A Special Coupon for a Very Special Reason

Ever notice that the pink ribbon bears a more than passing  resemblance to fingers crossed?

I don’t post about business too often here – well, directly anyway – and I almost never talk about personal issues in my business emails and communications, but today I am happy to make an exception.

Many of you know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, 2009. I blogged about my experiences while I was going through treatment, and you can see those posts if you go back to late 2009 and 2010. Since completing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I have been taking an adjuvent chemotherapy, Anastrozole, every day to keep the little bugger from (hopefully ever) coming back. Well, this morning I took my last pill of a 5-year course of medication and I. Am. DONE!!!!!

I’m so thrilled to have made it this far, I want to celebrate and share my happiness with all of you. To that end, today only we’ve added a bonus coupon to the sale at Gorgeous Fabrics. For orders over $100, just enter the code BONUS10 at checkout and we’ll take an extra 10% off your order, and thats on top of the July 4th Sale prices!

The coupon doesn’t apply to clearance items, muslin, notions, swatches or gift certificates, but they contribute to the minimum to trigger the coupon, so come on in, celebrate with me, and have fun!

I want to thank all of my customers and my blog readers for your support and patronage. You all mean more to me than you can possibly know. This is a wonderful business, you all are wonderful people and I am so happy to be here with you. Here’s to many more years of blogging, fabrics and sewing!

Oh enough of me being sentimental…

Let’s Go Shopping!

And BTW, if you are a woman over 40, PLEASE get your annual mammogram. They save lives (voice of experience here). Happy sewing, and continued good health to all of us.

Posted in Fabrics | 5 Comments

Pattern Review: Sewaholic Thurlow

Pattern Description: From Sewaholic’s website – Finally, a modern trouser pattern designed for curvy hips, fuller thighs and a narrow waist! The Thurlow Trousers sit below the waistline, with a slightly flared leg. Pockets in front are subtle slash pockets that won’t add bulk to the hips.

Pattern includes a cute pair of cuffed shorts as well as full-length pants. Wear the shorts cuffed or un-cuffed, with an optional grosgrain ribbon belt.

I made the cuffed shorts.

Sizing: 0 to 16. I made a 10 to start.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Italian Stretch Linen in Heathery Silver Mink for the main body. Scraps of a great stretch cotton in an Australian aboriginal print that was a gift from Chloe at StyleArc for the pockets and facings.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff to sew the seams, Juki home serger to finish the seam allowances. Naomi the Naomoto.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles. Pro Weft fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, YKK zipper from ZipperStop, one coconut button that I had in my stash, thread

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, “J” or “L”

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Excellent. Seriously. I sent a note to Tasia of Sewaholic on Sunday telling her that she has written the best instructions for welt pockets that I have seen in any pattern out there. Period. I think she near about fainted. After all, this big ol’ Blue Meanie isn’t known for effusive praise, but the Thurlow’s welt pocket instructions and draft take something that other pattern companies butcher, and make it crystal clear. Brava, Tasia!!!

Seriously the best welt pocket instructions in pattern land.

The rest of the instructions are also great.

Construction Notes: I am not the target body type for Sewaholic patterns. I’m a two-kids-and-a-certain-age-on-a-swimmer’s-build figure, not a pear shape, so I cut a size 10 and sewed it straight out of the envelope, based on my measurements. It actually runs pretty big on me through the waist. I expected it to be roomy in the hips, but I ended up taking about an inch off the waist. Next time I’ll go down a couple of sizes and adjust from there.

I sewed all the seams with a straight stitch and I finished the seam allowances with a 3-thread wide overlock.

Inside Front

I made one welt pocket then I realized that I needed a bigger pocket in back. I carry my phone in my back pocket and the pocket bags as drafted are too short for my phone, so I lengthened one by about an inch and a half.

The left back pocket (on the right here) will be where I stash my phone

The instructions have you interface both the waistband and the waistband facing. I opted to interface only the waistband. I didn’t think it needed more than that. The linen has a crisp hand on its own.

