The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Fashion Parade, Part the Second

I am writing today from Michigan.  Devon hails from Michigan, and since I've moved around too much to really have an affiliation to anywhere, I've adopted Michigan for all things that need an affiliation.  This mostly means sports teams, and since we didn't watch sports in my family growing up and I know almost nothing about sport teams, adopting the Lions, the Wolverines, and the Tigers - oh, my! - was not a big deal on my part.  It is nice that I see woods out the window here in my adopted state instead of the side of my neighbor's house. 

Marides - one of my long-standing clients - wanted a dress for the holidays and I suggested Colette's Peony dress since I thought is would suit her shape.  Marides liked it so I sent off for the pattern.  And then I read reviews of the pattern and saw how much trouble people have had in fitting the bodice and I got a bit nervous. 

Marides is petite (she can't be more than 5'1") and, like me, a bit rectangular.  Her measurements lined up with the Size 12 for most of the dress with a bit more needed in the waist.  Before making the muslin, I took 2" off the skirt length and a full 1.75" off the bodice at the "lengthen/shorten here" line.   I traced the waist halfway between the size 12 and 14 and tapered it to the size 12 at the hip.  I decided on those amounts by comparing Marides' shoulder-to-bust and waist-to-hem measurements to the pattern measurements.

The muslin fit okay (I should have taken a picture but I forgot) but definitely needed more adjustment.  I took 3/4" off the shoulder, extended the back darts up another 2 inches, and took about 1/2" off the bodice center front just above the waist dart (tapered to 0 at the side seam).  When it came to making the changes to the flat pattern piece, I was at a bit of a loss as to how I should deal with the 1/2" at center bust to 0 at the side seam issue.  I search around online but couldn't find anything that felt right (I can't say exactly why they didn't feel right, but I'm learning to trust those instincts).  Then I remembered that I'd learned some flat pattern adjustment techniques from Lorraine Henry at the Original Sewing Expo Show I attended last March.  I found the full bust adjustment, reversed it for Marides' issue, and then crossed my fingers and cut the fashion fabric for her real dress.

And it worked! 

I had some lovely quality fabric to use for the dress:

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It's a stretch cotton sateen (and they have one yard left!!) I found at the Etsy shop Fabrics and Trimmings and I'll certainly be ogling the apparel fabric in their shop again.  (In fact, I just ogled and I'd love to have some of this for a peplum top and some of this for another pencil skirt!  Someone please stop me . . .)  It held up fine in the washer and dryer and sewed up like a dream.

I made piping for the neckline and this was super easy to do once I found 1/8" cotton piping (Hancock's wasn't going to help me out with that).  Thanks again, Etsy (this time seller CrystalsLaceAndMore)!  I've had a dress is my head for over a year now that involves polka dot piping, so I'm glad to know that will be easy.

The only major problem I had finishing the dress was with the buttonhole on the belt.  Machine stitched button holes are the weakest link in my sewing skills.  I don't know if it's me, my machine, a lack of practice, or a lack of a buttonhole foot (I don't have one and can't find one for a 1970s Pfaff 1222se online). 

I practiced the button hole first on a scrap piece of fabric and it looked fine so I went ahead and threw one down on the belt.  And it was a disaster.  I was disgusted and embarrassed with the results so at this point I just had to go to bed.  Carol tried it on her machine the next day with only slightly better results (I used the dark brown thread, she used the lighter green):


I do now feel a bit more confident with my bound buttonholes after making so many of them on my Gertie top, so I decided it was the only fix.  I took off the ruined side of the belt, cut out a new piece, and sewed up this buttonhole:



Overall I liked the Peony pattern, but maybe it was easier for me because Marides didn't want it as fitted as some folks do.  I loved the fabric and I've got just enough left to make a pencil skirt or maybe a sleeveless top (hooray!).  And I loved that Marides was happy.  I've got some figuring to do in the New Year to see if I can really make this work my next career, but I do love the part of this that is about helping others feel good. 

