Take Two for 2022: One last skirt


  • Juniper Skirt by Mood Fabrics
  • McCalls 6402

Okay, I know it’s already 2023, but I did happen to finish my last skirt just under the wire on December 31st, so I’m counting this as part of 2022.

This is the story of a fabric that I just couldn’t tame and multiple bad pattern choices. We start back earlier this year when I scored this rather unusual looking fabric with a designed I just loved. I knew I had to make a skirt out of it, but I just couldn’t quite figure out the style that would work for it. The fabric felt a bit stiff, until I washed it and realized it had more of a flowy quality than I first realized. To this day I have no idea what this fabric is – I bought it at a discount off a remnant table. I’m thinking it’s probably a type of polyester. I would never have predicted how hard it would be to sew with. Despite the fabric being somewhat thin, it was still difficult to get a needle through. I opted for a microtex needle in my machine, which worked well enough.

When I first saw the Juniper Skirt pattern from Mood Fabrics, I thought I had found the perfect match. I just needed to get some lining, but what do you use for lining when you have no idea what the main fabric even is? I decided on some black rayon twill that I could easily order online. I figured it was also synthetic material, so shrinking wouldn’t be an issue. All in all this seems to be the only correct choice I made as this did make a good lining which gave the skirt the right amount of structure. This was the first time using a free pattern from Mood Fabrics – they seem to make a lot of good ones and I had been curious to try one of them out. The directions on the website seemed easy enough to follow with detailed photos, however there were a few times I felt lost or that the directions were not complete. Where I think I went wrong is when I had to sandwich the overskirt between the front and back panels. I thought I had figured it all out, but somehow the skirt just didn’t line up right and to this day I’m not even sure why it’s off. I just know I’m unable to wear it as it is just crooked. It was one of my most disappointing moments in sewing history as I thought the style with the front flap seemed to fit with what I had pictured for this skirt. I was so baffled as to where it all went wrong, that I opted not to try again even though I had enough fabric for a second skirt. I was afraid it was the fault of the pattern and I would just end up wasting more fabric.

The overskirt section does not line up right when this skirt is on and I couldn’t figure out a way to fix it where it would fit properly.

The one thing I liked about this pattern was there was no hem – the lining was cut a little shorter than the actual skirt and then you sew the lining to the bottom of the skirt. When the lining is lifted towards the waistband, the main skirt gets folded over, which creates a clean finish with no hemming required. I liked this look so much I decided that whatever pattern I chose for my next attempt, would use this method instead of a traditional hem.

I didn’t want to give up on this skirt, so I was on the lookout for another pattern. One with maybe a similar style. I found the McCalls pattern in my stash and thought it had potential. I had wanted to make view E as I thought that front drape would look similar to what I had in mind for this fabric. However the more I looked into it, I could not figure out a way to line the skirt with that pattern. It would take skills I do not have in order to hack it to create the hemline I wanted. So then I looked at view A. This version was lined and so I could attempt my lining trick with the hem. And I figured that maybe the diagonal panel design might actually look cool with this geometric type design. For some reason I had some trouble understanding this pattern as well and the pieces didn’t really line up the way I think they should have. The results were…well the only good think I can say about the skirt is that it fits me. It tends to bunch up a bit when I move, so I’m not sure it will work as a wearable skirt. At least not one that I will want to wear often. I did end up getting the hem I wanted with this, however I do wonder if my changes to the pattern is another reason why this skirt doesn’t fall correctly. On a good note, it is one of the only skirts I’ve made where the waist is the right size and tapers in appropriately, so maybe I am getting better at something from this exercise.

In conclusion, my second skirt ended up being better, but I still didn’t get what I wanted out of this fabric. And I’m not sure if the problem lay with the fabric, which I admit was more difficult to work with than I first thought, or the patterns themselves. The confusion I had is probably on me – my lack of experience with sewing may be a main factor in why I couldn’t get these right. It doesn’t feel great to end this year on a failure (or at least a non-success), but I guess that’s life sometimes.

2022 is over, but I probably will still attempt some do-over projects in this coming year, since I love improving on stuff I’ve already made. I am still mulling over what my focus for this year will be and I think I have something so stay tuned! This past year has mostly been pretty triumphant with my sewing projects and I am looking forward to continued success into the next year. Happy New Year to my readers and hope to see you in 2023!

