MMMay 14

here’s my me-made-may 2014 roundup! my countless selfies (32 because i had two outfits on one day…) were documented on instagram, and i took the lazy approach of reflection in my bedroom mirror… it doesn’t get any classier than that, folks.

sorry for not linking to individual blog posts, many of these were never blogged, and many are patiently awaiting their turn. i’m particularly pleased that i wore me-mades every day, without wearing something just because of the challenge.  i tried to keep repeats down to a minimum to make sure i utilized more of my wardrobe. the most worn item was, hands down, my jalie jeans. time for another pair! yeah, add it to the list…

what did i learn? clearly i have a thing for grainline studio patterns… worn on 15 days (often two at a time), with only a few items repeated. oh, and i desperately need a haircut.

—lisa g.

here begins the quest for great-fitting jeans

the holy grail of sewing (other than a couture wedding gown) would have to be jeans. jeans have been on my to-sew list for a long time, but frankly i was slightly afraid of failure so they kept getting pushed to the side. recently i picked up some $2/yd stretch corduroy on a crazy sale and decided to finally give jeans a try. i went with the ever-loved jalie 2908. i’ve made this pattern for my daughter twice and had great results, so i got to tracing off my own size.

(sorry about the awful pics… this dark color is super hard to photograph, so i overexposed the pics in order to see the details i’m talking about.)


right now i’m about 75% happy, so i thought i would talk fitting. i’m not a pants-fitting expert, so what i say here is simply my own personal experience, and stuff i’ve picked up from fitting books. feel free to chime in if i say something that sounds totally off!

to begin, i wanted skinny jeans (i know… i’m using corduroy, not denim, but we’re just calling them jeans since they have the same stretch and design details) so i took some measurements from my everyday jeans to give me a starting point. the pattern is already fit with negative ease through the thigh, so most of the tapering came from the knee down. i did have to bring the back outside seam in a little right before the knee, but from there i tapered in symmetrically. i also added 1 1/2″ to the length. the leg shape i’m happy with, though i may try to reduce the under-bum wrinkling.


now for some crotch talk! ugh, can we as the creative type come up with a better term than crotch??? for realz people. this needs to happen. anyways… off the bat i added a wedge to increase the back rise by 3/4″ (i’ve seen this called a “full bottom adjustment” hahaha the only FBA i’ll ever need!). this worked well, and the overall crotch seam length i’m happy with.


so what’s this 25% i’m not happy with? i have this wedge of fabric just kinda hanging out below the fly. it doesn’t really show up in pics the way it does when i’m looking in the mirror, but this is something that definitely does not occur in my RTW jeans.


i think i have two issues here: one—the pants aren’t sitting close enough in the front, and two—i have a “prominent thigh” pulling the fabric out, which is more obvious in profile.


i think if i adjust the front crotch curve to be flatter, most of my issues will be solved. reducing the front curve will inadvertently add width to the front of the leg, making room for my prominent front thigh.

the waistband on this pattern is the straight cut, fold over type. it is cut on the bias and interfaced with stretch fusible. i didn’t feel like messing with a new curved waistband, but i will on my next attempt. by the time i got to the waistband i knew these were in “wearable muslin” territory so i didn’t sweat it. for round two, i plan to baste on a straight piece of muslin, then take darts in around until it sits flat, and use that to draft a custom waistband. i understand jalie’s idea of keeping some stretch in the waistband, but i just don’t think it will ever keep its shape.


obligatory back shot… pear much?

as far as sizing, i cut the size corresponding to my hip measurement. my waist falls about 1-2 sizes down, so during fitting i took 3/4″ out of the CB, and another 3/8-1/2″ total from the side seams. the rule of thumb is choose a size based on your toughest to fit area (hip/thigh) and make simple adjustments to the rest. realistically i think i have a handle on what i need to do next, and i’m very optimistic! for further authenticity, i ordered some rivets and tack buttons (from i put one rivet in on the coin pocket to see how it worked and it was kind of a hassle. i think i’ll have to pull out the drill to get a good clean hole for the rivet post.

anyone else trying out jeans? sometimes i feel a little nutty going to all this trouble, but in all honesty i’ve always had to settle for good enough in RTW. with that in perspective, it’s not so nutty. in the words of the always inspiring Carolyn… “be your own sweatshop, yo!”

on a completely different topic, i want to introduce my baby sister, Monica to you guys! she shares my sewing obsession and we constantly talk sewing and consult each other when we need opinions. she’s been sewing for several years and just started up her own blog called seams right to me. her first garment post is an archer button up, so obviously she has great taste. if you feel inclined to add another blog to your reader, go show her some love!

