As the new year is upon us, I’m enjoying all of the sewing recaps on instagram and on blogs. It’s exciting to see what people can make in a year. I’ve been sewing quite a few years and wish I had kept track of all the things I’ve made, well, maybe not all things. I did make a few things in the 80’s that...well imagine handmade 80’s and you might know what I mean. But even still, I would love to be able to look at what I’ve done and how I’ve grown.
My husband is a painter and he does a great job of photographing and cataloging all of his work. Artists have retrospectives and catalogs that encompass their life’s work. And although I don’t consider myself an artist, sewing is part of my life’s work and a couple of years ago I decided I would do a better job of documenting it.
I don’t save everything I make. I just couldn’t and wouldn’t considering all the use someone else could get out of garments I no longer have a use for (plus, I absolutely love finding a handmade garment in a thrift store and hope my handmade garments make someone else happy in a thrift store too). Yes, those projects that have a really special place in my heart, my daughter’s easter dress, the first shirt I made my son and the shirts I made for my husband when we first married, among others have found a place in a memory box. But other than that, the things I made are just a memory.
I have a simple way of documenting my makes that doesn’t take up a lot of space and takes moments (because if it takes too long it simply won’t get done!)
Because fabric is the driving force in all of my sewing I save a 4” x 5” swatch of my fabric. I put all the swatches on a safety pin and all the pins on a ring. Then I keep a sewing journal and in a two line entry I write the project, pattern and fabric. That’s it! I know it’s really simple but already it’s been fun for me to look at the swatches and see what I’ve made in just the 2 years I’ve been doing this.
Documenting can be done in all sorts of ways. With cell phone cameras, a photo album might work best for you. You may want to keep an online journal (I do a handwritten one because when my mom passed away it brought me comfort to look through her cookbooks for her handwritten notes...handwriting is so personal), a binder with more details, a page in your calendar or even notecards. Whatever works for you.
I hope this new year brings you lots of sewing time and I hope you take the time to document your work, time, effort and creativity. It’s brought me so much joy and I hope it will for you too.
If you enjoy taking notes on your projects, check out my free sewing project cards. I have one for each of my patterns and a blank one you can use for anything.
2019 was a year of healing and growth for me and sewing was central to all of it. Yes, I know at it’s core, sewing is only building something with fabric but it really can be and usually is so much more. I carefully documented all of my makes this year (more about documenting makes in a future post) because I needed to see my efforts and growth consolidated in one place.
My goal last year with my sewing was to help strengthen and heal my hands without occupational therapy. As some of you know, I have nerve damage from complications of Lyme disease treatment so atrophy, numbness, pain, diminished fine motor and tremors are new challenges in my life and in my sewing. Every single one of us has challenges and I’ve had the pleasure of watching others use sewing as a way to overcome challenges and I too will tell anyone that sewing keeps me sane, but I knew it could also help me physically.
Although sewing is much more challenging than it’s ever been it is no less fulfilling and arguably even more. It’s exciting to see that every project gets a little easier and a little faster so visible progress has not only been good for my body but good for my soul. I still have the challenges but through adaptation (a few new sewing tools and techniques), practice and renewed confidence I’m not discouraged but empowered. And on top of it all I did so much more than I expected and filled my closet with some happy new clothes! So on to the recap:
Total Number of Projects: 49 (46 garments and 3 “other” projects)
Most Proud of: “Occupational Therapy Shirt” (this was the first project of the year and started it all)
Most Worn: New Look 6413 navy print dress
Most Used Pattern: Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet (I made it 6 times)
Gifts aka "unselfish sewing": 14
Most Fun to Make: Robes for my girlfriends
Fail: Workout wear (I found some great patterns but I wasn’t happy with my fabric choices)
New Patterns: 14 “new to me” patterns
Friends, it was a lot of sewing this year and I’m looking eagerly into 2020 and don’t expect to make as many projects but to make fewer things with more details. What are your plans this year? And what did you make in 2019 that was special?
