Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Surgery date

Well the date is set...April 8th at 11 a.m. I'll be glad when it's all over. After the surgery there will be seven weeks, five days of week, of radiation therapy. Yikes! Five days a week? I wonder if I get paid for it?? I may or may not have to have chemo. I'll find that out after the surgery. It will only be an overnight stay in the hospital. Although I'm only have a lumpectomy, I told Calvin I'm going to write, "goodbye old friend", on my boob. When they get me into surgery that should give everybody a good laugh.

In other news I cleaned up my sewing area so that I can trash it all over again. I put out two garbage bags of scraps and muslins. My next project is going to be an unlined long sleeve Vogue jacket. I hope to trim the pattern and make adustments and start working on the muslin before the week is out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Am I a sewing brat and sewing buttons by machine

Last night while making the buttonholes on a jacket I was complaining (on the phone to a friend) that I don't like how my main machine makes buttonholes. It makes a horizontal buttonhole toward the center front instead of away. I loved how my Singer 6268 make buttonholes but alas, it died an untimely death last year after more than 20 years of faithful service. I already had the Brother ULT2001 so the Singer was already relegated to backup status. To replace the 6268 which was an electronic, I got a used 6235 which is mechanical. The 6235 can use all of the feet and accessories that I amassed over the years for the 6268.

Last night I decided to dust off the 6235 and make buttonholes. Was I in for a rude awakening. Although I've had the machine nearly a year, I've never had to use it. I immediately started complaining about the machine being loud, not having an automatic needle threader, built in cutter, only one type of buttonhole, which I couldn't initially figure out, and on and on. She had the nerve to call me a sewing brat! What! Me?? Never! Okay, maybe. I spent about $4000 on the ULT so of course I expect a lot. Actually for that kind of cheese it should be sewing me a wardrobe while I sleep! When I'm sewing I want everything convenient and within arms reach. If there is a foot to do a particular thing, I use it. I get the most out of my machines. And yes I have two sergers. One is always threaded with black thread, one with white. One has differential feed, the other one is used if I want to do a rolled hem. I have a designated sewing studio that has all the comforts I need including laptop, TV, VCR, DVD player and stereo. If that makes me a sewing brat, it suits me just fine!

Speaking of sewing feet. I even sew my buttons on on the machine. Of course shank button can't be sewn on the machine and unless it's a button I love, I steer clear. Even when sewing buttons on by machine you have to create a shank of sorts. First attach the appropriate foot. Either drop the feed dogs, change stitch length to zero or cover feed dogs with the appropriate cover. Position the button. Lower the presser foot to hold in place. Select and adjust the zig zag stitch to the correct width to attach button. Before you start to sew place a sewing machine needle over the little bridge between the holes on the button. Manually turn the wheel a couple of times to make sure the alignment is correct. I usually count about eight movements of the needle over the loose sewing machine needle. Stop. Change back to straight stitching. Remove the loose needle. Make sure the needle is lined up with one of the holes. Sew 3 or 4 stitches to secure the threads. Cut thread. One thing I can say about the Brother buttonholer is that it has a little finger on it that creates a shank for you. Hmmmmm...I may have to try to like it after all.

Pattern Review - B5941

Pattern Description: Butteric 5941 - Pants, top, jacket and skirts

Pattern Sizing: 6-24

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked that the jacket only had 5 pieces

Fabric Used: This is a blouse weight fabric of unknown origin from Walmart for only $2 a yard (You can see the horizontal line through the fabric marking the fullest part of my bust on my dress form). I wasn't sure how the fabric was going to work out. I wanted a shirt jacket. Had I known how well it was going to turn out I would have add some piping detail. I may go back to Walmart to see if I can get another piece to make the sleeveless top to wear under it although I love jackets that button high enough that I don't have to wear anything under if I don't want to.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: FBA and wide, high round back. Also added the pocket flaps (no pockets) on the front with functioning button. I also omitted 2 of the button holes. I like the look of 3 better.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes without question I will sew it again. This is going to be one of my TNT jacket patterns. I highly recommend it to others.

