Sew Tina Giveaway and Interview!

Tina Givens has written a great new book, Sew Tina,  for projects for clothing, accessories and decor for kids! I am just in awe of Tina's creativity. She is a great artist, who has designed fabric lines and stationery in addition to her own sewing pattern line. Her style is fun and whimsical, and totally Tina!

We are so happy to be a stop on Tina's blog tour to announce her new book. We are giving away to one lucky reader a great gift that includes the book, 4 yards of fabric, 2 boxes of stationery, and 2 extra sewing patterns! The book is 144 pages and includes a gorgeous set of full size patterns.  To enter the giveaway, leave a comment at the end of this post  Good luck, everyone!

I was able to ask Tina a few questions, and I think you'll find her answers very fascinating!  I'll intersperse from photos from the book along with her answers.
This is what the patterns look like from the pull-out section.

Where did you grow-up, where did you go to school, where do you live now? Tell us about your family.

I grew up in a far far away world... in Zimbabwe, Africa. It seems like a whole life time ago and practically is. I was born there and left when I was 17 years old. Life there was slow and very beautiful with a sort of tropical current in weather and palm trees even though we were not on the coast. I grew up within a large extended family made up of many cultures and creative personalities. The women ran the family on the Greek side who were eccentric, ambitious and outspoken. I inherited a little of that!
At 17 we immigrated to Canada where I went to college and experienced a culture change so drastic that my sister and I held on to each other for dear life. We spoke differently, we dressed differently and we nurtured ourselves into the fast paced Toronto big city life but quick! I fell into a corporate world after graduating into sales and marketing in high exposure advertising at the down town offices of DDB Needham where accounts including Maybelline, Porsche and Volkswagen. I always thought I'd be on the creative side of the agency but with my degree in economics and business management I was a junior account executive managing budgets schedules and strategic branding.... Life went on and years later found myself on client side as marketing director. Met my American husband in Canada, and we moved around until we settled in Cleveland for sometime, and then where we live now, Raleigh North Carolina.
We have 3 children, Alex who is now in college, Freshman.... and the twins who are 8, girl and a boy who inspire many outrageous characters I paint and projects I sew.

Chef's Hat
How did you learn how to sew, and what kinds of things do you like to sew now?

In Africa, many women sewed and my mother and grandmother taught me to sew at an early age. We had a dedicated sewing room and enormous ping pong table I cut out on. Perfect cutting table by the way. The room was under the house with walk out doors and loads of windows into the garden, so it was a spacious and light filled room. I spent many hours in that room. If no one could find me that's where I was... creating my own doll clothes, and moved onto my own clothes. I don't remember ever using sewing patterns. When my mom first taught me we cut from sewing patterns but that's the last I remember. I would have an idea for an outfit, pants, a dress.... and I'd lay the fabric down and cut out the basic shapes. If I made a mistake it became part of the outfit!
I still do this. My sewing studio is now in the house, and I have what I call a 'sewing bar' where my machines are set up and I have the luxury of cutting on an old buffet which is the perfect height for cutting and depth for the folded fabric width. Drawers hold my tools and bits and pieces... I sew a lot... I sew for my kids and myself and of course the house. I love to slip cover things, make drapes and cushions... but I also sew quilts for each fabric collection I do, and create a 'story' around each fabric collection at market. My most recent was Opal Owl in vibrant colors. I created much of what's in the book in Opal fabrics, but also my sewing patterns, new kids patterns and of course slipcovered an ottomon made crazy pillows and applique wall art!
I like to sew my own clothes in linen and unique upholstery fabrics. I love velvet and make loads of scarves and wraps. Yummy... I just made a pair of fall baggy pants to wear with a fitted jacket and oxfords..... oh, and I love making hats!

Sweet Dreams Canopy
What advice do you have for beginning sewers?

My strongest advise is to relax and don't take it so seriously. Follow the instructions but if you mess up, find a way to incorporate it. Be creative and have fun with your sewing projects. And always, always use fabrics you love. Sharp pair of scissors, press all seams as you sew, and again enjoy the process and journey of sewing. You'll be constantly learning new techniques, and always be inspired by what you have made! 
Annie's Top

What makes your patterns unique?

I'm not sure. At first I was disappointed that they were not crisp and clean and perfect like many other designers out there, but then forgave it and grew a little confidence in that the designs are mine and have a signature to them. I embraced that and celebrated that I seem to have my own style. I should be happy about that! And it's still being refined.. we all grow in any capacity of life and mine among many others is as a painter, illustrator, seamstress and fabric designer. I love color, and I enjoy mixing colors to create unusual palettes to bring the unexpected to life. I think my fabric collections each tell a story, from Zazu, Annabella, Chloe's Imagination, Olivia's Holiday, Treetop Fancy and now Opal Owl. I just approved a new floral collection which is called Haven's Edge, and wow it is an eclectic and eccentric group of patterns.... My next collection is inspired by a childhood book, Miss. Z. and I am painting green lions, beautiful unicorns and fanciful fountains with colorful parrots... Maybe simply my imagination is what sets me apart, what do you think?