Waistband inside detail

Likes/Dislikes: I love the instructions, I love the drafting. I need to work on the fit, but that’s not the pattern’s fault. As it is, it will work perfectly for a pair of shorts for summer and vacation (what’s that?). No dislikes.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely to both! This pattern is beautifully drafted, the instructions are excellent. It’s a real winner! Here are not-very-good shots on Shelley. I can’t promise I’ll get pictures of me in these, because my pasty white legs would probably freak out the camera’s light meter, but maybe I’ll slap some self tanner on and take some pictures. We’ll see.


And the back

Conclusion: Great drafting, great pattern. I haven’t put the belt carriers on the shorts yet. It was really hot in my sewing room and I was getting tired, so I knocked off. I’ll add them tomorrow.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sewaholic Patterns | 4 Comments

Pattern Review: McCalls 6559 Maxi Dress

a.k.a. Zip zap zum

Pattern Description: (From McCalls website)MISSES’UNLINED JACKETS AND DRESSES: Close-fitting, unlined jacket in 2 lengths has front extending into single-layer tie ends(wrong side shows). Very close-fitting, pullover dresses. E and F: front seam detail, bias upper/middle fronts, and lower front/back (cut on crosswise grain of fabric. All have narrow hems.

I made View D, the plain and simple maxi dress.

Sizing: 6-22

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Chevron print abstract smooth faced jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (naturally). It’s sold out, but You Can Find Similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki home serger, Naomi the Naomoto iron, pressing ham, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle. Scraps of interfacing for stabilizing the shoulder seams, thread. That’s all.

Tips Used during Construction: And Now, a Word from the Pressinatrix

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? I didn’t really use them. I took a cursory look at them and they seem fine.

Construction Notes: It doesn’t get easier than this. Cut out, sew side seams, make narrow hems at neckline, armholes and bottom hem. Done.

I serged the side seams, and I used a narrow (1mm by 3mm) zigzag stitch for the hems all around.

I have a technique for narrow hems that helps me keep them even. Before I start on them, I sew a line of basting stitches at the 5/8 inch (in this case) hemline. That serves as an exact guide when I fold my hems and it keeps the hemlines from getting all ripply.

Closeup of the neckline.

Closeup of the neckline.



With a closeup of the inside finishing

With a closeup of the inside finishing

Likes/Dislikes: Do you want an easy, simple pattern that sews up in under an hour from start to finish? Here you go. I wanted a cool easy dress for summer. This fits the bill perfectly. And since JoAnn had McCalls patterns on sale at 5 for $7 this past weekend, the timing couldn’t have worked out better.

No real dislikes.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. I’m serious when I say this is about as easy as it gets. Here it is on Shelley



and Back

and Back

Conclusion: What’s not to love? It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s comfortable. Great for summer!

Here’s a fun challenge. Anyone notice anything about this dress? My rendition, I mean, not the pattern in general.

Happy sewing!

Posted in McCalls, Patterns, Reviews | 8 Comments

Simplicity 1586 Take Two – Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

With apologies to Ian Drury.

I loved my Wedding Gown Refactor so much that I decided to use the same pattern on some fabric for our 30th anniversary trip that’s coming up later this summer. There’s not too much that I did differently, so I won’t bother with a complete review, just highlight the differences.

Fabric Used: A stretchy rayon print that I bought from my friend Alice of Mendel Goldberg.

Machines and Tools Used: I think I used every one of my machines this time, since I started working on it at lunch up at the office (inudstrial Juki straight stitch and serger) and then brought it home and finished it (Pfaff and Juki home serger)

Tips Used during Construction: I had exactly 1.5 yards of this fabric, and it was very dear, so I used Sewing Tip, Get More Mileage From Your Fabric. And hey, I have fabric left over! Not enough for a garment, but maybe for a clutch or something.

Construction Notes: I used a straight stitch (2.5mm) to sew all seams, and I serged the seam allowances before pressing and pressing them open.
6838 v2 Inside

I finished the hems and facings with a serged edge. I mitered the hem at the back vent. And unlike the way the instructions have you construct the vent, I used a standard vent opening, rather than having both facings go to one side.
6838 v2 Mitered Hem

I reinforced the CB seam at the back vent with a steel eye.

I know, my hand sewing sucks on this, but no one will see it.

I know, my hand sewing sucks on this, but no one will see it.

