Author Archives: smclevenger

Thankful Sewing Blog Tour

Hey sewists!  It is almost that time of year where I get to go Christmas crazy.  Before I can do that I need to slow it down a bit and remember to be thankful.  I was pretty excited to join in on the Thankful Sewing Blog Tour to do just that.  Each day this month a blog will share a thankful post.  Today is my turn.  There are so many things I am thankful for in regards to sewing which makes it hard to narrow the focus of this post.  With that, I thought a top 3 list was in order.

1) I am thankful for the friends and community that sewing has provided. I mean, for real, do you realize how awesome our community is?!  This is one of the most supportive groups.  From the Facebook groups to Instagram to Blogs, there is a wealth of information and a group of people who are so willing to share and learn from each other.  It goes beyond just sewing too.  I have seen several Facebook posts asking about culture-related fashions without the conversation being hurtful.  Just a bunch of sewists genuinely wanting to learn and accept one another.

2) I am thankful for the opportunities sewing has provided.  I am thankful that I have been able to work in the garment industry as a technical designer as well as a seamstress.  That time has taught me about myself and what kind of designer I want to be.  I have also picked up and improved my sewing a lot.  I am also thankful for the opportunity to be a pattern tester for several different indie designers.  This has taught me a lot about writing home sewing patterns that are good for all skill levels.

3) And finally, I am thankful that I can have a dedicated sewing space.  Granted, my husband is more inclined to believe that space is a necessity so that he doesn’t end up stepping on straight pins in the living room, but I am still grateful that we can provide that space for me.  Not everyone has that.

Those are my top 3 things I am thankful for that sewing has provided.  What are you sew thankful for?

Intro to the tour

November 1st:

mahlicadesigns

Sewing with Sarah

Week 1:

Nov 1st: Tenille’s Thread

Nov 2ndCandace Ayala

Nov 3rdHazelnut Handmade

Nov 4thMusing of a Seamstress

Nov 5th: Sewing Portfolios

Monday Nov 6thmahlicadesigns

Nov 7thSeams Sew Lo

Week 2:

Nov 8thMargarita on the Ross

Nov 9thStitched by Jennie

Nov 10thSewing with D

Monday Nov 13th5 outof 4 Patterns

Nov 14thTales of a Southern Mom

Week 3:

Nov 15thHazelnut Handmade

Nov 16thOctaves of Color

Nov 17thKainara Stitches

Nov 18thKutti Couture

Nov 19th: The Petite Sewist

Monday Nov 20thMy Heart will Sew On

Nov 21stNeedles to Say

Week 4:

Nov 22ndBack 40 Life

Nov 23rdLovemade Handmade

Nov 24thSewing by Ti

Nov 25thOn Wednesdays We Sew

Nov 26thPaisley Roots

Monday Nov 27thMermaid Mama Designs

Nov 28thSew Haute Blog

Nov 29thMa Moose Handmade

Nov 30thEverything Your Mama Made & More

New Cali Fabrics Makes

I made some new things that are featured on the Cali Fabrics blog today!  Check them out!

Sew Americana Blog Tour 2017

Happy 4th of July!  I know it is a few days early but we are celebrating here as part of the Sew Americana Blog Tour.  I am so excited to be a part of this tour again this year.  I love celebrating the 4th with friends and family, grilling, and of course fireworks.  With our big move this year, I knew I wanted to make something quick and easy.  Originally I have an oversized red and white gingham print in mind that would make a great loose fitting dress knee length sleeveless dress with a curved hem and epaulets at the shoulders.  Alas, I could not find the fabric I wanted and didn’t have the time or space to draft the dress I envisioned.

I went fabric shopping at Jo-Ann’s and discovered this red, white, navy, and gray striped fabric. Perfect for celebrating the Fourth. It is a delicate lightweight woven with a bit of a boho feel.  I knew immediately that this was going to be my fabric for this years 4th of July project.  My first idea was to use this fabric to make up a new version of my own self-drafted kimono cardigan.

For this version, I added 6″ in length.  After trying it on I decided to shorten it back up 2″. In the end, I used 2.5 yards of the stripe fabric for this garment. To give it even more of a festival-ready vibe, I added 4 yards of white pompom trim along the sleeve edges and hem.  I really think the pompoms finish off the look nicely.

