photo 1 Front door in V8979

And I like it!

After all the delays, the pondering, the color-bleeding batik fabric and sundry life-stuff thrown at me, I have finished Vogue 8979. The batik was a long time occupant of my fabric stash and I was totally willing to use it as a wearable muslin. As it turned out, I am taking away the “muslin” designation and am finding this top very wearable.

So here are a few new thoughts about this pattern.

  • When making a new-to-me pattern, I usually follow the designer’s lead and make it exactly according to the guide sheet. Unless there’s a step which is beyond my comprehension. And that’s what I did with 8979.


  •  The finished project pretty closely resembles the illustration on the pattern envelope and I am thanking the sewing gods profusely.
  •  It’s described as semi-fitted; it turned out closely fitted in the tummy/hip (aka spare tire) for me, even after careful comparison. According to the finished garment numbers printed on the pattern tissue, I should have been OK in the stomach/hip area with size 16; but I had to let out the side seam. So, see tip #2 below.
  • I’m glad I kept the back zipper. The neckline is low enough that I could have skipped the back zipper, but I’ve saved that change for the next version.


  •  Speaking of the neckline, it is a tad lower than I usually wear. Will have to work that out in the next version of this top, or forever wear a camisole. The selfie below shows a more modestly pinned up neckline….

Front selfie

  • It ain’t Easy/Facile as marked on the envelope. I’d love to know what the pattern company’s guidelines are for Easy/Facile patterns.
  •  I’m not sure why the pleats on lower left are hidden, after all that work. My next version will have these pleats peeking out.


  •  Don’t want to seem stupid or anything, but the attachment of the right back neckband (below) took me 24 hours to fully understand and execute.

Upper back

  • Front left neckband is very fiddly at the lower point to get neatly done. But its do-able. Next version (and there will be one) is going to see the two neck bands interfaced.

Front right band

  • Speaking of next version, how about this double faced silk jacquard found in my stash? It’s a muddy olive green on one side, and a muddier mustard yellow on the other.

Double sided silk

More September Sewing Tips:

Sewing Tip #1:

Mark finished steps on guidesheet


Maybe it’s advancing age, but I am now circling construction steps on the guide sheet which pertain to my view only, with color pencil, then checking off that step in another color when complete. Saves me a few seconds to see where I stopped at the last sewing session. Why did I not think of this before?

Sewing Tip #2

 Measure the Flat Pattern


This may seem obvious but it bears repeating. Rely on the printed finished dimensions AND measure the flat pattern in the torso area, AND yourself before cutting out the tissue. Just in case, cut out the next size in that area. It can always be taken in.

Sewing Tip #3

Tighter Armhole Required for Sleeveless Look

Right front in process

The fronts (left & right) and back are the same pattern piece for all views in Vogue 8979. With the sleeveless view, A, the armhole should be made smaller and higher by adjusting the paper pattern. Move the cutting line at front (left & right) and back underarm point to at least 1” inwards, and at least 1” higher.

This top is a welcome addition to my closet! Sewn any new-to-you patterns lately? Let’s have it in the comments section!




Hi Readers, Just for my fellow sewing enthusiasts, I’m turning Sewing Month 2014 into a Sewing Tip Month on this blog.   Read on to see my progress with Vogue 8979, and then the tips related to the project.

photo 1Vogue Pattern mag

After searching high and low for someone who had made this pattern, I found that Vogue Patterns and myself were the only two entities who were willing to give this a try –  publicly. The image on the right is a page from Vogue Patterns magazine; my thanks to them for giving me a photographic reference. Illustrations can go only so far….

Warning: this project is still a WIP – Work In Progress. Unfortunately, a smaller portion of my day is now allotted to sewing.

While I work on view A, a recurring thought is:  V8979 is marked Easy/Facile. I don’t think so. There are too many details in the design and execution of this for seamstresses looking for “easy” patterns. My question to the pattern company: what are the guidelines for designating a pattern “Easy/Facile”?

Now the sewing tips:

Sewing Tip #1

Deep shades of batik usually bleed.

color bleed

Fabric: I’m using a rayon batik purchased years ago. It has a great hand, but the “oxblood” color bleeds terribly, even after a couple of washings & dryings. Tip: Wash & dry a dark hued batik several times, or forever hold your peace. Any ideas for making it colorfast? Anyone used the vinegar technique? Type your thoughts in the comment section, please!

