The Indiesew Fall/Winter 2017 Collection Blog Tour October 25 2017


     Hey all! I'm back on the Indiesew blog tour! I am a lucky lady because my Burnside Bibs pattern was chosen as part of the Indiesew Fall/Winter 2017 Collection. If you aren't familiar with Indiesew collections, Allie Olsen(the genius behind Indiesew) puts together a seasonal group of patterns and fabrics offered on her site and sells the patterns as a bundle - a mini collection and a larger complete collection. They are always accompanied by a blog tour featuring some inspiring sewing bloggers. I am always happy to be a part of bundle sales blog tours as it gives me an excuse to do some selfish sewing and check out other great indie patterns. I love buying patterns but rarely have time to sew up much besides my own pattern samples. Plus, it's always a great excuse to get a new pair of shoes and a haircut too. 

     Last year my Toaster Sweater #2 pattern was part of the 2016 collection and I took part in that blog tour as well. As I was sewing and photographing my two makes for this year, it occurred to me that #1, I am again making a black garment and #2, it's been a year since my last hair cut. I cut it just before last years blog post and then the time just flew by so... I figured that it was time to cut this hair again. The result is a little bit crazy so I've fallen back on my old bun stand-by in many of the photos.



     First up is my Coram Dress by Allie Olsen of Indiesew. The pattern has options - a top or a dress with or without a tie. It's a simple, and very versatile raglan sleeve pattern that is beautifully drafted and well written. I decided to make the dress but shorten it an inch and a half so that I can wear it as a tunic over jeans. I can still wear it as a dress but for this cold, rainy fall weather, I need something on my legs. I made it out of a black Pendleton wool gaberdine I had from my days working there. It's light weight enough that it has a slight drape but still enough body to make it sew up like a dream. It's perfect for a nice Northwest fall garment. I'm not the best photographer so it's difficult to see my details but I added a saddle brown topstitching on all of the seams, darts and hems. 


 Here's a close up of some of the stitch details.




     The tunic (dress) can be worn with or with out the waist tie. The instructions are so clear and it's a pretty quick and easy sew. I love the flat felled seam options. Any excuse to do some topstitching is good for me. 


         Here is the obligatory leg shot. This is a fabulous dress so I thought I'd show it that way. I'm a little self conscious of my legs, especially in cooler weather but here you are or rather, here they are. 

     It was raining cats and dogs when I took these photos so had to shoot indoors. The details didn't show up well so I took more outdoor photos quickly before I wrote the post as the sun came out.  


     I really don't have that much black in my closet. When I first moved to Oregon a long time ago, a friend of mine from Bend mentioned that people in Portland wear black most of the time. Ever since her comment, I've been conscious of adding color to my closet but every once in a while I realize that I don't have enough black and that I think I look good in black. I'm currently lacking it so I made the Coram in black and this next make in grey.




     And here we have the Matcha Top by Sew Liberated. I love this top even more than I thought I would. I was missing something like this in my wardrobe and it's so me. After I photographed this, I immediately wore it to a party. It's also a quick make and I again used some fabric I had on hand in my stash. I used a grey rayon challis but a very nice quality one. I really love this color - it's such a great backdrop for jewelry. The pattern has a center front seam with an open V-neck and neck gathers enclosed by the collar. There is an option for three quarter length sleeves or sleeveless. It's also a shorter length - which works well for my body type. 

     I plan to make another sleeveless version of the Matcha when summer roles around again. I have lots of Ikat fabric that will look great according to Meg of Sew Liberated's website version and Jen of Grainline Studio's blog tour version.

     And that's it for my turn on the tour. I can't believe I'm not showing you my own pair of Burnside Bibs. My personal bibs are currently on another tour somewhere else in the country. I'll have to sport them for you another time. Meanwhile, check out the other bloggers on this tour using the schedule shown above.  

Thanks for reading!


The Release Of The Burnside Bibs Pattern! June 09 2017 8 Comments



Hello everyone! 

     I can't believe it's that time again! Time to release a new pattern, have a sale and write a blog post. I'm so excited to introduce the Burnside Bibs overalls pattern!  Before I get into the details of the pattern may I just say that true to form, I am already second guessing myself. This time, it's not about the pattern itself but rather the name. "The Burnside Bibs" is starting to sound a little to me like a condition. "I'm sorry, I can't go out with you because I have the Burnside Bibs." OR "I ate too much and I have the Burnside Bibs." When I came up with the name, it sounded really rippin' to me like "YAAAA- BURNSIDE BIBS!" Anyhow, maybe it's a good attention getter or maybe nobody will even notice. I'm sticking with the name though - because I like it AND the pattern envelopes are already at the printer.

     So back to the important stuff...the Burnside Bibs pattern is my version of overalls (requested by a good friend). I wore overalls throughout my jr. high school days and again later after college when I was a back-pack traveller. This time I've done them a little differently than the traditional Big Mac, farmer version. These overalls are meant to be more feminine and updated with a wide leg, a cropped version and ties that help create back waist gathers. My husband won't be wearing these anytime soon. My intent was to make them fun but not too juvenile and I hope I achieved that. 

     I should add that the degree of difficulty for this pattern is intermediate. However, a few of the test sewers were beginners and they were able to make them. The invisible zipper on version #1 and the facings would be the most difficult part. The rest is just lots of straight stitching and topstitching.

     The pattern is currently only in pdf, print yourself form. I really wanted to release it earlier in the spring and so I've just lost patience and put the pdf out there while the paper version is at the printer.  The paper version should be ready sometime in July. There is a SALE on this pattern in the shop now thru June 15th with code BURN25 to receive 25% off at checkout. I will run another sale once the paper patterns come in.

     The pattern shows two versions but everything can be mixed around. The main difference between the two styles is that Version #1 has back darts and an invisible side zipper. It still has a little gathering at the back waist but is somewhat fitted. Version #2 doesn't have a closure to sew and has more back waist gathering because you pull it on over your hips. A few testers found it too full in the back so I made the darted version. I kind of prefer the loose fit, although, it is nice to have a side zipper. I also think that if you make the side zipper, darted version and don't want to mess with ties, you could secure the back straps at the length and placement you want and then do away with the belt loops and ties.

     I wore the green, loose fitting pair out the other day and I had three different women stop me and ask where I bought them. One lady yelled, "Oh my - how cute are you in those!" at me from across the grocery store and then came and inspected them. 


Above are the Version #2 bottoms (loose fitting back with no closure - slip on). It has back pockets and a scoop bib from Version #1 mixed with it. The lovely model Nicola is in between a size 2 and size 4. This is a size 4 so it's a bit more roomy on her than on me. It's shown in Robert Kaufman Essex Linen/cotton - color jungle.

By the way... all of these pretty photos are by Katharine T. Jacobs photography. Check her out - she's so talented.

 Above is another Version #2 with a scooped Version 1 Bib. The length is in between cropped and long and the ties are a little wider than they are supposed to be; I narrowed the tie pattern after these were made. It's shown in Art Gallery Crosshatch Textured Denim - color Babbling Brook. The denim is a little heavier so I wasn't sure it would work but I actually really like them in a heavier, stiffer fabric. 

