fancy dress time

so here is an exciting project i have to get working on very soon! my husband and i have been invited to a charity dinner in NYC (on his company’s dime) that takes place in just a few weeks. it’s a “black tie optional” type deal at the Grand Hyatt. and ya’ll know what that means…


i’ve put all of my usual practical sewing oh hold (except for one summer dress i’m finishing up). i really do love the practical sewing i usually do, but i’ll gladly shelve it all for something more exciting! i agonized for a few days as to what kind of dress i should make—silk bias cut? over the top chiffon gathers? short? floor-length? too many options! i had a few silhouettes in mind when i headed out to the fabric store the other day and decided to go with something structured. then last night i browsed mccalls patterns and this grabbed me immediately:

gorgeous! it will work perfectly with my fabrics and should keep me plenty comfortable. plus fitting shouldn’t be too much of a hassle (famous last words…).

so here are the fabrics i’ve chosen…


this is a poly/rayon burnout that will overlay a navy cotton sateen. then the dress will be fully lined in navy bemberg. since my overlay fabric has a nice sheen to it i nixed the idea of splurging on silks or compromising with poly satin. when confronted with $8/yd vs. $40/yd… well ya’ll know me too well. plus i could buy extra fabric for insurance without breaking the bank.

here you can see the burnout pattern

here you can see the burnout pattern

i’ll be doing the full skirt, and as for bodice… perhaps both. i haven’t pulled out the pattern pieces yet, but i think i’ll make the strap-y bodice from the sateen, then overlay the top portion with my burnout using the v-neck fuller coverage pattern pieces (minus any of the lace trim). i’ll have to sort out how that’ll work, but i think the idea has promise.

i already bought some sparkly new shoes, the only missing piece is a clutch of some sort… that’ll probably be a last minute detail.

guys, i am totes excited for our trip because… i’ll have plenty of time to work in some NYC fabric shopping! it’s kinda sad that we only live 3 hours away, and yet this will be my first real visit. of course i’ll visit the venerable mood fabrics, but what other shops should be on my must visit list? do tell!

—lisa g.

sewaholic cordova plans

i’m currently suffering from a terrible backlog of unblogged garments… this intolerable winter that will never end is really getting to me. i think there may be a slight warm up in the near future… my indoor pics always look so terrible, so hopefully if we have a warm day i can get a few things photographed!

anyways, if you’re with me on  instagram, you’ll know that i’ve been playing around with the sewaholic cordova lately. i love that pattern so much! i knew i would eventually make it as soon as i saw the design. yet… i’m only now getting on that. actually, i’m surprised that more cordova’s haven’t popped up. i’m going to take a gander that the lack of pockets are one of the main reasons. i mean, jackets need pockets. so, my cordova will have pockets.

photo 1

i’ve given the pockets a big long think. like a year’s worth of think (last year i was debating between making the cordova or the minoru—spoiler alert: i made the minoru) and finally inspiration struck as i was perusing style arc’s jacket patterns. check out the ziggi jacket. that pattern has zippered pockets just off the front princess seam. ah-ha! easy enough to add to the cordova! once i worked that detail out, inspiration was in full force.

i made up a muslin last week based on my measurements. seems as though this pattern runs on the boxy side, because i had to take it in about 3″ all around. i left the shoulder and hip alone, so the entire bust/waist was just too big. once i took those seams in i was super pleased with the fit!

photo 3

i want a two piece sleeve with exposed zipper sleeve vents, so i drafted one based on this resource. it came out… okay, but it still needs a ton of work. converting a one piece sleeve to a two piece sleeve is basically impossible. i don’t say that because it’s hard, but because they are just so different; the only thing they really have in common is the sleeve cap. the good news? the sleeve cap is the bulk of the drafting. so i’ll be trying again because i think i have a better idea of how to go about getting the sleeve i need.

while i was making all these changes, i decided the jacket would look super cute with turned back lapels. i lowered the stance and re-drew the front line to accommodate a nice wide lapel. i don’t mind the lack of collar (though it wouldn’t be all that hard to add, were you so inclined—just borrow one from a blazer pattern) but i think a lapel will help balance out the small bust/large hip thing happening with my figure. in fact, the collar-less look seems more popular now than it was when this pattern was released—perhaps sewaholic was just ahead of the times!

photo 2

onto my fabric… i have a heavy-weight brown cotton sateen (no stretch) that i picked up for cheap last summer. it was marked twill (from and i had planned to make some pants for hubby. however, upon receipt, it was decidedly not twill, and really too heavy for pants. since the fabric was inexpensive i initially thought i would make the jacket with out a muslin, but the more i thought about how useful a brown jacket would be, the more i thought i should do the job right the first time. to top it off, i remembered this ikat silk remnant i scored a while back ($6/yd) that is a bit shiny for every day wear, but would be perfect as a fun lining! all the pieces fell into place—design, fabric—so i plan to do this jacket justice. usually, i practice project monogamy (one sewing project at a time, please!) but for this, i’m allowing myself to work on smaller things in between so i don’t rush through. let’s face it: i don’t need this jacket right away since i’m still wearing my winter coat on a daily basis.

