A Site Devoted to Creative Clothesmaking and Homemade Housewears

Here's to reviving the (somewhat) forgotten craft of sewing.

December 25, 2011

Zen and the Art of Garment Making

Can you take the Seamless Pledge? I, Cassandra M, take the Seamless pledge until December 25th 2012. "I will abstain from buying any new clothes until the end of my pledge. I will find ways to be fashionable without breaking the bank and without contributing to the cycle of fast fashion consuming the high street. I will trawl through charity shops, I will attend clothes swaps, I will look for second-hand items on eBay and I will craft my own clothes with my own two hands." The pledge was written by Elena Cresci, blogger for Seamless. Follow along at http://seamlessblog.wordpress.com/ A growing concern and awareness of the garment and textile industry has settled into my thoughts lately. There have been rumors of dangerous chemicals being used to treat and create inexpensive, mass produced fabrics in not only distant continents, but also here in North America. This is but one rumor, and only builds on the sadness that comes from the knowledge that most of our garments, inexpensive or expensive, are manufactured entirely by the very young to the very old. The work environments are unfair and unsafe for any person no matter what age, gender, creed, nationality or other variation. Low pay and lack of basic human amenities plague this industry. We perpetuate it by forgetting the hard work, dedication, and years of practice, that only the human hand can perfect in garment making. We perpetuate it by forgetting quality, supporting those giant chain stores who choose to go with the the lowest bidder and blind themselves to the real cost to others, just to make the most money by spending the least possible. We forget the old saying, "You get what you pay for." As we all know, not only in the textile/garment industry, but throughout the whole global economic crisis, those chickens have come home to roost. We need to think ahead, let go of the desire to "have more." We need to strive to be content with what we can create and accomplish ourselves. We can be happy with using that which has already been created. Personally, I struggle with wants and desires every day. I can spend hours pouring through online stores, wishing, wanting, convincing myself that I need these things to make my life better, more normal, and happier. What I really need to do, is to purge my home and heart of unnecessary desires, focus on what I do have and can make and be satisfied with quality over quantity. It doesn't matter how many band-aids you buy to cover that wound, you need a skilled professional to sew it up.

December 24, 2011

I can't get enough patterns

In fact, I love them so much, I'm afraid to share my secret sources! I know that isn't fair to the sellers, and I do care about their success. Sometimes, I use the obvious sources, such as Etsy and Ebay. Here's a list of vintage pattern sources: I've (well, my grandmother got them for me, she's the best!) also scored some great patterns from an antique store in rural Maine, near Sugarloaf. Hattie's Gifts and Antique Shop I also recommend So Vintage Patterns as well as The Rusty Zipper I'm going to kick myself for posting this, but the owner deserves the plug: Mom's Patterns Mom's is my favorite source for great sewing patterns. You have to dig a bit, but some amazing finds are there, and the prices are amazing. From basic twiggy dresses to glamorous designer patterns from the 1930s to present, the selection is outstanding and diverse for all shapes, tastes, styles and eras. Actually, I learned most of my sewing skills from buying patterns from Mom's, reading the pattern instructions over and over again, making mistakes and finally successes. The owner, Jennifer, is amazing and even gave me a discount when I forgot to put in the coupon code. She ships really fast as well! I have always gotten my patterns within 48 hours of ordering them. (Obviously there's a shipping hold for the holidays, but lets be fair here, we all deserve a vacation!) For modern patterns, I use Burda, which I can buy at the local Joann's, or online at BurdaStyle I also LOVE Colette Patterns, and follow the blog regularly. I've recently bought my first Sewaholic pattern, the Minoru Jacket. I'm looking forward to the Sew-Along scheduled for next month! I just traced the pattern for my 1st muslin today! There was this wonderful idea that I could fit all my patterns into a folder and neatly fold them into clear plastic sleeves with dividers. It really was a great idea, until I actually put the patterns in the folder. Unfortunately, with so many patterns, the folder barely closes! My BF and I have to sort through the filing cabinet and get rid of half of it so one of the drawers will be free for my patterns. Its actually only a matter of time before that gets filled, too, I'm sure. What a mess, right? My cat just decided to push the folder off the table and now i have to iron out the pattern pieces again.
Tiny Filing Cabinet - Obviously being used as another flat surface for pattern alterations projects
Yes, I meant to get the amazing French movie poster for Dark Crystal in this shot. Jealous? You should be.
Have a great holiday!