Sewing Tip #2 

Extend a cutting surface

Add cutting surface

To solve the issue of fabric or a large pattern piece going beyond your cutting mat, pull out that wide plastic ruler and lay it down flush with the side of the cutting mat. Using a rotary cutter on the ruler is NOT advised, but you can use pins and scissor. As you can see, I put my cutting mat on the carpet, and placed a transparent ruler next to it, just in the area where the fabric was going “overboard”. It increased the surface very nicely.

Sewing Tip #3

Separate singles from doubles.

Cut 1 pieces

All except two of the 7 pattern pieces are marked “Cut 1”, therefore they’re to be cut on a single fabric layer; the suggested layout on the guide sheet tells us that patterns which are “Cut 2” are on the same single layer but cut twice. No thanks.  Pattern pieces marked “Cut 2″, step aside! I would rather cut two of the same pieces on doubled fabric in one pass. Pictured above are the single layer pieces.

Sewing Tip #4

Cut your fabric with paper underneath.


Use paper underneath to cut out drapey and flimsy fabric. Any paper, even newspaper. Newsprint can come off on fabric, but if this is a muslin, no worries about newsprint. Educator Connie Crawford insists on this one, and rightly so. She says you need to sharpen your fabric scissors once in a while anyway.

Sewing Tips #5

Use carbon tracing paper and tracing wheel.

Marking with carbon Marked

The more markings there are on a pattern, as in this one, the better off you are using tracing carbon and tracing wheel to transfer to the fabric piece. Not a quick process, but you’ll thank yourself later.

Sewing Tip #6

Why use paper pattern for rectangular pieces?

Straight pieces

Pattern pieces in linear shapes such as squares or rectangles, can be cut easily without pinning the tissue to fabric. Measure the pattern piece and cut to the same measurements directly in fabric. Transparent rulers rule here!  If any markings need to be transferred, put the tissue on the piece and mark. For example. I did not need a pattern for the bias armhole facing; it’s a bias strip and I just cut a bias strip to the measurement of the pattern. Ditto with the little right back neckband. The picture shows that I did not do a great job of cutting cleanly and neatly, but there you have it.

I’m writing a review of the completed Vogue 8979 in my next post!  And more tips….

So let’s have some thoughts and ideas in the comment section.  The previous “tip post” had a small but great conversation going with my commenter buddies adding their own tips. We want more!


Oh, hi there, you made it. Like the cute “still loading” spinner? It’s been kindly provided by my favorite blogging software company Automattic, owners of – to make a point, and start a protest. Yay, Automattic!

Yup, it’s 2014, and the internet is going through growing pains. The newest battles (in addition to the usual fights for real estate) are in cyberspace, the latest one being for “Net Neutrality”. It basically means whichever rich corporation pays, gets a faster load of it’s material. Poor, one-person, hard-working blogging operations like me & you get the “still loading” spinner. And then there’s the search engine issue. With no neutrality, the payers get the foremost rank, and my posts probably go to the bottom of the heap.

Hey, readers, I support Net Neutrality.

Back to sewing everything.



Can’t help but re-blog this post. Bravo! Angelina, take note and design a new fashion line. You can do it…

Originally posted on I Miss You When I Blink:

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen Angelina Jolie’s wedding gown, which had her children’s artwork embroidered right onto the dress.

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 8.55.29 PM

(Also, do make sure you check out the parody version by Funny Or Die. )

Some of the fashion reporters have dissed Jolie’s decision to take a perfectly good Versace frock and cover it in scribble, but really? This is a woman who once wore her boyfriend’s blood in a vial around her neck. I’m surprised her dress wasn’t woven from actual human muscle tissue and decorated with the urine splatters of exotic wildlife. Instead of being so uptight, maybe we should take inspiration from The Queen of Cheekbones & Darkness and punch up some of this season’s fashions.

Just look how much better these already great outfits look when you add drawings to them:

JolieCollection.001 I absolutely adore this fabulous cocktail dress with the flower-inspired ruffle at the neck. But behold how much MORE awesome it is if you draw monsters on…

View original 432 more words

To all my sewing buddies:


It takes all my energy to keep from sharing a sewing tip as soon as I discover it or after a light bulb moment. Here are two tips I want to share with you. Just two because I need to share right away, and importantly, it makes for a shorter blog post – which you are more likely to read through :).

