The Style Maker Spring 2017 Blog Tour March 23 2017 3 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!


A Fuzzy, Hairy, Cozy Wool Jenna Cardigan! December 19 2016

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you are all having a nice zen prelude to the holidays. Meanwhile, I'm in my usual last minute chaotic state before we pack up and take off to see my folks for Christmas. Before I leave, I wanted to let you know that the shop will be closed December 20 - 27th. I was going to have a holiday sale but then decided that I don't want to worry about anything while I'm on vacation so...I'm letting you know that I will be having a 3-day Holiday sale after Christmas. December 29th - 31st, all patterns in the shop will be 20% off with code CHEERS20.  In the meantime, if you order paper patterns from now until the 27th, they won't be shipped until the 28th. Also, if you have any questions I may or may not have an internet connection so be warned that answers may be delayed until the 28th as well.   

And now back to selfish sewing. I haven't blogged in a while and have been meaning to. I made this Jenna Cardi by Muse Patterns a few months ago and was planning a nice holiday special blog about it however, I didn't get around to finding the right buttons for it until just the other day. I originally envisioned it for a Christmas party with glass, sparkly buttons. I later changed my mind because 1. I didn't go to any Christmas parties this year other than a very casual and informal one and 2. I know that if I dazzle this cardi up too much, I won't wear it on a day to day basis. So... I opted for some pretty boring buttons but kept it looking classic.

I apologize for the over exposed photos. It wasn't a good photo day and so I really had to lighten up my dark photos in order to see the true color and detail of the sweater.

I had been wanting a classic kind of retro 50's style fitted sweater cardigan for a while. They are nice to wear over shirts and blouses or by themselves. I used to have a pink angora one in Junior High school that I wish I still had today. I saw the Muse pattern and it brought back the pink cardigan memories. And, when I saw this brown fuzzy Italian wool at Fabric Depot, I knew it was the right fabric for the cardigan I wanted - reminiscent of that Jr High sweater. This fabric was so great to work with. It has really high stretch but even better recovery. I thought it might be too stretchy however, it was very stable in fact, it's a little thick and stiff and made the cardigan a little more like a jacket than a sweater but the stretch allows for a tight, close fit and I can push up my sleeves they way I like to do.

Here is a close up to try to show the soft, hairy texture of the fabric.

The pattern is great!  It offers different lengths, necklines and sleeves. I originally cut out the longer version because I didn't want it as cropped as the short version. I later changed my mind and shortened it by about 1.5" (I think as my memory isn't the best). I made the jewel neckline version and it all turned out perfectly - I couldn't be happier unless, I found some amazing buttons. I can always change those later though. 

Well, I'll be wearing this sweater a lot during these snowy holidays. I hope you all have wonderful plans. This is my final 2016 post so I'll catch you in 2017!


Thanks for reading!


Tea House Top & Dress: Side Seam, Cuffs, & Finishing November 19 2016

Well, well, well! You have made it this far! Today we finish our dress - and then hopefully throw it on with some winter tights and gorgeous footwear and head out the door!

I hope you've enjoyed following, as much as I've enjoyed sewing for you!

side seams

So, we first join the side seams (top of page 13), that result in the body of the dress being formed (without cuffs or hem). You can create this seam using a French seam (as we did for our shoulder seams), but as I've said I don't tend to French seam vertical seams with curves. I elected to stitch, then serge - just for fun. You can also stitch, then pink. Make sure to backstitch firmly at both the arm holes and the hem.


Now, we get to install our cuffs. First, we join the short edges, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam. Then press open, and press up one long edge at 1/2":

Next, we pin the cuffs' raw edge to the raw edge of the arm openings, right-sides together. If you have too much ease, go ahead and adjust the cuff width (by removing the short-side seams and re-sewing). You want the join here to be very smooth:

After pressing this seam toward the cuff, you then turn the dress inside out (if it isn't already) and press the cuff in half to the wrong-side. This is where some fusible web can help - whether you are hand-stitching the cuff closed or crackstitching:

If you are hand sewing, fuse this folded edge directly on top of the seam. If you plan to crackstitch from the right side of the garment, press so that the fold extends 1/8" past the seam:

Stitch the cuff seam (step 6 on Page 14). Now, press this cuff edge. It's looking gorgeous, isn't it?

