Ch - Ch - Ch - Changes


Wow, I've had quite the busy and exciting September! For those of you who don't already know, in mid September I was hired at Emma One Sock.  Hooray!!

I really couldn't ask for a more perfect job for my current situation.  I get to touch fabric all day people!!! Also thanks to Linda's and Eric's flexibility I start early in the day and can finish in time to pick Desmond up from school.  I love that we don't have to give up our walks home from school yet. Otherwise I wouldn't get my daily dose of animal facts and kooky 6 year old theories of how the world works.

We're still adjusting to the change, but so far it's going pretty well.  Mr. B is doing great handing the morning start by himself. (I'm already up in EOS headquarters by the time the Boy B's get up.) Desmond hasn't commented on the change at all.  Well he was surprised that I was at home on a Saturday morning because the concept of a weekend is still an amorphous thing when you're 6.  " it the weekend again? Yeaaaaaa!"

While I'm super happy to be working in a sewing related capacity, the reduction of my actual sewing time is a bit shocking.  How have all of you full time ladies been making garments by only sewing on the weekend? I try and squeeze in 30 minutes on work evenings, but most of the time my brain is too tired.  Back in September I'd planned out a whole "Unofficial Halloween" wardrobe to complete this month.  Not gonna happen.  Siiiigh.  First world problems, am I right?

The logical side of my brain took over and reminded me that some of the "Unofficial Halloween" wardrobe could be sewn.  I only had to decide what garments would make the cut.  First up will be my new pattern acquisition Simplicity 1155, view 3.   "I like you're sleeves. They're big."
I'll be using a long stashed Emma one sock fabric, this silk crepe de chine. Skulls = Unofficial Halloween. you see where I'm going with this.
Most of the "Unofficial Halloween" wardrobe is just an excuse to sew black separates which are needed for the rest of the year. I did get a jump on this by finished up a pair of black rayon "Empire Waist Pants" from Decades of Style.

These will go very well with Simplicity 1155 so maybe I'll hold off and photograph them together.  I'd also like to sew the skirt portion of Hollywood 1756 in black rayon as well. We'll see if there's enough time and if I feel like buying more black rayon.
That's all I've narrowed down for now.  Hopefully I'll settle into my new sewing groove this month and get a few of these pieces done. Cross your fingers for me. :)

PR Hacks - Split Cowl Dress


I know what some of you are thinking. "I say Heather, that dress looks verrrry familiar."  You're right!  I was a sneaky knock off artist this month. Muhaa haa!
It probably won't surprise you to find out that stuff designed for slim 20 older old's doesn't fit me right. There's a lot of things I can let slide, but bad fitting garments isn't one of them. Therefore I had to take matters into my own hands and draft my own version of this dress.  Of course I documented it all to share with you.
Using the PR Winter Street dress as a base pattern, I'll be showing you how to alter the bodice to add a waist inset and change the skirt shape. After that we'll do a little free hand drafting to created the cool color and the waist tabs.  Pop on over to the PR blog to get the details.

Bonus Husband Comment - "Heyyyyy First Lady!  You can wear that when I get inaugurated."

40's Casual Style


This summer my Sister-in-law gave us the option to join her family on a cabin camping trip up in Rickett's Glen. They usually do some sort of camping trip during summer vacation and had plenty of extra room in their cabin for the three of us. Steve and I though Des would enjoy running around the woods and cooking with fire so we accepted.  Which meant it was time for every seamstress's favorite activity.... planning some trip sewing!

Seriously though, as someone who is a "lifetime fancy dresser" the amount of casual clothing I own is 3 pairs of yoga pants and some ratty old Renfrews.  My suitcase was in desperate need of a few items of clothing that could handle a slog through the woods.  Guess I just "had" to buy some new patterns to fill this hole in my wardrobe.  (Let's pretend I wouldn't have bought a new pattern for any type of vacation.)  What I ended up purchasing was the recently mentioned Simplicity 3885.  The bottom half of the pattern worked out a lot better than blouse portion of the pattern.

View 1 is the button up skirt with some nice little patch pockets.  Pockets which happen to be big enough to stow your sunglasses when the hiking trail turns out to be deeply shaded.

