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Adventures in amateur sewing

Happy romper


Ready to romp! My summer one-piece that almost didn’t happen

Pattern: McCalls 6969 (view c)McCalls 6969

Well that is a very interesting pattern number.  I only just realized this as I am writing it out.  I assure you I didn’t purchase this pattern based on that!

What can I say. It is well into November and in New England, the air definitely has a chill.  Every morning I have to scrape a layer of frost off my windshield.  Leaves have pretty much fallen off all the trees and Thanksgiving is next week.  Yikes!  What happened?

This summer brought many changes – the biggest one being a new job and a new commute to work.  I’ve also started getting more involved in my running club and have been racing and training, despite suffering from a nasty sprained ankle injury.  Somewhere in the midst of all these changes, I started a summer romper.  This was a project I have wanted to try for awhile, having bought the pattern years ago.  This summer I saw someone in an arcade wearing a romper and it rekindled my desire to make one.  Never mind the fact I probably wouldn’t wear it that often and one-pieces don’t always flatter me.  Luckily I had some rayon to burn!  As summer drew to a close and the September obligations piled up, I started to cut into my fabric and piece the body together.  Things were going okay…..

Under the collar

Here is where the directions stopped making sense – when I had to install the collar.  I re-read it several times and I still couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do, so I actually brought it over to my mom’s to enlist her help.  In the end she figured it all out perfectly, which was such a relief.  the first problem I had was understanding that the bottom part of the collar, was actually the facing.  The directions said to finish the edge of the facing, but I couldn’t figure out what edge to finish.  Then after everything was stitched on, there was a bit of origami folding on the inside to get things tucked under the slip stitching done on the collar itself, but I don’t think I could replicate this if I tried.  I took some pictures to see if I could help anyone else out trying to make this, but I’m still a bit confused looking at these.  Which is a shame because the drawings in this section of the pattern instructions are pretty terrible.

putting the collar on

When you stitch the collar on, the facing has this flap on the side.

Installing the collar

The facing needs to be clipped, so it can fit around the front opening.


Facing is folded and tucked under the opening in the collar, which is hand-stitched.

The case for casing

This may be my own ignorance, but when I first read the instructions, I did not get that I was supposed to sew the bias tape around the whole inside waist to make a casing for the elastic.  Of course it was the only thing that logically made sense, since the elastic was supposed to be cut to fit around my waist.  The bias tape would hold the elastic in place.  Most people would probably get this right away, but I thought the directions were a bit fuzzy here, with no drawings showing how this casing would fit around the whole garment (only on how to attach on the side).  There wasn’t much of an explanation for this step at all so I made up my own technique here:

  • I picked a point on the inside of the garment where I felt the elastic should start.
  • I folded over the bias tape to finish the end, but only pinned this in place and left the edge open.
  • I stitched the bias tape to the inside of the garment, only stitching the long edges (both top and bottom).
  • I then folded over the other end of the bias tape when I reached the right place on the other side of the waist.
  • I fed the elastic through one side with a large safety pin, like you would do with any casing.
  • Finally I sewed each edge that was folded over, making sure to “catch” the elastic in the stitching at the ends.  I stitched back and forth a few times for reinforcement.

waist casing

This is probably what was intended in the directions, I just don’t think it did a great job explaining for beginners or anyone who hasn’t worked with elastic before.  It almost seemed a bit rushed in the description, like it was an after thought.


After everything was put together, I realized that there was a lot of extra material that bunched at the bottom of the front opening, on the inside.  I have a feeling this is due to some mistake I made in attaching the facing to the main garment.  Or maybe I was supposed to tack something down that I didn’t.  It kind of annoyed me, so I decided to try to serge part of it off.  It did reduce the bulkiness in the crotch area, but I’m not sure this was the right way to fix it.  Oh well.  There is now a small flap on the inside, which I was able to tack down.  Not the neatest, but at least it looks normal on the outside.

Finished romper 1

These were my main issues with this pattern, which I think could be remedied with additional drawings that illustrated all the steps.  Having said that, I really like this pattern and the collar actually came out looking nice.  I also barely needed any fit adjustments, which is unusual since my body type is not perfect for one-piece outfits.  It is perfect for rayon fabric and it will be a very cooling outfit when summer finally does come back.  If I do make this again, I will have to adjust the arm holes, as they ended up a bit big and revealing.  I will need to wear a tank top underneath.  Although, I’m not sure I will make this again since I remembering how I assembled that collar and facing will be another moment of frustration for sure.

Back of romper


Pretty soon, November will be over and you know what that means.  Christmas.  New Years.  Weight gain.  However seasonally inappropriate this outfit is, actually finishing something has brought a bit of my sewing mojo back.  If I can only make a commitment to set aside some time, I might be able to have a few makes before the year is out.  And *spoiler alert* I did just buy some new sweater knits that were on sale.  Who knows what the new season will bring.