—lisa g.

me too, me too!

so i’m a little behind in my year end post… i blame this horrid cold/cough/sinus infection i’ve been battling for the past… forever. christmas day saw me curled up on the couch with Nathan cooking me christmas dinner. hey, it’s not a holiday around here unless i’m sick! sigh… i’m finally getting better (yay!) however, most of the sewing i wanted to squeeze in while Oliver had his siblings home to entertain him just hasn’t happened. grrrrrr!

sewing-wise, 2013 was a pretty good year for me. i made a concerted effort to sew everyday wearable pieces and my efforts paid off tremendously. i worried that blogging about these non-flashy, non-excitement inducing pieces would be a complete snooze fest to the average reader. however, i have been pleasantly surprised to discover that a whole bunch of readers not only share my interests, but also let me know that they find it inspiring. i had no idea this would be the case. in fact, my readership grew at a faster pace than ever, so i guess finding my niche was a good thing. warm fuzzies for all!

i’m just going to do my top 5 hits… so hard to narrow down, but here goes!


minoru jacket—i love this jacket so much… so much that i want to make another in a darker color so i can wear it with everything!

photo 1

moss mini denim skirt—the moss skirt is a great basic to have in my wardrobe. i’ve used this pattern four times and it is so versatile.


chartreuse thurlows—you all know my love affair with the thurlow pattern, and these shorts are by far my favorite and the most worn. i had no idea they would go with so much in my closet, but they do!


chambray archer—i don’t know how i ever got dressed without this archer. chambray is so awesome! i frequently wear it with my poorly fitting leggings (mmmm so need to make more leggings with a better pattern…), and it always looks great with my patterned skirts, or even tied at the waist over dresses… basically i super love this shirt.

silk blouses—okay, i’m cheating here, but i made these tops at almost the same time, and i love them both. they are comfy, dressy, casual, and generally awesome. must have more!

honorary  mention…


hemlock tee—this is probably my most reached for knit top these days. it’s drapey, it has long-but-i-can-still-wash-dishes sleeves, stripes, and so on. i needs to have moar.

i chose these as my top makes because i wear them the most. i also made several dresses this year that fit into my everyday wardrobe, but these are my staples! also, i didn’t include sewing i did for others, because then my list would have been much longer! 🙂

so how about some stats? if you check out my 2013 page (which i’m not done adding to yet…) i have

62 garments/items (some posts have more than one piece)

2 yet to blog

13 not blogged

which gives me a grand total of 77 sewn items.

i’d say that’s a pretty good year. the unblogged things almost always end up on instagram and include a few kid tees, kid pj pants, and the like. i really love instagram for those in-progress shots, unexciting FO’s, and just daily life. in case my blog mis-represents me, i think that gives a better sense of my life. i’ve read enough “i’m really not perfect, i just make it look that way” blog posts to make me think that readers appreciate a real look into life. in that vain vein, i also joined up on twitter. oh hell, i swore i never would, but i finally caved. i’m still working out what my name should be, but as it stands i’m using @lisagnotes. i haven’t set up my page, it’s just a big ‘ol blank, but i’m sure i’ll be addicted in no time!

thanks so much for reading my little corner of teh interwebs, and happy (belated) 2014 to all!

—lisa g.

