The Sewing Disaster!

2014-11-01 16.32.15 It seems no matter how long you have been sewing there is always something new to learn. Picking the correct fabric for a particular pattern, while one of the joys of sewing is also one of its greatest challenges. Last year I started a dress for my daughter. She is new to the working world and trying to build a professional wardrobe after the jeans and sweater years of college. One of her favorite dresses is a ponte knit dress that she purchased from the Limited. In her words, it is like “being able to wear your pjs to work.” So, being the sewing mom that I am, I thought I should whip up another ponte knit dress for her. But, problem number one is that I picked the wrong pattern: Vogue 8873. Looking at the diagram, this pattern seems like a great fit, but a closer look will show that the front has 3 layers of fabric – the bodice base, lining, and then the overdrape. Add to that the 4 darts on the front of the bodice (under the overdrape), and that is a lot of ponte knit all in one place. More importantly, that is a lot of ponte knit coming together at the waistline! The picture on my dress form looks fine, but the situation was not as flattering on my daughter. You can also see the additional fabric that drapes across the bodice – again not flattering!

Attempt number 2: I got rid of the lining  and turned it into a facing, and made the overdrape more fitted.  Ponte knit doesn’t need a lining after all. This was an improvement, but it still wasn’t right. Lets just say that I knew the dress would hang in the closet rather than something that my daughter would reach for to make her feel good about the way she looked. 2015-01-18 15.18.31Attempt number 3 was a whole new bodice. I eliminated the overdrape and used a different pattern with princess seams to recut the bodice eliminating the 4 darts and their bulk. The result: the dress is stuffed in the closet behind the stash! The bodice didn’t fit correctly at all. I am not quite sure what I can do to rectify it. The fabric store still has some of the fabric and I am tempted to try a third bodice. I have been looking longingly at the Craftsy class in bodice fitting and thinking I may need to take that class for her. Any suggestions dear readers would be helpful!

Crafting a Capsule Wardrobe


If you take a cruise around the sewing and fashion blogs right now, everywhere you look you will hear about a capsule wardrobe. According to Wikipedia, the term was created in 1970, by Susie Faux, the owner of Wardrobe, a London boutique. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential pieces of clothing that will never go out of fashion, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. This idea was popularized by American designer Donna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces. Perhaps it is the desire to be more “green” or to just simplify life in general, but the concept is again popular as people clean out and organize in the New Year.

You can purchase a workbook that will help you develop your own style and a capsule wardrobe  over on Into the Mind.


Un-fancy also has a capsule wardrobe planner. If you are looking for inspiration, a search for ‘capsule wardrobe” over on pinterest will give you tons of ideas, as will polyvore. In the sewing world, Marcy Tilton shows you how to use her patterns to develop a core wardrobe of 10 pieces and the ladies over at Artisan Square are running the SWAP (sewing with a purpose) where you sew 11 pieces: 5 tops, 3 bottoms and 3 wildcards – all of which must be able to be worn with each other.

Personally, I have never really planned my sewing. I found a pattern, or a fabric and I set off.

But this Christmas, this was sitting under my Christmas tree and a desire to have more structure to my sewing was hatched! So, after some consideration, I am going to spend this year going through the Wardrobe Architect sponsored by Colette Patterns. The original Wardrobe Architect series ran in 2014. This year, they are expanding it based on customer feedback. The first 5 posts are up, but there is still time to join! January focused on ascertaining your personal style. There are worksheets for each week and they are quite helpful. You are asked to assess such things as how your life philosophy affects your style, what type of clothes you need based on your activities, and even what are some styles that  you like in theory, but are not quite right for you. For example, scarves – my daughter wears them all the time and looks amazing. I like the look, am happy to wear one with a coat when it is cold out, but don’t want that thing around my neck and in my way when I am inside and trying to get things done!

In the end, the Wardrobe Architect program asked everyone to come up with 5 words that describe you and your style. I came up with: classic, feminine, poised, layers and fun. That sounds like an odd list, but I will explain in an upcoming post.  Overall the exercises were eye opening and I am looking forward to working my way through the program. I hope you will consider joining in the fun!