And to help you with your 2020 sewing goals, get 20% off all PDF patterns in the store with code: NEWDECADE today through January 5th, 2020.
Thanks for reading!
I'm excited to say there's a new pattern coming soon and I'm looking for pattern testers! The new Blue Dot top and dress pattern is designed for beginning/intermediate sewists sizes 6-18 (see size chart below). I realize it's a very busy season for some so the test won't begin until the middle of January. The call for pattern testers will stay open until all spots are filled.
If this sounds interesting to you, here's what you'll need:
Here's what you'll do:
Here's the other stuff you may be wondering:
If this sounds good to you, email me here with the following info and I will contact you about being a tester and more details about the pattern:
Don't be shy! I am looking for all sizes and levels of sewing experience. And don't hesitate to email me with questions.
Thank you for the support!
I’m sharing with you my latest make, a houndstooth Dover Jacket. This is the first of two Dovers I have planned this fall and couldn’t be happier. I’ve always loved houndstooth (the fabric so named because it looks like a dog’s tooth...I don’t see the connection but that’s what Google says) and think it’s a great contribution to my closet since really, it’s almost considered a neutral.
The Dover Jacket sews up quickly and friends if you’ve never made a jacket before, this is the pattern for you. The raglan sleeves are easy to sew and comfortable and it’s unlined. Since it’s so simple it lends itself to embellishments or trims. Check out the Dover inspiration board for some great ideas on making this your own. Also Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic has made some beautiful Dovers with gorgeous details.
The seams are bound in red bias (so satisfying) and I used three different antique buttons from my stash. This is a size 8 straight out of the package in a poly/rayon suiting I got at Joann. I bought 2 yards on sale so this entire project came in under $20. I don’t really sew to save money but that’s a big win!
I’m wearing this now with black but just bought a teal green knit for a fancy tee to use as a shell. Green is so popular right now and I thought it would be a great pop of color against the houndstooth.
Here's my dedicated photo staff. I'm always surprised when my son says he'll help me with blog photos. He's a saint! And Miss Hazel hasn't figured out how to look at the camera yet.
More sewing on deck so there’ll be more to share soon.
I know I’m not the only sewist out there that consistently plans to make “basics” but never gets around to it. Well pat me on the back, I made a white blouse! Which is a good thing since I didn’t have one in my closet. Here's a quick post on my new wardrobe addition.
I used my new friend Butterick 5997 View A without sleeve tabs. This is my second run of this pattern (the first is here) and I have to say I love this one just as much. It feels elegant but is as comfortable as a sweatshirt. My only challenge with this will be keeping it clean!
I used a medium weight Tencel twill from Fabricland. If you find a Tencel twill my advise is buy it now and ask questions later. The drape is beautiful, it presses well and has enough body for a blouse, dress or even pants.
The collar band is a key part of this blouse and these aren't always the easiest. I used Maris's method of construction for the band and it's gorgeous without any hand sewing. You should check it out!
For winter, I want to make a 70’s inspired dress and I’m considering using this pattern as the jump off point. By adding an elastic waist and softly gathered skirt this could be a romantic dress that’ll have me humming Fleetwood Mac. Your thoughts? Any other pattern ideas?
Thanks for reading sewing friends,
Every holiday I stand in my closet and look for something that is both dressy and comfortable and this year I’m going to have some lovelies to choose from! We usually do quite a bit of entertaining at our place this time of year and with that, quite a bit of cooking so comfort is key. But as hostess, I want to look festive and feel pretty.
You’re probably thinking "I love velvet, it’s luxurious, soft, glamorous but hard to sew, right?" Wrong. This crushed velvet is an easy first step into sewing your first velvet garment because this isn’t velvet in the formal sense, it’s stretch velour which for sewing and I would argue, wearing, is even better. I have some tips here that will have you crushing on this fabric.