Christmas card perfect: My Porg-jamas


  • Sewaholic Tofino Pants
  • Thread Theory Designs Eastwood Pants

I don’t shop at Jo-Ann Fabrics for actual fabric that often, but it can be a great resource for novelty prints. When the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out, I found this great flannel fabric that featured one of the creatures from the film – the porgs. These little guys were a highlight for me, cute little bird-like aliens that made all kinds of adorable noises and expressions. I ended up buying many yards of the fabric shortly after. Even with this major purchase, I wished I had gotten more, because they really made some cute pajama pants.

I at least had enough fabric to make matching bottoms for me and my significant other. For my pair, I stuck with my tried and true pattern, the Sewaholic Tofino pants. This meant I would have to make piping, which is an extra step, but I feel like it’s worth it for the professional-looking finish. I ended up just using some twill tape for the drawstring and sometimes I feel like it’s a bit flimsy for the job. I may replace it with some cording or at least something thicker at some point. But it’s working okay at the moment.

For the male version, I tried out a new pattern – the Eastwood Pajamas from Thread Theory Designs. It has pockets, which my pants do not have, and a fly that buttons. I liked the way the pants came out. I will say this is now my go-to pattern for male pajama pants. The fly has an extra panel, so the buttons are hidden under a top flap, which gives them a more polished look.

Awww, it’s adorable with our matching pants. Even though they are slightly different styles, they look good together. I really did think this should be our Christmas card. I guess I will have to settle for it just being on this blog.

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope I can take a few days around this busy season to get more sewing projects done. I can’t believe how fast the year has flown by.

My 100th blog entry…and I’m only talking about leggings


  • Sewaholic Pacific Leggings
  • Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings

I can’t believe it, but I’ve written 100 blog entries for this blog! It’s been such a sporadic journey as I try to write about my sewing. I have good intentions that never seem to carry out as work and life always get in the way. And I’ve also done nothing to promote myself and get myself out into the sewing blogging community. I am even worse at keeping up with my favorite blogs. My reading has dropped off more than my writing. But I have slowly kept at this somewhat, even though I’m pretty much writing to an empty audience (by my fault of course). My take two project have been going slowly, but 2022 is coming to a close and there were a few project ideas that I will not get to this year. In fact, I was hoping this month to write about my second attempt at a skirt, but I haven’t had much motivation to finish it and I’ve been moving on it a lot slower than I hoped. As I tried to work up some motivation to just get the darn thing finished, I ended up making some more leggings instead. After my pretty successful attempts earlier this year, there were some other ideas I wanted to try, even though I technically don’t need any more leggings this year.

The first pair was from a pattern I’ve already used, the Sewaholic Pacific leggings. I like the different panels on these, but I wanted to try to make a shorter version with the zipper in the back. I didn’t include the bottom leg panel and adjusted it so it was the length I wanted. I think maybe next time, I may have to keep all the panels and just shorten the leg to where I want it. The bottom of these kind of bunch up in a weird way, probably because it’s not designed to be the bottom. I think I didn’t quite taper the bottom correctly to create the right hem.

They are not bad though, and I did some topstitching on the legs using a kind of flatlock stitch, which I like. I also added some holes on the inside waistband so I have the option to add a drawstring inside to help with fit. The last pair I made felt a bit loose and I’ve had to hike them up when I run sometimes. This will hopeful secure them, I just need to find a good drawstring that will work to insert into them.

As you can see I added two button holes into the waistband on the inside, so I have the option to add a drawstring on the inside to make these pants more secure.

For the other pair, I took a chance on a new-to-me pattern by Fehr Trade, the PB Jam Leggings. I was excited to try this pattern out with this yoga-wear fabric I had bought a while back. It had such cool colors in it and an interesting design, that I thought it would be great with some color blocking. I needed to find a solid color that would work, so I settled on this navy blue lycra spandex, which I was actually able to use for a number of other projects as well. This design worked perfectly for what I envisioned for this fabric as it had these curved side panels and also a section at the knees.