Time to fold the cuff back to the right side, and tack at the top shoulder and underarm. I use an invisible knot just like so: I bring the needle through 1/2" away from my knot and tie, securing the loose thread ends. I then clip these ends (securing the tail inside the cuff) and tack with two firm stitches, just catching the fold of the cuff. I then tie off and similarly pull the tail through to hide in the cuff.

All that remains to be sewn is the hem! Using a pressing template if needed, fold the hem according to directions (3/8" then 5/8"), then topstitch 1/2" from the bottom fold. Press with a steam iron.

Finally - for versions D, E, and F thread the tie through the Back Tunnel.

Now stand up and stretch, pop your new dress on, and do some twirling! You did it!

Thank you so much for joining us for the Tea House Top & Dress sew-along. We hope you enjoyed stitching, and we hope you post pictures of your creations either here, Instagram #teahousepattern or #teahousedress or on the Facebook page!

Tea House Top & Dress: Yoke Facing November 17 2016

Welcome back! Today is our penultimate post for the Tea House - we are installing our gorgeous Yoke Facing! This is one of those moments we get to see how pretty our dress will be, inside and out.

We start on page 11, joining our Yoke Facing pieces E and B, grading, and pressing the shoulders open. Now, we will be basting without backstitching, and pulling the threads (similar to our neckline treatment earlier), then pressing this curve. As shown at the bottom of page 11, you may want to clip right where the curve of the "keyhole" shape extends to the straight edge. 

The image below is from another garment and the neck isn't finished correctly but it does show the basting stitch around the outer edge of the yoke facing.

This step is a little fussy. Take your time and press until you have a nice, flat folded edge:

yoke facings to body

Now, we get to pin our facing to the neckline of our dress, and sew right on that 5/8" seam line (step 1 on the top of Page 12):

I like to reinforce at the "v" of the neckline, in that I'm going to be clipping right to that stitchline:

After clipping to the "v" at the front neckline, go ahead and clip, notch, and grade this seam (step 2 at the top of Page 12). In general, we leave a wider grade on the allowance that is closer to the public side of the garment:

Now, we get to understitch!

Understitching is magic! Most facings can and should be understitched - it strengthens the seam, and helps the garment fall beautifully. The instructions ask you to press first, then stitch. Often, I simply finger press right as I stitch. You will be understitching only 1/8" away from the seamline, on the facing side, catching all seam allowances:

Then, turn the facing to the inside of the dress and press, leaving a gorgeous rolled edge:

options for securing facings

Now, you have a choice here. You can either crackstitch or edge-stitch the facing from the public side of the dress - pinning or using a fusible web to make sure to catch the facing - or you can handstitch here. Before we continue, I have a couple words on these options.

It's easy to say that handstitching takes longer than machine-stitching. However, if you've ever fiddled with something like this and stitched without catching all the facings, and then had to pull out seams and re-stitch, it isn't always obvious that handstitching is more time-consuming!

Also, I love the perfection and control of handstitching. And I only became proficient at handstitching, by doing a heck of a lot! So that is the option I elected for this facing edge. (Perfect, I might add, to sit down and watch a little Netflix while you do it!).

But first, you'll want to pin that facing and make sure everything lies smoothly:

A close-up of a slip-stitch. I am running the needle 3/8" through the fold of the facing edge, and then taking a tiny nip right off the public-side seamline. I find it really soothing, actually!

And of course, it's always so gratifying to see how well the shoulders line up:

After you've stitched the facing, gently steam press it to shrink it in place! And boom! you're done with your wonderful neckline!

Nov 19 is our last post! How has the sew-along gone for you? Leave any comments or feedback below!

Tea House Top & Dress: Assembly November 15 2016

Welcome back, Tea House troopers! Today we get to sew through the entitreity of Page 10. We will join our front dress panels - the princess seams - and perform a French seam for the shoulders. This is probably the shortest, easiest entry in the whole sew along. Princess seams can be a little tricky, however.