December 16, 2011

Join the Minoru Sew Along!

Its been too long...

Hey! I know, its been since BEFORE HALLOWEEN since i last wrote! During that time, I've had some great breakthroughs, both in sewing skills and in my personal goals! It took a lot of effort and a mixture of brute force and letting go, all at the same time.

Here's a mantra for many who are having a hard time "leveling up" (Obviously my partner has been playing a lot of Skyrim, these days...)  Here it is: Get the baby out of the driver's seat.
You heard if from me, yes! No more avoiding student loan phone calls because you're SURE its just a telemarketer.  Get out of those footie pajamas and just schedule your payments. Change because you can, even if you can still go on for a little while longer withing necessarily having to. You don't know what you might lose if you let it get that far. 
That goes for sewing, too.  Slow down, be patient. Follow the instructions, read them at least 3 times before continuing. Remember when i ruined my Rooibos bodice because i didn't use the point of my shears? Didn't read that part! Why? Because I thought I had it all figured out. No, not because I'm intentionally defiant, but because there's a rushed and neglected "child" inside who, as with any child, can't see that there is another way. Take care of the child inside you, and you will learn patience, understanding, and precision. Do the extra steps to make something the best it can be, not just "good enough, for now." You'll be so proud of your work in the long run.  Also, be honest with yourself. So what if your waist measurement is 5 inches larger than it was when you were 23? At least you can tailor your garments to be smaller,  when you lose 3 of those inches and are a normal size woman, instead of a waif. Set your goals realistically. No one else cares as much as ourselves. 

So, look what I've constructed while I was away:

Not much, but they look amazing! I changed the Burda Young dress so much, its basically my own. And it fits (almost) perfectly. More details about the dress to come!!


October 30, 2011

My Sewing Psychology: Anxiety Riddled - Impatient - Uncontrolled Moodiness - Obsessive yet Procrastinator Sewing

I have two yards of this fabric. And I have this cute Burda 7309 pattern.

I'm thinking now as I'm writing this, it's not going to work. I need a heavier fabric for this dress. And it needs to be solid, or subtly patterned.
And, to be honest, I think I've passed that stage in sewing life where cute pattern quilting fabric is going to cut it for fashion sewing. Now I think... "perhaps if I lined the fabric with a flannel-like fusible interfacing, it could work?"  Perhaps not. As you can see, part of me is hanging on to the cutesy quilting fabric idea. The other, more practical and grown up part of me is trying hard not to cringe.

Enough with the BS.

It didn't take too long for me to see the err of my ways. To be fair, I feel like I've always chosen fabrics that are at least cool to look at. Like this:

I still think it's quite cute. Unfortunately, this was my first try at a dress. I didn't prewash the fabric, I didn't make a muslin,  didn't pay attention to my stitch length, and basted all the seams at a 4 instead of going with the standard 2.5 straight stitch. When I did end up washing the dress, a whole lot of it came apart. *Sad Face.*

I learn by making mistakes. Unfortunately, this method is not conducive to learning quickly, saving money, and it also adds to emotional strife and wasted time and energy, not just for myself, either. If you've been in my presence shortly after making ANY kind of mistake, you know just how unpleasant it can be for the both of us.

Now, I'm trying to learn by following instructions, studying, practicing on muslins, making ANOTHER muslin to be sure. I have to practice patience, self compassion, and be honest with myself about my measurements.  I also need to be honest with myself about my inability to do basic arithmetic, an essential part of altering patterns to fit my once slender, now "curvy", body. (Damn you, past age 25 metabolism! - Wait! Remember to practice compassion, put effort into things that you don't like, and take responsibility.)

So, basically, I am bananas. Hopefully it will work out for the better, and I'm really trying. I hope my honesty will inspire others who struggle with the same kinds of things to be less hard on themselves and to know that they aren't alone. Even if what their focus isn't on sewing. Some of you may have picked up on this already, but this is a rather PG way of expressing something a lot deeper and more complicated than sewing.