I think they look pretty nice, especially for a first time. It was tough lining up the front and back legs so that the side swirl lined up okay. It’s still not perfect, but after basting them 5 different times, I was finally able to get it the best I could.

They are definitely very fitted! I definitely can’t gain any weight any time soon, but hopefully that won’t be too much of an issue, since I’m jumping right back into marathon training. I actually got an invitation to run the Boston Marathon from my running club! I’m so excited and nervous at the same time, but I think if I can focus on my training, I can get good results. And now I have some new pants to train with!

Reflecting on 100 posts, it’s been a pretty great 8 years of sewing. I’ve learned a lot since that first skirt I made back in 2014. I’m not sure I would have known then that I would still be keeping up with making my own wardrobe. But I’m glad to have stuck with it, even if my projects ebb and flow the way they do. I’m hoping to still have a few more posts this year and I definitely have many projects lined up for the winter. Maybe I can even get out there so I can get people to read this blog…well one thing at a time anyways.

Thanks for reading, whoever is out there!

Take two for 2022: Bicycle shorts made from bicycles (fabric)

Pattern: Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts

I ran a marathon!

Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts pattern

The past few months have been extremely busy with training and working, I barely had time for sewing. And I definitely had no time for blogging. But I did get a chance to sew up some exercise shorts which were a re-do from one of the first times I attempted to sew workout clothes.

Back in the days when I couldn’t even fathom running a full marathon, I had made the capri length version of this pattern to wear for a half marathon. The pattern was easy to follow and the pants easy to sew up, but what I didn’t understand at that time was how to size them properly. I was going off of finished measurements, not remembering that running pants are supposed to fit tight and stretch over your body. Therefore the measurements should be smaller than your normal pants measurements. I ended up making them a size large, which fit extremely loose at the time. To make matters worse, I ended up losing some weight after my initial wear, which made these pants basically useless for exercising in. It was a bit disappointing since I really liked how they came out. I knew I had to make another pair at some point, and this time I would not be afraid to make a smaller size.

running pants - final

Even though I use these for running, they are technically bicycle shorts. I actually like to run in longer shorts because it prevents thigh chafing. I had gotten this bicycle fabric a while back because I thought the print would look cute for a pair of leggings. I happen to have the pink and purple spandex, which made a great contrast for the side pockets.

As I mentioned, my first attempt was a size large. These are a size small, which seems like the perfect fit for me. This time around I also used a twin needle for the a double row of stitching on the waist and hem. I didn’t need to do anything special to prevent the tunneling of the fabric, so it ended up being a good gamble.

Even though I made these right before the big race, I did not wear them for the marathon. However, I did do some sewing for the main event. I knew I needed to fuel up a lot since I would be out there for many hours, so I sewed up a few arm bands made from a free pattern by Fehr Trade that I had also made years ago. I also made a running belt to match, all matching the red, white and blue of my marathon outfit. The fabric was softer than spandex and the belt stayed in place a lot better than other ones I had made in the past. It was nice to have another way to carry fuel, since my pants pockets were already stuffed to the gills.

I haven’t had a chance to wear these new shorts on a run yet, I just put them on for a celebratory photo with my marathon medal. This marathon ended up being pretty special for me as I ran it with a giant group from my running club. We trained together all summer and fall and traveled to Washington DC for the main event. The weather was beautiful, the course was inspiring and even though I didn’t get quite the time I wanted, I did end up with a personal best. I’m not sure what my next running goal will be, but when that time comes, I’ll be ready with some new gear.

Dress for Success: My Seersucker Vision

Pattern: Francois Dress by Tilly and the Buttons

I was going to start this month off writing about this great new skirt I made, but it ended up being not-so-great. I think actually it will end up as a “take two” entry, when I get around to re-making it. These last three weeks, I’ve been super busy with summer stuff and marathon training stuff, that I have not had much time for sewing. But I did want to at least showcase another win I had fairly recently, making the Francois dress from Tilly and the Buttons. I loved this pattern, and it was so well-made that I ended up getting this dress right on the first try, which is pretty amazing. It’s also a relief because I bought this fabric specifically to make a dress like this, so it’s always a gamble to go right into it.

