Update: current and future group challenges

I just wanted to let y’all know what I’m doing.  I took in Butterick 5603 and I feel much better about it.

I started working on Brittany from www.vavoomvintageblog.com/‎ ‘s bullet bra pattern.  Brittany has published her pattern in C and DD cup sizes and has plans to expand to other sizes after she tests them on real, live ladies.  My size is considerably larger than DD, but in her sew-along posts, she gives clear instructions for grading the cup.  So far, so good.  I am mostly done, just waiting on some specialty notions.  Since no company makes bullet bras in my size, I’m very happy to have access to a pattern to make my own and am very appreciative that she has released this as a free pattern.  Just a warning if you decide to tackle this yourself, assembly is easy but the cup topstitching takes all day.

VaVoom bullet bra

The other exciting project is the Knit for Victory knit-along hosted by Tasha at http://bygumbygolly.com.   Like the Sew for Victory sew-along, the knit-along is focused on 1940s knitting.  I always knit faster with a knit-along, so I’m happy to join.  My only problem is deciding on a project.  Do I knit something to fill in a wardrobe gap or do I knit something fun?  If I wanted to fill in a wardrobe gap, I’d knit this vest in black or grey.

cable vest

On the other hand, how cute is this polka dot blouse?  I might do burgundy with grey dots or dark green with white or pale yellow dots.

polka dot blouse

Or this cutey, maybe in black for the body and pink for the top contrast?

bow blouse

I plan on buying yarn by the end of the week, so I have a few days to decide.


Posted in knit-a-long | 5 Comments

Butterick 5603

Today’s project is a fail and I’m sharing it because it’s a modern reprint and I hope to warn other sewists away from it.  I’m only hanging on to it because, having made it to 20lbs lost, I have very few items in my wardrobe that fit.  Also, I have become convinced of the power of corduroy.  This jumper/pinafore is WARM!

Here is my patternreview.com review of Butterick 5603.

Pattern Description:
Fitted dresses A, B, C with flared skirt, below mid-knee, have lined bodice, princess seams and side zipper. A: bateau neckline with band and bow at upper and lower bodice edges. B: tie wrapped around each shoulder and knotted forms bow. C: bodice crosses at front and back. Purchased petticoat.
Pattern Sizing:6-20 I used 20

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? mostly

Were the instructions easy to follow? yes

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the retro styling

Fabric Used: large wale corduroy from fabric.com

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The only style change to view A was to omit the bows and waist band, as I thought the think corduroy wouldn’t handle it. I made a ton of fit changes. I did my standard changes for modern patterns: 1in FBA and petite fold above the waist. I also shortened the skirt quite a bit.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t know if it’s worth the effort to fix everything that is wrong with this pattern. No, I would not recommend this to anyone who has experience with real vintage patterns.

Conclusion: This pattern is the perfect example of why I usually stay away from reprints and use real vintage ones instead. This pattern didn’t fit like a modern Butterick pattern and it didn’t fit like a real, vintage pattern. My FBA added an inch in length to the bodice front, but the seam is still right at the bust apex. That isn’t unusual for a vintage pattern since they are drafted for more substantial undergarments that raise the bust a lot. On the other hand, based on the numbers printed on the pattern piece, I expected little to no ease through the waist. This dress has so much ease in the waist that I can pull it over my head without unzipping the side zip. In the picture below, I’m kind of holding the extra fabric at the waist so it looks better.  A real vintage pattern is usually a little too snug at the waist for me and requires shapewear. This pattern takes the worst of both vintage fitting (too high bust) and modern fitting (too much ease) and combines to make a fitting nightmare. If you are experienced with real vintage patterns, I say stay away. You’ll get a much better fitting dress with a real vintage pattern.

Butterick 5603

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Fall For Cotton

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 2 months since my last post.  I always hate when other bloggers apologize for their absence.  After all, unless you get paid to do it, both blogging and sewing is just a hobby.  I always loose my sewing motivation during the “transitional seasons” because I hate sewing things that I won’t be able to wear for several weeks.  Combine that with getting used to a new routine of not just a new school year start, but new wakeup times that go along with my older son starting high school.  That boy has to get up at 6am for school.  Also add in some new medications for a chronic health issue that leaves me a zombie for the first 1-2 hours of the day (really, the family swears to having conversations with me that I have no memory of).  Oh, remember that getting up at 6am for high school, yeah, he’s also home by 2:15pm.  He doesn’t need the hands-on parenting that he did when he was younger, but I still have the mindset that my personal time is over once he gets home.  So, yeah, I’m not apologizing for not blogging but also this let’s y’all know that I may not ever get back to the once a week blogging that I used to aim for.  Enough of that, let’s get to the pretty!

