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


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! 

Free Sewing Tutorial: Drafting a Facing for a Cowl Neck Top

Now that it's fall here in the Midwest, I'm in the mode of making some longer sleeve knit/jersey tops  I have a couple of tutorials that give instructions on how to draft a basic cowl neck jerey top (see here and here).  With my first few cowl necks, I was satisfied with a simple hem or leaving the cowl neckline serged, but recently I've wanted a more finished look.  This tutorial will teach you how to add a self-facing to your cowl neck pattern, so that you can't see any stitches around the cowl.

You will need:
*cowl neck top pattern
*pencil, pen

Here's an example of what your cowl neck pattern will look like WITHOUT a facing:

The first step in creating a facing is to tape some paper to the cowl neck line, so that you can extend it.

Next, draw a line 2-3 inches above your cowl neck line.  Angle the edges so that it it is a mirror image of your original cowl neck.  It will look like this:

Cut out the front of your top as you normally would.  To sew your top, fold across the neckline at the extention that you made with wrong sides together (wrong side of facing against wrong side of fabric).  When you attach the front of the top to the back of the top at the shoulders, you'll have a double layer of fabric on the top front and a single layer of fabric on the top back.  It will look like this after you've sewn it together:

Inside cowl neckline (front)

Cowl neck from right side

For this top, I used ponte knit fabric (thicker, more stable) that I purchased at Hancock Fabric's in a sale (I think their ponte knit is still on sale).,, and all have a good selection of ponte fabric, mainly in solid colors.  I wanted longer sleeves for it, so I used the sleeve piece from my Silhouettes Pattern #195 and shortened it to bracelet length.   I finished the edge of the back neckline with 5/8" fold-over elastic (I pulled it slightly as I attached it to the neckline with a zig-zag stitch - I find that pulling it slightly stops the back neck from gaping).  I originally recommended cutting on the top on the bias to make the neckline nice and drapey, but this weekend I experimented with cutting it out on the straight grain and it worked just fine. To cut the top out on the straight grain, you'll need a fabric that is nice and drapey to begin with, but most knits/jerseys are plenty drapey.  Here's how it turned out:

I made a pencil skirt with the same fabric (not to be worn together - THAT look was a freaky visual disaster!) and I'll post about that later this week.  Let me know if you have any questions about the facing and I'd love to see pictures if you try this tutorial!  Email them to, and I'll add them to the post with a link to your blog (if you have one).  Here's one that Diya at The Hobby Harbor made recently:

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What's Up: Accessories

Hey!  I must say, I have been having the time of my life the past couple of weeks.  My little business is doing well and with Belly in kindergarten and Mooper in daycare two days a week, I can really crank out some work.  I feel much more even-keeled having work days again.  And I love being able to give my sole employee a paycheck every week now!  She really deserves it . . .

I've got tons to show so I thought I'd break it down into categories.  I had a small swirl of business in my Etsy shop, selling two of my upholstery swatch/scrap custom wallets and one pre-made wallet in the same week!  I think the wallet is improved with the zipper closure and I'm excited that I got to have some practice with the new design.  It definitely helps to get into a rhythm when handstitching the zippers in place.

These wallets really bring out the obsessive side of my personality.  I could play around with the placement of the internal fabric pieces for hours!

Jill, of Custom Cookies by Jill, ordered a handbag a few months ago and I only just cleared out the orders in front of her to get it made.  It's based on the bag pattern in the BurdaStyle book, with some (I think) improvements: shorter leather straps/handles, thermolam fleece interfacing to give it more structure, a cell phone pocket and a zippered pocket.  I'm thinking about ways I can further play around with the design, because the bag is a great size for an everyday handbag.

And because I wanted to figure out the right combination of interfacing for the bag, I made one for myself to test it out.  The fabric I used on my bag is from one of my Economy Shop hauls, so it probably cost me about $1.50.  New fall budget bag for the boss!

And yes, that is a Hancock Fabric's sale pamphlet peeking out from under my wallet.  Got to be prepared.

