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Category Archives: Fabric

On the Cutting Table

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Cutting Table

Things are progressing very slowly on the cutting table. This table is too short, it’s an old dining table and 29.75″ high. I should be cutting at 36″ high. My old table at The Stitchery was 39.5″. The one table that was the correct height was my embroidery work table and now it is our dining table. And, remember, I’m cutting 5 workshirts from a denim cambric

Ouch, I need a break, lots of them!

Lately it’s almost impossible to cut more than 1 piece before my back is in spasms. I cut, I go sit. Over and over. I don’t remember having this happen before, usually I can push on through, not right now.

Ever had a project become bogged down from surprising circumstances?

Well, the mind is willing, even if the body is not. I decided to make the job even worse by pulling the fine shirtings that have been waiting for years upon the shelves.

I always like to cut as much as possible from the pattern before me, it makes more sense than cutting one garment and searching for another pattern, ’cause I can take for—ever to decide what’s next. It’s bad. And old production habits die hard.

I have these lovely fabrics that have been waiting for shirts for the husband. This new piece just came in from in
Acorn 2013, from Acorn, UK

I didn’t know the source of the blue stripped fabric, purchased from The Wool House, until I went to Acorn’s website

The Blue Stripe is from Acorn, The Wool House 2008

This top fabric has the lightest hand of all

Lightest hand of all, not sure if I will cut it

and while I bought it for him, I may cut it into a shirtdress for me. It suggests “feminine”

Purchased 2006? Source possibly Michael's Fabrics

This last piece is the most unbelievably silky hand, the finest denim I’ve ever seen. It may be too good for this pattern. Maybe I should wait to cut this when I find or draft the most amazing shirt ever? Yeah, probably.

Fine Denim Shirting, Italy, The Wool House 2011

I bought it from The Wool House in Toronto when I went to meet Els and Lorna in 2011. This is seriously fine cloth and most likely from Italy, since that’s where their fabrics are supposedly sourced.

So, I’m cutting slowly and wondering how to get this table raised when I really don’t have the bricks or vegetable cans to put under the legs. Oh OK, I should go buy the 5″ tall cans and insist that my husband help me get them under the table legs.

A woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do. Well, if he wants the shirts, right?

Mom's Graduation Project, Traphagen School of Fashion 1936

Work Shirt Sewing Ahead

I had a shock this morning as Mr Stitchery was leaving for work. Shredded fabric was hanging from his worn sleeves and button placket. We did a quick snip with the scissors and off he went to his heavy boards of raw oak and maple wood and big, loud machines and piles of sawdust.

I went to his closet to explore the state of the rest of his short sleeved work shirts and this is what I found. The worst of the lot had just walked out the door.

Made Jan 2008, 5.75 yrs ago, washed and worn avg 40 times a year

Between the rough work and the paint booth these shirts are falling apart and almost destroyed

threadbarewear and fading

We have fond memories of how they looked in the beginning


This shot was taken after 8 months of wash and wear weekly. He loves his custom made shirts.


I have looked for a denim to match this first 20 yards but can’t find anything comparable. I think I bought it through the Fabrics and Notions coop and know nothing technical about the weight or source.

In 2011 I did a quick test shirt of a candidate fabric and it turned out to be a total fabric fail

It looked good enough in the first few wearings

New Shirt 2011

but wear showed after the first wash on the all parts where the fabric was folded. This shirt is now only 2 years old and it doesn’t look much better than the shirts that are almost 6 years old.

Newer shirt, wear showed after the first wash

It is worn very little, only for those days when he might have to look presentable outside of the factory.

2011 shirt

but see how it’s already to shred and needs to be replaced soon too.

I will simply have to use what is in the stash and plan on making new shirts more often. Maybe I’ll eventually luck out and find a good quality, medium weight 100% cotton denim. Anyone have any suggestions???

I can hardly believe this is the first button I will have had to replace. After all these years. They were originally sewn on by machine, using a 1967 all metal White that I inherited from his Mother. Here it is in production in 2003.

commercial sewing with 1967 White machine

I used it in commercial sewing for years before I had to sell The Stitchery 2 years ago. I miss that machine. The foot lifted high enough that I could make thread shanks even as I machine sewed on the buttons. It sewed through Naugahyde and upholstery ultrasuede accurately and with ease. The feed was amazing.

But things change all the time and even though Mr Stitch says it will be time for long sleeves soon, I doubt these shirts will last until December when the temperatures get seriously cold.

Move over Fall Fashion plans, it is time to cut at new short sleeved shirts.

