Look what followed me home…

What’s this?

Ah yes… a sign that my pattern problem has finally sent me round the bend!  My Hancock’s got new pattern cabinets (when were Vogues 50% off all the time?)  They were selling off the old cabinets, and my husband bought one for me!  He even knew to buy the Vogue cabinet, because it has room for the larger designer envelopes in the top drawer.

It’s actually in pretty good condition – just the usual dings, and a bit of rust on the bottom around the edges, probably from floor mopping.  I’m planning to remove all the stickers, and repaint it in these colors:

I’m going to sand and prime, and then paint it Gray all over, with pink drawer fronts.  I plan to finish with a coat of clear sealant.  I’ve repainted a ton of similar metal pieces, and this combo makes them super durable.

I have been having a terrible pattern organization problem – I have patterns everywhere, and it takes ages to find something!  Hopefully this cabinet will allow me to be a bit more organized.

What else followed me home?  A new iron!

This is the Black&Decker classic, which several of you recommended.  It was inexpensive, and it weighs a ton (great for ironing, as it takes less work from me!)  I plan to save up for a more professional system (perhaps a gravity feed) and then use this as a dry iron after that.  In the meantime it will work just fine for me!  It doesn’t steam at lower settings, and with an all metal sole it has a bit more drag, but I find that the weight (and, I can’t lie, the vintage charm) make up for that!


Vogue 8728: Finished. Also finished: my iron

Pattern: Vogue 8728

Fabric: Poly charmeuse from Joann’s (in their current special collections) 2 yards

Notions: invisible zipper, solvy stabilizer

Sacrificed: one Black & Decker digital advantage

As you may have gathered, my iron died as I finished this dress.  The temperature went crazy and melted a tiny bit of the hem, and now it refuses to heat at all.  So I need a new iron.  Do you like yours?  Recommend it to me!  I’d like something I don’t have to order (I have all the usual chain stores here.)  I like a lot of steam, and the ability to steam at lower temperatures.  Heavier is better.  I don’t care if it has auto shutoff or not, so long as it doesn’t shut off after a really short time.

Moving on…

Thank you for your votes – I decided to make the Vogue vintage dress first.  Many of you said you wanted a review of that pattern, since it is so new!  I expected it to take me through the weekend, but the pattern was much easier to put together than I anticipated.  Here is my pattern review: 

Pattern Description: MISSES’ DRESS AND BELT: Dress has shoulder pads and side snap or zipper closing.

Pattern Sizing: I cut between sizes: an 8 for the shoulders, 10 for the chest, and between a 10 and 12 for the waist and skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?I’m actually surprised that it does, even though I don’t have 6 foot long legs the way the pattern illustration seems to!

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were great. I am never disappointed in these vintage patterns! It included several techniques that made the dress a little more special, such as lapped seams on all horizontal seams. It also included instructions for using tearaway stabilizer on the neck gathers, which I think is a great tip!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I love the style. 1940s patterns really appeal to me, but I don’t like using the vintage unprinted ones, so I’m really glad for the reissue!

Fabric Used:Polyester charmeuse from Joanns. I expected it to be much worse than it was – all the stabilizing called for in the pattern really helped with the slippery fabric!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:I did not make the shoulder pads or belt. I did reduce the shoulder depth to make up for the lack of pads (I just cut one size down in length.) I could still put them in, but honestly I think it is fine without them.

I used an invisible zipper rather than snaps, and I did stabilize that area before sewing in the zipper.

I removed 5 inches from the length of the skirt, and used a baby hem.  I also baby hemmed the sleeves.  All seams were finished with serging.

The only real difficulty I had was with the bias neck binding. However, it may be due to the polyester – I never get a nice binding when I use a polyester, it always twists on me!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?Absolutely! I think it would look fabulous in a lightweight cotton for summer, or a silk jersey for a more dressy look.

Decisions (In which I am bad at them!)

I spent Easter weekend in Cincinnati – I was hired by a downtown church to sing their Easter masses, and we stayed with my husband’s family.  I had intended to finish up my Audrey sweater, but I left the instructions at home!  Still, it is nearly finished now (I worked on it last night while I performed my lone Easter tradition – watching Jesus Christ Superstar.)  Here is where I am:

I shortened the sleeves to elbow length – I turned out to be just a tiny bit short on yarn, so I finished everything except the sleeves and weighed my remaining yarn to determine how long I could make them.  This yarn (manos silk blend) is beautiful, but I can’t recommend it because it’s pilling while I knit with it – not a good sign for the longevity of my sweater!  I have not bought buttons yet.  Due to the intensity of the color, I can’t match the yarn, so I’m trying to find some contrasting (likely black) buttons that are unusual.

While in Cincinnati, I visited my favorite yarn store there (Knit On in Newport) and bought some yarn for my next knitting  project:

I’ve never used this yarn (Cascade Ultra Pima) but it has the most beautiful shine!  I have wanted to make this sweater forever, but I’m just now getting to it.