Then maybe it gets hot or you want to go play tennis with the girls....assuming you are far more coordinated than I. Unbutton the skirt layer to reveal.....

View 2 Flirty Shorts! Here I am doing "Vanna hands" to show off the pocket welts of the nonexistent pockets.
The plan was to have pockets, but the residual post baby fat shelf caused some major gapping issues. In a perfect world I should have muslined with pockets and figured out how to adjust for that. Instead this was deadline sewing and some corners were cut.

Pocket issue aside, these were very easy to fit to my lower body.  Mostly thanks to 40's styles being really loose around the lower derriere area.  Not having to worry about under butt wrinkles is a giant relief.

Simplicity 3885, Shorts and Skirt.

Fabrics used
Light weight stretch denim from

Pattern changes/alterations
1.  Graded up the bottom pieces one size.

2. Raised CB of shorts 3/8".

3. Removed side seam pockets from the shorts.

4. Took in CB of skirt 1/2".

6. Let out side seams of skirt 3/8".

- I didn't muslin the skirt portion figuring how much fitting does a button up A-line skirt need?  Ummmm plenty if your me. Ended up having to take in or let out most of the seams and I'm still not happy with the waistband fit. You'd think I'd learn by now that muslins are not optional for me.

Husband Comment
"Hey pretty lady, I like your grandma shorts."

My Final Thoughts
Both garments served me well on the camping trip. I ended up wearing yoga pants for the long hike and used these garments for short walks and trips to the lake.  It got me thinking that adding a few more causal garment projects to the sewing list would be a good idea.   Occasionally....only occasionally a dress isn't appropriate for having fun with your kid.

Speaking of him, let's just say he had a blast.

Striking Out this Summer


Blog posting has been reaaaaaly sporadic this summer, I'm sure you've noticed. Part of it was the normal aversion to standing next to an iron while it's 95 degrees outside.  Mmmm heat exhaustion. However most of it was loss of sewing mojo due to STRESS!!!

I've been a stay at home mom or mom to be for 7 years now.  My husband was on board with this plan with the caveat that I would need to return to work when our child started going to school full time. Mostly because being a one income family was something we could not sustain indefinitely.  So I went into the the summer knowing that I'd have to start hunting for jobs. Ugh. Let me tell you the dread of starting a job hunt and the depression of being the middle of one are equally draining to your creativity. It almost makes me long for the days of learning a trade... or bartering. Can you pay your mortgage in cookies? What if I threw in a chocolate cake?

Anyway we've got that stress and the normal stress about how your kid is doing in school. Desmond just made the cut off for entering kindergarten last year and I think being the youngest kid in the class is sometimes hard.  I also worry about him socializing with other kids because he's a lot like me and I was HORRIBLE at that. (I sat alone during recess for the entire 5 years of elementary school. My mother was very relieved when I went to middle school where there was no more recess.) I keep wishing there was another kooky kid who's crazy about dinosaurs so they could be best friends. They might successfully make a dinosaur hybrid that would eat us all, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

So yeah, adulting is hard when you're not eating chocolate bars at 10 in the morning. Fortunately I did have a chocolate bar today so we can talk about the other source of my lost sewing mojo...... a string of muslins that didn't make the cut.

As someone who's been sewing for a long time I know that not every pattern is gonna be a winner on my body. But it still sucks when you have back to back projects that don't pan out.  I started to wonder if I really was any good at sewing.  Has this whole blog just been a lie?! Maybe the frog does sew all the garments after all.  On to a parade of badly lit muslins, I know you can barely contain your excitement.

First up the top half of Simplicity 3885.

OK, this doesn't look too bad from the photos.  What you can't see is that it's super tight around the neck. So tight that I couldn't button it closed like the causal lady in the sunglasses. This one is in my bust size so my own grading isn't at fault....that problem will come later.  I also found some of the construction on this pattern to be annoying which colored my impressions. The neckline issue could be fixed but frankly I liked McCall's 4265 a whole lot more and it didn't seem worth it. Bye Bye blouse, into the bin of failure you go.

Second victim, suit jacket from Hollywood 769.

