2011 sewing

01.12.12 | emerald skirt

So this is my last 2011 sewing project! I usually prefer to model finished projects, but this week got super crazy and the time I had set aside for photography ended up tending to a mess Mr. Freckles made (augh!!!), so the dressform had to do! (More about this dressform below–I’m really excited about this!) So now that I’ve made this rather long-winded explanation, on to the skirt!

01.12.12 | emerald skirt

RIght before we took off to visit family for Christmas, I crazily decided to whip up a skirt for myself. I used some gorgeous wool fabric I won on a blog giveaway last year and a half circle skirt pattern as my base. It’s one of those projects that goes together in an afternoon (well, not counting the time you need to let the bias stretch–vitally important!)–with just one seam it’s super easy! Even despite using a invisible zipper–usually the bane of my existence. I’ve been wearing it at least once a week since I finished it! Plus it’s got a super-cute, surprise lining: bubblegum pink satin!

01.12.12 | emerald skirt

Pattern: Loosely based on Chie’s half circle skirt pattern (just lengthened), but you could also easily draft your own. Note: the lining is cut from the exact pattern, just 1″ shorter at the hem.

Fabric: Lightweight 100% wool for the outer shell, and pink satin for the lining.

Alterations: Since I was using Chie’s pattern, I opted to leave off the scalloped waistband and just drafted a straight one. I also lengthened the skirt to hit at mid-calf (more of a late 40s/50s length) rather than knee.

Techniques: Double interfaced the waistband for more stability, used a machine rolled hem for both the wool and lining.

Make Again? Yes!!! I need more of these in my closet…

I need your help! This lovely dressform (I’m still pinching myself she’s mine!) was a very generous gift from my inlaws for Christmas. I’ve been wanting to upgrade from my Dritz adjustable form for awhile to a professional style form. While the adjustable served me well for many years, I wanted something I could easily drape on and pin into. Enter the PGM dressform. Plus she has collapsable shoulders, which makes getting garments on and off a breeze! I noticed many seamstresses name their dressforms, and figured now that I have a fancy one, it would be cute to give her a name. Any suggestions? I’d love to hear what name ideas you have! (I’ll be taking suggestions for a bit and then I’ll announce my favorite sometime next week… )

January 13, 2012 · 95 lovely thoughts
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I don’t think I’ve ever done one of these sewing “year in review” posts before, but I thought it’d be fun to take a quick walk down memory lane with my 2011 sewing projects. It didn’t seem like I made a lot, until I counted 21 things–including leading two sew-alongs! I guess I did more than I thought… hehe!

02.07.11 | modern thirties blouse 02.14.11 | 30s sweetheart

February was the start of the Swing Dress Sew-Along, but I also managed to whip up a few other things in between. I made a variation on the Sewaholic Pendrell blouse, and a beautiful silk teddy using instructions from a 70s lingerie sewing book. This was my first time making lingerie, and I loved the customization and excuse to work with a length of gorgeous silk charmuese!

03.07.11 | fall-in-spring crepe 03.17.11 | mint green swing dress

March was a dress-centric month! First up was the Colette Patterns Crepe dress using a beautiful cotton and wool blend challis. (I eventually modified the sleeves in the autumn, since they still bothered me.) I also wrapped up my version of the Swing Dress for the sew-along. I chose a gorgeous, mint green silk print that had a distinct 40s flair, and had a lot of fun wearing it in subsequent months! Finally I finished the month off by participating in a fun, group sewing project on Mena’s blog and making a late 1910s inspired blouse.

04.05.11 | accessories whirlwind

April didn’t see a lot of finished sewing projects, but I did manage to whip up a cute 30s hat using Wearing HIstory’s “Sporty Toppers” pattern. I used a remnant of crisp white linen and some vintage ribbon in a bright plaid.

05.09.11 | scalloped collar tutorial 05.16.11 | blueberry fields dress
05.23.11 | violets are purple...

