Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spring 2018 Inspiration

It feels and looks a long way from spring.  The temps in the 20's and mounds of snow everywhere.  The good news is spring fashion inspiration/trends are popping up everywhere.  So here is a little inspiration for your spring 2018 wardrobe.  I like a few of these trends and hope to incorporate them in my upcoming spring and summer wardrobe.    How do you feel about them?



Bold Pattern Play/Mixed Prints

Fringe (several years now)



Pockets/Zippers - Utilitarian



Haute Denim



Happy sewing and designing!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Winter Clothes - Cozy Sweaters with McCall 7574

It is insanely cold in the mid-west.  Between today and Friday evening we are expected to get 8 to 14 inches of snow!  In the midst of snow storms and arctic winter temperatures, I need the right gear to brave the season.  I really started late with my preparation for it all.  Christmas is really too late to start thinking about cozy separates.  I almost needed to start in the summer considering the cold November.  But nevertheless, the bite of the January winds encouraged me to make my previously posted sweater dress and these sweater knit pull-over tops.

I used McCall 7574 making my usual adjustments these sweaters tops are the answer to the winter blast we are experience right now.

This is a Melissa Watson, Palmer/Pletsch pattern. The views are described as:  close-fitting pullover tops, tunic and dress have raglan sleeves, sleeve and length variations. D: Uneven hem, wrong side of fabric will show.  The available sizes are 6 to 22.  I used 14 with modifications.

The tops are semi-fitted to me.  Even the dress on the model isn't close-fitting.  I guess that my FBA may attribute to some of the looseness.   The cream sweater is view B lengthen with long sleeves, and the multi-color orange is view c with long sleeves.

The instructions are typical, and I didn't notice any confusing construction steps.  Palmer/Pletsch instructions are included for making adjustments, which may be helpful for anyone needing to make them.

My likes:

  • The shape of the sleeves
  • Center back seam
No dislikes.

I made my usual adjustments:
  • A small FBA. The cream sweater I didn't make a bust dart.  I eased in the excess.  The multi-colored orange knit really hides any sign of a bust dart.  So I just sewed it as I normally would.

  • Small swayback adjustment.  Because the top was on the boxy side to me. I didn't make the full swayback adjustment.
  • Adjusted the roundness of the sleeve near the shoulder.  Too much fabric.
  • Lengthen the cream sweater, view B and lengthen the sleeves of both views.

Both sweater knits came from JoAnn's Fabrics and Crafts.  Currently, they have an entire section of sweater knits. I believe they are acrylic/polyester blend.
I can't say that I will sew either again anytime soon.  But I do recommend this pattern to others.  It's easy and a great staple (wardrobe builder).  During this cold blast, I will definitely get a lot of wear out of them.

These two tops complete the four garments that I made in January 2018.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Neutral Staple Coat -- Italian Tan Angora Wool Coating B6385

I have wanted a tan, wool coat since forever.   Last year I decided to move this coat to the top of the list after I stumbled upon this gorgeous Italian Tan Angora Wool Coating.  It is exquisite.  Perfect for the classic silhouettes as well as the oversized boyfriend coat.  I wish Mood had this coating in every colors.

Please forgive the frown, the sun was very high.

The surface is super soft with a brush-like hand.  The drape is a little stiff; but no matter, it is the perfect match for Butterick 6385. 

Tan is the perfect  neutral to wear with anything.  I wanted a simple, softly tailored everyday coat that was warm, soft, and beautiful, coat that could stand up to the harshness of the strong winds that jet across lake Michigan.

By no means should this neutral be restricted to a "tailored" look.  You can pair it with many styles:  wide lapels, double breasted, or a flirty peplum on your styled coat.  All would showcase the beauty of this Italian wool.

My journey to make this coat was a long one.  I started working on how to fashion it  December 7, 2017.  In the beginning, I was slow to start.  There were many things to consider.  First, the pattern to be used.  Then, how closely I would actually follow the pattern's style and construction.

Once I decided, I was good to go, ready to see if my plan would work.  Let me start with my pattern description and why I chose it.   It is fitted, with princess seams, back yoke with forward shoulder seams, two piece sleeve, collar and pocket variations.  I closely followed the style of view B.  I wanted to make minimum pattern adjustments.  This one included separate pieces for A/B, C, and D cup sizes, a big help with reducing fit time.  It comes in sizes 6 to 22.  I used sizes 14 and 16 with additional modifications.

My modifications did not change the overall style lines of the coat.  So my coat looks similar to the picture/diagram.  I made several changes to the construction of the coat with my standard fit adjustments.