This was the first size 34 bust that I graded up and my math was WRONG! This baby is about 1 size too small in everything but the length.  I've pinned that scant 1/2" overlap to give myself that pregnant look all the girls are going for these days. Sexy.  The style gets a thumbs up, but have I felt like regrading 9 pattern pieces for the second time? Nope!  This one goes in the bin of shame until the pattern grading frenzy seizes me.

Last questionable muslin of the summer, Advance 4227.
This time I was able to do basic math correctly and properly grade up the pattern.  The skirt portion gets a thumbs up, but the bodice was drafted for someone much much much bustier.
Honestly I could smuggle a pair of cantaloupes in my bra and still have extra ease. Since I'm not into shoplifting this bodice needs some serious adjustment.  Adjustment that I do not have the head space for at this time. Into the bin it goes until next summer or some perfect fabric talks me into giving it another go.

So that was my summer with the exception of one successful project that I've yet to take photos of. Hopefully I can get off my butt and do that soon before blogging summer projects seems ludicrous. Until then I hope your sewing projects are being a lot more agreeable than mine. :)

PR Hacks - Decorative Darts


Mid August already, how did that happen?  I certainly must be getting old if all I do is exclaim that, "Time is going so fast!"  Soon I'll be pinching children's checks and saying how much they've grown.  Anyway, things continue to be quiet on the sewing front because my sewing mojo is still no where to be found.  I think it took a nice European vacation without me.  In it's absence I've been knitting socks and ...... cleaning things. Good god it's come to that! My husband is happy, but I started missing having a new dress to wear. To scratch the itch I dusted off the sewing machine and come up with a new dress and pattern hack to share.
The month the base pattern is McCall's 7279 and I'll be teaching some dart rotation principles to spice up the bodice.  The hack shows how to rotate the waist dart into the shoulder and split it into 4 darts of varying lengths.  Then you can leave them as is or top-stitch them like I did. Hop on over to the PR blog for all the details.

Vintage Pledge July - My Hollywood Love Affair


Hello All,  I've just gotten back from spending a week camping.  Camping you say, what sort of jaunty tilt hat do you wear to go hiking? The answer is that you have the option of one that looks like a tiny Daniel Boone hat or a miniature pith helmet.  All jokes aside the boy had a great time and that's what's important.  I'm still happy to be back in the A/C with my internet connection. Hooray for progress!

In other news, I was flattered to be asked to be one of the bloggers featured during the VP July extravaganza. Froggie assures me that no one was bribed with cookies to make this offer. He made sure to put all the cookies in his stomach instead of the mail box.  It's a good thing he sews pretty hems or else he might find himself in the mail box.  Jokes on me though, he's just mail himself to Grandpa at the beach who will let him hang out with the toy monkeys. (I'm not making this part up. The toy monkeys are real!)

Anyway, head on over to Kestrel Makes to see all the details on Hollywood 1412. Oh Hollywood patterns, you complete me.

Vintage Pledge Mid-Year Wrap Up


I fully admit that this post is the blog equivalent of TV reruns. Hopefully not as bad as rewatching that LOST episode about Paulo and Nikki. It's been almost 6 years guys and I'm still put out about that particular weekly installment.  Who cares about the diamonds? NOBODY! Anyway, we've tarried overlong talking about old TV.  Let's talk about my Vintage Pledge progress instead.

Back in February my vintage pledge was to sew 5 vintage patterns for 2016. There was also a post in January which listed a few specific patterns I wanted to finally make.  Knowing my aversion to planning and squirrel like sewing tendencies one might expect the worst.  However I've had my efficiency boss, Froggie, take a look at the blog/sewing basket and he has reported back the following...

- I've already sewn and blogged 5 vintage patterns this year.

- Two more vintage patterns have been sewn and are in the "to blog" queue.  In addition to that there are another 2 patterns that have had the muslining process finished.  These may for may not find their way to finished garment status. I'm waiting for the right fabric to come along and might get distracted by new patterns.

- From my "two sew" pattern list there is only Advance 4227 left to make.

Froggie says he'll give me an A on my sewing report card with the caveat that summer took a long time to get here. Otherwise he'd deduct points for not having Advance 4227 traced.  Wow how about that? Maybe being married to a man that plans everything is finally rubbing off on me. However if you find me setting up an Access database then you'll know I've been replaced with a pod person. BEWARE!

