In order to kick-start the sewing mojo, it’s good to do a simple project.  My stash of knit fabrics is rather large so I pulled some out and cut out a few of my TNT T-shirts.  My pattern, Butterick 4507, is old and well worn.



The first shirt I made from this pattern years ago was too wide and too short and rode up in the front.  Simple shirts like this often wear shorter in the front because the fabric has to go over the bust.  To fix this problem, I put on the first version and looked in the mirror so that I could see a side view.  I measured the distance between the level of the back and the level of the front which was about an inch or inch and a half.  In other words, I measured how much it hiked up in the front.

Then I altered the pattern by adding the additional length to the center front and drawing a gentle slope to the side seams with a flat area in the center front.  The left side shows the original pattern and the altered version is on the right.

DSC00425You don’t want to start the slope at the center or the front will be pointed.  Here’s how it looks on the cut-out front (ignore how wrinkly it has gotten waiting for me to sew it):

DSC00430I have also made the neckline a little higher and the sleeves a little longer in some versions.  Depending on how much knit fabric is available, there will sometimes be a seam up the center back or center front in order to make the pattern fit on the fabric. I cut out this pink flowered knit with a seam up the center front so the flower border will be mirrored, and then cut another shirt out of a royal blue knit.  I have about 15 yards of the royal blue knit so need to think of things to sew out of it.

DSC00431I plan to start on these as soon as I finish up the hot pink handbag, but I seem to have sewing block in regards to the bag so it is slow going.  Maybe I will get motivated this weekend.

Spring Colors

Last year, the color of the year was emerald, but the sweater I was making did not get finished in time for me to be trendy, but maybe I will sew on the buttons today and pretend I was trendy.DSC00363This year, the color of the year is Radiant Orchid.  I think I may have a t-shirt this color.

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Here are the other colors for spring for women:Fullscreen capture 1202014 83258 AMFullscreen capture 1202014 122852 PM-001

And for men:

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Nothing too exciting or different this year.  I like the Cayenne color, but that toothpaste green (Hemlock??) has never been one of my favorites.

Window Shopping

Now that the bad old year is gone and a new year of opportunity has begun, I would like to try and get the sewing mojo back in gear.  Over Christmas I did manage to hem two tablecloths for one present and to make pajama pants for each daughter.  The truth is that we are having a really cold winter and it is often too cold to sit down and sew in the bedroom.  That sounds like a pretty good excuse so I’ll run with that one.

I have noticed the gaps in my own wardrobe this past year, especially during the holiday season.  I need some more dressy tops and blouses for the holiday office parties and holiday entertaining.  I really just need lots of more-flattering tops.  A lot of the office parties involve an out-of-town location which means the outfit has to be comfortable enough for a longish drive and the shoes have to be comfortable enough to walk a bit in, sometimes from the parking garage to the party location, and sometimes, like in San Francisco, down a hill and up a hill.  My usual uniform for these events is a dressy black coat, dressy black slacks, black SAS shoes that won’t kill my feet, and a dressy blouse or top.  Everyone has already seen all 3 of my dressy blouses multiple times, so I need to make something new.  I’d also like to try making some fun jackets to wear when the occasion is not as casual as my usual life.  Here’s a jacket I love that I saw in the Pendleton store window:

DSC00250What I like about this:  a fun fabric, the empire styling, 3/4 sleeves, and the chance to use some interesting home dec fabric.

I’ve also been thinking about what I call my “old lady wardrobe” which I want to have for my elderly years.  I want to have lots of colorful cardigans, comfortable pants, coordinating tops, sheath and shift dresses which also work with the cardigans, comfortable shoes, Mexican dresses, Mexican tops, and lots of color, color, color.  I don’t plan to be elderly for a decade or two or three so I have lots of time to get these things sewn, I hope.

Busy Fall

In addition to the usual preparations for winter (such as it is in sea-level California), I am trying out food preservation ideas I have never tried before.  For example, since I read somewhere that you don’t have to pull the green onions up to harvest them but can just snip them off a little above the ground (then the plant grows back!!), I still have a nice stand of onions out there.  I found out that you can slice them up and freeze them so I am going to try that before the frost gets them.  I also have lots and lots of basil out there in spite of all the pesto I have made, so I want to find out if I can freeze the leaves by themselves.DSC00337

Sewing has been lagging a bit, but I am still working on another handbag:

DSC00334It’s starting to come together and look like something, but these things take a long time to sew since they have a lot of detail work.  Now I have to do the zipper unit and start the end assembly.  Today I am taking the day off from the purse and will be cutting out some tops.


We just got back from another business trip to San Diego.  While the spouse went to a convention all about taxes (most boring merchant mall in the world), I took little sight-seeing drives.  Here are some photos of linens in Old Town:


I would own all of these fabrics if I could afford it.  All of them.



DSC00289Now that we are home again, I have to get started sewing on the next handbag.  I did take the denim bag on the trip, and it worked very well and was comfortable to carry around.

DSC00274This bag has both batting and thick interfacing, and I don’t think my machine is strong enough for that combo.  I may break out the Singer 401A for the next attempt at such a structured bag.  Anyway, I really like how this turned out.

DSC00277Here’s a back view showing the pockets across the back.

I think for future efforts I will have a pocket all across one side (front or back) and an applied pocket on the other side.  This will avoid thickness at the seam and having to match the pocket height on the sides.

DSC00275View of the interior showing the secret zippered pocket under the flap and the zipper across the bag top for security.

DSC00279Interior pockets.

It took a long time to make this bag mainly because I have a dainty small machine and this was a heavy, thick project.  Next time I will use a more heavy-duty machine.  Most of the thickness was from the adjustable strap which required a double strap thickness at one side.  I couldn’t do the topstitching over such a thick area so ended up doing it by hand with double thread and some pliers.

I may take a break from making bags for a week or two, but I do have the next one cut out and ready to go:

The Next Handbag

Now that I’ve been out and about with the new handbag, the verdict is that the handbag is comfortable to wear and works really well.  I’m also trying to notice what things need to be changed or what pockets would be good to add.  The next two bags are already cut out, an orange print that has been in the stash for years, and a newly acquired fuchsia and black print.

DSC00272Ignore the acid green print, it was just auditioning to become another handbag.  So far all the batting and interfacings have been applied, the zipper unit is sewn, strap is constructed, and the pockets for the body and the lining are in the works.

I was wondering if a fabric handbag could be successfully washed and end up looking as good as before, and I unfortunately got to find out when a pen leaked onto the front of the new denim bag.  Lucky for me, I have an ancient stash of stain removers that have been out in the laundry cabinet for 15 years or more, and they still work great.  They are the Carbona brand, and have saved many of my husband’s work shirts from a shortened, ink-stained life.  In this case, the medium-size black ink stain came right out of the handbag.  After machine washing and drying the bag, I just needed to press it a bit carefully so the plastic zipper wouldn’t be damaged, and the handbag was once again spiffy looking.  It’s helpful to have some wooden pressing accessories to help with the pressing, and I think a pressing ham would help, too.

When my daughter was going to school in Texas, she really liked shopping at Hobby Lobby stores.  We didn’t have any in our area, and the only one I’ve ever been in was down in Monterey.  The big news around here this month is that a new Hobby Lobby is opening up in West County, so my daughter is rounding up me, my MIL, and my SIL to make a trek over there to look it over.  It will be interesting to check out something different from a J0Ann’s or a M1chaels.


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