Here is Version #1 (darts and side zipper) with Version #2 bib (straight across). It is a size 4 so slightly larger on Nicola but still looks great. It is sewn up in a lighter weight fabric with some drape - a lovely black Tencel twill from ? The cropped versions are my favorite. I think they just look a little more dressy - especially with nice shoes. These are shown tied in the center back.

Above is Version #2 bottoms with back pockets and the bib from Version #1. This is a size 2 and the fabric is a lovely yarn dyed, 100% linen with gorgeous drape. It's tied in the front on the left and on the right (back view) the straps are over the shoulder and tied at the sides. You can tie these so many ways. If you don't want to tie them in the front, you may want to shorten the ties. 

Above is a more casual version #1 in Robert Kaufman cotton/linen denim. It's a light/mid weight denim and is sewn up in size 2.

Here they are through the back waist loops twice and then tied in the front.


The invisible side zipper on Version #1. 

   It is so important to have patterns tested by others before putting them out for the public. I was so fortunate to have some really great testers with great feedback and advice. It's also fun to correspond with other sewists when I'm working in my home office by myself. THANK YOU LADIES!!! Below are just some of the photos of the pattern testers in their Burnside Bibs. Keep in mind that I made some changes to the pattern after these were sewn. The main changes were taking out a bit of fullness at the back waist and also adding a darted, fitted, side zip version of the back pant.



 Meg from Cookin' and Craftin' blogspot in her straight front, full length version. They look great on her!


 Cath looking pretty in purple linen with her bike.

Some beautiful photos of Kelly from Casa Crafty blogspot. The following two photos are of Kelly as well.

Beth is cute and casual in her brown linen Burnsides. She added elastic to her back waist.

Ingrid is pretty in her cropped black Bibs.

A side view of Ingrid


Esther was so nice, she sewed them up twice.

First a loose pair in a size 6 and then a fitted pair in size 2. Here she is in her size 2, Version #1, fitted overalls.

Esther added a lovely embroidery detail to her front pocket topstitch.

I also want to thank Julie, Yling, Nadine, Sareena, Suzy, Crystal, Kim and Brenda for testing and reading through instructions for me. I am so grateful to you all! Keep on sewing!

Thanks for reading and remember to check out the Burnside Bib sale in the shop BURN25!

#burnsidebibs #sewhouse7


A Thailand Vacation With A Bit Of Textile Shopping And Research April 23 2017




Hello all and happy spring!

     Last week I returned from my much needed spring break trip to Thailand and I am just now settling back into the swing of things. I always forget how bad the jet-lag is coming back. Before I left, I was tired of staring at the same walls in my house and needed to get away (working from home will do that to a gal). Now I'm just tired from traveling but I am also refreshed and ready to get back to work.

     Anyhow, we had a great trip this time. When I say this time I admit that we are a bit decadent as we were just in Thailand last year. We try to go once every three years because my husband was born in Thailand and lived there the first ten years of his life and he gets a bit homesick for it. We went last year partly because it was a big birthday for me and we had enough frequent flyer miles to go first class. I didn't blog about last years trip because well... to be honest it wasn't that much fun. Without oversharing too much I'll just stay that I was feeling quite hormonal, I was stressed from working two jobs (I hadn't gone to full time Sew House Seven yet) and my husband was stressed as well. To make matters worse, we went to the most touristy area of Thailand during a busy time of year and we all got sick consecutively so it added up to a week of sick time laying on bathroom floors. This year we planned on mountain biking in Moab with friends during Wylan's spring break but when they cancelled, we started rethinking the trip. My son was already starting to complain about camping by ourselves in the cold and the thought of paying for hotel rooms for a week made our heads spin. In short, we ended up finding cheap airfare to Thailand (once you get there, it's cheap) so I can't believe we went again but I'm glad we did. 

     This time I decided that I was going to go up north by myself and try to fabric shop and visit some weaving and natural dying operations. I would then meet my husband (T) and my son (Wylan) at the beach later. Well as it turned out, rain was predicted at the beach for most of our trip so my husband decided to come to Chaing Mai with me. We have been to Thailand five times and never been up north. My husband loves the beach where he can kite surf and snorkel and has had no desire to venture anywhere else. I love the beach too but I wanted to see more of Thailand and I'm glad we finally did it this time.

     I loved Chaing Mai. Yes it was a bit touristy with the more tourist driven night markets and what not but the vibe and the people were wonderful there. It was much more slow paced than the craziness of Bangkok. After some quick research on fabric weaving and dying, I found that most of the places were further north and closer to the border of Laos. I didn't have time for that this trip (next time I will venture into Myanmar, Laos and Northern Thailand). For this trip, I did find a place called studio Naenna  on the outskirts of Chaing Mai. We flew to Chaing Mai from Bangkok on a Friday and immediately went to Studio Naenna before they closed because they aren't open on the weekends.

     Patricia Cheesman (an art historian from the U.K. I believe) started Studio Naenna in 1988 as a place to preserve the local art of complex weft ikat weaving and indigo dying as well as support master weavers, train young weavers and promote fair trade ethics. I wasn't able to meet Patricia but I did meet her daughter Lamorna who designs clothing for the business as well as oversees some of the business. Everyone there was so kind and they showed me around the lovely grounds and explained to me how the dying process works.


I was fascinated to learn that they keep the indigo dye baths for years - like around 10 plus years. It kind of reminded me of sour dough starter in that you keep it for a long time and just add to it. 

Here I am looking haggard but I am wearing my Penny Raglan by Grainline studio.

     This lovely woman (I've forgotten her name) was dying strands of cotton and she wasn't happy with the color but I thought it was gorgeous. Apparently, you don't just leave the cotton or silk in the dye bath too long or it gets weak. To make it darker, you re-dye it and dry it over and over again to achieve the deeper indigo colors. 

      I love the stained gloves on the fence post.


Here is an indigo plant.

Here are some of the sources of natural dye colors.

This woman is spinning the cotton while she sits with her baby. 

This woman is weaving up an amazing ikat design.


Inside the shop - sorry for the blurry photo.

     Here is what I bought. They had some other really pretty ikat designs that I was coveting but they weren't naturally dyed. I really wanted something that was naturally dyed indigo.

     I really enjoyed my time in there and wished I had arranged to visit more weaving places up north. I decided to take a half day to fabric shop around Chaing Mai next. T and Wylan insisted on coming with but I knew how that would end. I wasn't really in the mood for fabric shopping anyhow. Can you imagine that?! I'm always up for fabric shopping but I think I was just so overwhelmed by the amount of fabrics and I wasn't finding the high quality goods that I require. It was still fun to spend some time there and walk the crazy crowded streets. 

 Part of the Wororot district with many fabric shops.

This is only one of the many reasons why I didn't shop too long here. I don't blame him as I remember those days with my mom.

      We did happen upon an amazing shop that sold local, traditional textiles from the surrounding Hill Tribes. I don't have any photos of that. And... we also stumbled upon this great display of textiles at a hotel in Chaing Mai.



This last photo is of the textiles offered in the gift shop.

     O.K. so just a warning that there are a lot of photos in this post. If you don't care to see any photos that aren't textile or sewing related, you may want to skip this.

Here are some more things we did around Chaing Mai.

 We gave two elephants a mud bath. 

