A Cute Angle

It seems like Cutting Line Designs patterns are being issued more frequently these days. That’s good news, because I usually like them very much. But now it is easy to get behind with trying them out. And since they are expensive patterns, we can’t have them just piling up on the corner of the cutting table!

A Cute Angle

A Cute Angle is one of the ones I hadn’t made yet. There are two patterns in the envelope: One is a long sleeve blouse with hidden button closure, and the other is an asymmetrical jacket. I was curious about how the blouse differed from some similar recent offerings. The Artist In Motion top looks similar, and I wondered if the front closure was the only difference. A quick muslin later, I had my answer. The ACA top is cut slimmer – there is much less volume than the AIM top. It also seemed like the shoulder is squarer. I didn’t care for the way I looked in it, so I started thinking about the jacket.

The asymmetrical design is kind of “out there” for me. A wrap or an off-center line of buttons is about as far as I have gone. But this one seems like it could hang with a lagenlook collection, so it needed to be tried.

I’d also been wanting to order from the linen specialty shop, fabrics-store.com. So I picked out a pretty blue and ordered yardage plus some swatches of other colors and weights to get an idea of their inventory. The mid-weight (IL019) linen that I bought seems like good quality for the price. Beware, though, they send lots of e-mails. Many of these are about sales and special prices (good), but they seem to come every other day (bad). I’ll give them another week to see if I have to send them to the spam folder or not.

CLD ACA frontHere’s the finished jacket. I like it a lot – and wish I had lengthened it just a little bit more. You don’t want to go making these really distinctive styles multiple times. When the hemline is all over the place, it’s hard to know where to take your length measurements.

In contrast to the little top, the jacket has a relaxed but neat shoulder/armscye/sleeve draft. If I do make it again, the shoulder could be just a tad narrower.

Maybe the lapels could be made smaller and I could do it again as a button-up top. As designed, there’s a single button and you have the option of making a buttonhole or a loop. I went with the loop and a big vintage mother of pearl button.

CLD ACA backYou can’t see it very well here, but there’s a little pleat running the length of the center back that is very cute.

One of the good things about sewing is that we get to define our own goalposts, and move them whenever we like. Much as I like the CLD patterns, the ones with the very square shoulders look pretty sloppy on me. Shoulder pads would fix that, but that’s not going to happen for everyday wear. It occurs to me that what I need are three different blocks so I can refine the fit of the shoulder and sleeves, and use them to modify the patterns. A dolman block, a drop-shoulder block, and a slightly-extended shoulder block ought to cover my needs for these relaxed styles.

Paco Peralta’s dolman draft fit me beautifully, so I’ll use it for the dolman styles.

For the slightly-extended shoulder, I can use this jacket (with the shoulder narrowed a bit) or the jacket from another CLD pattern, Pure and Simple (it’s out of print).

That just leaves the drop-shoulder, and I may look to Burda for a solution. Will need to examine some of the other CLD patterns to compare the shaping of the sleeve caps for styles that fall into this category.

So, a little project is born – I need to prove to myself that I can make those pattern modifications and that they will turn out the way I want them to. I’ll report on the results.

The jacket in this post was made on this machine…



discover something novel


It’s rare that I have a vision of exactly how I want to make up a pattern. Generally I collect patterns, collect fabrics, and match them up depending on my needs.
When this pattern came out a year or two ago, I knew exactly how I wanted to make up the vest/top – with indigo ikat fabrics. It’s just taken me this long to get around to making it.

The fabrics came from eQuilter. They have an extensive selection of quilting cottons, but also have a nice selection of fabrics that are more down my alley, too. There’s a section of the website devoted to oriental fabrics. But even better, a search on the term yarn dye turns up all kinds of lovely things that to me are just right for patterns with just a few pieces, like the Cutting Line styles. Check out a few samples:

EIGUARAMTCIKAAOLTCSEM4IRThere are lots of nice chambrays and cross-woven fabrics, too.