I hand tacked the facings at the seams, shoulder darts and the center front (very loosely)

Likes/Dislikes: I really love this pattern. I’ve become very drawn to princess lines, and they work perfectly for this fabric. And what a great fabric it is! You can see why I call it “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll” though I also call it the “Valley of the Dolls” fabric. :)
6838 v2 Closeup

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes!

Conclusion: I LOVE this dress! Here are the shots on Shelley. I can’t wait to wear it!!!
6838 v2 Front
6838 v2 Back

Happy sewing!

Posted in Sewing, Simplicity | 8 Comments

A Quick Way to Add Coverage to a Wide Bateau Neckline

In my review of New Look 6838, Tina commented,

I am intrigued with this modification of using the piece of fabric across the shoulder. How & where would I attach that fabric insertion?

I had already started on a sleeveless version of the top with the extra striped fabric, so I figured I would do a quick version to show you. This is more brute force than elegant. But in the words of Jim Blinn at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “Brute force is a wonderful methodology.” So here’s what I did.

  1. Cut two rectangles of fabric, measuring 3 inches by 5 inches.
  2. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, so you have a 1.5 inch by 5 inch strip.
  3. Stitch or serge the long raw edge.
  4. Turn and baste your neckline hem, then position the fabric strips underneath at the shoulders, and pin them to the garment, having the serged edges even with the edge of your neckline hem, and the folded edge extending out about 1 inch from the shoulder seam.

    6838 Shoulder Strip 1

    This is after it’s been sewn in, but you get the idea.

  5. Stitch the neckline hem down, catching the fabric strips in the stitching
  6. Trim away any excess fabric.

    Trim any excess strip fabric underneath.

    Trim any excess strip fabric underneath.


Ideally, you should insert these and finish the neckline right after sewing the shoulder seams, but before attaching sleeves or sewing the side seams. If I do it again, I would probably draft a pattern piece, but this works in a pinch. Here’s a view of the finished front:

Look ma, no straps!

Look ma, no straps!

This keeps those pesky bra straps under wraps! Hope that helps and…

Happy sewing!

ETA 6-9-15: Dear Simplicity, Leaving sleeves off a sleeved top does NOT magically make it a well-drafted sleeveless pattern. Take a clue from StyleArc and give different front and back pattern pieces. #lazydrafting #grrrrr #thatgoesforyoutoomcvoguerick

Posted in Sewing, Tips | 7 Comments

Pattern Review: New Look 6838

I’ve been hankering to make a Breton-style top for summer. I love Jean Paul Gaultier’s tops, but I can’t afford one unless I hit the lottery, so I did a search on the web for a pattern. I was almost resigned to shelling out a fair amount of cash for an indie pattern when I stumbled across a (new to me) blog called Jet Set Sewing. Voila! The blogger had done all the work for me. I love when that happens, don’t you? Thank you, Jet Set Sewing!

When I saw the New Look pattern I knew I had hit pay dirt. I know what adjustments I need to make to Simplicity/New Looks, so I was off.

Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website, “Misses Separates Misses Pants and Knit Tops.

Wow, that’s really helpful… not. How about this instead: Misses knit tops with neckline and sleeve variations. Woven drawstring pants in two lengths.

I made view A, the bateau neck top with bracelet length sleeves.

Sizing: XS to XL (translates to 6-24). I made a Small.

Available as a PDF? Yes.

Fabric Used: Striped cotton/lycra beefy jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (natch). Alas, it’s sold out, but you can see Similar Fabrics Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki home serger, Pfaff home machine, Naomi the Naomoto iron, pressing ham, shoulder press.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, double needle of indeterminate size (it was floating free in my needle drawer. Two scraps of fusible interfacing to stabilize the shoulder seams, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits, And Now, a Word From the Pressinatrix, Can 4 Way Stretch Eliminate the Need for an FBA, How To Flat Set a Sleeve

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They are fine. I checked them but I didn’t use them. This is a very straightforward pattern and it goes together very easily.

Construction Notes: This pattern is super easy. I made it, from start to finish, in under an hour. I serged all the seams, and I used the double needle for the hems and necklines. Rather than set in the sleeve after sewing the side seams, I set it in flat. I made a FBA. Rather than cut the front on a fold, I mirrored the pattern with a piece of tracing paper, making it a full front piece. This allowed me to see exactly how I was laying it out on the stripes.