Registration is open for SAGA’s Sewcation!



Registration has opened for the SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) annual convention! Have you picked your classes and signed up? Some have already filled, but there are still plenty of spots. Will I be going? Yes, of course! What classes will I be taking…well none. I will be finishing my tenure as President-Elect and stepping into the Presidency. Of course, I can dream about the classes I would take…so if I were taking classes, here is what I would want to take. Now, I do have one caveat. I do not have grandchildren and am not even near the point of dreaming about grandchildren. My oldest just graduated and my youngest is a junior in high school – I am still in the midst of parenting and this effects my class choices!xviGhLounge_in_Liberty_Luxury_Picture

So first up – a little something for me! Vaune Pierce’s Madeira applique nightgown. I have never tried Madeira applique and I would love a nightgown made out of liberty lawn. It sounds like a perfect combination! Zj0QTFEATHERS-photoNext for a night on the town, I could use a silk clutch and this class by Barbara Meger called Fine Feathers would be perfect. In case you are thinking I am completely self-centered, I could get started on some gift giving. VcAEuThe_Corner_Mark_ResizedPhyllis Brown’s Corner Mark Embroidery Class would help me make both of these book marks – one would make a great gift for my mom, and since you get to make both in the class, I could keep one for me! I could also get started on some Christmas gifts with Kathy Awender’s Holiday Sparkles class.jkuhqK_Awender_Holiday_Sparkles_2013Maybe I should think about a notebook class or two to improve my technique. I received Lyn Week’s Tantalizing Tucks Book as a Christmas present (thanks Julie!) and she is teaching the class that goes along with it.

Lyn’s ideas in the book are so creative.
Then there is Cindy Foose’s Smocking in the Deep class which helps you to tackle smocking on corduroy and velvet, both of which I love and am not very good at handling.rah04Foosesmockingdeep5.2013

I love smocking on printed fabrics, but of course picking colors can be a challenge so there is Judith Adam’s class on conquering printed fabric. uG6FNJAdams_ABC_of_Fabulous_Florals_2013(S)

Now that you mention it, there is Collar Drafting,

…and I have always loved that Strawberry Picture of Lyn’s,


I remember the quilt my brother had when we were growing up made out of redwork embroidery…


Last, but not least, if I was thinking about grandchildren, which I’m not, I’m really not, then I might have to think about Kathy’s Bee-utiful Pinafore! I know there isn’t room in the schedule to take all of these classes. But a girl can dream, can’t she. I hope to see you in Orlando!

Bee-u-tiful Pinafore



Kenneth King teaching for SAGA – Free Giveaway on their Facebook Page!

SAGASewcationKING This September, SAGA will welcome Kenneth King as a special guest teacher. Kenneth King, renowned for his exquisite couture techniques, will be teaching a handbag construction class and presenting a lecture entitled, “Evolution of an Evening Wrap” at the opening reception.  Kenneth’will walk us through his design process and allow us to see a creation go from the inital  design concept to the  finished product. He said that pictures of his mistakes are included as well! Registration for the event which will be held at the Hyatt in Orlando, Florida in September, opens on May 1st. All the details can be found on SAGA’s website at
cool couture

To celebrate, and help promote the event, SAGA is giving away a copy of Kenneth’s book Cool Couture on their Facebook page between now and April 30th. Hurry on over for your chance to win a copy and I look forward to seeing you in sunny Orlando!


Over 700 Wee Care Garments Donated at the Frisco SAGA Convention

I just got home from the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) annual convention. It was a crazy, wonderful and exhausting time. There were old friends, new friends, line dancing, wonderful classes and stitching galore! Of special importance was the amazing Wee Care donations that were received. 1380373_597361086988655_750489003_n