Vogue 1208 Quick and Easy Elegance

Back of dress

I made this dress for a one day meet-up last year. Due to bad weather the flight home that evening was cancelled and I had to stay an extra day. I had not planned on spending the night so I had to wear this for 2 whole days. Oh boy. I can go for some glamor once in a while but 2 days? That’s really pushing me to my limits.


But I liked wearing this dress and 2 days worth was not a problem. The fabric is a finely pleated black and white polka dot polyester from, and it proved to be absolutely wrinkle-proof. The fit was comfortable and I had the yellow coat I made and blogged about for the whole month of April 2009 with me. That was a great comfy coat to wear, too. And I had brought flats, Yay Me! Disaster averted.


The pattern is to be laid out on the bias but I cut cross grain to take advantage of the inherent stretch of the pleats. I cut a size 12 through the bodice and flared to a 14 below the waist.


I lined on the bias with black cling free poly lining which I trimmed with black lace at the hem. I cut the lining with extra width so that it could relax into place on my body. The bow at the shoulder is black and white silk chiffon as is the simple rectangle wrap I made.

V1208Line Drawing

What an easy and quick but comfy and stylish design. I really enjoyed sewing it up and wearing it. I can recommend this simple but interesting shift for many different body shapes.

We finally got some rain and the humidity and wind is poofing up my hair big time. It’s getting wider and shorter with every passing minute. I was feeling like I might go airborne a la The Flying Nun before I could finish doing this photo shoot :).


M4392 McCalls Sew News Coordinates



Full Length Front

This pattern has skirt, pant,top with side slits sleeves and with sleeves, and jacket in a casual style for wovens. I made the sleeveless top in linen.

M4392 OOP

The pants are again Vogue 8915, shown here over and over for the past 7 weeks.

I lengthened the top by 2″, and increased the depth of the neckline facings to allow for 1 3/8″ deep topstitching instead of the 1″ called for in the pattern.

I cut a 12 through the neckline, 14 for the armscye and 16 through the bust angling out to 18+ for the waist and hipline. I made no other changes.

If I make this again, I need to lower the bust darts and perhaps cut more room through the bust. My weight changes all the time and I am sewing for linen that comes from the dryer without benefit of an iron. This means it will relax and stretch with body warmth and movement. I’ll write these alteration notations on the front of the envelope so I should see it if I make this top again and haven’t dropped in weight.

I like this pattern esp since I lowered the hemline. The armscye is snug but not too tight. Good pattern for me.

B5215 View C

Let’s finish this pattern up and move on, OK? I’m pretty sure I have some friends who are moaning: “not another scrub! Give us something more fashionable!” As well they should. What I’m making these days are my uniforms for daily kicking at the house and running to the store.

So this is the last of the Cheap, Fun, and Easy series, which is not to say I won’t still be sewing cheap fun and easy, I just won’t show you scrubs tops all the time.

Front view and the reason why I bought this questionable fabric with Westies wearing red bows, and apples and doo-dahs: my little photo bombing Westie dog and constant companion of almost 15 years, Gaely GoLightly.

Front of View C

Back view

Back of View C

I was surprised by how this version turned out. It looks almost like a tunic.

I tried not to stray too far from the pattern. I again cut an extra large. I lowered the neckline by 3/4″, shortened the shoulder by 1/2″ and shortened the neckband by .5″. Then I shortened the band by another 1″. It didn’t help much.

Maybe it was my fabric. It has an old feel and I think it’s a 1980’s fabric. It has a stiff hand from the dye. It’s a very stretchy cotton with lycra or elastine. And has a goofy print. Husband really didn’t want me to buy it. LOL Turns out he’s got quite a good eye for classy fabrics. Not this, in other words.

Anyone who makes this pattern will have to make sure they’ve cut any of the version’s necklines long enough to fit over your head and will have to be ready to shorten the neckbands by how ever much necessary to give a smooth finished edge.

Some say they make the band 2/3 the length of the neckline opening. I am the touchy-feely type so I test with my hands. And therefore I knew in advance this wouldn’t work too well. But it’s OK for my purposes and better than what you can get at a yard sale.

Closeup of neckline

So that is B5215, View C. And the end of scrubs.

Vogue 8504 The Vogue Woman

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This is the only pattern left in Vogue’s catalog of designs specifically for women of a certain age.


I made it 3 years ago but never reviewed it. It is an orphan no longer since the shockingly yellow pants have joined the wardrobe. It never really worked well with jeans.

V8504 linedrawingV8504

The vogue Woman category, if I remember correctly, was drafted to accommodate a forward neck/high rounded back posture. Vogue has discontinued all the other patterns in that category now but this one. It’s still available.

I have only made this one top, but I like the style and I think I’ll find tee and pant fabrics to test the rest of the pattern. I was lighter when I made this top.

