Archive for the ‘Year Of A’ Category


My daughter was home yesterday and tried on the completed shirt and the new blue skirt. Both fit very well indeed, so we are on the track for mass production of the shirt, at least. I have made three of the yoke-topped skirts for her so I am ready to go on to another style. I found a piece of khaki denim so I will make an A-line skirt, the kind with a facing at the top and no waistband. So many ideas for sewing, so little time! And I still have to peel all those hundreds and hundreds of apples.

The Year Of A is officially over and we are now back to the regular routine. Here’s the list of things I made for A this last year:

Yellow Tunic

White Tunic

Cordoroy Hobo Bag

Blue Camisole Top

Red Camisole Top

White Tricot Camisole

Champagne Tricot Camisole

Blue Pajamas

Yellow Pajamas

Dishtowel Mexican Top With Machine Embroidery

Dark Red Mexican Top

IKEA Sheet Mexican Top With Machine Embroidery

Brown Denim Skirt

Red Pencil Skirt

Blk/White Pencil Skirt

Red/White Hawaiian Print Skirt

Dark Blue/Black Yoke-Top Skirt

Blue Dotty Bag

Green Dotty Purse

White Mexican Top With Hand Crochet

A Few Pairs Of Socks

M is very glad to see the end of Year of A, and she has some suggestions for things I could sew for her.

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Having at long last finished the pattern alterations, I finally have a finished shirt. This is made from a New Look pattern I got at the thrift store:

I made the following changes: I drafted new sleeves using the cap from a commercial shirt that fit A well, I changed the armhole curves, shortened the shoulder seam, eliminated the back neck facing, and changed the side bust dart. The fabric I used for the shirt is a striped oxford cloth I had in the stash. I am experimenting with new interfacings to see how they work out since my favorite, So Sheer, is no longer carried by my fabric store.

Below you can see how I always replace the back neck facing with a strip of bias, since I hate the way a facing flaps around.

Now that I finally have a pattern that fits her, I can change the design details to whatever I want. First up will be a collar with a stand which will be a little more professional looking for work, and I also want to change the sleeve cuff to a regular cuff with a placket which I think will wear better.

In sewing machine news, I have decided to make my Singer 401A the machine I use for machine free motion embroidery, and have ordered a free motion foot. This weekend I tried out an old Kenmore buttonholer ($3 at the thrift store) on my old Kenmore and it made really lovely buttonholes. My only problem is that the feed dogs do not go down anymore on that machine, and it is running so well at the moment that I don’t want to tamper with it, so I need a cover for the feed dogs. I used the cover plate from the old Singer buttonholer, but I had to tape it in place, which worked, but is less than ideal. I just love gadgets, and want to try out all the different feet that came with the machines.

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Red Hawaiian Print Skirt

I finished the red skirt, making it the first garment I have sewn on the old Kenmore in 12 or 15 years.  It is an old machine, and the fixer man told me to go easy on the stitch regulator dial since they were unable to find a replacement knob and had to glue it to fix it.  I decided to just have fun and use the machine with joy until it decides to pass on to its reward.  It is an old friend and it was great to be using it again.  I had to be inventive to get cone thread to work with it though.  I ran the thread through the little loop on the bobbin winder and that worked great.

This skirt fabric is a decorator fabric and is about the weight of a denim.  I didn’t line it except for the yoke, and I used a Hong Kong finish on the back seam because it was going to be pressed open for the zipper application.

As usual with an A-line skirt like this, I put the button tab in the back:

Today is a waffle day in which I waffle around trying to think of the next project.

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I managed to finish this up using my borrowed machine. It is made from the dishtowels so is a soft, looser-weave cotton, similar to the fabric in my old Mexican peasant blouse.

These photos were taken in the evening, outside, so they are a little dark, but you can see that I used the wide pineapple trim to decorate the yoke, and crocheted a narrow picot trim for the neckline.

I am trying to decide what to sew next, since I have the red and white fabric out to sew a summer skirt, but also want to try drafting a full slip pattern and some aprons. This week I went into Berkeley to visit Lacis and Stonemountain & Daughters, and I got some nice patterns for aprons, and some vintage patterns at Lacis. This has made me want to make some more camisoles and slips, aprons, and handbags.

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Yellow Pajamas

I finished the top and have started sewing on the bottoms. I left the interfacing out of the collar and lapels to see if the flannel is thick enough to be fine without it, and the answer is no, it’s not. Next time I make PJs with a collar, I’ll add a soft interfacing. But really, I’m not really liking PJs with collars anymore, since they are fussy to sew and who needs them while you are sleeping? I think I am going to redraft the front to be collarless with a neckline sort of like a baseball uniform top, a curved V-neckline. Here’s the pattern I’m using for the top:

I shortened the top a lot. The pajama pants pattern I’m using is a TNT pattern whose origin is lost in the mists of time.