Wee Care is the charitable arm of SAGA. Garments are made and embroidered or smocked and donated to area hospitals with Neo-natal units for babies that are born prematurely. The gowns are used to dress these little ones that that are too small for clothes you find in stores during their stay in the neo-natal unit, as well as for bereavement clothes should the worst happen. SAGA Chapters throughout the United States make and donate the gowns to their local area hospitals – over 7000 this year! But many members also bring gowns to the national convention. Members also use spare minutes during their time at convention to stitch bonnets. By the end of convention, there were over 700 donations for a hospital in the local area as well as to a local military hospital. This year the gowns were donated to Dallas Methodist Hospital and Darnell Army Hospital. Wanda DeWitt our new Wee Care Chair encouraged the donations by supplying a hand stitched reticule with all manner of goodies included as a raffle prize. photo

Each Wee Care donation earns the stitcher a Wee Care ticket for the Wee Care raffle basket. Interested in participating? You will find a list of all the SAGA chapters on the SAGA website at If you are looking for Wee Care patterns and ideas, check out the SAGA pinterest board at Patterns such as this one are available.wee careStart stitching now for a great cause and bring your donations to the 2014 SAGA convention in Orlando next September. As the new President Elect, I hope to see you there. Maybe we can convince Wanda to offer another reticule as a prize!



Do You Two Step?


 Have you ever wanted to learn to smock? Do you admire beautiful embroideries from by-gone eras? Do you love to sew for children but your garments have that “homemade look”? Do you read sewing blogs and wonder to what the terms pin stitch, faggoting, hemstitch and featherstitch refer? Would you like to broaden your sewing skills? Come join the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA™) at its annual convention in Frisco, Texas October 23rd-27th and you will have a discover your hidden talents! Yes I will be there!NbAT5Ahles_-_Advanced_Fagoting_to_Hemstitching_2005When you hear the word convention I hope you are thinking fun, exciting and educational classes!  Each class has been evaluated and approved by a SAGA selection committee so you can be assured that you will be taught proper technique and execution allowing you to expand your sewing skills. From pattern drafting for children, mastering the peter pan collar, designing your own smocked ornament, learning how to shadow embroider, working on pulled thread, tackling the pea hole hemstitch, mastering your pleater, stitching an elaborate Elizabethan Panel, or simply perfecting your smocking, there is something for everyone taught at all levels!5ablsElizabethan_Panel_pic

Are you ready to challenge yourself to improve your stitching? Join the SAGA Artisan Program™ and work toward attaining the level of apprentice, artisan or master in four different areas of expertise – smocking, embroidery, fine machine sewing and fine hand sewing. There will be an informational meeting of the Artisan Program™ at convention to explain the process and classes you take can count toward achieving the necessary levels. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInterested in helping your community with a service project using your stitching? Come and learn about the SAGA Wee Care Program, and get inspired by the talents of our members who donate hand smocked and embroidered gowns and bonnets to local hospitals for neonatal units and bereavement programs. 

wee careDon’t know anyone? Don’t worry – ladies who stitch are friendly, helpful and love to have fun. So join the SAGA convention, learn a new technique, participate in the doll clothing contest and yes, even learn to Two-Step!2o9MRJAdams_No_More_Pleater_Problems_Photo

SAGA has chapters through out the United States and a chapter in Mexico and Australia! Local chapters meet monthly, bring teachers for seminars and participate in the Wee Care Program. If there is no chapter located near you, you can still become involved through the members at large program. For more information, check out the SAGA website at! Now I am off to try and round up some cowbow boots! See you in Frisco!


Robson Jacket Pattern has arrived from Sewaholic!

Robson Pattern

The New Pattern from Sewaholic has arrived! It is the Robson jacket pattern – a classic trench coat.  The coat features a rounded collar and lapel, princess seams and front pockets. It is double breasted with storm pickets. and epaulettes for a classic look.  The coat is unlined and the inner seams are bound with bias tape for a clean finish. It closes with buttons and a fabric tie for an hourglass silhouette. I have to admit the thought of making a trench coat seams like quite an undertaking, but I read through the directions and each step is thoroughly explained. This won’t be a quick project, but by following Tasia’s directions, and working through step by step, you can have a terrific coat with classic style that will bring you may years of wear!Robson Coat Infor

By the way, if you have looked for the other Sewaholic patterns at Pink Hollybush and wondered where they all went to, everything is back in stock!


Next Up: A Spring Coat!

