Category Archives: sewing

Back on track

Between dropping down to a part-time schedule at work and my husband’s return from the year-long assignment in Korea, my life has finally gotten back to a normal, reasonable pace. And I got back to running. And cooking. And all the other fun things that come with normal life. Like planning a SWAP, hehe. These are my SWAP fabrics. Full plan to come.

SWAP colors/fabrics

These last few months have been a bit of a hell on wheels because spending a year apart is tough, and the stressful job and crazy traffic didn’t help things. So now I’m taking care of myself, slowly easing into my creative groove. In the polymer studio, it’s mostly about rearranging tools and looking at previously made pieces. It feels like forever ago that I touched raw clay. Here is a look at the bracelets I made this year:

Polymer clay bracelets - 2017

And here is a yellow and black set I made to go with this gorgeous scarf. I also dyed the cardigan to match because I thought it would be easier than trying to find matching RTW. The dye is Rit Lemon Yellow, the kind that comes in a bottle. I followed the instructions on Rit’s website, including adding the salt in the dye bath and then following up with dye fixative afterwards. I found the dyeing process surprisingly easy and the resulting color nice and even.

Yellow and black jewelry set

Somewhere along the line this summer I decided to experiment with mica shift. It’s an interesting technique that I’d like to explore further. First, I tried it with Kato and I have this set to show you:

Red jewelry set - mica shift

And some samples of other colors, this time in Premo:

Mica shift samples

And that’s all I have for now. Actually, not quite because I do have a knitting WIP but no picture of it right now so that will come later. See you soon!

Checking in again

Hi again!

So I haven’t been posting in the last few months because what was supposed to be a part-time job turned into a full-time one just a few days after I started. It was a lot of information to take in and a major lifestyle change, and the stress of all that coupled with the long daily drive back and forth meant that I’ve had very little time or energy left for creating, let alone blogging. I am still here though, and while my posts will likely be sporadic in the next two months, they will get more regular once I go part-time in October.

All that housekeeping out of the way, let’s look at what I’ve been making. Because I wasn’t exactly idle, as it turns out (to my own surprise). I have made a bunch of bracelets and experimented with fun techniques – I have yet to take pictures of them so those will come later. Also, I joined the summer 6-PAC and made a bunch of things: 5 tops, a dress, and a cardigan jacket. And two pieces I didn’t think to photograph, mostly because I’ve been wearing them to work a lot and they completely slipped my mind.

Summer 6-PAC - tops

All of these tops are cut from Jalie 3352, the dolman top. The red ones in 11oz. rayon jersey from Emmaonesock have the original neckline without changes (I think). The light gray is a cotton knit from Nancy Erickson and has the most wonderful hand. The darker gray is a mostly-cotton jersey from Fabricmart – that one will be given away because it was doing some shrinking as I sewed it, and I only noticed it at the end. Both of these gray tops have a 3/4″ neckband, which was my attempt to see if I like the closer neckline (yes!) and if I like the neckband finish (not really). The cute polka dot is a cotton jersey from Marcy Tilton and it’s such a happy, smile-inducing fabric. For this top, I just closed up the neckline by the same 3/4″ and then clean-finished it by turning the allowance under and coverstitching. I like this neckline the best. Next time, I want to try a boat neckline to bring it up closer to the collar bone – I had accidentally put on one top the wrong way, with the back in front, and I liked the effect.

Summer 6-PAC - dress and cardigan

The dress is drafted from Sure-Fit Designs Shirt Kit. I just lengthened it to dress length, took in the side seams some to accommodate the sleeveless design and the curve of my waist, and added the bias-cut collar. Oh, and the hemline goes in a slight A-line, which is comfortable, but I think I prefer a straighter silhouette. I made it in a lovely black Brussels Washer from – it is such a pleasure to sew and wear. Warning: it does seat out some so not your best bet for a formal anything. I cut the neckline fairly wide and the collar doesn’t play well with most of my cardigans but I do have a few RTW ones that work so the dress is not an orphan.