They had a several patterns of indigo and white ikat to choose from. I picked three, two that were related in value and one for contrast that was the inverse of one of the main fabrics. Estimated how much to buy and I was a little short – so I had to cut separate lining pieces for the lower fronts and back. If you buy enough, these pieces are meant to be cut all in one, so that there is a fold rather than a seam at the lower edge. Less bulky that way.

The vest is fun and easy to make, especially if you buy enough fabric to start with. If you have a lot of interesting scraps, you can piece it any way you like to use up all the little pieces you can’t bear to toss.

The front opening crosses low enough that the vest requires an underlayer. I picked up a cheapie tank at J.C. Penny’s that will work just fine. It seems like it should be easy to adapt the vest to be a top, and I actually started to draft that up, but couldn’t decide exactly how the closure should be handled, so just went with the vest as drafted.

I also made the pants, so I have the whole ensemble. There was fabric in the stash for indigo pants, but that seemed a little matchy-matchy for an “artsy” outfit. Instead, I used a dark gray cotton/hemp blend that was pretty much the same value as the indigo. Followed the fitting instructions included in the pattern, knowing that they would work for me. The hemline for the pants is faced, so there’s no adjusting length at the end of the fitting process. I decided to make up the first pair as drafted, and then adjust the length later on if I make another pair. I saw Louise wearing these at an expo last year and hers were just above the ankle. I have fat ankles, and these hit me at a wide spot – I think I’ll make them just a hair shorter if I make them again.

Vision accomplished!

I kind of like the lantern-shaped pants I’ve made, both these and the Marcy Tilton ones. I do like them better in drapey fabrics. This pair will probably soften up with a few more washes – and may shrink up a little in length, too, which would make them really nice.

This is a fun outfit. I don’t think I’ll make another complete ensemble, but might make each piece separately again. The pants would be very cute in black with ballet flats and a slim knit top.


PatternReview Anniversary

Last weekend I was down in Austin for the PatternReview shindig so ably planned and managed by Leslie in Austin, and returned home so exhausted (and happy!) that it took the week to recover and get to this blog entry.

I met so many wonderful seamstresses whose work I look forward to following on PR and anywhere else I can track them down! There were a total of 40 people who participated in at least some of the events.

And they were super duper events. A pants-fitting workshop, a very timely class at Sew Much More demonstrating some hems and specialized feet, fabric trunk show by Fabricker with some really exciting stuff, shopping at The Common Thread where everything was sooo elegant, a visit to Silk Road, and unexpected finds at Stitch Lab. And the social events – we had a fabulous celebratory dinner on Saturday Night, with space and cocktail hour sponsored by Sew Much More, which really added to the festivities, and gave us all an excuse to wear our fun party clothes! Fabricker contributed to our dinner, too. Texstyles gave us a patio party the following night and everyone loaded up on their extremely well-priced knits. Texstyles also gave away fabric for a Project Runway type challenge, so I’ll be looking for the results.

I was a slacker in the picture-taking department, so all I can show is what I bought.

The versatile confetti knit came from The Common Thread, and we bought every inch they had. I think most of the ladies in our group bought some of this fabric and it’s going to be so much fun to see what each person turns it into.

From left to right, starting with the dark blue:

Blue linen/cotton blend from Fabricker

Beige/Taupe stretch cotton and taupe linen from Silk Road

Retro cotton voile from Stitch Lab. I loved the 30’s style colors in that print, and the hand is lovely. Common Thread also had some beautiful voiles.

This is a very special find from Stitch Lab. The fabric on the top is from my mother’s cedar chest. There is only a small piece, and it’s quite brittle, especially where it was folded. I wanted to do something with it, but am a bit afraid to work with something so fragile, and would be very upset if I ruined it.

Check out the fabric below! The very same print, just slightly different colors. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw it. How often do you weep in a fabric store? Stitch Lab had a bolt and several remnant bundles of this fabric (and several other sewing-themed prints). I am so glad to have this. It can be used for sewing-room decor, and the original can be preserved unharmed.

I made up a couple of unique sewing-related items for door prize gifties. If you have a stitcher on your Christmas list, or if you would like to gift youself, I put these up in a Cafe Press store. The store itself is under construction and doesn’t look as pretty as it will someday….steep learning curve there….but the items are available and I’ll be adding more.

