Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution Book Review

Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or cocoa. It’s time for another book review

Sew Retro – A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution by Judi Ketteler

Sew Retro is a combination history and how-to book. Patterns for the projects are included.

DISCLAIMER: I have not actually made any of the projects using the provided pattern pieces or instructions. My pattern pieces are still sealed in the envelope bound into the rear of this hardback, spiral bound book.

The book covers roughly 150 years of history, from the 18000s to the 1980s. I guess anything newer than that is too new to be retro!

A fun timeline marches across the bottom of the pages through all the chapters, noting important sewing related events.

Each chapter begins by talking about the changing role of women, major events and circumstances that affect the United States and their impact on the home sewing industry. Biographies of key women in fashion history and interviews with contemporary women in the industry pepper this section, and advertisements from the era provide rich, intriguing illustrations. The history portion is followed by several projects that (are supposed to) reflect that time period.

Chapter One – 1800s – Victorian Pin Cushion, Elegant Shawl, Sweet Sewing Basket, Charming Needlecase

Chapter Two – 1910s; 1920s – Opera Bag, Flapper Apron, Smart Felt Hat

Chapter Three – 1930s; 1940s – Patchwork Potholders, Pinch a Penny Change Purse, Cafe Curtains, Tea Party Tablecloth, Ribbon Embellished Napkins

Chapter Four – 1950s -Hostess Apron, Mod Gathered Pillow, Pretty Little Purse, Birds of a Feather Table Runner, Handkerchief Bag

Chapter Five – 1960s; 1970s – Not So Mini Mini Skirt, Cool Coasters, Easy Elastic Headband, Groovy Patchwork Throw

Chapter Six – 1980s – Saturday Afternoon Skirt, Farmer’s Market Bag, Catch-All Caddy, Almost Effortless Scarf

Every project includes a photo of the completed item. Many of these projects are (or could be) quite useful items, for example, the Thrifty Thirties Patchwork Potholders, or the Victorian Sweet Sewing Basket. Others, like the Mid Century Modern Birds of a Feather Table Runner and Almost Effortless Scarf, are just not my taste at all. And some, like the Mid Century Modern Pretty Little Purse, are actually quite cute, but not in the fabrics and colors chosen for the examples.

All the projects are Easy or Very Easy. A few, like the Easy Elastic Headband, a fabric tube with an elastic insert, are easy enough for children. The Patchwork Potholders would be a good project to introduce kids to quilting, and the Groovy Patchwork Throw could make an easy project for a beginning quilter. Some projects, like the Cafe Curtains or the Elegant Shawl, are simple projects that an intermediate sewist could probably create on their own without the book (I know I’ve been making simple curtains like for over 30 years, often out of sheets).

Each project includes a list of needed supplies, the pattern pieces used (if any), a list of what fabric pieces to cut, and assembly steps accompanied by illustrations with a hand-drawn quality.

Will you like this book?

If you are looking for a how-to-sew book, this probably isn’t for you. It does include some sewing information, and a couple of projects could be good introductions to quilling, but the how-to information is largely limited to how-to do each project, not sewing in general.

If you are looking to recreate authentic items from a specific era of history, this book is not for you. The projects are all modern interpretations inspired by the mood and feeling of a specific era.

If you are looking for Easy or Very Easy sewing projects (including some that can be done by hand, or by children, or by hand by children) you might like this book. If you dislike the way an item looks in the project photo, do not be put off. These items can be made in different colors (or in prints or solids) and different fabric, producing different results.

If you enjoy vintage advertising, sewing history, interviews and biographies of fashion industry figures, you might like this book.



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McCalls 6927 Woven T

I knew it was going to be hot in Washington DC in June, and I knew I needed cool, comfortable clothing. and I wanted something dressier than the average t-shirt.Fabric Mart had some beautiful silk/cotton voiles on sale, and I already made up one piece into a peasant style top with lace accents. I used the second piece to make this woven T-shirt.