Happy romper



Turtle Power! My summer blockbuster

Simplicity Pattern Pattern: Simplicity 1100

Even though I am writing this post the beginning of autumn, I actually did finish this project in the height of summer.  My summer sewing productivity was a bust. As I noticed the days getting shorter, I realized I did not have enough time to make the shorts I wanted in the time I would be able to enjoy them.  I needed a quick win, and this bathing suit cover up was just the thing.  I bought this pink turtle-print rayon a while back with the intention of making a bathing suit cover up.  Rayon is just such a cool, lightweight fabric and the turtles gave it a slightly tropical look.  The problem was finding the right pattern – one that was simple enough to sew quickly but also stylish enough to be unique.

Some simple google searches did not help me, so I went onto a site I have been an inactive member on called  I was able to find and purchase the perfect pattern – it was a simple dress-like cover-up that is sewn in two pieces, with no buttons or notions.  You simply tie it around the neck, Continue reading

Phone in arm band pocket


The running band: Trying to get back to it

Pattern: Fehr Trade Running Armband Pocket (free pattern!)Fehr Trade Running Arm Band pattern

It’s no surprise that I haven’t been sewing lately.  Summer is in full force, I just started a new job where my commute is longer and I’ve been taking some online courses to brush up on my skills – you know all the usual.  Oh and I’ve been running more.  After the success of my last half marathon in May, I decided to sign up for another one in October…and then another one later in October.  I also have some smaller races and relay races coming up that I’m trying to stay prepared for.  I’ve been running as long as I’ve been sewing, but it seemed that most of my energy that I reserved for sewing has transferred to running and running related activities.  I started track workouts with my running club once a week.  I’m also a bit more consistent with my long runs on the weekends.  I have been working a bit harder at it and I think I’m finally starting to show some improvement.

But I miss sewing. Every time I look over at my machines Continue reading

Tie Bow close up


The networking blouse: or how to succeed in business by really really trying!

Pattern: Simplicity 1779 (view c)Simplicity 1779

They say that job searching is all about the networking.  Let me tell you from a diagnosed introvert, networking really sucks.  You really have to put yourself out there, totally out of your comfort zone and start conversations with complete strangers.  You have no idea if they want to talk to you or not.  Sometimes these conversations go well, sometimes they feel as painful as falling down a flight of stairs.  Making that perfect connection that furthers your career can feel like a needle in a haystack.  It’s also extremely exhausting, being “on” all the time.  When I come home after a few hours of networking, I feel almost as if I ran a marathon.  But it is important – applying for open jobs the old fashion way definitely doesn’t get the maximum result.  And getting a job can be more “who you know” than “what you know” in general.

I feel it helps to have some sort of ice breaker prepared.  Which is why last week, Continue reading

crossing the finish line


Run for it! A reflection on running as I sew with spandex

Pattern: Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts (3-quarter length)Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts pattern

Skills acquired:

  • PDF patterns

I’ve never considered myself a runner.  When I was in middle school, we were forced to run a mile and a half in gym class and it was always a day I dreaded.  The gym teacher made fun of the way I swung my arms when I ran.  “You look like this,” she said, while she made some exaggerated movements.  She called me a retard.  She said I was un-athletic.  This would turn anyone off from running.

I didn’t really pick up running, except for the odd jog around the neighborhood, until I started having some real life problems.  Lack of control in my life situations created major anxiety.  I was not myself, I was just a walking bundle of nerves and hurt feelings.  I wasn’t sleeping properly and so I slowly introduced a running routine to “tire me out” during the day.  It also relieved some of those anxious feelings:

Oh you have to move – run 5 miles to feel better
Grad school is getting to you – see if you can make it to 6 miles
You didn’t get that job – run 3 miles faster than you have before

Everything would play through my head during these runs, and I started to add more Continue reading

Bicycle pants

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An update on loungewear

Pattern: Kwik Sew 3793

We interrupt this blog to bring you the picture I was hoping to include on my previous entry about lounge-wear.  Back when I was on my pajama pant kick, I made my guy some nice ones out of bicycle flannel.  I used this kwik sew pattern because it includes a fly, but I also added pockets using an online tutorial.  There is a little bit about the pocket install on my other blog post.

Pockets on pj pants

I wanted to share the final result, although these pictures are only from the waist down Continue reading



See my vest…in textured fleece

Kwik Sew 3813Pattern: Kwik Sew K3813

Some key takeaways:

  • Wait to buy your separating zipper until you confirm the final length
  • Make sure your fabric works for the arm binding, if not you can use spandex or knit

Just as spring made its way in New England, so did the cold weather.  For a winter which saw 70 degree temperatures on Christmas Eve and only 2 snow storms, this spring sure is cold!  We had more snow storms in April than in March, and now that it is May, I can’t walk around my house without a sweatshirt.  Or a fleece….which brings me to….

I decided to make a fleece vest!  I started this a bit on the late side – as in after winter was technically over.  Glad this cold weather started up, or I would have felt completely foolish!

This was a pretty ambitious project.  I have never made anything like this before, and half-way through making the vest, I was worried I may be in over my head.  However, the results of this one are very positive!

When I first decided to make this pattern, Continue reading