Subversive Sewer

{August 16, 2011}   McCall’s 3417

I made the blouse and pants from this pattern for a 4 year old girl I know.  It was her birthday, and I decided to make her an outfit in an attempt to make her something that fit her proportions, which are not the norm due to her having spina bifida.  The pattern is out of print, so I had to take a picture of it:

I’d made the same plaid dress but with short sleeves for Sofia a couple years ago.  Anyway, I improvised a little.  I made the pants capris because we live in Florida, plus I added a ruffle to the bottom from the cotton print I used to make the top to tie the outfit together.  I don’t have a pic of her wearing it, so here it is lying flat:



{April 26, 2011}   Mccalls 6271


After hours of hard work, I finished the girls’ coordinating Easter dresses!

The pattern is mccalls 6271. I’m writing this on my phone, and I don’t know how to put photos anywhere but at the end. Sorry about that….

The pattern was time consuming but easy to assemble. Lots of gathering involved. I can’t find the receipt, but I believe each dress cost about $12. I bought 3 1/2 yards of each fabric and used each fabric in a different spot on each girl’s dress. And of course, each was made according to the girls’ measurements. The younger two wear a 2 but a larger size lengthwise. If you make this dress, you really need to have the child try on the dress so the back elastic can be adjusted to fit her, otherwise that neck tie is holding the whole dress up.  I should also mention that I made the length in between the 2 views to make it the desired knee length. I ended up shortening the youngest girl’s, which you have to do before attaching the bubble skirt to the self fabric lining. I shortened each the same 2 inches.

The girls loved their dresses, and we got lots of compliments on them.

{April 21, 2011}   Mccalls 6284



This was to be my Easter top, but I learned the hard way that this pattern is not for women with big books. Or women who lie about their waist measurement. 

Other than that, I do like the pattern.

{March 20, 2011}   McCalls 5050


Not much to say about a basic peasant blouse… I will say that this pattern runs way big and it you make this you should go down a size.

{February 11, 2011}   Aprons for the kids




Well,  let me get the obvious subject out of the way…  life is much better now.  My boyfriend and i worked out our differences and things are wonderful.  My housing situation is due to improve soon thanks to a more experienced agent, and I’m just happy again in general. I’ve really appreciated your nice comments in my absence.

I havent sewn much lately due to the fact that ive moved 3 times since the house flood in october.   So,  heres what i just finished last nite.

I’m writing this on my phone so you’ll have to excuse the crappy formatting.

Anyway, this pattern is mccalls 6049, if I remember correctly. Sofia had fun picking out all the fabrics and trims. The other 2 are for my bf’s girls, who are close to Sofia’s age. They really liked them!

{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.

{June 23, 2010}   Catching Up

I just haven’t felt like sewing lately.  I certainly have felt like buying fabric and patterns, just not sewing!  This will be a mishmash of stuff to try and catch up.

Today I made a case for my new phone.  McCall’s 6091 had one that matched the dimensions of my phone (Droid) perfectly!

And here’s the pattern:

Look it’s our friend Natasha again!

Overall, it’s a success.  However, I wish I would have remembered to fussy-cut the front to get more of the print.  The flap is not perfectly symmetrical, but not enough to bother me too much.

Changes:  instead of that fleece they always tell you to use on bags that’s a bitch to work with, I decided to use pieces of craft foam cut to fit the front and back only.  The idea is that if I drop it (again), it might cushion the fall.  Let’s hope I don’t have to find out if I’m right!  I also added the clip, attached with grosgrain ribbon.  This way I can clip it to my bag so I don’t have to hunt inside my bag to answer my phone before it goes to voicemail.  The final change was to use regular ol’ cotton for the outside and a twill for the lining, which is opposite of what they instruct.  I had actually bought some home dec weight fabric for this, and I bought the fabric you see here at the same time because I just loved it that much and wanted to get my money’s worth on shipping charges.  After looking at both pieces, I decided the home dec print was too large, so I used this one instead.  I had some hot pink twill that worked perfectly for the lining too.  The home dec print will become a pillow, most likely.

