Work In Progress


Plain and Simple Shift Dress

I have been wanting to try some heirloom sewing techniques for ages; but not wanting them to look to old-lady; it take a combination of the right garment and the perfect fabric to hold the stitches properly. The book, Fine Machine Stitching has many techniques to drool over, and I finally incorporated some wing-needle hemstitching into a garment with clean lines and interesting seaming. I’ll post pictures later, but you can see the lovely blue linen with a sample of the hemstitching above (in grey thread).

The hemstitching is substituted for topstitching, and the pattern the Hot Patterns Plain and Simple Shirt Dress (scoopneck, short sleeve top version).  I did the hemstitching around the peplum bottom and the bust darts.

Job Duds McCalls 6702

Red top1


As a Real Estate agent, a LOT of time is spent talking to people to drum up business.  In the trade we call this Lead Generation.  OK, if you are super cool it’s called Lead Gen.  And of course, I am super cool!

Part of this involves phone time, open houses, and general face to face stuff.  But if you want to sell homes it also includes good, old fashioned hoofin’ it!  Which, in the summer can be hot work!  So I needed a good air-conditioned top.  I had this red linen in my stash for a year or so, it’s from Sultan’s Fine Fabrics care of the Creative Festival.

Here’s why it’s Air Conditioned:

Red top2


It’s a pretty straightforward sew, except I used some topstitch thread my machine didn’t like much – so much I thought there was an issue with the machine. Oh, and I sewed the bottom of front placket backwards (inside the top) instead of outside. Duh. Well I think it passes the horse test. That is if someone was riding by on a horse they wouldn’t notice it. Or is that if I am on a horse? Anyway….

Here is the side view with the high-low hemline:
Red top3

I’m wearing my newly skinnified white jeans & some fancy Birkenstocks with this top.

McCalls 6559 Maxi Dress

McCalls Maxi

I have shied away from Maxi dresses for a while simply because I felt all that fabric on a 6ft frame was a bit too….well…Amish Sue.
But this gorgeous striped fabric with a huge repeat needed a pattern to show it off! So a maxi it is! I have some full length pics that I will post later. (Here I’m toasting to Pattern Review with their signature drink on Canada Day before heading off to our neighbours party).

Here are the full length front and back photos:

Maxi 1

Maxi 2

Super simple dress, I made the plain view with the racer back, but I took a couple of extra steps to make it special. First, I carefully matched the stripes by basting with silk thread:

side seams hand basted with silk thread

side seams hand basted with silk thread

Here you can see the matching stripes

Here you can see the matching stripes

Then, instead of adding neckbands, I bound the neckband & arms with the black stripes. I cut them about 1 1/4″ shorter than the opening. You have to adjust the length of the binding according to the weight and stretch of your fabric, try starting with about 90% of the opening, baste it if you’re not sure – otherwise it will flop if it’s not tight enough, or pull if it’s too tight.

Here are the basic steps for this technique:

1. Join binding strip & in half lengthwise. Serge to wrong side of fabric (it will be folded and topstitched to the right side. If you get it wrong, as I did with one it doesn’t make that much difference!)

Striped Maxi 5

2. Press seam towards binding, wrap binding around seam to the right side of the garment.

Striped maxi 6

3. Topstitch in place using a straight stitch

Striped maxi 3

4. Admire your clean finish inside & out!

Striped Maxi 4

Girlie PJ’s

Sarah's PJ's

My DSD is a tall, lanky string bean…super strong, fast & flexible too! But pants are a continual problem. Thank goodness for adjustable waists, but I still usually have to take waistbands in 4-6″. Because she wears a school uniform I don’t sew for her often, but I do tend to make the kids PJ’s now and then.

The last time I made her pj’s when she was 3 years old & she still fits them!! OK they are way too short, but still!!