Check these and other products out at Mooney Designs! I’d love to hear what you think about them. (At the shop, scroll down below the Dachshund Christmas cards to get to the sewing stuff.)

a trip to the Martha Market

Martha Pullen puts on a sewing expo in Arlington every year and I’m always glad because we don’t get much of that sort of thing around here. I’m also glad that Louise Cutting participates in this show, because her booth and classes are always the highlight for me.

This year I took a class with her in which we made the vest from Discover Something Novel. There were little kits all prepared for us that included the pattern and an assortment of fabrics (this pattern lends itself to creative color blocking or mixing of fabrics). I chose ye olde black-white-red combo. Class included stitchers with all levels of experience and I have to hand it to Louise, she made sure that everyone got lots of personal attention. Big thumbs up. I could have finished my vest if I had been working on a familiar machine, but Baby Lock supplied machines and sergers for the class and I spent a little time figuring out some details like needle position and such. This was also my first serger experience. I’ll write more about that below…right now I want to get some pictures up near the top of this post!

Here’s the sample DSN vest from the class. It was made up in lightweight batik cottons, all with delicate color contrasts except for the one accent piece. This is Sandy’s piece, and she had quilted it to a lightweight kind of silky backing – about like organza but it didn’t feel as crisp. The quilting was in vertical lines with colored thread, and it really added something extra to the garment.

Sandy also gave a White Shirt class, with lots of suggestions for switching up a pattern and adding details gleaned from other sources. Some photos:

Above shows a double collar and a vertical pocket inserted into a front placket. Seam allowances for the collars are sandwiched in between them, so there’s no need for facings.

I forget which pattern this was – maybe A Subtle Twist – with a scrunch collar added on. The sample fell very gracefully, and I want to try this sometime with a lightweight, drapey fabric. My neck is not long enough to handle a collar like this in crisper fabrics.

The pictures below are of sample garments from the booth…Anything But Ordinary

Nifty embellishment bands on A Subtle Twist

All – black DSN vest with interest in surface contrasts and the placement of the stripes.

The Ebb top from Ebb & Flow

Of The Moment jacket. I haven’t made this and wondered what to wear it with – looks like a good time to try one of those scrunch collars.

These are the fabrics I bought! From top left: rayon (that I am cutting out today for the Relax A Little top), blue cotton, and one of the fab Japanese cottons. I also picked up a few of the Cutting Line patterns that I don’t already have, including the new One Seams. That re-issue was timely for me, since I had made up my mind to replace my old copy. I bought it before I knew that it was smart to trace patterns, so it is tattered and sliced and I wanted to have a clean base copy. Also the new details are worth having.

On the serger — I’m not sure I would use it for anything other than seam finishing. I’m a real miser when it comes to spending money on machines and gadgets, preferring to spend the money I have on fabrics. But maybe a low-cost machine dedicated to seam finishes? It would sure make projects go faster! I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether a cheap machine would be a total waste of money. There’s a basic Brother that’s easily available and gets solid, although not raving, reviews.

Stash Closet & Buried Treasure

A few weeks ago when the really freaky weather seemed to have the whole U.S.A. inconvenienced, I was iced in for four days. We really are not prepared for winter storms here in Dallas, and here I was on top of a slippery icy hill.

One day was challenging because we had no power and (with temps in the teens) no heat for 15 hours. I wanted an activity that would keep me moving but that wouldn’t tire me out enough that I’d want to stop moving. So I decided to do something about this:

stash closet before

And that wasn’t all of it…

You can tell that I treat work spaces as work spaces, and neatness is not necessary for me to work!

I refolded all my fabric, put away my books, organized my patterns, and found many buried treasures that I had completely forgotten about.  Some examples…

An almost complete quilt top! Some old friends are serious, serious quilters, and about 15-20 years ago I used to make the occasional quilt. Here’s a Lone Star that I never finished. You may not be able to tell in the picture, but the large blank areas were meant to feature some fancy quilting and are plain muslin. I’m thinking that I’ll finish this quilt top and send it out to be machine quilted, but my tastes have changed. I’ll replace that plain muslin with a tone-on-tone print, and probably add a border of some sort to bring the quilt up to some standard size.

