Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday

I can't believe it's been a month since I've done a FFPF post. My apologies. Thankfully, life is beginning to get a little more back to normal and I am beginning to catch up, so I am hoping to be back to my normal schedule this upcoming week. Fingers crossed anyway!  
As I'm sure you all know, Easter is tomorrow and I love having a new dress for Easter. I didn't have time to do the dress that I wanted to do, so  I needed to do something quick and easy, and here it is. I'm calling the jacket
Wrapped in Circles 
The jacket is just one big circle, basically a big circular skirt. The jacket is laying flat and folded in half in the picture below.
I'm sure you've seen the jackets that are a big circle with circles cut into the piece for armholes. But we really don't need armholes, one circle in the middle will allow the piece to act as a halter.
The piece without the belt.
Below you can see the opening, basically a halter type of a fit.
To determine the radius of my interior circle, I measured from one shoulder to the other. My shoulder width is 14". I'm showing this with a piece of paper, but of course you would do this with fabric.
Fold the fabric in half.
Fold in half again.
Since my shoulder width was 14", I will divide that measurement in half and that will be 7".
Measure down from the point, 7" from one side to the other.
Determine how long you would like your jacket to be. I measured 18" out from my interior circle. From the first picture, you can see that this gave me a jacket length that is just below my hip.
Cut out both circles. I used a double faced knit fabric for my jacket. To finish the edges, I simply bound them. You could also just turn under the edges and stitch if you like.
With minimal effort, I am all ready for Easter. I'll try to get some pictures of me in the outfit tomorrow so you can see how it looks on me.
In an upcoming post, I will show you how to take the same concept and turn it into a wrap halter dress. Perfect for summer!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thrifty Thursday

I found the pattern for this hat on Pinterest. My first impression was, "oh how cute!" The pattern was free, so why not give it a try. The hat was laying on my bed this afternoon. I heard my husband say, "this is really nice!" He picked up the hat, brought it to me and said, "let me see it on you." He love it, so I think it is an all around hit. By the way, I really like it too! In fact, I plan on making at least one more as it's perfect for summer. Actually, the hat would be a great winter hat as well, just make it out of wool and maybe line it with fleece and you'll be ready for the cold.
My summer version of the hat.
  I really like the fact that it is not a solid brim. The opening in the back makes the hat super comfortable to wear. 
 I added a button to the top of my hat, just for a little decoration..
The pattern can be found here, The instructions are not in English, but this is not a problem as you can translate them if need be. The pattern is not sized, so there is only one size. My head is a little large and I found the hat to be quite comfortable. So if your head is a little small, you will need to reduce the sides of each triangle. My suggestion would be to make a muslin of the crown, try it on and see how it feels. Just remember that you will be adding a brim and the seam of the brim will reduce the interior circumference of the hat, in other words, make it a little smaller. You don't want the hat to feel tight on your head.
A few notes on the pattern.
A grainline has not been provided. Grainlines are important on a hat, so fold the pattern piece in half and draw in the grainline as you see in the picture below.
The seam allowances have been included and they are 3/8". I suggest trimming the seam allowances down to 1/4". Also, mark the seam allowance at the tip and place a dot there. Be sure to transfer the dot to all 6 of the pattern pieces. Sew to the dot and not to the very tip of the triangles. I did not interface the crown of my hat. You can if you would like.   
 The brim should be cut on the fold and you will need to cut 2.
The brim should also be interfaced. Interface only one  side of the brim. I used a fusible cotton interfacing.
As I said, I am very happy with the hat and I look forward to enjoying it all summer long!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Wednesday Showcase

Good Morning Everyone! I hope this day finds you happy and well. I am so excited! I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful yoga studio in my neighborhood. Tonight they are offering a special class called Restorative Yoga, Silence and Stillness. It's a two hour class that is supposed to promote deep relaxation, sleep, improved digestion and overall health. Sounds wonderful and I can't wait!
Since today is Wednesday, you know that I have two very interesting ladies to introduce to you.
First up is I think you will find her to be extremely fascinating. Here's a little about her,
"I am a middle-aged scientist with a not very secret second life involving a lot of sewing. I have an obssession with corsetry, making corsets under the "Bad Kitty" banner, and like to turn vintage fabrics into useful things, or a mess, or both. Still, mess is good for the creative soul. I have a fabric stash that has grown too big for the house and a growing collection of "bargain" vintage sewing machines that one day I will get round to refurbing. When I am not sewing I like gardening, cooking and baking. I have a beautiful daughter who thinks I am embarrassing and a gypsy cat that belongs to someone else."
Wait until you see some of her incredible work!
Corsets that were made for Newcastle Fashion Week.
This piece was made for Miss Dolly Tartan who does burlesque. This piece was inspired of course by Marie Antoinette.   
 Above is a neck corset that will go with a normal corset. The lace is handpainted and embroidered with Swarovski crystals. If you would like to see more of her work, you can find the Bad Kitty website here, For those of you who enjoy making corsets and lingerie, stop by her website as you'll find loads of inspiration.
And finally the inventor herself! She loves to knit and she also enjoys vintage patterns and fabric. I think you'll really enjoy getting to know her.

