Wearable Schwearable

I’ve lied to myself over and over telling myself I was making a “wearable muslin” when in fact I was too lazy or uninterested or intimidated to make the adjustments that are implied by the term “making a muslin.” I wasn’t testing the pattern – I was making it as drafted in a hail-Mary pass and living with the consequences. Sometimes it was fine. Sometimes it wasn’t exactly fine but I wore the garment anyways. Sometimes a garment was unwearable. I mean, if you make a “muslin” and it’s wearable it qualifies as a garment, right? So what does “wearable muslin” even mean? That you got lucky?


I’m on a mission to make some loose, easy fitting summer dresses. Enter my “wearable muslin” of the Willow tank from Grainline Studio. True to habit, I made it up as drafted. Also true to habit, I used french seams. And finally, true to habit, I was shocked – shocked! – when it didn’t fit.

I unpicked those french seams, swore to myself I would use my serger to finish seams on untested garments in the future, and moved the bust darts up an inch. This was the result. Wearable? Yes! Improvable? Yes!

Pattern: Willow Tank by Grainline Studio
Size: 6
Fabric: Cotton something from Jo-Ann
I’m just sure the neighbor’s crew is coming over to drum tonight.

It looks OK, but the neckline gapes a bit. Not a big deal by itself, but when I use it as a layering piece it bunches a lot. I thought about tearing out the bias tape finish and putting in a small gather or pleat at the center bust, but, true to form, I forgot.

The opportunity of a simple pattern is that I get to try different adjustments to see what works best. I can try, for example, a square shoulder adjustment and see if that does the job, and/or a small bust adjustment, and/or a gaping neck adjustment. If I were a more organized person I might try each of these to see what the results are. Hold that thought, Mom gave me yards and yards of white-on-white quilting fabric she wasn’t going to use and I’m suddenly thinking it would be a terrific idea to try each of these ideas in turn. Some things I have to learn by doing and this may be one of those times.

Baby Steps

Behold, what is commonly held up as the most unblogworthy of sewing projects:IMG_9317

Pattern: School Bus T-Shirt sewing pattern from Oliver + S
Size: 3T
Fabric: I dunno. Knit. Pink. With Stars


OK, maybe not exciting for you, but very exciting for me! This is my first t-shirt, you see, and only my second successful attempt to sew with knits. This is also the first time I’ve used my serger to assemble a garment and the first time I’ve used a double needle. Even my mother, when I called for advice, said she’d never used one of those. Go me! I wish I’d followed up by asking her how she’d hemmed knits because I steadfastly used every tip and trick listed here (except for buying a 2nd bobbin casing because it would have been $70) and I still have tunneling, especially where my stitching missed the wonder tape. How does one sew over tape she cannot see? I expect the answer here is “measure better.”

One small step for a sewist, one giant leap into a world of stretchy garments.

Digging Out

To quickly reprise: in this post I will discuss the alterations I made to attempt to salvage a long-ignored ill-fitting top I found stuffed in a drawer:


Emboldened by my recent forays into fit I analyzed the problems here. Clearly this pattern is drafted to someone with a larger cup size than I have. Fabric that would be crossing and cascading from my ample bosoms instead puddles and pools around my waist and belly.

I’ll spare you the exhaustive detail and cut to the chase. Blathering on about trying to get clothes to fit my body is entertaining for me, but I don’t expect it to be entertaining for anybody else. One thing led to another and this was what I ended up with:


Oh, no, too tight. Perhaps I over-compensated for my under-endowment. Not uncomfortable, but not pretty. Especially across the back:


That’s a lot of yuck across the yoke.

It’s impossible to know if I’ll reach for this when the weather is warmer than this mornings 3-degree windchill… but I think not. I can’t get over how terrible the back looks. I still like the idea of this pattern and might try it again with proper sizing and adjustment. After ignoring it for another spell. I’ve had enough of Ella for now. I say this even as I’m contemplating inserting gores under the arm add fabric back in around the bust and back. Hmmm.

The series of ambivalent events follow if you want them.

When you do a small bust adjustment you cut width and length. Ideally I would have sliced and diced from the front of this shirt (where my boobs are) and not from the back (where my boobs are not). I also ideally would have cut at the bust and graded to the hip which actually fit well. I didn’t trust myself to grade symmetrically on both sides so I took the lazy route used my rotary cutter to cut a full inch off each side and hoped for the best. I sewed over the existing bust darts to extend them, serged the sides together, and tried it on. Now it was too narrow at the hem (picture me shaking my fist at my past-self. I knew that would happen!). I couldn’t undo that serger seam so I folded the top in half length-wise and ad-libbed a scooped hem to release the side seams without shortening the front or back. My hem is wonky and homemade looking: I barely turned it up at the side seams, but it’s turned up an inch at the front and back. This is probably Wrong, but it accommodated the curve while shortening the top so whatevs.