October 27, 2011

My finished, piped, olive Rooibos

I actually finished this last Friday and I have yet to photograph the completed dress. Of course the bodice didn't fit over my chest, (at least with a cheap invisible zipper, which promptly broke) even though I measured twice and cut once for the full bust adjustment. I can pull it on with ease. I can take it off with the help of my boyfriend... wait, that sounded a little TMI. I mean, I don't have the strength or flexibility to actually remove the dress (because it gets stuck at my chest area!) alone, so I need to plan ahead and make sure someone (probably Dave) who is allowed to see me struggling whilst halfway out of an inside-out dress. Actually, now that I think about it, Dave would definitely have to be present and available when I remove the dress. Until I lose 5 lbs. Which probably won't happen anytime soon. Because I just love steamed dumplings so much. More than installing a zipper. And having more self-esteem. And relieving my boyfriend of his garment-removal duties.

We all love you, but an open seam allowance? Plus ranting...

It's not even pressed!!! FOREAL LANVIN? $700 for an open seam allowance? Not even finished!!??
They even serged the seams back in the late 80s/early 90s for those inside out sweatshirts...

Perhaps this is one of those trends that I will never understand... like these pants:
 Oh yes I did. These pants suck. They have always sucked and make even the most gorgeous woman look like she just jumped out of the waterbed that leaks onto the shag carpet of her single-wide mobile home - which was built manufactured in 1972. Go get some Marb Reds, some Boone's Farm and meet the girls at the slot machines. Its all about you tonight. And you want to be cumftahball.

You can go ahead and ask me how I that description came to me so easily. I don't keep secrets.

October 18, 2011

I made a new bodice, all is well. (ish)

I had to tailor the bodice for a larger bust. I followed the instructions on the Rooibos Sew-along on the Colette blog. It definitely gave me more room, but i did find the instructions confusing and some of the photos looked to be incorrect. I guessed what to do and consulted my pattern alterations book.

I thought I'd share my photo of the pattern layout. My cat, Orchid, thinks she's a pattern weight. I don't have the heart to tell her she's not helping. I used trinkets that I have on display from my friends, myself and my great grandmother.


Here, you can see that my iron is starting to gunk up my fabric. Time for a cleaning and a new pressing cloth. It isn't so bad that I am willing to make another bodice, however. I'll just deal with metallic breasts. It's close to Halloween now, anyway.


Look at what i just did! ARRRAAAHHH!!! I'm going to throw something! Now I have to make the bodice all over again! AAAAHHHH! I hate making darts and I have to add 2 extras due to my size! That's 8 NEW darts!

October 10, 2011

Apron for Nan

I mentioned before, that I call my grandmother "Nan" or "Nanny." I prefer Nan because its less confusing (after all, what 28 year old needs a nanny?) and I think it's more endearing.

Anyway, I was browsing some sale fabrics and saw this lovely, more "Americana" style tulip fabric. I wasn't quite sure what the weight would be, turns out it is like a fine linen.

Tulips are Nan's favorite flowers, so I immediately thought, "what can I make for Nan with this fabric?" Nan is a hard-working, well spoken, tall (maybe 5'11"?) and young grandmother. She's got great spirit and is very thoughtful and considerate. Basically, she's the best grandmother anyone could have. She very rarely wears dresses, which are obviously my crafts/outfits of choice. I did not think that this fabric would make nice pants, and I'm a beginner at making blouses.  I wanted to make something a little more challenging than a tote bag, but nothing so hard that I may ruin the project.

Then the idea hit me: an apron! Its like half a dress and she doesn't have to feel obligated to wear it all the time! Plus, I've been really into the idea of trying out scalloping. I ran the idea by Nan, whom I believe very much liked the idea.

Her mother, my great-grandmother, just passed away last November. Before she died, she gave me bags and bags of scrap fabric and unfinished quilts. I thought it would be a nice surprise to use some of that fabric for pockets and/or applique. Maybe it will look a little too arts and craftsy, but its not like she's going out to a formal dinner in it.

So far, I've gotten the top designed and sewn. I'm going to gather the waist just a little. For the bottom hem, I'm going to try scalloping.  I'm lining it with a simple bleached muslin. Nothing too fancy, as it's probably going to get all covered in baking ingredients anyway.  I hope she'll love it. I'm sure she will, because she's the best grandmother ever.

