Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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Travel In Style: Make a TSA Toiletry Bag

Planning a trip soon to the airport and need to get past the TSA screening with liquids? My latest Craftsy blog post provides instructions to make a cute makeup-style bag that will work great for this purpose. 

They are not only a cinch to make but can be done in an hour. The best part, these instructions work for any kind of small bag for all kinds of uses. Just change the plastic into fabric. Have fun!  

Here's the link to Craftsy:  How to Make a TSA Toiletry Bag  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

So Many Samples!

As a sewing teacher I need to make model garments to display for the classes I am going to teach. I teach several classes so lots of model garments were in order. They're done to help inspire potential students to take my classes and it works! The classes where a sample is on display tend to fill up. Yeh!

Almost all are relatively simple projects as most sewing students are beginner to intermediate level sewers. Within the last couple of months I have made half a dozen or more, some of which I would like to share with you.

This double knit dress is one of my favorites. It was for a sheath dress class using McCalls pattern #2401. Its a basic sheath style dress with several neckline and sleeve length options. It's a very basic silhouette with bust and interior darts both in the front and back for great shaping. I like this pattern because it is so basic and can work as a template to design any number of great styles. 

We feature this class both in the summer and fall/winter. For the summer class the dress goes sleeveless. I used a double knit for this dress in a great black and berry colored paisley print. What often happens at the store and was the case here, the fabric used in the sample sold out immediately. 


In fact, I used this pattern to create the dress I made for my last Sew News article on incorporating leather into garments. By knowing how to manipulate the darts I was able to convert them to princess like seams that start at the neckline and move to the waist. For experienced sewers, this is when sewing is especially fun. 

This fitted trouser uses Vogue# 7881. It is also a great pattern to use as a template for creating other pant looks, but as is it makes a rather smart pair of pants. The pattern is part of Vogue pattern's Claire Schaeffer's Couture Collection and features a version incorporating couture techniques along with a more standard construction version.

Then there is this classic shirt using McCall's #6613. This class is intended to attract both male and female sewers, so the shirt is a very loose fitting classic style shirt. To add some interest the back yoke, cuffs and front placket were done on the bias. 

These are just a few of the models I have been sewing and as the summer and fall classes get scheduled more are sure to come. I'll keep you posted on the ones I think are worth sharing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Return to Blogging

WOW! It's been a long time since I last posted anything on my blog. I've been busy. Writing articles for Sew News magazine, and my weekly posts for the blog site.  Oh, and did I mention, my daughter's getting married. After 10 years together they have finally decided to commit themselves for life and to say I'm happy is an understatement. They are a wonderful couple and her dad and I can't wait for the big day.

So, I've been doing lots of planning. I've spent a gazillion hours on Etsy and Pinterest looking for ideas on everything from bridal gowns, veils, flowers, bridal shower and, of course, Mother of the Bride dresses. OMG! There is simply too much information to digest there. 

My daughter sent me to NYC to shop for wedding dresses. Yes, we went to Kleinfelds where she eventually bought her dress.  What fun!

But now its time to get back on the horse and start writing  this blog. My most recent project was a top I made to wear to my nephew's wedding.  My inspiration was the new fall Vogue pattern #1415 by Tom and Linda Platt. I chose to make option B.
Vogue 1415 - B

This is a very simple pattern. Basically a front, back and raglan sleeves so it can be made in no time at all. I especially liked the tunic style - to cover my thicker middle -- the angled hemline and big cowl style neck. Lovely, modern and pretty much my kind of dressing.  

It's the kind of top that can work for any daypart - good for a daytime casual or semi-casual setting or dressed up for an evening event.  I also like the fact that it's cut on the bias for a lovely fit. I chose to make mine out a beautiful wine colored satin. Unfortunately, the polyester variety and not silk, but still quite lovely.  I wore it over a pair of slim black crepe pants just like on the pattern cover which looked pretty great. 

Low and behold, that was some time ago. Now my focus is on making things for my daughters wedding and bridal shower.  On my to do list is her veil.  I am replicating one she fell in love with, but retailed for $1500. I can make it for a fraction of the price. I'll keep you posted. 

I also have flower girl dresses on my list. Two little sisters from my future son-in-law's family. Nothing too fancy. White satin dresses with satin bows and poufy skirts. Add to that the usual flower girl baskets that I will dress up with lace, a ring bearer pillow and a lacy garter for the bride. 