Obviously I haven’t been sewing, since I’ve been away from my machine, but I am ready to start my next project tomorrow.  The problem?  I can’t decide which of these dresses to make!  The first:

Vogue 8728 in poly charmeuse.  This pattern had a rather bad review posted to Patternreview the other day, which only makes me more anxious to try it out.  I read through the directions, and they are definitely vintage – the dress uses lapped seams, and sew-in interfacing.  It also has an unusual method of gathering the neck, involving tear away stabilizer.

Butterick 5600, which I mentioned last week, in chambray with pink buttons.  I would probably use the little puffy sleeves as well, but that’s not certain!

So… what say you all?  Which one should I make next?  Otherwise it will probably take me all week to settle on one!

Butterick 5491

Pattern: Butterick 5491

Fabric: Rayon/lycra jersey from Joann’s (current season,) 2.25 yards

Shoes: Chinese Laundry (the blush color is the perfect nude shoe if you are pale and cool toned like me!)


This dress took me much longer than I thought it would!  It is, of course,  entirely my own fault.  I really wanted to use this rayon jersey, because I thought the print would play nicely with all the gathers in the dress.  Unfortunately, I had enough fabric to make the dress, but not to line.  I don’t like to use separate lining fabrics in knits, because it changes the stretch factor (even with a knit lining.)  I managed to cut the bodice lining (although I did have to make one piece backwards, but oh well… who is looking in my dresses?)  I eliminated the front underlining entirely.  This turned out to give me a few headaches, but I stand firm with my decision that three layers of fabric in the front is too much!

Rather than basting the gathers to the underlining, I sewed them to the lining.  I did underline the waist piece (which is only in the front) but did not line it.  The waistband I cut on the straight grain to save fabric.   Since it wasn’t overly stretchy that way (though it stretches enough) I was able to skip the handsewing called for on that piece (tacking the pleats down.)

I  cut a size 8, but I ended up removing about 3″ total from the side seams at the end.  I like a knit dress to fit tightly on the top!

At first I wasn’t sure… should I use the neck piece called for?  I was worried about it stretching out, and the casings were giving me fits (since I had not underlined, it was difficult to sew them evenly.) I did end up using the piece, though my method of attaching was complicated.  I did this last, after constructing the entire dress.  First I threaded the neckband between the fashion fabric and lining (at this point I had not sewn the second line of stitching to make the casing, so it was loose.)  Then I tried it on, adjusted the fabric, and pinned it where I wanted the band to meet the dress.  At this point I removed 3.5″ total from the center back neckband, because it was big on me.  Then I basted the neckband in place.  I still had to sew the casings, and I had a stroke of inspiration – what about using a zipper foot to get close to the neck facing?  So that’s what I did, using a long straight stitch (3.5 mm) and adjusting the gathers by hand as I went (I had to lift the presser foot every few stitches.)  That worked great – they don’t look uneven, and the stitching isn’t crooked the way it was with my normal or walking foot.

I trimmed 4 inches off the bottom of the dress, and then took a 1″ machine hem.

I am totally thrilled with this dress – it looks just how I pictured it!  It did take a long time, but I’m pretty sure that was my fault for trying to squeeze it out of this fabric.  I did not use a zipper, which is fine (the only tight part is the neck, which is my fault for shortening it!)  At this point I have not sewn in the bra cups.   Because it has two layers of fabric and a high waist (and I have no real bosoms to speak of) I’m going without (sorry for the TMI!)  The sides are too low for my strapless.

I recommend this pattern – just follow the instructions, and watch that you don’t cut it too big!  Here is how I’m wearing it today:

Cardigan: NY & Co

Shoes: Mia

Purse: Dooney and Bourke

I’m wearing it to teach with the cardigan, and when I go out with friends later I can take the cardigan off and have a nice going out dress!  It’s 80 degrees and muggy today – I’m a little worried about rain, so I changed into these shoes (which I care less about.)  You can’t see it well in the photo, but this is my new bag for this spring/summer.

It’s the Nina by Dooney and Bourke.  I am slightly obsessed with the color (the perfect tiffany blue!)  I don’t usually get expensive purses, but this one was on clearance (maybe most people don’t want an aqua bag?  I do!)  I’m actually experimenting to see if a nicer purse lasts me longer.  I tend to buy cheap ones, and run through them like crazy.  If this holds up I may adjust my strategy, since after buying 4 cheap purses (my average for a year)I might as well buy one nice one.  This color goes with most of my wardrobe, which is predominantly blue and gray.

WIPs and future projects

Well, it looks like my sewcation ground to a bit of a halt there at the end!  I had a nasty dentist appointment (having the crown I chipped in Italy replaced,) which took me out for a bit, and then there were actual social obligations – family visits, birthday parties etc – to attend.   In the middle of all that, I had to show our condo for rental (our great renters are finally moving out!) Luckily, it was rented very quickly!  In addition, I’m experiencing a bit of frustration with my current sewing project.