This is Marides in the dress (in my kitchen with Belly's artwork behind her head) before I hemmed it:

Fashion Parade, Part the First

Happy December!  I have been hunkered down for the past few (oops, five) weeks, drafting and sewing and seam ripping and handstitching.  I received so many orders during the double skirt party weekend, that I haven't been able to think much beyond trying to get the orders done.  But as the holidays are here, I'm making myself relax a bit.  Feels good.

I have a heap of garments to show and I thought briefly of cramming them into one long post, but that seemed, well, too crammed.  So I hope to break them up in a series of posts so that you can see what I've been up to!  And when I say "I", I really now mean "we" - I hired a lovely woman named Carol to help out so that I could finish all my winter orders before spring comes around.

I'm going to start with the two skirts we finished most recently, as the process is still fresh.  Catherine is a new client, and she wanted a skirt replicated.  I've done this for myself before, but never for someone else.  Here's the original skirt:

It is a simple six-panel straight skirt with a cute pleated section in the center back, welt pockets, and a waistband.  Catherine says she wears this skirt all the time so it's a good style to copy.

She chose a striped stretch sateen fabric that I purchased a while back from  The two challenges to this skirt were 1) matching up the stripes, and 2) making the welt pockets (something I'd never done before).  To make the stripes go a little easier, I decided to cut the waistband in the opposite direction.  Carol handled challenge #1 beautifully when she put the parts of the skirt together, which left me with the challenge of matching the kick pleat to the stripes and making the welt pockets.  Here's how it turned out:

I planned to finish the waistband with topstitching but that didn't look right.  I ripped out those stitches and finished the waistband by hand - I'm very happy I did as it looks so much better!

This next skirt was for Stacey, another new client.  I've made something similar to skirt before, so I decided to change it up by adding a hem facing.  I love how cute it looks from the inside and I hope it might peek out every once in a while! 

I also did a drapey deep cowl neck for Stacey in the same metallic jersey I used for my own.  I've got another top like this on order - I guess everyone loves a little sparkle at this time of the year!

What's That? Drool? Oops, Sorry!

Yep, I've been ogling fabric and patterns again.  I have not one but TWO PoldaPop parties next weekend so I've had a good excuse to do some online window shopping (got to be ready with suggestions, you know).  And there are lovely fabrics out there to drool over (and yes, I did once almost drool while gaping at fabric online.  There.  I admitted it.).

Fabric I'm drooling over . . .

As I discussed early, the color magenta has been calling to me since the end of summer.  And I can't get this fabric out of my head, even with the steeper-than-average price tag:

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Midweight Designer Magenta Geometric Silk Twill Fabric fron Britex Fabric
I'd love to make a blouse or dress with this.  The description on the website suggests using it as a lining.  Are you kidding???  First, I can't imagine paying $31/yard for a lining and second, I can't imagine keeping this to myself in the lining of a garment. 

And then there's this brocade from Mood:

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Fuschia Stripes Wavy Brocade from Mood Fabrics

Like the first fabric, at $40/yard this is also out of my usual price range, but oh, it would look fantastic as a pencil skirt or funky fitted top. 

On the other side of the price range is this fantastic stretch corduroy called Chicago Streaks from Vogue Fabrics:
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It's so hard to find corduroy for grown-ups, espcially stretch corduroy.  And it's only $6.99/yard.  I don't know how I've managed to keep my money in my bank account so long on this one.

I don't know how I feel about chartreuse next to my face, but there's someone out there who would look gorgeous in a top made out of this jersey fabric:

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I'll probably stick to purple for myself:

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One of my clients ordered a dress from this fabric:

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Green and Cocoa Abstracted Floral Print Stretch Cotton Sateen Fabric from Etsy shop FabricsAndTrimmings
When it arrived I spent a good 10 minutes petting the fabric, exclaiming to Belly and Mooper, "This fabric is gorgeous, isn't it??"  There's still three yards left in the store if you're interested (heh heh, just try to stay away!). 

I made myself a new denim pencil skirt this fall and I've had a three clients order denim pencil skirts as well.  I love the denim at Mood Fabrics and I hope someone orders a skirt from this metallic denim because I'd love to work with it!

