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’!


I don’t have much to share this week because I’ve been busy!!  Busy washing and cutting fabric for Iris shorts.  Busy shopping for a sewing machine (I test drove some Janomes.)  And busy going to my sister’s weight training class.  In a few days, when I can walk again, I plan to sew up my shorts.  In the mean time, I’d like to share my sewing machine ponderings.

I’ve been considering a machine upgrade for a while now, but I can’t decide whether I want a vintage machine or to qo with a new one.

A good friend of mine lent me her vintage Bernina to try out.  Wow.  I can see why people fall in love with Berninas.  It is powerful and quiet all at the same time.  It’s truely lovely.  But.  I haven’t figured it all out, but I think buttonholes have to be done completely manually–as in adjust the zig zag to the appropriate size at each step.  I’m used to a 4-step buttonhole, and the idea of no automatic button steps does not appeal to me at all.

As for new machines, I’m considering the Janome Magnolia or HD1000.  Both are mechanical, affordable and have 4-step buttonholes.  The Janomes I test drove ran quite nicely–not as lovely as the Bernina–but much more powerful and smoother than my current Singer.

I’m still completely undecided.  There’s always the option to keep saving and buy a new Bernina one day too.  I just don’t know if I can wait that long (or really want to spend that much.)

Hmmm… any opinions or input on machines and what features are a must would be much appreciated.  I’ll just wait and keep thinking it over in the meantime.  Doesn’t hurt to stalk craigslist either :)

Sunday Shopping

I signed up for Sew Colette, Part 2, starting this month with Hazel, and picked up some fabric but didn’t have the pattern yet.  So Sunday I treated myself to a little shopping spree at Hart’s Fabric cause I knew they carry Colette patterns.

Sunday happened to be a warm day here in Santa Cruz, and I thought to myself, “Gosh, it sure would be nice if I owned some shorts that fit.”  And that’s how I ended up purchasing the Iris pattern, suiting fabric and buttons.

Granted, suiting fabric is far from a summer favorite, but I just really liked this Calvin Klein pin-striped gray suiting.  It’s fairly light for being a suiting fabric, and it just doesn’t get that hot here on the coast.  So that’s right, I’m making summer shorts with a wool blend fabric.  (And if they are a success, I’m sure I’ll be running back to the store for some cotton!)

I spent way too much time picking out the buttons, and when I finally found some that suited my needs, I was disappointed they were $2 each!  Is that not a lot for a single button?!  Well I really liked them and couldn’t settle for second best, so I splurged on the 4 buttons for this pattern ;)  I’m not totally convinced I even want to use the button version of the pattern… so we’ll see how that goes.


I’ve been wanting to make more blouses and thought I’d try my hand at the Violet pattern since I’m on a Colette roll at the moment.  I already had the rayon challis fabric, and it seemed like it would be great blouse material.  I originally was thinking of using it for a dress, but I know I’ll get more use out of separates.  (These buttons were a much more satisfying $.45/ea ;)

I didn’t get any sewing done this last weekend, but shopping was a lot of fun, and now I’m set to sew the next few weekends!

Tell me, what’s the best deal you ever got on buttons?  I think I need to start collecting…

Water Soluble Pastels

Because it’s been one of those weeks–the kind where I have every minute of every day filled with plans, only to be constantly thwarted–I am throwing up a quick post to say, “hello bloggers :)” and look what I found:


I was in my local art supply store when I spied some clear french curve rulers. I’ve had these on my “need to get someday” list but had only seen metal ones for twice the price. I really like clear rulers so I can see what’s going on underneath. I’m controllig like that. And, I found water soluble pastels. I didn’t have any marking tools that would show up well on my red feather fabric, but these pastels come in a wonderfully wide range of colors. I picked up two colors to try out. I used the green/teal color, and it worked great for marking and washed away with nothing but water applied.


So now I’m recommending these to you! They aren’t as soft as regular ol’ chalk, but they don’t wipe off accidently either!

I managed to get all my pattern pieces cut out Sunday afternoon, but haven’t been able to sew anything up yet! I got some thread and shoulder pads last night, so no excuses now. I have tonight and tomorrow night to sew. I’m counting on this wrap around style to be an easy fit. If not, I have a gorgeous back up dress to wear, so I need not fret. There’s the update on my too busy life.

Also, my sister said these were yummy:


She wasn’t kidding. Yumm! Have you found or tried anything new lately? Do share!

Pattern Weights

Today I went to Home Depot in preparation for my next sewing project.
I was looking for something heavy to use as pattern weights, as suggested by so many fellow sewists.
I was immediately helped by an older gentleman who I explained to the purpose of my quest. He showed me the largest washers he had, but he wasn’t satisfied that I should use them. Instead he suggested I go to a fishing supply store and buy lead fishing weights, and fill a fabric pouch with those lead weights. That would be nice and heavy he said. Or bee-bees or metal pellets. And tie a little ribbon to close up a sack of them.

I thought it was a fabulous idea, but I wondered how much those weights would cost, and wouldn’t I need quite a few…? As I drove out of the parking lot and headed in the direction of Outdoor World, I thought to myself, you know what’s heavy? That tub of pennies that has been waiting for 2 1/2 years to be rolled and exchanged for dollar bills. You have a lot of heavy pennies at home.


So I went home and made little pouches which I filled with pennies.


I made six of these polka dot weights, and I can’t wait to try them out this week as I prep my toile.

I have two weeks to get a dress ready for my friends’ wedding at the end of the month.