Likes/Dislikes: Easy, classic, well-drafted. What’s not to love? One thing that I really like about this pattern is that the back has a CB seam, allowing you to fit it better than a piece that is cut on the fold. Nicely done, New Look!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I definitely will do it again and I do recommend it. This is a great pattern, it’s readily available and it’s inexpensive. All great things for a wardrobe builder. I think the next one I make with this pattern will be the sleeveless version. I need a bunch of tops for summer and this pattern will help fill that need.

Conclusion: Love it! I’ll wear it today, but in the meantime here are pictures on Shelley


and Back

Hapy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, New Look, Reviews, Sewing | 11 Comments

The Pressinatrix Feels Compelled

Yes, my dears, your Pressinatrix feels compelled. Compelled to speak. Compelled to shatter myths. Compelled to preach pressing truth.

The Pressinatrix recently received an email from a lovely sewing friend. This friend, who is quite dear to The Pressinatrix, was appalled that a sewing expert declared that the validity of Pressing As One Sews is a myth. The Pressinatrix’ friend wanted to know what The Pressinatrix had to say about that?

The Pressinatrix’s eyebrows shot up to the ceiling, and after a moment she said, “Hmmm, isn’t that interesting.”

Now, those who know The Pressinatrix know that “interesting” is not a good thing. But she would never disrespect another sewing expert’s opinion, regardless of how muttonheaded that opinion may be much she might disagree with them. No, The Pressinatrix prefers to allow results to speak for themselves. However, since your Pressinatrix presses everything to perfection while she sews, she must look to her lesser self’s alter ego’s examples that she sewed long ago, when she had just met The Pressinatrix.

Admittedly exaggerated, but not by much

Admittedly exaggerated, but not by much

The top example was only pressed at the end, the bottom at every step.

The top example was only pressed at the end, the bottom at every step.

Imagine, my dear readers, how dreadful The Pressinatrix’ lesser self’s alter ego’s refashioned wedding dress would have looked if she had neglected to press it properly at each step. Unpressed princess seams, my darlings! The very thought is enough to send The Pressinatrix to her fainting couch.

Now, The Pressinatrix does not declare that you must do anything. Even when she wears her tiara, The Pressinatrix does not deign to force her will. But The Pressinatrix firmly believes that if sewing is one’s hobby, or even better, one’s passion, it is worth taking the time to do well. The cumulative effect of pressing (or not pressing) as you sew is clearly visible. The results do, indeed, speak for themselves.

Thats All

Posted in Pressinatrix | 17 Comments

Pattern Review – Simplicity 1586, aka The Wedding Gown Refactor

30 years ago, a journey began.
June 1 1985
Since that beautiful June day, lots has happened – two sons, two careers, ups, downs, and everything in between that makes up a more or less normal life.

After the wedding, I had my gown preserved, and since then it’s been sitting in a big honkin’ box in the back of DS the Elder’s closet. To mark our anniversary, we decided to go out for a nice dinner. What to wear, what to wear? Well, typical of my style, on Thursday of this week I got the hankering to make a new dress, and a light bulb went off. I don’t have a daughter; I have a big old dress just sitting there. Surely there must be enough fabric to make something new that also is a sweet way to honor the occasion. I started looking through patterns at lunch and found this one.

Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website, “Misses’ & Plus size dress with sleeve and neckline variations. Individual patterns for slim, average & curvy fit & B, C, D cup size for miss & C, D, DD cup sizes for plus. Amazing Fit Collection by Simplicity.

To add to that, this is an armhole-princess-line pattern. I made the v-neck, sleeveless version.

Sizing: 10-28 with cup size and curve variations for all sizes. I used a 12 at the shoulders, tapering to a 14 D-cup/Average figure for the rest.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Silk Satin (Similar Here), Sheer Cotton Voile in White

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki serger, Iron, Ham. Shoulder press, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Tricot Interfacing, ¼” cotton twill tape, Lampo lightweight mesh invisible zipper, Japanese hand-sewing needles, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Fear Not the Fabric, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them. It’s a straightforward princess line dress, and I can sew those in my sleep.

Construction Notes: I have to admit that I was very nervous about this project when I started. I didn’t know what condition the dress would be in when I pulled it out of the box.

My hands were shaking as I opened the box

Fortunately, other than wrinkles from being stored in a box for the better part of 3 decades it was in great shape.