For the bridal shower, I am making aprons and travel bags to hand out as prizes. I stocked up when Joann's home dec fabrics went on sale for 75% off. What a deal! I was able to get some pieces for less than $5 a yard.   Can't wait to get those going. I'll keep you posted. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pant Class Success!

A big congrats to my Basic Simple Pant class students. What a wonderful job they did on their Butterick #5614 basic pant. Some made pants, some made cropped pants. All chose great fabrics. Thanks to preparing a muslin in the first class all fit them quite well. This is one of those great patterns that fit into anyone's base pattern library. Once fitted the pattern can be modified or adjusted to make all kinds of style changes.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tools for Summer Sewing

My Weekly Blog Post

Summer sewing is in full gear. That means sewists everywhere are making thing in lightweight fabrics. Though beautiful and comfortable to wear, summer fabrics sometimes come with sewing challenges. This week's post recommends some great tools to make summertime sewing  easy and fun.  Here is the link: tools

Thursday, June 12, 2014

6 Tips for Well Fitting Pants

courtesy: White Pants by Clio from

How many pair of pants do you own that just don’t fit right?  If you are anything like me - lots! Every year I buy another set of pants in the same basic colors. Some fit pretty well but only a few fit the way I want them to. Sound familiar?  Pants are relatively easy to make, construction wise that is. But, its quite another story when it comes to fitting them.

Making a pair of pants requires patience and a willingness to work through perhaps several attempts before you get the fit just right. The key is getting the crotch or rise to fit properly so they are both comfortable to wear and hang straight off the body. Since pants are generally designed to fit snugly and should conform to our individual silhouettes, its easy to see that a commercial pattern simply can’t address everyone’s issues. So, many fittings and adjustments are typically in order, even on the most slender figure. But, once you get the fit right you have a template for many pair of pants that can be made into many different styles and lengths.  

The real work is done before the first pattern piece of the fashion fabric is cut. Measuring, adjusting patterns and trying on either muslin makeups or pinned patterns, sometimes several times, is all part of the process, but all worth it. I am in the middle of teaching a class on making pants. My students so far have done all the appropriate measuring and adjusting and have completed their muslins. If I have taught them well and they have done the prep work well, they will have a pair of pants made perfect for them. 

When it comes to making pants, here are 6 helpful tips to keep in mind that will steer you towards the a pair of well fitting pants:


1.  Start with a basic pattern. If this is the first time making a pair of pants for yourself, don’t go too fancy or intricate with the design. Use a basic styled pant like the Butterick one pictured. Once the rise and fit around the waist, hips and buttocks are right you have a pattern that can serve as a template for so many more pairs of pants, fancy or otherwise.
2. Take the right measurements. But more importantly, be sure to do the measurements correctly and accurately. Measurements can sometimes be an elusive endeavor. You never get the same measurement every time. Using the right tools and some simple aids can help. Tie a piece of string or narrow elastic around your waist. This ensures length measurements are consistent and always start from the same point. When identifying hip points or the high hip placement, pin the spot, once again to ensure consistent measurement.  Use a good measuring tape and don’t cheat! You are what you are. Also, when measuring crotch depth, sit on a flat surface such as a table and not a chair with cushions or curve at the seat. Then use an L-square ruler to measure the depth, which is much more accurate than a measuring tape. 

3. Measure the pattern. This determines where and how much needs to be added or subtracted to match your body measurements plus ease. This forms the basis by which the patterns will be adjusted.

4. Do tissue fittings for simple pants, like pj pants. A muslin, however, is best for fitted pants and can address all the fine points of your fitting issues.  Depending on your body challenges, you may have to prepare more than one, but the result is a pair of pants that fit you perfectly.

5. Study the fit of the muslin carefully and thoroughly. Be extra critical of the muslin fit. Every drag line or fold means something is not right and needs adjusting. Pinch and fold till the pants hang straight from the crotch and there is no pulling at the knees or thighs.

6. The muslin can be the final pattern.  Once the muslin fitting is finished, either use it as the pattern for the making the pants, or be sure to carefully transfer all the alterations to the original pattern. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Make a Men's Tie

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Still need a gift for dear ole' dad?  How about a tie? No, not a store bought one. One made extra special by making it yourself. They are simple to make. Do what I did. Disassemble an old tie and draft a new pattern from it. Here is the link tie for the instructions on how to make one.