Check out that stripe matching on the sideseams!  It wasn’t too hard to match these stripes since they are so big. It did result in why I used more fabric that I normally would have for this kimono though. Overall, I really like this piece.  I think I am going to enjoy wearing it to watch fireworks.  What are you wearing to celebrate the Fourth?

Oh and here is one last picture from my photoshoot. My dog, Emily, decided to come up and sniff my pinwheel while I was shooting.  There were several pics of her but she can’t sit still long enough to take a completely in focus picture with me. Maybe next time.

Check out some of the other amazing makes from this year!
Monday, June 26: Wild & Wanderful | Handmade Boy | The Wholesome Mama | Marvelous Auntie M | Sew and Tell Project
Tuesday, June 27: EYMM | Middle River Studio | SewSophieLynn | Phat Quarters | Call Ajaire
Wednesday, June 28: Simple Life Pattern Company | Sewing By Ti | Auschick Sews | Nu Me Nu You | Swimming in a Sea of Estrogen
Thursday, June 29: Adventures with Bubba and Bug | Musings of a Seamstress | Elli and Nels | Spindle and Seams | Stylin’ Stacy
Friday, June 30: Very Blissful | Stitching and Making | Wild & Wanderful | On Wednesdays We Sew | Fairytale B&T


We would like to give a special thanks to our generous sponsors!
Love Notions | EYMM Modern Designs | Rebecca Page | Patterns for Pirates | Simple Life Pattern Company | Thread & Grain | Designs by Call Ajaire | Simply By Ti | Made for Mermaids | Petite Stichery & Co.

Bella Sunshine Designs – Amelia Maxi Dress

Hey, sewists!  Are you on the hunt for a new summer maxi pattern?  I have a great one to share with you today!  I was lucky enough to pattern test for Bella Sunshine Designs again!  This round of testing was for the new Amelia Maxi Dress.  I was able to help test the bodice fit and provide solutions before the final test version went out to testers.  Since I enjoy pattern design it was a lot of fun to help out at this stage of development.  Pattern testing is not for everyone, but I like the process helping to fine tune the pattern and the instructions.  I made three different versions of the bodice during testing, which is why I say this process isn’t for everyone.  Those test bodices did use up 2.25 yards of random pieces of stash fabric from previous projects, so I will call that a win for me.

The Amelia pattern has a front wrap bodice with a deep V back neck and gathered front and back waistband.  Like the Sahara, with the deep scoop back, I love this deep V back neckline! For the bodice and waistband I made a size 16 and for the skirt I cut a size 24.  The skirt is gathered, so making a different size than the bodice meant I just had more gathers.  More gathers makes it fuller and a bit more flattering over my stomach.

I wanted to highlight the gathered belt on the bodice, so I used a sequin sample that has been in my stash for ages as a contrast. I didn’t have enough of the sample to cut it on the fold, so I ended up making a seam down the center front of it.  I underlined the sequin fabric since it has a mesh backing and I didn’t want my center front seam to be visible.  The seam also gave me an opportunity to stitch down my gathers in the front.  

Also, can we just take a minute to talk about the fabric I used?  The fabric is a rayon jersey knit with a navy and white sea life print.  This print!  I love it!  It has sea horses, shrimp, starfish, shells, and kelp!  I picked up 3 yards earlier this month at Jo-Ann’s for $19.47 and I used all 3 yards for this dress.  I also used 3/4 of a yard of an off white mystery knit that I got back in 2013 from a Fabric Mart mystery bundle.

That off white mystery knit was used for the bodice lining.  That is the great thing about the BSD patterns, all the bodices have linings to eliminate topstitching.  The lining also helps give a bit more stability to the bodice when using a 4-way stretch fabric like rayon jersey.

This pattern calls for using clear elastic at the waist to help support the weight of the skirt.  Instead of the clear elastic, I used white foldover elastic.  The sequin fabric I picked could not be run through my serger without breaking several needles. In fact just slowly straight stitching the gathers down I broke 2 needles.  I chose to encase the bottom edge of the waistband in elastic with a  zig zag stitch the finish it off.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with how this dress turned out.  I do enjoy the drapey quality of rayon jersey and the full gathered skirt of the Amelia really shows that off.  As for the pattern, just like the BSD Sahara, the fit is perfect.  The only alteration I had to make was shortening the length of the skirt by 4″.  Which was not a bad alteration since the pattern pieces have a lengthen/shorten line for a quick and easy process.

