Category: Sewing

Everyday I’m Bustlin’

Seriously I have been trying to update but WordPress just does not agree with me all of the time. Is it firefox maybe?

Anyway, last time we chatted I had made my pseudo victorian corset for the upcoming festivities… which happened to be today!

So in a few short weeks I had to make my bustle cage plus the actual outfit… I went sans petticoat (this is a judgement free zone so please don’t be shocked.)


bustle cage check! Super easy and took half an hour! pretty much just made a large trapezoid and sewed channels – popped in more cable ties and added ribbon to tie the edges together (making rounded shape.) Added a ruffle and a waist band and called it a day.

pretty sure a proper victorian lady would also wear gym shorts…

I looked at a lot of fashion plates pictures trying to come up with a design for my outfit. I love the more tailored look of the late bustle period so I aimed for something like that.



I am much shorter than my dress form so the proportions are off but you get the idea. It was a new idea for me to flat-line rather than bag-line the jacket. The fabric was stretchy so flat-lining would give it more of the body I wanted, thankfully I thought of the easiest/quickest way to flat-line while giving me the look I wanted – thank you fusible black woven interfacing.
My facings were just quickly cut from scraps and I slap-dashed the rest of the jacket together. Historically it should have been boned in a few places but I just added boning on the side seams (whipped under the seam allowance.)

I also love playing with the subtle stripes!


In conclusion – I had a super fabulous time playing dress up and making this outfit. I did kind of a slap-dash job near the end but I didn’t have to go naked to the party and it was my first shot a historic costume. I did do a lot of research for inspiration and trying to plan out seam lines but obviously this was also loosely based on history, we will just call it my interpretation.


Pattern Matching – sewing tip

I know I had a previous entry about pattern matching but this one is a little different. I cut the adorable birdie fabric that I mentioned in my last post and I am ready to make some valances. Generally when sewing clothing I don’t run into the issue of having to match widths of fabric together, however when talking about home dec… this is something that you can’t escape (unless of course you just always choose solids.)

Here are two widths of fabric that I have side by side so you can see what I am talking about.


When cutting fabric in this case you need to be aware of the pattern and cut with the repeat. Here I used the flower motif as a starting point, each straight cut across the width would be started at this point in the pattern. That way if you need to sew them side by side it will be one continuous repeating pattern.

So here is the hard part… actually sewing it so it looks good.

Sometimes you can get away with just lining up the printers marks (the crosshatch and colored circles on the selvage) and sewing a half inch or more. Sometimes you can also just keep peeking as you sew to make sure things are lined up, but this works best for bigger patterns and more geometric designs.

Now for the birdies, and generally any kind of swirling or more complicated design I take a different approach. In the picture below you can see that I pressed my top edge back so I can see a little piece of the print. I then line up my fabric pieces, right sides together while the one pressed edge will allow me to see part of the pattern.

Line up your pattern but offset it to the right just a smidge, cross your fingers and pray, then sew.


I use the inside edge of my presser foot as a guide right along the pressed edge of my upper fabric. Since we offset the match, the placement of your needle ends up being in the perfect place.




not quite perfect but I think it is acceptable.

Hopefully that made sense to you… let me know if it was a little confusing and I can try to explain when I am more awake…

Fabric that makes me go “SQUUUEEEEEEEEEE”

My wonderful sister asked me an eternity ago a little while ago to make her window treatments for her new apartment. We discussed simple classic gathered valances for the kitchen. She originally wanted something a little kitschy like chickens, so I marched into my local fabric store intending to find something to live up to her expectations. 

Then I saw this!



Who needs chickens when you have these adorable birdies?

When I sent the pic for approval I was met with sheer excitement along the lines of “OMG BIRDIE BIRDIE BIRDIE BIRDIE BIRDIE!!!!”

Approval – Check!

Now after finishing up a few other projects on my plate (and some relaxation time) I am ready to get these valances going!

I guess we must be getting shorter??

hurrumph! *throws hands up in the air* I give up, I give up. I will just be wearing a sheet wrapped around me for the rest of my life because that will fit better than anything else apparently.

Maybe it is just me, in which case you can just think of me as the short sheet wearing crazy lady… but I swear clothing is being made for a longer and longer torso.

I am very short, 5′ 0″. I understand that petite clothing is made for 5′ 4″ but at one point I was able to find clothing that was at least passable in the fit department. This summer season I have not been able to find a tank or t-shirt that fit correctly.

Yesterday I stopped by the craft store to pick up the cheap plain cotton t-shirts with the intention of fitting them… but ughhhh just so horrendous. I can see that the popular style has been very relaxed lately but I am just so tired of not being able to find new basic items, and if I do I need to buy 2 because everything so thin it needs to be layered.

Today I was at the mall; after a failing dressing room session I began to notice that I may not be the only one with this problem… There were 2 other women, taller than me, in the check out however their shirts did not fit properly either – again it was the length. As I walked out of the store and through the center of the mall I noticed almost everyone had the bagginess right above the bustline and straps wanting to fall off or armholes that were 2 inches too long…

gahhhhh, I am not alone, but we can’t dress ourselves apparently.