If I mention it here, then I have to complete it on time, right? Well I hope this is motivation enough for me to get crackin!

I recently won this pattern from Miss Crayola Creepy’s giveaway, and though it’s a robe, I intend to wear it as a wrap around dress!  I will use the short sleeve version and make it just past the knee in length.  This will be my first venture using a retro pattern as well.    Any suggestions on how to ensure it appears as a dress and not a house robe would be most welcome!  I’m definitely leaving the frilly trim off the yoke, and it will all be cut from one fabric.  Wish me luck!

Narrowly Finished

I got a lot of practice using my narrow hem foot on Saturday. Like 30-40 feet of practice!

I made a dress to wear to a bridal shower on Sunday. It was delightful. The shower and the dress that is. Unfortunately I have yet to procure any decent photos of me with said dress on. I can only hope that some friend at the shower got a photo of me where I wasn’t dressed in toilet paper. That’s right, i was the lucky model of a toilet paper bridal gown. It was a Middle Eastern inspired/1930’s gown. You can imagine. One party goer exclaimed that I looked like I had just come from the hospital. Many pictures of the tp dresses were taken, so I am anxiously waiting to see them. I’m the only one who did not get a good look at me.

Alas, until photos can be secured, I bid you adieu!


Fabrique de Plastic Bags

I have so much to learn concerning different types of fabrics.

My red feather fabric arrived today from Gorgeous Fabrics, and I was both pleased and surprised at what I found inside the box.   Ordering fabrics online is always a bit of a challenge and ultimately a surprise for me because once they arrive I get to finally feel the fabric, and it never seems to be quite what I expected.

This one was called a “crepe de chine,” and made of “polyester/acetate.”  In my mind, crepe de chine was defined as an inexpensive version of silk/satin.  I guess I was imagining something with a tad more body, but with excellent drape.  This fabric is all drape.  AND, it is exactly the same feel as a fabric I already have.  Enter the plastic bag fabric pictured below.


This blouse is made from a fabric I purchased from my local fabric store.  I love my local fabric store.  The owner is very friendly and helpful, and her prices are excellent.  I believe I paid $5 or $6/yard for this gray fabric.  (The red feather fabric was $10/yd plus nearly $10 for shipping).  Unfortunately, a lot of the fabric in the store is not labeled, so I have to ask the proprietor what the material is and how to care for it.  I was told this gray fabric was made from recycled plastic bags, and to machine wash and dry.  I was totally intrigued and feeling so green with my “recycled” fabric choice.

After making the pussy bow blouse, I found the gray fabric doesn’t wrinkle or hold a crease, making it a bit difficult to work with but awesome to wash and wear (I tend to leave wrinkled clothes hanging in the closet for months before I get around to ironing).  It is comfortable, but I believe it to be rather delicate–pins leave visible holes, and the threads are easily distorted if stretched or pulled on.  With the arrival of the red fabric, I am quite confident the gray fabric is also polyester/acetate. And thanks to experience, I have a better idea of how to handle the red fabric. describes acetate as derived from natural sources (not plastic bags).  Acetate can react (melt) if it comes into contact with nail polish remover or alcohol!  Dry cleaning is recommended.  Polyester is made from petroleum byproducts, and it is heat sensitive.  Plastic bags can also be made from petroleum, so perhaps it is possible that my gray fabric is made from recycled plastic bags after all.

At least now I have a better idea of what I’ll get when ordering “crepe de chine” or “polyester/acetate.”

The red feather fabric is destined to be a dress sooner than later–two of my good friends got engaged last week, and me thinks I need a new dress for their wedding :)

New Additions

I asked for an ironing board for Christmas.  A full size stand-up ironing board.  Even though she said it was a terrible gift, my mother came through and got me a board (as well as a few other more exciting (by her standards) gifts.)

Up till now I have used a table-top ironing board.  Every seamstress knows how very important ironing is to the success of a garment.  Now I can stand-up straight and iron long seams all in one go.  Thank you mom!

Although I’ve had a thread rack for several months now, it has more recently become a problem.  Or should I say the cat has become a problem for the thread rack.  Even though I’ve moved it up higher on the wall, Mr. Jay Catsby still finds a way to knock down bobbins and spools of thread.

Tonight I came home to a booby trapped house!  Jay had strung thread from the upstairs spare room, across the hall, down the stairs and into the living room.  I saw the spools first, laying on the floor, but the thread was nearly invisible till it had trapped my feet.  I cut my losses and put the thread back on the rack, but I wonder how I can keep Mr. Jay from spoiling the entire collection?  I’m considering a hutch or armoire to help organize my growing stash of fabric and patterns.  Maybe the thread will have to be put away in a cabinet or drawer too.

Mr. Jay Catsby, pretending to be sweet and innocent.

Also a recent addition to my sewing room, my manager at work gave me the Sunburst pattern drafting system and hem marker.  I will certainly use the hem marker, just as soon as I can train Mr. GF (Garment Farmer) how to use it while I model the dress/skirt.

As for the Sunburst pattern system, I intend to look it over and study it, but I’m not sure how soon I’ll get to that.  Nevertheless, I’m quite excited to be gifted with such lovely treasures!!

I’ve completely outgrown my current shelves for my sewing supplies, so I’m on the lookout for the right piece of furniture to help organize my spare room/sewing studio.  Once I find it, I’ll report back with a clean and organized sewing room to share.

Have you gotten any exciting gifts or new hobby supplies lately?