 

**I am an affiliate for Bella Sunshine Designs and do receive a small commission for each pattern purchased through the link in this post.  With that being said, I would not be an affiliate if I did not truly believe in the company behind the pattern. 

Who Made it Best?

Welcome to this round of Who Made it Best!  Today, I am taking on Melissa of Mahlicadesigns in a battle.  So, what is this Who Made it Best all about?  I am a bit obsessed with Food Network, so forgive me for my random references.  Have you ever seen Throwdown with Bobby Flay?  He takes on a chef making his version of their signature dish. Both are then judged and a winner declared.  Well,  Melissa and I agreed to our own sewing version of Throwdown. We used the new updated Sorbetto pattern by Collete as our base and put our own spin on it.

For my version, I knew I wanted a blouse that I could wear casually with jeans and also be suitable to wear to work with a skirt and cardigan.  I started with the sleeved view 3 Sorbetto and then I sat on it not doing anything for two weeks because I could not settle on where I wanted to go with it.  Story of my procrastinator life!  I had a lot of ideas of where I could take the Sorbetto. Most of those ideas meant using fabrics that were packed away in some box and I was for sure not going to start unpacking those boxes before our move.  Of course, every fabric hoarders solution to this would be to go to the fabric store and that is just what I did.

 

I spent about an hour walking through and touching every fabric to come up with a plan.  In the end, I picked up 2 yards of this navy blue crepe because it was a good blouse weight and had a rich blue color.  Then I picked out contrasting trim and buttons that I thought added visual interest.  Originally, I was going to leave the center front box pleat as the pattern intended it and I was going to add the trim to each side of that pleat with the three buttons at the neckline.  I went a different direction because it reminded me too much of a version of the Grainline Scout tee I had made a few years ago.

Instead, I inverted the box pleat and stitched it from the top of the neckline 6″ down letting it fall open from that point to the hem.  I still kept the buttons at the neckline to tie into the black trim at the sleeves and not leave the front so bare.

I traced off the sleeve that was drafted for the Sorbetto and then redrafted it to turn it into a tulip sleeve.  I added the trim that I had to finish off the hems of the sleeves and highlight the sleeve shape.  Once we finish with this move and I can find my French curve ruler again, I am going to write a post about how I drafted the tulip sleeve.  It isn’t too hard but I would like to be able to write how to do it without saying I freehand drew it, which is what I did for this version.  On a side note, this is totally a home decor trim. Don’t discount something just because it is not labeled as apparel specific.

Once I had it all sewn together I tried it on for fit.  Woah!  It was massive! I ended up taking it in at side seams and center front.  I tapered it from 1/2″ at the underarm down to 4″ at the waist to hem for each side seam.  I took a total of 8″ out of the waist and  I easily could have taken another 2-3″ out.  For the center front, I took in the box pleat and additional 1.5″. The neckline was too wide open and caused it to slip off my shoulders when I had it stitched as the pattern indicated.

Allie wrote a great blog post comparing the new Sorbetto pattern to the old.  I recommend checking it out before stitching up this pattern since it does run very large now.

In the end, I am pleased with how this top turned out.  It took quite a few fit alterations in the end but I would definitely make this again.  I will have to redraft the pattern to eliminate the fit alterations I did.  I am also going to move the dart position up about 1/2″ too.  It is just a bit too low to hit my bust in the right spot.  Allie pointed this out in her post as well.  I do have the original Sorbetto pattern too so I may sew up that version to do a comparison like Allie did.

Please visit Mahlicadesigns for more pictures and details on Melissa’s version, then place your vote for Who Made It Best.  The poll will be on both sites, so you can see both versions before you choose your favorite.

VOTE HERE

May the Fourth be with you

Happy May the 4th to all my fellow Star Wars sewing nerds!  I think today is such a fun day to show off my geeky sewing side.   I was so excited when I found this Star Wars knit at Jo-Ann’s back in March.  For the longest time, sewists options have been limited to woven cotton fabrics printed with our favorite characters and fandoms.  I enjoy sewing woven fun geeky dresses but a geeky knit dress…that is game changing!  What’s even better is the print features Princess Leia, R2D2, and Ewoks!  I am also excited that I am hosting the Stashbusting Sewalong this month with the theme of sewing inspired by movies/TV/novels.  How fitting that this theme was picked for May!  Ha, I love it!