So let's get started!

center front to side front

We are first attaching the Front Yoke and Center Front joined pieces (B and C) to the Side Fronts (A). I usually put the sharper-curved piece against the bed of the machine, and sew with a short stitch (2.0 mm in this case). Here is a resulting seam, before clipping curves and pressing:

Here is the same seam, after pinking and pressing (the pinking performs the same duty as notching):

Now - it's time for the French seam shoulders!

Sew wrong sides together at the shoulder seams (front to back), at 1/4". In order to make sure the front and back yokes line up when this seam is finished, make sure to pin these intersections right at 5/8", even though you are sewing at 1/4":

Now, take this 1/4" seam over to your tailor's ham or sleeve board. We're about to gently finger-press, then steam-press this seam open.

Now trim these seams down to 1/8". This is kind of a pain, because once these seams are pressed open, it isn't as easy to trim them evenly. That said, I still think it's easier than trimming the seam down to 1/8" and then trying to press the seam open, which is why I press first.

Now, fold the dress again so that this freshly-trimmed seam is enclosed. It will fold beautifully because you pressed it open first. Stitch at 3/8" from this enclosed seam - once again, pinning the yoke intersections to one another right where this final seam will cross:

Look at the gorgeous yoke intersection here! Keep in mind if yours doesn't line up, no one will notice - except you. Lining up intersections in a French seam, not always the easiest task!

So - short and sweet! Next entry we will install the yoke, and we are in for some hand-finishing or "crackstitch" - "stitch in the ditch". A new set of skills to look forward to!

As always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments.

Tea House Top & Dress: Pockets and Ties November 13 2016

Hello again, stitchers! Today we start on Page 8 of the pattern. We get to install our ties (for views A, B, and C), make up our pockets (for all views except A), and make our ties (for views A, B, and C). I know, that sounds a bit confusing! I am going in order of the pattern booklet, so just skip the parts that aren't applicable to you.

For the wide ties (views A, B, and C) pin the tie to the joined front, aligning notches and making sure the ties angle downward. Go ahead and stitch at 3/8" from the edge:

Now, pockets! We have pockets in all views except the top. First, we install our interfacing, 3/8" from the raw edge:

Fold twice - 3/8" from the top edge and then along the interfaced fold line. Press:

Fold the bottom of the pocket in a 1/4" double-fold and press. Stitch the top double-folded edge, 7/8" from the folded edge:

Pin the pocket to Side Front (A), matching the notches.  

We will be basting the sides together (they will be enclosed in the body of the dress), and edgestitching along the bottom of the pocket (shown below):

This pocket lower edge, as shown from the interior of the dress:

Set aside the fronts of the dress (shown below in a chambray from Robert Kaufman).

Now, let's make our ties and back tunnel for views D, E, and F!

First, fold the Back Tunnel (I) in half lengthwise. Stitch, press the seam open, and center this seam along the tunnel before lightly pressing again:

Go ahead and finish the short edges of the tunnel. I simply pinked, knowing it would be stitched and pressed in the next step:

Time to stitch the tie! Stitch with a nice short stitch, 1/4" from the lengthwise fold:

Turn the tie, steam it into shape, and knot the ends.

Finally, stitch the back tunnel to the dress, along the markings leaving the sides open for inserting the tie. Backstitch securely at the start and finish of these two seams:

We are over halfway done with our Tea House! If you have a question, please post in the comments!

Tea House Top & Dress: Front & Back Yokes November 11 2016

Today we start our Tea House stitching in earnest! We are on page five, and staystitching:

Staystitching is done just inside the seam allowance - for this pattern, at 1/2" (1/8" from the seamline of 5/8"). Stitch from the shoulder seams to the center of the garment for pieces A, D, and E.

Taking up the neck ease

Note from Peggy - If you are using a man made fabric, this next step may not work well as the fabric may not shrink up as well as a natural fiber during the ironing/pressing. You may try only taking up about 1/8" rather than the full 3/8". If it's not working and looks wrinkled, just skip this step and leave the neckline flat. 