2013 sewlution | menswear

so many people threw their hats in the ring resolutions in the jar when Karen of “Did You Make That?” challenged us to make a sewing resolution and stick to it. to make something we had been putting off, to learn a new technique, to sew with a scary fabric, to face our sewing demons. my sewlution was to sew some menswear for my husband, Nathan. for a guy who puts up with my manic need to sew, it was time he reaped the benefits! what i didn’t realize when i made my sewlution was just how much it would affect my sewing for the better.

i could have copped out and made my husband some tee shirts (which he has repeatedly requested…) but i really wanted to try my hand at dress shirts. his old ones are falling apart and/or are too big for his frame. i started off with a casual plaid shirt. this shirt has seen a great deal of wear, and wait—why have i never stolen that shirt out of his closet? hmmm…. selfless indeed! i was simultaneously surprised by the new skills i needed to acquire, and by how well it turned out. i learned precision topstitching, as well as the ins and outs of a shirt—far more complex than meets the eye.


i went on to make two more shirts. sadly, i haven’t made him any since then, but it’s on my 2014 list! i feel confident enough to use more expensive fabrics and really round out his dress shirt needs. after making his shirts i was pretty excited to make my own button up’s (four archers…), one for Oliver, and an unblogged flannel shirt for Anastasia. i found that the skills i needed to make these shirts look as profesh as possible bleed into every aspect of my sewing—my stitching is far more precise than it would have been without the shirtmaking.

i didn’t stop at dress shirts though… i was happy to be a pattern tester for the jedediah pants by Thread Theory. i made up the shorts version, and a while back i bought some navy corduroy to make him a pair of pants. the pants keep getting pushed back in favor of quicker projects, but i should be able to start them soon.

photo 3

in addition to shorts, i also made him a pair of wool dress pants using the burda Jochen #6014 pattern. i haven’t had a chance to blog or properly photograph them, but they’ve been in frequent rotation since i made them back in october. i’ll be using that pattern again, so hopefully for round two i can get a proper review up. i found the pattern sizing to be excellent, if you’re curious. the only changes i want to make are construction-oriented to include more high-end interior finishing (lining the front legs, french seamed pockets, etc.).


lame-o instagram pic… sorry!

like i mentioned, sewing menswear really upped my game in terms of precision. i may not have done it without publicly committing, so thank you Karen. i hope the Mistress of the Jar is satisfied with my contribution!

—lisa g.

zinnia skirt

i just started working on colette pattern’s new zinnia skirt. i made sure to snag the .pdf when it was on sale and didn’t really plan to make it up quite yet, but the sewing gods have spoken and into my grubby mitts landed a sweet granny floral print rayon. it has those perfect fall colors and i keep saying i need more skirts. it’s a good thing i had mentally noted the fabric requirements, because this skirt takes a lot of fabric! i wouldn’t have thought the skirt needed more than a yard and a half but, this skirt is cut on the crossgrain (directional prints need not apply) and the hem is a whopping 84″-97″ depending on what size you cut. i had 2.5 yds of 45″ rayon and that was just enough. typically i find colette’s yardage totally out of whack, but this one is spot on. of course, if you want to do any print matching—buy extra! for mine, there was no worry and i didn’t bother with matching on the CB seam. hopefully it won’t matter.


since this pattern includes instructions for a lined/sheer overlay version i was curious to see the directions for this, and i’m afraid i was a bit dissappointed. in fact, there’s a tiny detail in the directions that just doesn’t jive. you construct the main pieces of the skirt (pleats stitched through both sheer and lining layer) then you insert the invisible zip through both layers and sew up the back seam, again through both layers. later you are instructed to hem the shell, then trim the lining by 1″ then hem the lining. but… how? if they are both attached down the CB seam? this is not at all how i would approach this.* jen over at grainline has a nifty tutorial where you finish the overlay opening and simply insert the zip into the lining only. the overlay hangs free, then the seams are sewn and finished separately.

now, after i bought the pattern, i happened across the discussion thread on pattern review (whose site is down at the moment… will link up later) and this pattern has garnished some criticism for being too simple, and just another dirndl skirt. now, i’m not sure why people were so up in arms, but i just want to clarify for anyone interested—this is not a dirndl skirt. and, if you do the pleated version, all the fullness should be under control around the squishy belly parts that we don’t need to add tonnage of fabric to. with the pleating action, you wind up with a partial circle skirt. same with the gathered version (as in, it has an a-line shape so there is significantly more fullness at the hem than there is at the waist. while the gathered one is nice, and gets top billing on the cover, i think the pleated skirt is really the star of the show and the reason i bothered to buy the pattern.

