Friday, November 30, 2012

Your Size... And Why It Doesn't Really Matter

  The other day I was having a conversation with someone I care about. She was excitedly telling me how she was beginning to sew for herself again and buying patterns. 
“You know they go up about two sizes from your ready to wear. So if you are __ in RTW you will be around  __ size in a sewing pattern.” I mentioned.
“Ahg!” She gasped. “I can’t be that size.”
   My heart broke a little when she said that. Didn’t she realize her shape didn’t change but the different companies use different systems? A woman’s size, whether she be young or old, seems to be something that stirs up great emotion and struggle. 
   My struggle was slightly different than most, since as a budding 14 year old I was interested in GAINing weight so I wouldn’t look so much like a holocaust survivor. Forced by a disease to count the carbohydrates of everything that came near my lips I wasn’t complaining when I did get to eat. I was more embarrassed about the bruises on my arms from checking my blood sugar than I was about my hair or clothes. I would get angry when I had to run laps to bring down my high blood sugar instead of getting to visit and eat ice cream with friends in the evening. 
   One of the blessings of living as a Type 1 Diabetic is the detachment I can view my body with. It is a piece of equipment I must use to get through my life. Unlike my car or my house which I can’t trade in, or paint whatever colors I want, My Body is something I can decorate however I want, changing whenever I feel like it. And my “Size” is merely a set of measurements that tells me how best to decorate. They are part of a complex math equation and when I get them correct I can create beautiful things! 
   My friends, I care about you and want you to feel as beautiful as I know you are so let’s sit down and have a serious chat about our body measurements and sewing patterns. So put on your best bra and undies, grab a tape measure and lets get the first part of the math problem correct by taking accurate measurements of ourselves.
Here's a few links to the beginning measurements we'll need: 
BurdaStyle with pictures and explanations.
Simplicity with clear picture and instructions.
Threads with a printable chart and comprehensive measurements.
Vintagegirl on choosing a pattern based on full or high bust measurements.
So now you have your homework!
Monday we’ll have a little history lesson on how sewing pattern sizes came to be and tips on how to choose the correct “size” vintage pattern for you!
Wednesday, we’ll take a look at what some modern pattern companies have to say for themselves and whatever else I dig up that is interesting.
Until next time, keep rolling with the wind!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Knitting Master

What a way to replace a hoodie!
I had this in the works for about a year!

A couple years ago my youngest brother came to me and said, “Hey, let’s learn to knit.” 
“Ok,” I said, “I’ll talk to the lady in our church who knits and see if she’ll teach us.” 
Instead I walked away and promptly forgot about it. Yes, because that’s how cool of a big sister I am. 
This happened a couple of times until one day he walked out of his bedroom and said, “Hey! Look what I made!” 
We stared in amazement at the beautiful scarf in his hands. Knitting ladies oohed and ahhed over his remarkable tension and perfect gauge. 
When asked, "How did you learn this?" 
“YouTube.” was his reply.

Fast forward a year and my brother drags me over to a lady and says, “Tell her she needs to learn to knit. She can’t just crochet.”
After a long conversation, in which I learned many interesting things, like the fact that knitting was invented by fishermen and in the beginning was strictly done by men until women stole it from them; or knitting was made for clothing because of it’s built in stretch, I was converted. I picked up my first set of needles and learned to cast on! 

It has been two years since I began to knit and after multiple Interesting knit projects,  I have finished my first full sweater! 

Meet My Joseph's Coat Of Many Colors

It is super beautiful, warm and I love to wear it! It has replaced several old hoodies and is much warmer than they ever were. It is 100% wool from Noro. I adapted two Noro patterns taking the shape from one and the stitch pattern from the other. I took the extra time to knit it to the correct length for me. For the back and front I just added rows to the bottom. For the sleeves, I knit an extra row before every sleeve increase so it would grow in proportion. 

To finish, I did a four strand braid in two colors to match the sweater colors. After some research on the best methods, I used grosgrain ribbon on the back and perl floss to sew the buttons on so I wouldn't rip the sweater with wear and tear.
A cozy collar instead of a hood to keep my neck warm.