I made mine with a longer, flounced sleeve. The fabric is very light and airy, so it doesn’t get clammy, and the longer sleeve protects from the sun. Between the longer tunic length, the type of fabric, the print, and the long sleeves the end result looks more like a tunic than a t-shirt, but that’s Ok.

The pattern is easy, a front, a back, a sleeve, a neckband. I borrowed the semi circular sleeve flounce from a different pattern. It was easy to cut out and assemble, I used my serger. I finished the hem and sleeve flounce with a three thread rolled hem.

I also used a three thread rolled hem to attach the sleeve flounce to the sleeve and the neckband to the neck opening, so that the hem sits on the outside of the garment and resembles thin, thread-like seam piping.

Pattern Description: 
Simple darted woven T (or shell), in two lengths,

Three Thread Rolled Hem used as a seam

sleeveless or with long or short sleeves

Pattern Sizing:
I use RR (womens size).

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes except for the sleeve flounce I added

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, they were clear and accurate

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked that it is a simple pattern that I can tweak to my taste and then use as a base for other designs, or surface designs (like dye, paint or embroidery).

Fabric Used:
Silk/Cotton Voile from Fabric Mart

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added semi circular flounces to the sleeves. I used a three thread rolled hem to finish the hem and sleeve flounces, and to attach the sleeve flounces to the sleeves and the neckband to the neck

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, and Yes




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Welcome to the Cafe

Welcome to the Cafe portion of my blog! I’ll share my prize winning cake recipe and a book review.

Rum Cake Recipe – Second Place Winner

I entered a Rum Bundt Cake in the Cuyahoga County Fair this year and won second place! I’ve won second place many times before, but it’s always a thrill to win anything. This years first place winner was a pineapple upside down cake. The year I made pineapple upside down cake, I placed second to a Red Velvet Bundt Cake with a Cream Cheese Tunnel! Maybe I need to put the Rum Cake and the Pineapple Upsidedown cake together somehow?

Here’s the recipe for Rum Cake. It came from the King Arthur Flour website. I modified it by

  1. Adding nutmeg to the Almond Flour pan coating
  2. Substituting Eggnog Flavor for the Butter Rum Flavor (Because Eggnog was what I had at hand)
  3. I omitted the rum soak, and glazed the cake with a thin glaze made of powdered sugar, milk and Eggnog flavor

At the last minute, I stopped. bought an orchid plant, snipped off a bloom, and tucked it into the center of the bundt cake.


  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup rum, plain or spiced
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon butter-rum flavor (optional but excellent)
  • 1/4 cup pecan or almond flour, for dusting baking pan


  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rum, light or dark, plain or spiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Place all of the cake ingredients except the rum, vanilla, and butter-rum flavor in a bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the bowl after one minute. Add the rum, vanilla, and flavor to the batter and beat at low speed for another minute.
  3. Spritz a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle on the pecan or almond flour and turn the pan to coat evenly; shake out any excess. Set aside. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread level with a spatula.
  4. Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes. When done, the cake will test clean on a cake tester.
  5. Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly while you make the soaking syrup.
  6. In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer and cook (without stirring) for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  7. Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour about 1/4 cup of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.
  8. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit overnight at room temperature to cool completely and soak in the syrup. When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake and invert onto your serving plate. If the cake won’t release, place it in the oven, turn the oven to 350°F, and warm for 5 to 10 minutes, to soften the syrup. Remove from the oven, and tip the cake onto the serving plate.
  9. Serve with hot coffee or tea. The cake is very moist, fragrant and potent.
  10. Wrap securely (or place under a cake cover) and store at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage, up to 1 month.

And there it is!

Book Review  The Makers Atelier 

I bought this book for two reasons. First, I liked the name! Second, and more importantly, I was interested in the idea of creating a complete, versatile wardrobe from a handful of basic patterns.