If you aren’t familiar with Fall For Cotton, it was a challenge run by http://luckylucille.com and http://bygumbygolly.com/.  The basics are a)use a vintage pattern, b)use cotton fabric.  I had plans.  I had BIG plans.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I think I’ve lost just enough weight to have my figure shift and not know how to fit it any more.  I tried many muslins of favorite 40s patterns and new-to-me 60s patterns and hated everything.  In a spark of genius, I remembered that 50s patterns always fit, right out of the envelope, without any alterations, other than for size.  Without making a muslin, I decided to cut into my fashion fabric.  This cotton had been in my stash for a long time.  I bought it from fabric.com and the print turned out to be much bigger than it looked online.  I was never sure it would work as a dress.  If this dress didn’t turn out, I wouldn’t be too disappointed.  In the end, I’m quite happy with it.

Fall for Cotton dress

The bodice is Butterick 7785

Butterick 7785

The skirt is from Butterick 6559

Butterick 6559


Posted in dresses | 6 Comments

Butterick 5895

Long time, no see, eh?  I’ve been working hard on losing some weight, so I didn’t want to sew something that might not fit in a few weeks.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve had to start taking in some of my favorite tops and my jeans and skirts are too big to stay on my waist.

I finally took the plunge and made up one of the Gertie for Butterick patterns.  This is Butterick 5895, crop top and capris.  I made the capris.  I’ve read in the blogosphere that these run large.  I’m not sure I buy that.  I’m down a full size from a month ago and according the the measurements, the largest size should have fit me.  I had to add 0.5 to the side seams to get them to fit.  I also raised the center back about 1.5 inches.  I shortened the leg length quite a bit.  I have tried to make pants/trousers several time and this is the first pair that didn’t immediately go into the waste bin.  It’s hard to tell if I’m happy with the fit because whenever I’ve used stretch denim in the past, they stretch out.  These feel a little tight around the thigh when I sit down, but is it because they are too tight or is it because they don’t have as much Lycra as RTW denim?  I think I need to wear them a few times to figure that out.  My only complaint is that the pockets are too shallow but that can be changed in future pairs.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be making these again.

Butterick 5895

I’ve seen people complain that retro jeans make your bum look long and flat, but I think mine is ok.  On the other hand, I’ve always been of the mind that since I don’t see it all the time, I don’t care what my bum looks like.



back of Butterick 5895

I normally don’t tuck blouses into trousers because I feel like it draws attention to my round tummy, but this isn’t too bad.  I know it’s more vintage to wear them like this, so here ya go!

Butterick 5895, tucked in



Posted in separates | 23 Comments

A Palate Cleanser

Another post so soon?  Yes, it’s true.  As the day went on, I felt worse and worse about the Hummingbird outfit that I felt the need to start a new project right away so that it didn’t steal my sewing mojo.  This project reminded me why I first fell in love with vintage patterns.  While my original copy of McCall’s 3263 is a size 16, 34in bust, I only had to make 2 alterations, I added 3 inches to the pattern piece (yes, only one piece for the whole garment) and lengthened it an inch above the waist.  The first muslin fit perfectly.  While I feel ridiculous in the huge skirts, 50s bodices are drafted perfectly for my figure.  Because the pattern it a single piece and has only 2 seams, one of each side, it took me all of 2 hours and most of that was the bias binding on the neckline and sleeves.  I have been wanting a peasant blouse for so long but knew all that fullness around my waist would do me no favours.  I love that this peasant blouse has lots of horizontal darts to fit it through the midriff.  I can see making several of these.

Cherries McCalls 3263

McCalls 3264


Posted in separates | 10 Comments

Hummingbird top and skirt

This is the second pattern from http://sewingcake.com/ that I’ve tried, with less than satisfactory results.  I’ve learned one valuable lesson from these patterns, avoid kimono sleeves!  So far, all her patterns have kimono sleeves, the three main garments plus the two “Riff” tops, as well as the fourth pattern that I was invited to beta test.  It is very difficult to alter a kimono sleeved bodice to fit narrow and/or sloping shoulders.  It also makes it difficult to do a petite fold between the bust point and shoulder seam without changing the fit of the sleeve itself.  I am now certain that after I finish the beta test garment, I will not be sewing any more of http://sewingcake.com/ patterns unless they have a set-in sleeve.