Now, we get to one of the fiddlier bits of the garment - the neck ease for the Front Yoke and Front Yoke Facings (piece B). Here, we are sewing long running stitches (I used a 4.0mm) and leaving long tails. We will be gently gathering those stitches up, to make small gathers in the yoke and yoke facing pieces:

Note from Peggy - see the image below.

So - look how gathered that looks! But don't fear. We are going to use steam to essentially press these gathers out entirely, before installing our interfacing. First, we need to make sure we've gathered the right amount. We are gathering the front piece so the entire length of that front cut edge is 3/8" shorter than the paper pattern piece, like so:

Using the point of your steam iron, gently press out these gathers. Use patience - they will come out. You don't want any ripples or bumps.

Perfectly flat! This preparation, along with the interfacing, will assure the neckline looks gorgeous and lies flat:

Now, we apply our interfacing to these B pieces - and also to the E pieces, the Bake Yoke and Back Yoke Facing. Follow the fusing instructions for your interfacing:


Set aside your yoke pieces. Now we will be creating our ties for versions A, B, or C (view D, E, and F ties will be covered next installment).

So fold the tie piece long-sides together, and sew down the long side and one short edge, shortening stitches at the corner:

Go ahead and grade the seam, clip at the corners, and press this seam open.

Turn the tie right-side out using the bone folder at the corner, then press each tie gently:

Now - our back pleat! (please note that page 6 instructions contain errata: go ahead and fold with the right-sides together). I sewed down 1" from the raw edge on my chalk mark, firmly backstitching:

Gently steam-press the pleat open, and set the back piece aside.

Attaching the Yokes

We are now sewing our first seam to require seam-finishing! The Front Yoke and Lower Center Front (B and C) are joined, finished, and pressed. Note you can see my "fussy cutting" keeps this seam from being disruptive or jarring:

Finally, we are attaching our back yoke.

Attaching two opposing curves (one concave and one convex) is one of the trickier seams for stitching. But with accurate cutting, some preparatory work, and sewing slowly - you will have a great curve!

I first clip the concave piece (piece D, the Back) right to the seam allowance, and pin to the Back Yoke (E):

I then sew slowly, placing the convex piece (piece E) against the machine and using my left hand to gently ease the pieces together:

Examine the seam to make sure there are no bumps or ripples:

Now - see how much excess there is in this seam? Clip, grade, and notch. Press up gently toward the Back Yoke. You won't need to finish this seam beautifully, as it will be hidden by the Back Yoke Facing.

And - that's all for today! Next installment we will be installing our ties and pockets, and I will cover the tie and back tunnel for views D, E, and F.

As always - comment if you have any questions!

Tea House Top & Dress: Pattern and Fabric Preparation November 09 2016 2 Comments

We are back and ready to get cutting, marking, and preparing our fabrics!

Last entry, we discussed our supplies and equipment. Today, we will be laying our fabric out, and determining our seam finishes. 

Let's go over the basics first: how to select your view and yardage.

So, I am making the view C - with the wider tie, and the tea length - in a size four. Below, I have highlighted the view, the body measurements, and the fabric requirements:

A few more words about fabric requirements:

This dress is a loose A-line fit, with ties that can be brought to the front, or tied in the back. If you want the tie in front, consider adding some extra length to each tie - especially if your waist is an inch or two larger than the size chart. A good formula is (2*) for each tie. For example, if the pattern waist size is 30" but the wearer's waist is 32", the waist is 2" over and should be multiplied by 2, for 4" added to each tie.

Secondly, the pattern layouts already account for a directional print. But if you are matching motifs, you may want to cut carefully - for instance, I cut such that pattern pieces B and C would pattern match in a general way, as this seam is very visible on the finished garment.

And finally, the fabric itself. My yardage shrank quite a bit upon wash, and there was a 3" selvedge without any of the ikat pattern. I still had plenty of yardage, but that is something to consider.

