Friday, May 31, 2013

My Weekend Plans: Sewing!!!

It is suppose to rain most of this weekend, so inbetween shuttling my moping basset hound to and from the dog park, I plan to sew. (I almost wrote "mopping" instead of "moping" and believe me, if he could mop I would be thrilled...Heck, I'd be thrilled if he could even vaccuum.)

The season has changed from winter to summer and, since I joined the Sew-Your-Own-Wardrobe-For-One-Year challange, I have been reduced to the few items I have in my wardrobe from last year....

So, I need to make several t-shirts. The first set will be Renfrews because I know and love the pattern and I can churn out four or so over the weekend.  I have red fabric, green fabric and a few patterned fabrics for this venture. I will have substantial scraps left over, so you may even see a hybrid t-shirt too!

Next, I'm making pants. Just a quick pair of slip-on pants (no waistband, just darts and a side zipper). These additions will see me through the next few weeks.....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sewing Studio Safety

I spent some time this school year sewing with a few students during  lunch hour. It wasn't a rewarding activity. Sewing is an expensive hobby and it takes a lot of time and patience. And there are always safety issues with any machinery.

Below are a list of sewing room safety rules that I got from a high school teacher. It assumes more independence than my 7th graders have.


  1. Follow all directions given by the pattern.
  2. Inform the teacher if there are broken material / tools in the room.
  3. Keep a clean workspace while working and clean up your area when you are done.
  4. Think before you sew!  Be resource savvy.
  5. Choose the proper tool for your task - ask the teacher if you need help.
  6. Concentrate on your task:  avoid distractions and do not rush.
  7. Cooperate with others and take turns as needed.
  8. Goofing around and throwing things can cause injury and will not be tolerated.
  9. Report any injury no matter how small to the teacher.


  • Choose the proper tool for your task – NEVER use fabric scissors for ANYTHING but fabric!
  • Keep your work area clean and return material to their storage when you are finished.
  • Keep pins in a pin box, never in mouth or clothes.
  • Keep scissors closed when not using.
  • Pass sharp objects, sharp end down, to another person.
  • Keep all supplies in your sewing box when not in use.

Sewing Machine
  • Wear safety eyewear. (Or choose eye glasses over contacts during sewing class)
  • Keep the sewing machine cord out of people’s way.
  • When sewing, keep hands flat on material, fingers away from the needle, and guide the material through the machine. Never push or pull the material as it could cause the needle to break.
  • Use a slow speed when learning how to use the machine. Keep your machine under control at all times. Do NOT speed!
  • DO NOT sew over pins!
  • Do not place objects in openings on the machine.
  • Use sharp needles – replace bent or blunt needles.
  • Switch the machine off when threading the machine.
  • Switch the machine off if you leave your workspace.
  • Unplug the machine by pulling on the plug, never on the cord, when you are finished.
  • Replace the sewing machine cover when you are finished sewing.
  • Don’t touch a hot iron except on the handle.
  • Iron on the ironing board only.
  • Keep your fingers and face away from the steam.
  • Keep the electrical cord out of the way to avoid tripping and pulling the iron off the ironing board.
  • Rest the iron on its heel when not in use.
  • Unplug the iron when finished. Empty water when not in use. Let the iron cool and then store properly.

What do you think? Is anything left out?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

'How Much Fabric' winners!

I have some exciting news to announce.....the winners of the "How Much Fabric" cards give-away....

These cards are your handy-dandy reference for when you are fabric shopping without your patterns in hand (or even picked out yet). Gwyn Hug has referenced hundreds of patterns and made calculations to save you time and money.  She has done all the work to save you from buying too much or too little fabric.Honestly, I've used them so much since I got them.

Here is a link to purchase your own set of cards.

And if you aren't ready to purchase a set yet, why not save the link and let a friend or relative buy you a set for your next birthday or Christmas? These are on my list of stocking stuffers for the sewists I know....

But I digress....

                  the winners are....Dorothy DotDot and Judith. Congratulations ladies. I've emailed you both with instructions on how to claim your prizes. And remeber the small print: as a winner, you've agreed to help us spread the word about these dynamic cards. Please review them on your blog or elsewhere.....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Butterick 5189 - A Jacket I Tried to Make for Spring but Will Save for Fall Instead....

Taken from

I couldn't resist pink buttonholes.

I made all my own seam binding. I used pink broadcloth for everything but the hem. On it I used some quilting cotton in a nice black with the sewing words swirled all over it. I decided to use a different colour for the hem because I've noticed that on many RTW clothes.

Pattern Description: (this is copied and pasted from my review...)

A quick and simple jacket pattern with raglan sleeves and pleats at the cuff.

