First a bit of personal news... I finished all of my academic requirements to apply for the CPA exam!!!! This came as a surprise to me because I thought I had 2 more semesters left. I was so surprised that I emailed the evaluation agency to ask, "Are you sure?!" They confirmed that it was true.


So, after sitting around like a bump-on-a-log, decompressing, for a week after my last classes, I unpacked my sewing supplies and got back into the swing of things. McCall's 7313 came just at the right time. I needed a quick, gratifying make to reignite my enthusiasm.

Following my recent trend, I made this dress out of a Girl Charlee cotton/spandex blend and - holy cow - it feels amazing! I have another yard of this yummy goodness and I might make pajamas out of it. It is that soft!

I wish I had a sewing disaster to share with you because they always make great stories, but I don't! This came off without a hitch.

I did alter the pattern a bit. It called for an elastic waistband. After consulting my community of makers, we all agreed it wasn't necessary. I decided to take in the top and skirt about an inch on both sides and eliminate the elastic. I think it gives the dress a cleaner look (and it's certainly more comfortable!).

A few people have asked about how I managed such a great finish on the neckline. I honestly think that dumb luck has a lot to do with it, but here's my process: I serge the raw edge, turn under 1/2" with Wonder Clips, and finish with a twin needle. Using this process, I've never had any issues with puckering.

I absolutely love this dress. Even my husband, who never has much to say about my sewing habit, says that this is the "most beautiful dress" that I've made. That is a high compliment coming from him. I think I need at least two more...

I'm assuming you sew - or have an interesting sewing - if you're here. I often think about WHY I sew as I'm working through these projects. Here are three hard truths:
  • Clothing is never perfect. Even ready-to-wear (RTW), designer garments have flaws - seams that are a little wonky... hems that might wave a bit... slight differences in fit. It's just the human influence of the process. If you've never sewn, I challenge you to pull out a few of your favorite items and closely examine them - you'll see what I mean.
  • Custom sewing is a slow process. If you want it to be right, it takes time. Many talented makers create a test garment, called a muslin, before even cutting into their "real" fabric. Yes - they make the pattern twice. There is nothing worse than working hard on a garment, only to find that it doesn't fit when it's complete. I once considered myself a lazy maker, but I've come to realize that sewing is only worth doing if the end result is something you can be proud of (and wear!).
  • Sewing is expensive! No one sews to "save" money. Even time carries a value. With the exception of a few recent projects, I'd say the average make takes me 4-5 hours from start to finish - longer if there is handwork required. I'm slow and careful. If I assign a minimal value on my time - say $10 an hour - and I have $20-$40 (or more!) invested in fabric, I have a finished garment that costs $60-$100. Depending on the project, it could be more or less.
So, why-the-heck do I do it?! It it truly for the love of the craft.

Here's what else I know to be true - custom garments fit in ways that RTW can't, giving them an expensive look and feel. People take notice of what you're wearing when it's well-made. Even strangers approach me on days that I'm wearing "me-made." They want to know where they can purchase or how they can steal it from me. There are a lot of reasons to feel good about wearing clothing you've made, including avoiding some of the fashion industry's ethical issues.

I'd love to hear from you - why do you sew? If you don't sew and are interested in starting, what do you find appealing about the process?

Y'all... I am sewing like a mad woman over here. Two large storms are brewing - my last semester of accounting classes (fingers crossed) and tax season! Once they arrive, I'll be too tired to even shop for fabric.

Well, maybe not that tired...

It's so great to feel inspired to sew, though. I've mentioned that it's been one heck of a year. In addition to the personal challenges we've faced, I just haven't had the proper space to encourage regular sewing. Whenever I'm ready to make something, I have to lug all of my machines and materials up from the (still unfinished) basement and set up on my dining room table. I haven't had the chance to unpack all of my studio boxes so I often find I'm missing tools that I need. Too much trouble!!

I'll tell you what has really inspired me to keep it going - the various Facebook groups for sewing that I've joined. My favorite is the McCall Pattern Company Group. I absolutely love to see what others are making. There are so many talented designers!

So before the ball dropped on 2016, I was able to squeeze in a few more makes. My obsession with knit continues with Burda 6667 in a Hacci sweater stripe. It's just so dang easy to sew with and wear. Admittedly, most knit patterns are relatively easy and that appeals to me, too.

(And, it was totally coincidental that my fabric is really similar to the photo!)

I've never made a Burda garment before so this was a great one to start with. I love, love, love long and flowy cardigans that I can wear with leggings. This one fit the bill!

Essentially, this is one huge rectangle with sleeves. Two pattern pieces, a few seams, and voila! You've got a fabulously easy cardigan.

The only challenge with this garment was the sleeves. There is a curve to the top of any sleeve. This pattern requires you to fit the curve into a straight slit cut into the rectangle.

I'm not saying that this is a hard task. It's not! It was just a bit frustrating to set the sleeves appropriately. But, I managed to make it work. In retrospect, I wish I'd added an extra inch to the sleeves. I have very long arms, which is why I usually stick to 3/4 length sleeves as a rule. I tried this on a few times before hemming, but the sleeves still wound up a tad too short for my comfort.

I don't often sew for other people. I still lack the confidence in my abilities to fit garments for others. I can't imagine anything worse than creating something that didn't fit! However, I am definitely making another one of these for my mother. I plan to make a few more for me, too, when I find the right fabric. It really is a perfect layering piece!