Here's a brief recap of the vintage pledge makes.

Pattern #1 - Hollywood 1032
Still one of my favorite makes this year.  Thanks to the cold Spring I wore this well into May.  The blouse goes with at least 3 of my hats and the skirt goes with everything.  In fact I love this pattern so much that I went and bought a similar style, Hollywood 1412. You'll be sewing that one about 2 weeks from now.

Pattern #2 - Simplicity 4958
This is the make I wear the least. It feels too fancy for every day and I have a large rotation of fancy church dresses. Still like it but it isn't as practical as some of my other makes.

Pattern #3 - DuBarry 5510
I like this a lot, but really do need to sew a pair of black high waisted trousers to go with it. Then I can wear my man-ish Miss L Fire Willlamsburg loafers and have a great rainy day outfit. Believe me it was highly annoying not to have this outfit ready to throw on this Spring.

P.S. - Just noticed this week that has recently released this pattern as one of their multi-size offerings.  Now you can grab a copy without much trouble. Hooray!

Pattern #4 - Advance 3740
You'll probably remember that this one was a total hassle to sew. Thank god I got through it because this is another top make.  Oddly I don't find this pattern too fancy to wear everyday so it gets a lot more use.  It's also Desmond's favorite dress and he's always asking me to wear it.

Pattern #5 - McCalls 4265
Still a great blouse and I want a closet full of them. Hmmm maybe I'll wear this tomorrow.

Since my vintage pledge is already complete froggie tells me that it's time to make another one.  You know so we have proper paperwork. So here goes,

I, Heather Beckley, pledge to sew another 5 vintage patterns for a total of 10 for the year. 

Here are a couple of contenders in the pattern stash.

1. Weldon's 7383 - A nice little summer blouse that should be quick to make if I don't get distracted by some fancy dress pattern.

2. McCall's 6815 - Oh no a fancy dress pattern! What ever should I do? Drop everything and make it, right?  Right.

3. Hollywood 1093 - Or I could sew up the top half of this pattern to get more use out of a RTW dress that shows too much cleavage. If only there were late night sewing elves to double my output.

4. Hollywood 1214 - This might get pushed to 2017, but who could say no is such a great looking coat.

So those are some of the things currently being juggled in my mental sewing queue. We'll have to wait and see how it all shakes out for the rest of the year.  Froggie says just go sew the fancy dress and then buy some new patterns to sew.  Excellent advice Frog, now I remember why I keep you around.

PR Hacks - Flutter Sleeves for Summer


It's officially Summer and for a lot of us that means things are busy, busy, busy.  Currently I'm trying to keep Desmond occupied while tracing patterns and baking an ungodly amount of Nutella Brownies. (Recipe here. Warning, they will haunt your dreams.)  With that in mind I decided to write a quick and simple hack this month.  Using the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern as a base, I'll be showing you how to draft two different types of flutter sleeves.

Type #1 is the Gathered flutter sleeve.  So named because you gather up the sleeve head to create the fluttery goodness of the sleeve.  These are set in the standard scoop neck Renfrew body so all you have to do is draft the sleeve and you're good to go. (I've paired the top with Colette Beignet in case you were wondering.)

Type #2 is a Half Circle Flutter sleeve. Here the fullness is added by slashing and spreading the short sleeve pattern. This increases only the hemline of the sleeve, leaving the cap set in normally.  In this version the V-neck Renfrew body was used and I drafted a facing for it in the same manner as here.  And because I like to entertain myself, the Lady Skater skirt was added create a dress.  I simply must complicate matters if at all possible. ;)
For all the drafting details pop on over to the PR blog. I can guarantee that you can draft one of these sleeves in no longer than a hour.  That way you've got plenty of time to still take the kids to the beach....or sit on the couch and eat your Nutella brownie. I think you all know which one I'll be doing. :)

Polka Dots are Forever


Hi folks, you might have noticed that the blog has been rather quiet as of late.  Back in May I stopped taking blog pics on Sunday mornings and have yet to find a new day and/or time that works. Gah! I'm also one of those people who can't write a blog post if the pictures aren't already taken. For some reason my brain needs to be staring at the garment to write about it.  It's like all pattern related files are auto deleted as soon as a garment is finished.  Brain's like, "Got to get rid of all this sewing crap. I need more room for remembering new song lyrics." Anyway, plenty of sewing has been happening, so I'm hoping to get back into a picture taking/blog writing grove soon. Cross your fingers for me and send some blinders to keep me from being distracted by shiny new things.

