Monday, December 17, 2012

Vacation wardrobe via Goodwill

We went to Mexico on vacation last week which was wonderful!

Flash back to two weeks ago: I'd been tied up with a family emergency, then Thanksgiving, then sick and then work!  Was I ready for vacation packing - NO! I had purged many of my summer clothes in August leaving me little to wear in a tropical climate; I thought I'd sew then did not get it done. Off to guess where? - Goodwill.

I found a bounty of summer dresses!  And white shorts that fit! And a vintage full length bateau back Hawaiian dress (below) under $10. For less than $100 total had a selection that dressed me for the whole week.

We did not want to leave!  Here is the table set for a party with 80+ of our closest friends.

Here I am in a beach wrap I've had for years.  I'm holding a Parrot Fish. I was an amazing blue color.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Perfect fit panties

It has been sneaking up on me. I've reached that critical point where the number of panties I have that I'm still willing to wear are too few to last my normal laundry cycle. Ugh!

I went out to Nordstrom rack and picked out a selection - only one of which was remotely passable so..... I took apart a pair of ragged favorites and made a pattern and then two practice pairs.
I think I have the pattern just right so I can make an adundance this week. Having a large number of perfecting fitting panties seems like such a luxury. 

 Bonus: I can use up a really nice knit from Emma One Sock that turned out to not to work so well for blouse material. 

Thank you Lynda Maynard for the Lingerie class at Canada College! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas gift idea using felted wool

Felt slippers from an old sweater pattern  

Oh boy oh boy. I have a 100% lambs wool sweater I picked up and felted in the washer that would make wonderful thick slippers. What an easy idea for Christmas gifts.  I looked at the pattern (see link above) and think I will trace my own feet and adjust the top pattern to match for a trial run.  

I bet these would look really good hand sewn with buttonhole twist thread and a blanket stitch. If you haven't sewn by hand for a while it goes faster than you think it would.  Just in time for cold weather plus wooden floors.

P.S.  I used the wool this weekend to make hand warming fingerless mitts for a friend returning to the Jersey Shore to distribute.  I'll be on the look out for another sweater.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Yesterday I finished sewing a new cowl neck knit top with some wonderfully soft knit fabric from Britex (aka Fabric Mecca in San Francisco).

It was my second one from this pattern and I had adjusted the pattern after the first top, taking in the sides and shortening it by a couple inches.

What I am coming to realize is that every knit behaves differently. The first top was a heavier knit so probably hung longer because of the weight.  However this new top is very lightweight knit and seemed too short! It also did not sit nicely across my hips/butt in the back - pulling across a bit.

So.... I added a godet (triangular shaped wedge) in the lower center back creating a bit more room.

Lucky me, I had a long enough piece of fabric to add a two inch band at the bottom.  I actually like the effect of having a banded bottom on such a lightweight fabric as the bottom hangs a bit better with the extra weight of the seam.

There is one thing left to adjust.  The pattern is a kimono sleeve and makes my shoulders look very sloped.  Time to revive the 1980's and add in some light shoulder pads.  I tried out a pair I had on hand that are too padded and I can still see the shirt will look better with pads AND bonus - they will balance out my hips a bit.

Ronda taught us how to make shoulder pads in tailoring (at Canada College) so I can pull out the class book and make my own.  My shoulders roll forward from years of leaning into computers so I need very little padding on the front and a bit more to balance out the back of the shoulder.

Once the pads are complete and installed I will post a picture. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Although I continue to tally my outfits every day it has been a long, long time since I have posted a tally.   Back to my roots!

Thrifted: Dress (2010?), Jacket (2012), Shoes (2012)

Gifted: None

Bought: None

Made: Earrings

The jacket is made from a knit wrap dress.  

I loved the fabric and the dress was the right size but I think the reason it was given away was that the neckline gaped open and would not lay flat when the dress was in the "wrap" position.

The front sides of the dress were symmetrical so I tied if front and center.  I loved the way it made a long v shape down from the neckline, however it looked like a house robe.  What to do?  

It is difficult to see in this picture but I took three tucks horizontally across only the fronts below the tie.  It make the front billow out a bit (see above) and also creates a step down front to back.  

The effect is more striking in person.  It is reminiscent of the cut of some clothing in 1925 (below.)
deep v-neck - check
drop waist - check
wider at hip - check 
bow - check (theirs - in the back)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Celebration of Craftswomen Fort Mason Center — Nov 24th through Dec 2nd

One of our favorite shows in the San Francisco Bay area is the:
Celebration of Craftswomen
Fort Mason Center — Nov 24th through Dec 2nd

You may recognize this piece of artwork in our hom
"Portrait of the Artist as My Husband" by Justine Tot Tartasky, which we purchased at the show a few years ago. 