since the fabrics were already hanging around my sewing room (even the pattern was a christmas gift from my sister!), i get to splurge on fancy metal zips. and my zips are the only piece i haven’t yet figured out yet… contrast (red-ish/dk pink) or matching? if i only needed a front zip, per the pattern, contrast would be a no-brainer (yes!). but, since there will be five zippers, all that contrast might be overkill. at the moment i’m leaning toward matching for the front zips, and contrast for the sleeve vents. or would that be dumb? i have plenty of time to decide so—to my lovely readers who have made it to the end of my post—whaddaya think? all matching? all contrast? a mix of matching and contrast? do tell!

spring sewing plans

now that this madness is over i feel like we can all move on and focus on helping the many victims. it was pretty surreal seeing the news feeds, especially of the thursday through friday manhunt. glad that part, at last, is over. huge props to the law enforcement for doing their job so well. —lisa g.

spring finally decided to grace us with it’s presence, so i’m finally feeling inspired to get some seasonally-appropriate wear made! i started a skirt (and technically finished it) but i don’t like how the waist band is working out, so that’s on the back burner. i also have a pair of thurlow shorts finished and awaiting a photo-op, so today i’m talking about a lightweight jacket. it felt so good to grab the winter coat i made last fall whenever i walked out the door that i really feel it is worth my time to make a (moderately involved) jacket for spring.


i’ve been looking online at anorak-style jackets and i really love all the details: drawstring waists, patch pockets, pull-out hoods, etc. the minoru is a perfect starting point to get the look i want without having to do any major pattern changes. but, i wouldn’t be me if i didn’t change anything, so here goes…

  • pockets! i want big deep patch pockets with flaps.
  • upper pockets…? the jury’s still out on that one. i’ve considered more patch pockets or even vertical welt pockets with a hidden zip, but that seems like a lot of extra work for pockets that would almost never actually be used.
  • drawstring waist: instead of the wide elastic called for, i will run some 1/4″ elastic and add drawstring cording and bring it out through grommets close to the CF zipper plackets.
  • i want to add a facing behind the zip to avoid clothing snags
  • cuffs: instead of the elastic cuffs, i plan to do a regular cuff and placket (probably bound, as opposed to tower) and add the little roll up your sleeve and button it thingies.
  • hood: i will do a 3-pc hood instead of the 2-pc. also, i want to add a drawstring.
  • lastly, i plan to drop the hem slightly in the back. not dramatically, not for any functional reason, but just cuz.

i’ve done my research, i know all the pattern quirks, i’ve thought this out extensively (it has literally kept me up at night), and i’m 99% sure i have all the deets worked out.


i’m using the lighter colored side. probably… i keep changing my mind…

time to talk fabric! i agonized over fabric choices for weeks on end until i could buy my supplies (recent major car repairs set us back a few pennies…). initially i wanted a cotton nylon blend for water-repellent purposes, then i thought to just go with a twill, then i thought maybe a lightweight canvas would be nice… too many options, yet i couldn’t seem to find exactly what i wanted. when i finally went fabric shopping at an actual store (as opposed to online searching) i ended up picking fabric completely different than i had in mind. completely different. i found a medium weight rayon that may have a name, but i have no idea what that might be (feel free to chime in if you do). it has a subtle shine and one side is darker than the other. it has some texture and a wrinkly nature and just feels so luxe and awesome! i totally love it. i picked out a dusty rose colored bemberg lining, and pink zips with metal teeth.


words cannot express how happy i was to pick out and order a zip online and have it be an exact match to my lining.

can’t wait to get moving on this jacket… it shall be awesome.

—lisa g.

sewing in 2013

i’ve just finished a button down shirt for the hubbs (mr. housewife?). yeah, it’s about time i begun re-working his closet. most of what he owns is either ill-fitting or worn down and threadbare. i resisted for a long time because i feel like men’s clothing demands a higher level of technical skill than women’s clothing. even though my sewing isn’t perfect, i think it’s good enough to dive in and give it a shot.

i started tracing off mccalls 6044, and as i went along i began my usual laundry list of gripes about the pattern:

faux back yoke!
no sleeve placket!
two piece sleeve?
no pleats on the back piece!
why are they skimping on these details? why? WHY!

i paid $1 for this pattern.

