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Adventures in amateur sewing


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Tanks for everything: the Aurora top

Pattern: Aurora tank by Seamwork

Skills acquired: 

  • Double needle for knit
  • Installing a walking foot

Hello sew blog my old friend.

This past summer, running was my life as I was training for my first marathon (as seen in my other blog). It was almost impossible to find time to sew. The good news is that I’ve been sewing quite a lot in the last month, so I’m hoping to be able to carve out some time to write about my projects.

Amidst all the training, I was actually able to complete one project over the summer – the Aurora tank top by Seamwork patterns. On top of everything else, I also got a new job this September, so I never got around to writing about this project. I had picked this particular pattern due to it’s simplicity – only 3 pieces to cut out and Seamwork patterns are known for their quickness to assemble. All are supposed to take under 2 hours. I worked on this in pieces of time that I could find here and there, but I’m pretty sure the 2 hours is accurate.

The walking foot! It was kind of a pain to put on as I had to take a few things apart to install, but worked pretty well in the end.

The only thing that was really challenging was trying to use a double knit needle. I had threaded a double needle before when I was making my corduroy pants and I remember sewing on that fabric felt perfectly normal. I’m not sure why I was having such a hard time doing the same on knit – it felt a lot more difficult. Material kept bunching up and sewing in a straight line was totally impossible. I had to unpick and redo a few sections, as it kept puckering in parts. With all the difficulties I kept having in keeping the stitching an even tension, I decided to try one more thing – my walking foot.

I had only used it for one other project – where the material was thick and stretchy and didn’t move well through the machine. This time, I decided to use it to keep the stitching more even – it would get tight in some parts and much looser in others. I’m wondering if there is some big trick that I am totally missing.

So much bunching! Trying to double needle this thing was not easy.

It took some extra time to install as it is more involved than just popping feet on and off. I actually had to unscrew a piece off – but I actually remembered how to do this despite only having done it one other time before. I think it did make a difference in how the material moved through the machine and my stitches were a lot cleaner, even though they never ended up perfect. I also probably need practice as I noticed the 2nd armhole came out better than the first. I was running low on time, so the imperfections would have to stand – I’m still pretty pleased with the result. Definitely something I can wear on those hot summer days when I barely want to wear clothes at all.

The back yoke has a really nice pleat that I think really makes the top! I would definitely make this top again…when the weather gets warm again.


Well that is all I have time for right now. Stay tuned for some of my fall/winter makes – coming soon to a blog near you!

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Jasmine blouse: Un-anchored by last minute decisions

Pattern: Jasmine by Colette Patterns

Skills acquired:

  • Understitching

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‘Cuz the shirt has anchors on it…get it!!  With this project, I finish up the last of the fabric I bought in Scotland back in 2014.  This was a nice white cotton with cute little pink anchors on it and I believe I even got it at a discount (although still not cheap).

The blouse came together so easily.  I highly recommend this pattern, especially if you are a beginner.  A dressy looking blouse with no buttons?  No zipper? Whaat?!  But yes, because it is cut on the bias, you can pull it right over your head like any other shirt.  With no button/buttonhole matching, it makes construction a snap.  And you don’t need snaps!

When I first started on this top, I had cut all the pieces for version 2.  Since the fabric had anchors on it, I thought having a sailor look would be really cute.  I even found some really nice navy blue fabric that I had leftover from another project that seemed to work perfectly for the collar.   I liked the sleeves on this version better too.   When I started to get ready to sew, I stared at the pieces for a long time.  I couldn’t decide if I really liked the navy ties after all and worried it would end up being something I didn’t want to wear that often.  I began to imagine it as a disaster, which may seem a bit much, but there is nothing more heartbreaking than making something you dislike with fabric you fell in love with.  The more I looked at the two drawings on the cover, Continue reading

Happy romper


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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 Continue reading


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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 http://sewing.patternreview.com/.  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


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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


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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


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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