When I bought the brown seersucker, I knew I wanted to make a dress with it – something good for summer and fall workdays. This was before I knew I would be working 90% from home, but I was still determined to see this vision through. I wanted to fully line the dress because the fabric, being that crinkly texture, would not be the best against the skin. For some reason, I thought this pattern was going to be perfect because it was a lined dress. When I finally got started on it, I realized it was not lined at all. I decided to put a lining in anyways, which skipped any need for a facing. I made another dress with the cotton lining and then sewed it in at the neck. I slip-stitched the lining to the invisible zipper in the back and used the bias tape on the arm holes as directed in the pattern, which held everything in place.

The result looks great and I think it’s one of my better made dresses for sure. Even the fit came out great – I was real lucky with this one. I even found the perfect buttons to go with the style I was looking for.

After I finished this, I thought to myself, “hey maybe I’m getting pretty good at this sewing thing!” I should have known my luck would eventually end. I’ve had so many hits lately, it was about time for a miss – well I’ll save that for another day. In the meantime, I will bask in the glory of fall-colored seersucker and a slight a-line shape. It’s enough to (almost) get me back to the office!

Fall Fashion 2022: The Tank

Pattern: Itch to Stitch Lago Tank

Sometimes, I like to check out future fashion trends to see if I can stay ahead in my clothing makes. I usually get a few ideas of what might be “hot” for next season and then I promptly run out of time to do anything. But this time, I hit the jackpot. I was looking up a few sources for what’s trending this fall and something caught my eye among the bizarre runway contraptions they call outfits – white tank tops. Apparently this is one of the looks that is in-style for this fall. Now this was something that I could actually accomplish before the summer ended.

I wanted to make a basic ribbed white tank top. I searched a bunch of patterns (and there are a lot that are free for this type of thing) and settled on the Lago tank from Itch to Stitch. This was a free pattern that I already had in my stash and had the look I wanted – neck bands and arm bands, with a slight racerback-like style in the back.

It could be a bit more fitted I guess, but all in all, it’s very comfortable. I decided to go with the double stitched seam for the hem, using a twin stretch needle. I made sure to put some interfacing along the hem so that the stitches didn’t create a tunnel effect. I increased the tension a bit as well.

Now I can say I made something for upcoming season. Some of these fashion sites also happened to mention bomber jackets might be making a comeback, so this is another goal to make one of these for the fall as well. I have an idea of what I want it to look like, but still need to get the main fabric for it.

I don’t think I could pass this off as one of those tanks that are selling for over $100, but hey it fits! What other fashion trends for this year are people planning to make?

Summertime and the sewing is easy

Pattern: McCall’s M7571, View C

I have a new favorite shirt for the summer. I found this very soft cotton shirting in my stash and it looked like I only really had enough fabric for a short sleeved shirt (especially with plaid matching). I was thinking of just making a simple button-down, but lately I’ve been really into shirts with the deeper armholes, sort of like the batwing sleeves. I have another purchased plaid shirt I wear all the time and I think I was looking for something similar. In my search for a pattern, I came across this pattern from McCall’s, and I was intrigued. It definitely was something different than just a plain blouse and I liked the wide sleeves with the cuff. I went for view C, since I was working with plaid, however I did add the sleeve tab shown on view D.

This pattern is pretty decent for beginners. The only real confusing directions I encountered was the section on attaching the sleeves. It just wasn’t super clear that these were not attached like normal sleeves, because they are meant to fold up like a cuff. The seam you are making ends up on the outside of the shirt, and it’s hidden when the cuff is folded up. None of this is really mentioned, so if you didn’t realize it, you may just sew it on like a normal sleeve. I decided to tack two ends of the cuff, so it stays folded. I’m also glad I added the button tabs as it’s one more thing to hold that cuff in place.

These are cuffs, not really sleeves, so they are sewn around the outside with the shirt inside out.
The cuff is folded up so the seam is hidden. I added the tab and button and also a few tack stitches to keep it folded.

I serged the seams, mostly out of laziness, but maybe I was just burnt out on french seams from my bird blouse. My biggest concern for this shirt was that the style would make me look like I had a big protruding stomach, but I actually think the bias plaid at the bottom has a slimming look. I think that I’ve gotten the most compliments about this shirt – or at least the most comments about how people want one for themselves. It actually didn’t take too long, even considering the neck band is slip-stitched on. People who know me, know how much I hate hand sewing, but this shirt is definitely worth it. I don’t think I could have found a better use for this fabric and I’m so glad to have another comfortable plaid shirt exclusively for summer.