I cut a 12 through the shoulders, arms and neckline flaring out to fit my measurements at the waist and hip. This pattern could be cut at a larger size for a more flowing topper.


I used a metallic embroidered sari fabric from Kashi. I’ve washed it on delicate and dried it in the dryer. Not too bad a result, I’d say. The sleeves are cut on and thus two pieces. The neckline is bound with silk organza, and constructed the same as the green silk animal print tunic of a few days ago

100_3936 (2)

The binding is cut in the shape of the neckline, sewn on the outside and turned and top stitched. Easy!

It’s amazing what a few new pieces can do to the wardrobe.

Vogue 1364 Easy Warm Weather Jacket

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Darts Side Front

Sandra Betzina’s summer 2013 jacket pattern, Vogue 1364, is unlined and has no front closing mechanism. Fortunately the pattern is drafted so well the front pieces lie nicely with no need for constantly arranging the fronts.


Ann at offered this polyester, acetate, and acrylic fabric as a FOTD, (Fabric Of The Day) a offering she makes to her GorgeousFabrics FaceBook friends at a deep discount and the colors are perfect for so many different pieces in my wardrobe and on my stash shelves. I took advantage of her, er, her generous offer and bought 3 yards. What a steal!

Fabric Closeup

It is a dry clean only fabric and I usually don’t tolerate having such in the stash but I couldn’t say no to the pretty colors. I researched the fabric components and have decided I may try to hand wash and lay flat to dry.


I did not make the fringed version of this pattern, nor did I do all the extra folding down the back piece. Instead I used the wrong side of the fabric in the inverted triangle on the back. It really didn’t have the contrast factor I had in mind. It shows so much better on the pattern model


I missed an opportunity for an excellent embellishment and If I make this pattern again I’ll make that V shape more glitzy


Let me just say this fabric made the whole sewing process a joy. I wasn’t up for fancy complicated stuff, I simply serged the edges and turned under 2x to finish the edges. I started out with a very cool iron due to the acetate and acrylic content but kicked it up to a wool setting and steamed the folds. No sheen or shine, no bunching under the iron and no melting on the sole plate. I didn’t want to do a Hong Kong finish and since this fabric was so darned easy to work I flat felled the seams.

Now that I see photos of this jacket on me I think it could stand to lose an inch or more of length. And I should take the time to make some shoulder pads as recommended. It’s been a long while since I’ve sewn up a Sandra Betzina pattern and I have such a rotten attitude toward pattern instructions her amount of verbiage made me nervous.

However, she packs in great tips and techniques, it’s worth the reading time to take it all in.

This turned out to be a really fun sewing experience, thanks to the fabric and to the well-drafted pattern and excellent instructions.

Outdoor Fabrics from an Outdated Stash

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It happened in a matter of a few years: my fabulous outdoor wear stash is hopelessly outdated.

As some of you have deduced I have an extensive stash of technical fabrics from PolarTec LLC, which was still called Malden Mills when I purchased them prior to the 2007 buyout and are now not the latest and greatest in outdoor fabrics technology.

In order to find out which fabrics would be most useful for early Spring gardening chores in keeping out wind/rain and for kneeling or sitting in soggy soil I have done some research on the newest PolarTec fabrics and would love to have the new NeoShell fabric in the stash.

Here’s a rundown on NeoShell used in the new stretch Neo jackets offered by retailer Rab. Terry Abraham, backpacker extraordinaire, has an extensive blog review of his NeoShell jacket performed. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Apparently, the industry standard is “eVent”. A pair of eVent rain pants from REI sells for $189 But I understand that the eVent fabric makes crinkly-crumply sounds when it’s worn. So, being a loyal MM/PolarTec customer I lust after the stretchy and quiet NeoShell. Discovery Trekking Outfitters in Canada sells it and many other wonderful PolarTec fabrics.

Here in online US I found minimal sources for anything beyond fleeces: has PolarTec fabrics as does And of course you might try the PolarTec fabric outlet Mill Direct Textiles but I didn’t see anything remotely new and revolutionary in their online stock but they might know who is retailing their more technical fabrics. Maybe.

But here’s what I have, all are outdated prototypes of these fabrics: WindPro, Windbloc, PowerStretch, PowerDry and numerous fleece varieties. My fabrics are older versions and I could find no photos that reflected what I actually find in the stash. Nothing I have is truly water proof so I can count on soggy knees and derriere. I did find a length of an early GoreTex that can serve as a ground cover I move around with me as I work.


I also have another 1980’s type of workout suit fabric that was supposed to be “water resistant”. Hmmm, it not at all resistant, it started absorbing water immediately

Water Resistant?  No, not so much!

