It's funny how time goes by so much faster as you get older.  I can't hardly believe that a whole year has flown by.  The year started for me on a sad note- my Mother passed away on January 4, 2014. She was a huge part of my life, and is missed everyday.  She is the person who taught me how to sew, as well as most of the other valuable lessons that I've learned about life.   Doing well in school is one thing, but life demands more than what you can learn in school, and that I learned from my parents.

So, in regards to sewing, and this blog, my year started off slowly.  I had actually still been sewing, and dedicated an entire group of items to my Mom, but wasn't up to reviewing them for the most part.  Here is what they looked like altogether:
It's actually a beautiful group of garments, with turquoise as the glue that holds them all together. 
Turquoise was her favorite color, as it is mine, so I will always think of her when I wear these things.

My next sewing inspiration didn't happen until my family went on a vacation to Italy in June.  I became obsessed with two goals:  1. Making a travel wardrobe for 2-1/2 weeks abroad that would fit inside a backpack.  2.   Making things that would be extremely lightweight so that backpack wouldn't be too heavy to lug around Italy.    I created several featherweight travel dresses, a secure money/credit card holder, and started to get my sewing mojo back.

Then, after Italy, I found myself a few pounds thinner than I had been!  Big surprise, considering that I had eaten myself silly while on vacation.  But having a little slimmer silhouette, motivated me to enter the Mini-Wardrobe contest and make myself some new clothes.

 And, I won!  I was really surprised, and quite honored to be recognized by my peers.

Then, when I saw that Fabricmart was having a sewing challenge in the Fall, I decided to throw my hat in the ring.  I learned so much from doing these challenges.
I made a t-shirt out of recycled silk saris; I made a well fitting dress; I copied a RTW top exactly; I sewed with velvet on the bias for a red dress; and I dyed my own fabric for the first time.  It really propelled my sewing to the next level, making me think outside the box. 

Although I didn't win the challenge, I did become a Fabricmart Fabricista, and was challenged to come up with a new project to blog about using their fabrics each month.  I'm definitely getting mileage from my Orange Crush and Pajama Party favorites.

In November, I created a mini-wardrobe for my daughter who needed some professional looking clothes for her engineering job.  This was a lot of fun for me, and she is enjoying wearing as well.

There are a few sewing activities that are extremely important to me, but that I don't blog about. I lead an after school club for 5th graders at a local grade school, and another sewing 4-H club for the county extension service.  I am extremely proud of the children in my club who have shown such enthusiasm for sewing, and am excited to see them grow.

I also have taught a small number of adults this year, who I have really enjoyed getting to know, and sharing my love of sewing with them.  I think that of all the sewing related things that I do, these would be the things that would make my Mom the happiest to know about. 

What a year!  Each year brings new experiences and challenges, and 2014 was packed for me.  I'm looking forward to 2015, and wishing you all a very happy 2015!


Style Arc Dotty Blouse and Burda 6879 Skinny Pants

Listen children.  It's time for a sewing story.  Sit by the fire with me, and I'll tell you the story of how three flat, lifeless pieces of fabric became my new favorite winter outfit. With a little help from the elves at FabricMart, Burda, and Style Arc, I whipped up this outfit just in time for the holidays.

Chapter 1.  The Dotty Blouse

Silk charmeuse.  Aahhhh.  Just the thought of it brings me bliss.  Is there anything so light as a feather, shimmery as a star, fluid as a mountain stream?  All wrapped up in one glorious fabric.  Sometimes I look at the prices of clothes in the stores, and wonder "Why am I sewing? ".  But one touch of silk charmeuse and I remember. This is the stuff that you can't buy a top made from for less than $200, but you can make it for $50 or less.

When I saw this stylized animal print silk charmeuse at FabricMart, I grabbed up 3 yards of it right away.  One of silk charmeuse's best qualities is it's drapability, and I'd been looking for a fabric with fabulous drape to make a crossover draped front blouse pattern from Style Arc- the Dotty Blouse.

Dotty is really designed for a fabric that looks the same on both sides, as the pattern piece for the front is just one piece that flips at the hem.  Since my fabric is different on the reverse, I decided to split the pattern piece into two at the hem level, add a seam allowance, and sew them together. 

Now, when it folds back on itself, you'll see the right side of the fabric.  The bottom doesn't lay perfectly straight, so a little bit of the wrong side does show, but I'm okay with that.

Cutting silk charmeuse can be tricky.  Here is my go to method:

 1.  Lay a layer of tissue paper underneath the fabric, and pin the fabric to the edges.  (Save all that tissue from your gift bags!)

2.  Use fabric weights that have pins at the bottom of them to hold the pattern in place.   These are by Olfa.  I don't think they make them anymore, but if you ever see them at a garage sale or ebay, snap them up, as they work remarkably well!

3.  Change the rotary cutter blade to a brand new super sharp one.  Silk fibers are very strong, and if your blade is not 100% sharp, you'll end up with uncut fibers.   

4.  Cut firmly through all layers.  And voila!  You have a beautiful cut edge.

The fronts are finished just by folding back a facing.  The instructions didn't indicate how to finish the back neckline, so I decided to use a bias strip of self fabric before sewing the shoulder seams.
 I hemmed the back bottom edge using a technique called the Baby Hem.  It's my favorite way to hem delicate and slippery fabrics.  

Finished Baby Hem.

Chapter 2:  The Skinny Pants

Since Dotty is so loose fitting, I needed something form-fitting on the bottom.  I found this soft black and tan stretch denim at Fabric Mart to go with Burda 6879- a skinny pant with pockets and a back yoke. 

I have a hard time making pants, as my waist measurement is 2 sizes bigger than the hip measurement.  So, I blended between sizes, and crossed my fingers, hoping for a good outcome.  They were no where near as skinny as I had envisioned.  I kept on sewing the side seams a little bigger, and a little bigger, until I got the fit that I was after.  I probably ended up taking off about 1-1/2" on each side.    I wanted them to be super snug at the legs, but comfortable at the top.

Chapter 3:  The Faux Fur Vest

The faux fur vest is made from Burda Style pattern magazine issue 11/2012, #103.  What is this model doing wearing fur on the beach with a sleeveless dress?

You can see, that there isn't much to this vest.  And that's what I wanted.  Sewing with faux fur is messy, and I wanted as few pieces to cut as possible.  The vest is lined, and really quite warm.  I bought the dusty pink faux fur from FabricMart a couple of years ago.  It's super soft and fun to wear.

Chapter 4- Putting them all together
So, that's the story of how each flat piece of fabric became something new and exciting to wear.  Now, altogether, they will be worn to a Hanukkah party, a Christmas party, a New Year's Eve party, and probably many more times this winter.  As long as I don't eat myself out of fitting into these skinny pants! 
Now, if I can just beat my husband at chess....


Happy Holidays Everyone!!!  Here's wishing you a wonderful New Year!