This print is really cute and colorful, but notice how I accidentally cut it out with the cupcakes upside down. I figure that they will be rightside up when the wearer is looking down at herself. I have the pants all cut out and semi-sewed:

I should be finished with these tonight, unless I get bogged down in cookie baking.

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Champagne Camisole Finished

Sewing on tricot is really easy, but it still surprises me how fast it is to sew up lingerie in a tricot fabric.The armholes and neckline are finished with a double turnunder and a shell stitch:

You would think that a double turnunder would be hard to do on a V-neckline, but it is surprisingly easy in this fabric. The V turns out more curved, but that looks fine. It works better for me if I baste the turnunders down by hand before stitching on the machine. I could use a long zigzag baste to turn the edges under, but the added thickness of the stitching prevents such a pronounced “shell” from developing .

I got the measurements I needed yesterday, so, since it is gloomy and rainy today, I might get one pair of pajamas cut out.

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Blue Camisole

My daughter came for a weekend visit and tried on the red camisole. It fit perfectly except that the armholes were a little high, so I altered the pattern, lowering the armholes 1/2 inch. The next camisole is finished:


I have another one of these cut out in a pale blue cotton knit, but I like to take a break when making several of the same pattern, since I get tired of sewing the same thing over again.

I went to the JoAnn sale and picked up some cute flannels.IMG_5222

I like sewing on flannel since it is so easy to manipulate and control. I have a TNT pajama pattern that I use for my younger daughter, but when I got the pattern out, the altered pattern for the pajama pants was missing. Tracing out patterns is not my favorite thing to do, so I spent a little time searching for the pattern in a few other patterns I have recently used for the same daughter, and I actually found it! I need to prewash the fabric but can’t get to the garage to do wash yet because the workmen are still all over the backyard.

My daughter had a good idea while she was here. She wanted to mark the dressmaker dummy so that I would know when necklines were too low or too wide. We were afraid to use permanent marker because it might transfer itself to garments, so we got the bright idea to use black electrical tape to form the outline of straps, neckline and armhole. It looks a little strange on Betty but will be very useful.

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Red Camisole

My daughter liked the way the tricot camisole fit, so she asked me to make some that would be outerwear. I found a length of red knit in the fabric stack, so I added 1/4″  to the neckline and armhole for a seam allowance and got started. It turned out surprisingly well – here it is on Betty:



The bodice portion was a double layer of fabric in the tricot version, but in this version there is only one layer. I was wondering how to hold down the seam allowance under the bust so tried topstitching. It looks better than I expected. The neckline and armholes are finished with strips of the same knit used as facings and stitched down. The pattern was originally a simple tank top, but I changed it by adding the empire seam and adding gathers under the bust.

Next time I make one of those duct tape dressmaker dummies I will leave off the arms because they make it hard to get garments on and off the dummy. In addition, the arms make it hard to tell where the shoulder width ends for some reason. One thing that has worked out well, though, was the stuffing we put in the dummies: we used old newspapers put through the shredder.

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Camisole Finished

My younger daughter came for a visit and tried on the prototype camisole.  It really fit wonderfully well, so she asked me to make some more not as camisoles but as tops in cotton knits.  Before I could start that project though I had to finish up the camisole.


The hem is a regular hem (baste a small turnunder about 3/16 inch wide, then fold up another 3/8 inch and stitch down with a small zigzag set at 1 for width and 2 for length on my old Elna).  I finished off the neckline and armholes with a shell edging stitched on a small double turnunder.  I trimmed the empire seam with lace to add interest and to hold the seam in place.  The front upper bodice area has a double layer of fabric.IMG_4920

At one of the library book sales this year, I found a copy of a book printed in 1972:  The Feminine Art, Lingerie Sewing by Dolores Krinke.  This is a great book with many illustrations and photos, and is well worth searching for a copy.

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This blouse was made from one of the IKEA sheets. Being sheeting, it seems to get wrinkled easier than fabric made for clothing, but it is 100% cotton so should be cool to wear. I think it was easier to embroider on the dishtowels, and those towels had a nice drape and comfortable feel to them. I am wondering if the sheeting wouldn’t be better for aprons and such.

IMG_5200I sewed a row of pin stitching around the neckline, then widened the holes created by the stitching a little bit with an awl, then crocheted a border onto the neckline.  I used a new kind of crochet thread: Aunt Lydia’s Bamboo Crochet Thread.  It was softer than the usual cotton thread, so will be comfortable around the neck.  I liked working with it, and it will be interesting to see if it holds up well to wear.


Here’s the little placket I put in the back yoke so that the blouse would have enough room to pull over the head. I cut this version of the top a lot narrower so that it would have a slimmer line. I think I took a total of 4 or 5 inches out of the fabric width at the bustline and hip.

I am now working on one of the younger daughter’s dress shirts that fits her well. She got a stain on it that couldn’t be removed, so I am ripping the shirt apart to take the pattern from it. I thought that the ripping would be an easy job, but all I can say about that is that it is one of the best constructed shirts I have ever run into. It is taking lots of effort to deconstruct.

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