Rayon Mess

I love the soft drape of rayon challis, and I’ve got several in my stash. However, I’ve had a few frustrations with the stuff. It’s very lightweight and I’m afraid prone to wearing out easily. Please chime in with comments if you agree or disagree–I’m really curious how other people feel about rayon. My slouchy blouse has developed a couple small holes near the buttons.  And when cutting out this teal rayon for a Laurel dress, I noticed a little hole as well.

Bug repellant

I patched it on the backside using stitch witchery to fuse the patch in place.  I didn’t want to draw attention to the hole by actually stitching over it at all.
Bug repellant

This small effort seemed like it would be enough to keep the hole in check.  But how disappointing to already have a hole in the fabric before the garment is even sewn up?

I preceded with the garment, but I faced a couple other challenges that doomed this dress to be a wadder.

First, I decided to make a v-neck line in front and back.  Bad idea.  The dress is practically hanging off my shoulders.  I wonder if I had only cut the front in a v and left the back neckline curved, maybe it would stay up?  Or if I was using a stable cotton fabric, perhaps it would have enough body to sit-up properly.  Whether it was just the cut or the cut and drapey fabric combo that ruined this dress, I’m not sure.

The other disappointment was the bias binding I applied to the arm holes. I cut it out of white rayon challis, and it just looks a little sloppy to me.
Bug repellant

I could chalk it up to sloppy work or inexperience, but it is my opinion that rayon is a little shifty and not my favorite bias binding material to work with.  It would have helped if I’d cut the strips a little wider.  But I’m done spending time on this dress for now.  Perhaps I can use the material for a tank top in the future…  And maybe I would use cotton bias binding to make my life a little easier.

I’m taking a short sewing break to get over my failed dress, so today I made a salt scrub and some bug repellant at home.

The salt scrub is incredibly simple and only takes a moment to throw together.  Just add grape seed oil, sea salt and essential oils (I used lavender and grapefruit).
Bug repellant

I love this stuff.  It makes my skin soft and eliminates the need for lotion.

I’ve been attacked by mosquitoes lately, so I looked for a natural bug repellant recipe on Pinterest.

This was really easy to mix up as well, but I will say it was a bit expensive because the essential oils are a bit pricey, and the recipe I used called for 5 oils.  At least I have all the ingredients now and can make more at no additional cost.  The largest portion is citronella.  Not my favorite scent, but it’s much better than commercial bug sprays.
Bug repellant

Do you turn to other hobbies to recover from failed sewing projects?

I’ll get back on the horse tomorrow…

1940’s Dress – Part 1

I’m sewing for victory, and I finally made a start.  I’ve had my fabric and pattern picked out for months now, but this weekend I actually traced the pattern, and tonight I’m cutting out the muslin.  I’ve got one more weekend between me and victory (March 29th is the deadline), so it’s now or never.

I’m using Du Barry 5947 and some green fabric I got at Mood LA.

The green fabric is a soft shirting fabric with a small pattern in the weave.  The color is hard to see in the photo, but it is a pale green.  I’m having some doubts about this fabric… I like it, but I fear it is such a plain pale color that it will make my dress look like a boring muslin.  The pattern suggests decorative saddle stitching around the seams, and I wonder if this could add enough interest?


The first contrasting thread color to come to mind is red (my fave), but I think blue could work to.  Any suggestions??  I’m not very creative with color mixing…

I do, however, have a red buckle I could use for the belt.  I found myself at the Santa Cruz antique fair last month and came across a lady with a booth full of vintage buttons.  I’m sure I paid too much, but check out the pretty red buttons I got:

Yep, I bought all red buttons.  What can I say?  When you know what you like, why fight it?

I was showing off my button purchase at lunch with friends, which led to my friend offering me some of her mother’s sewing supplies she had in storage.  I was given some great fabrics and A LOT of buttons, seam binding, threads, buckle and button kits, a Singer buttonholer and feet attachments, and TWO pairs of pinking shears.  That took my number of pinking shears from zero to two, just in time for the 40’s sew-a-long!

I’ve never pinked seams before, so I’m excited to try this vintage finishing technique.

Well, I better get cutting.  Time’s a wastin’!

Machined Buttons

I have yet to learn the technique of hand sewn button holes.  Honestly I’m just happy to get a decent looking button hole that’s functional from my machine.  I was feeling pretty proud of this set of button holes.

So proud in fact, I decided I should let the machine sew the buttons on too!
Hand sewing buttons to a garment has always seemed like the right thing to do.  I never thought I needed a machine to do the job for me.  But after making my first button up blouse, I realized I’m really slow at hand sewing on buttons.  And they look a tad messy.

While flipping through my sewing machine manual, I noticed the instructions for sewing buttons on by machine.  Hmmm… so you can do that, huh?  (Sewing buttons by hand is so obvious, but how would I do them on a machine?!)  I decided to give it a try, just to learn something new and see how they turned out.

I always wondered what the little plastic plate that came with all the presser feet was for–now I know.

The plastic piece snaps into place over the feed dogs so that you can sew in one place, without the fabric feeding through.

The special presser foot is designed to fit on top of a button, holding it securely in place.


The process was so easy–first, using the straight stitch pattern, make a few anchoring stitches in the right side hole.  Next adjust the stitch pattern to zig zag, adjusting the width of the stitch pattern to fit into the left hole and stitch about 10 stitches back and forth.  Then go back to the straight stitch to send a few more anchoring stitches through to finish.  That’s it.