This book sets out to offer a set of simple, easy to sew designs that can be casual or elegant, depending on the fabric, and form a complete wardrobe – and that’s exactly what this book and pattern collection does. If you like fitted designs and lots of details, chances are you won’t like the patterns in this collection. But, if you like a loose, boxy fit and elastic waistbands, chances are you’ll find some (maybe all) of these patterns appealing.

Each pattern includes step by step illustrations and instructions. The designs themselves are simple, with no darts or cuffs. Disclaimer: I have not actually tried following any of the instructions step by step yet, but, I’m not sure they’ve always used the best techniques. For example, the Drape Front Top is made of jersey knit, but finished with bias tape. I wouldn’t do that, I’d cut a self binding or facing.

Book Index/Chapter headings

Choosing and Using Fabrics
Measuring, Making a Toile, and Fitting a Garment
Pattern One – Stretch Skirt
Pattern Two – Drape Front Top
Pattern Three – Cigarette Pants
Pattern Four – Tie Neck Blouse
Pattern Five – The Book Bag
Pattern Six – Raw Edge Coat
Pattern Seven – Wrap Skirt
Pattern Eight – Oversize T
Resources and Acknowledgements

PaperBack or HardBound?

Heavy paper cover, almost like a hardbound but not quite. It has a flap that folds over the front and locks the book closed. When the book is opened, the right side is a tied paper envelope containing the pattern pieces. The contents of the book are on the left side. The last page of the index is printed on the inside of the front cover. I’ve never seen a book assembled like this one, it’s a little hard to describe.

Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?

Yes, it has clear photos of each project, tech specs on the patterns (line drawings, sizing, etc) and assembly instructions. Disclaimer, I have not actually followed any of the instructions yet. They seem complete and correct, but not necessarily the technique I’d use.

Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?

No, not a “must have” unless you love these styles or want this collection.

The Makers Atelier, The Essential Collection is primarily a collection of eight patterns that together form a complete wardrobe, including a bag.

The book section has an introduction to the idea behind this collection, that is, a set of patterns that create a wardrobe. The styles are simple but versatile, and examples of many variations are included in the photos. There’s a few pages on selecting fabrics and a sizing chart. No sewing instructions are included here, all that is in the pattern section.

Each pattern section begins with a little background on the style. I’ll use the Stretch Pencil Skirt as an example. It begins with a section called “Developing the”, in this example, Developing the Pencil Skirt. It talks about the history of the pencil skirt, a discussion of the stretch version included in this collection, how the author/designer likes her skirt to fit, and mentions the many different looks that are possible from this simple skirt (the author has 25 versions of this skirt). Next is a “How to Wear” section, with 4 photos each showing a different version and a brief description of the skirt and top shown in the photo. This is followed by the Technical Information, including Sizing, Fabric Requirements, Notions, Sewing Notes, Cutting Guide, and assembly instructions. Finishing up the pattern chapter is a Making More of section, which explains how to add seam details and four different hemming methods.

The styles themselves are simple and clean. The Stretch Pencil Skirt, for example, is just two pattern pieces and an elastic waist.

The Drape Front Top is a simple two piece, sleeveless, dartless T with a slight cowl neck, finished with bias binding. Variations include a gathered neck, a self lined version, and a woven bias variation.

The Cigarette Pants are pull on stretch pants with a slightly tapered leg, faced waist and side zip. Variations include top-stitched tucks and capri length pants with vents at the hem.

The Tie-Front blouse is a button front, dartless shirt with long, cuffless sleeves and a slim tie neckband. Variations include wider ties and contrasting ties.

The Book Bag is a nice tote that can be used as a tote bag or purse, and one variation includes instructions on how to make a compact fold up version for easy storage. The Book Bag is the pattern I’m most likely to use from this collection.

The Raw Edge Coat is a dartless, shirt-like jacket with long, two piece cuffless sleeves and optional pockets. When I saw the technical drawing I thought “Lab Coat”. Although no laboratory coat versions are suggested, the raw edge coat is shown in two lengths. One variation includes finished edges, another is made of leather and includes instructions for working with leather.