In May I first made another version of the scalloped collar blouse I made in February as part of the tutorial I wrote and shared. I love the vintage lawn I chose for the blouse! The Blueberry Fields dress was next on my sewing list. I loved making this dress (using a modern pattern: Simplicity #2209) using a vintage sheet in a beautiful blue floral. I also used a piped facing method to finish the neckline, which I documented in a how-to here. After that, it was something simple and pretty: a half circle skirt with a scalloped waistband. I used a beautiful, drapy rayon for this skirt, and it proved to serve me well throughout the remainder of the year (until it accidently got mixed in the dirty laundry pile and shrunk in the wash… oops!).

06.01.11 | stash bustin' - the sorbetto top 06.08.11 | lily of the valley dress
06.15.11 | variation on a theme 06.22.11 | on the range
06.29.11 | she's a doll! dress

June was a bumper-crop sewing month for me: I managed to whip out five garments! (This probably makes up for the lack of sewing towards the end of the year…) First up was a version of the Colette Patterns Sorbetto top using a pretty print lawn I had saved in my stash for years. I whipped up a dress using the vintage Vogue reprint #8728 in a lightweight cotton knit to wear while traveling early in the month. I loved that dress and wore it to death over the summer. After that were some lightweight shorts using a tried-and-true pattern I drafted and some polka-dot rayon I reclaimed from a thrift store skirt. I then started to get into variations and documenting my process. First up was the denim cowgirl skirt using Colette Patterns Ginger pattern. I showed in a how-to the method for drafting shaped pockets. My last dress of the month was a pink gingham, 50s inspired sundress using a basic pattern and some drafting know-how (I’d show how to do this in July). Fun!

07.13.11 | 50s midriff top 07.19.11 | that little red dress

July marked the beginning of my sewing slow-down for the year. But I managed to whip up a cute midriff top out of polka dot fabric to beat the Florida heat! I wore that a lot with everything from shorts to longer skirts. I also completed a tutorial (and another dress) on how to alter a basic, fitted pattern into a bateau-neck sundress and shared the steps here.

08.02.11 | ahoy there! skirt

As August rolled around, my lack of sewing enthusiasm (a combination of the heat and knowing that we would be getting orders for change of duty station any day) waned quite a bit. I only made one skirt–an attempt to jumpstart my sewing a bit. I did love this nautical-themed skirt made from a vintage 70s pattern though. Sadly, life really picked up pace shortly after I made this, and most of my sewing supplies were in boxes and on a truck. But I still had a couple projects left in me…

10.10.11 | bee circle skirt 10.10.11 | winter night circle skirt

The next couple months the only sewing I did was for the circle skirt sew-along, which resulted in two finished skirts in October. The first was an embroidered and beaded bee skirt, which took quite a lot of time and weighs a ton, but is so fun to wear! (I can’t wait until spring rolls around…) The second is one I dubbed Winter Nights and is made from a glamorous, flocked-type fabric I found in the outerwear section of JoAnns. This is gorgeous, though of late my life sadly has had few occasions that a very full and fancy skirt is appropriate for! I also made my 40s jeans, adapted from Wearing History’s “Smooth Sailing” trousers pattern. I outlined some of the details of my alterations and construction here.

I made one more skirt in December, but I wanted to save that to show y’all later in the week! I can’t believe that I ended up making this many items! I doubt I’ll be as productive this year, as I’m trying to focus more on quality over quantity. Plus my closet space shrunk a lot in our new place, so I have less storage spots to put all these things… hehe! But I’m already itching to delve into something this year, as well as organize another sew-along and loads of more tutorials. Here’s to sewing in 2012!

What are some of your favorite sewing projects from last year? Do share!!!

January 9, 2012 · 48 lovely thoughts
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12.07.11 | autumn collars

I started this tutorial back in late September, right before things got really crazy with The Move, and never got sufficient “finished project shots”. Now that I’ve finally gotten that taken care of, I can share it with y’all! I think this is a great way to update a the neckline of various garments any time of year, but always seems especially fun to do during the winter. (Especially if you’re partial to plaids and lush velveteens–these work especially well!)

