Frankie Dress. The Denver Sewing Collective Challenge.


The Denver Sewing Collective is starting to put out monthly challenges. October’s challenge was to use that fabric you’ve been holding onto in your stash out of fear to use it or just because you didn’t know what to do with it. I had 4 yards of this large print in my stash as a hand me down. I just let it sit there because it’s not my color and big florals aren’t me either.

So I was feeling up to a challenge after visiting the DSC Meetup in September. After a lot of looking through my Pinterest boards for dress ideas and through my own pattern stash I thought I’d work up Simplicity 2886. The pattern envelope is no help for view A but I found better pics on Craftsy the other day.

One of my goals was to minimize seams to prevent breaking up the print. Here’s where Frankie starts to earn her name after Frankenstein’s monster. I redrafted the bodice to eliminate the midriff piece and eliminated the back center seam. This worked pretty well but made attaching the bodice lining a bit time intensive. The box pleated skirt was pretty easy to put together too.

Here’s the result (with unfinished hem).

In proess

Something about the darts on the bodice just looked strange to me and man is this an unflattering cut for me. Thanks to some input from Pam, Jill, and Jamie at the DSC October Meetup I came home with a plan to make Frankie a bit more of a mishmash and make those darts look better and to make the dress look a little less juvenile on me. To make the silhouette a better fit for my body shape I came away with the idea to redo the skirt to be more the shape of a shift dress and to add darts to the skirt to line up with those on the bodice.


I traced off the bottom skirt part of Vogue 1809 DKNY (oop) as a guide and added a bit to the center front to account for the darts I was going to add. Mashing up the two patterns worked really well. The final silhouette is much more flattering and extending the line of the bodice darts down into the skirt looks better too. Too bad I didn’t just start with a shift dress pattern so there wouldn’t be the seam at the waistline. Oh well.


Lessons learned:

1. The waistline of a dress needs to fall at my natural waist, not higher. This is going to be very helpful as I work on my Core Wardrobe.

2. Oh how valuable it is to have a kind fellow sewists to point out where you’ve messed up and how to fix it.

3. It is possible to line a bodice after the front and back are pieced together, but so time intensive it may be worth the back center seam.

4. Box pleats may work for me in a drapier fabric.


If you were to work up this dress it would take you about 3 hours. I probably spent another 3 hours redrafting, making muslins, and redoing the skirt.


Filed under Dresses, Four hour project

Going Hard Core this Winter

Ooo, sounds edgy huh? I am so far from. Here’s the real deal, I’m planning out my core wardrobe. I’m using a couple cute graphics as my visual guide to fill in some gaps, but if you want to take the 12+ step program in developing yours check out Coletterie.

I’ve spent a little time over the last few months paring down my closet and evaluating the pieces. I have a decent sized stack of items to donate that I just don’t love or lets face it I’m not going to lose enough weight to fit.

Now, I have some problems to solve that came into view:

I have a bunch of skirts and tops that just don’t pair up with anything very well to make an outfit.

A few items need to be altered.

My body shape has changed.

My wardrobe screams business office.

What I do know:

I’d like my basic colors to be charcoal grey, black, and cream.

The tee’s I have fit terribly. I can’t believe I’ve put up with that for so long.

I’m down to just a couple pairs of pants that still fit.

Leggings will not be part of my core wardrobe.

I see about 12 outfits here. Not including the leggings.

The plan:

Evaluate body shape and find silhouettes that work for me.

Start filling in the gaps: 1. long sleeve tees. I have two fabrics in my base colors and high hopes I’ll find a pattern that fits right at the start. 2. I don’t own a longer sleeve dress for cooler months. I have a pattern picked but still on the hunt for a lightweight wool that is suitable.

Do a more thorough eval of existing pieces to figure out what I need to make them an outfit.

Reformat brain to sew outfits not pieces.

Work up some system so I know what pieces go together. I’m thinking hang tags with outfit options, I’m that befuddled.

Have you jumped on the core wardrobe bandwagon? Any imput for me?

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Snuggle Time. Winter PJs for the little guy.


I’m trying so hard to plan ahead my sewing projects instead of reacting to the “oh no, we don’t have fill in the blank” moments. A couple months ago, I pulled out the box of 2T hand me downs I have for the little guy to get things into circulation and figure out what we still need. Somehow we always seem to need winter pajamas. Victory! I still have time, I have go-to patterns (Vintage Vneck and Clean Slate Pants by Melly Sews), and I have just barely enough fleece in my stash.


To start, I had just under 1/3 square yard of each of the two colors of the fleece. It took some arranging and rearranging to get the pattern pieces to fit that small area. Adding a blue side stripe and waistband was the perfect solution for not enough fabric for the pants and to tie the two pieces together. I cut a 4T instead of 2T width on the top to adjust for the fleece not being as stretchy as a knit. I made the V-neck opening a bit wider to account for this also.

Look, there's a Robot!

Look, there’s a Robot!

The pants went together so easily, hurray!

The top went together so easily until the neckline. Oh man, I just could not get the point of that V without a pucker. So let’s try it on and see how much it shows. AAAARRRGG! It doesn’t fit over his head. I can laugh it off now, but this quick and easy project was already taking on problem child qualities pretty fast.

I can dance like a robot.

I can dance like a robot.

Alrighty take a breath, I had just enough of a scrap to make a placket opening instead. Back to the sewing table. I used the instructions from the Prepster Pullover as a guide to add the placket.