 

This is my second version of the recently release Bella Sunshine Designs – Sahara Dress.  I still believe it is a really fantastic pattern.  For this version, I did choose to make the lower neckline version, which is only an inch lower.  That one inch is not a big deal, but it does allow for some other necklace options.  I am on the hunt for a big chunky costume piece necklace now.

The only change I made to the pattern was in how I cut the skirt.  The pattern features a full circle skirt with no seams.  I chose to make it a full circle with side seams because of the print.  If I had left it as intended the print would have been upside down in the back and right side up in the front.  That is not really the look I was going for, so side seams it was and it worked really well.  I placed the pattern piece on the fold and added 3/8″ to the side seam for seam allowance.

 

One of my favorite features of this pattern is that back neckline scoop.  Gosh, it is just a good flattering back neckline.  It is a little bit more revealing than a standard higher back without actually being immodest and showing my bra.  I also love that the bodice is fully lined, making it so you have a clean finish.  I did choose to topstitch the neckline because, personally, I like that finishing detail but it is not necessary.  I think that the lining also helps give the bodice a bit more tummy sucking in shaping too and who doesn’t want that?!

I am considering this fabric stash fabric, even though I recently bought it in March.   I bought it with no project in mind and knew it when I brought it home I would put it on the shelf with the rest of my stash.  I did use all 3 yards that I had bought as well as a half yard of white jersey for the lining that was purchased in 2014.  I am pretty pleased that I didn’t let that linger too long and used an even older stash fabric on top of that.

Earlier, I mentioned that this pattern features a full circle skirt.  Do you know what the benefit of a full circle skirt is?  Maximum twirl factor!  After working in the show choir industry making dresses that satisfy this twirling need, I am excited to be able to have it in my everyday dresses.  It is just plain fun!  I am excited to be able to wear this dress this to Gen Con this year and C2E2 next spring.  When I wear my geeky printed dresses to Gen Con I tend to get stopped and asked where I got it.  I think I may need to get some new business cards printed now.

Stay tuned this month for more geeky Star Wars makes for my husband and some Gilmore Girls inspired makes for myself.

**I am an affiliate for Bella Sunshine Designs and do receive a small commission for each pattern purchased through the link in this post.  With that being said , I would not be an affiliate if I did not truly believe in the company behind the pattern.

Bella Sunshine Designs: Sahara Top

Hey, Sewists!  I have a fun new make of a brand new pattern to share with you.  May I present the newly released Bella Sunshine Designs – Sahara Dress & Top.

I was lucky enough to be asked to test this pattern out.  I almost turned it down because of moving, but I am so glad I did not.  BSD is a new to me PDF pattern company that I learned about through sewingportfolios.com.  They learned of me through there as well.  If you are not on there yet I strongly recommend it.  I have been presented with multiple pattern testing opportunities in the short time I have been a member.

See that scooped out back neckline?  That is what sold me on testing this pattern.  Of course, the fullness of the peplum won me over, but it was the deep scoop back neckline that pushed me over the edge.  I cannot think of any other knit pattern I have that features the back neckline like the Sahara does.  This pattern features two different neckline heights, three different sleeve lengths, a sleeveless version, and three different skirt lengths.  I opted to test the peplum top version with 3/4 sleeves with the high neckline, mostly because it would fit into one of the few pieces of knit fabric I had not yet packed but had been washed.    My bodice is a size 16 in the bust with a bust adjustment grade out to an 18 in the waist.  There are also two different versions of the front bodice, one with a full bust adjustment and one without.  Can I just tell you how much I love that!  Having the FBA version saves so much time for us, the sewists.

This is the very first fitted knit pattern I have ever made that I did not have to take in to give it the fitted look it had promised.  I could not believe this once I put it on.  The sleeves were a perfect fit.  All the knit patterns I have made that are supposed to have fitted sleeves are typically too big around the sleeve hem and upper arm.  I was so beyond pleased when I tried this on and I did not have to make any adjustments. None! Zip! Nada! I think the secret to the great fit of the bodice is that it features a lining and clear elastic along the waist, shoulders, and armholes.