Well I'm pretty excited to be a guest blogger today for Cali Fabrics and couldn't resist appeasing my velvet fix with their gorgeous collection of crushed velvets. There are several rich colors of this fabric on the Cali Fabrics website and I couldn’t choose just one so in true “fabricaholic” form I went ahead and picked two! I chose the romantic dusty light blue and elegant wine color for my holiday makes (but you can check out more colors here).
I took out my tried and true Blue Dot Patterns Georgia Top (of all my patterns I’ve made this the most and use coupon code CALIFAB and get 20% off the pattern for all of November!) to make a dusty blue luxurious (and very quick) sweatshirt. I made it straight out of the package minus the topstitching and it was quick and simple because this pattern doesn’t have any hems. I cut and sewed this in under two hours! I will probably wear this on Thanksgiving as it’s comfortable, washable (key when cooking, right?) and I’m pretty sure everyone will want to hug me.
For my next make I used the wine crushed velvet to sew up Simplicity’s fall release 8982. I bought this pattern as soon as it came out because of View C. The sleeves are divine! This top is almost as simple as the Georgia Top but adds set-in sleeves, gathers at the cuffs and a hem. Still, nothing difficult here and with the stretch velvet, the sleeves slid in like a dream and I used a twin needle for the hem. This top is just as comfortable and very easy to dress up. It looks good with black jeans but also would be great with a skirt and heels. Hopefully someone will invite me to a New Year’s party (wink,wink) because I’ll be ready with this top, black pants and sparkly earrings.
Now here are some tips that’ll help you overcome your fears and help you fill your closet with stretch velvet:
Choose the right pattern: This crushed stretch velvet has great stretch and recovery so it’ll work on a pattern for knits, but what’s most important in choosing a pattern for this fabric is the design. Simple lines and fewer pieces are a great way to insure success and since the fabric shines on it’s own anyway, there’s no use choosing something complicated. Both of the patterns I chose have 5 pieces each and require very little pressing. Which takes me to my next point...
Careful when pressing (you don’t want to crush your velvet): I try to press as little as possible when working with any velvet but when you do need to press, use the coolest iron setting that will work and press from the wrong side...always. In addition, press velvet against velvet. You could use a fancy needle board but why when you can use a scrap of velvet? Have your scrap velvet face up on your ironing board and your project face down so the pile of both are together. On curvy seams, I laid my scrap over my ham to press.
Be mindful of the nap: This fabric has a one way nap so when cutting and sewing make a quick double check to be sure everything is facing the same direction.
Roll your fabric to eliminate creasing: After cutting, I rolled my pattern pieces with my velvet to keep creases from forming.
Test your stitches: I do this on every project. Since this fabric is technically a knit, a ball point needle and a narrow zig zag stitch with a long stitch length worked well for me but use whatever works for you. The stretch stitch on my machine (it looks like a lightning bolt on the stitch guide if you have one) is too close together so if I have to take a seam out (gulp) it’s too hard to take out!
If you have a walking foot, use it: It’s not necessary but it will help.
You’re not going to believe me when I say this but use a fabric glue stick if you need to: When it came time to fold up my hem and I wasn’t able to press it in place, I sparingly used a fabric glue stick (not regular glue stick!) to keep everyone in place. Although it washes out and this fabric is washable, I didn’t want to make my project too gooey, so a dot here and there on the hem and when folding the neckbands in half really helped.
Thank you Cali Fabrics for the opportunity to sew with these lovely fabrics.
Sewing friends, enjoy 20% off the Georgia Top PDF Pattern on the Blue Dot Patterns website for the month of November! Use code: CALIFAB.
I wish you well in your holiday sewing and festivities. I know you’ll look great in your velvet!
#bluedotpatterns, #simplicity patterns, #sewover50, #holidaydressing, #holidaysewing
It's Georgia Week this week and I wanted to share some inspo and a coupon to get you started on your fall sewing!
The Georgia Top comes with 3 views: View A with neck, waist and armbands, View B with contrast upper body and View C can be made with a woven body and knit arm and neckbands. It's a simple and versatile pattern that lends itself to your creativity.