The top took 1.75 hours plus an additional hour to add a placket.

The bottoms took 1.75 hours.

(Not counting all my pattern rearranging to make it work on my limited fabric)

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Filed under Bottoms, Boys, Four hour project, pj, Tops, Two hour project

Under the Banner

My father has delved into the art of marquetry (wood veneers inlaid to make a composition) and I’ve been trying to encourage him by managing his blog Earlsmarquetry and being a sounding board for his ideas.

custom pet - CopyCustom pet portraits by Earl’s Marquetry

With a couple shows lined up for the fall, Atlanta’s Makers Faire and the art show at Roselawn, I wanted to make him something for his booth. I landed on making him a banner that could fit along the front of his table. I downloaded some letter templates and after measuring their width, I calculated the spacing I would need to make it all fit on a banner 10in tall and 70in long.

I have four layers here in this reverse applique banner; the dark brown front and backing, a layer of flannel to give it some body, and a layer of woody looking fabric layered under the brown front to be revealed by the reverse applique. I traced and sewed the letters, then cut out the top layer of brown to reveal the woody fabric for the letters.


Even with my meticulous measuring, I still goofed the spacing up. Unfortunately I traced and stitched the first word before discovering my mistake so the second word is a little scrunched.


A project like this should take you about 3.5 hours.

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Filed under Afternoon projects, Applique, Crafts, Four hour project

KCW Project One (and only): The Prepster Pullover

Kids Clothing Week Project One (and only).

Plan: Basic Blazer, PJs, seatback cover, monster pocket sweatshirt

Actual: Prepster Pullover


Plan was to work up a blazer to match these clean slate pants for my little guy to wear to my grandfathers memorial service at the end of August. So here’s where my plan falls all apart. While I think it would be a super cute outfit, a blazer and pants in the August heat and humidity of Michigan just sounds mean. Plus I don’t see it getting worn much else and if I’m going to spend the effort it’s got to be worn a lot.


So on to plan B, the Prepster Pullover by Blank Slate Patterns. I used the last of this light weight green gingham that I used as an accent on the pants. Yeah stash busting. Now I have a cute outfit that definitely works for the memorial service and will get repeated wear on Sundays to church or anywhere else I want to pull out the adorable factor.


This was my first mens style shirt. A monk collar, half-length placket, flat felled seams, and shoulder yoke were all new processes for me. There was nothing terribly difficult about the pattern but all the details definitely took some time and patience.  I typically work as fast as possible to blaze through a pattern, but I really wanted to take my time to get it right. Total time to make was 5.5 hours.


Now for the rest of my list, well, I just spent all of my time on the shirt and the rest of the plans go into the queue for a later time.

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Filed under Boys, Five hour projects, shirts

Kids Clothing Week 2014…my plan

Allrighty, its my first time participating in a sew along of sorts. July 21 through 27 is Kids Clothing Week where participants are challenged to sew 1 hour a day for 7 days.

kid's clothes week

Here’s my ambitious plan. Ambitious because I have a toddler that has decided to boycott naptime of late and because I several ideas but have not been as OCD about making sure I have the materials to complete these projects (running off to the fabric store is not as easy as it used to be).

Okay now for my plan, lets see how I actually do.

Project One: Boys Basic Blazer from Blank Slate Patterns

I’ve made pants and a tee from Blank Slate Patterns before and they are a dream to use. I actually have all the materials I need for the blazer except for the buttons. I have a pretty good stash of buttons, so I have high hopes for this project.

Project Two: Winter PJs. Bottoms using Clean Slate Pants by Blank Slate Patterns; Top tbd.

100_3343Here’s my version of the Clean Slate Pant.

I have some charcoal grey and robins egg blue fleece in my stash to use up for the pjs. I have just enough charcoal to make the pants without pockets if I use a bit of the blue as a side stripe and I’m hoping enough of the blue to do a simple top. I give this project about 50/50 chances.

Project Three: Activity Station/Seat Saver

Something like this from 8th Day creations.

Not that we have a super fancy or even super clean car but it grates on me when I hear my little guy’s shoes sliding against the back of our leather seats. I’m hoping something like this will be great for little guy and nerve saving for mommy. I have no ideas on what fabric in my stash to use or what kind of pockets I’ll need. This will definitely be a winging it project. I’m NOT a wing it type of person so maybe not so nerve saving for mommy. I’ll give this one 50/50 also. I don’t think it will be difficult to execute, once I figure out fabric and a basic plan.

Project Four: Monster in the Pocket sweatshirt.

I’m thinking a basic long sleeve sweatshirt with a large zip pocket across the tummy. The pocket lining would be black with a couple friendly monster eyes peaking out.


Filed under Afternoon projects, Bottoms, Boys, Crafts, Jacket, Jackets, pj, shirts, Tops

Thread Boutique Denver

100_3444Last week I announced that I will have a sampling of my skirts in the Thread Boutique in Denver. Thread features hand made items from local artists and makers.

100_3459 100_3460 100_3461 100_3465 100_3462My photos show just sampling of a great variety of items in the shop. Be sure to check out this charming place the next time your in downtown Denver. Why not on Friday’s for Happy Hour featuring snacks and wine and meet some of the artists featured in the shop? Why not on the way to the next Rockies game? Thread is located at 1227 21st St. just a few blocks from Coors Field.

100_3443Oh hey! Like the skirts I’ve been talking about? Watch my etsy store in the coming weeks for some new things or convo me for a custom item.

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