So I came into work this morning and switched my calendar page to find this:

I'm thinking how cool would it be to make a pair of pumps I already have into boots to match my outfit! And what a nice canvas for embroidery!

Suit Dress Embroidery

I bought an embroidery design CD years ago because I loved this picture.

The designs are from Inspira
I loaded the designs on my computer, but have never stitched them - not one.  I think the highlighted design below would look great stitched down the left side of the collar of the azalea suit dress. 
I think I will change the flowers to yellow to contrast with the dress.

Here is a rough idea of what I am picturing:

The Suit Dress

I ordered this beautiful azalea wool gabardine suiting from vogue fabrics today.
It is for the yummy yellow dress from the February 2010 issue of BURDA Style.  The pattern is very simple, so it will showcase the lovely drape of the gabardine. 

I am thinking of embroidery for the collar, and a self belt with a little embroidery as well.
Picture something with minimal thread coverage and maybe a few swarovski crystals.  I will report back after reviewing my embroidery designs.

Meanwhile, the leather skirt is still on the sewing table and will hopefully be finished before I get too involved with the planning of my next project.

My new year's resolution to focus less on work has suffered a minor setback as I worked both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, but I think I will ask for a day or two off midweek next week to stay home and sew.  That would be terrific!  A whole day or two to myself....

Leather Jacket Sew Along

Last fall, I participated in a fun sew along on line at  This was my first time sewing leather - actually it was faux leather.  I have never sewn real leather.

Here is the pattern I used:

BURDA Style petite jacket

technical drawing

It is from BURDA Style magazine October 2009.  It is a petite sized pattern.  I cut size 21. 

This project held a few firsts for me.

    * sewing a material which will have permanent needle holes

    * using fabric glue

    * bagging a lining

    * using lapped seams

    * attaching a collar with a collar band

    * pressing a fabric which will melt if touched with the iron


    Some of these things posed bigger challenges than others for me.


    sewing a material which will have permanent needle holes

  This was especially difficult for me.  I like to baste before I sew. 
I also often take seams apart and resew them until I am satisfied. 
Two things which helped were binder clips and IDT.  IDT is a feature on
some Pfaff sewing machines, which feeds fabric from both the top and
bottom as you sew.  It is like a built in walking foot.  But by far,
the biggest help was using lapped seams.  With lapped seams, I did not
have to sew reverse curves together in the princess seams. I simply
laid one piece over another and sewed.  Well, it wasn't really that
simple.  I marked all the seam lines as the pattern pieces were cut.

stitch sample

    using lapped seams

    The pattern calls for lapped seams, which I really liked sewing. 
See how the backing of the fabric is a white color?  I was worried that
the white would show if I used lapped seams, so I made some test
samples and found it would not be a problem.  I experimented with 
thread color, stitch length and presser foot pressure, and the sample
to the right is what I set my machine up to produce.  I used
contrasting thread for my samples to make it easy to judge the right
tension, and I really liked the the look of the olive color against the
red, so I went with it for the finished version.  I did have some stray
white fibers peaking out of the seams in some places.  I used tweezers
and sharp embroidery scissors to trim them all back.

    Once I decided to use lapped seams, I had some work to do.  The first
thing was to decide which seams would be lapped and which would not. 
For example the sleeve back seam was sewn right sides together.  Once I
decided which seams were lapped, I had to decide which was the underlap
side. Since Burda patterns do not have seam allowances, I had to add
seam allowances to all underlapped pieces as well as those wich would
be sewn right sides together.  I did this by marking the pattern pieces
with dashed lines on all edges which I did NOT want seam allowances
added.  When I cut the fabric, I used a rotary cutter with a gauge set
at 2cm (5/8in) to add seam allowances where I wanted them.  I did not
add seam allowances to my pattern pieces.  After the pattern pieces
were cut, I marked seam lines on the right side of all underlapped
seams by tracing along the edge of the pattern piece with a chalk
wheel.  I did not mark the seam lines that would be sewn right sides
together.  Now, I realize I could have cut all pieces with 2cm seam
allowances and trimmed them off the overlap side just before sewing,
but I think the extra legwork made my pattern pieces truer and the
sewing went quicker. The sewing was actually a joy.  Having the seam
line marked on the underlapped side, I just lapped the pieces right
along that line and edge stitched them together.  Additionally, I
drafted the lining from the pattern pieces, subtracting the facings,
and converting seams to darts.  This was easily done since the pattern
pieces did not have seam allowances.
    What did I learn?