Dude Tunic and Shorts
Ann, thanks so much for having me.
All the very best,

Thank you Tina and Lark books for sponsoring this generous giveaway! This giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to Linda Armenti who is the winner!


Butterick 5527 Border Print Tunic

Finally it's cool enough to wear this top!  I made this last month, but it had stayed in the 80's and 90's almost all of September. 

This is a great rayon knit border print that I got from Fabric Mart.  I was constantly on the lookout for a pattern that could use a border print.  Finally I found Butterick 5527
This is laid out on the cross-grain, which means that the stretch of the fabric actually goes up and down.
It takes a lot of fabric for a top- 2-3/4 yards is the recommended amount for the medium, so the lighterweight the fabric the better.  I would like to make it again in a cotton jersey knit, maybe as the top length.
This is one of their patterns that can be a short top, tunic or dress.  I cut out at the tunic length.  Because the pattern was curved, and my border was straight, I just straightened out both the hem curve, and the waist curve.

The waistband is two 3/4" elastic strips inside a casing.  I had just enough of my border print left to use it in the casing to break up the print.

The sleeves are banded with a straight strip of fabric, with the length of the fabric becoming ties.  I used the dark purple part of my border for this.
This is a super comfy top that I think I'll get a lot of wear out of.  Great for a border print knit too!

Surgery on Vogue 1119

I'm sorry, Ms. Karan, but to save the life of this dress, we are going to have to amputate. 

I often think that I should have been a surgeon.  It would have been a way to use my sewing skills for the greater good.  But alas, I don't like being in or even near hospitals, sick people, and especially hospital food.  Thus, surgery on my clothes is about as close as I'm going to get.

In culling the herd in my closet, I came across this dress that I made last September.  It is Vogue 1119, a Donna Karan pattern, and only wore it once.  Why only once?  I'm not sure- the print was pretty ugly, and I'm not sure that the fit was right.  The asymmetrical waistline seam hit me at my widest part.  But the fabric was a silk knit, the only silk knit dress that I have, so I decided I must try to save it.

So, I cut the skirt off of the top to make separates.  The top is really short now in the back, so I could only serge the edge to finish it.  The skirt needed to be pulled up to my waist to get it to fit, so I made one more pleat in it, and secured it with two snaps from the Snap Source.   Luckily, it still isn't too short on me.

What do you think?  It certainly has a lot more possibilities now.  Here is the top with a black skirt.
Here is the skirt with a t-shirt and cardigan.  The print is still ugly, but there is less of it to deal with all at once.

 I think I like it a lot better, but only time will tell.  At least, I've given it 6 more months to live.

Vogue 1176 Michael Kors Dress

It's done!  My entry into's Little Black Dress Contest. 
I don't know why I waited so long to make a LBD, but I'm very happy with this one.  I used Vogue 1176 which is a Michael Kors design.  I love Michael Kors on Project Runway, so it is really kind of fun to be able to make one of his designs.  The fabric is a black floral jacquard satin that I got in a mystery bundle from 

Here is the bow close-up.  It looks hard, but as long as you mark everything really well, it goes together like butta.  I was pleased as punch with this one.  The directions and the fit were wonderful.  I recommend that you make your retail size on this one.  Usually, pattern sizing is completely different from retail sizing, but this one wasn't.  Make a muslin (sample from inexpensive fabric) before you start to make your life easier.
 The back is pretty plain, but flattering.  It has a vent for walking, as the skirt is pegged, so it tapers in.  This baby isn't made for bending over or doing any knee bends.  If I drop something when I'm wearing it, somebody is going to have to pick it up for me!  It would be nice to make this in something that has a bit of lycra in it.
The dress is fully lined, and has a side invisible zip to get it on/off.  Here is a view of the vent from the inside:

And I did have some problems with the shoulder straps falling down, so I added some lingerie guards.  To make a lingerie guard, sew the socket side of a sew-on snap to the inside of your garment  Then sew the stud side to either a piece of ribbon, or in my case I used black twill tape.  Sew the end of the twill tape to the opposite side of the strap( still on the inside of the garment).  Then when you are getting dressed, just fasten this around your bra strap to keep it in place.  Here is a close-up of mine.

I opted to skip the pattern for the belt.  Didn't think it needed it. 

When my daughter saw that I was making this, she said "Mom, where are you *ever* going to wear that?". Well, our 24th wedding anniversary is next month, so I think this will be perfect for a celebratory dinner. 