Now let's get a little familiar with our pattern pieces

For my view C (and for views A and B), we require pieces A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and interfacing pieces K, L, and M. If you are making views D, E, or F you omit piece H and instead cut I and J.

Instead of cutting my pattern - which I rarely do! - I elected to trace my pattern size 4. The best way I have found to do this for very large pieces, is to tape the pattern to the widow (tabbing the ends of my clear tape, for easy removal later), and trace on the project paper I use for this purpose. I am patient with this and it's a great way to get acquainted with the pattern. When using the window, the sunlight makes all of the size lines show up clear as day:

If you don't have access to a window, make sure to trace on very light table, or put white paper under the pattern. Tracing on top of a dark surface is almost impossible!

Also: now is a good time to add any tie length you want to your pattern. It's too easy to to forget when you get to cutting fabric.

I also label everything rather painstakingly. This is because, as much as I sew, sometimes I find a little unlabeled paper pattern piece and I can't place where it belongs. I label with the pattern brand, name and number, the pattern piece label and name, and the cutting instructions. I put the size of the pattern in the upper-righthand corner of the pattern piece.

Now, for our layout.

The layout chart for Tea House is directional, meaning that it takes into account a fabric with nap or directional design. If you are used to layouts and/or you are spatially clever, you may be able to crowd the pieces more. In my case, I flipped pieces to fit them, and I also cut my pockets on the crossgrain (this is a good way to add a little bit of subtle interest to the dress):

So - time to lay out that fabric!

If you have a tight selvedge, you can make little clips about every 3/4" into the selvedge to help the grain lie straight. (This sounds like a pain, but it can really make a difference). Take the time to straighten your grain. Make sure to support any yardage you're not cutting - I use soft accordion pleats:

(You can also see the role of pimentos in my life, here!)

Make sure to include all the notches - they are especially handy for pocket placement and the long lines of the princess seams. I marked my 1" pleat at center back, on the wrong-side of the fabric using chalk. This was the only chalk marking I needed to do for this dress. For all the notches, I carefully clipped 1/8" into the seam allowance.

I have also taken to safety pinning at the right-side, front of each sleeve. This is important for separate sleeve pieces (which we don't have here), or fabrics that have sides that are identical or near-identical (as I do have here):

After I've cut my pieces, I like to lay them out flat with their corresponding pattern pieces. The less you handle them before sewing, and the sooner you sew them, the better.

Note at the top of my photo, you can see my three pattern interfacing pieces (K, L, and M), and the little strip-like interfaced pieces. We interface rather early in the process of garment-making. The directions for Tea House show us interfacing as we sew. I often interface everything at the beginning of the project - but either way is fine.

Now - let's talk about seam finishes!

We need to think about seam finishes early in the project, if possible. Seam finishing and pattern preparation are rather "chicken and egg". For instance: yesterday I was in my studio sewing a menswear shirt in double-gauze. The pattern had a 3/8" seam allowance. If I want to make french seams, or flat-felled seams at the shoulder, I would want a larger seam allowance. This would translate to my paper pattern, and adding 1/4" or more to make sure the finished garment retained its original dimensions.

Fortunately, with the Tea House, our seam allowances are 5/8" which allows for almost any seam finish we would like. Below are my recommendations:

From left to right: French seam, sewn-and-pinked seam, sewn-and-serged seam. A few notes:

The French seam is perfect for the shoulders (here is a tutorial; although I will be demonstrating it in post five). It can also be used for the vertical seams of the dress or top - the side seams, and even the A-line bodice seams. However, I don't tend to use french seams in vertical seams with curves, even though it can be done. I used the French seam for the shoulders.

The stitched-and-pinked seam! Pinking isn't just a cute or vintage effect - pinking actually keeps the seam from raveling, and works phenomenally well! As time goes on, I am more and more drawn to pinking. It is fast, and it is the lowest-bulk seam finish I have found. I used pinking for most of the assembly seams.