     I have a difficult time seeing these beautiful animals in captivity. There are several businesses in Chaing Mai that rescue elephants from trick shows and logging or working operations. I'm not always certain how valid some of them are but I'd rather see them in these kinds of places for tourists than the ones that offer rides. I knew Wylan would love to see the elephants and this place that was run by a Hill Tribe was recommended as being very humane. It was about an hour north of Chaing Mai and we spent all day feeding and bathing the elephants.


Below are a few photos or watts around Chaing Mai.

Wylan fell asleep while getting a foot massage at one of the watts.

The best meal of the entire trip was here at this food cart. We had khao soi a red curry noodle soup that is from Northern Thailand. It cost under $1 and we would have eaten here every day if we had known it would be difficult to find khao soi once we left Chaing Mai.

The half eaten khao soi.

I purchased a natural dyed indigo t-shirt as a gift for a friend from this woman. She was selling them at a night market and she was so nice, I couldn't leave without supporting her.

     Also at the night market - fish that eat the dead skin off of your feet. Wylan insisted that I try it too and I reluctantly loved it. They did wonders for the poor circulation in my toes.

One of the many great small hotels we stayed at. While this one wasn't my favorite, this photo reminds me of how relaxing it was and how great it was for Wylan to swim every day.

     We rented mountain bikes and went on a crazy down hill ride outside of Chaing Mai. Wylan wasn't too happy about how long and difficult it turned out to be.

A coffee plantation we came across on our ride.

     One of my favorite parts of the trip was when we paid a taxi driver to take us to this waterfall recommended by someone I met in Bangkok. It's known as the sticky waterfall because you can walk up the limestone surface of the rocks without slipping. The real name of the waterfall is called Bua Tong.

     The water was the perfect temperature - not too hot or too cold. It came directly from an underground spring too so it was clean (a rarity in Thailand).

There were butterflies everywhere. What a perfect day!

     Then it was off to the beach! We headed to Pranburi - a sleepy fishing town where Thai people vacation but not too many other tourists. It was very slow while we were there but the rain let up for us during the day thankfully.

     We found all of this crazy, funky exercise equipment on the beach there.

     We rented a scooter at the beach and took it up to Sam Roiyot national park.

 On our way back, we saw all of these monks frolicking in the ocean.

Our hotel at the beach.

Wylan's swimming improved so much while we were there. Swimming every day in warm water sure beats being a skinny kid taking lessons in cold water and having to wait your turn for instruction.

     Here we are back in Bangkok at one of our fancy hotels. We can't afford to stay in places like this but T got a handful of free 5 star hotel stays through some credit card offer. 

     I have so many more photos but I won't bore you too much more. I will leave you with a shot of this beautiful textile. I wanted to buy another fabric like this at another market but didn't have enough cash with me. When I went to the ATM to get money for my gorgeous fabric, my card went into the machine and never came back. I was so distraught and left empty handed. I was redeemed with this beauty that I found at the airport for half the price can you believe it? The queen of Thailand has designated funds towards preserving and promoting their native textiles and so they were offered and reasonably priced at the airport. 

Thanks for reading!

Bridgetown Dress in Jersey: Finishing April 11 2017

Hello stitchers! Today we finish our Bridgetown dress! This is the shortest entry of the sew-along; we are simply joining the bodice and skirt, and installing our elasticized waist.

First, we sew up the bodice to the skirt, right sides together, at 1" (top of page 15). I used the lightning bolt stitch for strength. Making sure there are no puckers in this seam, clip those long facing ends, and then finish this raw edge:

Stitching from either the public or inner side of the garment, stitch down this finished raw edge to the skirt side. In this case, I switched to a narrow zig zag (1.0mm wide and 2.5mm wide). Since the skirt is a rectangular piece, this stitching line is very easy, as there is no ease to gather here. I sewed from the wrong side. Go slowly, making sure to adjust so this is a nice, even seam. Leave open a small opening toward the back side of the dress (bottom of page 15):

Here is the waist tunnel seam - gorgeous!

Next, cut your length of elastic (waist measurement), and grip it with your threader (or if you're old school - use a safety pin).

Pull the elastic through this channel. You can either thread the elastic carefully (as I did for the crepe version), or do your best, and un-twist the elastic after you've installed it. In any case, I usually thread, baste the elastic ends together, and then double-check that I've no twisting in the elastic.

I like a very firm zig zag for elastic. With a wider elastic, I would use a fagoting-style join - but this simple zig zag is fine here.

All that remains, is to sew the waist channel closed, after distributing the elastic evenly through the channel (bottom of page 16):

You've finished your dress! Congratulations!


How did you like the process? You can post pictures of your creations either here, Instagram #bridgetownbacklessdress - or on the Facebook page!

Bridgetown Dress in Jersey: Sleeves, Side Seams, & Skirt April 09 2017

Hello stitchers! Today we are halfway through our Bridgetown backless dress, in knit jersey. We will be attaching our sleeves, and constructing our side seams and hem.

I absolutely love the sleeves on this dress. They are constructed so that the hem is created by a fold, bisecting the sleeve's width (piece C). Fold the sleeve wrong-sides together, and presew on the raw curved edges (top of page 11). In my case, the jersey "glued" to itself nicely, so I did not presew.

Recall the notches on both the front and back bodice armscye; those, as well as the shoulder seam, align with the marked points on the folded sleeve. Pin at 5/8" and stitch; I generally stitch with the sleeve facing against the machine, and the bodice facing up. I used the lightning bolt stitch for strength:

After sewing this seam and making sure there are no gathers or puckers, go ahead and finish the seam. I serge-finished, but you can stitch-and-pink or zig zag and trim.

Then, press the seam toward the bodice; I used my pressing ham and light steam:

At right in the above photo, you can see the finished sleeve hem, right along the grain of the sleeve.

Now, we sew the bodice side seams by placing the bodice side seams right sides together. Make sure the stitch at the hem sleeve in particular is tidy. I finished this seam by serging, and then hiding the serge-tail.

First, I leave a long serge tail:

Then, I thread this tail through a large needle, and insert the needle right at the end of the hem, sandwiched in the finished seam allowance:

I pull the thread tail through...

And carefully clip it. The thread tail is now hidden.

Finally, we overlap the back bodice, lining up our center back notch. Then, stitch these together. Notice our facings are longer than the bodice - leave them, for now.

Time for our side seams, skirt-side!

Both the skirt, and the band, are constructed the same way: we place the right-sides together for our skirt (or band) pieces, and stitch, matching notches for the skirt side seam (page 13):

Finish these seams - I elected to serge-finish - and press them whichever direction you like (I press to the back of the dress).

This dress hem is finished before the skirt is affixed to the bodice. If you are attaching a band to the skirt (version A or B), fold the band edges together (piece B), wrong-sides facing. Pre-sew at the raw edges, then affix to the bottom of the finished skirt by pinning and sewing (top of page 14). Finish this seam, and press toward the skirt body.

In my case, I am making version C, with a 3/4" hem; in order to create my hem, I first serge-finished the entire hemline of the skirt. This makes the hem step a little easier - and will look tidy on the inside of the garment. Shown below: the finished raw hem edge (running horizontally) and the finished side seam:

I then took my skirt to my ironing board and pressed up 3/4" to the wrong side of the skirt (page 14):

taking the skirt back to the machine, I topstitched with the double needle, to finish the hem. It is the nature of the double needle that we stitch from the public side of the garment. However when you have pressed evenly and sew slowly, it is easy to catch this hem edge in the double needle's bottom stitch:

And that's it, for today!