So time for some stash busting new PJ’s! I drafted an easy top & nightie (not shown) and used size 4 T bottoms from an old OOP Kwik Sew pattern (she will be 9 years old next week!) These are still a tad too short, she will likely outgrow them next year, so I may whip up another. A simple tank top & just under the knee bottoms made from some soft rayon floral knit purchased way back when I worked at Fabricland and a mystery knit in watermelon pink for the top. I bound the top (tutorial to come from a maxi dress) with scraps and used a pretty scalloped fancy stitch from my machine for the hem in a co-ordinating green! She picked the fabric from my stash.

The nightie is just the top lengthened in a cotton/poly blend (woven) trimmed with stash eyelet trim and ribbon. Both passed the wearability test, too!

Style Arc Stephanie Woven Blouse

Style Arc Shirt

Style Arc Shirt

Do you gravitate to similar styles over and over? I do – this style of longer peasanty-tunicy top is something I really like. I made an unblogged version in white with black bands in the winter and wore it a lot even though its a bit short.

This version is a sheer poly georgette with a crinkled texture & rows of bitty dots. I made it a bit longer to be a bit more balanced for my height. Of course it requires a cami underneath – with the sheerness it’s hard to see the front bands – but anyway here is the pattern photo:


The blouse went together easily, and I use a size 14 in Style Arc. If you have never used them, they are an Australian company that issues a collection a month of very current RTW styles. Each month they issue a freebie pattern, which can also be purchased separately. The freebie then becomes part of their collection. The pattern prices range from about $10 – $22 depending on the complexity of the pattern & they also offer stretch Bengaline fabric which is impossible to find in North America, a pattern club and bundles. They frequently knock off high end designers or produce patterns based on Celebrity pairings or wardrobes similar to the Dutchess of Cambridge wears.

Postage can be a bit hefty, so plan on getting 2-3 patterns in total to be most cost efficient. They arrive in Canada about 3-4 weeks after I order. The patterns are printed in one size on large drafting sheets; and the instructions are clear but do require some sewing knowledge. For anyone who likes up to the minute patterns, this company is for you! Here is their website:

Other Style Arc patterns I have are:





Vogue 8379 Wrap Dress

Yeah, late to the wrap dress party, I know. But it makes a spectacular entrance:

Pattern: Vogue 8379 Shoes: Payless (old) Necklace: Target Sunglasses: Joe Fresh

Pattern: Vogue 8379
Shoes: Payless (old) Necklace: Target
Sunglasses: Joe Fresh

This is the many-reviewed DVF knock off. I made view B with cuffs and collar, true to the original style. After reading many reviews, I took some fullness out of the skirt by pinching out about 4″, and made my usual adjustments to lengthen the bodice by 1″, the hem to just under then knee and the sleeves by 2″.

The collar and cuffs are interfaced with the lovely interfacing from Pam at Fashion Sewing Supply (I think I used medium on this)

Here is the link, go buy her stuff it’s great!!

Fashion Sewing Supply

I also reinforced the wrap with clear elastic applied at a 1:1 ratio.

Isn’t the fabric luverly? It’s a well aged stash ity knit in a graphic print from Fabricland.

And here it is looking just as nice going:

Sue dress1a

I may see another in my future!

Utilitarian Sewing

One of my least favourite things to do is mending. I refuse absolutely to change a zipper, especially in a ski jacket. I do however, do a fair amount of mending – I have two teenage sons! I can repair a crotch rip like no tomorrow.

So needless to say this repair has been a year in the making. I made these jeans in 2012 from the fabulous Jalie jeans pattern…the original post for these is here:


Unfortunately the last time I wore these I left a neon post it the back pocket…even after bleaching I was left with this:

jean pockets 2

So I had to recut new back pockets (the fabric is a bit different, but close enough) and I also altered the leg to make them skinny jeans. Here are the new pockets, with a bit of twill trim on the outside corners:

Jeans Pockets

Next up a maxi: McCalls 6559 in some gorgeous tan/black/red stripe.