Rooibos Muslin

 So I've cut out the pattern pieces, which I must say were thoughtfully layered in 4 manageable-sized sheets instead of being in one or two giant sheets. It must be the bane of all sewists to deal with such gigantic pieces of tissue paper... I swear!

I also did as the instructions requested and weighted my patterns instead of pinning to the fabric layout.  Somewhere in the middle of weighting the bodice on the fold, one of my cats decided it would be the FUNNEST to play with the weights (empty metal bobbins and quarters) and run and skid across the whole project.

Fast forward 15 minutes later... cat is locked in the office, and pattern pieces are weighted in place again.

Then I traced the pieces as accurately as possible, added dressmaker's pins in the dart markings on the front bodice (6 darts total: I hate making darts, love the way they look, though.)

This morning I pinned the muslin pieces to the dressform. I have to admit, this dressform has a much thinner waist than I do (it's so old that the metal fixtures inside are rusty and falling apart and/or stuck in place - Hey, it was $25 at Goodwill!)  However, the hips are actually a bit larger than mine, and the skirt section has a WHOLE lot of extra fabric. I'm wondering if I overestimated my size here. If so, I'm going to be psyched! Less Hips = Pleased Cassandra.
(No, I haven't actually gone to the gym yet...)


October 9, 2011

Rooibos Dress - Olive Twill

Hello! I started my muslin for the Colette Rooibos dress! I heard it was really tricky so I actually decided to make a muslin this time. I know, I know... I should make a muslin EVERY time, but I usually fit pretty well in the standard vintage patterns of a certain size (which shall not be given!!)

I ordered my fabric and notions online from a store that will remain unnamed - due to not including the piping I ordered and paid for in the delivery box! I called customer service - it was a fax number. So I emailed customer service and got a generic message giving a vague apology which wasn't really fessing up to anything. That was 8 hours later.
Hoping that piping comes soon because I plan on wearing the Rooibos next weekend. I can always go to Joann's and get some but I don't want to drive 30 minutes each way. Every place I can get notions takes at least 30 minutes it seems. A busy, working professional like me has few 30 minute chunks to spare for transporting myself to a sewing supply store.

Here is a photo of the fabric I ordered, so at least you'll get the gist of how the dress will look!

October 8, 2011

The Jacket - Coming along

I'm making this herringbone jacket for fall and spring. It's from the Burdastyle website. I know it's last year's pattern but in my opinion, it's still super cute and fashion forward. It's lined with turquoise "satin" (satin-like fabric) from Joann's. When I bought the herringbone wool, it smelled really musty. Its been two months of airing out now and it's still stinky. I broke down and fabreezed it. Now it's musty AND has a horrible fake baby powder smell. I can't win. Hope the smell eventually goes away.

Obviously the sleeve and sides aren't sewn yet, so it's looking a little ragged and lumpy. I'm sure it will end up being lovely, though.
I have NO IDEA how to make a lining, I'm basically winging it. Its not so bad looking, and I have a serger. If anything goes wrong, I can still make the inside look semi- professional.

If anyone has any lining tips, I would surely appreciate them!


My great grandmother gifted me this old sheet which was included with a lot of fabric scraps. I just rediscovered it and I'm excited to make a dress out of it. I'll need to find a pattern that suits large print, as these flowers are 4-5 inches across.

September 28, 2011

Joinin' the Gym (again)

I finally cracked down today and joined the gym... again. I'm not getting any younger, and the metabolism really tanked after 25, so... I guess after a 3 year break from being in shape, its time to get back there, even though its going to be so much harder. Sigh... But seriously, its important to keep your body toned so you can live longer and with less pain. But getting thinner also means TAILORING!!!

Tailoring to make my clothes smaller is a real commitment. Once that serger knife slices off that seam allowance, its all over. No going back. Its the gym and salads or a whole wardrobe of ill fitting garments (Think, panty lines, cellulite and MUFFIN TOPS! Not to mention, "Back-Rack," Yuck. All of which I suffer from, at least mildly.)

I'm pretty excited for the new bod to emerge and to size down on the patterns, not so excited about the elliptical, but, such is life.

Have you already pre-ordered? I have!!

” title=

September 22, 2011

Silk Dress Complete

I should note: I do NOT look good in this dress. The puffy sleeves work for teeny girls, not softer ones like me!

