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

Vogue 8756: The Finished Jacket

Whew, busy week between finishing the jacket before Elaine's conference, teaching classes, and other odds and ends. At one point my sewing room looked like this:

I think I've got it together again for the most part (or at least my sewing room is in much better shape!), and now I get to show off Elaine's finished jacket and the bracelet that I got in return.

Some details before I get into construction. Elaine is 5'2", so I knew from the get go that I would need to do some alterations to make this work for her frame. I'm actually surprised at how little I had to do ultimately. The fabric she chose was a magenta wool crepe that we found at The Textile Discount Outlet in Chicago.


Vogue 8756 is a generally simple pattern. It's a good pattern if you want to showcase some lovely fabric, as the main feature is the draped front pieces. The recommended fabrics are synthetic suede, lightweight denim, linen or lightweight wool flannel. The pattern also comes with a simple pair of pants.

When I started working with the wool, I decided it was too thin/drapey for this project. So I underlined all of the pieces with cotton batiste in order to give them more body and to stop the fabric from wrinkling too easily. The jacket is lined with a stretch charmeuse I picked up at a thrift store a couple of years ago for $2/yard.

You can read about the first fitting here. The biggest problem area was the shoulder/armscye area and I referred to Palmer & Pletsch's Fit for Real People for most of my adjustments here. Ultimately, I made the following changes:
  • Cut one size smaller than Elaine's measurements based on the pattern v. finished garment measurements
  • Turned the back darts into princess seams as I needed to get a better fit in back.
  • Adjusted for narrow shoulders (about 1/2")
  • Took up entire shoulder seam about 1/2"
  • Raised underarm 1/2" (and adjusted sleeve to match)
  • Shortened sleeves by 2.5 inches
  • Shortened jacket length by 1 inch
  • Shortened draped pieces by 2.5 inches.
I'm not sure how well you can see these, but here are the changes on the pattern pieces. I've laid the altered version on top of the original. The red lines correspond to the original lines and the green lines correspond to the changes I made for Elaine:

This took us from A to B: in terms of fit:

First fitting

Second fitting

For the jacket construction I deviated slightly from the instructions based on Fran S's review on (thank you, Fran!!). If you follow the pattern instructions, your lining will be the exact same length as the sleeves and jacket and would very likely peek out of the hem. So I made the lining 1 inch shorter than the correct length and made the jacket 1 inch longer than the correct length in order so that the main fabric would turn under like this:

I also used tie interfacing to ease the sleeve head before inserting it into the jacket. I attached the main sleeves before attaching the lining, so I turned the jacket the right way out through a hole I left in the jacket facing (I closed this later with a fell stitch).

And then Elaine wore the jacket when she spoke at a conference and rocked the audience with all her magenta, art business knowledge!

And then look what I got in return!

I must say that I feel pretty elegant when I wear this bracelet. It's the nicest piece of jewelry I own next to my wedding ring. As I mentioned in my last post, you can check out Elaine's art and jewelry on her website And since Elaine would like another jacket down the road, I might be able to pick up some matching earrings.

I'm almost finished with my Darla dress so you'll get to see which fabric combo I decided on later this week!

WIP: Vogue 8756, A Jacket for Elaine

My friend Elaine Luther is a metalsmith. Isn't that a cool word?? I wish there was a word for sewing that included the suffix "smith" - fabricsmith? needlesmith? If there was, I would get a tattoo with that word.

Elaine makes jewelry and art and art jewelry. I met her through Berwyn Makers, a group I co-founded to support people who are trying to make a business out of their creative hobby. Elaine is now a co-organizer with me and I feel lucky to get to work with her. We cooked up a plan to do a trade since we admire each other's work.

You can see what Elaine's up to (and check out her shop!) by visiting her website:

Elaine is speaking at a conference this weekend and I'm in the process of finishing a jacket for her. I'll then get to pick something out of one of her jewelry collections, and I'm having a hard time figuring out what I want! I love how strong her jewelry is - feminine and striking without being too pretty.