The Wrap Skirt is a straight skirt with an overlapping asymmetrical front panel, the top edge of the waistband on the overlap panel descends from the waist to the hip across the front, and the hem drops along with it. variations include a stripe emphasising the front panel and a lining.

The Oversized T-Shirt is exactly that: An oversized, dartless T with a large jewel neck. Variations include short, elbow length or long sleeves, two different lengths, and neckline embellishments

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McCalls 7358 Wrap Top Make #1 and Make #2

First, a pink button front version

I needed a summer wardrobe of cool and comfortable tops to wear on vacation. The inspiration for my first make on McCall’s 7358 was an asymmetrical button front shirt from a catalog. I couldn’t find a pattern exactly like the inspiration shirt, but this McCall’s pattern came close enough.

I chose a pink rayon for my shirt, and large cream colored plastic buttons from my stash.

I used a normal shirt collar instead of the pattern collar. On the pattern, the front panel is squared off at the wrap point. I extended the slant all the way out to a point, and added buttons and buttonholes. It was actually quite tricky to get the buttons in the right place! I pinned and repined, pinned and repinned to get them correctly placed. I added a few extra buttons (but not buttonholes) on the front panel below the point at the side. I also made tabs for the sleeves.

Which way to put the buttonholes? Normally, front button shirts have vertical buttonholes. But, the placket on this shirt is diagonal. Vertical buttonholes might look weird. I thought about putting them diagonally along the placket, but I worried that might be tricky and might not hold the shirt shut. I settled on horizontal buttonholes.

The end result is not an exact duplicate of the inspiration top, but it’s really close. The inspiration shirt has a slim line, mine has a fuller line (for a fuller body). I have extra buttons on the lower section, and the collar sits a little differently.

Pattern Description: Wrap shirt with belt

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? No, it isn’t supposed to.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were clear and notches lined up.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the wrap front and the comfortable, relaxed fit. I did not like the shape of the lower front facings.

Fabric Used: Rayon challis

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Added a shirt collar and tabs to the sleeves. Extended the front panel all the way to a point, added buttons and buttonholes

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I would sew this again. In fact, I already have! I liked it so much that I made a second version, below, even before I completely finished this version. Yes, I’d recommend it, but I’d point out that the front panel does not extend all the way across the front, it does not reach the side seam. Also, the lower front facing pieces are a little funny

Then, a blue floral version

I liked this top so much that I decided to make another right away. This time, I used a blue floral rayon print, with a solid blue rayon for accent. I tried to make the shawl collar into more of a double ruffle collar, but that didn’t work quite as I hoped. I also added double flounces to the sleeves.

The body, upper collar, upper sleeve, upper sleeve flounce and one side of the tie belt are blue floral print rayon challie. The undercollar, lower sleeve flounce, front facings, other side of the tie belt, and hem facing are solid blue. The neck and sleeve flounces, both solid blue and floral print, are finished with a three thread rolled hem.

I like this shirt! I feel a little bit like Carmen Miranda when I wear it. But, the event I planned to wear it to didn’t happen, so here is a photo of me wearing the shirt on my back deck

Pattern Description: Wrap blouse

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? This time it came pretty close, except for the doubled up collar and sleeve flounce

Were the instructions easy to follow? Because this make is closer to the pattern with fewer design changes than the first make, and because this is my second time making it, everything went together a lot easier.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The lower front facing was a little funny, for this make I used a wide strip of blue bias. Also, the top panel does not wrap all the way around to the side seam, it stops about 3/4 of the way across the front

Fabric Used: Rayon challis

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Tried to make the shawl collar more of a ruffle or flounce, but it didn’t work quite as I expected. I doubled the collar and sleeve flounce, and faced the hem with solid blue.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I’d recommend this pattern. Will I make it again? Maybe.

