Subversive Sewer

{August 16, 2011}   Jalie 3024, part 1

I bought this Jalie knit dress pattern last year for 2 reasons:  1 I love knit dresses, and 2 I’ve had great success with Jalie patterns, along with seemingly everyone else who’s tried them.

I finally got around to making this the other day.  I’ve seen a couple tank style maxi dresses on blogs (Stacy and Erica B in particular) and thought I might like one too.  I have a shorter tank dress that is really flattering, so I set out to make a longer version of it using this pattern as a starting point.  However, my skills are not that great, so I decided to first make an unaltered version for my daughter first.  She needs more clothes anyway.  I added the optional flounce because she’s 7 and 7 year olds love that stuff.

One weird thing about this pattern is that the front and back bodice are the exact same piece, making the front and back of the dress one in the same.  This is perfect for her, because she is always putting her clothes on backwards.  However, I won’t be doing that on mine.  I also realized after making this that the waist inset really needs to be in a contrasting fabric, otherwise it just gets lost.

So, I am in the midst of altering the pattern for my dress, so stay tuned.


{August 16, 2011}   Simplicity 2371

Here starts the mass posting of projects completed over the summer…. let’s start with this dress, Simplicity 2371:

I figured I needed more simple dresses, so here it is.  I liked that it didn’t have any darts or gathering, which I often tire of doing.  Instead it has stitched pleats at the front up by the shoulder, plus a belt.  It looks like a hospital gown without the belt.  I used a pink cotton with metallic gold pinstripes I found in Miami for 2 bucks a yard last year.  I’ll show you the pictures before I discuss further:


I know people hate headless shots, but I wasn’t having a good face day.  Anyway, these pics made me even more aware of my jacked up posture and obvious swayback.  Other than that, I like the dress.


I really need help. I’m making vogue 8706 and piece #2 is giving me a problem. First of all, I think the piece is off grain because it won’t fold in half. At all. Second, if you look at the picture, I put a pin by the instructions that I’m on. As you can see, the piece #2 that I cut doesn’t reach to the right side edge. I cut this straight from the envelope with no alterations. I don’t know what to do! Really hoping one of you can help me.

{May 29, 2011}  

See this?

This is Vogue 1154. I’m actually going to attempt to make this for a wedding in July.  I have the silk shantung, lining, and steel boning to make it.  It has a foundation, which I’ve never done before.  On the upside, it’s a strapless dress so I don’t have to deal with my problematic shoulders.  On the downside, I still have to deal with an FBA.

Did I mention there are 63 steps on the instruction sheet????

{March 20, 2011}   Butterick 5522


Well, I don’t have much to say about this dress other than its great and I love it.

This is Sophia double knit in dark real from
















{September 13, 2010}   Next up… another dress!

Since I’m feeling too lazy to blog about the leather handbag I made, and to put on and get pictures of the “Hot to Trot” dress, I’ll show you what I just finished cutting and hope to make this week:

It’s Butterick 5491, the shorter view.  I needed some cute going-out type dresses, so I thought I’d make this one.  I’m using a cream and black print knit, so I think a new slip is also in my future as well (zzzzzz).

{August 27, 2010}   Hot to Trot.

You surely have seen this pattern (Butterick 5383) and thought to yourself, “that is one hot dress.  Someday, I will make it when I have the body for it.”

No?  Well, maybe it was just me.  I’m finally at the point where I’m 90% happy with my body, so I decided to make this dress.  I grabbed some chocolate brown stretch satin from Hancock’s and got to work.  Here’s what I have so far:

I can’t help but brag about how well I’m doing on this dress, and I look pretty damn good!  The only problem I’m having is with the the back “V” because the CB seam below it is sticking out all weird.  I have pics… I’ll upload and post them after the weekend.  Hopefully someone can help me through it.  Then I just have to put the sleeves on, hem it and it’s done!

{August 19, 2010}   I’m back!

Sorry about the long absence.  Life handed me a little bit of the unexpected.  If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’ve been trying to buy one house or another for months.  Well, yet another one didn’t work out, but I took it as a sign to wait till next year and buy in a neighboring county that I like a lot better than the one I live in now.  I’ve also given up some of my available sewing time (weekends) because, after 2 1/2 years of singledom, I met a really great guy.  It’s still pretty new- about 5 weeks- but it’s going surprisingly well.  He lives an hour away, so I’ve been staying at his apartment all weekend while our respective kids are with their other parents.

Now it’s time to show you what I’ve sewn during my absence:

New Look 6969, view D:

Here’s the envelope pic:

I finished this one today, and boy did I need a skirt!  I’m between the 2 sizes in my closet, so not much is fitting right now.  This is cotton twill, which I bought to make a trench coat, but since I still haven’t solved my fitting problems, I decided to use this fabric for stuff I can wear now instead.  (I’m not a stasher.)  Despite my nervousness, putting in an invisible zipper is apparently like riding a bike; you don’t forget how.  I used that Waist-Former waistband interfacing stuff for the first time, and I love the results.  This thing actually looks professional!  I didn’t feel like setting up my camera and the timer, so you get a crappy camera phone in the mirror pic.  🙂  Cost: $9

Next up is Butterick 5495.  I think I picked the wrong fabric.  It sticks out like a maternity top, but I think it’d lay flat just fine if it was a drapier fabric.  I like it enough that I’ll try it again.  Cost: $10   Any ideas on how to salvage this?

