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

A Little Holiday Singing

I enjoy hearing the voices of bloggers I follow, like Karen with her annual holiday message at Did You Make That? Sometimes the actual voice matches the one I've been hearing in my head. Sometimes it changes how I read their words going forward. Either way, I love it when folks do this, but I've shied away from doing it myself because I don't know what I'd say.

But after our non-traditional Advent Concert, I have a little something to share! I sang with my lovely friends Jeanine and Holly, and my husband recorded it on our iPad (so not the greatest sound quality, but it will have to do).

I appreciate this online community and I'm grateful to everyone who reads and writes and comments to keep it alive. May you all spend time with those you love best this season. Happy Holidays!

(The song is "One Voice" by Ruth Moody of the Wailin' Jennys. I'm the one in the middle singing alto in my me-made Jalie 2921 dress.)

Refashion: Men's Button Down Shirt to Women's Fitted Blouse

Back in November I participated in Pattern Review's Surprise Sewing Bee. I didn't make it past the second round (ah well) but I got a lot out of the projects I completed. The first one was my hardware a-line skirt, blogged about here. In the second challenge, we had to take 1-5 men's button-down shirts and refashion them into a garment for an adult. You can see all the projects here - very inspiring!

I used this challenge to motivate myself to finish three goals. The first was to finally finish fitting my bodice muslin from Vogue 1004 fitting pattern. CHECK! The second was to create a basic pattern for one of my favorite RTW blouses that I've worn and loved for at least 10 years. CHECK! And the third was to do something with the men's shirt I took out of the Goodwill bag two years ago (it was too pretty to donate). CHECK!

My inspiration blouse was one I purchased at Anthropologie at least 10 years ago, probably on sale. So it's now well worth whatever money I paid for it as it has had plenty of wear and is now a pattern.

I improved the original fit by lowering the waist band to sit at my natural waist (approx 1" lower than the original). I didn't do pintucks for the PR garment because it would have looked funny with the stripes.

For the garment above, I traced the front pattern so that I didn't have to cut it
on the fold - this helped me maneuver around the button placket.

The original bodice has bust and waist darts in front and back darts; I rotated the waist dart and incorporated it into the front yoke and incorporated the shoulder darts into the back yoke. In order to get the most out of the button placket, I reduced the seam allowance to 3/8". I wanted to give the look of a flat fell seam at the yokes, so I serged the raw edges and added topstitching. I finished the neck and arm openings with single fold bias tape turned to the inside and topstitched (again, to give the flavor of topstitched flat fell seams).  I added some gathering to the front bodice (at the yoke seam) in order to keep the top fitted and to make it more feminine. I also mirrored the bodice gathering in the front and back peplum. I finished the raw edges of the waistband with bias strips and stitched it on top of the bodice at the waist seam, folding under the short ends at the button placket. Not seen in these photos is that I added another button just above the waistband.

While I got knocked out of the round, I'm really happy with the top. I won't be able to wear it much until Spring, but I'm glad to know it's there waiting for me!

Clockwise: Back, Front, ancient bias tape, leftovers, waistband detail.

I've got a long overdue wedding dress refashion up next. Thanks for stopping by!

Vogue 1377 & Unexpected Joy

This project started as a blanket, a wool cape, a silk suit, and various scraps from various projects.

My client, Alice, brought me the blanket back in August along with a copy of Vogue 1377 and asked me to make her a coat. At the muslin fitting, she brought the cape and suit and added it to the pile of materials. 

Crazy muslin
This project definitely came with some challenges: ridiculously thick fabric (did I mention I was cutting out a blanket?), a dizzying number of pattern pieces, welt pockets, hammered snaps, overlays, decorative stitching, an enormous amount of ease, flat fell seams (sewing through not one, not two, but three or four layers of wool blanket), and heavy lifting (by the end, the coat almost weighed too much to stay in the machine). I had to make a map before cutting it out so that I didn't get lost. 

Cutting out piece #7 from the wool cape. If you look closely you can
see my label so that I cut it from the correct fabric.

I've struggled with an anxious awareness of time when I am sewing for others. Getting things done on time, being efficient with time so that I don't waste hours (the ones I'm charging for and the ones I don't), squeezing in time between drop off/pick up/after school activities/teaching/my own meetings. This project brought me some peace with time.

Front laid out after cutting.

And Back.
This anxiety gets in the way of experiencing the joy of what I'm going. Most projects I do for others give me joy at the end - the pleasure of pleasing someone else, the satisfaction of bragging on social media, the gratification of earning every penny in the check I receive when I hand it over. But is sometimes feels like I can only enjoy the joy for a minute before the race begins again. This one gave me joy at almost every step along the way.

Who doesn't have fun with hammers?
Why? I think in part because it was the right blend of challenge and ease. I sewed some seams and tackled a decorative overlay. I sewed some seams and figured out where and how to hammer some snaps. I sewed a collar and created welt pockets. 

Some of the joy also came from the design. I don't love this coat design for myself. I experienced no envy when I handed it off to Alice. But I got giddy at certain points along the way with how things came together. Giddy with learning something new and thinking about where else I might apply it, giddy at the cleverness and humor in certain design elements.