Stitched-then-serged - this effect can also be stunning. Shown here, a black serge I had on my machine. But when you take the time to colormatch your serge threads (in a pinch, you can use inexpensive all purpose sewing spools for a perfect match), the effect is very gorgeous. Serging is also the best way to emulate a ready-to-wear (RTW) look.

So there you have it! We are all ready to start stitching in earnest. Please comment if you have any questions or concerns. We will see you in a couple days!

Tea House Top & Dress: Supplies November 07 2016 6 Comments

It is time for the long-awaited Tea House Top & Dress sew-along!


First, a little bit about me: my name is Kelly Hogaboom and I've been sewing about thirty-two years! I had the honor of hosting the Toaster sew-along a couple months ago, where I got to meet a few of you. So naturally I was excited to make up a couple of the Tea House Top & Dress patterns, as I really love Peggy's work.

There is so much to love about the Tea House, but I'll try to keep it brief as chances are if you're here you're already committed to making it.

The Tea House is an a-line dress meant for light- to medium-weight fabrics with drape. A fabric without drape is fine; you just don't want something with too much body or stiffness. It features a v-neckline, front and back curved yokes, seam-inserted patch pockets, and cut-in sleeves with cuff. The Tea House comes in six views that include three lengths (hip-, above-the-knee, and tea-length) and two different tie options (I will be demonstrating or discussing all views).

The instructions are fabulous because several parts of the directions are like a mini-tailoring workshop. To wit: the wonderful deep-v neckline, with meticulous methodology to achieve a smooth effect:

Tea House Top & Dress Sew-Along

The patch pockets are large and comfortable, and you can use them to showcase color blocking, to blend into the dress, or - as I did with my medium-sized motif - to provide a subtle bit of interest by cutting on the crossgrain:

Tea House Top & Dress

Finally: the front and back yoke and yoke facings are both graceful, and provide a dress interior that is as pretty as the exterior!


This dress is very simple, using only a little bit of interfacing, and no closures!

Tea House Top & Dress
From top-left, clockwise:

Fabric (in this case, a 100% cotton ikat from Bolt Fabric Boutique in Portland, Oregon).
The Tea House Top & Dress pattern (available in print or paper form in the shop)
Thread (100% polyester or cotton-wrapped poly; I like Gutermann)
Lightweight interfacing (I favor the interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply)

I have two types of interfacing here; but as you can see from the pattern you only need a half yard as we are interfacing the top 1 1/8" of the yoke pieces and facings, and the pocket facings.

Besides your chalk, sewing machine, needle and thread (appropriate for your fabric - I use a sharp for most woven projects), steam iron, ironing board, and press cloth, you may also benefit from a few extras:

Tea House Top & Dress

A pressing template - a simple device to help get exact folds (you can download my version here)
Double-sided fusible tape (often called by the brandname of "Stitch Witchery")
A bone folder - perfect for turning out curves and points

I used a 100% cotton for the dress I'm demonstrating, which meant the fabric was very easy to handle. If you plan on using a fabric that has a shifting grain, has mechanical stretch, or is semi-sheer, I can help you through that. I wrote a bit about some of these tricky fabrics last year (before I stopped using silk); but you can also comment here and I'm happy to assist! 

Pretreating Fabric

Next entry on the 12th, we'll be preparing our fabric and pattern, and cutting our dress pieces! So in the meantime, pretreat your fabric.

The general rule is, treat your fabric the way you'll treat the garment. I wash most of my garments on gentle cycle, and then air-dry.

But because we have a busy household, I assume at some point my garments might get machine-dried! So I generally machine-wash and -dry my fabrics (two or three times, if I'm using linen). Instead of pressing the fabric, I catch it in the dryer before the time cycle ends, then fold it along the lengthwise grain on my large cutting table (accordion-pleating the length in soft folds, so all the fabric is supported), and let it rest. This generally eliminates the need to press the fabric before cutting.

Questions? Fire away! We'll see you on November 9th for our next installment.