I’m so thankful my brother took the initiative to learn a new skill and wouldn’t leave me alone until I learned it too! I really enjoy having someone to discuss a creative process with and watching him create is truly inspiring. Plus I now have some amazing things to wear!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Random Ramble

Hello All,
For those Stateside, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving break. I had a great time with friends and family, culminating in a surprise birthday party my family threw for me! They managed to keep it a secret for a week! I was so surprised and thankful for all who attended. We had a great pork chop dinner and lots of visiting!
We also got a kitten!
First day of terror. All it wanted to do was hide

Second day of curiosity.
We have outdoor cats here in the country but when you first get them they have to come in and get lots of love and pets so they don't make the incredible journey back to the place of their birth. It has the prettiest blue eyes and is rapidly getting SPOILED!
Other random annoucement: in case you hadn't noticed it is Cyber Monday. I am trying to control myself from splurging on the online fabric sales by working hard on my Etsy Store! Stop in, ask me questions, keep me from buying fabric!!!
Here's a link to see all my on sale items: 

In case you can't find anything there my wonderful Pattern Patter team is having another spontaneous blitz and new patterns are going up all day today in this thread! Catch them hot off the presses!

And just in case you can't find anything in either of those places here's a HUGE list of all my Pattern Peeps who are having sales. Most end today, I believe.

 If that doesn't keep you occupied for awhile, you are reading the wrong blog. Looking ahead, I've started on Christmas gifts which puts a damper on posting my creations. So I am planning some posts on vintage pattern sizing and other quirks or historical facts I can dig up on the internet and find interesting. 
Until the wind blows something else by,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Those Who Make Smooth Sailing

As Thanksgiving approaches I realized how timely this post turned out to be. This is a tribute to two different ladies who impacted my life in very different ways. So just read the middle if you don't want to delve into all my heartfelt personal stuff.

So Zoe was the first blog that I followed. The first time I realized that sewing with stuff other than fabric from the fabric store was "Cool" and "Green" The first time I realized others thought shopping at Thrift stores was a good thing to do. That chopping up existing clothes and making something new is responsible consumerism and can have super cute results.
Apparently, I've been cool and trendy for YEARS and never knew it!
She opened up the whole sewing blogosphere to me and made me realize my need for nautical wear even though the only sea near me is of grass and cows. So, when I received a navy blue and white striped knit I knew Exactly what I was going to do with it! Make something that would make So Zoe proud! Not only was it nautical feeling but it counted as a refashion since it had already been cut into a large long sleeve tee shirt.

I cut some of the length from the back and front and added a band of ribbing at my natural waistline. I turned the sleeves on their side and added a bit from what I had cut off from the body. I also added a bit of elastic to ruche the longer side because it curved into my leg because of the sleeve cap.
I love it! It is big and bold. It says "Here I am!" I feel like a piratess in it.

Arrrrgggg Mateys! We'll get you with our needle and thread.

I got this knit from a friend who was very big and bold. You knew when she walked into the room; always sharp, elegant and tasteful; always "Here I am". Apparently she was old enough to be my grandmother but she told me to call her Beth. When I was in that awkward, "I'm an adult now?!" stage she treated me like one and challenged me to think. One of her favorite things to say to me was, "Well, Why not?" when I was making excuses about something. We had such great conversations. She loved Jesus, people, and quality work. She was passionate about everything she loved. She is part of the reason I learned to knit and she did her best to help me excel! When she suddenly passed away her family gave me all her fabric and all the yarn my brother and I could stuff into our van. She gave in life and in her death because she realized life is not about the things we own but those we love.

Because of her I have the confidence to wear crazy things like my Piratess Tunic and because of Zoe, I'm blogging about them.

As Thanksgiving nears I am so thankful for the people who have impacted my life and given me confidence to pursue my dreams. I'm also thankful for my beautiful not-niece and her wonderful Mom who took these pictures for me. Even though Thanksgiving is not an international holiday I hope everyone takes some time this week to count the blessings that surround you and let others know you love them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming....

To unashamedly bring you a Sale Announcement! Growing up we watched a lot of PBS. On one hand their fundraisers were great but on the other the "Fundraising" part was always long and annoying. Hopefully this won't be too painful to you.