Princess Diana would have been proud.

There’s a lot of fabric in that train

My heart was pounding as I started to cut the skirt but I got over my nerves and really enjoyed the process. I was fascinated to see that this dress was really, really well made. I had the dubious pleasure of helping a good friend with her $6000 Vera Wang wedding dress several years ago, and I was appalled at the shoddy construction used – unfinished seam allowances, threads left hanging, and 4mm stitch length. But my dress was beautifully made, with wide seam allowances, hand-sewn lining in the bodice, tight stitching and all seams finished. Not a serger stitch in sight, either.

There was enough fabric in the skirt to make the dress a couple of times over. I cut out the pieces and decided, thanks to time constraints, to underline the dress (the pattern is unlined) with cotton voile rather than create a lining for it. I made a quick muslin to check the fit. I have found that Simplicity patterns run huge on me through the upper chest and shoulders. This was no exception. I started with a 12, and I still had to take about an inch out of the back neck (I used darts) where it gapped dreadfully. I tapered out to a 14 at the bust (using the D-cup pieces) and gave myself a skoosh extra room at the waist (sigh…)

I used twill tape to stay the v-neckline. I hand basted the underlining pieces to the outer dress pieces and sewed it up. I used the serger to finish the facings and the hem. This went together very quickly. Once I sat at the sewing machine I sewed it up in 4 hours from first seam to last hem stitch. Pressing everything properly took the bulk of that time.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great base piece for any wardrobe. I love the simple clean lines. I love the different cup sizes and curviness options. Hate Simplicity’s fit through the upper chest, but I know about it so I can fix it easily. There’s nothing I dislike about the pattern (other than the aforementioned fit issue). The pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together without a hitch.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would do it again. I definitely recommend it.

Conclusion: I’m so happy with how this turned out. I have enough fabric from the dress left to make a bolero, which I think I will do at some point. I also have all the lace, which would make a nice trim on said bolero. Enough of my yammering, here are pictures…

On Shelley

On me

With the Man I Love

Gratuitous Hoover Shot

I think my next project will be a less emotionally-fraught maxi dress for summer.
Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sewing, Simplicity | 32 Comments

Wonderful Wardrobe Wednesday at Gorgeous Fabrics!

And now for some Gorgeous Fabrics business-related news…

Last week we tried an experiment that succeeded rather fabulously, so we’re doing it again! I call the concept Wonderful Wardrobe Wednesday. It’s a grouping of fabrics that I’ve picked out that work together well – some are bottom weight, some are for tops. There are knits as well as wovens – all chosen with the idea that you can mix and match. Last week’s group was in a brown/earth-tones colorway; this week’s is blues. There are 5 fabrics (some weeks there may be more, some weeks less) that go together well or complement each other in a wardrobe, SWAP or capsule collection. You don’t have to buy all of them, and you don’t have to buy any specific quantities. You get to pick and choose!

And the really fun thing is that we have a coupon “WWW” that takes 10% off any of these fabrics for the one day that we highlight them (i.e., today)! Here are the today’s fabrics. If you click on the image it will take you to that fabric’s page.
Italian Sweater Knit – great weight for cardigans and toppers

Bold Scale Butterfly ITY for tops, skirts or dresses

Silk Crepe de Chine – Wow – that one sold out already, sorry

Daylily Profusion Neoprene – a totally on-trend fabric for dresses and skirts!

Textured RPL – with a little stretch, it travels beautifully and wears like iron

What do you think of this concept? Should we do more of these? Should I set up a separate email list so you can sign up to get notification of our WWW coordinates, or is our regular sale email good? And if you aren’t on our mailing list already – why not? It’s easy, it’s free and we NEVER share your information with ANYONE. Evah.

Let me know in the comments what you think. Thanks, have fun and happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics | 22 Comments

Vogue 9073 on the Hoof

Pictures! Tonight is prom, and DS the Younger wore his vest and tie. He told everyone who asked where he got it that I made it for him. :)

In the wild, under the tux.

In the wild, under the tux.

Buttoned up, with his ballroom dance partner

Buttoned up, with his ballroom dance partner


Photobombing the shot of the girls

Happy sewing!

Posted in Vogue | 5 Comments