How is your dress going? Be sure to let us know! You can post pictures of your creations either here, Instagram #bridgetownbacklessdress - or on the Facebook page!

Bridgetown Dress in Jersey: Bodice and Facings April 07 2017

Hello stitchers! Today we are starting our Bridgetown in a jersey fabric - in my case, a lovely stretch hemp from Nature's Fabrics, in a colorway called "Everglade".

I made version C - that is, the dress length with the shallow hem. Above, you see my supplies - the fabric, needels (both a ballpoint for construction and a twin needle for topstitching), elastic, and matching thread.

If you are relatively knew to sewing with knit fabrics, you will probably know you want to have the proper needle (ballpoint or jersey are best for most knits) and a strong thread (polyester or cotton-wrapped polyester is a safe bet). For seams, be prepared to sew with a either a narrow zig-zag or a "lightning bolt" stitch. I switch back and forth between the two, and I will explain why as I go. I will lead us through some twin-needle topstitching, too, when the time comes.

Below - the stitch #1 corresponds to a zig zag (use a 0.5mm width and 3.0 length for most knits); stitch #9 corresponds to the "lightning bolt" stitch. This latter stitch is a combination of the strength of a backstitch, coupled with the seam movement of a zig zag. I will also use a straight stitch (stitch #1 on this machine) for the twin-needle stitching.

Below, you can see my layout for the knit dress, which corresponds to the right-hand figure of page 6 (shown below the photo). Notice in the cutting layout, piece D (the Front Neck Facing) can be either bias-cut or cut on the grain. When sewing with a stretch knit, you don't need to cut on the bias: the knit fabric will allow for curvature when you apply this facing to the neckline.

* Note an error was found - the above layout reads 0 - 18 and it should say 0 - 20.

Remember, mark all pertinent notches. I like to clip 1/8" into the seam allowances, right at all the marked notch locations. There are three notches on the front piece A (at shoulder, sleeve, side seam, and center front), four notches on the back bodice B (at shoulder, sleeve, side seam, and center back), four for sleeve piece C, two (or three) notches at front and back of skirt F (at side and center front, as well as hem for versions B & D),  and two for front and back bottom band G (at top, and side). And finally - I like to mark the center front, at the neckline of the front bodice (piece A).

For my Back Facing strips (piece E), I like to separate the strip I will cut them from after I've cut the larger pieces, and really make sure the strips are cut perfectly on grain:

Time to go to the machine! Now it's time to stay-stitch that neckline, for both the Front Bodice, and Back Bodice pieces (page 7). Staystitching will ensure that the neckline does not stretch out over time and wear. Stitch from the shoulder seams down, as illustrated. You can use a straight stitch here, or (as I did) a lightning-bolt stitch:

I like to take these staystitched edges and lightly press them with steam. Then, I pin and sew the Front Bodice shoulders to the back bodice, right sides together (top of page 8). Sew at 5/8":

At this stage, we get to finish our seams. You can pink, zig-zag and trim, or - as I've done below - serge. I don't recommend finishing with a flat-felled or French seam here, as it would add bulk to the shoulder seam, which won't be appreciated when we add our facing.

Now, we join our facing pieces (bottom of page 8) at the short edges. When sewing delicate fabrics or, as in this case, small pieces I don't want to distort, I like to use some washaway stabilizer under the stitch. This enables me to firmly backstitch, without stretching the fabrics:

I then trim away the stabilizer; the tiny amount left will be hidden in the garment, and will wash out upon first laundering:

Then, we take our joined facing pieces, and lightly steam press them with the long edges and wrong-sides together. I first finger-press the short seams open, before pressing with steam.

So here's a fun seam! We pin our facings to the entire neckline of the bodice pieces, right-sides and raw-edges together. Since I plan on sewing with the bodices against the machine, and the facings facing up, I pin that way. Notice - as per the verbiage on page 9 - the facings extend a little past the bodice. This is fine - they will be trimmed later in the process. 

Stitch at 3/8":

Next, I trimmed this seam allowance. Because this jersey is a little bit bulky, I trimmed the  facing seam allowance to 1/8", and the bodice seam allowance to 1/4":

At this point, you can press the facing and seam allowance away from the garment, and understitch (top of page 10). I skipped this step, as I knew I could finger-press my facing nicely. But in general, understitching is a really excellent method for facings.

Now, we're going to turn that facing to the wrong side of the dress (step 6 on page 10). We will then be topstitching from the right side of the dress:

My shoulder seam - even with trimming and clipping, was a little bulky. I used a clapper to further flatten it:

Then, I tested my twin-needle setup on scraps of my material - folded to make three layers, as that's what I'd be sewing for the facing. In general, I find I need to lessen my top tension, and lengthen my stitch length, to get a good effect. If you haven't used twin needles before, do a little research and a lot of experimentation - and remember to change to a straight stitch!

As you can see (above), the zig-zag effect of the bobbin thread between the two top threads, is what makes this stitch a "stretch stitch", even though it is a straight stitch.

Here are my results:

And - we're all finished! I hope you enjoyed today's work. Tomorrow we tackle our sleeves and side seams!

We want to see how you're doing! You can post pictures of your creations either here, Instagram #bridgetownbacklessdress - or on the Facebook page!

Bridgetown Dress in Crepe: Finishing April 05 2017

Can you believe it? Today we finish our Bridgetown Dress! This post will demonstrate finishing our hems and side slit (if we've added the latter), and creating our elasticized waist.

So, for those of us making a side slit, these next eleven photos and instruction are for us! In our previous entry we had finished the side seams, including the seams of the hem. At this point, if we are serging, we can serge-finish the entire hem, leaving a long serge chain and threading this chain back into the wrong-side of the serged hem edge. If you're not serging, you can either fold here, or - as is my recommendation - stitch and pink, or zig-zag, this raw edge:

Now, we fold back our hem at the depth we want. If we have any questions at all about how deep we want this hem (and therefore how long we want the dress, we can either wait to finish our hem (after we've installed the waist seam), or we can baste the bodice to the skirt, and double-check our length. If you take this latter course, remember to have your client gather the waist of the bodice right where she's going to feel comfortable wearing it.

Provided we are confident about our hem depth, we can put our hem together as follows:

Fold the hem back to the right-side of the garment along your marked hemline. Pin along the side slit line:

Next, stitch right at 5/8" from the fold, up to where the serged edge intersects with the side seam allowance, and firmly backstitch. Repeat for both sides of the side slit:

Taking this to the ironing board, first iron these two seams open, then flip the hem to the wrong side; press along this seam, and also the hem fold line. Take your time to press well, measuring to make sure you have a consistent hem depth; pin this hem in place at the serged inner seam.

Now, here's a fun part!

We are going to stitch right on top of our seam finish, starting at the hem seam finish, and swiveling right up through the open seam allowance. Stitch slowly, making sure the fabric doesn't bunch or gather as you create this hem:

As you approach the slit, slow down. You will want to move the two folded edges together, and mark a perpendicular line 5/8" from the slit opening. Taking care here, will result in a slit that looks good and hangs well:

When you approach your starting point of this long seam, simply pull all four threads to the backside, knot, and hide the thread tails in the hem.