You may remember way, way, way back in January that one of my sewing goals this year was to make some 40's style blouses. At the time I didn't have any patterns, but that was soon rectified in the blouse buying extravaganza of Easter Break 2016. It was a cold spring people, a girl has to cope somehow.  Out of all the blouses purchased McCall's 4265 was by far my favorite.  Probably because I'd lustfully started at it on The Blue Gardenia website for a few months before pulling the trigger.  The red polka dot blouse filled my dreams for many nights. It had to be mine!!!
Since the technical drawing is minuscule on the envelope, let me quickly describe the design.  The blouse has a front yoke with 2 pleats. There are tucks in the waist area on both the front and back. The collar is an interesting construction, one long rectangle that is sandwiched between the cut on facing. Finally the shoulder caps are darted to give the strong 40's shoulder. Basically lot of nice little touches that made me itch to get this pattern on the sewing machine.

Luckily for me the stash already contained many yards of red polka dot shirting, so I set off to copy the good taste of the fashion illustrator. Polka dots are forever....words to live by or a lesser known James Bond film. Anyway, this blouse whipped up in a jiffy thanks to well behaved cotton and my desire channel my inner Minnie Mouse.  OK Mouseketeers, start singing the theme song!
Actually no one has made a Minnie Mouse reference yet and I've worn this blouse a ton.  It makes me happy so I get complements instead of mouse jokes. :) I really love the collar and the lowish button placement which is flattering with my whole low bust situation.  For some reason I also like the tucks in this garment when they usually bother me.  Might be that they complement the yoke pleats and so the extra ease seems more balanced. What ever the reason I'm very pleased with this project and have already started sewing up another one in rayon. Huzzah!

McCalls 4265 (Envelope pic above...of course)

Fabrics used
Stretch cotton shirting originally from Elliott Berman Textiles.

Pattern changes/alterations
1. 1/2 Forward shoulder adjustment to the shoulder and sleeve.  I needed to change the angle of the some of the shoulder cap darts after the adjustment. The new ones are in purple ink.

2. Added 1/2" extra ease in the waist area.

3. Added one extra button to the front below the two shown in the illustration.

- This project was the first time I decided to make shoulder pads from scratch with the pattern pieces provided. While it wasn't a bad learning experience, I'm not 100% happy with the way they feel when wearing the blouse. My homemade ones are kind of heavy and non flexible when compared to the nice one's I buy from the semi local Steve's Sewing. Probably will go back to covering store bought ones in future versions.

Husband Comment
"Looks good. Polka, polka, polka dots.  Why are they called that anyway?" (According to google -  "It is likely that the term originated in popularity of Polka dance at the time the pattern became fashionable, just as many other products and fashions of the era also adopted the "polka" name.")

My Final Thoughts
Glad I finally listened to my gut and bought this pattern before it slipped away. It's pretty much everything I want in a 40's blouse.......not that I'm going to stop buying blouse patterns. That's just crazy talk.
P.S. - The very faint writing on the pattern envelope says, "Dorthy, please make my blouse pattern B (Short Sleeves) Mrs. Gassmann."   Do you think Dorthy will put the buttonholes in my rayon blouse when she's done with Mrs. Gassmann's garment?  One can only hope.

PR Hacks - A Trapeze Dress Two Ways


Hey everyone, just a heads up that my monthly PR article is live.  For May Deepika and I wanted to create a simple to sew, simple to wear project.  We ending up turning the Grainline Studio's scout tee into a trapeze dress. But you know, I just can't keep things simple for myself.  It's both a curse and a blessing. ;)  Because of this I decided to do not one, but two variations on the hack.

Version 1 -  Rayon knit Jersey with V neck and cap sleeves.  I call this one the keeping cool while running errands outfit.

Version 2 - Rayon Challis with a higher neck and a bit of a racer back.  This one's the night out on the town outfit.

