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Patterns: M7279 (darted sheath dress and darted sleeve) & V9325 (sleeve flounce and bow)
Fabric: Grey Italian stretch wool jacquard from Josephine’s Dry Goods; Portland OR. Sage green and white silk charmeuse from Thai Silks; Mountain View, CA. Silk organza underlining from Susan Khalje Couture.

This dress was a long time in coming. First, I had inspiration, but no fabric. Then, I had fabric which fought with both the design and the underlining. And finally, I didn’t have enough lining fabric in my stash, so I had two use one color in the dress and another in the sleeves. There’s still a few issues with it, but overall, I’m happy that it’s done! My inspiration was the dress Sophie, Countess of Wessex, wore to a function in December, 2018. I loved the dress, which was basically a darted sheath with a flounced sleeves. I like to have M7279 in sleeved and sleeveless versions for my fitting class; I thought that this would be a nice winter dress, as my old winter M7279 doesn’t fit anymore (not a good look for a fitting class!) It took a while to find an appropriate fabric. The fabric needed to have enough structure for a sheath dress, but enough drape for the flounces. Further, it needed to be attractive on both sides, as the flounces are not lined. The wool jacquard I finally chose was not ideal. The small amount of Lycra actually fights with the wool, making it slightly too stiff for the flounces. I’d made M7279 from stretch wovens previously. However, I wanted an edge-to-edge lining in this dress (I despise facings) so I required an underlining. I chose silk organza. I chose poorly. The silk organza was too stiff for the wool, and fought with the stretch. I would have been better off with rayon challis, or at least cotton batiste. As it is, the darts are still not right, as the fabric drapes oddly, particularly at the darts. At some point, I need to open it up again, and create a second, lower set of side bust darts, as that appears to be what the fabric wants. Lesson learned, relearned and learned again: do what the fabric wants, not what you want. The fabric will ALWAYS win in the end.

Pattern: Pin Up Girls #3235 “Shelley” underwire bra
Fabric: Lace, Power Net and Duoplex from Bra Makers Supplies

Happy New Year! While my family watches football, I sewed myself a new bra. I love the Shelley pattern — it’s very pretty while providing a lot of support. I actually make bras that are different cup sizes from right to left, because I am more than one cup size difference between sides. Making my own bras isn’t that difficult, and it really helps me to create bras the FIT me!

Pattern: Vogue 1665
Fabric: Fabtrends Millenium Stretch Bengaline Ikat Diamond Navy/White 72% Rayon/24% Nylon/4% Spandex from

I absolutely love this princess seam pant pattern. This is the second pair I’ve made. I altered the flat pattern to reduce fullness in the back, and to drop the back crotch curve for my flat seat. The pattern calls for a center back invisible zip; I changed this to a side zip. The fabric was very tricky. The stretch bengaline was suppose to have 10%-25% widthwise stretch. When I measured it, widthwise stretch was closer to 40%. I ended up sewing 1.25” seams instead of 0.625” seams on the fronts, backs and sides. I used a 1” inseam, and maintained the crotch seam at .625”. I dropped the seat some more in fabric. In retrospect, I should have also let out the lower back leg seam to accommodate my calves. I don’t usually have to do this, but I see the drag lines in the photos! Overall, I’m not thrilled with the photos — super stretchy mid-weight fabric like this does not press well, and every drag line is prominently on view. That said, this is a very comfortable pant, which I will enjoy wearing. And it matches my Rothy’s shoes!

Pattern: Vogue 2826 (1986) to start, with many alterations for length and width. For first-time tie maker, the instructions are fairly clear, though I ended up doing a lot more marking and basting to keep everything smooth and bias.
Fabric: Polyester satin from Spoonflower, printed with the Carina nebulla pictures from the Hubble space telescope --- my son's special request. (Wool tie interfacing from Britex.)