At this point, I like to give the hem another pressing to set it well.

Now, if you haven't elected to do a side slit, you simply finish the hem (or the band) according to page 14. For the best hem effects, press well, pin well - and sew slowly!

Now - it's time to join that bodice to the skirt! You will want these circumferences at the raw edge, to be identical. If they are not, remove the lower back bodice basting stitch (what was referred to as the "back bodice presew" at the bottom of page 12), and adjust so these two seams will fit perfectly.

Pin and sew at 1", as indicated at the top of page 15.

Next, go ahead and (finally) clip those long facing bits, and finish the raw edge of this seam. Be careful not to finish this seam allowance any shorter than 3/4" - you are going to need this tunnel to be wide enough to thread your elastic.

Now, sew this finished seam allowance, down to the skirt side. I sew from the wrong side, carefully adjusting to make sure i don't trap any ripples in this seam. Make sure to leave a small opening in this seam - I left it at the back bodice, toward the side - as indicated at the bottom of page 15.

Now, we get to thread our elastic (cut at the waist measurement). There is no super-easy way to make sure your elastic doesn't twist when you thread it. I employ one method, but even it isn't foolproof.

First, I mark my elastic on one side, at the two short ends. Then, I grip one end with my threading bodkin:

Next, I pin one end of the elastic firmly to my ironing board:

Making sure not to twist the elastic, thread it through the channel, keeping the bodkin orientation the entire time:

When you've pulled the elastic through, go ahead and match the ends...

And baste them closed. We are going to slip the elastic into the waist, and feel with our fingers to make sure we didn't accidentally twist it.

Once we've checked, and our elastic is twist-free, go ahead and firmly zig-zag the elastic ends together (step 2 on page 16).

Slip the elastic back into the channel, and carefully stitch the waist channel closed (bottom of page 16).

All finished! Wonderful work!

We hope you enjoyed this sew-along. Did you add the length and slit? Show us your pictures! You can post them here, Instagram #bridgetownbacklessdress - or post them on the Facebook page!

Bridgetown Dress in Crepe: Sleeves, Side Seams, & Skirt April 03 2017

Hello lovely sewists! Today we are halfway through our Bridgetown Dress sew-along, with an ankle-length hack and side-slit. This post will demonstrate sewing up our sleeves, and side seams - both the bodice side seams, and the skirt as well. We will then pick up on the fifth, to finish our slit, waist seam, and elasticized waist.

So let's look at those sleeves!

First, we take our sleeve piece and fold along the long fold line, wrong sides together. Pin, and then stitch at 3/8" (top of page 11).

Next, we sew our sleeves to our shoulder. Open up the bodice flat and pin the edge of the sleeve we just stitched, to the raw edge of the bodice armscye. The notches in the bodice armsye, and on the sleeve, will help you align this seam:

In general, I sew with the sleeve against the machine, and the bodice facing up, to account for the tiny amount of gathering that helps this seam form smoothly.

When you finish this seam, go ahead and finish it - by stitching-and-pinking, zig-zag, or serging, as I have done - and gently press the seams to the body of the garment (bottom of page 11).

I have to confess, I am in love with the elegant sleeve hem this effects:

Below - the shoulder of the dress, hanging off my hand, with the sleeve draping down at right:

Now it's time for those bodice side seams (top of page 12)! Pin these carefully:

Stitch, making sure to firmly backstitch at the sleeve hems, and make sure there are no thread tangles there. Either draw these thread tails to one side, knot, and hide the tails in the hem fold - or simply backstitch and cut off at the backstitch:

Now, I'm going to show you a technique such that the sleeve hems will look gorgeous, with no serge threads peaking out. Recall that for many sleeves, the hem is finished after the side seam; in this dress, the side seam is sewn after the sleeve hem is finished. This is why it behooves us to clean up that side seam, for a perfect result.

Shown below: the sleeve hem at the underside, right-side facing us. Note the hem is lined up perfectly at this seam:

Go ahead and finish your bodice side seams - by zig zag, stitching-and-pinking, or as I have done - by serging. Leave long thread tails:

Pull your thread tails to one side, and knot. If serging, simply stretch out your thread chain. Take a large needle, and thread the tails or serge into the interior of the seam:

Draw the threads through...

And clip close to where they emerge from the seam:

 This makes for super tidy sleeve finish!

Go ahead and layer the back bodice together, right-sides up, lining up the center back notches (bottom of page 12). Sew, and set aside.

Next, we are constructing our skirt side seams. Remember, I am making a side slit, here. If you are not, go ahead and ignore the next three photos.

For the slit, I finished matching side seams on the slit side. Shown below, my side slit marks, before matching right-sides and sewing above the side slit:

Whenever I have to stop in the middle of a seam, I like to mark with a double-pin so I don't just merrily stitch it closed. Here are my pins, right at the marks I indicated above:

I then sew at 5/8" from the top raw edge, all the way to this mark, and firmly backstitch. Then, I take this seam to the ironing board and press it open, including the 5/8" serged edges lining the slit:

Place the skirt bottoms together, and stitch and finish the other side seam of the skirt (if you created a slit in the first side) - or finish both skirt sides, if you are omitting a slit (top of page 12). I went ahead and serge-finished both seam allowances together, before lightly steam-pressing this seam to the skirt back.

If you are making a banded version of Bridgetown (version A or B), go ahead and finish your band side seams in a similar manner as your skirt (bottom of page 13).

And - that's it for today! We will be finishing our hems, and joining the dress, in our next installment on the 5th.


How is your sewing going? Feel free to ask questions; also, you can post pictures of your progress either here, Instagram #bridgetownbacklessdress - or on the Facebook page!

See you in a couple days!


Bridgetown Dress in Crepe: Bodice and Facings April 01 2017



Hello stitchers!

This is Kelly from The Vegan Tailor - once again, sewing up another lovely frock from Sew House Seven! I have worked with Peggy's lovely patterns twice before: for the Toaster Sweater (version 1 and 2), and the Tea House Dress. I'm excited to be involved again, sewing up the elegant Bridgetown backless frock.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, I am sure I echo many of your sentiments when I say: I am ready for spring! The Bridgetown dress is perfect to usher in the new season. You can go braless or layer the garment with a cami, or a fabulous bralette. You can also layer over a long-sleeved top or arm-warmers if you want a little warmth. It's an elegant, versatile style!

In my sew-along posts, I will first demonstrate a version in a woven rayon crepe (shown above on 15-year old Phoenix). Upon request, I am also illustrating how to hack the pattern into an ankle length version, with a 12" side slit (this hack works for knit or woven fabrics). In a few days, I will demonstrate the dress made up in a knit fabric - a lovely hemp stretch jersey from Nature's Fabrics (shown below on my lovely friend Astrid):


Today, we start with our cutting and marking of our crepe, and sew our bodice and facings. This will be the longest post of the sew-along. The bodice facing is a wonderful technique I predict you will employ in many other garments!

For cutting, after I wash and dry my fabric(s) I often find it helpful to clip my selvedges. This is something I do for knit and woven fabrics, when it seems like the selvedges are tight. Just a little clip every couple of inches, along the length of the fabric. This helps release the weave of the fabric, so you can more easily lay it on grain.