Sewing tip #1

Mark the Inner Markings

Mark the darts on the tissue

Mark the darts on the tissue

Mark the pleats

Mark the pleats

On the pattern tissue, mark all inner details with a brightly colored, contrasting pencil or marker. This pattern tissue is Vogue8979. You will need to transfer things like dart lines, dots, pleat lines and such on the fabric anyway. Making them clear on the tissue will save time when transferring the marks on fashion fabric. If you already do this disregard this tip. For me it was a hit-myself-on-the-forehead moment. Why did I not think of this before now?


Sewing tip #2

The Slip Stitch Used for Basting

Use the slip-stitch to baste something, and bring it’s snob factor down a notch. Yes, it need not be used only in couture sewing. There was the time I wished I could baste an underarm side seam from the right side of a lined dress, the armhole of which was being reduced in size to fit the wearer (the things one does for family).  I pinned the underarm seam on the right side to fit, drew chalk marks at the pins, forming a dart-like shape. Chalk marks were done on the outside and the lining.

Slip Stitch chalk mark Slip Stitch lining chalk mark

Then I brought the chalk lines together, pinned, and slip-stitched the folds of fabric, doing outer fabric and lining separately. You can see below the fashion fabric pinned together at the chalk marks. Repeat on the lining side; on the right you can see the folds being slip stitched together on the lining. Note the label, which I included in the photo — on purpose.

Slip Stitch pinned Slip stitch


After removing the pins and turning it to the wrong side, the underarm was basted just as it should have been on the dress and the lining. Also note: the underarm on the fashion fabric is reinforced with silk organza, and the lining with a strip of fusible interfacing.  Mr Oscar de la Renta gets high marks for construction.

Slip Stitch inside

I proceeded as usual with the alteration; if you’ve already used this trick, excusay moi.

A blogging note: As consistent as I want to be in uploading a post every Friday, I want to apologize for missing the last two.

Now it’s your turn. I’m sure you have a lightbulb-moment sewing tip. Please share in the comment section!


This post is dedicated to my niece Aliya, a beginner seamstress. She suggested I write about how to avoid bulky, bunchy corners, because she ran into the problem when sewing a duvet cover.

Does your pillow cover, duvet cover, collar point or any square corner look like crap once it’s turned inside out?  The reason some sewn corners seem bulky is that there is too much fabric for the amount of space available, once you turn it to the right side. The goal is to remove excess fabric and place the remaining neatly inside.

Bulky corner

To create un-bunchy corners, do one of the following:

  1. Make a diagonal cut, making sure that the corner seam is not cut through, but very close. To make it double secure, put a dab of seam sealant on the corner. Let dry completely. Fold both seams to one side before turning to the right side.  Diagonal method
  2. The Fold-y Method: Feel insecure about cutting diagonally? Try this. Fold one edge over to one side, and then fold the other edge back to the other side. Turn the piece inside out; you’ll need to ply your thumb and forefinger here a bit. Use the point turner to push it out further. Be careful not to push through the seam. Even though there is more fabric in the corner with this method, it is neatly in place, and not getting bunched up every which way.  Folded method
  3. The anti-corner:  Or you can call it the oxymoron method. In this method, you take two machine stitches which actually round off the corner. And, therein lies the sharpness. As you come close to the marked turning spot, reduce the stitch length, take two stitches on the diagonal, bring stitch length back to the original size, pivot to bring the needle back on track to sew off the rest of the seam. Trim close to the seam as shown; doesn’t seem possible but it does create non-bulky corners. Check out the collar points of a man’s shirt, and you’ll see it is slightly rounded!  Rounded corner method
  4. A final tip for corner-sewing success: there is a tool for helping you turn a good corner. It’s called a “point turner” which pushes out the fabric in a good way. Please do not use a scissor or extremely sharp implement for turning corners. It will cut through to the right side.  Tools

Any other ideas for keeping the corners nice and sharp? Please let us know. I’m always open to new sewing techniques.


In other words, this is what’s on my sewing table at this moment. A LOT. These are prime conditions for UFO formation (Unfinished Objects). I hope to persist and finish these commitments in August – or September. October??

Take a look….

Rayon Batik in oxblood and Vogue 8979. Something attracted me to this pattern in spite of “over-worked” design detail. To explain the dichotomy, I like this pattern and I don’t know why. The only place I saw it made up is in Vogue Pattern magazine’s June/July issue. I cannot find anyone else who has made and reviewed it. If you have, come forth and show your stuff!


Vogue Pattern mag

Vogue Pattern Magazine’s version in hammered silk, page 70

 Most needed item in the wardrobe: denim pants in olive/khaki in my new favorite pattern, Donna Karan Vogue 1039.  I really, really like this pattern. Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print.  You can check out a previous version of these pants in this post.