Little Black Dress contest

Believe it or not, I have never owned a LBD (Little Black Dress).  Unfortunately, my lifestyle has never included cocktail parties or formal dinners where I would ever need one.  However, now is sponsoring a Little Black Dress contest which is tempting me.   As I become an empty-nester next year, perhaps, just perhaps, an occasion to wear a LBD may arise, and wouldn't it be nice to have one all ready to go?
So, after my last foray into Vogue's designer patterns, I'm feeling sassy and would like another challenging design.  So many to choose from, but I'm leaning heavily towards this Vogue 1176  designed by Michael Kors.  It has a great integrated bow that you can see better in the line drawing. 

I'm thinking of making it out of some solid black silk shantung.  I'm sure that bow is going to be a little tricky, but I think that the dress is age appropriate for me, and hopefully a good shape for my body.  It would be fun to accessorize too.  Maybe a little clutch like the leopard one from Vogue 8527?

And maybe a nice wrap from a flocked sheer silk chiffon from Vogue 7161?  Now, I'm just getting ahead of myself here.  Let's see if I can get the LBD made first!

Anyone else interested in this contest?  It runs from September 15th-October 14th.

What patterns do you think would make a great LBD?

Sleeve Saver Smock sample giveaway

If you have a child who likes to do messy art projects or cooking projects, then you need our Sleeve Saver Smock pattern.  The beauty of this design over an apron, is that the sleeves are covered.  And the beauty of this design over a traditional smock is that it pulls over the head like a t-shirt, so there are no ties!  Don't you wish it came in adult sizes too?

We are giving away two model garments used for our pattern cover.  One with dinosaurs (a size 3-4T), and one with cupcakes (a size 5-6X).   We'll also include a copy of the pattern with the sample, so that you can make your own!

Give-Away Guidelines:
Three ways to register for the giveaway:
1.  Leave a comment.  Tell me which sample you would like best to win.  (Please make sure there is a way I can contact you- such as enabling the e-mail contact info on your profile.)
2.  Sign-up to be a Follower of this blog or Like us on Facebook.
3.  Link to us from your own blog or Facebook page!  Here's a sample link for you to use: SewBaby News Sleeve Saver Smock Giveaway!
(For 2 and 3,  please leave a comment telling me what you did.)

This Giveaway is now closed, and the winners have been contacted. Congratulations to the winners!

Pushing my limits- Vogue 1154

My niece got married this past weekend, and I wanted to make a festive dress for the occasion.  I decided on  this Vogue pattern 1154 by Badgley Mischka thinking that it looked like a fairly easy project.  Hahaha!  In my nearly 40 years of sewing, this was my most difficult project to date.

When I opened up the instructions, I was a little overwhelmed.  Thirty pattern pieces and 88 steps!  Should I turn back at this point?  Of course not, I won't let any pattern intimidate me!

The jacket was no problem- it is lined, but I'm used to that.  The dress on the other hand.....The dress has a full boned  foundation, a lining, and an interfaced interior lining as well- 8 layers of fabric and interfacing for the bodice.  I eliminated the interfaced interior lining, but the rest of the layers really do need to be there.

I had chosen a stretch cotton brocade for the outer fabric. The pattern called for china silk for the lining and the foundation layers, but I was afraid it might be 95 degrees at the wedding, and the china silk might be too hot.  So, I used cotton voile instead.  I really liked the pleated bodice.  You can see it more clearly here without the jacket.  And the back pleats mirror the front pleats.  What is with those tan lines (shaking head).

The top picture is what the foundation layer looks like with the sewn in interfacing and boning.  The second picture is the foundation completed with the facing and the ribbon hangers.  This is then sewn to the dress body.

The original design has one set of pleats that overlap another in the skirt- creating more bulk at the tummy area which did me no favors. So I redrafted the skirt to just have two sets of small pleats that didn't overlap.  I also added two inches to the length, but those were the only changes I made.

I had some problems tweaking the fit.  Once the foundation is in place, this dress will stand up by itself, and even though I had thought the muslin had fit, the final bodice ended up standing about 1/2 inch away from my body- just enough that someone taller than myself could have a nice view of my strapless bra, if they so wished.  I had to rip through all of those layers and took it in on the side seams enough to get it to hug my chest.  

I alternated between thinking this pattern was totally crazy, and realizing how much I was learning in the process.  I wouldn't want to sew something like this everyday, but it's a pretty sweet dress, if I do say so myself.   I had no problems with it slipping down at the wedding, which was my fear.  It was comfortable and secure.  This dress cost very little in supplies, but a lot in time.  In the end, I think it was definitely a good investment in my sewing education, all 88 steps!