The cardigan jacket is from my old PMB pattern (from 2002 or 2003, yikes!). I narrowed the shoulder slightly with a corresponding sleeve cap adjustment, curved the front neckline where it meets center front, and added 8″ to the length. There is no closure and the front edges meet but do not overlap. The fabric is an acrylic/wool/poly boucle bought from Fabricmart several years ago. It’s nicely warm, and super easy to sew. I enjoy wearing it and there’s more in the stash for another, shorter version.

And that’s pretty much all I have right now. Thank you if you’re still reading, and see you soon!

Red wool top with brooch

Before I made the teal jeans, I was still on the red kick from earlier this year. And I made this red top. It was the first piece of my winter 6-PAC for which I never made a real plan. I vaguely remember thinking about three tops and three skirts, but this red top is as far as I got before switching gears to sewing jeans.

Red wool top

Lately I’ve been noticing trim and piping and similar details on my inspiration garments. And I have equally been noticing their very obvious absence in my own closet. The red top was my first step towards remedying this. The pattern is my TNT M6355 again and the fabric is a fabulous wool doubleknit from Michael’s Fabrics (years ago) that sews like a dream. I used black foldover elastic for the sleeve hems and neckline. It looked pretty “trimmy” already compared to my usual creations but when I put it on, it seemed to want more. I played with one of my samples, and I think small black-trimmed pockets would have been perfect, you know, Chanel-style. Except, this is not a jacket, but a pullover top. So no pockets, thank you. Instead, I thought, how about a brooch?

Red wool top - closeup

And so I made one with polymer clay. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted but I knew it should be mostly black. So I made the dome and then fairly randomly poked it with a small stylus. It was meant to be a sample to try the back-fill technique so I wasn’t going for any particular pattern. After curing, I back-filled the holes with white polymer, and cured again. After sanding, the surface is smooth and solid. I really like it. And it adds the touch of black that the red top needed.

Skirt fabrics

Above are the three fabrics for skirts. I figure since these fabrics are the outfit star kind, they can be worn with solid-colored turtlenecks all winter. All three are from Marcy Tilton. Only a yard of each, enough for a skirt. They’ve been sitting on the shelf, patiently waiting for me to realize once again that I can have a fitted top or a dartless one, but that fitted and dartless is really not in the cards for my body shape. Well, they’re up next, hehe.

Happy sewing!

Teal jeans with embroidery and bling

I’ve been waiting to post about these jeans, hoping to get better pictures. Alas, between the rain and cold weather, I haven’t been able to get outside to take pictures so we’ll have to do with these indoor ones.

Teal jeans 1

Two years ago, I made a pair of jeans that was meant to serve as a wearable prototype. I had wanted to make a few more pairs but then life happened, and the planned jeans did not materialize. Until now. A few weeks ago, I finally picked up the pattern, Angela Wolf’s Angel Bootcut (AW 4200). I used the altered version from the prototype because it fit well enough, and added two refinements – one for fit, the other for style:

  • a 1/2″ flat seat adjustment, using Ann Rowley’s instructions, to eliminate at least some of the wrinkling on the back of the legs;
  • an adjustment to the width at the hem, tapering to the knee, to make the hem circumference 19″ so they can be worn with heels.

Teal jeans 2

The fabric is a stretchy denim from Emmaonesock. It’s 65% cotton, 32% polyester, and 3% spandex. It feels very cottony and comfortable, and doesn’t seat out. At least not noticeably.

Teal jeans - back closeup

I’ve been wanting to use this bubbly embroidery design set ever since I bought it last year. I thought the back pockets of these jeans were the perfect canvas for it. I combined three smaller designs in the software, and then played with them a bit so that each pocket is a little different. I had fun getting back into machine embroidery. Note for future: remember that 24 minutes of actual embroidery stitching time will easily mean several hours of work total.

The crystals took longer to put on than I had anticipated but it was easy work and fun to watch the designs come to life. This is the first time I’ve worn bling on my butt and I wasn’t entirely sure about it at first, but once I put them on, I loved them immediately.

Teal jeans - front closeup

I considered contrast stitching but it wasn’t right for this project. Instead, I topstitched tone-on-tone. The stitching is visible, but not in-your-face. The pockets, fly shield, and inside waistband are cut from a coordinating quilting cotton.