If I Don't Make My Own Wedding Dress (Someday!)...

Then I'll have to save up a ton of money to have Mary Adams make it.

She's amazing.

Check out her work:

And also, I've been eyeing her book, The Perfect Party Dress, on Amazon.

September 4, 2011

Living room curtains

Just made the apartment look a little more homey. And the curtains match my cowboy boots. I used Joel Dewberry's newer line, which I forgot the name of and the specific fabric pattern's name as well. I used 7.5 yards of 60" wide fabric. Even wider would have been a little better, but these look both modern and retro as panels.

Here's a close up of the fabric:

August 29, 2011


I have never sewn stripes before. I don't have a walking foot presser foot. I swear I lined the stripes up perfectly! Multiple times! ARRG.

August 16, 2011

Countdown to birthday dinner - dress still incomplete

I struggled so much with the first collar that i had to make another one. I think I'm going to go out to dinner with the dress missing the butt. It's like a 1/4 birthday suit.

No one will know from the front, but it's a party in the back.

August 15, 2011

Front button hole closure section

Possibly too hard to see in these little photos, but here might be able to see that I completed the front button hole closure section, sans button holes and buttons. This was very difficult. It took two hours. Hopefully next time it won't take so long. I haven't made any dresses with buttons before so it took some creative thinking, and also because the instructions were so confusing. Other than the collar, the bodice is mostly complete.

Nan's Dress - Darts and Pleats

Today, I marked, measured, and sewed the pleats and darts to the dress who's pattern was gifted to me by my grandmother. The dress is now called, "Nan's Dress." (I call my grandmother Nan.)

Above you can see that I'm in the process of fitting it to my tired dressform. She's on her last "pole" (since she doesn't have legs) these days. I'm considering making her into home decor, but I can't afford a new dressform at this time, so she'll have to make do for now. I feel bad saying that... but its not like she's a person... it's weird because she's in the shape of one! Like when you aren't paying attention in a store and you almost bump into a mannequin and say, "Excuse me."

The middle back pleat isn't as precise as I would have liked, but no one is going to know, I suppose, unless they stare at it. I haven't ironed down the darts or the pleats yet because I made marks for them with washable fabric marker, however, its possible if you iron over the water soluble marker, it will become permanent.

Here is the back pleat and a dart. It's beginning to look a lot like a 50's housewife's dress. Cute!
I think I might slash off some more of the skirt, as it's still looking a bit long for my taste. I'm not a mini skirt lover, but I do like the look of just above the knee for skirts.

The fabric is "mod green pod" which is in some way related to Robert Kaufmann. I only know this because it states just that on the selvage. It is an all organic cotton, and if you're wondering if organic fabric is more expensive - like organic foods, it is. If only someone would create an incentive for buying organic... hmmm

August 14, 2011

My Grandmother Gifted Me This Pattern

Hello! So I'm starting a vintage pattern that my grandmother found for me at the antique shop next door to her real estate agency in Western Maine, near Sugarloaf mountain. I found the pattern layout to be very unhelpful, due to the fact that the print on my fabric runs like stripes in one direction. I had to rework the layout, which took about an hour and a half.

Here you can see that I have a helpful pattern weight, perfect for keeping me from being able to sell my creations to those with allergies. Thanks, Orchid!

At this point, I needed two pattern weights.

If only I had a giant craft room with a huge cutting table. As much as I love them, no cats would be allowed in there!

I cut the pieces out in about a half hour, with my new Gingher dressmaker's shears! On sale for half off! They're definitely worth it. If you're thinking about upgrading a pair of fabric scissors, go for the Ginghers. Use a Joann's coupon if they aren't on sale or within reason. They have an app now with coupons for both android and iphone. Amazon sometimes has good deals, too.

Dave and I are going to get ready for dinner and a movie, nice to do on a Sunday night. I'll add some more updates once I have more done!

August 7, 2011


I'm going to cut my hair short. I'm sick of it being so blah. Don't let the picture on the right fool you, that was taken right after i got my hair done. Its not even curly in real life.

I'm thinking of something mod, feminine, and cool. I want to avoid the super butch look. Not that it doesn't suit other ladies, but it's not what I'm feeling for myself.

I hope my hair dresser can help! I've made a little "collage" of digital haircuts. Let me know if you like any!