  I learned how to bag a lining.  I had read how to do it a number of
times over the years, but I never did it by turning the whole assembly
through an opening in the sleeve.
    What would I do differently?

  I was challenged by the collar.  Since I was not able to baste, I
have two rows of stitching holding the band to the jacket - One for the
inner band and then another for the outer band.  Next time I sew this
type of collar on faux leather, I will use glue to hold the inner
collar in place.  Then I will have one line of stitches showing where
the outer collar band is attached.  Another thing I will do differently
involves the zipper seams.  Again, I have double stitching in some
areas around the zippers which would be eliminated with the use of
glue.  Normally, I baste and then remove those stitches, but this type
of fabric is incompatible with that method.
    *Use fabric glue to baste where necessary
    What I will definitely do again?
    *use binder clips
    *mark underlapped seam lines
    *make samples to determine stitch length and presser foot pressure
    *use low heat and a thick press cloth and press test samples
    *draft a facing for the peplum
This leather jacket sew-along was a fun project for me.  The
encouragement, advice, and praise from all of the women on artisan square was wonderful. 
It was like having a bunch of friends in my sewing room with me as I went along.

Here are some pictures of my progress

assembled back

The first thing I assembled was the full back.

without collar and sleeves

Then the fronts with their zippers, the side seams and the shoulder seams...

with collar

Next came the collar...
front with collar

all finished

...then the sleeves and the lining.

back view

silk lining

I have it turned inside out to show the lining.  I used a silk print I
found at the Vogue Fabrics booth at last year's Sewing and Quilting
Expo in Worcester.  (I will not be able to machine wash it. I'll just
use a steamer on the inside and a damp cloth on the leather.)

back lining

If you look closely at the sleeve seam, you can see how big the opening was that I used to turn the lining to the inside.

wearing my creation

All finished and ready to go out on the town!

side view

But first I need to finish my coffee!

back viewThe
shoulders are a little too wide, but I am happy enough with it to
actually wear it.  Overall - pretty decent fit for ZERO pattern
Now to make a skirt....

MARFY Patterns

2010 MARFY patterns

Here are this year's MARFY patterns which are included with the purchase of the new catalog.  I think these patterns are worth the price of the catalog.
My favorite is the one farthest to the right - Tubino #2255.  Click the image to see a larger view.

Marfy patterns are for advanced sewers.  They do not come with instructions or illustrations of any kind - not even one photo of the finished design.  It is recommended that you download an image from the website to accompany your pattern.

Here are some pictures of a MARFY dress I made for my Mom.  It is pattern 9640.

MARFY 9640

front view

side view

back view
pocket detail

Inspired by Project Runway

I love this skinny gold belt that I bought this past summer from Ann Taylor. Now after seeing how Seth Aaron used a belt as a bracelet on Project Runway last week, I love it even more!

Inspired by Project Runway

I Can't Decide. I Simply Must Have Them ALL!

yellow dress

I found a better picture of the perfect yellow dress.  I will be making this!

chanel style jacket

This little Chanel inspired number never goes out of style.  I like the double pocket flaps.

black shawl collar jacket

I love Love LOVE this collar

 What good is a beautiful jacket without a sweet dress to wear under it?

Recognize This Shoe?

I knew it the instant I saw it on my calendar this morning. It is the shoe from Sex and The City - the movie. These are the Manolo Blahniks Carrie married Big in!

I really love this calendar...

Are You Watching Project Runway?

Project Runway airs on Thursday nights at 10PM EST on Lifetime.