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Simplicity 1694 – A casual rayon shirt

I like this button front shirt. The A-line shape is comfortable, easy to wear, and somewhat flattering on my figure.

We planned a vacation in Washington DC in June, when the weather is hot and sticky. I needed some tops and shirts that looked nice and would be comfortable both indoors in air conditioning and outdoors in the summer sun. I chose rayon challis in a soft army green shade.

I’ve made this shirt before, and it went together easily. Until I reached the buttonhole step. I was confused, and made the buttonholes down the front horizontal instead of vertical. I used buttons from my stash, and they’re a bit larger than the pattern suggests, so it’s probably for the best that I made the buttonholes horizontal. If I had put them vertically, they might have looked a little too crowded.

Pattern Description: Button front A-line shirt with collar stand, collar, jii-low hem and sleeve tabs

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except my buttonholes are horizontal

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes the instructions were clear, but the notches on the collar didn’t quite line up right for me.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the A-line shape and hi-low hem

Fabric Used: Rayon challis in soft army green

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Omitted the pockets, and tipped the buttonholes sideways

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I think I’ll sew this one again. And yes, I recommend it. It isn’t too hard, even a beginner could manage it.

Horizontal Button Holes

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Butterick 5030 Wrap Dress

I don’t remember when or where I got this blue/grey hydrangea print in stretch cotton, but when I rediscovered it in my stash I just had to make something with it. I decided on a summer wrap dress.

Wrap dresses can be tricky. The front often gapes, even when the bust fits nicely, and the front opening can be quite low. I usually have to do FBAs. But oddly, the FBA on this dress gave me almost too much room in front. Another issue is that wrap dresses tend to fit figures with a narrow waist much better than figures like mine, with a straighter line, but that isn’t a problem with this dress.

The pattern was not hard to assemble. I extended the band from the bodice down through the skirt.

Pattern Description: Wrap dress

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it does.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were clear. Notches lined up and pieces fit together

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Fabric Used:  Stretch cotton in a wonderful blue floral print

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I finished the skirt panels with a band like the neck and bodice

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?Yes, I recommend this dress, it’s an ideal basic wrap dress pattern.


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Simplicity 1716 Again – Light Summer Dress

I really like this pattern, this is my fourth make for view  A/B/C. I have a short sleeved tunic length in pink floral, a long sleeved tunic length version in purple floral, a 3/4 sleeve long T/short tunic length in bold stripes. This time, I made a knee length dress in soft, tropical print ITY knit.

I needed a dress that would be cool and comfortable to wear outdoors on warm summer nights. I wanted a full style that did NOT cling to the body, so I picked this top/dress pattern, and made it knee length.

To keep it light and airy, I used a three thread rolled hem on the sleeves and hem. I knew from previous makes that the two side bust panels fit better when the end is extended a couple of inches. Basically, those couple of inches function as the FBA on this shirt.

The first time I made this pattern I found the collar section a little confusing, but after making several versions of this top I know how it works and it went together quickly. I cut and assembled the dress in one afternoon, except for the rolled hems.

I really love this dress. The ITY knit doesn’t wrinkle, making it a great dress to pack for traveling

Pattern Description: Misses top or short dress

Three thread rolled hem keeps it light and airy

Pattern Sizing: Regular misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it does

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions are clear and all the notches line up

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the gathered feature at the bust, and the collar

Fabric Used: ITY knit

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Lengthened the dress to knee length

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This is my fourth time making this pattern, so I’m not sure I’ll make it again. But I do recommend it!

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June 29, 2017 · 3:38 pm

New Look 6472 Puffy Boho Blouse

Fluffy Peasant Blouse

When an unfortunately placed cup of coffee met my envelope of basic pattern pieces that were tweaked to fit me, I was discouraged. I had to start over again! Well, any excuse to buy more patterns, right? So one of the first patterns I saw was New Look 6472, a puffy peasant blouse. I loved the top in the photo on the front of the pattern! But, elastic at my waist is not a good look for me, so I won’t be making that view, even though it is the reason I chose this pattern. I made View A with the rivet and lace front opening from View B.