Jalapeno Dress . . . and recipe

Yes, I know that jalapenos are green and not red (and I know they have a tilde accent mark over the n, but I can't figure that out on my computer), but I posed for this picture next to our jalapeno plant, hence the name.  And the dress is a little spicy!

I originally planned to make this dress for the Summer Sewing Challenge over at BurdaStyle (check out the winner - her dress is fantastic!).  But time was not on my side and I missed the deadline.  I actually gave myself plenty of time for this project, which is unusual, but I fiddled around with the belt for an entire weekend and then didn't have time for the rest of the dress.  But, who cares?  I got a dress I like out of it!

I used cotton lawn purchased from for all parts of the dress, so it's nice and light for summer.  The pattern is BurdaStyle's Heidi Dress, but I took a few inches off the length and four inches off the sleeve.  I made some slight alterations to the pattern and the only change I'd make if I do it again is to raise the shoulders by about 1/2 inch - it gaps just a bit around the neck & arms and that would fix it.  I've already worn it a few times and I'm sure I'll get even more use out of it next summer. 

Look, Ma!  Pockets!

Now for the recipe accessory . . .

Jalapenos Stuffed with Cheese & Dates

We have a ton of jalapenos in our garden this year - yesterday alone I picked thirty jalapenos.  Until I found a version of this recipe, I wasn't sure what I would do with them all.  It's not like you can put thirty jalapenos in a dish and survive to tell the tale.  Both Devon and I love this dish so much that we've gone from having too many jalapenos to not nearly enough.  I found this recipe through Pinterest and then tweaked it.

You will need:
*a truck load of jalapenos - slice in half lengthwise and the sloppily remove seeds and white veins(don't take it all out - you want to keep some heat)
*cajun spice
*cream cheese - I do use the lower fat version as penance for the bacon
*dates - sliced lengthwise in to about 6 slices each
*bacon strips cut in half

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill the jalapenos with the cream cheese and sprinkle with the cajun spice.  Place a strip of date on each jalapeno.  Wrap the jalapeno with half a slice of bacon.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and then broil on high for 10 minutes to crisp up the bacon.  Yum!

Here I am eating it will a kale salad (also from the garden).  Is it lunchtime yet?

Camp Runway

Wow, now that was fun.  Nancy Sidman, another local seamstress, and I led a camp at The Little Bits Workshop in River Forest.  We had eight girls (mostly age 10-11), eight different patterns, six sewing machines, twenty-five hours, and one handy assistant and from this motley mix we helped the girls make the clothes for their own Runway Show.  The challenge we gave the girls was that whatever they made had to go with at least two items that were in their closets already (I did this so that they could walk the runway twice and to stop them from making something completely impractical). 

I started to get nervous that we wouldn't be able to pull this off a few days before camp started.  We had met with the girls at our local Hancock Fabric's store to help them pick their patterns, fabrics, and notions.  About half of them had some sewing experience but at least three of them didn't really have any sewing experience going into the week.  I'm not sure any of them had made something from a commercial pattern.

And it was a crazy week.  We kept a running theme about the importance of making mistakes, and by about Day 4 we had the girls exclaiming proudly, "Hey!  I made another mistake!"  Unlike the real project runway, there were no tears or meanness, but we did have the last minute sewing on of buttons and repairing of seams.  The girls were a ton of fun to work with, although I did vastly underestimate the challenge of reading a pattern while eight young girls chattered constantly in the background.  And we all worked hard, VERY hard, to pull this off.  I don't have pictures to show, but you should absolutely check out the video of the Runway Show on Little Bit's website (it's the QuickTime link in the middle of home page).  It comes complete with music, a runway carpet, and revving fire engines (the workshop is across the street from the fire station in River Forest). 

Here's a snap of the certificate (printed on cardstock, no less) we gave them after the show:

And now I have some dreams I'm trying not to indulge in for the moment about taking this show on the road.  I'd love to do this with other girls (taking into account all I learned from the week), and I wonder if Nancy and I could get a grant to do this with girls who have fewer advantages than those from River Forest.  We will definitely do it at Little Bits again next summer and I know a few girls who will be back with us!