Book Giveaway! The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques

Today is the last day of National Sewing Month, and to mark it, I’m doing a book giveaway! Today’s prize is The Dressmaker’s Handbook of COUTURE Sewing Techniques.
I reviewed this book back in 2011. It’s a good intermediate level sewing book, illustrating some nice RTW (not couture) techniques. And one lucky winner can have it for your very own!
Just leave a comment here before noon on Sunday, October 2. Sunday afternoon I’ll run the good old random number generator and pick a winner from the virtual hat.
This giveaway is open to US entries only, sorry. International shipping has gotten crazy expensive.

Good luck, and happy sewing!

Posted in Giveaway | 7 Comments

Sucky Selfies

Thanks, all, for your thoughts and comments on Preferences. Special shout out to Sewing Faille, whose description of the time, treasure and talent involved in getting a good set of pictures was so painfully funny, it practically made me spew coffee on my screen. I will continue to post construction pictures, and I’ll try to get shots of me in the clothes, but no promises that it will happen every time. In fact, I can reasonably assure you that it will continue to be a minority unless I can get my stupid Amazon remote photo clicker thing to work. It supposedly does with my camera, but it never has, and I’m not even sure where it is right now… Oh well.

But in the meantime, I did make a second pair of Butterick 5250, this time in a fabulous Cashmere and Wool Suit Weight in Black Olive. OMG, can I tell you? This was HEAVEN to work with. I didn’t make any other changes to the pattern, so here – gasp! – are a couple of sucky selfies on me this morning before I went to work.



I couldn’t get a shot from the back, but they’re really comfortable. I’m wearing them with Simplicity 8166. I just noticed I didn’t press the belt loops down. Oh well, my bad.

I’m not sure what I’m going to make next, but now that it’s cooled down and started raining (YAY to both!) I’ll probably be inspired soon. ‘Til then,

Happy sewing!

Posted in Butterick, Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing | 8 Comments

Felicidades, Paco!!!!

My dear friend, Paco Peralta, couturier extraordinaire of Barcelona, was just published for the first time this week in the Winter/Holiday edition of Vogue Patterns. ¡YAY Paco! ¡Congratulations and felicidades!

Paco and I were internet friends for years, but I had the delightful opportunity to meet him and spend an afternoon with him, his sister, and our friend Vera when DH and I visited Barcelona a couple of years back. He is an absolute love, and his sister, Isabel, is just as wonderful. We had the greatest time, and I can’t wait to go back and see him again. Next time I’ll brush up on my Spanish!

I have to find the pictures with Isabel and Vera. Stupid Apple Photos lost them when it switched from iPhoto

I have to find the pictures with Isabel and Vera. Stupid Apple Photos lost them.

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Posted in Paco Peralta, Patterns, Vogue | 4 Comments


I got into a conversation with my dear friend Rosie about photographs on blogs and social media, and it got me thinking…

Do I need to plaster pictures of myself all over my blog?
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Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 37 Comments

Beginning of a Season, End of an Era

Happy fall! Or spring, if you are in the southern hemisphere. For me, the autumn equinox feels like the beginning of a new year, far more than January, which has always seemed pretty random to me. With the change of season, I made some big changes in my own life. I think my mother’s passing had something to do with it. I have had a very strong urge in the last month (has it been a month already?) to purge and clean house. On top of that, with both boys off at college, I have more time and space.

So the first thing to go was…
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Posted in Machines, Miscellaneous | 3 Comments

Pockets? Or No?

What has it got in its pocketses? -Gollum in

What has it got in its pocketses? -Gollum 

I posted a link on the Gorgeous Fabrics Facebook Page to an interesting article titled “The Politics of Pockets” (click on the title to open the article in a separate tab). It gives interesting insight into the history of pockets, and the fact that until relatively recently (the early 1900s) pockets were a rarity in women’s clothing.
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Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 32 Comments

Pattern Review: Butterick 5250 (OOP) High Waisted Trousers

Pattern Description: From the pattern envelope: “Misses/Misses’ Petite Pamts and Belt: Above-waist, creased pants ABC have fly front zipper and back darts. A, B front darts. C, D: front tucks. A: button trim and cuffs. B: carriers and belt.”

I made view B, but I skipped the belt and I’ll used a purchased belt instead.

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14.
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Posted in Butterick, Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing | 6 Comments

Quick Tip: Color Code Your Thread Markers

Here’s one that I do as a matter of course. I don’t think I learned it anywhere, just one day I had an “aha” moment. When using tailor’s tacks, if two different markings are very close, I use different colored threads so I can easily differentiate between them. As an example here, in the Butterick 5250 pants that I just finished, the belt loops sit right next to the darts – almost on top of them. So to make sure I follow the correct markings, I use a different color for the dart than I do for the belt loops. In this case, the dart legs are marked in white thread, and the belt loops in blue. It makes it easier to discern between different pattern markings, and it doesn’t take any more time. Win win!