Here are some Pinterest ideas to get you thinking for fall. Why not add some lace to your Georgia....
Or be creative with patchwork and applique...
Or keep it simple and classic in black and white.
Pick up your Georgia Top PDF pattern now through Monday for 25% off with code GEORGIAWEEK in the shop. And tag all your makes #georgiatop and #bluedotpatterns. We'd love to see what you make!
I just finished a dynamic duo to add to my summer wardrobe. Here's New Look 6413 and of course the beloved Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet in a combo that I got really lucky to find. I've had my eye on this rayon crepe print at Fabricland (my local fabric store in O.C.) and was fortunate to find a dreamy lightweight french terry in a beautiful rose that goes perfectly with the print. When this happens...you have to bring both fabrics home.
This dress is really simple and perfect for a beginner or anyone that needs a quick project. It calls for a front bodice zipper which I thought would be odd but actually looks really nice. It's completely unnecessary for the dress (it would pull over without it) but you would need to put it in for the jumpsuit view. Since I made this as a sample for the fabric store I included it so people could see the pattern as it's written.
I don't think anyone needs another Blackwood cardigan review so i won't add one here but I've made 5 now if that says anything about it. But what I like about this one is the color. It's not a color I would normally look at but it turns out it goes with so many things in my closet! I probably have at least 3 other outfits for it.
Just a quick share today as I've got more dresses in the works.
Dresses have been on the cutting table quite a bit lately and here's a new one. I absolutely love this dress, it's feminine but not too fussy, blue (my fav) and an easy to wear wrap. And it's swishy!
There are quite a few wrap dress patterns out there and frankly I'd like to try them all but I chose this new Simplicity 8637 (View C in View D length) because I love the flounce. I made up a quick bodice muslin and I'm really glad I did because although fitting a wrap dress is easier than fitting some dresses, I still needed a few changes. The bodice darts on this dress are really long! I shortened both 1 1/4". I also straightened out the shoulder seam because I have square shoulders (if I don't do this I'll get neckline gaping). And over the last year or more I've noticed I'm making fitting adjustments that I've never needed before which on this dress I shortened the bodice 3/8" which is brand new for me.
Overall this is a simple pattern even though it took me quite a while to make. Of late, projects have taken me longer than usual but I also took extra time pressing and used a pressing cloth on everything to avoid getting any shine from the iron.
I used a navy viscose twill from LA Finch fabrics. It's a gorgeous fabric and has the perfect drape for the flounce. I used this same fabric in red for this project. It's a little bit heavier than a challis and the extra body makes the flounce lay perfectly. And about that flounce...hemming this flounce is not for anyone in a hurry (if you choose to do a rolled hem) but if you have a serger that does a rolled hem I highly recommend using that. I did on this dress and I had it hemmed in about 15 minutes including switching the machine. It's so satisfying!
I've been participating in #Sewfreshsewclean13 and this is my entry this week. Check it out on Instagram!
More dresses are in the works and I'll share soon.
Happy Sewing, Diane
I'm happy to share with you a topstitching technique I use quite often in my sewing. I used it here on my Coffeehouse Pants both on the pocket and on the hem (see below). This is one of those sewing tricks that I've shared in my sewing classes and people don't believe that it actually works because it sounds too easy! Although reverse bobbin work is something we often see in quilting or "art to wear", I think it's perfect for everyday garment sewing and it's a whole lot of fun for something so quick and easy.
Reverse bobbin topstitching is stitched from the wrong side of the fabric so when you look from the front you are actually looking at the bobbin thread. If you load some chunky or interesting thread that might normally be too thick as an upper thread, you can load it in the bobbin and use it. It can be a thread for hand embroidery or machine...I've used different types. Here's how to do it:
Enjoy my friends. And I'd love to see examples of your stitching!
Hi! I'm Diane, a wife, mom, sewing teacher and pattern designer from sunny Southern California. I share my sewing adventures here on the Blue Dot Blog formerly Gatorbunnysews. For more info click here.