Teal jeans - zipper DIY

I didn’t have a coordinating zipper. I had white (too light) and navy (too dark). So I improvised with Sharpies, hehe. Blue and green make a decent teal together, don’t they? On one side, I only needed to color the 1/8″ or so that shows next to the teeth, on the reverse I colored the whole width of the tape because it can be seen when the fly is open. Not that it’s a common sight, ha! but I wanted to make it as close to perfection as I could.

I needed a refresher on sewing jeans so I used Angela Wolf’s jeans class on Craftsy. I’d watch a lesson, then sew that part. Then I’d watch another lesson and follow up with a sewing session. It was nice because the process is divided into manageable chunks, each of which is a visible progress towards the finish. Very satisfying.

I’ve been wearing these jeans quite a bit and love them. The fit is just right, the fabric comfortable, and now I want to clone them in other colors.

And that’s all I have about these jeans for now. If you have questions or compliments, please write them in the comments.

See you soon!

Back in the swing of things

For a person who values stability, I move an awful lot. At the end of September, we made our second major move this year and I’m just now starting to feel like things might return to some semblance of normalcy soon. Sewing has kept me sane (knitting too but lately I’ve been mostly sewing). Here’s how my new sewing studio looked after the movers left:

Sewing room before

And here’s how it looks now:

Sewing room after - view 1

It looked much like this just a few days after the movers left the hot mess you saw in the first picture because I cannot stand moving boxes. So I usually unpack everything in the first week. I had to wait another week or two to have my fabric closet delivered so at that point there were still seven large boxes of fabric in the room. But they sat along one wall and the rest of the studio was usable.

Sewing room after - view 2

I really like sewing in this room. It gets a lot of indirect light most of the day – the bay window faces north. The other two windows face east so they bring in lovely morning sunshine for a couple of hours every day. It feels comfortable to work in here although now that the temperature has dropped outside, I’m noticing a cold draft on my feet. I may need some thick socks or something. It is definitely the coolest room in the house, which is kinda nice because I can have the iron on all day without the room getting too warm.

The first thing I sewed after the move was an apron. I used to have several. Somehow they have all disappeared over the years and moves. And so a new apron was in order.


Pretty cool, eh? It was a panel I bought at the local quilting store. Easy-peasy. I lined it with a coordinating spiderweb print to make it reversible.

I have other sewing bits to share with you so those will follow in the next post or two.

See you soon!

Where did the time go?

It seems like just yesterday I was telling you about my beginnings with polymer clay and here we are two months later. Where did the time go? Did it go by fast for you too? We’ve been getting ready for the move next month, including a “recon” trip to the Washington, D.C. area so we’ll have some idea of what’s where when we get there. We visited Michael’s Fabrics which is always fun, found a couple of fabulous quilt stores and a yarn store within easy driving distance, and definitely decided to live on base instead of on the economy.

Then there was another trip, a totaled car (hail damage, no one injured, thankfully), and lots of sewing. A bit of the kind that produces wearable garments and a lot of the muslin kind. Real muslin. The kind that you wouldn’t want to be seen dead in it. Although my husband did mention it might be a good color for a pair of pants for me, so maybe I’ll keep that in mind.

Sure-Fit Designs 3-kit combo

Anyway, the many muslins were because I bought the Sure-Fit Designs 3-kit combo. It includes the dress kit, the pants kit, and the shirt kit. I’ll be reviewing them in detail as I work through them this fall. If you have this system and are starting to work with it, or if you’re considering buying it, my initial advice to you is this:

  1. Measure carefully. Like two or three times. At least. And check that you’re not measuring your “mirror posture” but how you really stand.
  2. Don’t try this when your weight is dropping fast because you decided to cut out refined sugar and processed foods right before you ordered the kit. (ahem!)

