Category Archives: sewing

new skirt

yesterday I buckled down and sewed a new skirt. Maybe because I was watching TV at the same time, but it took about 5 hours. I would have listened to an audiobook, but the library didn’t have the book I’m up to in the amelia peabody series. I’d hope that if I weren’t eating nuts and talking on the phone and watching tv it would go a fair bit faster.
I used McCall Pattern M3341 which is a real workhorse – it’s an a-line skirt and I’ve used it to make my purple skirt and my fancy holiday party skirt. Also on the workhorse list is McCall M3830 – it’s a good pencilish skirt that I’ve used before as well.

Here is the fabric for the skirt:

I used some of the fabric bought from the fabric shop in belleville nj. I still have about 1 yard left of this stuff, and I’ve got two more pieces of fabric left from that shopping trip. I made sure to get matching zippers for the other fabric as well while I was out on sunday, so that’s all set up. now all I have to do is get down to it!

so, 2007 to date:

bought: pair of pretty wool gloves from target ($4.48) [[which I did sort of need, b/c I’ve lost one of each glove or mitten or wristers I have in the last 2 months, and also, it’s supposed to be getting cold this week, and also, I’m not allowed to knit for myself until I finish the corn baby.]]

made: one skirt, desperately needed b/c my other skirts are getting worn.

what I did on sunday

yesterday I took about 11 1/2 hours and reupholstered my couch. to be fair, it really took about 10 hours – there was some time spent on the phone with kathleen, or eating lunch, or lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. but it was worth the pin sticks and the long toil, because here it is: my beautiful, reupholstered couch!

it took so very very long because the fabric that I bought was only 54″ wide, and my couch is, obviously, much longer than that. so I split the fabric and sewed it onto the ends of another piece to avoid a seam down the middle, and that was horrible excrutiating work, but it came out awfully nice.

the process was a bear because it involved a lot of draping and pinning and sewing and fitting and pinning and sewing and fitting. lots of back-and-forth between the couch and the sewing machine. I fitted everything together like this:


and sewed on the arms and then the fronts of the arms very last. I listened to the 3rd amelia peabody book downloaded from the library and boy howdy am I glad it’s done! I won’t make any brash assertions that I won’t do this again ever (like I did with the denim couch) but I won’t do it again for a good long time, that’s for sure.


here’s another couch mock-up. heck! it’s so hard to pick a strategery!


severe dorkitude

this weekend I have a number of engagements, but the most long-standing is my date with reupholstering my couch. I reupholstered our couch in spanish harlem – michelle and I got to work with a bunch of denim and a staple gun and my sewing machine and made our tweedy couch into a thing of sleek beauty. it was horrible. it took FOREVER (like, more than 1 evening) and was a big old pain in the keyster, but it was so beautiful when I was done.

the couch I’m using now is a hand-me-down from my stepfamily – maggie bought it new in the 90s, which explains the hunter green navajo print, and then sarah used it for a while, and then it sat on her (enclosed) front porch for a while. As I have a no-moving-the-couch policy currently (it’s WAY easier to ditch the couch when you move), I am not ready to commit to purchasing a new one for hundreds of dollars. and even though I swore up and down I would never reupholster a couch again, in the interests of re-using a couch (aka keeping it off the street) and not turning 30 with a couch covered in sheets (v. collegate), I will cover this old used couch that I have.

I was going to cover it with this fabric:


but now I’m not sure. it’s beautiful fabric, but it’s awfully busy. it won’t match my orange tweed recliner. and it stresses me out to worry about matching patterns so neatly when I sew the whole thing together. Sat. I’m going to stop by the Fabric Warehouse in bellville to see what they’ve got, and hopefully there will be lots of some cheap, light colored (non blue) decorators fabric with which I can reupholster my couch. Currently the couch is wrapped in some lavender sheets and that is pretty great. I would also like white, but as I enjoy eating chocolate on the couch it might not be the best idea. Ideally I want to get something that will match my beautiful dream fabric so I can cover old pillows in it. (I plan to reuse old smooshed bedroom pillows as the pillow bases. this is one of the reasons I categorized this post under buy vs. make.)

EDIT: after talking to a coworker who has her first degree in interior design, she suggested the busy busy fabric for the body of the couch and black for the cushions. and if that’s too busy adding additional throw pillows on the couch with black or white fabric. HMM. she is totally talking me back into it!

anyway, here is the dorkitude: tuesday night I went home and made these sketches (on graph paper liberated from a prior employer) of my couch to estimate how much fabric I needed. I’m so glad I did it because now I know what I’m in store for. but, yeah. Very Dorky.



silk skirt: check!

got my skirt done! YAY.