I decided to wear this while testing out our new drone for the first time. I thought it would be so cool to get a drone shot of my new shirt. Unfortunately being so new to flying, we couldn’t figure out how to get a decent overhead shot.

When we were trying to get closer…the drone almost crashed into me and I had to run out of the way.

Well at least you can see the shirt here!

Something to strive for another time I guess. For now, I guess just regular photos of my new makes.

Pants that are a cinch!

Pattern: Simplicity 2414

It’s time for another wardrobe builder and this time it’s for capri or three-quarter pants. I really like this style of shorter pants with the cinches up the side as I have a pair I purchased that I like to do light hiking in. The only problem with this pattern is that view C is technically shorts, even though they don’t look like it in the drawing. I ended up lengthening these a bit so they were more like capris, although the length is still on the shorter side. As is, they were a bit long for actual shorts anyways.

The pattern promises you can make these in an hour. I’m not sure I am that skilled – I mean cutting these out alone takes over a half hour including set up. However they did sew up fairly fast as I was able to sneak away on lunch breaks and after work to get these done.

One of the things that tends to frustrate me about the Big 4 patterns, is that I sometimes come across directions that don’t make sense to me at first glance. On this pattern, it was telling me to keep the twill tape from getting stuck in the seam allowances when it’s inserted (into the waistband), use fusible web or machine basting to anchor “them” to garment within the casing area. It seems obvious now, but I was confused by why I would need to anchor the twill tape by basting it. Then I realized after re-reading the awkward sentence, the twill tape could get caught if I had sewed the waistband up with a regular unfinished seam. Since I had used a serger, I didn’t have giant seam allowances, but I did decide to iron some stay tape so the seam stayed flat. This would hopefully allow a smoother ride for my twill tape drawstring, around the waist.

Stuck this over the serged seam so it would lay flat when threading my drawstring around the waist

Another issue I had was making the casing on the side of the legs. The drawing made it look like I would sew a box for a casing before I inserted the twill tape with a safety pin. With the top of the casing sewn up, I had no way of removing the safety pin at the top so I could sew the twill tape in place. I finally had to undo the stitching to get the tape to come up to the top edge and then I sewed it in place to close up the casing. I’m not sure why this wasn’t described this way and the drawing seemed to show sewing this casing first. I’m baffled to how this would work, doing it this way.

This was a good first attempt with some practice fabric. Finding matching twill tape will probably be the biggest difficulty in making these again, as it was hard to even find a normal beige for these. If I do remake these, I think I would make the waist one size smaller and maybe do some adjustment on the crotch seam. I think the chances are good I will re-make these, maybe even a different view. These simple pants seem to have a lot of versatility and were very easy to make.

Take Two for 2022: Blouses from nightmare fabric


  • Butterick B6684
  • Itch to Stitch Mila Shirt

One thing I’ve been wanting to make is a sheer, flowy blouse. I have a few in my wardrobe that I’ve purchased over the years, but I’ve never attempted to make one. A few years ago, I purchased two different colored sheer crepe fabrics, both with a bird print on it. Looking at them, I envisioned a button down blouse with a sleeve tab, so I could roll up the sleeves. It took me a long time to find a pattern like this that I could use with a lightweight fabric. Or at least I wasn’t sure I could use a regular shirt pattern with material like this. I finally decided to go with the Itch to Stitch Mila shirt and started with my navy blue version of the fabric with red birds.

But first, I thought a quick project with some discount fabric would be an easy way to add a nice back-to-school-like blouse to my wardrobe. I’m not sure what type of fabric it was, because I got it off a discount table at Sewfisticated fabrics. I’m guessing it’s some sort of synthetic or polyester. It’s not as sheer as the crepe, but it had a slight flowy quality to it. And it was a bit slide-y when trying to cut it. I decided it would make a nice top with a neck bow, so I opted to use the Butterick pattern #6684. The top would be finished with french seams, but I was a little nervous about the fabric so I opted for a sharper needle. The results were not too bad, but the sleeves are a little tight and moving my arms forward in this top is quite a challenge. I’m guessing the french seams made this top a little tighter, so if I make this again, I will have to compensate on the seam allowances. It’s just so hard for me to use the proper seam allowances with this type of finish as I always seem to need to sew in a bit more to make sure no fabric is poking through the outside.