As you know I am part of an amazing Etsy team called Pattern Patter. We decided to put on a huge sale for all you vintage pattern lovers out there! Here's all the juicy details:

When: Black Friday through Cyber Monday The 23rd through the 26th

Where: Here's a thread where we will be posting all our blitz listings  

You can also search Etsy for this coupon code some will be offering: BFBLITZ

Who: Tomorrow there will be a list of all the shops and the discounts they are offering posted by Katherine at 

I am offering all my patterns and fabric at 20% off. You can see them all at this link:

What: Lots of amazing patterns, fabric and sewing notions. Both from the present and the past.

Why: We are sick of being called hoarders by our family members and want to clear up some of the clutter before Christmas! :)

I think that's it! I hope to see you all there! My goal is to sell 100 patterns! Am I too optimistic? I don't know. It's my first holiday season on Etsy and I am full of wide eyed wonder waiting to see how it goes.

I'll catch you all later this week with a timely sewing Thanksgiving post.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Refashioned Birthday Gifts

I'm copping out on the more serious posts I had planned to give you this quick project I whipped up for one of my Not-Nieces. She turned 3 today! Her favorite colors are green and yellow.
And just a disclaimer before we begin the show and tell. Yes, this is probably a bit too big. Yes, snow and general winter temperatures have arrived. BUT She has tall genes and I intentionally made it big so she can layer it now and wear it this summer.

TaDa! A cute jumper dress.
 This started its life with me as an unfinished skirt. No waistband, zipper, hem. Even the embroidered panels were not finished.

I removed the three un-embroidered panels and sewed up the zipper opening. I folded it where I wanted the center front and center back to lay. After playing around with some pattern pieces I ended up with this:

It took some fiddling since the "front and back" swung out instead of a straight line. I finally just lined it up and winged it. I figured since it was supposed to be looser fitting I wouldn't sweat it.
I added binding to the armholes. Then sewed up the shoulder seams so the seam would be caught when I flipped the binding over and topstitched. I added the neckline binding and flipped it all to the inside. I decided the cleaner looking finish let the embroidery shine.
It was a pretty wide skirt so I stitched a ribbon to the front. Quick Tip: 100% Polyester ribbon will melt and seal the ends to prevent fraying if you hold it to a flame. Be careful not to blacken the edges or burn your fingers. This will work on blends, not as well, and they can actually catch on fire so kids, please don't try this at home.

Isn't the embroidery pretty. I really like the tone on tone effect.
For the "buttons" I took apart an old cufflink. One has more wear than the other but I think it adds character. I hemmed it with a blind hem.
Super cute.
There it is! My super quick refashion! Do you have any great ideas for refashioning skirts?

Monday, November 12, 2012

More, More, More!!

 Here I am back with more STASHBUSTING! More Remaking and Replacing RTW! More Foundation Garments!!
Don't they look AWEsome with my sweat pants! :P
Is it a peppermint? A circus tent? Or the Cat In The Hat's hat? I went from liking this fabric to total bleh after playing around with the stripes. I decided to test my Built By Wendy raglan sleeve pattern on it. Raglan screams casual wear to me and I figured I could use it as a pajama shirt if it didn't work out. It was too short so I added cuffs and a bottom band. Then I wore it...

I'm in love with long sleeves!
The strangest thing happened when I wore the shirt so I washed it and wore it again. This shirt wins the prize for invoking happy, peppy feelings. It wins the Alter My Mood Prize. I happen to love it in spite of its brightness, simplicity and the peppermint jokes it brings me.

While it was a total stash busting project I must admit the next one isn't totally. After assessing my stash and online fabric shopping while I was depressed since my blood sugar was high AGAIN making some carefully thought out shopping decisions I bought this lovely dot fabric that I knew would match perfectly with the purple in my stash.
Beautiful dots! Now all I need is some teal to go with it.

Huzzah for long sleeves!

Neckline binding could be a bit tighter, or wider to give a turtleneck effect.
So there you have it! Two tops that decreased my stash and replaced my boring RTW. I had this great idea to have side by side photos of RTW next to my creations but I already chopped up my RTW shirts into little girl skirts.

Cut off the offending parts, draw a picture, sew neckband as waistband. Presto skirt.

