Autumn Berry Mini Wardrobe

Update:  8/11/2014-  I'm SEW excited that I won! Thank you all for your kind words. The Patternreview community has been so inspirational and encouraging to me over the years, and I'm honored to be recognized by such a talented group of individuals. The competition was fierce! Congrats to Toile and Trouble too!

I love so many of the other wardrobes. I wish that we could all share virtual closets. Maybe in the future...

Thanks to Sigrid for her outstanding work in managing the contest, and to Deepika for the generous prizes. I can't wait to take a class!

Original Post:

I decided to enter's mini-wardrobe contest which ends today!  The challenge was to make 5 items in one month that could be combined to make 6 different looks.

You know that time of year when it is still hot enough for short sleeves, but chilly in the morning, and the leaves start turning colors? The perfect time of year to go for long walks, and sit outside at cafes enjoying time with friends. It's my favorite time of year! That is feeling that I'm trying to create with my Autumn Berry Wardrobe. 

 So, I made a dress, a skirt, pair of pants, a top and a sweater.   I switched out the accessories- boots, shoes, necklaces and purses. to try to make the looks a little more distinctive. Here are my 6 looks

Look #1.  Orchid sueded silk top from McCalls 6711 with wool skirt from Vogue 1082

Look #2.  Raw Silk dress with Learther armbands from Butterick 6066.

Look #3.  Orchid top and Wool pants from Hot Patterns 1139

Look #4  Cocoon Wrap from Butterick 6065 with Orchid sueded silk top from McCalls 6711 with wool skirt from Vogue 1086

Look #5
Cocoon Wrap from Butterick 6065 with Raw Silk dress from Buterick 6066

Look #6. 
Cocoon Wrap from Butterick 6065 with Orchid top and Wool pants from Hot Patterns 1139

I had so much fun doing this challenge.  It really energized my sewing, and stretched my abilities to the max!  There are so many other beautiful wardrobes entered in the contest that I'm getting lots more ideas for next time! 

 Have you ever entered a sewing contest?  What did you make?

Happy Sewing!


Cocoon Sweater Wrap from Butterick 6065

 Here is a fun, easy and satisfying project for you!  I call it a Cocoon Wrap, and it is from Butterick 6065.

This is so easy, it is literally only two pattern pieces:  the main body, and the neckband.

I used a novelty Missoni type sweater fabric.  I'm not sure what is in it, but it has all of my favorite fall colors.

This is so comfortable!

I can't wait for it to turn chilly enough to wear it!

Since my fabric was very loosely woven, I hemmed it with a satin bias strip.  But you could just narrow hem it if your fabric is closely woven.

My 21 year old daughter wants one.  How cool is that?

Happy Sewing!  


Piped Pencil Skirt Vogue 1082 Review

I'm still dreaming up ways to use my daughter's torn burgundy leather jacket.  You see, the leather is so soft and worn, and it would be just a shame not to use it!  So, I'm looking at all patterns with the thought "where could I sneak in a little of that leather" in the back of my mind.

I've had this skirt pattern (Vogue 1082) for a number of years, and I thought- "Hmmm... maybe the yoke in leather?"  This pattern is gorgeous, but WAYY more detailed than I usually sew. But, I had a piece of wool gabardine that was the right amount of yardage for this pattern, so I thought, "Let's give it a try!

You might think that after sewing for 40 years, that everything is easy.  You would be so wrong!  This skirt took me two full days.  So, why did it take two days?  Well, one word:  PIPING.  In all my sewing, I cannot recall using piping.  It's clear to me now why.  I'll show you why later.

First, let me show you the leather jacket salvage operation.

When I took apart the jacket, I was left with three fairly large pieces- the sleeves, and the back.  The front had too much going on with the pockets, facings, etc.  The back had it's problems too- it was princess seamed, so It had lots of seams.

I decided to cut the front skirt yoke out of the back piece of the jacket, placing the center front at the center back seam.  The back skirt yoke was in two pieces, so I used the sleeves for it.  Cutting was a breeze.  Now it was time for the piping

Let me take you through the steps.

I still had leftover raw silk from my last dress, and I decided to make my own.  To do this, first you have to cut out 1-1/2" strips on the bias.

  The pattern called for 8 yards of piping, so I cut 8 strips and pressed them in half.  I decided not to insert the cording.  I thought that might feel a little weird when sitting, so my piping is flat.

Now comes the tricky part.  How to sew the piping in, so that it looks even.  The one thing that I had going for me was Wonder Tape.  I placed a strip of Wonder Tape 1/4"  from the raw edges.  Here is what it looks like before you peel off the paper layer.  Just peel off the paper, and you have a nice sticky tape to press your fabric to.  Sounds easy, right?  My first try-too much piping showing.  Out comes the ripper.  My second try- not enough piping showing.  Ripper is getting lots of use.