Musing about the shoulders and if there was any possible way to shorten them after the fact made me realize how much better the back fell when I lifted it up. Since I couldn’t shorten the back from the shoulder I got to wondering if I could shorten it at the back yoke. I hated to lose the piping trim detail, but I decided the best way to shorten the back without increasing bulk was to fold at that seam and serge it together, cutting off the the piping in the process. I topstitched my new seam down, finished the armholes, and called it done. It seems I traded a shirt that bagged in the back with one that is stretched thin across.

The more I talk about it the more I think maybe I’ll experiment with gores and get back to you. I’ll stuff this in the drawer again until then.

Digging In

Look what I found stuffed in a drawer!

I am thrilled.

It’s an unfinished and long-forgotten Ella Top by Liola Patterns! I started this sometime last year. The fabric is a double gauze that frays like crazy and I had french-seamed everything like I like to do. French seams would normally be a prudent choice for a frays-like-crazy fabric, but in this case their use backfired. There was no possible way to tear the seam without tearing my fabric. I couldn’t even discern the seam from the fabric’s warp and weft. When I tried this on and it looked awful I just didn’t know what I could possibly do to try to salvage it.

If I hadn’t had an attachment to the fabric I may have chucked it. But this is the same print that I selected when I was inspired to make a tiny baby baby jumper from 1 Yard Wonders for my first baby years and years ago in a sewing-as-nesting jag that didn’t take hold.

Exhibits 1 and 2

I don’t think I ever put her in it. I was intimated by buttonholes. I used to be embarrassed to admit that buttonholes intimidate me, but having recently used my mother’s borrowed Bernina with a programmable buttonhole function to finish Hubs’ shirt I challenge any of you to use a nearly-40-year-old machine to make manual buttonholes and tell me it isn’t intimidating. The gigantic snaps I sewed in (badly) as a substitute were bulky and awkward and it turns out that jumpers are simply not my go-to garment when it comes to dressing an infant.

You can also see that I made some curtains with that print. I made those for my last baby.

And it was a gift! I would hate to not use a gift. It makes sense that I would choose the same print myself, but in this case my mother-in-law chose it for me! Thus this print has turned into a bit of a theme just as dandelions have become a personal metaphor for accepting life’s small frustrations. I think that’s not typically the way people read meaning into dandelions, but I am my father’s daughter. His lawn preservation battle rages on.

I was able to eke out two sleeveless tops from the two yards of coordinating fabric she gave me. A Ruby top came together well enough:


I’m not sure about that sagging in the front, but I don’t care enough to do anything about it, either. Is it a bust fit issue or did my fabric stretch? Dunno. Don’t care.

This Ella one, though. Nope. Not working. Tune in again to see if my hacking and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants alterations helped.

Weekender in a Weekend

I made a bag! I feel like I’m playing tic-tac-toe on my 2018 Make 9 grid.

I thought a bag would be a real challenge. Working with hardware and whatnot seemed exotic. Sewing this bag turned out to be refreshingly straightforward, hardware and all. My only hiccup was that I didn’t understand what was meant by “heavy machine needle.” Two broken needles and a serendipitous trip to the sewing machine store later, I stood looking at the myriad of sewing machine needles trying to find the ballpoints I was shopping for when I spotted the jeans needles and thought, “I wonder if that’s my problem?” It was. Everything was easy peasy after that and I learned a little something about needle gauge and using the right tool for the job.


Kit: Weekender Duffle Bundle from Purl Soho

I bought this kit a while back. I like a good kit. Everything you need all in one place! Except not so much in this case – hardware is sold separately. I missed that salient bullet point in the product description. I admit I’m not a close reader. I also admit that I can be spendthrift when it comes to my hobbies. However, the additional cost of the hardware pushed this project to a price point I would have balked at if I’d realized. Oh well.


At least I got a nice duffle bag out of the deal. I didn’t order the hardware until much later when I ordered more Brooklyn Tweed Loft to work on (I wish I could say finish) Leaves of Grass.

IMG_9285.JPGA picture of the inside to prove I really can work with bias tape as long as it’s not quarter-inch.


