October 31, 2010

Vintage Sewing Patterns!

I bought a box of 1950s-60s patterns on eBay with the plan of using one or more for my plaid dress.  Most of the patterns are 32 bust, I'm 34/36.  Several others are half sizes (petite).  I think I can alter my dress block with good results.  Hope you enjoy the pattern pron!

I can't decide whether this is "sexy date night" or flight attendant.

If I run across some winter white dupioni or suiting I might have to make it up, with 3/4 sleeves.

One of my favorite pictures, not sure it would work on me.  Maybe wool doubleknit in version 1?

I immediately saw Jacki of Modern Twist in this dress.  She wears vintage so well!

I like view B for myself.

I don't normally like the angled darts of the 60s but I might try this dress, sans bow.  Assuming I don't have trouble grading up a size.

The lone 40s pattern of the bunch, with nice button detail down the front.

I'm not sure what I think of this pattern.  The a-line skirt is nice...

I really like the tie neckline, though the skirt looks too full for my everyday wear.  Bearing in mind that I almost always wear jeans ;)

Simple, straight fit, kimono sleeves, though how flattering is it on women without giraffe necks?

Love these pleats!  Plus the pattern is proportioned, so theoretically I wouldn't have to fuss with the bodice length (I'm 5'8").

(Am I the only one picturing an infinite line of ever-smaller women?)

I'm considering using this bodice pattern and the pleated skirt above for the plaid dress.  Especially if I can match the bodice darts with the skirt pleats.

I have four Mail Order patterns now and really like their flattering lines and architectural feel.

And a couple later patterns that I found at Goodwill.  I can see myself wearing these...if I ever get the time and energy to make them!

October 29, 2010

Women, Crafts and Building

So often I read sewers and other hobbyists write about how their wonderful husband built their sewing area.  Why aren't we at least helping, if not doing this ourselves?!?  Or does post feminism mean that we're back in the bad old days?  I can't be alone in this feeling...

October 28, 2010

Locked Up

Last night I was out walking with a friend when we saw that Volunteer Park's Water Tower was open.  There was another group up top so it seemed safe to venture in.  We climbed the spiral stairs, looked at the amazing nighttime view, then came down.  That's when we noticed the door was locked--cast iron doors with a heavy chain and two large padlocks .  Well, surely the second door was still open, right?  Nope.  Park security had locked us in!

Thankfully we both had cell phones.  After trying the park security line, with no success, my friend dialed 911.  We waited about 15 minutes, enough time to take some pictures and be very glad we weren't stuck for  the night.  Then the police let us out.  They were quite nice, too.  Thank You SPD!!!


The bad couch is gone!  Nice mover guys came and took it away this afternoon.  As they took it out I realized that the couch I wanted would never have fit into my living room.  Ameer Radwan at Couch neglected to mention that the frame he ordered flares out at the back--a lot!  At least 9" from seat to upper back!  A straight backed couch, like the one I had, would have fit fine.

So now I'm going to experiment.  I shall take my upholstered chair, masking tape a large piece of cardboard to the back to replicate the desired height, and see whether it fits through my truncated hallway.  I love doing this kind of thing.  Before I moved in here I measured everything, graphed it out to scale, used scale furniture models from a previous move, and decided on furniture placement.  Worked out great!

October 27, 2010


Women wearing Abaya and Niqab
I saw a woman from the bus the other day wearing an abaya and niqab.  I felt very conflicted.  I want everyone to be able to dress as they wish.  My (very Western) feeling about Muslim body coverings is that often they're not a choice and that upsets me.  The idea that there's something sinful about women's bodies is one I find abhorrent.

Cultural law and expectations vary greatly in the Muslim world.  "According to Saudi Arabia's Shariah law, women's clothing should meet the following conditions:
  • Women must cover their entire body, but they are allowed to expose one or both eyes in necessity.
  • Women should wear abaya and niqāb thick enough to conceal what is underneath, and the abaya should be loose-fitting.
  • Women should not wear brightly coloured clothes or clothes that are adorned so that they may attract men's attention." [Wiki Niqab page]
Whereas in Syria, women are barred from teaching and university while wearing the niqab.

While ruminating on this I read about The Understanding Project.  I'm so happy to find people doing something about a problem rather than just decrying it.

After all, isn't the point that we're all people no matter what we look like, or how we dress?  I feel quite chastened.