Conclusion: If you have this pattern and want an easy jacket try this one.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Welcome home old friend

Today I picked my serger up from repair. I've had this machine for over 20 years and I totally abused it. It was not outright abuse but in the 20+ years I've owned it I never, I repeat, never oiled it or even took it in for a routine cleaning. It still had the original light bulb that was working just fine. A few weeks ago it started making a weird sound so of course I doused it with oil. Last week it started really laboring so, filled with shame, I took it in for repair. Then I did the unthinkable...I starting looking at the Viking 936. The only thing about the Viking that was attractive was the coverstitch capability. I was almost hoping the this machine was unrepairable...some friend I am. I was ready to kick this little machine that I've used like a borrowed mule to the curb and spend $1500 just for coverstitch capability. Yikes! Today when the repair guy called and said my machine was ready I forgot all about coverstitching. The complete cleaning and tuneup was only $134. I am oh so glad I came to my senses.

I made two muslins today. The pattern is Butterick 5941. It's probably OOP but it's a simple unlined jacket, below the waist with a collar. It has a horizontal dart at the side seam at well as vertical darts in front and back. I tried making it about a year ago and was not happy with the results. It's a pattern I had a duplicate of so I decided to start over from scratch. Now that I've spent a considerable amount of time studying and learning fit, as I was trimming the pattern I immediately spotted a stumbling block. On what planet is this back and front pattern piece supposed to fit together??

A back armhole is supposed to be only about 1/2" longer than the front armhole! Even with the shaping of the front armhole there is almost a 2" difference. I took a tuck across the back and that did the trick. I made a FBA, wide and high round back adjustment but still need to add about 1/2" at the front armhole notch. I have solved the twisted sleeve problem I was having. Solved that myself as everybody's solution was to rotate the sleeve in the armhole. The problem was that my wide upper back was stealing fabric from my sleeve. Problem now solved. So far this is what I have. After some bust dart adjustment, I plan to cut my fashion fabric tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I am such a goof and a pattern review

Sometimes I just crack myself up. Sunday while sewing the zipper in my slacks I hit the end stop and broke the needle. After I replaced the needle I automatically tried to use the automatic needle treader but it just kept banging against the zipper foot so I just threaded it manually. Later I noticed an annoying knocking whenever I sewed fast. I finished the slack and started on a top. I didn't have to change the thread because the color I needed was already on the machine. The spool ran out today so I had to finally rethread the machine. To my utter dismay my automatic needle threader isn't working. I fiddled around with it for about 45 minutes but was unable to fix it. I resorted to threading the needle the old fashioned way. After a couple hours and a break I tried again to fix the needle threader. Now I'm really starting to sweat because it's an electronic and the local service center wants $150 just to look at it. More fiddling around and 30 minutes later I see what the problem. It's not the needle threader at's the needle! I loosen the needle screw and push the needle all the way up to the proper height and the needle threader worked like a charm. Luckily I didn't do any permanent damage to the threader or the bobbin case.

I've spent two days fretting over a $10 piece of fabric. It's not the money. It's just that I love the piece of fabric and don't have anymore of it so I just had to make it work. I wound up cutting the entire thing apart and channeled "inner Sinatra" to get it back together again...and here it is...

Pattern Description: OOP McCalls 2254
Pattern Sizing: S, M, L
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like that the pattern only required 1 yard of fabric. What I disliked that on view A, the view I made, the neckline was huge leaving my bra straps for all to see.
Fabric Used: Slinky
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Wide and high round back, FBA including adding a bust dart. I had to cut the entire top apart to alter the width of the front neckline. I also shortened it 2 1/2" because it was all the way down to my hipline.
Would you sew it again? Yes, it's super easy. Would you recommend it to others? Yes
Conclusion: If you have it in your stash give it a try!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Health update...still sewing

I still don't have a surgery date. I've been told I will have to have radiation therapy five days a week for seven weeks! Yikes! Have to see a chemotherapy doctor Wednesday. Not sure if or how long chemotherapy will be...but life goes on. I had to see my regular doctor today because I've been feeling lousy for so long. I have a low-grade fever which I'm sure I haven't gotten rid of in eons. He put me on an antibiotic but warned that it might not help. He confirmed that because of the cancer my immune system is way out of whack and may not change until after the surgery. What a bummer. In the meantime, I sew.