are the lack of “real” details in the big 4 our own fault? we’re so accustomed, at least here in the US, to buying cheap patterns that perhaps it’s just a vicious cycle. initially i thought the dumbed-down patterns were the pattern companies’ response to the fact that most people don’t know how to sew (therefore requiring simplified patterns), and most (i think) sew as a hobby, not out of necessity. yet, i can’t help but think our reluctance to pay full price for patterns is also a factor. it does take extra work to make those extra pieces. i know, because i do it regularly.

so all this brings me back to my plans and goals for 2013.

first, buy more expensive patterns. we don’t have a lot of money to throw around, and these days sewing is more of a necessity than just a diversion. i’m growing far more averse to buying cheap clothes that wear out and were potentially made under unethical conditions. did you hear about this fire a while back? i only came across the story by chance one day, it certainly didn’t make many headlines here. at this point, we simply can’t afford clothes that i can trust are ethically made, even with a “buy less/buy better” mentality. but, i can make it a point to spent a few extra bucks on nice patterns, especially those that will get multiple uses. this doesn’t mean i won’t buy big 4, i just need to complain less when i have to draft pieces to get the look i want. you get what you pay for and it’s high time i accept it.

secondly, make men’s clothing. as i stated before, his closet could really use a re-vamp. the button down shirt is a great place to start, but t-shirts, pants, and outerwear are also on the list. (i stated non-specific menswear over on dymt’s re-sew-lution jar post. doesn’t she have the greatest ideas?)

thirdly, i’ll continue to beef up my staples. my every day life is pretty casual and involves running kids here and there, the occasional playdate, volunteering at their school, sitting on the floor doing puzzles, snuggling with them for story time, and the like. i have a dreadful lack of appropriate clothing for these sorts of activities, so pants are on the list as well as tops, and probably a jacket or two. minoru! cordova! i’m looking at yooouuu!!!

lastly, i need to buckle down and sew more kidswear. it’s hard for me to spend $8 or $10 on a pair of leggings or a t-shirt when i know i can make two or three out of a $5/yd piece of knit fabric.

okay, there it is: my plan for the year and what you can expect to see on the blog. i’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s goals, and i see many people are on the “beef up the staples” bandwagon. i know that doesn’t satisfy the sewing itch for everyone, but i really do find this sort of thing fun. it is completely satisfying to reach in my closet and pull out a knit top that i’ve made or grab my hand made winter coat as i run out the door. 

i’ll be back with a real post on the afore-mentioned button down shirt once i can sneak in some pics. in the meantime, i have a portrait blouse from gertie’s book awaiting my finishing touches… here’s to an amazing 2013!

—lisa g.

what i’m working on now…

kind of had to take a breather after finishing my coat. that was intense! of course by “breather” i mean make a few simple things that don’t require much thought. i’ll get to those soon, but i’m just too excited about my next project and wanted to share.

i love plaid. maybe it’s my growing up in the grunge 90s that has solidified my love of all things plaid. i lived in oversized flannel button-downs (though why i ever thought XXL was “my size” will forever remain a mystery). that said, i’ve wanted a plaid flannel dress for as long as i can remember. since i haven’t done much winter sewing ever… now is the time! 

if you go to the source, check out the neckline treatment. it looks
like exposed bias binding with the raw edge left to fray slightly.
i have to steal that idea.

i did some online browsing and found this cute dress from j.crew. lo and behold i happen to have a nearly identical pattern in my stash (minus the weird dart at center front. who wants a CF dart?). i love the shape; it’s classic, modern, and versatile. and as it so happens, my birthday is *ahem* soon and what did i find in my mailbox, but a gift certificate to buy fabric! ah, my family knows me too well.

hopefully this will be my holiday dress for the season. not that i have many holiday occasions (and none of them are fancy, hence the plaid flannel). but, well… do i really need an excuse? i thought not! i’ve also had that nagging in the back of my head about making a well-fitted sloper from which i can devise a myriad of patterns. again, now is the time! i am even choosing to do this dress with a 3/4 length sleeve. i realize that sleeve fitting may do me in, and there is a good chance i’ll ultimately abandon the notion of having sleeves, but gosh darn it i’m gonna try. the only other sleeved dress i’ve made for myself was my colette macaron and, admittedly, the sleeves don’t fit. i can barely raise my arms in that dress. harrumph. 

mccalls 5927 has mixed reviews over on pattern review, but that doesn’t really deter me. i plan to muslin it and hopefully walk away with something that fits. it’s a single dart bodice with a high neckline and sleeve; which should make this pattern an ideal starting point. as a bonus, this pattern is already drafted for different cup sizes. score! fitting the bodice shouldn’t be too challenging. the sleeves… well let’s hope i can get that to work out. i’m super set on having a dress with sleeves.

any brilliant thoughts on sleeve fitting in a woven?

any holiday sewing plans for yourself or others? thanksgiving is only two weeks away!

lisa g.