October 23, 2010

No Couch For Me

When I have better business sense than the custom couch guy, it's time to get out!  Yes, I really really wanted a couch that would fit my body and be comfortable.  I was willing to pay $2k for it!  What I got was a 30yo frat guy who can't be serious and sees reasonable timelines as threats :p

Please do not do business with Ameer Radwan at Couch, Seattle.  He just doesn't care about his customers.  He has no motivation to correct problems.  He's miserable to work with!  I'd prefer to contact the factory myself and place an order, and avoid his markup, mistakes and utter lack of motivation.  Seattle Home Company has good reviews and apparently also does custom couches.

October 22, 2010


I stopped at the pet store today for cat food and saw this potentially awesome thing:
I was sold, in spite of the misspelled alliteration, by the catnip reservoirs at the base of the combs.  If my cats love anything it's catnip.  I bought it, brought it home where it sat on the floor (it's been a long day)...

I just noticed Ella rubbing her face on the box!  Guess it's time to give the kitties some satisfaction :)  Hopefully Ella plays nice and I don't have to buy one for each of them.  (this is a real concern)

Edit: How much does Ella love catnip?  While I installed the comber she started rolling around in the shrink wrapping!  Jake's about to get in on the action too.

October 20, 2010

Noise Pollution

Today is driving me crazy.  There have been loud, annoying noises all morning.  Someone's car alarm went off just outside several times.  A really annoying person kept knocking on a downstairs window like a rabid woodpecker.  A leaf blower was going.  A fire truck just went by.  And so on.

Plus I'm pissed: The custom couch I ordered, to fit my hurting neck just right, was delivered yesterday and is in no way what I ordered.  It's terribly uncomfortable!  I don't exactly have all kinds of extra energy to deal with this, either.  The shop appears to have a good track record, with many satisfied customers.  Why does my couch have to get royally screwed up?!?

October 18, 2010

Hemming Chiffon

Can you think of anything less appealing?  It's poly chiffon, btw, not silk which I've heard is nice to work with.  I was making progress, having gathered part of the 1930s blouse to attach the second sleeve, when I remembered that I was stopped at hemming the cowl neck.  They're raglan sleeves so the neckline needs to be finished first.

Luckily I just read a technique!  Hemming poly sheers by hand is on my list of "never-do's" so a machine technique that works is just up my alley.  Bunny, La Sewista, may have the answer!  She super starches the sheer, folds under the seam allowance, then sews a 2mm zig zag hitting just past the fold.  This finishes and rolls the edge for you, and you trim off the extra seam allowance and are done!  Thinking back I know I've done this before, but without starch.  I forgot to fold the edge when attempting this on Sat, hence the raggedy mess of fail.  If unsuccessful I'll serge the edge, fold under, and topstitch to finish.  It's going to be done somehow!

I promise photos just as soon as I have something to show :/

October 16, 2010

Must Share!

Read this on Shoveling Ferrit's site:

A man in a ghillie suit tried to break into a Portland, OR museum.  So far no evidence has been found that explains what he was thinking ;)

Relationships and Geography

Seattle is surrounded by water: we have four lakes in and around the city, Puget Sound on the west, and bridges and canals to connect everything.  Bellevue and Redmond are across the largest lake, over two skinny little floating bridges with horrible rush hour traffic.  We have no real transit, just two bus systems that don't coordinate with each other: one in Seattle, one on the Eastside.

My guy lives and works on the Eastside, I live in Seattle, and sometimes it feels like we're star-crossed lovers.  He's looking to move and the best option looks very close to work.  I don't want him to spend his whole day commuting and working, which is what he does now (no 8hr work days no matter what he says).

There's really no good solution.  It's just frustrating.  I was hoping that he could have a good, fast commute and we live nearby and do fun stuff together.  Instead it's another step half-sideways in the relationship.  At least it's change.  But what happens if and when we want to live together?  How is that supposed to work?  Argh.

Getting Things Done

Really the title should be Not Getting Things Done, since that's what I've been busy doing.  I haven't been feeling well; a normal-for-me flare of muscle pain but tough to deal with regardless.  One thing people don't tell you about chronic pain is that you get used to feeling the way you do, good or bad, so a negative change takes adjustment all over again.