This little project is a quick (it took me about 1/2 hour) and easy accessory you can make, based on the fur collar pattern I shared last year. Instead of fur though, this time it’s fabric, which requires a couple of different techniques for construction (hence a whole new tutorial!). These collars would look darling over a cardigan, light jacket—or even a tshirt! Best of all, they’re totally detached, so no worries about having to sew hooks and eyes on things. Wear them just like a necklace! I also made a linen version (with the embroidered C), so it’ll work for those of you in the opposite seasons right now too.


  • 1/3 yard (or scraps!) fashion fabric (anything in the medium weight range)
  • interfacing suitable to your fabric (I used a fusible on one and sew-in on the other)
  • buttons, ribbons, lace, embroidery floss, etc.—to decorate or act as closures on your collar
  • thread, scissors, sewing machine (you can hand sew this too), iron, etc.

Begin by printing off the collar pattern found here. (Instructions on assembling a print-at-home pattern here.) Cut out the size closest to your neck (or garment) measurement as indicated on the size chart.

Cut the following with the collar pattern: two fashion fabric, on interfacing. If your fabric and interfacing are a bit bulky, trim away the seam allowance on the interfacing.

On one of the fashion fabric collar pieces, fold in half. Carefully trim 1/8” from the inside neckline edge, starting at the center back and tapering to nothing about 1 1/2” from the front edge. Mark this as the under collar piece.

Attach the interfacing to the upper collar (the one not trimmed) wrong side, following the manufacturer’s directions for fusible. For sew-in interfacing, baste to the edges within the seam allowance.

Right sides of the upper and under collar together, pin along the outer edge of the collar, from front edge to front edge. If you’re attaching cords or ribbon to tie the collar on, baste those prior to pinning on the upper collar. Sew, using a 1/2 seam allowance, the outer edges of the collar together.

Right sides still facing, pin the inner neckline edges together, leaving a 2 1/2” gap at the center back for turning. The collar will ripple a bit since we trimmed away fabric from the under collar. Sew with a 1/2” seam allowance, making sure to leave the 2 1/2” opening free of stitching.

Notch the extreme curves on the collar edges, and clip all other curves. Trim seam allowances to 1/4”. Press collar.

Turn right side out and work the seams flat. Press. The under collar will naturally roll to the back of the upper collar (because of the 1/8” we trimmed—magic, isn’t it?). Give the whole collar a good press once the edges and curves are neat.

Turn the seam allowances left open to the inside. Pin and slip stitch the opening closed by hand.

12.07.11 | autumn collars

Now you can attach the method of closure (if you didn’t opt for a cord/ribbon tie). For the white collar I used a hand worked crochet thread loop and vintage button. You could also use a tiny piece of elastic cord and button, a brooch, hook and eye or even a cord frog!

12.07.11 | autumn collars

12.07.11 | autumn collars

Of course this collar is just screaming for other embellishment too. I stuck to pretty simple things (a vintage brooch), but here are a few ideas:

  • Attach ruffled lace to the edges during construction. Alternatively, you could add a contrasting piping to the outer edge as well.
  • Lay some pretty lace over the upper collar prior to sew the collar pieces together, and baste around the edges. You’ll have a delicate lace over your fashion fabric.
  • Embroider fanciful motifs or initials on the collar (I used a 40s transfer pattern, but there are plenty here).
  • Sew just the inner collar edges right sides together, and us bias binding to finish the outer edges.
  • Work even running stitches around the outer edge with embroidery floss for a chunk top stitching look.
  • Add beads or sequins for some sparkle!

As usual, I’d be more than delighted if you give this tutorial a whirl and want to show off your version! Feel free to either send me an email or post a link to your version on the Elegant Musings Facebook.

December 7, 2011 · 46 lovely thoughts
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Part 1

I finally did it, dear readers! Make jeans, that is. I’ve rolled the idea around in my head for some time, but the idea of sewing jeans was either intimidating (all those layers of denim and flat fell seams—oh my!), or other projects proved far more enticing. But circumstances (and pocket book) pushed me into finally making my own. I’ll be posting particulars about how I altered the pattern I used (see details at the end of this post for links), as well as construction, on Friday. So stay tuned for that, if you’re curious! For right now, here’s an overview and lots (too many?) pictures!

Other inspiration resources: New Vintage Lady denim post, Lauren’s vintage jeans, and Amy Jeanne’s vintage tshirts and jeans post.