Blanket label. Decorative stitching on overlay.

Pocket right side

Pocket wrong side
And maybe just because I let the joy wash over me. I was challenged enough to have to set aside my anxiety about time in order to fully concentrate. I knew it would take a lot of time, my estimate reflected that, and then I could just be in the doing. By the time I was midway through the project, I was having too much fun to worry.

I always thank clients for bringing me work. The money I earn that helps me contribute financially to my family comes from that work. And I love solving problems (riddles, patterns, mysteries) and my work generally involves a lot of that. My gratitude for this project went way beyond the money part of it, and the problem solving games it involved. It made me happy. 

*For the nitty gritty review of Vogue 1377, please see my review here.

New Bag for STITCH Winter 2014

I have been wanting to learn to sew with leather for some time now, and purchased and watched Kenneth King's Leather 101 video from in anticipation of finding a project. I then proposed a leather bag for the Stitch Winter 2014 issue, and when they accepted my proposal I had to step up and do it. Like how I cornered myself into trying something new?

Here it is in the magazine spread. And if any of you are contemplating sewing with leather, definitely give it a try. There are some specific techniques you will need to learn, but once you know them, the actual sewing isn't hard. Not sewing-with-chiffon hard anyway.

My favorite tips:

  • Use a walking foot (this worked better for me than a Teflon foot)
  • Tie thread ends instead of back stitching at the beginning/ends of seams
  • Long stitch length
  • Glue is your friend!!
  • Consider overlapping seams instead of sewing RST

I'm still learning how to topstitch over uneven areas - tricky!

I really want to highlight the gorgeous hardware on this bag as it didn't come out very well in the magazine shots. In full disclosure, I got this hardware for free since it would appear in a magazine article. But I plan to purchase some for my next version of this bag (mustard denim & burgundy leather, yeah baby). It's everything I like in bag hardware: beautiful finish, lots of size/shape options, and solid (nothing flimsy about these - they will outlive the bag and get used again, I'm sure!). You can find them at Here's what I used:

1.5" Antique Brass Double Loop Slider

1.5" Antique Brass Swivel Bolt Snap and 3/4" Antique Brass O-Ring

The denim is from Indygo Junction's Crossroads Denim Collection. They have a whole bunch of delicious colors!

Photo source

And it still makes me giddy to see my name in print!

I have a couple more completed leather bag projects that I can't reveal yet. Can you tell I'm now hooked on sewing with leather?

What about you? Have you ever cornered yourself into learning something new? And have you been bitten by the leather bug yet?

Hardware and Hammers

I decided to enter the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee even though this is an entirely impractical thing for me to try to engage in right now. But sometimes leaping into the impractical (and sticking out your tongue at the practical) is good for the soul.

It's impractical because I've got a ton of orders to fill and any personal sewing should be directed at making a coat. I desperately need one and it's starting to get cold here in the Midwest. As in snow cold, as it snowed on Halloween and actually stuck to the ground overnight.

But, like I said, I decided to go for soul.

The first challenge was to make a lined, a-line skirt with zipper, waistband and button/closure. I haven't made an a-line skirt for myself in a while now. I like what pencil skirts do for my figure and I like that they have a sexy/gritty vibe. If I were to give skirts a personality rating, a-lines would be the girl-next-door with her demure sex appeal, and pencil skirts would be her cousin from the big city who likes to stay out late drinking cocktails and flirting with the bartender, head thrown back laughing. So the challenge for me was to see if I could give the a-line skirt a bit of edge.

My inspiration came from a RTW jacket I own with interesting hardware. There are rivets and grommets and hooks. I particularly like the front closure:

I did a quick search online but couldn't find what I wanted and wasn't sure anything I ordered would arrive in time anyway. I think it might be a scabbard hook, like this one that I found on Richard the Thread, attached with rivets. I don't like the bright brassy color of the one on RtT, so if anyone has leads on where to get something more like the original, I'd love to hear them!

Then I drew up a couple of sketches and got to work.

I used the skirt block I created from the Studio Faro worksheet. I shortened the length by about five inches and added 6 inches to the sweep to get an a-line shape. I wanted this one to end a few inches above my almost 45-year-old knees (muttonlambs be damned). I drafted the wide waistband from the block and eliminated the darts. I added a center front seam that continued up through the waistband/yoke. I thought about adding pockets but thought I might not have time to do those well. I also played around with the idea of moving the seam closure to front left, and I'd like to try that in the future.

Since I hadn't been able to find the hardware I wanted, I foraged through my own stash and the notions wall at my local Hancock's for something that fit the look I wanted and came up with large brass snaps like these:

Dritz Sewing - Snap Fasteners
Photo from

I also pulled out some gold jean thread for topstitching and a chunky metal jean zipper, both purchased from And this skirt emerged.

Check out my new stretch boots from Boden! Love them!

I sewed a flat fell seam for the front/back center seams and finished them with a double row of topstitching with jean thread. I used a single row of topstitching around the waistband and hem. I installed an exposed metal zipper using the tutorial in Thread No. 162. The waistband closes with three metal snaps and I added three more decorative snaps to balance out the design. I hand stitched the facing to the lining and the lining to the zipper. 