Denim and pants


A lovely sweater knit, which is double sided! It will be made into a cardigan – maybe with a drapey front to show off the wrong side? Or a regular button down cardi? Tell me!

Sweater knit


Blue/Gray undulating striped knit and McCalls 6996. The fabric edge has been under the serger for a week for pre-wash preparation. Yes, I said a week. I like this pattern because of the slightly peplum back (maybe it’ll hide my natural peplum) and non-peplum front.


Pile of knits to make sundry tops and a knit yoga pant. This may be subject to change at the last minute if a new pattern comes along. Check out the digital print at the bottom which looks like a cable knit. Purchased from Nancy Erickson.

 knit fabric

Sewing room curtains!! Long overdue window covering for the sewing room. It’s quite a kitschy print, and that’s the look I’m going for.

Sewingroom curtains

Silk/cotton fabric for a guest post project which will be revealed later, but it has to be finished quickly. As in next week.

 Silk fabric

The inevitable mending and alteration projects:

Daughter #2’s dresses to reduce the armhole gaposis.  Daughter #1’s pants which split in the back and need to be sewn up. Tsk, the pitfalls of buying ready-to-wear….

 Armhole adjust Pant mend

Which one of these do you predict will go in the UFO pile? One, two, all? I hope to prove you wrong and finish them all very soon. You, my friends, need to keep me on my sewing toes. Thanks!


Finished tea napkins

…… and it’s time to finish them after a decade of storing. The tasks at hand are hemming the edges of all seven embroidered napkins, and adding embroidery and hemming to the last eighth blank square to complete the set.


The napkins are smaller than dinner size and will probably be considered cocktail napkins. Except, I don’t do cocktails. I do high tea, so I’m calling them tea napkins.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are four ecru and four white napkins. They are made with fine linen, with scraps left over from a couple of much loved and much worn blouses — in the 90s.  The napkins have a vintage look but are made with 21st century technology – except for the hand hemming.  They’re embellished with machine embroidery using a Brother embroidery machine and card #67.


Since my old embroidery machine did all the embellishment, I’m going to focus on a hemming technique my fellow students and I learned way back in our clothing lab at college.

Invisible Hem: That is what the professors of Clothing and Textiles called it in back in the day.  Halfway across the world and decades later, it’s called a “slip stitch”. Whatever the name, this is the technique I use for hand hemming anything. On the inside it is truly invisible, and on the right side you can barely see the stitches. On certain fabrics, if you ply your needle correctly, it’s also invisible on the right side.

Here’s how I invisibly hemmed the linen napkins:

  • Press all edges of the napkins in a double fold hem by pressing up ¼” then ¼” again.  Double hem
  • Thread a fine hand sewing needle suitable for lightweight linen. You can wax the thread with beeswax at this point but I did not.  Make a small knot at the far end; my professors hated knots but I did not get into the habit of no-knot hand sewing.  Working from the wrong side take a small stitch in the body of the napkin by picking up a couple of threads with your needle.

1st stitch

  • Pierce needle into the upper fold of hem right above the previous stitch and bring it out approximately 3/8 to ½” away.

2nd stitch 2

  • Pull thread all the way so that the stitch is reasonably taut but not loose. It should not be so tight that you can see dimples or puckers on the right side. Here’s how my hemming looks. I like it.

Invisible hem

Tip: My favorite hand position while pulling the thread is holding the stitch between my thumb and forefinger of the left hand (the right hand plies the needle). For lefties, reverse this. If I can feel the thread moving, I can control the tension of the stitch. This is also a good way to avoid thread tangles .

Pull thread

  • Keep hemming until all four sides are done.

   Tip: I kept the napkins visible through the hallway, and took a few stitches as I passed by. As I write this, the ecru napkins still need to be hemmed.  Hope you like my invisible hemming ways :).

Tea & napkin

My home is a cloth napkin establishment. We almost never use paper napkins unless necessary, like the time when my guest asked for a paper napkin rather than use the pretty cloth versions. Yes, that really happened.  What do you think?   Why do some people shy away from a nice clean cloth napkin?




Blog post #67 is not about sewing. We’re going off on a tangent and shining some beams on the software company which allows me to write this blog:


I usually stop in my tracks for any book title that is fashion related. Therefore author Scott Berkun’s book caused a stop-in-your-tracks moment (um, the word “pants”). A second look at the cover image indicated that it could be porn for all I knew (shudder). The sub-title cleared it all up – it was an inside look at, the blogging software I use every day. It’s like someone writing about your friend although I have no personal or business affiliation with Automattic or author Scott Berkun, and probably never will. So, in the interest of turning the tables, below are some things I took away from the book about and their work style.

