I’ve learned a lot of sewing lessons from Sandra Betzina through classes, videos and books. With her Today’s Fit line of Vogue patterns, the guide sheets capture the essence of Sandra. It’s as if she’s talking to me personally. Like, urging you to take your “honest” waist measurement; my favorite piece of advice was Sandra’s suggestion for those of us with protruding tummies to go ahead and make these tight pants because we’ll be wearing longer tops anyway. Vintage Sandra.

Copy V1411

What’s so great about Vogue 1411  (Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina), other than the fantastic, on-trend style and seam details? Simple. Even with my bumpy, lumpy silhouette, they look good; as Sandra says in the guide sheet, these pants are “very flattering”. They are close fitting and make my legs look deceptively long. Did I say they have great seam details? And…they fit certain criteria that women my age are looking for: comfort. It’s extremely difficult to find elastic waist, knit pants which do not look like one has given up on life. People, Vogue 1411 are knit pants with an elastic waist, and are super flattering and fashionable!  Er, yeah, that’s me trying to emulate the Vogue model. Are you laughing yet?

Here’s how the making of V1411 went down:

The muslin:  I chose view A because of the looser bottom leg. As the pattern says, both views have the same fit above the knee; they differ in width below the knee. For the muslin (this is one of the times I really wanted to make a wearable muslin) I cut out size E, going up to size F at the sides and top – just in case. But straight E turned out to be the perfect size. Its empowering to know that I fit into ONE size.  The muslin was made with a leftover piece of knit from another project and quickly made to gauge the fit. A “front guide” piece is provided in the pattern so that you do not have to sew the seam detail just to gauge the fit. This muslin became lounge pants, because I was not about to wear emerald green pants beyond my front door.  Picture below shows the crotch seam pinned to bring it down from size F to size E.

Trial 2. reducing width

Main Fabric, Life Curve and Silver Lining:  Onward with the “good fabric” pants. Gray ponte knit (shown in this post) from The Fashion Sewing Group (Nancy Erickson, owner) was used.  At this point, life threw a curve with my mother ending up in the hospital. This is how I was pulled away from the half cut gray ponte knit for a couple of weeks. That is also the reason blog-writing was ignored for about 6 weeks. I’m sorry. A fabulous silver lining to these events: my daughter #2 getting engaged!!! Getting back to the pants…..

Pants complete

Sewing the seams: I just want to say that the triple stitch recommended by Sandra, has never received such a workout in my sewing machine’s 25 years. The stitch was used throughout construction, even the topstitching. Oh, the topstitching. There’s miles of it, but so worth it! Be warned that there will also be a lot of trimming away the seam allowance after topstitching. I used a stretch twin needle for topstitching the seams and the hem. The seams thus achieved a ridge-like look and became prominent and defined.

Trim the seams Seam detail

The elastic waist: I ran over to the closest fabric chain (not Joann’s) in my area to buy the 1 ¼” elastic. Well. The elastic aisle was thoroughly disorganized and I had to “make do” with this fabulous magenta elastic from Dritz. Too bad it had to be hidden. Next time I’ll consider using it by itself as a waistband.

magenta elastic2

The hem: this was done simply by using strips of fusible tape to turn up the hem. Once the hem was fused in position, I pulled out the stretch twin needle again. How exactly does one do an even twin needle hem being sure to catch the edge underneath? You can either thread baste a line and straddle that line with the twin needle; or you can use my “touchy feely” method, and use your finger to feel the underneath edge of the fabric – I get a perfect hem with my touchy method.

Hemming Hem

The next pair:  The next fabric contender for Vogue 1411 is a tan/black double sided wool knit. Maybe I could use the black side for the smaller pattern pieces at the knee? The recommended fabrics on the pattern also include stretch wovens, and after I’ve exhausted my new knit pant obsession, I will be pulling out a couple of stretch wovens from my stash. That should see me through another pant-sewing drought in the future….

Readers, please tell me if you have already made this pattern. If not, I highly recommend it.  Maybe you have another go-to pants pattern? I’d love to know about it.


Almost three decades ago, in 1986, I lost my maternal grandmother, Ayesha Rahman, at the age of 82. She was originally from Hyderabad, India.

In September 2014, I lost a dearly loved aunt. Her name was Jady Rahman (Ayesha Rahman’s daughter-in-law), age 85 from La Jolla, California; she was the picture of health so her death came as a shock to our family. She was originally from China.

May they both rest in peace. I’m remembering both today by talking about something I made for each of them, using my sewing and crocheting skills.

IMG_1578 Ayesha Begum (1924)_HR

Back in the 70s, my Mom urged me to make something for my grandmother Ayesha, who was a handwork enthusiast herself, and was a thoroughly creative soul. She’s pictured above as a young married woman in the 1920s. I watched her embroider things, using stitches I did not know existed. I have a vivid memory of her embroidering flowers on a pillow cover, using twill tape (wide twill tape) instead of embroidery floss!! That was fascinating, and of course she let me try my hands on her project. Beware of a future blog post on this handwork technique. In 1973, my gift to her was this triangular crocheted shawl in very 70s colors; the yarn was probably wool because the shawl looks pretty matted and felted today. We still possess this shawl and use it for my mother, age 89. Maybe I’ll get to use it some day??

Anees&Jady in Louvain (1960)_HR Cropped Jady Apa_1

In 2012, after a very long time in the works, I finished a dress for my aunt Jady (pictured above somewhere in France in 1960), along the lines of a couture dress in lightweight maroon silk taffeta. I think in India they call it shot silk. Couture, because that is what she appreciated. She was picky about the fit and the muslin went back and forth in the mail several times. In La Jolla, she led an active life and would have put this dress to good use. She gave me a dress she owned and loved, to copy the fit and style for her. I used knowledge gained from Kenneth King’s class on Pattern Review to copy her original dress. She had purchased the fabric in India, and had stored it for a long time – a true non-sewing fabric collector. I underlined the dress in silk organza and lined it in Bemberg Rayon; the zipper was hand-picked. In the picture you can see it on my dress form which is a much larger size than Jady was; the back of the dress could not be zipped on the form, hence the wonky look in the picture. I am proud of my aunt for appreciating the finer details of dressmaking, and am proud that I made a dress for her. I am prouder that her work was dedicated to cancer research.


Hi Readers,

Today, I’m going to send you over to the Masala Mommas site to read my newest post.

In September my post included instructions for making a “batwa” (butt-wa). It’s a drawstring pouch but a little different in the opening and closing. The secret lies in a teeny tiny stitch at the sides …. well, I’ll just have to send you there for the tutorial. Click here.

NOTE: This is one of the best scrap busters ever!!


Below is a picture of my own maternal grandmother Ayesha, holding a black velvet batwa with the Taj Mahal embroidered in metallic silver. My grandma’s cute but I can never take my eyes off the batwa. The picture was taken in the 1920s, probably ’24 or ’25. The pouch was passed on to my mother who allowed me to play with it A LOT. The inevitable happened and the batwa sort of disappeared from my life. Probably disintegrated into shreds. Tsk.

Ayesha Begum (1924)_HR

The other picture is of small batwa pouches I own; they’re not antique but looks like they’re made with really old silk metallic fabric. This is the look of the traditional batwa.

2 Inspiration

So go ahead, read the post on the Masala Mommas site and let me know whether you’ll be trying your hand at making a batwa. Sew it by hand while watching TV and you’ll never be able to stop at just one.


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 WordPress.com – 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!



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