My summer 6-PAC turned out to be just 5 pieces – the red tops and white skirt you saw, and then I added a black skirt in Sophia knit and a light yellow rayon jersey top. All five pieces got quite a bit of wear and I’ve been really pleased with them. I’ve also made a bunch of PJs for both me and my husband. My most recent makes are a pair of black cotton pants and a long-sleeved top – in preparation for fall, I suppose. And fall sewing, or sewing plans, will be the subject of the next post because I really need to put some pictures together first. Not just for you, but so I have a good visual representation of what’s going on with my wardrobe. Or a checklist. Or something. Because I don’t think I can keep it all in my head and deal with this move at the same time.

See you soon!

Me-Made-May, week 4 and wrap-up

Just a wee bit late but here we go. Week 4:

May 22

Monday: red denim skirt and sparkly silver rayon top, plus me-made red bracelets.

May 23

Tuesday: white denim skirt, red rayon top, and me-made bracelets, earrings, and necklace.

On Wednesday, I drove out early in the morning to see my husband who had been gone the previous four weeks. I have an ugly hotel mirror shot which I won’t post but I was wearing the black denim skirt and the black/gray/red rayon print top. The next day, I had planned to go back to taking pictures but after the second day of driving, all I wanted was to be with my husband. Pictures were just not a priority. We spent a glorious long weekend at the beach and then he had to go back to his school and I had to drive two days to get home. And then it was June.

Lessons learned:

  • I like the clothes I made and enjoy wearing them. They make me feel like me. This is a great thing.
  • I have a nice core wardrobe of summer casual clothes. It’s been close to a decade since I had that.
  • I like wearing jewelry I made. It doesn’t matter if no one knows I made it. I know and it’s a fabulous feeling.
  • I need a routine. I’ve always known I liked a routine but it finally dawned on me last week that I really need it to function best. It’s almost amazing just how much goes right out the window when I’m in transition, whether it’s moving from one country to another or simply traveling. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I suppose.
  • Daily pictures are good but they are not necessary. I wore my SWAP wardrobe for the whole month of May and have continued to wear it now in June. Nice comfortable clothes will get worn, pictures or no pictures.

Participating in Me-Made-May was fun. Thank you, Zoe, for organizing it. I am hoping to figure out a similar cool-weather wardrobe soon so that I am ready when fall comes.

See you soon!

Me-Made-May, week 3 roundup

Yay. three weeks down. It’s hard to take pictures every day. I mean, I have a tripod and a fabulous camera with a remote, and a decent photo spot on the patio so it’s not that. But sometimes it’s hard to fit it in. Anyway, on to what I’ve been wearing.

May 15

Sunday was a chilly rainy day. I wore my trusty black denim skirt with a mystery jersey top (M6355). I have the long sleeves rolled up to show off my me-made bracelets but if I had to spend more time outside in that weather, those sleeves would have come right back down. Me-made earrings as well (polymer clay, naturally).

May 16

On Monday, off-black denim skirt with the darker red rayon jersey top (Burda 6695), and me-made bracelets on both arms. Some days I experiment to see which bracelets wear or feel better during regular activities, and some days I just want to wear my bracelets. All of them, if I could.

May 17

On Tuesday, another cold day, I needed long sleeves again. Black denim skirt, dark red Sophia knit top (M6355), me-made bracelet and earrings. Not that you can see the earrings much in this picture, but I like them and they are comfortable to wear.

May 18

Seriously, what’s with the cold days? It’s May! This was on Wednesday, and I wore the black denim skirt with my mystery jersey top, me-made earrings and bracelets. This black skirt gets a lot of wear. I love it. It is super comfy and goes with just about everything.

No picture for Thursday. I was playing with polymer clay all day. Not sure what I wore other than no makeup and no accessories. I woke up with an idea for some earrings and pendants that I had to try right away. I’m not even sure I had breakfast that day.

May 20

Friday was back to the black denim skirt and light red rayon jersey top (Burda 6695), with me-made bracelets, necklace, and earrings.

May 21

And finally, on Saturday, I wore the black denim skirt with the red/black printed ITY poly top (Burda 6695), and me-made bracelets.