Of course, with the 40s being my favorite era for fashion, I pulled inspiration for these jeans from some late 40s/early 50s images I had in my own collection as well as things I had found online over the years. Typically, this style jean has the high waist, hip pockets, one or two back patch pockets, and a full, but slightly tapered (not completely straight) leg. The hem can be left plain or cuffed, depending on the style and wearer. Jeans for women zipped or had a button placket on the left side—fly front zippers on women’s jeans were not commonplace until later. I also noticed that jeans for women from this era could either have rivets at stress points, or not. My jeans pretty exclusively follow the lines of the era as I wanted these to look like the ones I had seen in pictures (and not just like denim trousers, which I had made before!). You won’t find any Lycra or tight fit here! Comfort and practicality were the keywords, but with a vintage flair.

Pattern: Wearing History Smooth Sailing Trousers, heavily “sliced and diced” to emulate the details and lines of late 40s jeans. (I’ve made these trousers previously and loved them.)

Fabric: 100% cotton denim; medium weight (purchased originally for a slip cover).

Alterations: Added a front hip pocket, back yoke, patch pockets, tapered the legs. Will have more details on the alterations I made in the next post.

Techniques: Flat fell seams, mock flat fell, topstitching, adding hip seam pockets, adding belt loops, side placket zipper.

Make Again? Considering I rarely (if ever!) find jeans that fit me perfectly, yes! I can’t say sewing jeans is my absolute favorite sort of sewing, but I don’t loathe it either. For the fit and customization, it’s definitely worth the effort (plus I have a perfected pattern now, so that saves time!).

Stay tuned for a post on Friday with some more specifics about how I adjusted the pattern to make these jeans!

October 12, 2011 · 78 lovely thoughts
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08.18.11 | bee in my bonnet

I am so excited to show off all the lovely skirts that y’all made for the sew-along, but I figured I should do a quick post with pictures of the ones I made too! hehe. (The group post will be up shortly!) I’m fairly pleased with how both came out; although as usual, I’d do a few things differently next time (namely add pockets to one or the other!). But I think both will get a lot of rotation in my closet and be worn a lot!

10.10.11 | bee circle skirt
10.10.11 | bee circle skirt

More photos here.

The first is, of course, The Bee Skirt. Inspired by a vintage skirt I saw on Etsy (but the waist size was of course an issue!), I just fell in love with the fanciful bees dancing across the skirt, and decided to recreate my own version. It took me a couple weeks of embroidery (spread out over evenings and weekends) to finish all these bees, and then another couple days to add sequins and beads. But all the work was well worth it! To protect the back of the embroidery I added a layer of tulle to underline the skirt. (Worked perfectly because it’s lightweight and moves with the blue cotton broadcloth.) The hem I decided to scallop and am not entirely pleased with that choice—mostly because it proved to be quite fiddly and add weight to the skirt with a facing. If I had to do it again, I’d just keep it a plain hem. But it’s still a really cute, novelty-style skirt!

10.10.11 | winter night circle skirt
10.10.11 | winter night circle skirt

More photos here.

The other circle skirt I made was what I like to call my Winter Nights Skirt. The fabric is a curious sort—similar in weight to taffeta and has a woven, slightly plush pattern. Surprisingly it was in the outerwear section of the fabric store, but reminded me of the fabric used in a 1950s vintage circle skirt I have (but can only wear once-in-a-blue moon as it has a tiny waist!). This was a far more simple skirt than the previous one, as I wanted to let the fabric speak for itself (though yes, I was tempted to add  beads scattered across the skirt—I may eventually!). I used horsehair braid around the hem and really love how it added body and bounce, without having to wear a petticoat. This is probably one that will get a lot of wear this winter, since it looks just as at-home with my striped tshirts as cashmere sweaters!

Now that I’ve got a total of five circle skirts in my wardrobe (two vintage and three made by me), I think it’s time to take a break from circle skirts for a bit! hehe. A girl can only have so  many before it becomes too many. Though putting together the CSSA Party post sure is tempting me to change my mind…

October 10, 2011 · 88 lovely thoughts
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