Sew House Seven has some of the most detailed fabric layouts I've seen. Now remember - I am demonstrating a long hack for the dress, so I will not be able to follow the layout perfect. But here is the layout I would use for my 60" fabric, if I were making the pattern to the standard (this layout is on the right, on page 6 of the pdf version and the left on page 6 of the printed version):

* Note an error was found - the above layout reads 0 - 18 and it should say 0 - 20.

Below, you see me contending with my largest pieces. At left, you see the "crumpled" selvedge - this is where I will take my long, straight facings (piece E), after I press this strip of fabric out a bit. For now, I'm focusing on cutting out the larger pieces.

Now, let's talk notches! I like to clip 1/8" into the seam allowances, right at all the notches. There are three notches on the front piece A (at shoulder, sleeve, side seam, and center front), four notches on the back bodice B (at shoulder, sleeve, side seam, and center back), four for sleeve piece C, two (or three) notches at front and back of skirt F (at side and center front, as well as hem for versions B & D),  and two for front and back bottom band G (at top, and side). And finally - I like to mark the center front, at the neckline of the front bodice (piece A).

Below, you can see the little tiny clip I take out, at my notch position:

In order to cut the Front Neck Facing (piece D), we need to cut the strip on the bias. This bias cut allows the facing to stretch beautifully, when finishing the jewel neck of the dress. Below, you can see the "crinkles" in my crepe, running on the diagonal.

Below: my Back Facing (piece E); remember how I mentioned I pressed out my crepe, to get a very even cut? You may also notice a little bit of selvedge (at left). This is me, being very economical about my fabric. But be careful when you cut into that selvedge print - you don't want any of it included in the dress' public side. If you're not sure how to manage it, simply avoid cutting into that strip.

Now it's time for our length hack! If you aren't making a longer version, you can skip the next four photos.

So, for my 5'6", pattern size 10 model, as you can see below I added 20" to the length. This will put the dress at ankle length, with a nice deep 6" hem. You may not want a hem that deep. My advice is to determine a hem depth range, and try on the garment after affixing the bodice to the skirt, to tweak that hemline. The hemline will depend on whether the model is slim or full-figured, and where they like the elasticized waist to sit.

For a deep hem, you will want to mark, with chalk or tracing medium, your foldline - especially if you have a fabric like mine, with a shifting grain.

Finally, mark your slit length, on the front and back pieces, making sure to match sides. The good news is, you don't have to pick if you're putting the slit on the left or right, as the front and back pieces are identical rectangles. I marked up 18" from the hem (6" hem depth _ slit length of 12"):

OK, now it's time to get stitching!

So first, we staystitch all our bodice openings at 1/4" - the front jewel neck, and the long diagonal back-facing seams. Staystitching has several functions - usually to strengthen and to keep the fabric from stretching over time. Make sure to staystitch from the top of the garment, down (as shown on page 7). This means you will stitch from the public side of the left back bodice, and from the wrong side of the right back bodice.

Now, it's time to join our front and back shoulders (page 8). This is also where you want to make some decisions about how to finish the seams. For this dress, I am choosing to serge-finish. Stitching-and-pinking would also be a lovely way to go; you can also French seam or flat fell seam if you like. One caution about those two finishes - they are bulky, and you may not appreciate that when you apply your facing.


After finishing these shoulder seams, gently steam-press to set them.

Now, it's time to join our facing strips (page 8). For delicate and/or bias strips, I like to use a tiny bit of water-soluble stabilizer, when sewing these seams. This allows me to firmly backstitch, and keeps the strips from distorting:

Then, I trim off the stabilizer (I don't tear it, as that might distort the strips). Since I plan on laundering the dress in the washing machine, I just leave this tiny bit of stabilizer in the seam. It will rinse out upon first washing. 

Now, it's time to press our facing strip, wrong-sides together. Use a delicate touch here. For some reason, I always find this very satisfying.

Before applying the facing to the bodice, I like to mark the center of the Front Neck Facing, so I can perfectly apply it to the center front of the front bodice (which, if you remember, I notched).

Go ahead and pin this facing to the joined bodice pieces (page 9). The pattern is drafted such that the facing strip is a little longer than the bodice - this is genius, as too-short strips are a pain.

I pin with the facing up, so that when I sew, the bodice will be against the machine bed.

Below, you can see my naughty bit of selvedge! It will be entirely enclosed and hidden, in the finished garment. Sew slowly here - this is an important seam.

Go ahead and clip at the jewel-front seam allowance, and carefully notch at the shoulder (step 4 on page 9). Your aim is to reduce bulk at that shoulder.

Now - according to the pattern, we press the seam allowance and facing away from the bodice, then understitch these layers together (top of page 10). For this fabric, which is very shifty and delicate but responds well to steam, I opted to trim the seam allowance down to 1/8", instead of understitching.

Turn the facings under, and topstitch them down.

In my case, since I was able to steam press the facing to the bodice, I slowly stitched from the facing side (that is, the wrong side of the bodice). Only do this if you are confident, and can sew slowly and evenly. Otherwise, follow the instructions in step 7, on page 10. When finished - firmly backstitching at the start and finish of this seam - go ahead and lightly steam press. There is no need, yet, to trim the longer edges of the facing strip.

This neckline is so gorgeous, and really makes for an elegant finish!

And - that's it for today! In our next post, we will start with our sleeves (page 11).

We hope you enjoyed today's stitching, and we hope you post pictures of your creations either here, Instagram #bridgetownbacklessdress - or on the Facebook page!

Get Ready For The Bridgetown Backless Sew-Along! March 30 2017


Hello makers!  

It's March, spring is here and my Bridgetown Backless Dress pattern is up for April's Sew My Style (#sewmystyle) Instagram challenge from Bluebird Fabrics. If you aren't aware of this challenge, it was created by Alex of Bluebird Fabrics to help raise awareness about the slow fashion movement as well as to encourage women to take up sewing. It includes sewing twelve garments in twelve months - a garment a month during 2017. Each garments respective pattern is by a different Indie designer and the styles tend to be more relaxed in fit and fairly easy to sew up. The end goal is to have a collection wardrobe at the end of the year. If you haven't signed up, you can still sew along with us and at the end of each month/garment, everyone posts their makes on Instagram #sewmystyle. It has been very inspiring and fun to watch and I am so honored that Alex included two of my patterns in the challenge. The Toaster Sweater was January's make and it was perhaps the highlight of my Sew House Seven career so far to see all of the many beautiful sweaters and tops. 

     In any case, I wanted to help out by offering a sewalong for the Bridgetown Backless to aid anyone who is starting out sewing. I wanted to address a few things about the fit and fabrics as well as a few other things before you get started.

The amazing Kelly Hogaboom of the Vegan Tailor blog will be conducting the sewalong again (she produced the Tea House Dress & Toaster Sweaters sewalongs). Kelly is going to do a knit version of the Bridgetown as well as an easy pattern hack into a long dress with a side slit in rayon. The sewalong will start April 1st while I am out of the country. I will be checking in and so will Kelly but it may be more sporadically so if one of us doesn't get to your questions right away, I apologize up front. 