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recharge on the whole buy vs. make

I thought this was pretty interesting:

a seattle dancer wears the same little brown dress for a year and then after her project is over she commits to wearing only handmade and recycled clothing for a year.

it really reminds me of all the sewing I have to do in order to maintain my buy vs. make concept. and it helped me to make an adult decision regarding this coming weekend: some of my crafty girlfriends and I are planning to drive up to warrensburg for the worlds largest garage sale. Afterwards I wasn’t sure if I should drive home or if I should stay in albany. the idea of an 11 hour driving weekend for just 24 hours of garage saleing seems so silly, but after reading all of the little brown dress journal I think I’ll go home sat. night and on sunday will clean my room and sew a skirt. I have an office party to go on 10/7 and I’d love to have something new and nice to wear. and with all the work I’ve been doing I’ve been way off track on the goals of keeping my house clean and sewing my new clothes. hopefully I’ll be able to get with the program on sunday and get some stuff done!

in other craftastic and recycled clothing news, swap-o-rama-rama looks like an all around good time. I’m hoping to make it to the next NYC event on 10/8. I love it!

new skirt

a couple of weeks ago I attended a Mary Kay training weekend featuring our dynamic national sales director from Louisiana. I knew there would be people wearing suits there (the MK directors receive suits, and senior consultants get red jackets) so I wanted to wear something I felt comfortable and classy in. So what’s my (common) response to a dress occasion? make something within 48 hours of attending, natch!

ta da!

new skirt

I used the same pattern as my birthday skirt

here’s a close-up, so you can see how brilliant I am at pleats.

pleat close-up

(hee! seriously, patterns are MY FRIEND. they might not be as punk-rock as seeing something, going home, and whipping something up, but they help make your clothing so beautifully and the sewing goes so much faster. and with much less cussing. not NO cussing, but much less.)

the skirt took about 2 1/2 hours to make, and I worked on it Thursday night after work (I drove up to albany on Friday night and hemmed the skirt, and we were out the door on Sat. AM for the event by 8AM).

in the buy vs. make: I’ve got the new skirt, but I also stopped by target and purchased 4 new plain tees and 2 tank tops. but that’s all acceptable things to buy, I think.

working from home makes my 4 day week even better.

Yesterday, in the course of our office expansion to the space next door, oil and latex paints were used and stank was created and we all went home around lunch time in order to avoid bloody noses and other chronic health effects. you’d think, wouldn’t you, that a company including a bunch of environmental professionals would be able to avoid this kind of workplace hazard? not so much. my eyes were dried out and my nose was burning by the time I left. it was teh yuck!

so even though it’s not really approved by the company, we all worked from home. which was amazingly wonderful: I got a lot done quickly, because I wanted to go to the post office and the library. I have a theory that mgmt recognized that maybe we’d get more work done alone at home than we would in the office when we could take breaks to bitch together. The hardest part about working from home was not doing the things I REALLY wanted to do, including: the dishes, make cupcakes, try on my dresses for the wedding I’m attending this weekend, and sew a new skirt for post-wedding brunch. the last one was especially hard to avoid. But I did it!

I do wish, however, that I had tried on the dresses yesterday afternoon. I’m wearing the dress I sewed for paulina’s wedding last year, and when I tried it on last night I found out that I hadn’t finished the side seams well enough and they’ve split open as the fabric has worn and frayed. luckily I’ve lost some weight since I made it, and can stand to take the whole thing in about an inch and a half all around, so tomorrow morning I will sew up the sides, trim the frays, and finish the seams very very nicely. oh, my kingdom for a serger! though truth be told I don’t

(I would just wear my silver dress, but I have a harebrained scheme to match matt! and he’s wearing his new tan suit! it was so fun to accidentally match gibson when we were at paulinas… so unless he can’t get the pants hemmed on the tan suit and HAS to wear his charcoal one then I’m sticking with the green, despite having to repair it…)

[[EDITED: matt can’t get suits hemmed in time, so charcoal suit/silver dress are good to go! yay, I get to wear the gorgeous jewelry my friend susan makes!]]

observent readers may have observed that I’m taking tomorrow off and will be tripping down to MD for wedding and a happy weekend off in a fancy hotel. we’re sharing a suite with mariss and kelly! I am so excited!


this weekend was so fantastic. to start with, on friday I finished my new skirt. It took about 3 or 4 hours, and it came out pretty great, if I do say so!

you can see the pleated detail here, even though I’m very “mmmm, cake” in this photo.

digicam 020

here’s a good idea of the length and backside.

digicam 054

and I’m not sure what I’m doing here, but you can see clearly how comfortable and easy to ear this piece of apparel is (OH! I just remembered! I was showing Jenn C. warrior pose, right before I showed her TKD back stance and we mock fought. ha!):

digicam 057

what a bunch of glamour shots! they’re so funny. and that’s one more skirt I’ve made vs. buying. sweet. I have to say: I would love to be all punk rock crafter and say “oh, I don’t need a pattern” and maybe it’s true, but it is a heckuvalot easier to sew things with patterns. without a pattern it takes me easily 2x as long, because I have to constantly alter as I go along. with the pattern I just suspend my disbelief that it will fit and it all pulls together at the end.