Fit Changes:
  • Skipped the FBA.  I added 1/2" to the length of the center front.  I don't like the marked distance from the edge to the button hole.  I like a little more room across the center front.
  • Lengthened the sleeve by 1".  Most coat sleeve are not long enough for me.  I always add a inch or so to make sure the edge of the sleeve covers my wrist bone.
  • Lengthened the body of the coat by 3".  I wanted it to fall below my knees.
  • Lowered the pocket 1.5".  They were at an uncomfortable height for resting my hand in the pocket.
  • Lowered the bust dart 1.5".  Too high in my opinion.
  • Swayback adjustment.  I tucked about 1/2" access at the lower back.  But I don't think it was enough, though.
  • The shortened the length of the shoulder seam.  I actually didn't cut the excess away.  It helped form the roundness of the sleeve cap.
Construction Changes:
  •  Bound Buttonholes instead of regular ones.  Six button holes instead of five.  It took my a long time to decide on the size of the buttonhole lips.  BTW- bound buttonholes are on my goals list for 2018.  I've made them several times before, but each time I nervous about how they will turn out.  I always do a practice test before making them on the garment.  Such was the case with this coat.

  • I interfaced the entire coat except for the sleeve.  I only interfaced the upper portion and the last 3" of the sleeve.

  • I made my own shoulder pads. 3/4" instead of 1/2".  The sleeve fits easily around and under my arm.  

Even though I changed a lot of the construction of the coat.  I did read the instructions.  They are typical and I saw nothing confusing in them.  For #17  edgestitch and topstitch ends of flap to side front was difficult to do because of the thickness of the fabric.  I hand stitched the flaps to the side front.

I'm very pleased with how my coat turned out.  I must admit when it came time to finish the inside of the bound buttonholes, I decided to sew something else to give me a break.  That is, three something elses.  ;-)   

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  I have a million buttons.  When it came to finding the "right" buttons from my stash, I only had sets of four or five.  So initially, I sewed some round button on the coat.  Nope..,  no go.  So I made a trip to a local store to get yet another set of buttons.

So let me point out my likes:
  • Sleeves
  • Princess seam and back yoke
  • Buttonholes
  • The tan angora wool
My dislikes:
  •  The excess fabric above the bust area on the side front.  I tried eliminating it.  No luck.
I'm planning to make a coat for my daughter using the same pattern, but view A.

Overall, I am very pleased with my new tan (neutral) coat.  A perfect winter staple for the mid-west.  

Happy Sewing!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Nappa Cabbage Ox Tail Stew

There is nothing like comfort food in the winter time.  This morning when I woke up it was -4 degrees.  This has truly been one of the coolest winters in a great while.  We are known for heavy snow falls.  But this year we have gotten a heavy dose of bone chilling temperatures for the month of January.  Today, February 5th, it was 14 degrees at high noon.  

Back in the day, my mom made the best soups and stews (She still does. ;-)) One of her famous stews is Ox Tail Strew.  It loaded with root vegetables, oxtails, and a hearty tomatoes broth.  I love it.  This is one of the easiest stews to make.  This time I added nappa cabbage just to change it up a bit.


Approximately a 2lb Package of Oxtails (make sure there is some marbling)
One Small Nappa Cabbage 
Carrots (baby carrots or diced large ones)
Potatoes (diced)
Medium Onion (diced) 
Tomatoes (baby tomatoes or sliced large ones)
Lawry Seasoning Salt to your taste
Salt and Pepper to your taste
Bay Leaves (3 or 4)
Parsley to your taste
Small Can of Tomatoes Paste
Small Can of Tomatoes Sauce

Start by washing oxtails thoroughly and place in a large pot.  Season with salt, pepper, and Lawry's.  Add diced onion to the pot.  Fill pot with water, a few inches above meat.  Cover and place on stove, bring to boil medium high heat.  Cook until meat is tender.  Remove pot from flame to cool.

Now, prepare the other vegetables.  Wash and cut nappa cabbage into pieces, about 2" long.  Put it to the side.  Next, clean and/or peel the other vegetables as needed.


Optional: Next, I remove meat from bones, returning the meat to the pot.

Add potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Then add the parsley and bay leaves. 

Bring mixture to a boil.  Add tomato paste and sauce stir until completely mixed into the other liquid. Cover and let cook until potatoes are almost done. 


Add nappa cabbage last.  Cover and cook until tender.


Ready to eat.  We usually serve stew with cornbread or some type of garlic bread. 

Stay warm and eat good! C

Friday, January 19, 2018

TNT's Patterns Are My Favorites - Vogue 1314

My first "finished" project of 2018.  I needed something fast and easy to make on Monday afternoon.

Vogue 1314 is one of my go to knit dress pattern because it is quick, easy, and already to go.   It's a simple four piece pattern to is a bind right next to my table.  Perfect for a mid-western, cold as the North Pole, January day.  I first used it a few years back.  After making the necessary adjustments, it was immediately place in the TNT bind.  I use the front and back lining for the dress along with the neck band and sleeve.

The possibilities are many.  It can be used as a sloper to adjust similar style patterns.  Last year I used it with other sleeve patterns.  This basic pattern can lend itself to be morphed into a totally different dress.  The possibilities are endless.

My previous reviews are here:

Vogue 1314 The Third Time's The Charm

Getting the Most Out of Your Pattern Vogue 1314 and McCall 7542

Vogue 1314 Striped Knit Top

Oops The Wrong Fabric Choice

Self Drafted Sleeve - Vogue 1314

Sparkle Top with Bold Full Skirt

There are all of the versions of Vogue 1314 that I've had over the years.

Happy Sewing!


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