This is Butterick 5491 in rayon jersey from Joann’s.  I had enough fabric to line the bodice, but what I didn’t realize was that it also called for underlining to bodice – that’s 3 layers of fabric in the front!  I didn’t have enough, and I wasn’t going to buy more, so I decided to take away the underlining and just line the bodice normally.  That’s gone fairly well.  The problem I’m having has to do with the neck binding.

The patterns calls for topstitching through the lining and fashion fabric to make the casing for the binding, after the lining has been sewn to the fashion fabric (the gathers for the shoulders are in place at that point.)  I can’t get to look nice at all, which frustrates me.  I think it’s my fabric – the print has so much contrast that I can’t get the topstitching to be invisible, so any unevenness shows.  In addition, the dress is really heavy with all the gathered fabric, and I worry about stretching.  I’m seriously considering creating a tie neckline (as I did in Vogue 8380.)  I think a black grosgrain ribbon would look really good there, and it would provide more support for the dress (I’m glad I left out that other layer – it’s so heavy already!)

But on the bright side – I think the dress is really cute! This photo is a few days old – I’m actually to the point of sewing the side seams (the last thing before the straps!)

I also thought I would show you where I am on my cardigan:

The color is so pretty… I can’t wait to wear it!  I’ve been a bit hung up on winding the yarn.  Usually, when you buy a yarn that isn’t wound into balls, it will be looped in a circle, which you can put on a swift (or some nice person’s outstretched arms) and wind into a ball.  This yarn seems to be wound back onto itself, and it’s taken me over an hour to wind each ball, most of which is spent swearing and untangling.  I have seen some tangled skeins, but never anything like this (the yarn is Manos Wool/silk blend.  Beware!)  I’ve gotten my husband addicted to watching Turner Classic Movies with me, and that’s what we do while I knit.  We just got the channel – where has it been my whole life?  Love it!

I hope to finish the dress this weekend, assuming I can work through my issues.  I do love the crazy fabric!  I have a few fun projects coming up, including a shirt for my husband!

I left him in the pattern section at Joann’s the other day while I was shopping, and he requested a shirt with long sleeves (he can never get long enough sleeves!)  I let him pick out this poplin fabric, and I’m planning to make a muslin this weekend.  I’ve made shirt-like things for me, but I’ve never sewn for anyone else before.  I’m looking forward to it!

Simplicity 2219

Pattern: Simplicity 2219

Fabric: Rayon jersey from ebay, 3.5 yards

Notions: 1/4″ elastic.  I did not use any interfacing on this dress… though I did put twill tape in the shoulder seams to stabilize.


I have an odd fondness for maxi dresses.  When I was in high school in the 90s, I had a whole wardrobe of them.  Until recently, I hadn’t worn one in ten years.  I’m so glad they are back in style again!  When I saw this pattern I knew it was perfect for this rayon jersey (one of my favorite ebay finds!)  I had 3.5 yards, which is actually more than the pattern calls for.  I managed to self-line the entire bodice and still have some left over!  I was attracted to this dress by the empire waist and the thick straps – it looked like you could wear a bra, unlike some maxis!

I cut a size 8, and I could have easily sized down to a six.  I considered leaving out the elastic on the empire line, but I really needed it to take in the extra fabric.  In a size 6 I think I could have left it out.  I’d recommend a little bit of negative ease for the bodice on this dress (ie, a bust size about 1″ smaller than your actual bust.)

The instructions were excellent – I don’t remember having any real issues.  This dress took 2 days to complete, which isn’t bad at all!  The neckline of the dress is low, but not really low enough to be worrisome (YMMV of course, as I don’t have any cleavage to speak of anyway.)  The finish of the lined bodice is very professional!  I am very happy with this dress, and I’m planning to make the shorter version (with the cape sleeves) as well.

I am 5’8″ tall, and I ended up taking a 2 inch hem, rather than the 1.25″ hem called for in the pattern.  My knit is quite heavy, so that might have something to do with it.  I only plan to wear this dress with flat shoes.  Here is the view from above, which I find amusing for some reason… I can just barely see the fronts of my feet, which is the length I prefer for a dress like this.  Too short is unflattering, and too long is a safety hazard!


Butterick 5603 – now with modeled photos!

The weather actually decided to warm up, so I was able to get modeled photos of the Butterick vintage pattern.  I find that a few days distance does wonders for my opinion of a pattern, and this is no different.  I was a little lukewarm at first, but now I love it!  Even the shoulder ties look nice to me now.  Of course, it helps that I bought shoes to go with the dress (shoes are my lone shopping indulgence!)  These are called Kendale, and they are from Jessica Simpson.  Are they comfortable?  Not exactly, but they aren’t uncomfortable either!  They are a bit stiff, but I expect they will break in nicely.

The low back is really nice.  What I really love is that you can wear a normal bra with this dress, but it gives the illusion of being bare.

Without a crinoline is still hangs nicely, as you can see above.  The linen is very cool to wear, and with the addition of cotton in the blend it doesn’t wrinkle much at all.  I think I could have actually made the waist an inch smaller, but I’m happy with it – I don’t like a tight waist!  Once again, this pattern is highly recommended – it’s really easy for a vintage pattern, and the directions are excellent!