Back to the jacket. It's a fairly simple jacket - fitted back with loose, drapey front. It's a good style for Elaine's body type, as it hits above her hip with only the draping dipping down to hip level. A long jacket would just make her look shorter.

Vogue 8756

We took a trip to the Textile Discount Outlet in Pilsen and found some magenta (see! I'm not the only one!) wool crepe. We originally picked out a gray Bemberg lining but then I found more interesting fabric in my stash:

We did a muslin fitting last week, and in spite of the fact that I went down a size from Elaine's measurements, it was still too big. I needed to raise the shoulder and the sleeve and shorten the front drape (Elaine is petite and it overpowered her frame). I also decided to add a princess seam line to the back since the darts nearly met in the middle of the back.

Once I started working with the wool I decided to underline it with cotton batiste to keep it from wrinkling so much and to give the jacket body a bit more structure (without losing the drape). 

I also used a technique I learned from Peggy Sayers for the sleeve head. I decreased the seam allowance to 3/8" and used tie interfacing to ease the sleeve head into shape. It made the sleeves so easy to insert!

Tomorrow I will do a final fitting with Elaine to see if I need to make changes and then I'll sew in the lining. I need to get it done by Thursday  - think good thoughts for the fitting tomorrow!

Vogue 8379: Wrap Dress Conversion

I've never really understood the popularity of the wrap dress. I've seen them, I've liked them, but the shape never said "Wow!" to me. I know it's a classic dress and is said to be universally flattering, but I think I was always nervous about the wrap part - that it would fly open or gape or something else equally mortifying.

One of my clients wanted a wrap dress, and after looking at options and reading reviews on, we settled on Vogue 8379. She liked the fuller skirt, the collar, and the bodice pleats, and I liked that it seemed to be a well-drafted pattern.

Vogue 8379

The more I looked at versions of this dress and worked on Gloria's, the more I wanted one for myself. And I already had the perfect fabric in my stash, a beatiful ponte knit from that I had been saving for the "right dress" (I'd thought about and rejected at least three other patterns for this fabric).

So, first Gloria's dress.

I made a muslin of the bodice and I didn't need to make that many alterations for the fit. I started by cutting two sizes smaller than the pattern suggested after looking at the garment measurements. I lengthened the bodice by 3/4" (expected, the reviews says that the bodice runs short), changed the angle of the shoulder seam (took up 5/8" at high shoulder/neck, tapered to 0 at the armscye), lengthened the skirt by 2.5" (Gloria is tall) and took in the side seams a bit. We also decided to shorten the sleeve to elbow length and keep the cuff vent. And that was it!

Here's Gloria in her dress before I finished futzing around with the facings and hemming the dress:

Her fabric is this lovely ponte knit from 

Life is Like a Box of ... Ponte Knit - Browns/Grays

I made my dress up in the same fabric but in different colors!

I really love this dress!  The colors are PERFECT for me: magenta, teal, and mustard yellow (they even match my logo!) on a cream/black/brown background. And the fabric is so wonderfully soft. Here's a close-up shot:

For my own dress I needed to lengthen the bodice by 1 inch and taper the shoulders the reverse of Gloria - from 0 at the high shoulder to 1/2" at the armscye. I kept the skirt length as it was (with 3/4" hem) and shortened the sleeves by 3 inches to elbow length. The only change I made to the construction process was to add clear elastic to the shoulder seam and the waist seam (this fabric is a bit heavy and I didn't want the skirt to make it droop).

And look! No back issues!

It even makes me want to dance!

A lot of people on pattern review complained about the facings. It seemed to roll a bit on Gloria's dress so I tacked the shoulder seams to the facing, topstitched the front facings, and added a snap. For my own, I just tacked the shoulder seams. I'll do more if I need to, but so far I've found that if I arrange the facings when I put on the dress, they usually stay where they should.

And what's next for me? Well, I convinced another client that she needs a wrap dress, so I'll be making her one out of this ITY fabric (also from I guess you could say that I've been converted when it comes to the wrap dress.

And then I might be done with this one for a while. Although, I was thinking it might make a nice top . . .