Have you made any long cardigans lately? What patterns would you recommend?

Sometimes projects just don't turn out the way you envisioned them.

For some of us (pointing at myself), that happens more often than it should.

I purchased this really fun, 90s-tastic knit from Girl Charlee, thinking it would make a great pair of leggings. And, honestly, it will probably make a GREAT pair of leggings. Unfortunately, I decided to have a second go with Simplicity 2472.

Now, I've made this pattern once before with no success; however, I totally forgot about that project until I pulled out the pattern pieces and found them already cut out.

That should have been a red flag, but I kept going.

I made the tunic version and it came together without a hitch.

Honestly, I have no real critique of the instructions or construction. It is a simple pattern and easy to follow along. And, there are some really, really cute versions of it on Pattern Review.

For me, the problem with this garment is the overall shape. It's just not an attractive fit. The gathered sleeves look a bit dated. The baggy-to-fitted shape looks a bit awkward. Add to that this crazy abstract print and it's just hilarious. In fact, my family keeps referring to it as my "ugly shirt."

After having a good laugh over these photos, it occurred to me that it might actually work styled a bit differently... maybe with a wide belt, the right jewelry, and skinny jeans.

So, I'm not willing to give up on it just yet.


And with that, I bid Simplicity 2472, "Adieu!"

In my year of healthy changes, I've become very interested in the healing properties of essential oils. I've read and researched and interviewed and experimented... it's all just very, very fascinating to me! While my collection of oils is small, I've picked up several to help with my family's sinus and skin issues, muscle aches, sleeplessness, and just overall wellbeing.

You may be thinking... the placebo effect is strong with this one...

And maybe it is, but I've been pleased with the impact they have had on our household.

So, for my handmade Christmas efforts this year, I thought it would be nice to share a gift of health with my kids' teachers and a few friends. Not to one to knock a great drinking vessel, but do they really need another mug?

My other idea was a gift card to Dunkin' Donuts. Mmmm... doughnuts are my kryptonite. They may really wish I'd given them a gift card!!

I made blends that I thought would be universally appealing - for sleep, alertness, and sinus relief. I used some recipes that I found on Hello Glow as my base and customized from there.

Good Night, Sleep Tight :: roman chamomile + lavender

WAKE UP! :: frankincense + peppermint + orange

Breathe :: eucalyptus + peppermint

I then knit up these adorable little bags to carry them. For the knitters among us, this is the first pattern that worked up on my own! I shouldn't be this proud because it's so simple, but I am.

I added a Christmas ribbon and a menu card... Voila! A simple, yet very personal little gift.

If you think this is an idea for you, you are completely welcome to my files, recipes, knitting pattern, etc. Just let me know what you'd like.

I am curious - if you are a teacher, would you use a gift like this or would it be regifted? I would love to know if I'm just thinking inside of my own bubble.

What are you crafting for Christmas this year? I'd love to hear all about it!

My face is looking really old these days...

Random thoughts as I comb through my photos for this pattern review. I suppose there is good cause for that as 2016 has been one of the two worst years of my life. I honestly can't wait for the ball to drop at midnight on December 31 because I do believe in the magic of a new year.

Bring it, 2017!!

Old face or not, I am so excited to share this fun top with you! It was actually difficult to decide what to make with this amazing Girl Charlee pineapple knit, but I finally decided on Simplicity 1199 simply because it was already in my pattern stash.

After pleading via the interwebs for someone to help me decide which solid knit to pair with the print, the majority decided on this dark gray.

Perfect pick, my friends!! Perfect pick.

I would rate this pattern as intermediate in difficulty. There are some tricky seams, such as easing  of the sleeves at the shoulders, that might intimidate a beginner. But don't let that scare you! This is the perfect top to learn with.

I don't usually get into the nitty-gritty of construction, but I did want to share a few changes that I made that I believe enhance the quality of the garment. I also RARELY show the inside of my garments because I'm lazy and my finishing efforts typically reflect that.

**confession is good for the soul**

The pattern indicates that you should sew the right sides of the underlayer together to join. I did this for the sides, but then turned the garment right-side-out to sew the shoulder seams. That way, there is no exposed seam on the inside of the shoulders. Here's a photo of the shirt turned inside out.

It was a small change, but I'm pleased with the result.

And while I have this garment turned inside out, take a look at the neckline. The instructions indicate that you should essentially make a double-folded bias tape to conceal the raw edge of the neckline. Instead, I folded the piece in half and sewed all of the raw edges together with my serger.

I then pressed the seam down and finished it off with an edge stitch. I'm lazy, remember? This change satisfied my lazy character and turned out a pretty fabulous finishing touch.

One final point to share. I absolutely love sewing with double needles when working with knits. If you look at any RTW garment in your closet, you'll see the same hem detail. Just for fun, I used a coordinating turquoise thread to topstitch the gray.

And that's that!

I adore this top. I do worry that the print is trending a bit young for me, but maybe I can get away with it? Meh... I've never really cared much about what others think of how I dress.

Do you and rock it!

I'm actually working on a few handmade Christmas gifts to share with you. It's been a LONG time since I've shared a craft. Life is just too dang busy.

Stay tuned!