If you'd like to know more than pop on over to the PR blog

Another trip to the lemon aid stand


Hey all, hope you're enjoying your Me Made May so far.  This year I'm only doing it on instagram because frankly the weather has been completely shitty here and will be for the foreseeable future. We've have so much rain forecasted I'm starting to think that converting the deck to a boat might be the smart choice. I'll make sure all the sewing frogs get a place even if it breaks the "only 2" guidelines.

Instead of complaining about gloomy days let's go back into the past when it was sunny and the trees were blooming. A day where I finally photographed a project that took almost 2 months to finish. Was it a lined coat? Some sort of crazy chiffon confection? Or maybe a pair of pants with a thousand welt pockets?!  No my friends, it was only a kimono sleeved dress in some cotton sateen.
Now sometimes you buy a pattern knowing it's going to be a fiddly pain in the ass to sew.  In this case you gird your loins and plunge into the fray knowing that you might get out of this with only a dust rag. There might be a lot of swearing, but at least you knew what you were getting into.  Other times you buy a pattern thinking it's gonna be a fun simple sew and then suddenly you're hand sewing for hours. (I'm looking at you McCalls 6696.) This vintage Advance pattern must have been a soul sister of McCalls 6696 because it was also a hidden bomb of fiddly hand sewing.  Why do I like shirt dresses again? Oh right, they look nice on me.
Let's start out by talking about the bodice sewing directions given for the pattern. Here they are in abbreviated form.
1. Sew waist darts and bound buttonholes.
2. Join shoulder seams and side seams. Narrow hem sleeves and finished back neck with bias tape.
3. Turn under the front neckline edge a 1/2" and catch stitch it down.
4. Baste all neckline darts.
5. Turn under facing edges 1/2" and stitch down. Check that bodice neckline and facing match each other.
6. Now actually sew all the neckline darts.
7. Finally slip stitch the facing into the bodice neckline a 1/8" below the already finished edge.
I read these directions, had a good laugh and then thought, "Aint nobody got time for that sort of nonsense."
Here's what I did instead.
1. Drafted my own facings for the front and the back neck.
2. Made the bound buttonholes and sewed the waist darts as directed.
3. Sewed all the visible neckline darts which was tricker than I thought it would be.  I ripped out several for not being straight enough.
4. Sewed on my facings with the machine and edge stitched that area.
5. Finally I had to fold under and hand tack the front edge of the neck facing to the fold over button facing.
In addition to all the neckline insanity I also chose to make 7 bound buttonholes.  Think I'd rather rip out an overlock stitch with my teeth then make a bound buttonhole. However some part of me thinks if if I'm forced to sewing enough of them then I may magically start enjoying the process. NOPE!  And don't even get me started about sewing the bottom of the button placket which literally made no sense. In the end I just catch stitched the whole area and called it good.

By this point you've probably gleaned that sewing this dress was not the most fun I've ever had. Hand sewing is never going to be a "zen hobby" for me. But after the hair pulling/gnashing of teeth was over I put on the dress and magic happened.  Those lovely lemons practically glow on the black background! Oh dress, you might have driven me crazy but you were worth it.

Advance 3740. (You know, just having a little chit chat with the girls while waiting for the kids at the bus stop.)

Fabrics used
Cotton sateen from the current Gertie line of fabrics at JoAnn's.

Pattern changes/alterations
1. "Graded" the shoulders and bust down 2".  Really all I did was fold out a wedge at the shoulder and into the bust area.
2. Standard 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment.
3. Removed 1/2" of bodice length.
4. Took in the shoulders 1/2".

- I didn't need to take out 1/2 from the shoulders and the bodice length. Had to go back in and make the bodice a bit longer.

- I could have done a bit of a sway back adjustment on this pattern.  At least kimono sleeves tend to look blousy in that area regardless.

Husband Comment
"More lemon dresses for my sours."

My Final Thoughts
I can pretty much guarantee that this pattern won't be a resew, but I'm going to enjoy wearing the finished dress. Frog reminds me that past Heather said the same thing about McCalls 6696 and then made a second one. Hmmm, maybe I secretly love torturous hand sewing because it gives me an excuse to eat chocolate? Let's not think about it too much now, just pass the peanut butter cups.
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