I have also learned that there is a lot of ease built into these designs.  It was most evident in the Hummingbird skirt, probably because it was designed for wovens.  Because her sizing is based on actual measurements, not on random numbered sizing and because my lower half does not contain my “problem areas”, I chose to not make a muslin.  This was a big mistake.  After it was assembled and the zip installed, but before I put in the waistband, I decided to try it on.  I was able to pull it on and off without unzipping.  I asked about sizing on the Hummingbird flickr group and the response I got was “there is extra ease built in for alterations”.  I ended up trimming 2.5 sizes worth of “extra ease” and now that I’m wearing it today, I realize that’s not enough.  Some people may like to have that extra to play around with, but it made me angry.  If I could have cut 3 sizes smaller from the beginning, I would have been able to fit the pattern pieces on less fabric and saved money.

The top also has a lot of ease built-in.    The instructions say to choose your size based on your full bust, which is fine because it’s designed for knits with good recovery.  When I’ve done with that other brands, say Jalie or KwikSew, it’s resulted in a well-fitted top.  This one is not.  The kimono sleeve means that all the ease is under the armpit.  On my first muslin of the top, I tried redrawing the curve under the arm and it resulted in a too tight armscye area and weird folds above the bust.  On my second muslin, I tried a petite tuck between the bust point and the shoulder seam and was left with too tight sleeves and popped underarm seams when I moved my arms in circles.  The red top is when I went back to the beginning and cut it as drafted.  There is freedom of movement, but lots of bunch around the armpit and the feeling that the upper chest around is HUGE.  The only way to save this pattern might be to cut a size smaller and add an underarm gusset.

The end result is an outfit that I do not feel good in.  I feel like the top draws attention to my tummy and the skirt makes me look rectangular.  I normally don’t like straight skirts on me, due to having narrow hips compared to the rest of me.  I should have gone with my first instinct and skipped this pattern.

Hummingbird front


Hummingbird back


Posted in separates | 9 Comments

Hummingbird Top


This is the new Hummingbird top from Cake Patterns.  I plan to do a full review when I finish the matching skirt but I wanted to see if I could use pictures from flickr using the WordPress app.  So, yay, I figured it out.  This is less than ideal for text-heavy posts, and the Hummingbird review will be text-heavy. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Drive-By Update

Just a quick note to say that it might be a while before my next post.  I’m having connectivity issues with my desktop computer.  I need to post my last Me-Made-May pictures, as well as a new 1940s nightgown.  I hope to have the computer issues resolved by the weekend.

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MMM 2013 Days 23-27

I’m glad MMM is nearly over.  I just am not feeling the project this year.  I think part of that has been the cool weather.  The Washington DC area generally doesn’t have a long Spring.  We are usually in the upper 80s, lower 90sF by this time of year.  I just don’t have lots of transitional clothing.

Day 23 is a dress I haven’t worn since I blogged it.  This is basically it’s last chance to keep a place in my wardrobe.  I think it’s going to leave.

MMM 2013 day 23

Day 24 is another McCall faux bolero knit top.


MMM 2013 Day 24

Day 25 is my trusty 40s jumper and Simplicity 4928 blouse

MMM 2013 Day 25

Day 26 is my only repeat so far, my Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge dress.

MMM 2013 Day 26

Day 27 is my jumper and a Smooth Sailing blouse.

MMM 2013 Day 27




Posted in Me Made May 2013 | 4 Comments

MMM 2013 Days 20-22

Day 20 is my second attempt at Jasmine from Colette Patterns.  I want to like this pattern, really I do.  It’s still not perfect.  Changes I made from my first one, released the above the waist petite adjustment 0.5 an inch and take up the same amount through the upperchest.  This improves the fit a lot, but I still think the armscye needs to be raised a little more.  I also think it could use a narrow shoulder adjustment.  That being said, I like the finished top.  I generally stay away from solid white tops, as I am known to spill coffee, tea and all manner of other consumables on my shirt, but I do believe at least one white top should be in every woman’s wardrobe.

MMM 2013 Day 20

Day 21 is a cafepress t-shirt and a Hollywood 794 skirt.  I also made the hat, but I’m not ready to blog it yet.  It’s from an indie designer on Etsy.  Because I have a lot of hat making experience, I didn’t read the instructions until I was done.  She specifically says the hat was designed for thick fabric and a thinner fabric would require a larger seam allowance to fit.  I made it in linen with a cotton lining, so it came out way too big and it’s my fault, not the pattern.

MMM 2013 Day 21

Day 22 is Simplicity 1882, from the Amazing Fit line.

MMM 2013 Day 22



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