It’s been a good, productive week. A little bit cold, and I could do without the severe weather warnings, but otherwise no complaints. I’ve spent many happy hours in the clay studio – that’s a fancy name for the breakfast nook where my work desk resides. I keep wanting to share my clay stuff with you all but every time I start thinking about clay, I immediately want to work with it so writing takes a back seat, again and again. But this week I’ll have several days without access to clay which should make for good writing-about-clay time.

See you soon!

Me-Made-May, week 2 roundup

Second week in and I’ve already started repeating outfits. More on this later.

May 8

On Sunday, I wore the multicolored top that started my obsession with Burda 6695. I paired it with the off-black denim skirt. I have a hard time telling the difference between it and the black denim in pictures but in real life, the colors are quite different.

May 9

On Monday I wore my new red top with the black denim skirt. The top is the first piece in my Summer 6-PAC.  I accessorized with me-made bracelets and necklace (polymer clay, of course).

May 10

I had been busy sewing on Monday so that I had a new outfit to wear on Tuesday. This is the heathered red top and white denim skirt, both part of my Summer 6-PAC. Me-made bracelets again. I just love them.

May 11

Back to old (ha!) clothes on Wednesday – red denim skirt and black/white newsprint rayon jersey top. Same bracelets, three days in a row. I’d never know this if it weren’t for the pictures.

May 12

On Thursday, there was still red but less prominent. Off-black denim skirt and a mostly gray/black print top, and those bracelets. Seriously, I do have other bracelets.

May 13

Winding down the color for the weekend, hehe. On Friday I opted for the black denim skirt and silver metallic (sparkly!) top. As it turns out, I had paired the same pieces together just six days earlier. Maybe that says something about me.

And no picture for Saturday because I spent the day playing with polymer clay and I was totally in the zone. When I finally looked up, it was dark. But I did take note of what I wore: black denim skirt, red/black ITY poly top, black wool jersey cardigan, and the red me-made bracelets. It was a cool day and sometime in the afternoon I swapped the skirt for a pair of RTW black pants to keep me warm.

I’m happy to have clothes that I enjoy wearing. And even happier that they are made by me. I am starting to feel like it’s a lot of clothes though. I can’t quite explain it. I mean, it’s a SWAP plus two older and three brand-new pieces, so 16 pieces total. I enjoy having a variety of colors in tops. I’m not so sure about the skirts. I always reach for the black one first. It takes a conscious effort to pick the red or off-black one. So maybe I need three black skirts instead of black, off-black, and red. But I’m already wearing a uniform of sorts so do I want to eliminate the color element from the bottom half? I’ll have to think about it.

It would make getting dressed easier. Also, I was thinking that for winter, I could have a few black dresses and wear them with bright-colored cardigans or Viajante. Something to chew on.

In other news: I’ve been playing and claying and I will show you some polymer clay pieces next.

See you soon!

Summer 6-PAC wardrobe

The summer 6-PAC sew-along has started. People are coming up with all kinds of cool “stories” to make their wardrobe plans. I don’t have a cool story. But I do have the first three pieces finished.

Dark red top with skirtMay 10

I used my trusty patterns again – Burda 6695 for the tops and for the skirt, my favorite frankenpattern. All three fabrics are from Emmaonesock. The 11-oz. rayon/lycra jersey sews like a dream and feels great on the skin. I hope it wears and washes well, too, because I want these tops to last. The denim is the same stretch blend as the red and off-black skirts I made a few weeks ago.

Red white combo

Here are the three pieces all together. You can see that the reds are different. The darker one is called cadmium red, and the lighter one is called dark coral heather. Interestingly, mixing them up in polymer clay (Premo) calls for the same base: 7 parts cadmium red and 1 part fuchsia. For the darker color, the base is used as is. The lighter one is a 1:1 blend of the base with white. Colormixr tells me so.

Polymer clay to match

This morning I ordered some red sandals from Zappos. I hope they fit. And then I started working on coordinating jewelry for this red/white combination. The sheet above is made with a new-to-me technique called Sutton Slice. It’s fun to do. Now I need to figure out how to put it on a bracelet without demolishing the texture. The round pieces are still a WIP. The small ones are for earrings and the larger ones for pendants. I think. We’ll see how they turn out after the next baking.

And that’s all I have for now.

See you soon!