I've been working on a pair of my TNT slacks. They're made of polyester gabardine in a dark chocolate brown that I picked up at Wal-mart for $2 a yard. I added a twist to the slacks by adding 2 slanted double welt pockets to the front and one to the right back. At one point I considered myself the welt pocket queen...that hasn't change--I still got it. In the words of Walter Brennen in the Guns of Will Sonnet..."no brag, just fact." (LOL) They have a side zipper and faced waist. All went well until I tried them on. I know I should have tried them on before adding the finishing touches but they are my TNT pattern after all. Why didn't I realize that over the last few weeks I've lost 10lbs? I didn't think it would make that big a difference but it did. That 10lbs came off of my waist, butt and hips and I am not happy about it. The two pairs of slacks I just made a few weeks ago are literally hanging off of me. The junk that was in my trunk is gone and I want it back! I can't take up the side seams because of the zipper so am going to try taking something out of the crotch. I hope that helps. Here's a tip towards perfect double welt pockets...use an open toe foot. Seeing what you are sewing is the key to getting the corners in particular looking good!
I'm also working on a top out of Slinky that I only had one yard of. I didn't bother making a muslin and that was a mistake. It came out bigger than I expected and now I am channeling my "inner Sinatra" and "doing it my way."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Health update and pattern review

I went to see a surgical oncologist on Friday. The good news is that my cancer has not spread. The bad news is I was supposed to see at least two other specialist before my apppointment with him. So I still don't have a surgery date. He says it appears that I will just need a lumpectomy and not a mastectomy. Yipppeee! I like my boobs just they way they are...really! Anyway after seeing my last year's films and comparing them with this year's I think the problem is that I've probably had cancer for more than a year. In my opinion it was missed last year and now there is a mad scramble by the imaging center to cover their asses. That is why the miscommunication on the doctor appointments. The imaging center is making all the referrals and informing my doctor afterwards! Just knowing the it hasn't spread is a huge weight off my shoulder. I've been able to get my focus back and what better way then by finishing a project and writing another review!

Vogue 1058

Pattern Description: Misses cardigan and tank top

Pattern Sizing:Bust 32-55"

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow?Yes except how to attach the ties that was very wishy washy

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I like the fit especially of the tank top. If you want the cardigan to fit like the one on the pattern envelope I suggest you make it one or two sizes smaller

Fabric Used:Slinky

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:After finishing I decided I didn't like how high the neckline was on the tank top so I changed it to a scoop neck. I should have made a high round back adjustment on the cardigan but thought I didn't need one because I used a knit fabric. I was wrong. I also wound up cutting the cardigan down about a size because I didn't like the loose fit.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?I'd sew it again but I would change how to assemble the ties. I would sew the ties opposite of what the pattern calls for meaning I would sew the right sides together between the upper and lower cardigan front. That way you can hand sew the inside tie in place on the wrong side instead of the right side. I think it would give it a much more professional finish.

Conclusion: The tank top will be my TNT pattern but will use the scoop neck that I changed it to. I'll make the jacket again also with the changes I suggested

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pattern Review - Simplicity 3624

Pattern Description:
Misses knit and woven tops
Pattern Sizing:
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I liked that it looked and fit exactly like I wanted
Fabric Used:
Slinky. It was my first time ever using it. I got it on sale so bought enough to make matching pants.
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I loved the pattern, fabric and color. Ill make it again but in the short sleeve version

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I can't focus

I can't seem to focus on anything right now. I go to see a surgical oncologist on Friday. Maybe he can give me some kind of peace of mind because right now I'm just going through the motions.

I don't like the CC aka blouse from Hell any better today. One reason I hate it is because it looks like a scrub top and scrub tops are so not my style. I tried to do some sewing today and had more disaster. I made mistakes I didn't even make when I first started sewing and that was 40 years ago. Just the burden of having cancer is getting to me. Physically I just feel like I coming down with a cold but mentally I can't concentrate or think of much else. I just want it to be over...not my cancer. I got way too much sewing that I want to do than to be thinking about "buying the farm." After all, I still don't have a thing to wear!