This was Seth Aaron's creation for episode 1.

side view

OK, so maybe I wouldn't wear this, but, I love some of the details.  Look at the belt used as a bracelet.  I love the little checkered straps and the chain at the hip.  I like the straps in the back and look what he did to her shoes!  I think this guy knows how to make a total look.  I am looking forward to seeing what else he creates.

back view

So who is your favorite designer this season?

BURDA Style February 2010

Normally, I do not like to check out the new BURDA Style desgns before my magazine arrives, but  couldn't help myself today.  Here are some of my favorites:



Love the shoes!


This dress is perfect.  I like the collar, fitted waist, and just below the knee length.  This is next on my project list!



Skirt Fitting

In order to tweak the fit, I slipped the skirt on inside out. I decided not to do a center back seam alteration. Instead, I will use elastic between the skirt and the facing. I have some elastic that I purchased from Emma Seabrook at the Sewing Expo. I bought an entire roll. This stuff is not like the rubbery elastic at JoAnns. It is 3 inches wide and it is soft and has good recovery. This will keep the waist from stretching too much.

Skirt Fitting

Skirt Fitting

Skirt Fitting

Remember When...

Remember the 80s? When shoulders were big! (pun intended). I think the prevailing logic was that big shoulders would balance large hips and make the body look slimmer.

Remember When...

I think the big shoulders make the body look bigger - like football players. What do YOU think?

A Work In Progress

I assembled the front and back of my skirt by sewing all vertical seams. Next, I sewed the zipper in the center front.

Now, my leather skirt is ready for a final fitting. The fit is good, but I might want to snug the waist a tiny bit. I will tweak the back waist at the center back seam. In the photos, I have the waist facing clipped to the outside. In order to fit perfectly, I will have to cut the facing at the center back and sew a lapped seam there to make the waist tighter.

Once the fit is fine tuned, I will use the adjusted facing to draft a one piece yoke.

image from

image from

It will look better once it's pressed. Also, I think it is time to add more padding to my dress form. She doesn't quite fill the skirt out the way I do, and I don't think I'll ever get back to the size I was when I originally padded her. I have been hoping, but it's time to get real!

Cari turns 14


birthday girl

HaPpY BirThDaY to my first niece! PS - love the hat! I hope your birthday wishes come true!

Pattern Drafting

A couple of years ago, I took a pant fitting class at the Worcester Sewing and Quilting Expo.  The class was taught by Peggy Sagers.  I now can sew pants that fit me perfectly.  If you ever have an opportunity to take her class, I highly recommend you do it!

With my custom pant pattern, I made a basic skirt sloper.  I sewed a mock-up to correspond to it, complete with a zipper.  It has been hanging in my sewing room since 2007.  Last night, I broke it out to draft a pattern for a skirt to go with my red leather jacket.  I tried on the mock-up just to make sure I was still happy with the fit.

The sloper is for a mini skirt.  I want this skirt to come to just below my knees, so I added length.  I converted the darts in back to princess seams.  Then, I angled the seam lines and added additional style lines.


I did this for the front and the back.  Next, I drafted facings for the waistline.  Voila! I now have a pattern for a skirt to go with my jacket!

Little Indulgences

I bought this calendar for my friend Gina but I got it too late so I kept it for myself. Merry Christmas to me! I love it. This is the sort of thing I never would buy for myself.

the SHOE calendar

my office

Here it is on my desk at work. What are your little indulgences?

I can MAKE that!

cutting table

I have been bouncing around ideas for a skirt to match my jacket.  I think a princess pencil skirt is what I want to do.  Instead of buying a pattern, or looking for one in my pattern stash, I am thinking - you guessed it - I can MAKE that!  If I can get the fit right, I think it will be stylish and comfortable to wear.

Here is a sample of the fabric stitched with lapped seams

stitch sample

What about shoes?  Oh I would LOVE to make my own shoes!  Hmmmm, maybe I could cover a pair of pumps and add some embellishment to them.  And a purse....  I could also make a little clutch purse with a frame.  See how easily I can get carried away with a project?  Hey at least I'm not thinking about a hat!