I like New Look styles, but I’m at the very top of the size range and still need to make FBA/FWA. On this puffy pattern, FWA is not an issue, and a FBA is easy.

I used a wonderfully light silk/cotton voile in an old fashioned floral print from Fabric  Mart. I’m planning a vacation to a warmer place this summer, and I need some light, airy blouses. The long sleeves will keep the sun off my arms, the puffy style and light fabric will keep things cool.

Reapplying the front facing

I added a navy blue lace ruffle at the neck and at the seam line in the sleeve, just for fun. But, I found myself trying to figure out what to do with the raw edges of lace at the front. Finally, I removed the facing from the slit, tacked the raw lace edges down to the raw edge of the slit, then reapplied the front facing over the lace. Well, truthfully, the previous facing didn’t come off nicely, so I just replaced with a brand new pieces. I f I had thought it all the way through in the first place, I would not have had to remove and reapply the facing.

Gathering with dental floss

Gathering long sections of fabric and distributing the fullness evenly can be tricky with the “Two rows of basting stitches, pull up the bobbin thread” method. So I used the “Zig zag stitch over dental floss” method of gathering the sleeves and neck. The only tricky part is making certain the zig zag stitches don’t catch the dental floss. The floss slides smoothly under the zig zags, so it’s easy to get the fullness even, and the dental floss won’t accidentally break under the strain of gathering

My original plan was to make tiny round buttonholes for the lacing at the front. The test hole worked beautifully. But the first attempt on the top came out in a weird shape. So I resorted to rivets as the pattern suggests.

Pattern Description: Misses Boho Peasant blouses with raglan sleeves and sleeve variations

All the pieces, pattern, lace and fabric

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except I added lace trim and used the sleeves from one view and the bodice from another

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. This top was very easy to make, and the instructions were clear, correct and concise.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I both like and dislike the narrow neck and wristbands. This is the only part I found “fussy” on this pattern. They required some hand sewing, and I’m not really fond of hand sewing. OTOH, the result is much sleeker and more professional than a drawstring (or elastic) casing, which is how I used to make the necklines for Renn Faire shirts and chemises. So while I dislike hand sewing, I do like the final result

Fabric Used: Silk/cotton voile from Fabric Mart. I chose cotton voile from the drop down list of fabrics, because silk/cotton voile (and just plain silk voile) were not options.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Added lace trim and did a FBA. Normally I’d need to do a FWA on a New Look pattern, but this puffy style easily fits my thick waist

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes. With a little bit more tweaking, this might become the basis for my next basic raglan sleeve peasant top block.



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Comfy Knit Dress Lekala 4386

Me at the Theater

I love this dress! It’s chic and comfortable. It was also an easy make.

I used a piece of digital print poly-spandex activewear knit from Ebay. The fabric is gorgeous, but I felt it was just a little bit thin and a little limp. I decided to beef it up with an underlining. But, what to use for the underlining? I dove into my stash. Only one of the swimsuit linings in my fabric resource facility (aka stash), a dark deep green, would work at all. Unfortunately, the deep green swimsuit lining was also thin and limp. Another option  was a black t-shirt knit, but I really wanted to use that fabric for something else. Option 3 was a rayon jersey in a soft apricot/flesh tone, but, it cost more than the floral fabric! Then I stumbled across the most unlikely choice of all, a vivid neon pink poly-lycra activewear knit from Fabric Mart. I bought the fabric thinking “Neon pink is cool”! When the fabric arrived, it was, well, REALLY neon pink!! Just a little bit too neon pink, except perhaps as an accent fabric, and I had plenty. So, the inside of my knit dress is neon pink!