Taking a cue from Lisa H I decided to start a simple project that wouldn't work my last nerve...Vogue 1058. Right from the start it wasn't looking real good. At first I didn't think I had enough fabric but after a frantic search of my stash I found more. Of course I didn't realize that the fabric was only 45" wide so had to do a bit of creative pattern placement to get the top cut out. Threaded up the machine with the best matching thread and off I went. Why in the heck did I stitch the darts on the wrong side of the fabric, take them out and then stitch again on the wrong side of the fabric! I cut the wrong size and wound up having to take 2" off of the side seams. Stretched the armholes a little or they were just too big in the first place and after topstitching the neck, which I'm none to happy with the workmanship, I realize that I had better matching thread than I was using! On the bright side I think this will be my TNT tank top pattern.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The blouse from Hell!

I spent the entire weekend and most of today sewing the "Blouse from Hell!" It's Butterick 5300 by Connie Crawford and is part of her modern fit or some crap. It's supposed to emulater RTW. If RTW fit me the way this blouse does I am going to become a nudist and y'all don't even want to begin to see none of that!

Well just let me say I read a couple of rave reviews about it and since I'm supposed to go to a three day workshop where Connie fits that particular pattern to you, I figured I'd give it a shot before hand. I probably won't be able to go now because of the cancer but it's clear to me that if this blouse didn't kill me cancer ain't got a snowball's chance in hell!

The saga begin with me making five, yes five, different muslins. That took all day Saturday. Finally I figured I might as well bite the bullet and cut some fashion fabric. What in the world made me choose this print?? To condense this horror story I'll list some of what went wrong

  1. Hideous fabric print

  2. Super dense fabric had to resort to using pattern weights

  3. Sewed, topstitched and edged stitched collar only realizing after the last stitch that the collar was not on properly had also clipped and trimmed the seam. Picking all that out was super fun

  4. Picked all major seams apart at least once...most way more than that

  5. Placed the front edge along the salvage knowning the 5/8" seam would take care of it..wrong, some seams are 3/8"...the front edge was of the 3/8" variety

  6. I cut the wrong size front and it was too tight across the front shoulder so had to stitch a 1/4" sleeve seam to get a little extra room

  7. The bust dart on the pattern is about 1" above the apex of the bust

  8. The DD dart is humongous

  9. The sleeve would fit Godzillas arms with room to spare not to mention there ain't that much easing the world to fit the sleeve into the armhole

I could go on but I think you get the picture. So here's my review of the pattern



Did it look like photo/drawing on the pattern envelope one you were done sewing it?


Were instructions easy to follow?


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I particularly like the written instruction for the collar and the ease of which the collar went together and the forward should consideration. I disliked everything else about the pattern. The dart is above the apex of the bust! I don't know who came up with the sleeve design but they need to be horsewhipped (in my humble opinion). I really disliked that some seams were 3/8" while others were 5/8"

Fabric used?

I'm not sure but it's some kind of peachskin polyester. They could probably make bullet proof vests out of it because regular sewing pins don't stand a chance

Pattern alterations or any deisgn changes you made?

Widened the back, lengthened the waist, redesigned the sleeve. I sewed View B but used the collar and stand from View A.

Would you sew it again?

No but I'll use it as a guide for future projects. With all of my complaining it's hard to believe but with all that went on I learned a lot like

  1. I need to make a wide back adjustments (about 2")

  2. I was able to solve the twisted sleeve wide upper back was pulling my sleeve for extra fabric resulting in that horrible twisting

  3. My upper body is 1" longer than patterns

  4. Because I have forward shoulders, my shoulders are really flat on the back and pointed on the front. I used my inner Sinatra and "did it my way!" Now I have a sleeve pattern to use as a guide

  5. Somewhere along the way I've acquired some of the patience of Job because I should have trashed that project midway. I'm sure I will now. It's just plain ugly!