An old needlepoint panel! Long before quilting, I used to dabble with needlepoint. I made this for a decorative pillow in my very first apartment, and used it for years. The animal interlace was my own design, but as noted, tastes change! I got tired of the pillow but kept the top. I might do a little restoration on this and put it under glass. I like it more now as a rememberance.

A naked lady! I’m sure I bought Dolly because I wanted to make her an antebellum outfit. It would still be a fun project to reproduce a look from Godey’s Ladies’ Book for her. Maybe someday.

Dressmaking-themed fabric! There’s about 3/4 yd. square of this poor distressed fabric. I’ve enlarged a detail so you can see the print of thread spools and dressforms. This must have been my mother’s and it is in really sad shape. Besides the discoloring, the fabric (must be cotton) has some weak spots where it was folded. I’m really unhappy that I let anything of Mom’s fall into this state. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to restore and/or use it? The non-folded parts are strong enough that they could be made into something. I really would like to make this into something that could be displayed in the sewing room.

And in the end, when everything was refolded and put away, there really wasn’t as much stuff as it first appeared. This is my total stash:

stash closet after

Fabric piles, from left to right….first pile is wools, second silks. 3, 4 & 5 are linens and cottons. 6 is knits. The last pile are bottomweights: cotton, hemp, and blends. Patterns, old copies of Threads, & etc. are in the file boxes underneath. Linings, muslins, patternease and a few upholstery fabrics are on the top shelf. It doesn’t look like so much when it’s all stored neatly, and I’m glad to have found that out.

On the other days of my involuntary incarceration, I traced all my Cutting Line Design patterns so that I’m all ready to sew some casual summer clothes.

It was fun to find so many things I had completely forgotten about. Some of this stuff I have dragged from house to house for 30 years, but haven’t bothered to look at it or enjoy. And it would have remained undiscovered if it hadn’t been for nasty weather!

Loose one, gain one…

As I noted in my last post, we’ve lost Kay’s Fabrics in the DFW area.  But through the magic of the internet and Stitcher’s Guild, I have a new place to shop, and it’s much, much closer to home! A Sewing Sister mentioned Pursley’s, which is on Main Street in Duncanville, TX.

Pursley’s has piles of flat-folds for your browsing pleasure, and little organization, so you’ll want to paw through it all. Fabric content is likely to be a mystery, unless you’re good at identification. I tend to choose by feel, and then if it survives a pre-wash, it passes! They also have bins and bins and bins of buttons (again, you just have to hunt through it all), lots of trims, and plenty of zippers. The day I went, they had a bunch of fabrics that were leftover from Coldwater Creek manufacturing – some fun and different stuff.

Thanks, SG member Linda 75142, for mentioning this local find! I’ll be going back!

Growing the Stash

Today's Haul

I have a love/hate relationship with my stash. The love part is easy to understand: here’s a great big pile of fabric. What’s not to love? The  hate part could keep a shrink busy for at least a year’s worth of sessions, delving into conflicted relationships with posessions in general, attitudes of parents who grew up in the depression, etc, etc.

Enough of that. Threads on stash guilt go on and on and on on the boards. My purpose today is to mostly gloat, but also to mourn.

Mourning first: Kay’s Fabrics is going out of business. This is the independent fabric store that I visited the most…but evidently, not enough. It’s sad to see yet another independent close up shop. I appreciate our internet vendors, but a place where you can feel before you buy is just priceless. Please, indies, don’t all go away. We need you.

On to the gloating: check out what I got! Wools, cottons, linens, and cupro. The wools have designer names woven into the selvedge. Perry Ellis denim. There were 13 pieces in all. Could have been more, but I just got the heads-up (thanks, buddy!) today, their last day in business. So the inventory had been pretty well picked over, and most of what was left was either polyester or linings. Still, I found plenty….at 90% off. That’s a pittance.

This is the kind of stash growing I can live with, guilt-free. Beautiful, classic fabrics, at a price no one could argue with. Perfect for stashing.