On Dolly the Dummy

The pattern was easy, and I made no design changes or major fitting alterations (except I think the pattern may include a back zipper, which I did not use). Like all Lekala patterns, it’s sized to fit. Because it’s made with activewear fabric, it’s super soft and super comfortable. Almost like wearing pjs!!

Laying out the pattern

Usually I try to use as little fabric as necessary. I love leftovers! But, I didn’t plan to get more than one item out of this particular piece of floral print, and the print is kind of large and dynamic, so instead of trying to conserve every scrap, I focused on placing the pattern pieces on the fabric so that key elements of the floral design landed in appropriate places on the dress. Both sleeves have a larger floral motif at the top of the arm, a large motif falls on the right chest/shoulder, and another falls directly under the little faux belt that covers the gathers in front.

Because I was using two layers of fabric, I basted (technically pre-stitched, because i did not remove the stitches) both layers together, then sewed the seams with my serger.

Pattern Description: Knit dress with bodice gathers and a straight, slit skirt

Pattern Sizing: Like all Lekala patterns, it’s printed to your size

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Neon Pink Interior, as seen through the slit in the skirt

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Lekala instructions are really just a set of assembly steps, but the steps were easy to understand and in a clear, logical order

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the design, and that it was easy to make.

Fabric Used: Digital print poly/spandex interlined with poly/lycra activewear

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None (except omitting the back zipper because the fabric is so stretchy it isn’t necessary)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes I DO recommend it to others! If you are curious about Lekala patterns, this is an easy one to start with. Would I make it again? Maybe, in a solid color. The design is unique.


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Vogue 8804 Jacket Hacked

I’ve made this jacket before. It was a LOT of work and took a LONG time! I remember as I was making it, I kept feeling like I was doing everything the hard way.

Dress and Jacket Front

I actually wanted a quick jacket to go with my pink boucle dress. When I looked into my pattern stash, this one was on top. I decided to play with the pattern pieces, making the jacket my own way, just for fun

I used pink boucle from Fabric Mart and ivory polyester satin from Fabric Wholesale Direct. I buy this poly satin in bulk for costumes and such. The ivory braid came from my stash, as did the fun buttons. In fact, if I didn’t have those fun buttons, I probably would not have made a jacket!

Dress and Jacket Back

I serged the pieces as I cut them. I started with the back, serging the back seam, then finishing the edges all around. Then I cut one half of the front, sewed the princess seam, and serge finished all the raw edges. I repeated this for the other half of the front. I cut the two side pieces and serge finished them all the way around. I sewed the side pieces to the fronts and back with the sewing machine. I repeated these assembly steps for the lining but I didn’t bother finishing those raw edges.

I faked the vent on the sleeves. I first cut off that little flap piece. I extended the length a bit, and cut two flaps of boucle and two flaps of lining. I put one boucle flap and one lining flap right sides together, and sewed along three edges, leaving open the edge that was previously attached to the sleeve. I repeated this for the other flap, turned them right side out, and ironed them flat. Then, I applied braid along the top edge, vertical edge and bottom edge but stopped halfway along the bottom. I didn’t do the other flap just yet, because I didn’t want to cut the braid.


I cut the boucle sleeve pieces for one sleeve, and serged the raw edges. I positioned the flap with the braid at the spot where it belonged, where it lived before I cut it off the pattern. I basted it in place, making sure the braid stayed free of the seam. I sewed the sleeve together, on the regular machine. I turned the sleeve right side out, and laid the braid along the rest of the bottom edge of the flap, out onto the sleeve, and all the way around the hem of the sleeve. I sewed it in place, and, finally, cut the excess braid away. Now, I went back to the other flap, and repeated this whole procedure. After both sleeves were complete, I sewed the flap to the sleeve, with a decorative button on the flap.

I put the lining over the boucle right sides together, and sewed them together from one bottom front corner up, around the neck, and down to the other. I turned the jacket right side out and topstitched the braid in place.

Last step was buttons and buttonholes.

It was a fun experiment, and I like the jacket.


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