I like that I can wear the skirt with a somewhat dressy top and a concert tee and it works both ways.

 Side note: you know I took the photo shoot seriously when I actually put on make up. This happens around 4 times a year, and I'm still using the make up I bought for my wedding in 2006. At this rate, I might run out of product when I'm 80. I needed to disguise the fact that I'd been up until 3am finishing the skirt for the deadline.

You might wonder why the middle snaps in each row are not solid. Two problems emerged post midnight when I was finishing up the skirt. First, I had made the waistband so that the right side would overlap at center front by about 5/8" so that I would be able to center the snaps over the zipper. This is what I did with my muslin and it worked great. I had purchased six snaps and only planned to use three, so I used one up to practice the installation. When it came to the real garment, I forgot that the right waistband needed to overlap, and I eased the waistband to fit the skirt exactly. Don't know what I was thinking. I didn't realize my mistake until after I had completed the topstitching and handstitched the lining and facing. So now my snaps couldn't be centered over the zipper. I went into "Huh" mode (as in, "Huh, this is a problem. How can I solve it?") And decided to do two rows of snaps. This was a good solution, except that I only had 5 snaps. Luckily I had the exact same snap in silver, so I could use those on the inside. Don't know if that makes sense, but it all worked out! And if you follow me on Instagram, you know this was my second time getting out the hammer this week.

So that's it! The denim is a charcoal/indigo stretch denim that has been in my stash so long I'm not sure where it's from. The lining is a stretch lining I purchased at the Discount Textile Outlet in Chicago. The facing fabric is leftover from a skirt I made for a client a couple years ago and I was so happy to find it in my scraps - it was exactly what I wanted! It's an Alexander Henry cotton lawn. I hope I make it to the next round so that I can see what my imagination cooks up for the next challenge.

Happy Weekend!

New Client

So one of the things that has kept me busy this fall is the work I've done for musician Michele McGovern.
Photo by Roland Lim Photography, used with Michele's permission

Isn't she lovely?? I first heard of Michele when Rhonda of Rhonda's Creative Life posted one of her music videos last year. I loved the video, and was excited when Rhonda referred her to me for some custom garments. The work was more than I could get done, so I brought my friend Nancy of Shmancy Nancy on board. It's been so much fun to have a partner in crime and I hope to get to do more work with Nancy soon!

Our latest project was a two-piece ensemble created from heavy black Guipure lace. I made the bolero and Nancy created the skirt.

It's difficult to see in this picture, but there a long slit down the front, offset over one leg. The skirt is meant to be worn with a short black mini skirt underneath. The top portion is underlined with black organza to help give it structure, it has darts and pleats to give it shape, and a Petersham ribbon waist stay to keep it positioned correctly. Nancy draped this skirt and it is a work of art!

I made the bolero from Vogue 2237 (same pattern I used for the wedding dress last year), a Badgley Mischka pattern. The only alterations I made were to reduce the shoulder and sleeve cap (Michele didn't want shoulder pads and the bolero was drafted with pads) and to add a cuff.

As you can see from this photo and the one above,
I've been having fun with Picfix!
Earlier projects include more black lace skirts (me) and lace blouses (Nancy). I don't have photos of all the projects yet, but here's a few from my camera and Michele's facebook page:

Blouse by Nancy - photo from Michele
Hard-to-see skirt by PoldaPop - it's a mix of chiffon & Chantilly lace

Feather cuffs by PoldaPop

The work has been that perfect mix of challenging and fun. Michele wore some of our creations in a new video shoot and will be wearing others in a concert on the East Coast next week. We'll be getting "costume designer" credits in the production notes. How could I have predicted that 4.5 years ago when I decided to learn to sew?

I've Not Died . . .

I've just gone to Instagram.

Greetings to any Readers who have stuck around during my absence. I've had a busy six weeks, mostly good, with lots of sewing projects. But something had to give and it turns out that what gave was this blog. But I have been trying to post projects over on Instagram, as it fits into my schedule a bit better these days. You can find me under PoldaPop and follow my makes here. Like this crazy blanket/cape/silk suit to coat refashion:

I do have an actual blog post in the works and I hope to hit publish tomorrow.

What have you been up to this Fall? - Lisa

Almost the same: Jalie 2921 Scarf Top

I've made this top before, with this fabric (different color).

I know a good combo when I see one.

The pattern is Jalie 2921, which I made into a top and a dress earlier in the year. This time I'm back to the top version, and the only change I made this time was to shorten the ties by 5 inches. I like this change so much that my earlier versions may get the chop.

Since I can't tie a bow, I have to leave the ties long, and I find that they just get in the way. I'm constantly getting them wet while I'm doing dishes or washing the girls hair, and I've almost cut them off more than once while sewing.

The fabric is the Uber Soft Rayon Blend Jersey from She's all out of the peacock, but there's still some magenta (same as my first top) and army green. This stuff is amazingly soft - it makes me want to hug myself!