Attaching those D-rings was where I broke my needles. Your regular needle can’t sew through 10 layers of canvas. Go figure!


Expense aside, this was a satisfying make. It’s even already seen some use. It holds things just fine! Success.

Arbitrary Deadlines

I, happily, am married to a man who wears the things I make him. Sweaters, hats, socks, and shirts are dutifully used until they’re unusable, no matter whether they’re scratchy, striped, neon, too big or small. Also happily, he has penchant for button-downs. I bought Leisl + Co’s all Day Shirt pattern pretty much as soon as the promotional email dropped in my inbox with the idea that it would be a Christmas present and proceeded to mess it up in every possible way. This shirt and I took a break from one another while I distracted myself with gift sewing, knitting, and embroidering. I knew when I used found time to make Farrow instead of working on this shirt that I had officially given up on the idea of having it done in time for Christmas.

Releasing myself from that obligation was why, I think, I finally turned my attention back to this shirt when I found myself awake at 5:00 in the morning the Saturday before Christmas. With the looming deadline removed I could take my time, not feel rushed, give myself the space to make more mistakes without feeling undone by them. I had made so many mistakes already on steps that I had experience with that I was sure a new-to-me cuff construction could only result in more. Don’t think I hadn’t floated the idea of to Hubs that he might want another a short-sleeved button-down. I had and he didn’t.

Amazingly the cuffs went on without a hitch. I felt so good about this shirt’s prospects that I wrapped it up and put it under the tree without buttons or buttonholes which I was sure I would finish up in the coming days.

It was *cough cough* another month before I finally got to it.


Pattern: All Day Shirt by Liesl + Co.
Size: Medium
Fabric: Robert Kaufman, Carolina Gingham 1″, Mint

I had borrowed my mom’s back-up Bernina while my Nova (which used to be her Nova!) was in the shop. Mom’s machine has a programmable buttonhole function that I wanted to check out, but it wasn’t until I picked my Nova up and thought I ought to get her machine back to her that I worked up the gumption to actually do it. What a revelation. Folks, you’ve been holding out on me. I had no idea buttonholes could be such a no-brainer. It was the easiest thing. As much as I love, love, love my Nova I told Mom I’ll be heading to her house to make buttonholes in the future.

My beloved, why do you make buttonholes so difficult?

I’d always wondered why in all the tips and tricks offered by sewists on their blogs buttonholes didn’t come up. Now I think I know. Y’all aren’t making manual buttonholes, are you???


It fits well across the shoulders but is narrow through the hips. I’m unsure whether this is a fit issue or a style issue as this shirt is meant to be worn tucked. Either way I might grade up a size at the hem next time for some wiggle room.

I really like the pockets. Admire those perfectly matching buttonholes. They’re all the same size! Through no effort on my part!

I’ll absolutely make it again. See, I’ve already forgotten all my frustrations while making this. That’s the power of a good pattern!


Shouty, not Dowdy

When we last spoke about York I had decided I should grade between sizes to get those shoulder seams up onto my shoulders. I was surprised to pull out the pattern and discover that there was only a negligible difference in the shoulder measurement between sizes. I took a half inch off the shoulder using a narrow shoulder adjustment and this is what I got:

A quick photo shoot in the gathering light
Pattern: York, by Seamwork
Size: 6
Adjustments: Small bust, narrow shoulder, forward shoulder
Fabric: Gertie Collection Cotton Sateen from Jo-Ann

I’ll take it!

I used to consider myself a dexterous person, but quarter-inch bias tape has upended that assessment of phalangeal adroitness. I was glad to kiss quarter-inch bias tape good-bye when I finished those bottle aprons and dismayed to read that York called for quarter-inch bias tape to finish the neckline. Maybe I misunderstand what is meant by quarter-inch bias tape, I thought. Nope. It just seems my fingers turn into sausages when working with it. After washing this top this happened:


I am afraid that the tie has frayed

I cut the ties off and sewed in a hook and eye. You might also note that I turned the bias tape entirely to the inside of the garment and used it as single fold instead of double fold because I just can’t with that stuff.

The hat is Beau Cloche that I made, golly, 3 years ago already. I love hot pink, but any pink makes me feel dowdy, even when it’s so bright it’s practically glowing. I combat this feeling with a more-is-more strategy. Making a dowdy pink hat? Put a gigantic dowdy bow on it! Making a dowdy pink shirt? Pair it with a dowdy pink hat with a gigantic dowdy pink bow! Post title is a quote from Hubs. It’s meant as reassurance. I think.

My best dowdy expression and posture.