And here’s the envelope pic:

Last month, I decided to make another swimsuit!  This one I didn’t morph into something completely different like last time.  This time I used Kwik Sew, 3696:

I’m probably going to wear this this weekend, so if I do, I’ll get a pic of me wearing it, since this isn’t the best pic.  Once again, it was insanely easy to make.  After I finished it and tried it on, I became convinced that the swimwear industry is just one big racket.  This thing cost about $10 to make, people!  And I’m thinking it was about 2 hours to make, start to finish.  And it actually fits me!  I cut a small on top and the bottom was a medium and back to small at the hips, if I remember correctly.  One warning- if you’re busty, the girls are gonna be a focal point when you’re wearing this!!  cost: $15

And the envelope pic:

Finally, here’s a dress I made awhile ago, just never got around to getting a picture of.  This pic is horrible, so hopefully next time I wear this I’ll remember to get a decent picture for you.  This is McCall’s 6118:

Cost: $11.  I also made the zipper flower pin that you can barely see.  Here’s the pattern pic:

Well, that’s it for now!  Not sure what I’ll be making up next.  I ordered several cuts of that rayon/Lycra that was on sale recently at, so I might make something from that.

{April 27, 2010}   2 Dresses

How is everyone in blogland?  I have a couple completed projects to show you!

First up is the navy knit dress, New Look 6922, that I made a week and a half ago (my 5-garment weekend).

Not sure if you can tell, but this is a disaster on many levels.  First, I apparently temporarily forgot what I’d learned about flat pattern measuring.  There is not enough room in the belly area, so it draws attention there.  Dealbreaker!  There’s also horizontal lines where it’s pulling across the bust… FBA needed there.  So since the fabric can’t skim over that area, I get this weird effect above  the bust.  I’m deciding whether to Goodwill it or hang onto it for summer PJs.  ETA: Costs: pattern: $4, fabric: $6.37

Next up is Simplicity 2377.  Once in a while I make my daughter a dress, which she is mildly interested in and happily wears.  We’d found some Wow Wow Wubbzy! fabric at Walmart before they got rid of their fabric, so we bought a yard and a half with the idea of eventually making it into something.  She didn’t have any ideas (not realistic ones anyway), so I made this dress last weekend.  She wore it to school with tights yesterday:

Cute, huh?  I measured her and was shocked… she’s all over the place, size-wise!  She’s only a 3 in chest, waist and hips, 6 in height, and an 8 (!!!) in the torso!  My mom makes her pajamas with a peasant style top, and I’d always noticed that the tops were really baggy.  Well, this would be why!  I’ve got a tiny supermodel! LOL

I still have to get pics of a couple projects: Jalie yoga pants (wearing them now!), McCall’s long skirt (forgot the number), Kwik Sew 3592, and a Burda wadder top.  Stay tuned!

{March 3, 2010}   Kicking Ass!

Yesterday was my last day off, so I made it count!  I made 2 tops, 1 dress, 2 headbands, a pair of underwear and cut out one of the tops, plus a fitting shell!  That’s what I’m talkin bout!

Here are pics of a few things.  I’ll get a pic of the other top later.  The underwear were a muslin (a Jalie pattern whose number I can’t recall at the moment) so I won’t take a pic of those.  I will say that everyone was right- underwear are super easy to make!  I wore them for the day and not a single wedgie!  Much better than Kwik Sew 2908 (how can I remember the pattern number for the one I don’t like?), which had an absurdly wide crotch.

This is my third rendition of New Look 6429.

Here is McCall’s 6031, which I LOVE.  I wore it today.  I made it from fabric I bought in Miami over the weekend.  Whole top cost me $5!  You can also (sorta) see one of 2 identical headbands I made as well,  using this tutorial.

Sadly, the last Wal Mart in my city to carry fabrics has decided to close the department.  Who knows what’s going there in its place.  I got the last yard and a quarter of a knit print I’d previously bought and liked, but that was it for usable fabric.  It was very sad.  Luckily, I still have a Joann’s and Hancock Fabrics 10 minutes from my house, which I realize makes me quite lucky.

{February 9, 2010}   Kwik Sew 3718

I am so proud of myself.  I’ve ridding myself of my habit to do things sloppily in order to get done faster.  It took 5 hours to sew this, and it was worth it!

I think you’ll have to click on it to see it better.

Everything turned out great, and since it’s loose-fitting, no fit issues!  The cargo pockets turned out well.  I just measured a couple times to make sure they were straight and even.  The last time I made something with cargo pockets was about 10 years ago, and I do remember they were uneven!

I made this from a rayon challis, which wrinkles and frays when you look at it wrong.  It also attracts cat hair big time.  Other than that, it’s easy to work with and comfortable to wear.  I serged all seam allowances, and it looks very nice on the inside.

I wore this dress to work yesterday and got several compliments.