Usually, I spend most of December on decidedly UN-couture sewing: jammies for the family, and other quick gift projects. This year, my son liked his birthday ties (which I posted in August) so much, he requested more. With custom sizing (at 6'4" it's hard for my son to find ties that are long enough), Susan Khalje’s s brilliant tips for keeping long skinny pattern pieces on the bias, and lots of basting and hand stitching --- these were definitely couture sewing. I hope my fellow sewists join me in flooding Spoonflower’s customer service email with requests for (1) cotton flannel fabric for jammies and (2) silk charmeuse. I think silk would take their dyes far more beautifully than poly. Cotton for personalized jammies seems like a no-brainer, but I haven’t convinced them, yet.

Pattern: Jacket, Vogue Options V8305; Pants, Tom&Linda Platt for Vogue V1665; Top, Christine Jonson Patterns Princess Wrap Top Fabric: Jacket, Novelty sweater knit from EmmaOneSock; Pants, satin back stretch moleskin from Joanns; Top, slinky knit from ??? (It’s been so long I can’t remember!)

I saw this jacket pattern mentioned in a FB sewing group, and hunted down a copy. The EmmaOneSock knit is a little heavy — the original pattern used a lightweight wool jersey — but I still love the drape; it will be very cozy this winter (if the temperatures ever cool down.) I finished all the edges on a borrowed cover stitch machine. I loved it so much, I had to buy one! The pants are a new pattern from Vogue. I love the princess seam in the front and back of pants; they make alterations a dream! Many princess seam pants patterns have faced waistlines or have contour waist bands, neither of which I really like. This pair has a baby waist band — just 3/8” wide. It is elegant and unobtrusive. Yay, Tom & Linda Platt, for another great design! Finally, the top is one I made years ago — Christine Jonson’s princess wrap top — which is similar to the top and dress in V8305. This top never goes out of style, and slinky knits never seem to fail, either. With 4-way stretch (and a lot of it!) Slinky knits can be a bit tricky, but they ease and drape beautifully into surplice-wrap designs.  

Patterns Pants: McCall’s M8118 (pants) and Blouse: Vogue V9191
Fabric Pants: steel blue lightweight linen from my friend Ahn’s stash and Blouse: white rayon challis from

Southern California in September. The weather is hot and dry. It’s not quite time to pull out the fabrics for winter sewing. McCalls M8118 caught my eye at the last pattern sale. I’d had a pair of “paper bag waist” pants as a girl which I loved. These looked like the perfect casual pant for gardening. The side seam pockets are great. I increased my side seam to 1”, so the pocket bag actually starts 3/8” into the seam. I like to do this so that there is no chance that the pocket will “peek” out of the seam. As I am over 50, and gravity has taken a toll, I dropped the back crotch seam; I also took 1” out of the back leg fullness. The beauty of the gather waist is that it gives me the appearance of a butt. I’ve posted this shell before; it’s an old make, but I love it so much, I made 2. It and its twin are my favorite summer tops. V9191 has simple side-seam bust darts and a jewel neckline in the front, but the back is a waterfall of sunburst pleats. It was tricky, but I managed a high round back alteration and forward shoulder alteration without messing up the pleats. The top also has a full bust adjustment and a sway back alteration. I featured this top and its twin in my blog post describing two ways to use bias binding to finish an edge; each top uses a different method.

Pattern: McCalls M6964, with the following alterations: high round back, sway back, forward shoulder, full bust adjustment, sleeve width and slight neckline variation.

Fabric: Lightweight French Terry from Denver Fabrics.

I used this material to make pajama bottoms for my husband. As it turned out, I had enough fabric to squeeze out a tee for my daughter and one for me as well! Because of my sway back and high round back adjustments, I have a center back seam; this really helps when I’m cutting pieces out of small scraps from another project. I use this pattern as a teaching pattern for my knits class, so I frequently make new tees with various necklines/sleeves as samples. My students are often surprisingly resistant to the idea of darts in knits. While there are ways to remove the darts following a full bust adjustment, the resulting styles are not flattering to every figure. So, to make a classic tee that fits, leave those bust darts. The resulting tee will fit … so a T!