Style Arc Bonanza

I've been lurking the Style Arc pattern website for over a year now. I love a lot of their designs, but the one-size-per-pattern and high shipping costs made me hesitate to push "buy". But I finally went for it with some mad money I received for Christmas this year (thank you, Aunt Wendy!).  And here's what I chose:

Clockwise from top right: Tracy Trench Coat, Emma Dress, Alisha Dress, Julia Jacket, Darla Stretch Woven Dress, Marni Ponti Jacket, Rosie Top (the free pattern for January).

Now what to make first? The two patterns that are calling to me Darla and Marni - they are the patterns I've had my eye on for longest AND I already have fabric for them.  I've got a few possible combinations for the Darla.

1) I could do the back and sides with this magenta fabric (stretch cotton sateen) and the front middle panel with the purplish grey (also stretch cotton sateen but lighter weight - I'll probably underline it with itself).

But I'm wondering if I should do something to play up the seams - piping? slot seams? - or just let them be free and unencumbered by notion-ry?

2) Option #2 for this dress is some ponte knit from my stash, a black/magenta polka dot from (I have just enough to squeeze out the front center panel and maybe the back center panel).

And Darla option #3 is an abstract grey/black ponte knit from

What gets your vote?

The second pattern that's up at the top of the list is the Marni Jacket, which I plan to make in - surprise - a magenta double knit I found a Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo.

I've got enough of this fabric to also make a skirt, but that might be too much magenta for one outfit. "What?" you say, "Too much magenta?" Yes, dear readers, I do know there's a limit to the amount of magenta one gal's closet can take. But in reality I approach magenta like I approach chocolate - one more itty bitty piece couldn't hurt anyone, could it?

Special Dresses


Here are Thing 1 and Thing 2, in new dresses, getting ready for their baptism.  I know, you are supposed to do this when they are babies, but I only recently found a church that I actually like.

About a month before the big day, Grandma asked if she could either buy new dresses for them or buy me fabric to make them. Yes! And I immediately knew what fabric I wanted: ruffle fabric! Everyone loves ruffle fabric, right?

I have wanted to sew with this fabric for about two years now, ever since I saw Big Dill's Coastal Curtsy Skirt tutorial, but it's pretty pricey so I waited until I was spending someone else's money (this is the advantage of having clients and Grandmas!). I still want to sew this skirt for myself, but I have about 20 other projects I want to sew first. Ruffle fabric is a stretch fabric with layers of ruffles. I ordered this fabric from, but you can find it on Etsy and and I'm sure other places as well.

The girls had fun picking out what they wanted. I created a pinterest board for them and we pinned all the fabrics and trims that appealed to them.  I made some rules, like, "If you get that lace fabric, you will never be able to wear it to school." and, "You have to pick one trim, not all four." Belly choose the light pink fabric and a black/pink lace ribbon for a belt, and Mooper picked the tie-dye rosettes and ruffles.

The girls then picked out their fabric dresses from their closet and told me what they liked about them.  I made a pattern from the bodice of these dresses and then used Big Dill's very clear directions to make the dress skirts. This skirt is super simple: ONE SEAM. For Belly's skirt, I laid out the fabric so that the ruffles were vertical in front and horizontal in back, and I reversed this for Mooper's skirt. I lined the bodice with a matching knit fabric, but left the skirts unlined.

I love the change in direction in the back!

The one tricky thing I realized about sewing with ruffle fabric is that you have to be very careful when you are cutting to make sure you don't cut off a ruffle accidentally.  I did this in one place on Belly's bodice (you can see it in the picture of the front of her dress if you look near the neckline), but since you won't notice it on a galloping horse (or child), I decided to let it go.  Her favorite way to wear this dress now is with a yellow top, and you can't even see the mistake this way.

I love how the ruffles move!

The girls were very pleased with their dresses and they LOVED getting their heads all wet in church. The day afer the event, I caught them playing baptism over and over again in the bath. One would baptize the other, and the one who was just baptized would yell out, "Now I get to be Pastor Julie!"