birthday preparations

so, I’m having this party on sat. and I’ve decided to do it at my place. I got most of the big housework done earlier, and then I spent at least a week obsessing about how many people I could squeeze into my apartment, but I’m gonna do it. hey, I live in NJ. either people will come, or they won’t, but I bet that it’ll err on the side of people not coming out from NYC.

so, here’s my to do list for the next few weeks so I can get everything done and ready by sat:

* clean up living room, kitchen.
* take large things to basement storage and neaten up hall closet so I can stash microwave if necessary (aka, if I don’t get a chance to make microwave table)
* wash fabric, cut skirt pieces out
* gym after work for cardio
* to bed at a reasonable hour so I don’t get sick (am feeling illish)

* gym for knee before work
* date night with the mister?
* stop at linens and things to get a basket for long socks/etc. for my bedroom
* clean up bedroom – put clothes away, put craft things away, clear off dresser as party prep.
* if time, make yummy treats for coworkers in honor of my bday to bring in on friday. aka, also stop by the grocery store to buy baking supplies.

* sweep everything as prep for houseguests who will be sleeping on floor
* make skirt (while waiting for houseguests to arrive)
* make treats for party/etc
* gym after work for knee and if time, cardio

* grocery shopping
* attend party for friend in afternoon
* get home, straighten up, make crudites, have pre-party picnic dinner with houseguests and visiting family

it certainly sounds exciting, doesn’t it? you may have noticed reference to sewing a skirt above. Yes, against all better judgement I have decided once again to undertake a last minute sewing decision. I didn’t mean to, except I *really really* want a green skirt and I *really really* need a shorter than my knees skirt and I *really really* refuse to go shopping, so I HAVE to make one. I went to the rag shop last night and came home with 3 patterns, 4 pieces of fabric (3 of which are upholstry fabric) and various threads and notions. I hope to get a jump on the setup for the skirt so I can sew it quickly on friday night… HOPE. Dream!

wedding and friends and dresses

Sat. was Brian and Lynn’s wedding. Gabbi and Mike and Matt and I all had a lovely time.

gabbi and mike

kari and matt

AND I finished sewing my dress! so relieved. I was hemming it at 1PM on Sat. when Kathleen came over and sweetly told me which shoes to wear, and also, that next time I decided to sew a dress for an event she was going to come over at least 1 week prior and sit and watch me to make sure I started making it in a timely fashion. And then we got manicures. The dress was wonderful, although it’s not very flattering from straight on and the fabric shows spots VERY EASILY. BUT it’s done, and done on time, and was quite wonderful, and dizam did the zipper come out perfectly!


remember the last time I got crazy?

so, once again I’m trying to pull off a last minute sewing bonanza. I’m going to a wedding on sat. and I decided this weekend I wouldn’t even try to look for a dress, because the odds that I’d find one that 1. fit, 2. I liked, and 3. was reasonably priced were asymptotic to zero. seriously. So I pulled out a stockpiled pattern (butterick 6522), got some fabric, and last night I started cutting. again, partying kathy lee gifford style, I sit on the floor and hunch over and cut and cut and then stand up and walk around like quasimodo until I can sloooowly straighten up. yeah, I know, sewing is GLAMAROUS.

tonight I hope I can sew the bulk of the dress, I’m having dinner with friends on Thursday and I don’t have much time to spend sewing, except for tonight. I’ll update with photos when available, for sure.


I finished the dress last night! it came out really nicely, though if I had more time I’d tailor the bodice in a little more. BUT it’s done, and it matches my shoes exactly , and the trim looks really great with the dress. AND IT’S DONE!

this sewing clothes thing is probably easier when I don’t have a 2 day window/deadline, but on the whole it’s still pretty sweetl.

here’s a picture of the dress fabric, to tide you over until I get some really fancy pics of me in the dress:

fabric of dress + trim

sewing project

I’m going to miami for a wedding this weekend, and I could not find a single thing to wear. OK, I only checked one store. But it was demoralizing, and it reminded me of this other time I couldn’t find anything to wear, and so I foolhardedly said I’d make my own dress thank-you-very-much. See, the problem is that my chest won’t fit into clothes right now. And no, I *DON’T* know where strippers shop, so I am NOT sure where to buy clothes. /response-to-wise-acres.

I picked up a pattern (simplicity #4531) and some home decor fabric that matches my dansko arabella’s which I foolishly bought first in a hard to match (turquoise) color. Well, it sort of matches, the fabric is all muted greens and blues and browns on a cream colored background, and my shoes are kind of bright, so I’m going to liven it up with some shoe-matching trim. If that isn’t too twee.

Of course, I’ll post pictures. Unless it’s a disaster scene! last night I partied kathy lee gifford style and hunched over my sewing machine until nearly 1AM. it’s going pretty nicely. I have to finish it tonight so I can pack and fly out tomorrow afternoon!