The not Claire Underwood Top

Scanning my wardrobe, its full of dark-ish neutrals. Not that I have anything against that, I aspire to have a wardrobe, if not the personality like the Ruthless Style Goddess Claire Underwood from House of Cards:

Claire Underwood 3

Why yes, I did make my assistant fire half my staff, then I canned her too!

Claire Underwood 2

Do you think my wardrobe is too neutral? Who cares! Kiss me and then I’ll destroy you later for my own power hungry advancement in politics!!

Claire Underwood 1

I may have told my manager I was willing to let her unborn child wither and die in her if that’s what it took to make her drop her lawsuit; but damn, I looked hot when I said that!

Where was I? Oh, I needed some colour, some life, some florals! $6 and some poly charmeuse later, I introduce you to Vogue 7457:

Vogue 7457

The Opposite of Claire

Not much to say, this was a stash pattern that’s out of print. This is a straightforward woven T-shirt; Boat neckline, cut on Kimono sleeves. The photo is a bit washed out, it’s hot colours including chartreuse, pink & blues on a white ground. I had to grade upwards from a 10 to make it work. I bound the neckline with pink bias tape. Quick to make, on the floral trend bandwagon and easy to wear!

Worn with Joe Fresh shades & flower necklace from F21.

Oh, here is the pattern, circa 2001:V7457


Pants & More Pants!!

Simplicity Frankenpattern pants

Simplicity Frankenpattern pants

Simplicity Frankenpattern pants

Simplicity Frankenpattern pants


So far for my spring sewing I’ve made 2 pair of slim crop pants.  The black pair seem to have lots of fitting issues in the back – but in real life they are not as bad as they look.  Really.  Its the cotton sateen that shows every wrinkle, as evidenced by the difference in the front shots (same pattern, different fabric)

I’d love to tell you the patterns, but it’s really a mish-mash.  I used a self drafted sloper (still needs some work at the CB), welt pockets from Sewaholic’s Thurlow trousers; and the black pants remain pocketless in the front and the patterned ones borrow the funky patch pockets from Simplicity 1783 by Cynthia Rowley.

Both are slim leg & cropped above the ankle. The black ones are stretch cotton sateen; the patterned ones are a stretch print twill in dark navy (reads also as black) tan & white.  Both have had a great deal of rotation this spring!  They both have side invisible zips; I made a faced hem for the black ones as they were a bit shorter than I wanted.

Also check out the shoes in the shots with the printed pants!!  I wear a size 12 shoe (I’m 6 ft tall) and love these shoes – I actually have bought the shoes in both pics in multiple colours. The black with tan trim are knockoffs of Valentino Rockstud flats; from Barefoot Tess.  The other black flats are the Claire Flats by Dexflex from Payless, I wore out the plain black, and now have the chain toe black flats as well as a white pair with black toe caps.   They are possibly the most comfortable shoes I have owned!


New Look 6228, View C


I have a confession to make. I am highly influenced by what other bloggers make. I saw this cute skirt on a blog, and then just had to make it! This pattern is great, it has lots of skirt variations; here is the pattern illustration:New Look 6228

This version is view C, and I have previously made view B.  I pegged this a bit by taking out 1″ at the hemline.  It’s made from a navy crepe knit.  The only other change I made (mainly because this fabric had quite a bit of snappy recovery) was to omit the elastic from the waistband – it makes a nice clean waistband.  I would encourage anyone to experiment with a wide self-fabric waistband on a stretch skirt; it may need to be cut a bit shorter to hold up the skirt, but when it works its much sleeker than a waistband with elastic.   This skirt is a great, flattering basic.  I will say I don’t wear my tops tucked in very much, but now I see it in a photo I don’t mind the look!

Here is the skirt back, whole outfit and shown in combination with the Style Arc Tamara top:

Vogue Woven T

Vogue woven T

Style Arc t & New Look SKirt

Style Arc t & New Look Skirt


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