The Celebration of Craftswomen is one of San Francisco's largest holiday fine crafts retail fairs and the largest event celebrating the craft of women in the nation. Shoppers looking for unique substitutes to mass-produced goods are delighted with the original hand-made offerings at the Celebration of Craftswomen.

For 34 years, the fair has been part of the socio-political movement -- led by female artists -- that offers environmentally conscious and economically sustainable alternatives to mainstream consumption. Featuring imaginative and innovative work by some of the country's best female artisans and fine artists, quality has always been a hallmark of this highly-anticipated annual holiday show.

The event is sponsored by and is a benefit for The Women's Building, a community service center serving women and girls in San Francisco.

Saturday & Sunday, 

November 24 & 25
 December 1 & 2

10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

$7-$9 ($12/two-day pass)

More Information: (650) 615-6838

We typically go on the Sunday in November mid-morning and then eat at Greens which is in the same complex.  Hope to see you there!

The plan: modifying a mens button down shirt

Today I am working on modifying a XL mens red striped button-down shirt into a girly over-sized casual shirt.  I crave a closet full of casual shirts to wear on non-work days with jean or pants.  

I've completed a blue one already, slightly different than what is described below. It is in the washer right now so I will post a photograph later.

So far I have:

1) Released the pleat on the center back yoke

2) Starting with the fabric released at CB yoke I folded in pleats  (about 6 of them ~ 8" across by ~10 inches down) hiding the black&cream stripes.  I sewed down the pleats so there is now a patch that is just red.

3) I tested out what the pleats would look like anchored by mother-of pearl buttons top and bottom - excellent!  I will sewn them on later.

4) I cut off the cuffs

5) I cut out the side seam from the bottom hem to the end of the sleeves

6) I've pinned out pleats under the bust, this time with the black&cream stripes highlighted rather than hidden

7) I pinned in a dart at the side seam to meet up with the top of the pleating

8) Cut off the curved "tail" in the front so the shirt is straight across.

So...  I now have some shaping (via pleats) mapped out. The rest of my plan is to:

9) Add ~ 4" by 5" of pleating on the outside of the sleeves, midway between the shoulder and elbow. Again I think I will highlight the black&cream stripes. 

10)  Hem the front section

11) Pin together the side seams on the sleeve and bodice removing excess fabric while still achieving a nice balanced look.  

12) Sew the arms and part way down under the arm, leaving room so I can...

13) Add the pieces I cut off the bottom front as decorative inserts between the side seams (bottom half.)  

14) I will rotate the inserts so the striping is horizontal and make them hang about 1.5" - 2" lower than the front

15) I hang the back 1.5" - 2" lower than the godet pieces so I end up with three steps down moving front to back.

16) Hem the sleeves 

17) Sew on the decorative back buttons

18) Photograph it, post it, and wear it!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sleeves or pockets?

I was cruising a thrift store yesterday (yes again) and found a couple skirts with smocked waistbands.  I saw two possibilities for reusing the skirts:

1) sleeves with a smocked cuffs (dramatic!)

2) extra long external pockets

I have a Marci Tilton skirt pattern, Vogue 8499 view A, I've made twice that has just such pockets on both sides of center front. I'm picturing the smocking on the top of the pockets. (again dramatic!)

 Also, I bought a black top with some white embroidery that I also think would make a great pocket on this skirt - embroidery side up. 

So I looks like I might have a few more of these skirts soon or something else dramatic.

Sometimes the sheer possibility of choices is even more fun than the reality of execution.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Designer Sale at Canada

I thoroughly enjoyed the Designer Sale at Canada College. There must have been 40-50 designers booths and I felt like I was in the best boutique in the world.  

You may remember that I had $300 in my pocket from relining Caryl's tuxedo. It was particularly fun to look knowing that I could buy too.  I toured the whole show and settled on two items.  

The first item is a lower calf length indigo died skirt that comes in a little at the bottom like a balloon skirt. It has ties on the inside so I can scrunch it up. It is from 7 Hands Design of Saratoga, CA.

 I love the heavy weight of the fabric and think it will be great with winter boots.  One problem when I wore it this week - too full and gathered at the top!  It made me feel as though I looked 15 lbs heavier around the waist.  

Hmmmm.... I opened up the top of the skirt and removed the stitching and elastic, then took in the side seams considerably and also created two darts equidistant from the side seams to take in the waist even more.  The top of the skirt now fits closer to my actual waist size. I added a zipper so the skirt no longer needs elastic in the waistband.