Kelly is going to show you how to pattern hack the Bridgetown into a long version with a side slit (as seen above on her daughter Phoenix). This is a very simple pattern hack as the skirt pattern is just two rectangles with straight sides so you can just extend the pattern to add the length. 

Long dress pattern usage: If you are making the long version, you should check the finished garment measurements to see how much length you would like to add. 

44" wide fabric - size 0 - 2 - can fit skirt patterns side by side so you only need 1 X your extra length. For sizes 4 - 20, you will need double or 2 X your added length in extra fabric.

58" wide fabric - sizes 0 - 20 (all sizes) fit side by side so you will only need your extra length of fabric.

* I noticed an error in my instructions - the cutting layout on pages 5 and 6. It should include size 20, it only says 12 - 18 and 0 - 18 but should say 12 - 20 and 0 - 20.

Bodice length:  Another thing to note, I originally didn't include a bodice length measurement with my size chart. I have since added it however, if yours doesn't include it, you can see a correct version below.  It reads, "back neck to waist".  This measurement may be important if you have a long torso and you may want to add length to your bodice.

Adding length to your bodice:  

To add length, simply cut on one of the lines indicating "increase or decrease length here" of both your FRONT BODICE and BACK BODICE pieces.

Then take a piece of paper that is wide enough for your pattern piece (either pattern paper or scrap paper) and draw a horizontal line on it. Then draw a vertical line through that horizontal line.

Line up the bottom cut half of your pattern piece so that the vertical grainline matches up to the vertical line you drew and the cut edge lines up with the horizontal line. Tape the bottom half down.Note that you will have to extend the grainline on the FRONT BODICE pattern piece.

Now decide how much length you want to add to your bodice. Draw a parallel line to the horizontal line you first drew up the amount that you plan to add to your bodice. Now line the top half of your pattern cut edge to that line and the grainline up to the vertical line. Now just blend the side edges and you are done. 

The best fabrics to use: I think rayons, modals, Tencel and sand washed silks are the best options for this as they have the perfect amount of drape for the back. If you find the perfect print and it's cotton lawn or voile, that can work too although, be aware that it won't have the same draping effect and will blouson out away from the body a bit. That could be the look you are going for though.  

There are options if you don't want to go braless. A while back I had a post on a long, velvet version of the Bridgetown. Here is my photo again in case you missed it. I also took an old bra that was missing a back hook and added ties made out of the same fabric as the dress. This is a good option if you still like the bare back but want to wear a bra. 


Another option is to check out an old post from Allie Olsen's blog at Indie Sew. She created a sort of tube top that is stitched into the waist. 

You can always wear a camisole or pretty bra as well. Or be bold and go braless!

The sewalong dates:

April 1 - long crepe version - bodice and facings

April 3 - long crepe version - sleeves and side seams

April 5 - long crepe version - finishing

April 7 - jersey knit version - bodice and facings 

April 9 - jersey knit version - sleeves, side seams, skirt

April 11 - jersey knit version - finishing

The Style Maker Spring 2017 Blog Tour March 23 2017 4 Comments

     Hello Everyone! I can't tell you how excited I am that spring is here! I've been stuck inside for most of this winter and I am ready to crawl out of my hole and into the light. So a few months back, in the dead of winter, when Michelle from Style Maker Fabrics invited me to take part in the Style Maker Spring 2017 blog tour, I gladly accepted. I was so anxious for spring so I was happy to have an excuse to sew up something to wear in the warmer months and to get a sneak peak at some of the beautiful fabrics they have to offer.  It was difficult choosing - I wanted so may fabrics. In the end, I chose to go with some beautiful knits as that's what I usually feel like wearing. Lately, I've been working from home in my comfy clothes for the most part so I need an easy, comfortable transition into dressing up for the public. I'm also about ready to head to Thailand again and I want to wear some nicer things this time rather than my usual ragged old t-shirts and tank tops. As for these photos, ahem, it's been raining here in Portland so I had to take photos inside my messy house that we are still in the process of renovating so please excuse the backdrops. 

     So...what did I choose to make you ask. I first gravitated toward this beautiful cotton/rayon/lycra ponte with a slight slub textured ivory yarn through it and Lindsay from Inside The Hem suggested an Axel skirt by Megan Nielsen - great idea, done. I then looked for knits for a top to go with my Axel and couldn't decide so I just had to make two. I choose the Ebony Tee  by Closet Case Patterns because I thought the cropped version with it's fullness would be nice with the high waisted skirt to create and hourglass shape. I used an olive modal, light weight knit for one and an indigo/vanilla striped french terry for the other and I think they turned out even better than I imagined.

indigo/ivory slub ponte

olive modal knit

indigo/ivory french terry

I wasn't sure that I would like all of the fullness of the Ebony tee on me so I made a trial tee with some old stash fabric and took out a few inches of the fullness and swing. Well...  as it turned out, I realized that I could handle full swing. However, I ended up taking out 1" of the fullness anyway only because it allowed me to get better usage out of the fabric and I think it still looks great. The only other change I made was that the neckline height is in between the jewel and scoop neck options. I love the drape and softness of the modal fabric. It's ideal for the Ebony. It's somewhat dressy yet so comfortably like I'm still wearing my pajamas. The color is also perfect for me as I like neutrals although, now I want to make one in every color. 


Here is the striped french terry version of the tee. I'm not the best photographer and I didn't end up with any great photos of the striped version. My face was pretty hideous in this one and that's why I covered it with a giant heart. I did think you can see the fabric a little better in the outside shot. It has been raining here so it was difficult to get any good photos outside. 

I really like this fabric because of the texture in the stripes and it's very clean and bright for spring. I was worried that it wouldn't have enough drape for the tee but it was fine.  

Here is the tee tucked into the skirt and worn with sneakers for a more casual look. I absolutely LOVE this skirt! I modified it by lengthening it an inch and filling in the bottom - not making the inverted V at the bottom hem. Not that I don't like that detail, but I try to avoid showing my knees. I'm not opposed to showing my knees, but they aren't my favorite part of my body and I felt like the original design would highlight my knees and make them a focal point. As a result, it's an extremely simple skirt but I really love the simplicity. I'm going to wear it all over Thailand with my sneakers and flip flops. I think I'll be making more of these ponte skirts in other colors. And as for the fabric - perfection! It is the best quality ponte with natural contents - no polyester. It has such a great recovery and it's not too wimpy. The thickness is perfect for a skirt so I don't feel too self conscious in it because it's somewhat supportive and doesn't show all of my ripples and bumps. It's so comfortable too. 

I tried to match the side seam stripes. I did alright on this side although, they are a bit off on the underarms. The other side was much better - seriously, I'm not lying - but I forgot to take a photo of that side.

I am so happy with my makes and I'm glad that I now have a few nice knits garments/outfits to wear this spring and on my trip. Although they were extremely easy makes, I know they will get lots of use. 

I hope you will continue to follow along on the tour as there are some great makes. Meg from Cookin’ and Craftin’ is up tomorrow and you won't want to miss it. I've seen a little preview of her garment and it's gorgeous! If you are following along on Instagram, look for #stylemakerfabrics and #springstyletour17.

Thanks for reading. 

P.S. The Bridgetown Backless sewalong is coming soon - April 1st!