Pardon the crappy cell phone picture, but I think you get the point

Pardon the crappy cell phone picture, but I think you get the point

Happy sewing!

Posted in Tips | 1 Comment

Sorry to Go AWOL

Hey folks

First, thank you all for the outpouring of support and love on my mother’s passing. It’s hit me a lot harder than I expected. I was always more of a “Daddy’s girl” and my mother was more of a “Boy’s mom”. But losing her meant losing the last parent between my generation and the hereafter. My logical mind understands that is what happens, but the reality hits harder than I ever expected it would. And Alzheimer’s is a dreadful disease in that you lose your loved one twice: first when they stop knowing you, then when it actually takes them.

I haven’t been doing much sewing recently, but I did go to the local ASDP chapter meeting today which was wonderful – I got to reconnect with friends and listen to a fantastic lecture about Balenciaga. It makes me want to get back into the sewing room!

I’ll try to post more this week. I have been sporadically working on a Marfy blouse muslin and I will finish that and based on the findings from the muslin, make it up in silk. I’ll get my mojo back soon, I am sure. So thank you all again for your kindness and support. It means the world to me.


Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 12 Comments

Pattern Review: Retro Butterick B6734 Dress

Man, it has been a week. My mother passed away peacefully last Friday after a very long battle with Alzheimer’s. That was a blessing. She’s with Dad now, which is good. The family drama that accompanied her death? Not so much. I’m not going to bore you with the details; every family has its own version, I’m sure. It’ll pass, like a kidney stone maybe, but it will pass. Her funeral was today, and it was lovely. I was able to hold it together until the incensing of the casket. That killed me.


But, as they say, life goes on. Last week I bought Butterick 6734, a retro dress with some style variations. I’m not usually much of a retro girl, but I do like some of the styles from the 1940s and this one really appealed to me.

Pattern Description: From the Butterick website, “ Dress has shaped front with gathers, side seam zipper, shoulder pads, shoulder gathers, sleeve and neckline variations. A: Long sleeves with elbow darts, swan neckline and snap opening. Optional ribbon for bow. B: Three-quarter length sleeves, shawl collar and front buttons. Buttons are not functional.
Circa 1944″

I made a combo of Views A and B, using the neckline treatment from View A, the sleeves from View B, and omitting the buttons.

Sizing: 6-22. I started with a 12 at the shoulders, tapering out to a 14 at the bust and below, along with a whole lot of fitting stuff (see below)

Available as a PDF? It doesn’t look like it right now.

Fabric Used: Space Flowers Silk Crepe de Chine from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MO654DE, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, ham, sleeve board, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needles, scraps of interfacing, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Of course, 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? They were great. I didn’t really need them but I did check them out and they are good.

Construction Notes: I made two muslins. The first was almost straight from the envelope. I say “almost: because I measured the distance from the shoulder seam to the bust apex and (as usual) it was too high. So before I did anything I sliced the pattern and lowered the bust dart one inch. Then I sewed it up to see how it fit. It needed a few mods. First, even though the bust dart started at the right place at the side seam, it pointed up too high, as you can see in this (sucky) selfie

1 - Lowered Dart Needs Adjusting

You can see that the angle of the dart is WAY above where it should be

Really sucky selfie, but the angle is better...

Really sucky selfie, but the angle is better…

I did a FBA, which I transferred to the pattern so you can see it more easily. The FBA added a little bit to the waistline, which alas, I need these days, and as with a wrap dress, I transferred the changes to both sides of the pattern.
3 - FBA and Dart Adjustment

I also lopped 4 inches off the bottom to make it a more modern length.

After the fitting was done, it was really quite easy to put together. I sewed all the seams with a straight stitch, and finished them with the serger.
Seam and Facing Finish

Inset Finish

I used an invisible zipper, stabilizing the seam with scraps of interfacing
Invisible Zip
Zipper Interfacing

The gathers were less full than I was expecting, though not in a bad way.
Front Gathers Detail
I haven’t decided if I’ll add the shoulder pads yet. I want to try it on first
Shoulder Detail

Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE it! I mentioned that I’m not usually a retro girl, but I do love the 40s. They suit me. And this suits me. I was going to finish it in time for my mother’s funeral, but it was really hot and humid so I wore a StyleArc that I made several years ago instead.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! This goes together easily and it’s a really pretty pattern. I recommend a muslin because it uses fitting norms that don’t necessarily match to today’s standards.

Conclusion: A winner! Here are pictures on Shelley. At some point I’ll get them on me.
Finished Front
Finished Back


And in Happier News This Week,

We moved DS the Younger into his dorm at college. He’s with his (marching band) tribe, and I guess we are officially empty nesters!

Wow, that time went by fast.

Wow, that time went by fast.

Happy sewing! I guess I’ll have more time for it now.

Posted in Butterick, Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing | 38 Comments