The second item was a pair of black ankle-length heavy weight cotton knit pants.  Very arty and so versatile I feel like I just doubled my winter wardrobe as I can wear them with all of my arty jackets.

 I bought them from JANE MOHR DESIGN'S / DRESS TO KILL / CAZ KNITWEAR and let me tell you I could have bought every single item she had and been very, very happy.  Here are some examples:

I spent the last of my change at

Missing a Few Buttons, Santa Rosa, CA 

and Park Bench Patterns 

Add caption


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spoonflower designs can now be bought as wallpaper

I'm excited about my My Spoonflower Shop.

I've added a few new fabric designs AND designs can now be purchased as wallpaper as well as fabric.  

Some of my wallpaper designs are very dramatic larger scale pieces, such as this one.

 and this one
or more traditional like this one

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

tuxedo tuxedo

Check out the zebra print shoes to go with the new lining material
Last week I finished relining the 100 year old Tuxedo jacket my friend Caryl had entrusted to me.  Whew!!! 

The jacket lining was a heavy tightly woven stiff silk (I checked with a burn test.) The interlining, densely woven cotton (like a twill) and the outside a very tightly woven wool with satin lapels.  I was amazed at the sturdiness and quality of these fabrics.  All three, the wool, cotton, and silk, were almost hard to get a hand needle through. 

My biggest challenge was unanticipated - that I chose a "not optimal" type of fabric - silk charmuse.  Charmuse has considerably more drape than the stiffer original silk lining material, something I did not immediately notice.

Given that I did not have a pattern to work from and there were quite a few lining pieces (princess seaming) the easiest method would have been to cover the existing lining by sewing new in pieces on top.  Ha! Trying to measure inside a 3-D garment with shredding lining, create a rough pattern, and sew loosely draping fabric into geometric shapes was far more of a challenge than I anticipated. 

And what a learning experience and a privilege!  I got to see all the tailoring methods used inside the garment, most of which matched what I had learned in Ronda's Tailoring class at Canada College. I saw the hand stitching methods used and thought of that tailor 100 years ago, stitching away. And I learned to persevere... there is no decent way to bail on and return a partially relined 100 year old tux.

One thing I did not know about tuxedo tails is that they have a pocket embedded in both sides.  How clever!  Caryl had thought these openings were rips in the lining and was delighted to learn I had worked around the openings so the pockets remained accessible. 

Tuxedo Two
Whew again!  Both lured and repelled by recent experience I spotted a very similar tuxedo jacket in Goodwill today.  The brand is Hart Schaffner and Marx.  

The cut/pattern is almost identical down to the matching pocket holes in the tails. I doesn't fit me like a glove as Caryl's does but it is not too far off.  The sleeve caps look a little too full, almost gathered so to me it doesn't have a true "quality" look. The back is too full (could possibly be taken in). However, at $19.99 I thought it might make a good Halloween costume base for Charlie Chaplin.

I can tell right away that the quality of fabric is not as good. Interestingly the lining on this one is in better shape and it is the satin lapels that are shredding into small bits like worn paper.  I tore off the satin lapels by gently pulling on the seam lines.  I think I can make a decent pattern with them.  I uncovered a padded inside layer of dark green wool.

I researched Chaplin a bit and see the keys to his costume are:

1) a slightly too short and too tight jacket with 
2) the shirt bottom showing between the jacket and
3) a pair of very oversized & extra long trousers
4) comically over-sized shoes (heels together, toes out)
5) heavy dark make-up around his eyes

All of which combine to give him the appearance of a child playing dress-up / a bit of an innocent.

6) the black bowler hat
7) the cane

All the better to facilitate slapstick tricks.

More later!

Fabric Porn - Liberty of London cottons at Britex

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I just found a fantastic tutorial on how to make a full bust adjustment on a t-shirt pattern.  The blog site is Check out the difference in fit!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Color Scheme Website

I just ran across this very cool website that facilitates making color combinations:

I found it while browsing Pinterest and found this photo where the designer credits the site with help choosing the color. I adore the subtle nature of the color combination.

crochet with gray... The maker got her color combo by using the Color Scheme Designer Web site -

Monday, September 10, 2012

Grocery Bags from t-shirts

I recently made a grocery bag from a t-shirt.  I am surprised at how strong it is!!  We used it this weekend on a trip and stuffed it to the brim.  The nice thing about this pattern is that it mimics the plastic bags stores pull open and fit onto a wire rack to fill - so they can do the same thing with your bag.

I'm thinking this might be a good project to have the grandchildren do for presents for their teachers.

Here is a link to the instructions for these bags. Easy to make!