, I figured I could consider it a muslin if need be. The shorts would be exactly the same (all the lengths were on that main pattern piece), just… shorter.

(I was in quite the rush this morning, so these pics are not very good. Sorry.)

A decent pair of summer work pants. Fairly comfy, despite the one main flaw.

Seriously, I wasn’t trying to look displeased in this next picture. The self-timer must have gone off before I could smile.

Tiny problem with this pattern – the tummy area is HUGE! Maybe you can’t tell from this picture, but if I pull the crotch up to a decent place, the waistband is above my natural waistline. Unfortunately, the pattern has you sew the pockets on before anything else, so I couldn’t exactly lower the waistband without having to remove my pockets, and that was more work than I was willing to go for.

I was concerned about the elastic waist, but I think it looks OK. You can’t tell unless I tuck my shirt in, which looks ridiculous, so I won’t be doing that.

I don’t think you can see them very well in the above picture, but the pattern on the pockets matched up perfectly with the pant legs, and I didn’t do that on purpose. I mean, I didn’t purposefully cut out the pocket to match it up. I totally put the pocket exactly where I was directed to, and the stripes all matched up. It was kind of surreal. I tried taking a picture this morning, but I was already wearing the pants, which made it awkward, and the pictures turned out blurry.

Back view – not exactly flattering, but they don’t look silly either. I think with back pockets, this would make a very useable pattern, once I lower the waistband by about 6 inches.

I’m quite pleased with the end result.  They are the perfect length for capris, and the pockets are a good size. I think if I move the waist down, and give more room for the elastic (the pockets were sewn on just a bit too high for the casing to be the proper width for 3/4″ elastic, which was annoying), this would make a great shorts pattern. Super easy, as long as you think it through before sewing (I accidentally sewed the two legs together at first, because you have to sew the back to the front on regular pants… once I did it the right way, stitching up each inner leg seam before putting one inside the other and doing the crotch seam, it worked out fine).

The pattern says fast & easy – they were definitely that, though mine took longer than they should have since the casing wasn’t really wide enough. The only thing this pattern is missing is a side vent, which wouldn’t be possible since there’s no outside leg seam. The legs are wide enough that you don’t need a vent, but I like that style element. Can’t have everything.

I think if I found the time, I could make up about half a dozen pairs of shorts in an afternoon, which would be awesome. The three pair that I have are going to get worn out, especially the one pair that actually fits (unlike the other two, which are a tiny bit tight, which is not what I want out of my shorts – I want comfortable, and elastic waistbands definitely fit that bill). I’d have to play around with that pocket a bit – it might be too big to put on shorts. There is another pocket style, which would be acceptable. I’m sure I have a butt pocket in one of my other patterns somewhere that I can borrow to add to this. That would make me very happy.

Unemployment Dress #3

This is my favorite dress of them all! It makes me so very happy.



Mock-up. I changed my mind on the sleeves, and picked a different contrasting fabric (but one that was similar to the yellow polka-dots).

The end result:

Without the sash...


With the sash (you have to look very carefully to see it - I think it'd be better in a solid that contrasted a bit, like the darker stone color in this print. If I had some of that color in my stash, I'd totally make one up.


Bow in the back. The sash is completely separate, so it would work in the front too, or at the side. I chose to go without it today, as it seemed fussier than I wanted. But, were I going to a church picnic, I'd be all over this gigantic bow at my butt.

How about some details?

6886 details
OK, it was hard to edit the colors on this - the yellow really isn't that bright. But it's been cloudy here the last few days, which makes picture-taking difficult. Anyway. Here you can see the bodice lining, the pink invisible zipper (from the inside - it was one I found on clearance for $0.50, and was 22" long, so it's super easy to get this dress on - no shimmying needed to get it past the hips), and the pink lace hem (also a clearance item - discontinued color. $0.57).


Today, I wore it with a sweater, because work is too cold to go without sleeves. I rather like it this way, though I do wish I had some stone-colored sandals. Those would have looked better. I suppose my white ones would have too, but I really wasn't in the mood for those toe-less nylons again this week. Once was enough (see Monday's Unemployment Dress 1 for my white sandals).

did an excellent job pin-fitting the bodice on me. It fits like a dream! OK, the bust part is still a bit baggy, but there’s only so much that can be done. I find that the straps are just the teensiest bit wider than I’d like, but we did tighten them up so that there’s little chance of them actually slipping off. I must have a short collarbone or something – we needed to take the straps in significantly on all of the dresses.

Oh, I also took this up about 6″ from what it was supposed to be. I like it shorter, though I could have pulled it off in the longer length.

I’m so bummed that I’ve now used up all of this print, in both colorways (remember the skirt?). It’s so pretty and fun. I’m sure I have a few scraps, enough to use in a scrappy quilt or maybe for a waistband facing, but I’ve used up the majority of it. Oh well. That’s the point, right, to use the pretty stuff? Mission accomplished.

Unemployment Pants

I have needed another pair of linen pants for quite a while. I only have one pair – brown ones from Old Navy. I wear them all the time in the summer, because they’re so comfy.

Pattern-fabric combo.


Mock-up (I didn't use either of those complimentary fabrics in the end). I didn't do those pockets either - I wanted these to be very work-appropriate.

And the pants themselves….



OK, so they're a little flat in the back, but then again, so am I. There's a center-back zipper, which caused some confusion and mix-ups when attaching the pockets, but I got it all squared away in the end.


Here's the facing - on the last skirt I made, I used ribbon to finish the edge of the facing, and I really liked it, so I did it again here, with some gold ribbon. It doesn't have much give, so it's a little curly in places, but you can't tell when I'm wearing it.


Cute pockets - very generously sized and placed comfortably (not too high or low).

I dragged out my blind hem foot for these babies. It took and I no less than 45 minutes to figure it out, and I’d already had a tutorial from the sewing machine store (and a sample that she let me take home to help me remember what to do), and the instructions were in my sewing machine manual too.

It was well worth the effort, though, because the hem looks great! I ended up taking them up 4 1/4″, so the hem is actually quite deep (2 3/4″), which adds some nice heft to them.

Really, really nice detail, even if I did make a few small errors that no one will ever notice.

Overall, I’m quite happy. They turned out just a bit too big, but that’s OK. They sit low on the waist, which is comfortable. They’re quite baggy, which isn’t particularly flattering, and I think the pockets emphasize my hips rather than minimize, but they’re still great pants.

Great work pants, and a great addition to my wardrobe. My summer pants stock had started to suffer after I got rid of a few pairs of khakis and didn't replace them.

It’s a good thing I took these pictures this morning before work – the pants are already hopelessly wrinkled. The joy of linen.