now you can probably find cheaper alternatives, and people kept pointing to tilly’s gathered picnic skirt, which is a rectangle, i.e. same fullness at the waist as there is at the hem, but i do like the ability to be able to print off another copy of the pattern if i really need to make up a different size. that, and i trust the indie pattern sizing so much more than big 4. if i look at the waist measurement on colette, i can feel pretty safe that the size it corresponds to won’t end up having 4″ of ease. if i grab a simplicity pattern, i have to hunt down the pattern pieces and measure the different sizes to see which will give me a reasonable amount of ease. obnoxious.

i didn’t start this post in order to pontificate on pattern drafting and who does it better, but each pattern company relies on a specific block that will work for only a small number of people. colette has one block, while sewaholic has another block, and burda, simplicity, vogue, etc has their own block. there is little wrong with the individual blocks—they will fit someone!—but if they don’t correspond to your body type, changes will have to be made. no. big. deal. what i don’t appreciate is the unreasonable amount of ease given by the big 4 (making the size chart irrelevant), which indie pattern companies have handled much differently, and i believe, much better.

anyways, drafting pleats, while not hard, is tedious and time consumming. i’m trusting that colette patterns did all the engineering for me, and i know there are a lot of people out there who have no interest in drafting such a pattern. so, yeah, you pay for the convenience. in fact, i spent last week working on a very basic dress (with pleats!) and it took all week to get the details right. i could have sewn up the dress in little more than a day, but since i was fiddling with pleats and sleeves etc, it was a bit of a chore!

okay, i’m not entirely sure where i’m going with this post, my mind has been a scatter of trying to work sewing time in with the fact that i only have one kid at home most of the week. one who has never had to play by himself until now. and, even though we limit the activities our kids are involved in i still spend a few days doing little but running kids from here to there…

so what do you guys think about the zinnia skirt? love it? hate it? indifferent? do tell!

lisa g.

*after writting this up… i see colette patterns addressed this pattern error and future printings will have the correct directions. i still don’t think it’s the best way to go about a sheer overlay, so do with that what you will!

thoughts about my blog switchover

since i’ve been blogging here at wordpress for a while now, i thought i would share my experience since several others mentioned wanting to do the same. first off, importing my posts from blogger was extremely easy and fast. while i haven’t gone and checked over every imported post, it seems as though they all came through okay. now, importing your posts to another blog does not mean they are deleted on the old site. so even though hitting the “import” button was a little scary, there was nothing irreversible happening. i wasn’t really sure how all that would work, i half-thought my old blog would self-destruct once i hit the import button (i’m a wee bit paranoid at times). had i realized it most definitely would not disappear into oblivion, i would have set up this site up a little more thoroughly before being all “hang on to your hats ladies, this blog is moving!” so, yeah.

what's a post without pics??? here's a poly chiffon-ish fabric i picked up on clearance and is destined to be a spring skirt. the color and print is a little different that what i usually buy, but since i picked it up for cheap i thought i'd give it a try!

what’s a post without pics??? here’s a poly chiffon-ish fabric i picked up on clearance and is destined to be a spring skirt. the color and print is a little different that what i usually buy, but since i picked it up for cheap i thought it was worth the risk.

the wordpress interface is pretty nice and i know there are many features i haven’t utilized or even discovered yet. there is a decent amount of instructive info over here if you take the time to read through it; learning more is definitely on my “to do” list. probably my favorite WP feature is the handy little notification thing in the bar up top to alert me to comments left on my posts (plus the quick reply option which i LOVE!), as well as replies to comments i have left on other WP blogs. in fact, that is a huge downfall to blogger IMO. i do reply to many comments, but unless you remember to come back to my post, you’ll never know! over here, i’m much more apt to respond simply because it’s more likely the person i’m responding to will actually see my response. i have learned which non-WP blog writers tend to reply to comments and i make a mental note to check back later, or flip back when they post again. however, we all follow so many blogs, who is really going to bother thinking about all that unless it’s really important? seriously blogger, get your act together on that one!