Here’s one of many projects that I’ve done that hadn’t been photographed yet:

This is the Hot Patterns Peachy Beachy Cover-up, a free download from  You may recognize the fabric from this post.  It’s the last of my 4 yards of cotton knit I picked up in Miami.  It’s thin so it works great as a beach cover-up.  I did get to wear it, and it was great.  Just the right length, too!  If I recall, I did not make any changes to the construction.

McCall’s released their Fall 2010 patterns today.  If you haven’t seen them yet, don’t waste your time.  Every last one of them sucks.  Most of them are a rehash of the rest of the bad 80s trends they hadn’t revived yet.

Next up, I think I’ll work on  knit top I cut out a couple weekends ago, and either swimsuits, jeans or underwear.  We’ll see where my mood takes me.

{May 13, 2010}   Halter FAIL

And I wasted cool fabric on this one.


This is McCall’s 6031, which I previously had success with.  That was a different view though.  This one  only shares the elasticized midriff piece.  On the envelope, the front looks all nicely gathered, but on me it’s not at all.  That might be because my bust is larger than the pattern standard.  There’s more!  Notice how the neckline gapes really bad on one side.  And the back sags, even though I used the correct length of elastic.

So now I shall try another halter top, now that I finally have a bra that converts to a halter.

PS- I just checked, and this is my 200th post!  How cool is that!  My poor, single parent, social worker ass has no giveaways for you, so I’ll just say thank you for reading about my trials and tribulations and offering your help along the way.  Hopefully I’ll be a better sewer by my 300th post!

Well, I cut this skirt months ago, actually sewed it together several weeks ago, so I guess it’s fitting that I’m finally getting a picture of it to show you!

(Sorry.  I am having a bad face day.)  This is McCall’s 5056:

As you can see, the cool thing about this skirt are the godets.  Without them it’d just be a plain, long, a-line skirt.  The godets really give it movement.  I’ve been in love with this skirt since I made it, and I wear it almost every week.  It’s made from rayon challis from Hancock Fabrics.  What a great fabric to work with!  The only bad things are that it wrinkles easily, and cat hair likes to stick to it.

I must’ve screwed up the cutting layout because I had to go back a couple times for more fabric, which is part of the reason it sat around unsewn for as long as it did.  I was also nervous about getting the godets right, but I marked the little circles and just took my time and they’re alright!  Here’s a closeup of one of them (there are 6 total):

My order from The Fabric Fairy was waiting for me when I got home from work today.  They’re in my native Wisconsin, so they get points for that alone, but what’s great about them is that I like just about everything on their website!  They also have $5 flat rate shipping.  Hooray for that!  I remembered to get a pic of what I got:

I nearly crapped my pants when I saw those 2 prints!  The left one is a swimsuit knit with Cinamaroll, one of the Sanrio characters (Hello Kitty’s friend!).  Sofia’s going to love it!!  She is one of the cutest Sanrio characters, and who’da thought I’d find her on a fabric!!  The other 2 fabrics were in the “outlet” section of the site.  The center fabric is from Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers line, which I didn’t realize until it arrived.  Score!  I bought one of her fabrics from FF a year or 2 ago and I just love it!  The site said the print is off, but I can’t tell, so I doubt anyone else will, either!  And the far right one is another knit from the outlet.  It’s got a couple dirty spots, but I’m sure they’ll wash out just fine.  I’m slightly interested in fashion trends, and saw in a magazine (Vogue, maybe?) that b&w striped t-shirts are really hot right now, so this is me being trendy. 🙂

I also got some size tags for the rare occasion I make baby clothes, plus some little tags that say “handmade.”

{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.