The Sewing Community Gives Back! January 16 2017


Despite many differences of political opinions, let's use the American presidential inauguration week as an excuse for us as individuals and as a sewing community to make the statement that, no matter what our political beliefs, we care about each other and we care about our world. We are a community.

     Hello all! Happy New Year a little late!  This is my first post of 2017 and there aren't any pretty images of my latest makes however, I am starting with a more important message about community. What does this have to do with sewing? Well... stay with me and read on. After I babble a bit, I'll tell you about the big sewing community event hosted by Seamstress Erin (on her blog) designed to make positive change with a chance to win prizes while you are at it!

     2016 was a wild year for many of us and not just here in the U.S. but around the world. Politics have become so divisive and tempers have flared so much recently that it can often seem like people are on one team or the other and there is no in between.  That aside, as a recent member of this amazing sewing community, I am so awe struck and inspired by all of you as a community and as individuals. I have witnessed such kindness, caring and friendship within this sewing community that I know we are all such caring and wonderful people no matter what our political beliefs or differences.

     Although I have some very strong views on politics, I try not to let that invade my business as I love my sewing community and don't want to alienate anyone (I do slip now and then). Just because I believe strongly in something, does not mean that I dislike others who believe differently than I do.  It's great that this world is filled with people who aren't all carbon copies of each other - we are all different. But as strong as those differences may seem, we also have commonalities that bring us together to form different communities. Feeling connected and community minded is always important and even more so in times like these.

     I have moved on a bit from my recent feelings of anger and fear, and what now comes to mind is that old saying about the first step to making a difference is to start at home with your own community.  I've been thinking a lot about really being an active member of my many communities rather than just sitting back and reaping the benefits of the efforts of others. This was going to be the year that I would finally make a substantial commitment to volunteering my time, donating more money or just reaching out to people and forming those bonds. Just as I started to make and/or increase some of those efforts, Seamstress Erin reached out to me and a number of my fellow pattern designers to really do something in this area. I think many other people have been feeling like I have but sometimes it takes a movement to really call you to action and make you stop just thinking about it and really do it (at least for me).

     The wonderful, amazing, gorgeous Seamstress Erin had the brilliant idea to launch a campaign to leverage our awesome sewing community for positive change in the world. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, please do. The campaign starts today through January 22nd. Despite the differences of political opinion, the American presidential inauguration will be used as an excuse for us as individuals and us as a community to make the statement that, no matter what our political beliefs, we care about each other and we care about our world. We are a community. Please check out Erin's blog to sign up and get more details. 

    Many of you already participate and give back to your communities whether it's volunteering at your child's school, a homeless shelter or donating money to a cause that's near and dear to you. Some of us mean well but get side tracked and busy and just need a little reminder or a little inspiration and incentive in this department. When you sign up and participate on Erin's blog, there are chances to win prizes!  Just fill out the survey on Erin's blog to let her know what you’ve pledged (time or money) to a cause and she will tally the amount that our sewing community has pledged over the course of a week so we can celebrate the huge impact we can make when we join together! Remember that it's not a competition and even the smallest bit of time or money can make a difference especially when we join together.

As a big thank you for your support, 25 independent sewing pattern designers (myself included) have agreed to donate a selection of .pdf sewing patterns as a prize package for a lucky sewist! Enter your email address when you make your pledge for a chance to win. I am also offering a thank-you 25% discount off all patterns in the Sew House Seven shop with code GIVEBACK (enter the code at checkout). The code is good during this event - now - Jan 22nd. I will donate 20% of the sales during this event to one of the sewing related causes listed on Seamstress Erin's blog.   

     What have I done or plan to do so far? Well, I'm not a saint and I haven't committed weeks of time to doctors without borders or anything like that. However, I am stepping up my game quite a bit. I usually choose just one organization to donate a relatively large sum to as I'm not rich and dividing my funds up wouldn't amount to much and in the past I haven't had a flexible schedule that allowed for much volunteering. Because I now have a flexible schedule, I've decided that waiting until I have oodles of time to volunteer for something is no longer an excuse for me - I need to make time. Therefore, I've committed to a few volunteer jobs and reached deeper into my pockets to support a few different communities that have special meaning to different facets of my life.

     In December, I decided that instead of just attending PTA meetings and listening to what the same group of women were always taking on, I was going to help out and take on a regular volunteer gig at my son's school. Even though I am crazy busy, I finally have a flexible schedule that allows me to do so. So...once a week, I go around to each classroom at my son's school and pick up books from the reading program and organize them back on their shelves in the reading room. Sometimes it's quick but sometimes It's amazing how long it takes and that would really eat away at the time the teachers need for actual teaching if they had to do it themselves. 

     I also finally signed up to volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank and hope to take my son with me so he can contribute as well. I've been talking about it for years but this event made me really take action rather than just lip service.  I've also been fortunate enough to have new amazing neighbors who work for the transitional housing project here in Portland. They send me all kinds of opportunities for volunteering at the new homeless shelters they just opened. So far, every time I volunteer, the opportunity has been cancelled. I hope to actually get to help out sorting clothing or working the front desk very soon. 

     I've decided that this spring, I will pick up my old volunteer job at the Nature Conservancy again. I used to pull ivy and other invasive plants at the Camasia natural area outside of Portland. When my son was born, it was too difficult to keep up so I quit going and forgot about it. He is old enough now he can come with me or I can go once a month on a weekend or while he's at school.  

     I have donated $150 to Idaho Rivers United. I used to donate to them but have kind of forgotten to as of late as I am now rooted in Oregon. I grew up fishing, kayaking and rafting on the amazing, wild rivers in Idaho. They are magical and like no others and we still kayak and camp on the Salmon River every year. A few of my friends have ashes sprinkled there and I hope to be sprinkled there someday as well. The river has given so much to me, it's the least I can do as far as giving back to the river. 

     I also learned about a new organization through Seamstress Erin's suggestion (see her blog for more sewing related suggestions). It's called The Sewing Machine Project . It internationally provides sewing machines to groups in need and locally provides free sewing classes in some areas. I felt the need to give back to the sewing community so I donated $150 to that group as well.

     Lastly (so far) I contributed $150 to the grass roots effort to start a local food co-op - the Montavilla Food Co-op. They are trying to raise enough money to do the preliminary research to open a store in my neighborhood. I am passionate about health and good, nutritious food that is available nearby. I also find that I love grocery shopping and find it calming for some reason. I love to meet people in the aisles when I'm out shopping and I hope joining this community will bring about new friendships and opportunities in my own backyard as well.

     I'm also trying to get my son in the habit of volunteering and donating. We are putting a penny in a jar for each day of the year 1 for Jan 1, 2 pennies on the 2nd and so forth. I told Wylan that at the end of the year he can keep $30 from the jar, put $100 in his college savings account and the rest we will donate to a charity of his choice.  

     And finally, I'm sure there will be more opportunities throughout the year to continue to volunteer or donate but my last planned effort is to break out of my shell a bit and reach out and get to know more of you - my sewing community. It's exciting dreaming about the possibility of new friendships and what opportunities and experiences may lie ahead.  I love my communities! Join with me - even the smallest bit can make a huge impact when we come together as a whole! 

See below for all of the designers who are donating patterns. You are welcome to grab these images and spread the word on Instagram using #sewingcommunitygives. 

Thanks for reading!