Fit And Fabrics For Your Tea House Dress/Top November 05 2016 3 Comments

Alright - I'm finally getting around to the Tea House sew-along - whew! Kelly Hogaboom who so graciously hosted the Toaster Sweaters sew-alongs will be conducting this one as well. She's had it ready for quite some time now however, I wanted to get the Toaster Sweaters sew-along done in a more timely manner and then blog about my Indie Sew makes so now... I'm finally ready for the Tea House (the poor neglected girl who has been waiting patiently in the sidelines). No worries as this sew-along is so late coming that it's really more of a tutorial as many of you have already sewn your Tea Houses but for those who have been waiting - thank you for your patience.

Here is the schedule for the sew-along:

Nov 7 - Supplies

Nov 9 - Pattern & Fabric Preparations

Nov 11 - Front & Back Yokes

Nov 13 - Pockets & Ties

Nov 15 - Assembly

Nov 17 - Yoke Facings

Nov 19 - Side seams, Cuffs & Finishing

In this post, I wanted to write a little bit about fit and fabrics. This pattern is pretty forgiving meaning, it's not a really fitted pattern as most of the fitting comes from the ties. Therefore, you can really float between 2 sizes at least I know I do. The major fit adjustments some of you may need to make would be lowering the bust tie placements or adding length at the torso (including the front yoke length) for those with larger busts or longer torsos. Another adjustment could be adding length to the skirt hem for those who are taller or possibly shortening the sleeves for those who have narrow shoulders as the sleeves are just an extension of the shoulder seam. I should also add that if you plan to make versions A - C and want to tie the ties in the front, you may want to add length to the ties if your waist is a little larger than the measurement on the size chart. Kelly will address that during the sew-along. The model in the website photos is a size 2 - 4, B cup and she's 5'7 1/2" tall for your reference. 

As for fabrics, you may choose a rayon challis, wool challis, linen, silk charmeuse, crepe de chine, cotton voile or lawn - just about any woven fabric that isn't too stiff or heavy. If you do use a cotton, I prefer a light-weight cotton however, I've seen some nice ones in quilting cotton to my surprise. Quilting cotton is a bit stiff and so expect the sleeves to be a bit more stiff and less fluid however, it could be the look you are after. I find that the dress takes on quite a different look depending on what fabric is chosen (see the below images).

 The dress on the left is view B and the dress on the right is view E.

Both dresses are the same length and red however, the dress on the left is in silk crepe de chine and the ties create a close fit through the rib cage. The dress on the right is a light weight cotton so the sleeves are a bit crisper and this tie version makes for a looser fit through the body. 

When choosing fabric, I caution against solid colored fabrics unless they have texture, a heather, a shine or are dark in color. Lighter colored, flat fabrics tend to look a bit like medical scrubs because of the V-neck and sleeves. 

And so, I'll leave the rest up to Kelly. I hope you will join us for the fun. I also love to see your makes if you're up for it. You can post your Instagram makes with #teahousepattern or #teahousedress.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the Nov 7th post up next!



The Indiesew 2016 Fall/Winter Collection Blog Tour October 26 2016 5 Comments


I know I don't look happy here but inside I'm so thrilled I could burst!

Happy autumn makers! This post is the first stop on the Indie Sew Fall/Winter Blog Tour! Please scroll down to the end of this post to see the line up of bloggers who are up next on this tour. I was fortunate and honored to have my Toaster Sweater #2 included in the Indiesew Fall/Winter Collection pattern bundle. If you haven't checked out this amazing collection, I urge you to head over to the Indiesew site  and take a look. It's a great value with some great designs from some very talented designers. I was really excited to take part in the blog tour and try out some of these patterns. I get so busy and wrapped up in deadlines that it's hard to find time to do any selfish sewing. I love volunteering for blog tours occasionally because it forces me to do some sewing for myself and I always discover new patterns and designers in the process.

By the way, I am happy in the photo however, I suppose I might have been a little frustrated with my hair. I decided to get my hair cut last week and I told the guy that I didn't want it short and I didn't want another bob so he gave me a really short bob. Oh well... it will grow back I suppose.  