Cut off arms and taper down. Sew up holes in side. Presto skirt. 
I'm almost embarrassed at how easy and how terrible these look in photos. They were made quickly for little girls to be comfy and wear around the house. Since they didn't want to take them off I consider it a win even if it isn't my best handiwork.
How about you? Anyone else taking the Foundation Garment Challenge? Do you have any great stash busting ideas?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sewing Builds Friendships

I didn't get a post up yesterday because I was busy having fun at our once a month Sewing Day. What is Sewing Day? Well it is what it sounds like. A day when women from all over the community get together and sew for the whole day! (our official hours are 9 to 5) Some of us don't even sew, we have a card maker and a cross stitcher who come as well.
It is super low key. There is no membership and we decide the day we have it on from month to month. Our original plan was to meet in each other's homes but we decided to meet in the basement of a church since it is a central location with good light and lots of room to spread out.
I do a lot of spreading.

Lots of room for lots of projects!

We even have snacks!
Everyone brings something for the potluck lunch/dinner and we always have gobs of food leftover. Mothers with small children come, so sometimes we have lots of little kids running around. Once, we even had a baby sleeping in a pile of fabric on the floor! 
We have girls as young as 8 sewing, up to women in their 80's. Sewing is the glue that holds us all together! We always have a great time and the first thing you do when you get there is go see what everyone else is sewing! It's one big sew and tell with lots of encouragement and advice flowing freely!
Who loves Winnie the Pooh?

Lots of quilt making going on.

My Christmas Presents Projects

It went from a table runner to a quilt!
This was a special day for me because my Mom came down and joined us, not just doing the dishes but actually SEWING! This was her first sewing project as an adult. She used my rotary cutter and sewing machine all by herself. She made an apron. We were all so excited and proud of her!
Trimming the last of the threads.
October was our 2nd Anniversary of "Tubs Anonymous" Our group name was discovered one day as we were chatting while ironing. 
Lady, "There's Alcoholic's Anonymous, Shopping Anonymous, and all those other anonymous groups we should have one too!"
"Yeah," I said
"Like Fabric Keepers or Tubs Anonymous." she replied.
We immediately started giggling. Tubs Anonymous had a nice ring and the double innuendo we were looking for. The clincher was when the ten year old spoke up, "I even have tubs of fabric too!" 
We all collapsed in laughter and our name was chosen. 

I think this print says it best. I am so thankful for our group and all the friendships that have grown and begun from it. I hope this encourages you to get together with some local sewers and inspire each other! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

You Be the Judge!

What do you think? Am I totally off my rocker or is this a cute little dress? Here's the story

Sleeve opened. I cut the bodice from them.

Shirt front. I used as the skirt front.
Shirt pattern sewn together
Pajamas maybe?

Several years ago I wore whatever I had regardless of fit. Now that I can sew I want things that fit me well. No more swimming in my clothes. This bright blue knit is medium to heavy weight. I could have cut it down and made a shirt but the sleeves would have been too short so I considered other options. Why not a fun little dress? I could wear it over a long sleeved tee in the winter and alone in the summer.  The blue alone was boring so why not add some equally bright red lace? (Maybe this is color saturation?) 
It's big, Bold, and beautiful!
I added the velvet bow because I needed something to give me a waistline and hide the seam from the piece I added to lengthen the dress so it wouldn't be too short.
See the seam I am trying to hide.

A cute Dior bow with an amazing vintage button.
The bodice was just too much big blue space so I added the double pointy collar since I had triangle pieces left over when I evened up the skirt sides.
Closeup of cool double collar

Aren't these the neatest buttons!

Now my Father thinks the lace is ugly and at a glance looks like Grandma's slip has slipped. My Mother thinks the lace is too bright, it makes you go WOW. Now I just want to say, I asked for their polite, honest feedback, as I am asking you. 
I think the lace is what takes the dress from just a dress to A FUN DRESS. I am not a wall flower why should my clothes be. I cannot point to any trend this is following other than the general add lace trend but it doesn't seem so abnormally different from a lot of dresses out there right now. Am I wrong? 
Out here on the prairie this is what we usually see,
Jeans and a button up shirt

Nothing is wrong with wearing jeans and shirt but that is pretty much the entire wardrobe of the ranchers. It perfectly fits their lifestyles. They cannot wear a dress out riding or working cows. Wearing a dress can be dangerous with all the wind we have. Then there is me, the local seamstress that spends most of her time making stuff in her basement. So does this dress seem weird because it is so different from what we usually see or is it just different because I spend all my time in my basement breathing fabric fumes?
I eagerly await your feedback and hope everyone has a lovely day!