I have a sewing group meeting today which should be fun if can get my act together for it.  It will be a good chance to finish off the 1930s blouse, finally.  It's frustrating to want to work on projects, and I have a pile of them, but not have the energy to do so.  This blog doesn't seem to be pushing me to complete things faster than I did before, I just have more guilt.

October 12, 2010

UFOs (UnFinished Objects)

I have a few--we're only talking sewing now, k? lol  I also have several projects in the planning stages.  I thought I'd list some to give myself a kick in the butt and hopefully polish some off!

Oldest: Brown/Purple faux suede jacket, lined and interlined for warmth.  I started this right: made a muslin and fitted the pattern before cutting.  Then I realized that I'd get very little use out of such a thin jacket.  I found some awful poly stable knit, perfect to add warmth, and it has stretch to match the suede.  The jacket was sewn together at this point, however, so I needed to rip out the seams and resew them.  I also had done no tailoring so wasn't sure how much interfacing, what kind, where.

Now I've learned a bit more and have a cool buttonholer device.  Once the 1930s blouse is out of the way I'll try to finish this jacket and wear it this autumn.  Or winter...or next spring.

Most needed: A quilt.  An autumn leaf-shaped quilt for a sofa throw.  It's beautiful and I only need to finish the quilting then bind it.  It's not too hard to straight line quilt, it's the free motion that's worrying me.  I've never made a quilt using free motion quilting, thus have very little experience with it, so am not very good.  I need to give up the idea of it being perfect and accept that it'll be good enough, and done.

Main problem with this one: Once I'm set up to quilt I can't sew anything else, and vise versa.

Most under my skin: 1930s blouse.  I need to just finish it and move on.  I'm wondering whether the waist ties may help the saggy boob look.  Only one way to find out!

Newest: Some undies that just need elastic.  It's new fabric so I'm not sure how they'll fit.  Should take less than 2 hours to complete both pair.

So the plan is to finish the dreaded 30s blouse, set up the machine for quilting and work on it a bit each day.  This was working until I got the itch to sew clothes.  Theoretically I could set up the Singer for quilting but that's a whole new set of skills I don't want to try and master just yet, thank you very much.

October 11, 2010


This year I made my birthday cake again, a rich chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache, white chocolate cream cheese buttercream and raspberries, covered with the buttercream.

A friend made the beautiful decorations: an amazing tiara and many many violets, one of my favorite flowers :)

The undecorated cake

Shimmery violets

Who Am I?

Today I saw the boots I wore last night and briefly didn't recognize them.  Or, more precisely, didn't recognize myself as the kind of woman who would wear them.  I used to see women who shone with the beauty of self confidence.  I never thought I could achieve poise.

I was always shy and quiet.  A terrible relationship caused me to lose sight of my own value.  I emerged from that stronger and more confident that ever which is just amazing.  I gained the courage to cut my hair very short--something I'd wanted to do since my teens but was too scared to carry out.

I know that I have stopped fearing what others think, trust my own opinions, and truly love myself.  It took twenty years but I got there!  I work each day to keep this confidence in myself, especially as a disabled woman.

Do any readers have similar stories of their own?  I'd love to hear...

October 10, 2010


It's my birthday today!  10-10-10: there's gotta be something positive in that :)  At the very least I have made it through another year.

To sum up (as much for my benefit as yours, dear reader):
  • I moved, from the suburbs to the city!
  • I settled into my new neighborhood and found, happily, that it is a good fit
  • I made a couple new friends
  • I found a knitting group/excellent group of female friends
  • Things have gone well with my Handsome Man, and more better is yet to come ;)
  • Health was up and down but I didn't lose the use of my hands
  • Excellent family time

It's funny to think back three years and remember who I was then.  So much has happened and I've changed tremendously.  I'm very grateful to God, friends and family who helped me get to where I am now.

October 9, 2010

1930s Blouse Yet Again

I'm still working on the blouse.  There is an issue: the pattern fits together well, it fits, but it's not flattering.  Instead of a fitted midriff and gathering accentuating my breasts the gathering is halfway down my ribs.  Presumably as part of all this, the waist hits below my waist and the hem is about an inch lower in the front.

I tried on the blouse, I fiddled with it on the dress form, I thought.  I'm going to finish sewing it as is and simply add side bust darts.  This should remove much of the excess fabric and raise the waist line to my waist.  The upper edge of the cowl neck is very tight so I'll be scooping out some of that extra fabric as well.