Fabric usage for this pattern is broken down based on each element (sleeve version, bodice version, skirt version).  This makes it easy for color blocking the garment.  For my test version, I used two yards of a stashed cotton knit from a Girl Charlee Knitfix last year.  I also used .75 yards of a cotton jersey that has been in my stash for who knows how long.  It has been long enough that it was before I started keeping track of when, where, and how much I got it for.

Based on the pulling at the bust, I probably should have made a straight size 18 with bust adjustment.  That is the only change I would make on my next version.  In fact, I am in the process of making two more versions this month, a dress length and a pattern hacked maxi length.  I am excited to be able to share those once I am finished with them.

The pattern has a full circle skirt with no seams.  Be still my heart!  I love a full circle skirt because of how it hangs and, of course, the spin factor.  Overall, I find the skirt to be very flattering on this pattern.  The waistline hits at the natural waist and the length of the skirt on the top version hits at just below the fullest part of my hips.

I am so impressed with how this pattern turned out and how BSD ran the testing of the pattern that I have signed up to be an affliate for the company.  This is not something I take lightly.  I only want to work with companies that I like and believe in.  Bella Sunshine Designs meets those requirements.  As an affliate, that does mean I earn a small commission on each sale that is made by clicking on the links in this post or the badge on my home page.

I am excited to work more with BSD in the future and to try out their other patterns including the other recent release of their Alice dress.  It is a woven dress with pockets.  We all know how I feel about dresses with pockets!  They are one of the most amazing things, ever!

Have your tried Bella Sunshine Designs yet?  What do you think?  What has bee

Show Your Stoff: Alizia Top

Hey, Sewists! I am excited to share another Zierstoff Patterns creation for the Show Your Stoff tour.  Before I talk about my new make, I have to confess that I am one of those who is completely obsessed with the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  Chip and Joanna Gaines are totally adorable, share a deep love of each other, and keep humor alive in their relationship.   Joanna’s design style has given me a newfound love of shiplap and shopping for antiques.  More than that though, I am smitten with Joanna’s personal wardrobe style.  She is down to earth and wears lots of flannel plaid and army green.  Be still my heart!  Okay, all gushing aside, she wore a navy and brown top in an episode that I loved and knew I had to make.  Hours after watching her wear this top I saw Melissa’s call out for sewing bloggers to join this tour.  I found the Alizia batwing top and knew exactly what I was going to be making.

For this top, I used all stashed fabrics! Can I tell you, I am feeling pretty confident in my stashbusting efforts so far this year. Anyways, for most of the top, I used 1.75 yards of Patriot Blue Rayon Lycra Jersey from Fabric Mart. I purchased this fabric in 2016 for $4.00 a yard. For my accent details, I used .75 yards of a tan faux suede 2-way stretch fabric. This fabric has been languishing in my stash for over 10 years! I think that it was purchased sometime between 2004 and 2005, with the intention of using it for a fairy type of renaissance festival costume. I figured that since I had not made the costume in the last 10 years that I was probably never going to make it and it was safe to use this fabric for another project. I have no idea how much I originally spent on it since it was well before started keeping track of that.

Much like the Pia Dress pattern I stitched up before, I have the same concerns for new sewists with these PDF patterns. Also like my Pia Dress, I still ended up with a great finished garment.

I did make a couple of changes to the neckband piece due to my fabric choices. Since the fabric is only a 2-way stretch I ended up cutting it two inches longer. This allowed me to be able to fit the neckline of the jersey into the neckband with l little more ease and help the neckline to lay flat without puckers. I also took a deeper seam allowance around the neck than the pattern calls for. The instructions say to use a 3/8” seam allowance, however, my neckband was not laying flat and stuck up instead. It was also a bit tight to pull on over my head. To remedy this I stitched the neckband at 5/8” This made all the world of difference. The end result was having a neckband that was just over a 1/2” wide and laid flat against the body. To help keep it laying flat, I topstitched around the neckline of the jersey. Topstitching this type of neckline is my personal preference, as I think it helps to give a cleaner look to the finished garment.

All in all, I am pretty pleased with how this top turned out.  If you have not checked out Zierstoff Patterns yet, go do it now!  Zierstoff is giving everyone 30% off your purchase.