Pattern Sizing:
8 -24. I cut a size 16 and I found this pattern has quite a bit of ease. I would advise you cut a size smaller than usual.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, the instructions were easy to follow. There was little information on seam finishes, which I think is needed in an unlined jacket. I used the Hong Kong seam finish for my jacket and I'm happy with it. The pattern also tended to skip steps - something that didn't bother me, since I am an experienced sewist but I think that will keep me from giving it a "great for beginners" rating. For instance, there is no information on opening the inverted pleat in the back of the coat.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I didn't like the pleated cuffs. I think sleeves should taper in. I did follow the instructions and this does work, it just isn't something I will follow a second time. Next time, I will draft the sleeves in a tapering style.

Fabric Used:
I found a similar-to-herringbone upholstery fabric in cotton-polyester that was $4 a metre. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I ended up taking in the sleeve at the shoulders by about an inch. I also added a button to the front (three aren't enough) and I plan to add a belt and two belt loops.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I don't think this pattern is for the true beginner. But any advanced beginner could make it with ease. The collar was simple and turned out on the first try. I will use this pattern again but I will sew it in a smaller size and I will change the sleeves.

This is a good, easy pattern. I chose to make it in a heavier pattern than recommended and it worked out fine.
I may take the bodice in again - I sewed about 1/2 and inch inside the sewing line. I believe it is the drape of the fabric rather than the pattern that has caused this - a more fluid fabric would drape better. So I didn;t add this critique to my review....This is my first pattern review on!!!

Also.....please enter my contest for "How Much Fabric" cards. They are invaluable! I have no idea what I did before I had these cards...oh, yeah, I bought too much fabric....The draw is one May 12th...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"How Much Fabric?" Pattern Reference Cards Review and Give-away

Readers, I have to tell you about an invaluable sewing tool...the "How Much Fabric?" pattern reference cards from Gwyn Hug...and, great news, Gwyn Hug has generously offered to give two of these sets away to my readers!
Have you ever been out shopping, spotted the perfect fabric and then had no idea how much you need? I generally buy three yards – because I can get pants or a jacket out of it. But the amount of left over fabric I have is incredible. In the interest of buying the yardage I need -so that I have money left over to buy other fabric in yardage I need too – I've become obsessed with this handy fabric calculator, called "How Much Fabric?" Reference Cards....from Gwyn Hug 

I took these pics from Pattern Junkie to really show you the true worth of this pattern reference. For shirt patterns such as those on the front of the card (bottom pic) you just look for the fabric width and your size for the amount of fabric needed. Viola! No more guessing - lots of money saved for other sewing projects too.

I've heard of others who have rough guides in their heads for fabric buying too -just rough estimates in their heads that they recall if an idea hits them in the fabric store. And these are better than my basic buy-three-yards (which can be difficult in Canada where we do everything by meters....) but still problematic. What if I buy 1.5 yards and then learn that the skirt I was picturing requires more fabric?

Guessing fabric amounts can be heartbreaking – recently I purchased 2.5 yards of fabulous brown wool crepe for a pair of pants (I was thinking of my Thurlow pattern) and rounded from 2 yards just to be sure. The trouble was that this wool crepe was 45” wide and the pattern called for 3.25 yards – ugh!!!! If I had my handy "How Much Fabric?" Reference Cards with me...I would be busy making my pants right now, instead of trying to find a nice skirt pattern in my stash that would go with my fabric.

I carry this handy, dandy "How Much Fabric?" Reference on my key chain. It is meant to help you when your patterns are at home and you're in a fabric frenzy....just look for the garment you want to sew, find your size on the chart and the width of the fabric and presto'll have an excellent estimate (an average actually, put together by transcribing tons of patterns into tables and then doing some math from there....) and info on adding "safety" yardage if you still want to be sure...(and any extra can go to making bias tape or facings later on).

My cards (I bought the women's clothes version but plus sizes, mens', baby and toddlers' versions as well as children's clothes are also available)

The women's pants card....oh! How I needed you last month when I bought an inadequate amount of fabric for my Thurlow pattern....

tops and dresses

Also, if you are a sewist in my local circle of friends, you will be getting one for Christmas! These make the best stocking stuffers! (Don't laugh, Christmas sneaks up on me soon enough!)


"How Much Fabric?" Reference Cards Give-away Rules: (Two Winners - one pdf version; one printed!!!)

Gwyn Hug has generously offered to give two of my blog readers a free set of cards. The first winner gets the PDF version and the second winner gets the printed version of the cards)

We want to spread the word on this amazing Pattern Reference! To win you have to promise to write a review on your blog (or on pattern review or in a local newsletter, even on another blog as a guest poster,  etc...) within two weeks of receiving your own calculator. 

Other important stuff: 
  • There will be 2 randomly drawn winners - one will receive her choice of card sets in Imperial measurements and one will receive her choice of cards in metric measurements.  
  • Post your name and comment below to enter.  
  • The winners will be drawn on May 12th - (be sure to leave a way for me to contact you)


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