This was a great pattern to sew, very simple and fun to make.  Kwik Sew’s patterns really are great!

{January 6, 2010}   Simplicity 2934

This past weekend I got quite a bit done.  I wanted to look back on my week and a half off of work and have something to show for it.  I think I was successful!

This is Simplicity 2934.  This is the one I intended to use silver rayon/Lycra with a turquoise yoke.  It was too thin, so I scrapped that idea.  I’d bought this knit at Wal Mart several weeks ago because it was 4 bucks a yard and sometimes people actually find good stuff there.  I threw it over a chair and forgot about it till last week, and here it is!


It snags easily, but otherwise I like it.  I’ll just have to stay away from sharp objects while wearing it. 🙂  Not bad for 10 bucks!  I’m not sold on the sleeves, but I can always cut off the ties if they don’t grow on me.

Cost: fabric: $8, pattern: $2

{December 29, 2009}   Hot Patterns 1028

I believe this is my third Hot Patterns I’ve tried, and it’s by far my favorite!

I actually sewed during the day, so I took advantage of the natural light and my proximity to the front door and brought Saffron outside for pictures:

I love this dress!  I think I might’ve actually picked the right pattern for my shape, and the right fabric for the pattern!  This is a rayon/Lycra Vera Vang knit from  Here’s the pattern:

It’s funny how I bought this pattern with the intention of making the tunic (center), but made the dress instead.  It was the placket that scared me away.  I was going to use the boat neck from the dress on the tunic, but then decided to just make the dress.  The only thing I changed was not doing the in-and-out belt, which would’ve required level, straight buttonholes.  A good way for me to ruin a good dress.  I also shortened it by about 5″.  (I’m 5’4″)  My neighbor came over to fit my heat just as I was finishing it, and even he was taken aback by it!  I wore it with black leggings and ballet flats to Ikea today.  Very comfortable, and I felt good in it!

{November 29, 2009}   Cynthia Rowley busts

Here are 2 wadders I made several weeks ago that I finally got around to photographing for your amusement.  Coincidentally, they are both Simplicity Cynthia Rowley patterns.  That said, the error is all mine, not hers.

First up, Simplicity 2584:

These pics were taken by my 5 year old daughter, and I must say she did pretty well.  She got this one on the 3rd or 4th take.  She was instructed to keep my head out of the pic, because I had no makeup on and looked like hell as a result.  Anyway, despite making a muslin, this thing went bust on many levels.  First, the fabric, a Ralph Lauren stretch poplin from, was not drapey enough for this dress.  Also, the 1″ FBA doesn’t look good, maybe due to the fabric.  The armhole facings would lie flat, even after I hand-stitched the fuckers.  Then there’s the neckline issue:

It’s uneven, for starters.  The other issue, which I hope you can see, is that the neckline is so high the little points are stabbing me in the neck.  No idea why.

And to illustrate even further how wrong this fabric was for this project, let me show you how it it looks on a hanger, completely unaffected by gravity:

You also might notice the pointy titted-ness of it too.  Yep, I really messed this one up.

While I’m not looking for a way to salvage it, I am wondering what else I might’ve done wrong besides choosing the wrong fabric.  I thought it was fine because the envelope recommended poplin, but I guess they meant lightweight poplin, if that exists.

Next up, my next CR debacle, Simplicity 2472:

No, this is not a nightshirt.  This is my futile attempt at a tunic that I could wear with leggings.  Maybe I shouldn’t have trusted a pattern that includes a bib.  (Really.  They call that big, ugly necklace a bib!)  Maybe I shouldn’t have bought polyester faux silk from Joann’s.  (I couldn’t get a good press if my life depended on it.)  Maybe I should’ve cut the lower half to reflect my actual size.  And just maybe, I should have realized this style does not suit D-cup boobs, at least not without a FBA.

Someone please help me!!!  I’m tired of wadders!!

{October 25, 2009}   McCall’s 5799 Dress

I don’t know if this has happened to anyone else, but sometimes I’m just so happy I finished a project that I’m temporarily blinded to the fact that it didn’t turn out well.  I think that’s what happened here.  I’m hoping for some honest feedback and advice.

Here’s the dress in question:


First, I’m aware that most people would not wear (or like, for that matter) a bubblegum pink dress.  Especially not with bold flower appliques.  What’s your opinion: is it awful or simply not your thing?

Second, some technical shortcomings are very apparent to me.  The first one is that there’s too much fabric under the bust.  This pattern has separate pieces for A-D cups, and I used the correct one.  So, I don’t know why all that fabric is there.  The next problem requires a closeup of the dress:

003 (2)I don’t know if you can see it in this photo, but 2 things bother me.  First are the darts.  I tried to fix them, but the ends are pointy, like beacons guiding the eye to my boobs.  I also don’t think they’re pressed well enough.  I used a ham and steam, so what else am I missing here?  The second problem is the topstitching.  It looks Becky Home-ecky to me.  Is it because the stitch length is too short? I used 2.6, as I forgot to lengthen it to 3.0 as I normally would.

For reference, here is the pattern:

Any feedback will be received with cheers, no matter how grim it is.  I would really like to improve my skills.

et cetera