So far I am happy with the results–the buttons look uniform, and it was much quicker (for me) to use the machine than to sew by hand.  Only time will tell how well the machined buttons hold up compared to hand stitched ones.

What method do you use?  Any tips and tricks for hand sewing would be appreciated; I intend to keep practicing both methods.

The garment shown here is my reversible skirt–details to come, just as soon as I can get pictures of both sides.

Red and White Stripes

A year ago I didn’t know the difference between knits and woven fabric.  And I didn’t know that knit fabric required a ball point needle, which is different from a standard point needle used for woven fabric.  I did, however, know that stretchy fabrics called for something other than a straight stitch to accommodate the need to stretch.  Yay me, at least I knew something.

Thanks to sewing bloggers, I learned about knits without even trying.  I figured someday I’d give knit fabric a try.  A few weeks ago I was in my local Beverley’s  fabric store when I spied a remnant piece of super soft knit in red and white stripes.  I scooped up the lonely yard of softness and vowed to make the most comfortable t-shirt known to man.

I drafted a simple pattern by tracing a shirt from my closet and adding 3 inches to the length.

With only side and shoulder seams to sew, I was trying my shirt on within minutes of having cut the fabric.  It looked like a shapeless tent on me, so I altered the side seams, taking each side in about an inch.  And then it was time to finish the neck, sleeves and hem.

I had scoped out methods for the neck line on BurdaStyle’s tutorial page.

Sew a Rib Knit Band

I used the same fabric for the band and cut a strip 2/3 the length of the neck line.  I don’t think I stretched it evenly, or maybe I over stretched it, I don’t know, but it’s a tad ripply.  But I got it on there and with a sense of pride I decided it looked good enough.


I finished the sleeves and bottom hem with a zig zag stitch, folding the fabric over once.  Nothing fancy, but it’s a casual t-shirt and it is soooo comfortable, I just wanted to put it on already.

And here’s the finished project, my first knit t-shirt:

I’m finishing Sunday off with my t-shirt and sweats on, watching some Naruto.  It just started raining, and of course the dog needed to go out.  She was in no hurry going about her business, while I soaked up some water.

How did you spend your Sunday afternoon?

Project Planning

Until now I have not given too much thought to my wardrobe and project planning.  I’ve jumped from one project to the next, making up whichever pattern and fabric were the most interesting in the moment.  This method has resulted in a number of wearable garments, including two dresses I love but have only worn once or twice each.

When I consider what I wear the most, the items I go back to day after day, I must admit I can’t give up my blue jeans and a top.  Try as I might to add skirts and dresses to the lineup, my jeans and shirts get the most wear.  So with that in mind, I have added a couple of blouses to my project list.

Negroni shirt for Mr. Garment Farmer  

The first item to be done however, will be a shirt for Mr. Garment Farmer.  He is 6’5″ and nearly impossible to find RTW clothes for.  My ultimate goal is to make him the best shirts he’s ever had.  This will be my first men’s shirt, so I’m not expecting perfection, and I’m also using a very inexpensive fabric.  Colette’s Negroni pattern was an easy pick for this project since the directions to her patterns are always awesome.


Slouchy Blouse  

Rumor has it the slouchy blouse pattern from Burda Style is quick and easy.  With no sleeves to set in or collar to attach, I’m hoping to add a blouse to my wardrobe in no time.

Shirt fabric

Reversible Gathered Skirt  

Although another skirt is not high on my priority list, a navy blue skirt was something I wanted last summer.  Unfortunately I could not find any navy blue fabric the weekend that I set out to make the skirt, so I ended up with something else entirely.  Well my last trip to my favorite local fabric store, Crossroad Fabrics in Watsonville, turned up the perfect blue fabric.  It is a bit sheer, so I was looking for a lining fabric and settled upon the aqua color pictured below.  I like both colors so well that I decided the skirt ought to be reversible.  I’m not quite sure how to work this out with the zipper situation, but I have at least a month or two to figure it out.

Skirt fabric

A Shirt Dress of Separates  

I’ve been wanting a shirt dress for some time, and this fabric just feels right for it.  I think I’d prefer a gathered rectangle skirt though.  In my quest for more blouses, I think I shall make this fabric into a collared shirt first, and then make a coordinating gathered skirt.  Worn together with a wide belt, I think the outfit will have the shirt dress look but the wardrobe flexibility of separates.

Shirt dress

The above shirt dress pattern is also from Burda Style and may serve as the pattern for the shirt.

V-neck dress  

I immediately fell in love with this pattern when Burda Style recently released it.  Although I presently have no need for such a dress, there will surely be an event in my future that calls for it.  As such, it is at the bottom of my sewing priority list.  I purchased the red feather fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics, but I’m wondering if the print is a poor choice to go with the pleated neckline of the dress.  I’m currently undecided… The colors are simple and the print isn’t too busy, but I fear it may detract from the pattern details.  A solid fabric may be the safe choice for this pattern.



I also have a blazer type coat on my to-do list, however, I’m anxiously awaiting Gertie’s next Craftsy class.  Why do I think it’s a coat class?!  Well Gertie has made some fine coats, and I would be most interested in her teaching a coat class.  So here’s to wishful thinking and planning out projects with the intention of dropping everything should Gertie indeed offer a coat class.  Gertie, if you’re out there, please, a coat class.