{January 10, 2010}   McCall’s 5006

Well, I was going to make New Look 6429, a sleeveless dress, but then the weather dipped into the 20s and 30s!  In FLORIDA!  I’m from Wisconsin, so I’m dealing better than some, but I must say that being away from the cold for a few years made me realize how much I hated it!!  I don’t even have a coat anymore!

It was for that reason I decided to make a sweatshirt jacket.  Not quite adequate for the temps, but it’d help.  I couldn’t find a pattern for what I’d envisioned, which forced me to be a little innovative.  I chose McCall’s 5006, which is a lined bolero designed for wovens.  It was on sale, too.    I used view D as a starting point.

There was a dart going to the shoulder seam, plus another going to the hem.  All I did was eliminate the latter dart, skip the lining, and leave the edges unfinished.  I added a fun button I spotted at Joann’s while buying the sweatshirting.  I marked the placement without using the pattern’s markings.  And, what do you know, it turned out!

I was so happy with this pic it’s now my profile pic on Facebook!

A closeup:

I made it a week ago and have been wearing it every day since!

Cost: Fabric: $10.50, button: 75 cents, pattern: 99 cents

{December 12, 2009}   Made something that fits!

….. it’s a bag.

I’m SO over making something and having it not fit or be the wrong fabric.  I’ve made a conscious decision to focus on making non-clothes for awhile.  Maybe that’ll bring my mojo back.

Here’s what I made today, using stuff from my stash so it was kinda free.

Is this pic too small?  It seems as though medium is too small, but large is too large.

Anyway, this is McCall’s 5599, view C.  I used cotton velveteen left over from last year’s Halloween costume, and lining that’s been around longer than my daughter has.  I used whatever interfacing was around, and the only 4 rings and magnetic snap I had all happened to be gold, so that worked out rather nicely.

Of course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t screw up something.  I’m sure everybody screws up, but it’s kinda fun to point it out.  When making the loops that hold the rings, I pressed them to that the seam was centered on one side, intending for that side to not show.  Well, I wasn’t thinking too hard about that step and the seam ended up on the public side.

Here’s the pattern:

{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.

{September 2, 2009}   New McCall’s patterns

Wow, I was so excited when I got the email that McCall’s has new patterns out.  Then I actually saw them.  I only found 2 that I like.  I’ll soften the blow by showing you those:

Now, for the uggos.  I have to start with the proof that the 80s revival has run its course:

My God!  Look at those heinous fucking pants!  I remember wearing a pink pair in middle school, circa 1989.  I’m sure there’s someone out there who wants to look like they have a tummy and thunder thighs.  Well, here are the pants that’ll do it.

Are you kidding me?  Remember the color blocked windbreakers?  Yep, right around the time Vanilla Ice was the shit.  Well, he ain’t shit now and neither is this piece of crap jacket.

Rounding out the group are some old patterns being passed out as new, more dog coats, pajamas, and lots of cheesy Xmas decorations for Grandma.  Joy!

{August 6, 2009}   McCall’s 5751

Here is the dress I wore to my friend Alicia’s wedding last Saturday:

m5751I’m getting better at using the camera timer. 🙂

Here is the back:

m5751 back

I used this  pattern:

I bought this pattern and this fabric when it came out a few months ago, then decided I hated it.  However, Threads recently featured it in their “Pattern Review” column, and it changed my perception!  Good thing, too, because I was originally going to make a dress with a straight skirt, and I needed something to hide my gut.  This dress, being very loose, does a great job at that.

I made a couple changes.  Instead of a flower or bow in back, I used a large button that I’ve had for years.  I was glad to finally use it.  Also, the back pleat is stitched all the way down, but I decided I liked it better how I did it- I only stitched it to waist level.  I also decided not to be lazy and hand stitch a blind hem.

I bought the supplies for this so long ago that I don’t know how much I spent on this, but I’d estimate it at around $15 total.  Not bad!

Here’s my review on PR.

et cetera