I'm going to use what I learned with this disaster to make a really cute blouse tomorrow!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I made a dressform cover

I've used a duct tape dressform for about 8 years and always wanted a cover for it. When I had my first one made, the person that has since become uber famous for them had not started covering them yet. Body changes necessitated a new one. Late last year my fiance' and I made another one (actually two but he screwed the first one up...gave too much attention to the boobs). It's a near perfect replica of my body...lumps, rolls and all...but I wanted a cover to make it look like more than a huge wad of duct tape! After viewing my first pattern review photo I was more determined than ever to make a professional looking cover. I had one failed attempt last year, but started again yesterday with renewed resolve. This is what I came up with. Why did it take so long?
From this...

To this

To this

Friday Gadget Review...3rd Hand

Ever seen one of these? I've had this for about 20 years and it's a permanent fixture on the end of my sewing table. It's called a "3rd Hand". Ever been sewing and needed just one more hand to get the job done? Well this it it. It has some kind of almost spring-type loaded mechanism that clasps onto your fabric and holds it while you use both your hands for something else. I wouldn't be without it. I think I paid about $6 for it and it was worth every penny!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yipppeeee! I've been awarded

A special thanks to Faye and Julia for nominating me with the Sisterhood Award.
The rules are:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and /or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award.
I'd like to nominate:

  1. Lisa at
  2. Aminat at
  3. Susan at
  4. Julia at
  5. Monique at
  6. Andrea at
  7. Faye at
  8. Karen at
  9. Omega at
  10. Angie at

Remember don't feel sorry for me, but pray for me that I might have the strength to make it through. I've got cancer, but cancer doesn't have me. Off to the machine...I still gotta look good!

My first pattern review - Butterick 5138

Today I'm not feeling so good. Right now cancer feels like a cold...either that or I'm coming down with something. I want to just lay in bed today but the sewing machine is calling and I gotta answer. Although I've not been given any prognosis I do know that cancer isn't going to kill me. The doctor didn't say anything and I've checked my closet...I don't have a thing to wear!

I've never done a pattern review, but here goes:

Pattern Review - Butterick 5138

Pattern Sizing:16-22
Did it look like photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes, it looks exactly like the drawing
Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The pattern is very easy
Fabric used: Chiffon for the blouse and a peachskin polyester blend for the lining. My fabric choice made sewing this blouse much more difficult to sew. Using chiffon cut on the bias is not for the faint of heart!
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made a deeper bust dart and used the rolled hem feature of my serger for all of the edges. I also rotated the sleeve seam forward. I should have also changed the shape of the sleeve cap because the front of the cap feels kind of tight. If I have enough fabic left I might recut and resew just the top portion of the sleeve.
Would you sew it again? Yes, I'll sew it again I already have the fabric
Conclusion: This top is fun, flirty and feminine. I'm glad I made it because it forced me to learn to use the rolled hem on my 20 year old serger. I don't think I would attempt to use chiffon if I didn't have the rolled hem feature available. I tried to use a plain old rolled hem foot on the regular sewing machine but didn't have any success.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'm having a great day but...

Today I'm having a great day. I've got cancer...but cancer ain't got me. I'm not teary eyed and other than a scratchy throat I feel pretty darn good. Only problem is that I'm cold most of the time now and feel a little feverish. I want to work on my blouse but I need to tweak the fit a little. Because I'm cold I've got on my bra, a stretch velvet top with matching sleep pants, a long sleeve turtle neck, a zip front hoodie (long sleeve) and a long sleeve fleece pullover. I've also got on footies! Yes...I did pay the power company last month (LOL). I don't want to have to take all of this off to try on my blouse. I may just bite the bullet and settle for less than perfect fit just this once. I don't want to start any new projects until this one is finished.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Butterick 5138

I'm working my blouse today. I've got to make several alterations to the pattern before I can cut my fashion fabric. The body is cut on the bias so hard to get a good idea out of muslin but I'm giving it a shot.

I've got to make a small dart on the v-neck in front and in back.

Then need to make a high-round back adjustment, let out the back underarm seam and I should be good to go! It's not supposed to look like a maternity top!

Since the top is lined using the same pattern pieces, I think I'll cut and sew the lining first. Once I fine-tune the fit of the lining I'll use the lining as the pattern for the fashion fabric. Sometimes...I think I'm a genius!