For those of you who enjoy couture sewing, this blogger is going to be a treat to meet! Marina blogs at  She says that,  she loves making and wearing couture clothes. "It is an art that allows me to express who I am. I started my blog because I wanted to reach out to like-minded people, sewers and designers who appreciate all things handmade."
Take a look at this incredible lace skirt.
 The hang, the fit, all perfect!

An incredible French jacket that she made in a class with Susan Khaljie.
Marina is also on Pattern Review. She won the Natural Fiber contest with this lovely linen dress. You can find her pattern reviews here,
Hasn't this been an incredible Wednesday Showcase?!!!! I know that these two ladies have me all fired up to get in my studio and get busy!
Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Drafting The Mandarin Collar

Today's post was a request from a lovely lady who lives in Sri Lanka. She has really embraced pattern drafting and is so excited about the process. She sent a picture to me of the drop shoulder sleeve that she drafted from my instructions and she did such a wonderful job. I'm really quite excited for her as learning to draft is a very uplifting experience. At least I think it is :)
There are a few methods for drafting a mandarin collar. I am going to share my preferred method.
I began with my trusty Butterick 5678 shirt pattern that I've used to draft a number of collars and sleeves.
Since I am starting with a pattern that has been developed for the attachment of a collar, I will not need to adjust the neckline. If you are starting with a bodice that fits close to the neck, you will need to adjust the neckline. Lower the center back 1/8" to 1/4" and the shoulder at neck edge, the same amount as you lowered center back. The center front should be lowered 1/4" to 1/2". Lower the shoulder at neck edge the same amount as you did the back bodice at the shoulder. The amount that you lower the neckline depends upon how much comfort you would like around the neckline as well as the design of your garment.
I personally like a shaped mandarin collar and I like to cut it on the bias if at all possible. The only time a shaped mandarin collar will not work is if you are using a stripe fabric.
To begin, I marked the 5/8" seam allowance around the neckline of my pattern.
I then measured from center back to the shoulder line along the seamline.
Then measure from the shoulder line to center front. With these 2 measurements we are now ready to draft the collar.
A mandarin collar can be as narrow as 1" or as wide as 1 1/2". The collar may be wider if you wish, but it will have a tendency to hit the chin.
Begin by drawing a vertical line for center back. From the center back line, draw a horizontal line the measurement of the back neck from center back to the shoulder line. Place a notch at this point. Determine the width of your collar and draw another horizontal line from center back.
From the shoulder notch, continue the line to center front. This measurement should be the amount measured from the shoulder line to center front on the neckline of your bodice. To develop the shaped collar, the center front line should be 2". Measure up 1/2" from the lower line and place a notch. At the top edge of the 2" line, measure over 1/2" and place a dot.
 Connect the notch at center front and the dot with a straight line.
 Connect the notch at center front to the shoulder notch with a straight line.
 Find the center between center front and the shoulder notch and place a mark at this point.
 From that mark, measure down 1/8" and place a mark.
 Connect the mark to center front and the shoulder notch with a slightly curved line.
 Using your ruler, measure up from the curved line the width of your collar.
 Now you can see the collar taking shape.
 Draw in the line.
The final pattern. 1/4" seam allowances were added around the entire collar pattern. Since I will be cutting my collar on the bias grainline, the collar is no longer on the fold, but one piece. There are notches for the shoulders and for center back. Cut 1 collar for the top and 1 for the under collar.
Once I have sewn my collar together, I like to edge stitch the under collar between the 2 shoulder notches.
Since I only added 1/4" seam allowances to my collar, I need to adjust the seam allowance on my bodice. I began by marking the 5/8" seam allowance and then measured up 1/4".
 3/8"was cut away from the neckline leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.
The final collar. Because the collar was cut on the bias, it sits very nicely around the neck. 
 The collar has a close fit to the neck, but there is still room for movement. 
Now you see just how easy it is to draft a shaped mandarin collar.
Good luck and happy drafting!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Morning Inspiration

The Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune featured an article about a new company that gives you the chance to dress like an icon. The article wasn't long, but I was intrigued, so I decided to look it up. The company,, focuses on creating high end reproductions worn by celebrity icons of years gone by.
Amelia Earhart  
 Her flight jacket

 Flight Blouse with sliver wings clip

 The Gimbel Award Gown
 Josephine Baker
 Riviera Dress

 Cheetah Dress and Blouse

 War Gown
The Million Dollar Quartet
When  Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis all happened to drop by Sun Records on the same day, Johnny was wearing a traditional baseball jacket,
 while Elvis wore one made of nubuk leather. Baseball jackets are everywhere this spring!
James Dean
 Quarter-Stripe Camera Shirt. Notice the inseam pocket.

 3 Stripe Racing Tee
If you want to dress like an icon, I think that most, if not all of these styles can easily be reproduced right in your own sewing studio.
As I went through the pictures, I couldn't help but think about the people and their lives. They struggled with many of the same issues that we do. James Dean, Amelia Earhart, and Elvis Presley met a very tragic end to their lives. But all of them followed their dreams and took chances. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes,

"When we look at a statue of someone great, we think they've got something we don't. We are trained to think that only a tiny percentage of us have the stuff it takes to be a hero. Not many of us will cure any diseases or slay any dragons, but every single one of us, yes, every single one of us is called to be a king, a queen, a hero in our ordinary lives. We don't build statues to worship the exceptional life, we build them to remind ourselves what IS possible in our own." 

Wishing you a wonderful start to the week.