The strange thing is that I have seen the updated ASTM measurements from data collected over the last few years and the sizing is just a smidge shorter in the CF and CB neck to waist area than in previous decades. We are mainly talking 1/8-1/4″ for the most part so it’s really not much of a change but that just makes me question where the heck the measurements are coming from that these companies are using to make their blocks. ughhhhhhhhhhh
That is my rant for the weekend, now if you will excuse me I am hoping to find a lovely floral print sheet and perhaps some brooches to complete my ensemble for the week.


Needle in a Haystack

Long or short? Thick or thin?
It seems to me everyone has their own preference when it comes to hand needles. There are certainly plenty to choose from. Image

I myself prefer a longer and skinnier needle for most projects. I guess I have lost/broken all of my favorite needles since all of them have seemed “just not right” lately.
My latest project is a friend’s dress that involves a lovely chiffon overlay. I rejoiced when I found the perfect needle for this project! A super duper skinny beading needle! I am pretty sure I bought this pack of John James’ and couldn’t actually use it for the beads I intended… but luckily I held on to it. Image

see how thin it is compared to the others I had! Perfection. These needles are sharp and flexible, I have a tendency to put a little bend in mine. I have had other thin needles that just snap but these are pretty magical and have a springiness to them.

Now I know these won’t be the best for every situation but for this project… it will slice through 5 layers of light-midweight fabric like buttahhhhh.

Any other needle suggestions out there? What are your favs?

Let’s Make a Match! Pattern match that is…

First off I would like to wish you a Happy Saturday! I have been looking forward to this weekend for a long time. Why? Sometimes you need a weekend without anywhere to be or anything to do (except projects of course.)

I wanted to share another thrift store barrel chair update – this project has actually been going very fast…when I work on it that is. I probably could have done the whole thing over a weekend but I guess I am on the 3 month plan?

So I have decided to pseudo slip cover then upholster the chair, this was how it was originally done anyway. I found this fabulous silver quilted curtain panel at BB&B a while ago that was marked down to $6 for this tiny like stain (stain that washed right out.)

*If you are trying to find fabric never underestimate the power of premade items, it may end up cheaper than any length of fabric. Think curtain panels, shower curtains, table cloths, etc.

My panel was 120″ long… you can’t find nice fabric for under $2 a yard (or if you can please share your secret!)

Anyway silver pattern means that cutting out my pieces will be a little trickier.

1. I have to be aware of the pattern, or your eyes will alert you to something very wrong when yo are all done.

2. I have to cut all my pieces in the same direction (even if there was no pattern, any kind of shiny fabric has a “nap” and if you change the direction of your pieces the you might as well have you used 2 different colors of fabric)

This applies if you are making clothing as well – so general fabric matching tips!

Anyway I had my pattern pieces laid out and I found where the widest section of the chair was (closer to the top) and drew a line across my pieces at this spot. This is where you want your pattern to match. When I say match I don’t really care about what it looks like at the seams, you can’t have a perfect match to the actual motif if you have any shaped seams so don’t stress yourself out!

What really matters is that this line/point is on the same area of the motif  for each pattern piece – visually you will see your seams but there will be a continuous run horizontally of your pattern across this chosen point (and for the most part it will fall into place elsewhere.)

does that make sense? think if you had a striped fabric and the stripes were going horizontal – you would want your red stripe to match with the red stripe at the seam otherwise complete chaos would be unleashed on your eyeballs. Image

I know the motif on my fabric is a little hard to see but it was pretty easy, I could draw a straight line through the diamonds and match it with my straight line on my pattern pieces.

If you are working on clothing, again pick some of the most prominent areas to use as a standard match point such as your bust line or hips.

*I know I previously said not to worry about what happens to the motif at your seam but I lied, just don’t think you need to try to match one half of a flower with the other half (or whatever your fabric may look like.) I would however just keep an eye on the surroundings of your seam, you may have a large motif and it can look a little awkward if you end up with the same piece of the motif close together.  Practice Practice, and you will get it.

The Good ol’ Standby


This morning while grabbing some fabric from my retired sewing room (attic), I discovered 2 things:

1. Our annual spring tenants, Doug and Lucy of the canadian geese variety have taken up their original nest from 2011 which happens to be right outside of my attic window (let’s hope the eggs hatch this year!)

and 2. My favorite sewing book was buried and hiding upstairs!

I love this sewing booklet from Simplicity Patterns – I got it from my mom but being from 1949 it probably belonged to my grandmother first.

I have a few basic sewing books (and many specialty) but by far the 87 pages of adorable illustrations is my go-to for most sewing needs. “Helpful Hints for Beginners and Experts” definitely sums up this book as it covers all the basics but leaves out some info that I feel has been lost in some modern publications.


While every sewing book has it’s place, I love the ease and chart-filledness of this one. What are your favorite sewing resources?