over here, pics are easy to add, and right now i can add them direct from my computer to my post without having to upload them to another platform. i imagine i’ll run out of space at some point and will either have to start paying (the horror!) or using another photo service. what do you WP people do in that regard? just curious! also, i don’t have the weird re-sizing and formatting issues i always had on blogger. a small thing, but having little annoyances like that out of the way is pretty awesome.

another joanns clearance find... some cotton shirting. i have two yards of it, but it's fairly narrow. not sure who gets it yet, but i think i could squeeze two tops out of it for the kiddos, or a short sleeve button up for the hubs. thinking, thinking..

another clearance find… some cotton shirting. i have two yards of it, but it’s fairly narrow. not sure who gets it yet, but i think i could squeeze two tops out of it for the kiddos, or a short sleeve button up for the hubs. thinking, thinking..

obviously moving my blog gave me a huge hit in readership, especially at first. i posted “hey i’m over here” links throughout the old blog so hopefully everyone will eventually get the memo. after almost a month, my numbers have rebounded to near pre-switch levels and, it’s not that i’m a stat junkie, it’s just nice to know that i’m not shouting into an empty room. which brings me to my next point—

how do you like to get updates? i have been using bloglovin’ as my reader, and while it’s not perfect, it does get the job done. i tried feedly but got annoyed with it after about five minutes. at this point i don’t use twitter or have a blog facebook page, but i’m not opposed to setting those up if, in fact, that is what ya’ll use to get updates. give me a shout out in the comments and let me know!

overall, the whole switch has gone well and i am super happy i finally took the plunge. no regrets. if you are thinking of doing the same, get off your bum and just switch already! any other questions or glaringly obvious topics i’ve totally missed? lemme know!

—lisa g.

i’m moving! blogspace, that is…

okay folks… today. today! i am moving over to wordpress, with or without a glass of wine in hand. it seems pretty easy to do, wish me luck! my blog address will be the same, just wordpress instead of blogger. so, if i stop showing up in your feed you’ll know where to find me.

i have a slight lull in my sewing due to the fact that our heater went out over the past weekend and we’ve been heating our not so well insulated house with a few space heaters. now, my sewing room never had central heat (it’s a weird poorly built addition to the house) so i’ve always had a space heater to keep it warm. but due to the lack-of-heat situation i have to sacrificed my sewing room heat in order to keep our actual living space warm-ish. it was okay over the last few days when our temps made it to 50s F, but today we’re hovering in the 30s F and my hands are shivering… it may not be fixed until next week due to the freak snowstorm we had last week, dumping us with another 2 feet of snow. seriously. can we just get on to spring already? we are told that all those heater fixing people with the gas company are working in high priority regions where there was flooding and coastal erosion and such. what do i know? i just want heat!

while my sewing room is a literal icebox i have started prep work on the grainline studio archer button up. woot! i printed and taped last night, traced this morning and hope to cut my fabric today or tomorrow. that is if my hands are steady enough. this was probably the most it really needs to be precise .pdf pattern i’ve done. initially i had a bit of a problem, it seems as though my printer cuts off the top and bottom of each pattern page leaving me to guess exactly how to connect those sides of the page. i came up with a brilliant (if i do say so) solution.

since the sides of each page printed fine, i simply traced the the square that connects each page to the next, then used it as a guide to line up the edges that didn’t print. whew!

alright folks… see you on the other side!

—lisa g.

some bloggity business

there’s been loads of discussion around the blogs about how much the blogger platform stinks. i feel as though i’ve been fighting with blogger since day one, whether it’s about getting my posts formatted correctly, uploading pics, commenting (darn you captcha!), and just generally not working when i need it to. when i started this blog i wavered between blogger and word press and claimed my blog name at both spots. blogger won out because it seemed less confusing to set up and more customizable. basically i’ve regretted it ever since.

my fist blog-posted renfrew! shameful it’s
taken so long, but i figure everyone is sick
of this pattern by now.

so i’ve decided to switch over to word press at some point when i have time to deal with that and hopefully it won’t be too traumatic. i am concerned that, because this is a picture heavy blog, that those might get lost. and that would be soul crushing.

this is a nice drape-y rayon with a subtle sheen.
not great for hiding the lumps and bumps, but
it’s super soft, so i’ll deal.