My third try- just right-in MOST places.  With selected surgical ripping, I kept at it, until it looked fairly even.  The problem was the curves.  Even with the wonder tape and the ruler, the curves have a mind of their own.

The next hurdle was the invisible zipper.  I don't think that invisible zippers and leather go together at all.  The leather is just too thick.  The first insertion- zipper wouldn't zip!  Ripper again.
The second time I sewed it in a good distance away from the coil, and it worked okay. 

This skirt would be sooo long on most people!  I am 5 feet 9", and I ended up taking off 3 inches, making a 2 inch hem, and it still is below my knee!  I think it might have actually been more attractive shorter, but after how much work I put in that piping, I couldn't bring myself to cut off anymore!

  I had a pretty orchid satin that I used for thelining. 

Even though this was hard, I'm glad that I challenged myself. 

Happy Sewing!


Pink Peacock Feathers and Pockets

Do you ever order a fabric and then have buyer's remorse?  That was the case with this fabric for me.  I ordered this Peacock feather print, expecting something in the blues and greens, and ordered it without a photo. When I opened up the box and saw pink, orange and neon lime peacock feathers, I had to step back.  Honestly, when you see this fabric flat, it is so gaudy, that I couldn't imagine anything out of it.

 I thought, if I want this fabric to work, I'm going to need a GREAT pattern.  I went through some of the reviews at for dresses, and saw that one of my favorite bloggers- Beth at had made Maggy London's Butterick 5455 SEVEN times.

I don't think that I have ever made a pattern SEVEN times, so I knew right then, that I had to try it!   Luckily, I had it in my stash, as it is now OOP.  (Out of Print).

  The pleating looks fancy, but it is really quite simple.

 The back V is just high enough to cover the bra band.  I do find that the straps are a little loose, and I will need to add a ribbon stay under that strap to hold it in place with my bra strap.

The pockets blend in so well with the print, that you can't see them unless you are up close.
Here they are from the inside:
You can see that I lined the bodice, but the black stuff on the back of the fabric was part of the fabric.  This fabric was a silk/linen blend from Nanette Lepore that came fused with tricot knit.  I prewashed my fabric, and in the process, some of it separated from the outer fabric, but not enough to tell from the right side.

Because the skirt is close-fitting, the pattern includes a walking vent.  I think that I added 2 inches to the length. 

This pattern is definitely a keeper, and the pink peacock fabric design has grown on me.  I think it's a great late summer/early fall dress. 

If you didn't get this one when it was in the stores, I think it's worth tracking down a copy on e-Bay.  I've been impressed with all of the Maggy London patterns that I've bought so far, and am so glad that I got this one!

How about you?  Any fabric buyer's remorse in your past?

Happy Sewing!

Packing Light- Sewing a Summer Travel Wardrobe

For our 3 week trip to Italy, I was determined to pack light enough to fit everything into this backpack.  Everybody said that I couldn't do it, but I enjoy a good challenge.  I didn't want to have to lug around even a small suitcase up and down steep steps, over cobbled roads, etc, so I set about carefully picking items to pack based on volume and weight.  Since Italy in June was going to be hot, I decided to make dresses.

Silk Cotton Voile Dress that weighs 2.8 ounces!
See that fabric on the scale?  That is Dress #1.  I found that I had three pieces of Silk/Cotton Voile that was absolutely the lightest weight fabric that I owned.  This stuff is incredible- so light and breathable, it is just like you are wearing nothing at all.  
Travel Dress #1:  From Textile Studios Barcelona Dress pattern.

In selecting travel dress patterns, I was looking for three things:
1.  Loose-fitting- both for heat and for the likelihood of an increasing waistline (expecting to eat a lot!)

2.  Back and shoulder coverage-the last thing I wanted was to get a sunburn!

3.  No extra weight from facings or collars.

Even though I was using the same type of fabric for all three dresses, I wanted the dresses to look different enough that I wouldn't feel like I was wearing the same dress everyday. The first dress is made using the  Textile Studios Barcelona dress.   This striped one was my favorite.  It was easy for my family to spot me in when we were sightseeing.
Travel Dress #2:  Vogue 8985 without facings and lengthened.

 The other two dresses were from Vogue 8985 with the bodice cut on the fold, and the facings removed.  It doesn't really resemble the pattern, but it was a good starting off point for what I wanted.  For the maxi dress, I added a few inches, and added a self-lined slip and pockets.

Travel Dress #3
 The two short dresses weighed just 2.8 ounces each!  The maxi-dress weighed 4.2 ounces.  So, these three dresses alone were 10 ounces!!!