Check out the rest of the stops on the Show Your Stoff blog tour.
Monday’s Bloggers: (direct links to Show Your Stoff posts)
Anne-Mari Sews, Inspinration, Tenille’s Thread, Sew Cucio, Embrace Everyday

Tuesday’s Bloggers: (direct links to Show Your Stoff posts)
Musings of A Seamstress, mahlicadesigns, Anna’s Heirloom Boutique, Ronda B Handmade, FABulous Home Sewn

Wednesday’s Bloggers: (direct links to Show Your Stoff posts)
Thread and Scissors, Kaleidothought, Idle Sunshine, mahlicadesigns

Thursday’s Bloggers: (direct links to Show Your Stoff posts)

Very Blissful, Sew A Piece of Joy, Zowie Zo, Nina Makes, Lulu & Celeste, Thread and Scissors.

Friday’s Bloggers: (direct links to Show Your Stoff posts)
Tales of a Tester; Anne-Mari Sews; Bless, by Tone; Life Sew Savory; Needles to Say, and Adventures with Bubba and Bug

Saturday’s Bloggers: (direct links to Show Your Stoff posts)
Musings of A Seamstress, Anna’s Heirloom Boutique, Ronda B Handmade, Glitter in my Coffee, Anne-Mari Sews, Stitches by Laura; Tea, Dust and Stitches

Show Your Stoff Tour: Pia Dress

Hey, Sewists! I am back at it this week with Melissa of Mahlicadesigns. She is hosting the Show Your Stoff blog tour and I have jumped on board once again.  Melissa has teamed up with Zierstoff Sewing Patterns and they have graciously allowed all tour participants their choice of pattern(s) to stitch up and share. I chose the Pia Dress.  The Pia Dress is a very quick sew pattern that features bust darts, pleats in the skirt, and a flattering waistband detail.

First, let’s talk fabric.  For this dress, I used 2 yards of Strawberry and Black Medallion Print Jersey from Fabric Mart.  This was one of their pre-cut fabrics that I picked up during a sale last year.  I scored this 2 yard piece for $4.80.  Not too bad!  This fabric has a lot of stretch and drape to it, which makes it perfect for an easy summer dress.  This is a busy print that loses the fit details that I like about the pattern. I should have used a contrasting solid black jersey for the waistband, but all my knit fabrics are packed up for the move.

This was my first experience with Zierstoff Patterns and it ended well.  Zierstoff is a small German patterning company doing big things.  They have a wide range of PDF patterns for babies, children, woman, and teens.

Even for ending up with a great dress that will get lots of wear, I started out a bit concerned.  All other PDF patterns I have ever used have a border around the edges that gets cut off before assembling and markings to match the pages together.  Zierstoff patterns do not have this border or markings that print off.  They were in the file on the computer, but they do not print out. I am not a fan of this as it results in some important information missing from the pattern.  See the picture above. On the skirt piece, one of the notches for the pleat in my size (46) would have been in this unprinted area.  As an experienced seamstress and pattern maker I can figure out what is needed to make this work, but as a beginner, I can see being frustrated with this.  Like I said, in the end, I did end up with a great dress so I am very happy.

 

Construction of this dress was a breeze!  It went together very quickly.  I did not even make a single fit alteration!  Crazy, right? I didn’t even have to adjust for length.  The only change I made was to add a lining to each front and back waistband.  In my experience with similar styles, this helps to hold the shape of the bodice that would otherwise be pulled down by the weight of the skirt.

All things considered, this pattern is a real win for me.  It is similar to some of my other favorite dress patterns, but with enough differences in the details that mean, I will enjoy sewing more of them. I will also enjoy wearing it without feeling like I am wearing the same dress in different colors all summer long.

Zierstoff Patterns has been kind enough to offer a discount to all readers too! Use code MahlicaDesigns30 to save 30% through the end of April.

Cali Fabrics: Modern Denim

 

B5616 front

Hey, Sewists!  I am blogging over at Cali Fabrics today about my new waxed denim jacket!  This was my first time sewing with waxed denim and I am in love with it.  Read all about over on the Cali Fabrics blog.

Stay tuned to my blog next week.  I am still packing my sewing room and am planning a fabric sample sale.  Details will follow next week on that.