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And this last one is lovely in it's simplicity:

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Japanese Novelty Dot Jacquard Suiting - Black from Gorgeous Fabrics
It's got a bit of stretch in it and it would look fantastic as a pencil skirt or fitted dress.

If you want to check out all of the fabric I've been ogling, please visit my Pinterest boards.  Ogling fabric online is certainly one of my vices.  If I start on it before I go to bed, I'm up for at least another hour hopping from site to site.  And then I can't fall asleep afterwards because I'm too energized from all that beauty! 

I'll post a bit later this week with some of the patterns I've been drooling over lately - Style Arc!  Sewaholic!  Cake!  Oh, my! - I love some of the patterns I've been seeing in independent pattern makers' collections.  And then I'll be ready for Friday!

How Much Coral is Too Much Coral?

I have been having a grand time these past few weeks.  After months of practicing skills I am already comfortable with, I've learned three new ones in the last three weeks.

Bound buttonholes . . ..

waistband boning . . .

and an underarm gusset (still in muslin form)!

My fellow Gertie readers will note that all of these skills came from Gertie's New Book of Better Sewing.  It arrived about two months back along with a copy of the September Threads magazine, so you know that was a banner day in the PoldaPop household.  Or at least for me.  I think I spent the rest of the day ignoring requests for milk and goldfish and attention in general so that I could scan the pages, plot my new Gertie wardrobe, and read about drafting a peplum.

The first project I wanted to do was the Bow-Tied Blouse.  It looks so sexy in a sexy-librarian sort of way. 

And who doesn't want buttons all down her back like Miss Mary Mack??  I also thought it would work with fabric I picked up from with a skirt/top combo in mind.  I had seen this Hart's tutorial for making a stretch lace skirt, and I immediately wanted one for myself.  I love bright coral (I saw it on Belly earlier this fall and it looked so lovely next to her dark brown hair that I wanted it next to mine).  I am slightly nervous that with the skirt there's a little too much coral, but if I'm honest I don't really give a damn what anyone else thinks about this.


I found the buttons at The Economy Shop (favorite thrift store). 

I was immediately attracted to them because they look like Werther's Original Hard Candies.  In my late 20's I went through a Werther's phase (I may just love caramel more than chocolate) until I went to the dentist and had 11 (yes, shocking, I know) cavities, when I'd never had a cavity before.  Paying for the fillings cured me of my Werther's addiction, but I'm glad I get to at least remember the flavor whenever I wear this top.  I also liked that the color clashed a little with the pinky coral. 

I am mostly happy with the way the top turned out, especially since I didn't make a muslin or adjust the pattern in any way.  When I make it again, I'll add 1.5 inches to the length so that I feel more comfortable wearing it with low-ish rise jeans.  There's also some extra fabric in the front.  I'm wondering if my more experienced sewing friends can tell me if this is what a top looks like when it needs a SBA? 

Just so you don't think I spend all my time sewing selfishly (I only sew for myself on the weekends, promise!!), I can also report that I've completed a couple of skirts for clients and I've got a couple more awaiting fittings.  I forgot to take a picture of Melissa's pencil skirt (Melissa: can you send a picture, please pretty please??)  but I do have one of Liz's skirt:

This is a high-waisted denim pencil skirt with homemade bias tape along the hem.  And now I'm thinking that I want to add boning to my next high-waisted denim skirt.  I'm itching to get out the wire cutters and pliers again . . .

Out of Focus

I think I've lost my head.  Is that it over there?  Oh, no, that's just a giant hair&threadball that's accumulated under a chair because I've been too busy to vacuum.  Dear Readers, if you find a tired looking head with (mostly) dark hair, please send it back to me.  I don't know that it will do me much good but at least it will give me something to blame when things go awry.

I started the week with a high level of productivity, banging out two client skirts and making good progress on my Gertie bow-tied top.  Then somehow things began to fall apart when I found myself ahead of schedule for once.  Does that happen to you?  You finally have a chance to get ahead and you blow it just by being unfocused and stupid??