  • It was eye-opening for me on several levels. Scott Berkun joined Auttomatic on the condition that he could write about it. Not as a fly on the wall, but actually working as a team leader. In the book he has divulged the unconventional work style of a successful software company from the inside out. To use a sewing analogy for all my seamstress readers, it’s like turning an unusual piece of couture clothing inside out to see how it was created (there, this post is not totally devoid of a sewing reference).
  • As a reader, a user of and clueless about programming/coding, and one who will never use the information about unusual work styles for the rest of my life, I found the book engaging and simply written.
  • Matt Mullenweg owns Automattic© which owns Get the play on words? Matt…. Automattic©
  • Employees are called Automatticians. Clever Matt, taking cues from Disney and their “imagineers”.
  • Automattic© operates by dividing the entire company into mini (as small as four people), self-motivated and autonomous teams. This is referred to as a “distributed” company. There seems to be minimal input by the CEO, and the employees are driven by their own vision and love for their jobs, which somehow seems to dovetail into the CEO’s vision. In my next life, I want Matt Mullenweg to be my boss.
  • The teams are given names like “Team VIP” (for big clients like CNN, Time, Inc. and other biggies), “Team Social” (the author’s team which worked on the Comments section and social media connections, if I understood correctly) and so on. The most aptly named is “Team Happiness” (you and I know it as the Help Desk or Customer Service). Members of Team Happiness are called “Happiness Engineers”. Their job is to keep users happy. Can you guess what “Team Theme” does?
  • Working with Team Happiness is required for all new hires before moving on to their own specialized team. Why? Because Team Happiness has the most thankless job ever – dealing with issues/complaints from customers/bloggers like us, fixing reported bugs and the like.
  • It’s a global company in the most authentic way. Employees work from anywhere in the world on a daily basis, interacting with each other online, through Skype or other ways. When they do meet, its in places like Athens, Greece or Hawaii. Each team chooses its own meeting destination when a face to face interaction is scheduled. Verrry nice. I repeat, in an alternate universe I want to work for Matt Mullenweg.
  • New updates, improvements and features are released frequently and seamlessly; I don’t even know what was done and when.
  • Scott Berkun refers to what he calls the “Future of Work”, defending Automattic’s distributed work style, and at the same time calling it “chaos”. It’s a successful chaos.  Is this the future of work? I, personally, think so. Automattic beat most others to it.


PS: If you’re a blogger and into attending blogging conferences, the BlogHer 2014 conference is being held next week in Silicon Valley, CA and will be there, and there will be a”Happiness Bar”. Way to go Team Happiness! People, take your blogging questions there and get happy.

PPS: I promise to go back to sewing posts. Thank you for reading!



It summertime and the sewing is easy.  Next month, it will be hotter ‘n hell in Texas.  While the fashion industry and most well-organized home sewers are planning and replenishing their fall closets, I am still trying to sew summer clothes for myself.


Casual Lady V2

This striped tunic recently came off my sewing machine in the way of summer clothing. Its the Casual Lady pattern (available from Go To Patterns), sewn in striped fabric  from Spoonflower.  Please note that I have a complete stash of striped fabric. The striped fabric fairy visits me often, and I have more striped stuff in transit as we speak……


The tunic pattern was purchased in 2013 because at the time the money went to a worthy cause; I’m happy to say that the pattern itself fits well and is nicely shaped. This, by the way, is the second use of the Casual Lady pattern; the previous one was made in 2013 and was inspired by a Jason Wu t-shirt. See that post here.

I will use this pattern again since it is a good easy make for summer. I could lengthen it to the floor and call it a maxi. I could go the opposite way and make it into a crop top, at the risk of being disowned by family and friends.

Occasionally I get obsessive/compulsive about sewing details in the most casual, quick-sewn item. Here is what I just had to do when turning the armhole edge.


Instead of sewing up the entire hem edge with the same cream thread, I stopped at the beginning of the mustard part and changed to mustard thread. Don’t raise your eyebrows; Coco Chanel changed the thread mid-buttonhole to match the print in haute couture items! I’m in good company…

What have you sewn for the summer? Have you skipped summer sewing and gone directly to replenishing the Fall wardrobe?










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