What you see here is the Lonetree Jacket from Allie Olson of Indiesew (her debut pattern I should add), The Chi-Town Chinos (expansion pack) from Alina of Alina Sewing & Design Company, and my Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater#2. I first committed only to the Lonetree Jacket as I really wanted to make a fall jacket but didn't think I had enough time to make anything else before the blog tour. I was able to eek out the chinos in the end and had a Toaster #2 already made so there - I had a complete outfit. I really want to make the Bonn Shirt by Itch to Stitch as a shirt dress soon but just didn't have the time for this blog. I tell you, it was touch an go on the timing. Even as an experienced sewist, just about everything that could go wrong with the Lonetree did (all my fault) and so that ate up much of my time. I still enjoyed the process though. In fact so much that I decided I could fit the chinos in as well because I was on a roll and having too much fun making pockets!

So what went wrong with the Lonetree you ask? Well... I made some major errors on this one so I am thrilled that it turned out so well. I made lots of little, stupid mistakes because I was in a hurry but the major one was the rookie mistake of printing the pattern out at scale fit to page - 108% larger. I didn't notice it until I was half way done sewing. I decided to make the pants and as I was printing out the chinos pattern, I saw that my default to scale 100% was no longer working. I decided I'd better check to see if I had messed up my Lonetree printing and sure enough, I did. I had already finished all of the pockets and wasn't about to redo them. I did some fancy trimming and recutting of some pieces. The only parts that really suffered were the sleeves. I shortened them and took them in a bit but I need to shorten them a bit more. I must confess that I did a terrible job on the cuffs but I love this jacket so much that I am happy to redo the cuffs and shorten the sleeves a bit. I have just enough fabric left for new cuffs.

Speaking of fabrics, I used some army green twill for the body and some left over fleece that resembles sheep skin for hood and front facings. I really wanted to use some of the dark army green twill from the Indiesew Fall/Winter Fabric Collection but there wasn't much left and then I remembered that I had some very similar fabric in my own stash. If you love the twill, I believe Indiesew is out of it now however, Fancy Tiger Crafts is carrying the complete fabric collection that goes along with this pattern bundle.

I should add that the Lonetree and Chi-town patterns were so well crafted and well thought out with beautiful graphics and instructions. I highly recommend both patterns. 

 The only things I changed on the Lonetree (aside from my accidental upscaling) were that I added pleats to the pockets for some added detail, I 2-needle topstitched all of my seams and I added a tunnel and cording to the hood. I like the fleece lining however, you will notice that some of the fuzz has migrated to my outer. I'm not sure what will happen in the wash so that may be a problem I didn't foresee. 

side view of the Lonetree

Here I'm wearing a black ribbed wool Toaster Sweater#2 (the rib only worked because it has a high recovery however, the neck looks a bit wide here possibly due to the extra stretch of the rib) and crisp or stiff light/mid-weight denim (sorry I don't know the fabric maker) Chi-Town Chinos (the expansion pack). To make the chino pants, you will need the Chi-Town Chinos original pattern for a skirt and shorts and the expansion pack adds the long pants pieces as well as welt pockets. I chose to use the pockets from the original pattern rather than the welt pockets because as I said earlier, I was having too much fun making pockets - I love them!



 Here is a back view so you can see the pockets that I love to make. The pants are maybe a little tighter than they should be but I didn't have time to make a complete muslin. I did add 1.5" to the back rise and 1" to the front rise and took in the center back waist a bit. My thighs tend to fill out slim pants so I'm not sure if a size up would work or not. I like the fit anyhow as people are used to seeing skinny pants. I love the fabric - again it was denim that I had on hand. I might make these again using a stretch twill. 

 Here is a close up of the back pockets. I'm not wearing the pants- my rear is much fuller than this - ha. 

And here is a final view of the complete outfit on the mannequin. I hope you enjoyed the first stop on the tour. Please check out the other bloggers as they have some great interpretations of this awesome collection for you. I've added the blog tour line-up below. Thanks for reading!


Up next on Oct 28, is The Sara Project!

Nov 1, Allie J

Nov 2, Alina Design Co.

Nov 3, Sew Charleston

Nov 4, Sew Mariefleur