DSC00237Here is the inspiration – a $30 coat I picked up at H&M last fall! I love this coat! If I am going to gush all over a piece of clothing you would think it would be something fancier, more expensive or a designer original. This coat just has a perfect fit for me.  Besides that, it is a perfect length to go over a dress but also looks great with a pair of pants. So I decided a needed a spring version – something in a bright and cheery color. I also have been reading Gertie’s Sewing book and wanted to try a little tailoring. I looked at the big pattern companies with no luck as well as several of the smaller ones. Then I thought to check Etsy and eureka! I struck gold with a vintage 1960s McCalls pattern!

DSC00261I found another pattern that was even closer to my coat complete with princess lines, but the pattern was more expensive, smaller and I wasn’t sure the princess lines would work as well with my textured fabric. Speaking of fabric, I picked up this wonderful textured cotton at Sawyer Brook last fall when I dropped by their warehouse – definitely worth the trip if you are in the area! The lining is a fun polyester I picked up a JoAnns.

DSC00238Here is a close-up of the red fabric where you hopefully can see the texture.

DSC00239I did a quick pin fitting to see if I was close to my original and it looks great! I will have to lower the dart but otherwise this looks like a great match!



A Review of New Look 6097

DSC00084I have to admit I probably wouldn’t have given this pattern a second look if it weren’t for seeing it made up on Goodbye Valentino’s Blog - it was just so pretty on her. The pattern photo as well as the pattern drawing did nothing for me.  But after having made and worn it, I just love it and will definitely be making it again for summer in a short sleeve version!Side Ruching Detail

Here is a close-up of the side ruching detail. So what is so special about this dress? First, everyone tells you that the wrap dress is flattering to everyone, but I promised myself several years ago as I deposited a wrap skirt in the Goodwill bag that I would never own a wrap item again. Let’s just say there was a wardrobe malfunction involving the wrap of the skirt that could have been much worse if not the for the fact that I was wearing a slip and leave it at that. This dress is a faux-wrap. You have the wrap styling without the wrap danger! The skirt wont’ fall open when you sit down, and the v-neckline won’t gape apart when you bend over.

The neckline is also a nice height – no need to raise it. I did add a snap just to hold it in place which is easy to do inconspicuously with the fold-over knit finish. Also, the skirt has pockets! We all love pockets. Did mine look like the pattern envelope? I lengthened my sleeves and skipped the cuffs since I wanted a long sleeve version for winter. I also skipped the collar, but will probably include it in my summer version. Finally, I went for a self-fabric sash rather than the belt.

Is there anything I will change the next time around – yes – because you always learn things! I cut a 10 but skipped the FAB (I usually do a FBA to a 12)  and even with that the bodice was on the large side. I took in quite a bit on the side seams. Also, the pattern doesn’t include any directions to stabilize the diagonal neckline and it is easy to stretch it out while making the fold-over finish. Next time I will try stabilizing it first. Give this pattern a try – you won’t be disappointed!

A Great Pencil Skirt from a Free Pattern

dressmakingA few months back I mentioned this great find Dressmaking, the Compete Guide to Making Your Own Clothes by Allison Smith. The book is a wealth of knowledge with step by step pictures.  There are also several free patterns available for download on the DK website. The book then shows you how to make several variations from the patterns. I used the A-Line skirt pattern to make a skirt for each of my daughters and now used the pencil skirt pattern to make a skirt for myself.Pencil skirt

I was very pleased with the pattern and do plan to use it again. I love that it has a very modern look (or maybe I should say retro) with a hollywood waist instead of a waistband. As I wore the skirt throughout the day I did feel the front waist was creeping up a bit. A comparison with a ready to wear skirt that I own whose waist fits perfectly, showed that the pencil skirt’s waistband could be shaped slightly lower at the center front. Or it could just be that I need to do a few more sit-ups! At this point, I am blaming the waistband and will shape it slightly differently for the next skirt. I don’t consider that a negative of the pattern – I am just trying to tweak the pattern and get the perfect pencil skirt fit for me! Do take a look at Dressmaking by Alison Smith, you won’t be disappointed.

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