Silk/cotton voile half slip
I made one half slip out of a solid silk/cotton stretch voile that I could wear with everything.  And I invested in Ex-Officio underwear- a super lightweight underwear that you can wash and air dry in just a few hours, so you don't need to pack as many pairs.
Bra Wallet from the outside.
I had heard that Italy was home of many pick-pockets, so I also made a bra wallet- a little silk pocket, just big enough for credit cards and a little cash, with a velcro closure that tucks right into your bra.  I still carried a purse, but just in case that got stolen, I kept the important stuff in the bra pocket.   Here it is, inside out, so you can see the basic construction.  You don't need a pattern for it- just make a rectangle a little larger than your credit cards, and add seam allowances and hem for the top.  Cut a strip of velcro in half and sew to the center top to secure the contents.
Bra Pocket Inside-out

I don't want to leave you with the impression that this was all I took.  In addition to these items, I also packed two knit dresses,  pajamas, swimming suit, scarf, and lightweight sweater.  It really is amazing what you can fit into a backpack!

I wore my heaviest items on the plane- which included a denim jacket, sweat pants, tennis shoes, and t-shirt.  I wore everything at least 3 times, washed them once at a laundry facility.  We did have a couple of rainy days, so I was glad to have the jacket and scarf.

I also made and took a gauze jumpsuit for the trip that I'll have to review on another day.

My family enjoying a sunny day in Italy.
But it all fit in that single backpack!  And I even had room for in my backpack for a designer Italian dress to make it's way home in!

Happy Sewing and Happy Travels!


Let the Fall Sewing Begin! Butterick 6066 Review

Hello!  It's been a crazy summer here, which is why it has been 3 months since my last post.  We went on a 3 week trip to ITALY!!  Yes, it was amazing, fantastic, exciting, and every other superlative word that I can think of.  If you haven't been, save your pennies and go!  You will not regret it.  The people, the food, the landscapes, the fashion- it is all good.  

Sometime, I will blog about the travel wardrobe that I made for it, but for now, I am looking forward to FALL!

There are so many patterns that I want to try, and fabrics that I love, that I find I get more done when I sew with a plan, narrowing the focus of what I want to make.  I spent most of a day going through my stash of patterns and fabrics, and have selected my color scheme for Fall to be the colors of the harvest- burgundy and golden wheat.  

I've collected a number of solid burgundy fabrics through the years,mostly coming from Fabric Mart Bundles.  So, I'm going to challenge myself to make more detail oriented garments than I'm used to, and to mix fabric textures together.  I'm excited, and I hope that you'll follow along with my progress.  I'm always so tempted to use a print fabric and a simple pattern to get something done fast, so this really will be a test for me to see if I can sew a little slower, and make things a little richer. 

For patterns, I'm going to try to work on getting a good fit, so I'm looking at quite a few Palmer Pletsch and Sandra Betzina patterns that address fit issues.  However, my first venture is Butterick 6066.  This is one of their Lifestyle Wardrobe patterns, that includes three items- pants, top and dress.

What really sold me on this pattern was the separate pattern pieces for different cup sizes for the top/dress.   I made the 16 with the D cup pieces, and added 2" to the length.

The dress could be made with or without the armhole bands and peplum.  My daughter had a well worn burgundy leather jacket that got ripped.  I took it apart, and decided to use pieces of it for the armhole bands.  I like the rustic texture that they add.

I went for the peplum too.   It is just a partial peplum that tucks into the waist seam.  My fabric is a raw silk.  It has a rough, linen like texture to it, not what most people would describe as "silky". I washed a little square of it, and the washing removed the sheen and shrunk it quite a bit.  I liked the sheen, so I decided to skip the washing, and will have dry clean this dress.  

The back doesn't call for an exposed zipper, but the only zipper that I had in this color was a brass jacket zipper that was just too bulky to be put underneath. I've never done an exposed zipper like this before.  The biggest question that I had was how to apply it with the lining.  I ended up sewing the lining and outer fabric together on each side, then hand basting the opening closed.  This way, all raw edges would be hidden.   I like the extra interest that it gives to the back, and will probably try this again.

The dress is fully lined.  Here is what it looks like on the inside!
I don't usually like to line things, but I think that it will help prevent wrinkling, and since this will be a dry clean only dress, may keep the perspiration away from the silk.

I would have liked pockets. I think inseam pockets would be fine, even with the peplum version.

I'm accessorizing it with a belt from the Limited, a Fossil necklace and Earth shoes.

What about you?  Have you started thinking about Fall sewing yet?

 I think it is my favorite season to sew for, so I'm probably thinking about it year round.

Happy Sewing!