Here's one of the skirts:

I found this lovely, thick stretchy corduroy on Etsy and immediately thought of my client Jen (she's a bit of a pink addict).  There was about a 1/2 yard of the dark brown and 2/3 yard of the pink paiseley and I used almost every inch in making the skirt.  The dark brown actually has a damask pattern that's hard to see unless I do some crazy adjustment of the photo, like this:

In keeping with my productive-one-moment-and-stupid the next week, I completely forgot to take photos of the other skirt.  And it was cute, too.  Trust me.  Some of my best work.

I was able to be so productive early on because I tried a new techique I just read about on Grainline's Blog: Chaining.  I love this technique!  It put me in the mindset of being efficient without rushing, and I could get through the basic construction of the skirts much quicker.  Then (because, afterall, it's this kind of week), I smashed my finger under the needle housing thingy on my serger because I got carried away.  This is why I keep band-aids in my sewing kit: so I can keep sewing without bleeding all over someone's fabric.

I tackled bound buttonholes for the first time for the Gertie bow-tied top I'm making myself to go with the pencil skirt I have yet to unveil.  The fabric is a ponte knit, so I don't know if that means making the buttonholes was easier or harder than it would be with a woven.  Not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt:

Nice color, huh?  Then after that good bit of work, I've allowed myself to be stymied by the collar.  I don't think it's that hard, but my brain can't seem to process the instructions.

And speaking of being stymied, I have a dress that I need advice on.  I made this dress a few weekends ago and I'm not sure what I think of it.  It's one of my favorite knit/jersey patterns (Simplicty 2580) and I like the print of the fabric, but I think the fabric is just a bit too lightweight.  I feel like I'm wearing a nightgown  and I'm conscious that every little lump and bump is obvious.  I have some stretchy black lining that I'm thinking about putting in the skirt of the dress, but I'm worried that will make the skirt too heavy for the bodice.  I've also thought about cutting it shorter and just making it a top (the excess fabric would make a nice knit scarf).  Can my sewing friends please weigh in on this??

Please excuse the hair.  This was taken before I finally scheduled a much-needed haircut.

I included this second photo even though it a pretty sad shot because it shows just how much I need help with this dress.

And today was mostly a wash because I had to rush Mooper to the ER last night.  She woke up in the middle of the night and could barely breathe (I'll remember that wheeze in my parent anxiety nightmares).  The poor thing has croup (or do you say, "The Croup"?)  That sounds like an illness that must surely be out-of-fashion but apparently it's back.  Thankfully we have up-to-date treatments for these old-fashioned illnesses.

If If I get some sleep tonight I'm going to try boning for the first time.  The UPS man delivered a package from last week so I've got my spiral-steel boning, wire cutter, and pliers all gathered up and ready to go.  Now if I could only find my head . . .

Found Treasure - The Exquisite Revisit Resale Shop

A few weeks ago I discovered a new resale shop.  I'm embarrassed to say that it's walking distance from my house AND has been there for a few years now, but I only just found out about it.  So it's only "new" to me.  I now have one more reason to be grateful for our Berwyn Facebook page since that's how I discovered this wonderful shop.

Exquisite Revisit is one of those dear places that is just full to the roof beams with various treasures.  You can find rocking horses and feather boas and salt & pepper shakers and hats and old games.  I found some vintage fabric:

Each piece is 3-4 yards long and 36" wide.  The fabric is a lovely apparel cotton - soft with nice weight and some drape.  I paid $15 for all three.  I particularly love the colors in the last one, and I think it might work with the pencil skirt I finished this past weekend (no pictures yet - I want to wait until I finish the top that goes with it). 

I'm thinking of using one or two of these pieces to make a peplum blouse.  I found this pattern in my mother-in-law's basement, and if I imagine the top without those horrendous sleeves and a different neckline, I think it would work:

I guess the sleeves aren't that bad, but they are all wrong for my body.  I'd look like a linebacker if I wore something that emphasized my shoulders in that way!  And there's something about the drawings that just looks so harsh.  I keep thinking that if the blonde turns her head, she'll chill me with a look of icy disdain ("So you think my sleeves are horrendous?  It's your shoulders that are the problem, missy"). I'll just have to turn the pattern envelope over when I'm working on the blouse.