Since this wasn’t the blouse I was hoping it would be, I prayed I’d have better luck with my bird fabric. The one thing I noticed with that first blouse was sometimes the material would pucker a bit with the stitching. When I tried some practice stitches on the crepe, sometimes the fabric would actually get pulled into my sewing machine. I knew I needed some sort of stabilizer if I was going to make this work.

There were a few options, but I felt the easiest thing to do was to sew with tissue paper. The extra step of setting up the tissue paper under the fabric as I sewed and then tearing it off was annoying and time consuming, but definitely worth it. The stitches were definitely more even and the material kept its shape as I was sewing. I used french seams here too, which also added time to this project, but I like the end result. The other issue I had with this fabric was that it would not press at all, no matter how hot the iron was or how much steam I used. I’m guessing the fabric is synthetic, just from the feel of it. Since pressing was so much of an issue, I decided to do a rolled hem on the bottom, which required me to buy another foot for my sewing machine. I do think it will prove to be a good investment and I really liked the way it folded the fabric automatically as I sewed. It was difficult learning how to use it on a curved seam like the hem, but surprisingly I didn’t have to unpick and re-sew too much of it. I went pretty slow, trying to make sure the fabric wrapped around the foot correctly as I curved around. I think next time I make this with this type of fabric, I might use my serger to do the rolled hem as this fabric is so tough to control.

My new rolled hem foot
Rolled hem foot in action!

Making a shirt with just a front buttoned placket instead of a full button down was also a good choice for this top. I eventually want to make another one with the off-white crepe bird fabric I got as well, but after this project I definitely needed a break. It might be a few months before I attempt it again. The only other change I would make is to shorten the length a bit. I really like the tabs on the sleeves and would definitely keep these on the next version, even though again, it added more steps to the process.

I’m lucky this blouse fits so much better than the other one I made. It’s not perfect, but definitely close to what I had envisioned when I bought the fabric. I wonder though, is working with nightmare fabric like this worth all the suffering?

It’s Summer! Time for plaid shorts

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Flint Shorts

Currently the biggest gap in my wardrobe is shorts. I live in New England so I guess the season to wear them is shorter than in other places, but even still, wearing the same 3 pairs over and over again is very boring. Especially since my work wardrobe has gotten a lot more casual and I’ve been trying to limit the air conditioning. Last summer, I got an email from one of my favorite fabric stores that they had some madras plaid fabric on sale and I thought it would be fun to make some cool shorts from it.

I’ve always loved the look of plaid shorts. I remember when I was in middle school, I bought these brown plaid shorts at a discount clothing store. It was the first time I remember getting compliments on my wardrobe, since I was never really fashion forward growing up. But in practice, I totally forgot that when working with plaid, it always means matching the plaid. Also this fabric was not as stable as one would use for bottoms, so it did tend to have a lot of give, which maybe didn’t cause the best results. The front here looks pretty good, but the matching is far from perfect everywhere else.

Not much else to say about this. I was a little worried about the front pleats, but I think they look pretty good here. These shorts are interesting as you actually enter them from one of the pockets, and then the side is fastened with 2 buttons on the waistband. No zippers or fly construction. I have to admit, even though it took a bit to figure out how these would be assembled, it did make these faster to sew up.

These shorts being so lightweight make them great in the warmer weather. Temperatures last weekend approached the 90s (Fahrenheit) so I made them not a moment too soon. They do look a bit on the big side, but I think it’s due to the stretchy nature of the fabric. I wonder if another fabric would allow me to make a more fitted version. These are definitely one of the most comfortable pair of shorts I own now.

Somehow the back is never as matched up as the front. I’m not sure how this happens, although it might just be more challenging taking into account the back crotch seam.
Taking them for a spin in Martha’s Vineyard on one of the oldest carousels in the United States