regardless, i will switch and the switch will probably happen on a whim late some night after one too many glasses of wine… so if you wake up to some weird feed of mine in your reader, i’m apologizing now!

paired with my thurlows… it was only right.
i left off the sleeve and hem bands and lengthened
the hem to compensate and just cut the sleeves
where i wanted them and twin needled the hems.

also, i’m just wondering what ya’ll do with your pictures in general. i take what seems like a bazillion pics just to get one or two where i don’t look like a complete doofus. i try to make sure and delete the pics off my computer that i will definitely never use, but sometimes i’m in a hurry and think i’ll come back to it later. guess what. i never do. 

the pattern’s neck band was too long for this knit and it stuck out
all sorts of awkward. had to rip it out and redo. love that…
but now it’s nice and profesh looking.

so now i have thousands of pictures of myself in iphoto, which makes me cringe every time i open the program because i HATE having my picture taken. i’m awkward, i don’t photograph well, i’m super self-conscious, i don’t know where to put my hands, ahhh!!!!

BAM! hand-made outfit!

right now i have to upload them to picasa first in order to put them on the blog. but it… takes… forever… and they’re really hard to organize. i use flicker occasionally but only have a few pics there. i haven’t come up with a good way of storing my pics, but i really have no need to keep them for the long-term if they’re on the blog, right? i just don’t know! what do you guys do????

—lisa g.

i need opinions!!!

i’m just about to start work on the tiramisu dress but first need to vent and also ask a few opinions…

so i have some black cotton lycra from that i ordered with the intent of making a knit LBD. a while back an opportunity came up for some free tickets to attend the BSO. i ended up sending my husband because it was cold and i decided against wandering around the streets of boston late at night with two kids. i always get lost and the subway system confuses me… what can i say. i’m from the midwest—i drive places damnit. it also dawned on me that i really don’t have anything appropriate to wear. i suddenly needed a black dress. i’m of an age where i should absolutely have a black dress, but sadly don’t. so i took a gamble and ordered black knit fabric online and thank the heavens it is exactly the weight and drape i wanted.

i want to use the tiramisu pattern because it has that right mix of casual if you wear it one way, or dressy if you wear it another. i plan to eliminate the sleeve bands and just hem the sleeves, and will probably eliminate the neck bands in favor of serging some clear elastic to the inside, turning, then topstitching. i’m pretty sure i’ve seen this done with great results, though i’ll test some scraps first just to make sure.

so here’s my vent: i went with the .pdf version off craftsy partly to save money, and partly (mostly) because i’m impatient. i’ve done plenty of .pdf patterns so i know what i’m getting into there. i go to print the pattern and it’s 65 pages long. what the what?! wow. that’s a loooooot of pages. now i knew that there are multiple sizes that you customize based on upper bust and full bust measurements, but there’s no good way to print only the bodice size you need.

now, i don’t know a whole lot about putting together a .pdf pattern so i’m speaking only from the customer end here, but it would really have been helpful to separate the bodice sizes so you have the option to print only the size you need. i wasted so much paper. i also have a beef with the scaling. my 1″ square comes out to 7/8″. i had tested this with one page and worked out what percentage to print at, but for some reason when i went to print the entire pattern, it didn’t scale. so now i’m stuck with 55 pattern pages that are the wrong scale. i felt so defeated before i even laid out my pages! it was just so much to dig through. basically i’m saying: pay the extra $5 and get the paper pattern.

i figured out that the off scale essentially makes my pattern one size smaller. she notes that for a snug fit to go down a size, so this should work out okay? my fabric is really stretchy, and i’ve seen people cut out loads of room from the side and under bust seams. the SA is 1/2″ and i can sew it with 1/4″ SA just for extra insurance. this sounds reasonable, right?

okay, last question: the bodice and skirt is cut on the bias, presumably so that you can have fun with stripes. i would really prefer to eliminate the CB bodice seam and the CB and CF skirt seams and cut these pieces on the fold. since i’m using a solid, do i need to cut these pieces on the bias? i just don’t see any obvious reason to. plus i only have 2 yds of fabric so i’m not sure i’ll have quite enough for all the bias cutting.

thoughts? lay those opinions on me!!!

—lisa g.