I also found drawer after drawer of buttons in the shop.  How I love unearthing buttons!

I'll have more treasure to show next week because I'm planning a trip to my favorite thrift store (The Economy Shop in Oak Park) on Thursday.  They only open for sales 3-4 times a month and I haven't been since June.  I've found all sorts of beautiful things there in the past, from fabric to buttons to fur collars and even a chair cover that I made into a wallet.  

In other news, I finished two skirts for clients and my class at The Little Bits Workshop is now underway.  And I just found out that one of my handbag designs is going to be published in Stitch magazine, so I'm having one of those weeks where I actually feel like I know what I'm doing!  I've got a sewing project on the table this week that is likely to knock that straight out of me.  I hope to give you an update on that one a little later this week.  Keep some fingers crossed for me!


Greetings and almost Happy Friday.  This Friday is very happy for me as Grandma is coming for a visit and that means DATE NIGHT for me and my handsome hubby - I get to dress up and have fun!

I wanted to let all of you know that a good friend of mine is hosting a giveaway of one of my bags over on her very cool blog.  This is the bag you could win if you're lucky:

The bag is based on the Marlo Bloom pattern by Heather Bailey, but I changed the handle and added a zippered pocket.

If you want to throw your hat in the ring, get yourself over to ReFab Diaries and follow the directions.  In honor of the giveaway, I'm also offering free shipping from my Etsy Shop to anywhere in the world.  You can get the code on the PoldaPop Designs Facebook page, and while you're there, you might as well do the like thing .  . . if you want to, of course (blush)! 

Shameless plug of the business side of things is now over!  I will now get back to sewing Marides' fall a-line skirt!

What's Up: Pencil Skirts! (And mini-tutorial)

I am head-over-heels in love with pencil skirts right now.  As long as they fit well, they are super flattering.  I think they are the most universally flattering skirt shape, in that they tend to make everyone look taller and more slender, while still feminine and curvy.  You'll be seeing more pencil skirts from me in the upcoming weeks as I have seven (!) on order from various clients.

During my last couple of weekends of personal sewing time, I made two pencil skirts for myself, and I plan to do a third (with coral ponte and apricot stretch lace) this weekend.  The first is a lined denim pencil skirt using the "corsetted" style that I copied off that was inspired by an Ann Taylor skirt I spotted last year:

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I'll write up a step by step tutorial of how I drafted and sewed this skirt if there's interest - leave me a comment if you want it!

Here's the version I made for myself:

I don't have great photos where I'm wearing it - the self-photography just wasn't working out for me that day - so here's the best I could do:
I wore these shoes when I got married!

I lined the skirt with some gray polyester fabric that someone gave to me (and was likely intended to line a curtain, since that's what she makes) and faced with some cotton fabric scraps so that it would stay put on my waist and not circle around me:

The second skirt is a simple ponte knit skirt with an elastic waist.  You'll recognize the fabric from my last post! 

I was really lazy in drafting this skirt so I am especially pleased that it worked out.  I started with the skirt pattern from Wendy Mullin's book Sew U Home Stretch.  I had already adjusted the basic pattern to fit me (graded from a size medium in the waist to a size small in the hips and size extra-small in length).  Instead of tracing the pattern and adjusting the sweep, I measured in 1.5 inches on each side at the hem line, used my french curve to blend this line into the hip and then just folded the original pattern along this line.

From this:

To this:

When I cut out the fabric, I squared the side seam a bit where it hits the bottom of the skirt.  I also made sure that the front skirt and back skirt ended at the same point on the chevron pattern so that I could approximately match the chevron stripes at the side seams.  I made a casing out of a strip of fabric 5 inches wide (folded in half) and inserted 2-inch elastic.  I like my skirts to have a wider elastic in them to compress that post-babies muffin top action!  And, ta-da!

This is what you get when you cram picture taking with toddler time.
And I should also mention the cardigan.  I followed a tutorial I found at Forty-Two Roads ages ago and turned a turtleneck that I really didn't like into a caridgan that I did.  All it took was some scissors, home-made bias tape, elastic thread, and a button!