I'm posting while unable to sleep but will take some photos of the problem, and hopefully have more pictures to share of the completed and satisfactory blouse.

October 6, 2010

New Page

There's a new page on my blog, Sewing, with photos and information about my sewing projects.  I'm listing them chronologically and am up to 2009.  Blogger had some issues with formatting so I took a break.  But not to fear, I shall update it soon.

I hadn't realized how much sewing I've done until I started loading the photos.  This isn't even counting projects that failed, have stalled, or the many pair of pj pants.  I've done a good deal of mending and alterations as well.

October 4, 2010

My Sewing Machines

I began sewing over 20 years ago with my mom showing me some basics on her Bernina.  When I first became ill in high school and was home all day I picked up quilting.  I used my mom's machine and made a few quilts with it.

My grandmother bought me my own machine, a Pfaff 6091, as a graduation gift.  Despite not having attended the last 1 1/2 years of HS I graduated in the top 5%, as a National Merit Scholar.  I'd worked very hard before the illness.  /bragging

Pfaff 6091: She's no beauty queen but I love her!

I saw a sewing cabinet and machine at a local thrift store and bought it, approx 2002.  It sewed but the wires were chewed up.  Not knowing how to clean it, much less thread it!, I used the cabinet as a table for about 7 years.  Then I found some great Singer resources online and cleaned her up.  I took apart as many moving parts as possible, cleaned and oiled them, and put them back together.   The machine had been well cared for but I like knowing how it works and that everything's lubricated and functioning correctly.

I bought a few replacement parts: new power cord, bobbin slide plate, belt, bobbin winder tires and bobbins.  That's it!  It also came with the original box of accessories and Ziz Zag and Buttonholer attachments.

Singer 66-16

Two years ago I bought a Babylock serger, BL400, off cragslist.  It's identical to the BL450 Lauren, only cheaper ;)  I'd been looking for an affordable serger for over a year.  It's a great reliable serger so far.  Tension settings sometimes get the best of me but only on tricky fabrics.

BL 400 serger

I like that all my machines are mechanical and I can maintain them myself.  The help found online makes this possible and I'm grateful to everyone who shares their knowledge to help others.

October 3, 2010

1930s Blouse Part 2

We continue the saga of my lovely but ravely blouse.  I bought and received the Singer Buttonholer supplementary templates:

The 3/8" size was just right :)  The buttonholes are slightly out of  line though I took out and redid the worst offender.  The buttonholer makes wonderful buttonholes but is very hard to repeatedly line up straight.  I had the same problem with a skirt.  Maybe the interwebs will yield advice before my next attempt.

The whole shebang, so far
I finished the back pieces and sewed the side seams.  So glad I'm using closed seams in this horrible fabric.  I gently hand washed the backs to make sure the washable marker I used for markings washes out and my entire seam allowance raveled in places!  Yes, I should have checked on a scrap.  At least it did wash out.

Side seam: doesn't match at underarm
Back pieces ready for sleeves

Not a pattern issue, but the side seams don't match up at the underarm.  The fabric must have stretched after cutting.  I tried to be accurate with cutting and used a rotary cutter, theoretically to avoid this problem.

I also sewed the sleeve darts, seamed the sleeves and started hemming them.

I can't get the rolled hem foot to work (can anyone?) so am rolling it by hand.  Maybe I'll play with the serger's rolled hem. Otherwise I'll baste the rolled hem then sew it by machine.  The fabric likes to wiggle around under the presser foot--perhaps the Singer will perform better as it has adjustable foot pressure.

Remaining to do:
Resew part of a side french seam as I didn't trim close enough the first time
Hem: the sleeves, bodice front top edge, blouse body.
Finish gathering cowl to fit sleeves, insert sleeves front and back
I made belt pieces but am leaving them off since the blouse is nicely fitted without them

Wow, I'm really almost done!  And excited to remake this in an appropriate, and manageable, fabric.

Also, the camisole was finished a few days ago:
It fits!

Milestone of a sort

For the first time since starting this blog, Microsoft computer views beat out Mac!  See, when Blogger says they're not counting me looking at my page, they lie.  So I was my own biggest fan by checking that posts looked right :p

Thanks to everybody who'd reading this, it's nice to know I'm not writing solely for myself :)
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