Glad I tested it before I used it on soggy ground :) Out it goes! It’s so outdated I will feel no remorse in tossing it, rather than making a trip to the Good Will donation bin.

And, of course, there’s always the old plastic sheet or a garbage bag for a ground cloth. I’d prefer to use something that can be thrown into the washing machine with the rest of the muddy clothes like the GoreTex.

I haven’t decided which I’d like best: a bib and a number of polar fleece tops or a whole covering like a true overall.

Rosie’s Workwear has some cute ideas, including the use of velcro for quick shedding of muddy clothes. I love the facings on the cuffs and collar, don’t you? Rosie’s coveralls are not waterproof or even water resistant but they are designed to be worn over a whole set of clothes, hence they are “overalls”. For $80 I could buy a pair of water resistant, UV blocking pants from Patagonia But I’d be out an amount of money and still have these other fabrics in the stash. I think I’d better choose stash over the new stuff or my stash will soon rate with the dinosaurs in fabric development history.

I have 3 yards of an awesomely thick wool with poly/cotton as the weft yarn that is far more water resistant than Windbloc Power Dry described below. The tightly woven wool is super at resisting water!

cotton wool mix

but after an hour or more the droplets suddenly vanished and all that was left was a wet spot

Wet Spot

I hesitate to use it though, since once wool becomes too dirty is grows less water resistant. I may cut pair of bibs from it just the same and be careful with getting it too dirty. I did throw a 6″ x 6″ swatch of it into the washer with other fabrics and washed it in cold water: it shrank .5″ in length, none in width and came out so soft and yummy.

I tested the Windbloc PowerDry and it absorbed the water droplets within approximately 15 minutes but the moisture could barely be felt on the inner side of the fabric. It will absorb sweat away from the body and is super soft and stretchy and dries by hanging in 2 hours or so. It will be excellent at blocking the cold winds. Here it is. The lighter, fuzzy side is the side to be next to the skin so it will be super comfortable and might make up into a wonderful set of bibs.

Windblock PowerDry

Well, I’ve done my research and I have made no hard decisions yet since it seems I must make compromises when using any of the stash fabrics. So now I need to come up with the pattern and pick the first fabric to cut.

More soon!

Vogue 8757 Wool Doubleknit Pant

Jan 21, at the same time that I cut my gray Wool Double Knit Pants from my custom pattern, I also cut a olive brown double knit that is a bit lighter in weight. Now that I’ve struggled through the fitting of the first pair, it is apparent that a slim-legged pant is not the right pattern for knits without lycra and to attempt it in a lighter weight would be ridiculous. Both fabrics are luscious and from but I only got 3 yards each so I couldn’t re-cut a new style.

Enter Vogue 8757, via a great pattern sale and the US mail

V8757 V8757drawing

I laid the pattern pieces carefully over the cut pieces, matching the grain lines, and found that the front piece needed 2″ more inches the full length of the pant and the back only needed about 1.5″ and that was just at the waist. I spliced in an extra strip on the side seams that the front needed and decided to take a chance on reducing the 3 darts in the back of the pant and steal more from from the 5/8″ seams.

I love this pattern! It’s easy to sew in the double knit wool, has great instructions and a lovely, comfortable cut. I haven’t hemmed them yet, do you think the length is about right?



It’s true: the back did need a bit of extra width, every lump and bump shows horrifically with this lighter weight fabric. So, you all are spared yet another “Why would she post THAT shot” picture this go-round.

I’ll be starting on the pattern’s jacket and a cropped shirt to go with these pants this weekend. Did I mention that I love these pants??!!! Wish I could wear higher heels with them but that’s not possible any more for me.

Doubleknit Wool Pants

Every so often when blog cruising I see poorly sewn or fitted garment photos that are posted and ask, “Why would s/he post THAT on the blog?” Here’s my version:

Front Back

I am not declaring these pants done right, I am saying I am done. Doubleknit wool is not my favorite for pant making.


See, I can decide to stop and admit I won’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Every new pose brings new wrinkles and I have been making myself crazy trying to fix them.

100_2608 Front Again

My intent for these pants is to make something to wear under tunics so really the badness of this pant will be covered by a top layer that will fall to the thigh. That was the original plan and in spite of obsessively diagnosing and unstitching and restitching, I must save myself and move on.

I have completely reshaped the legs to be a very slight boot cut, skinnier to the knee and then flaring 3/4 inch to the hem. The boots I usually wear in winter have higher heels than these (yup, you saw that, right?) sandals with socks. Oh, I am shameless today!

OK, some thoughts on further construction:

I removed the over-locking through the crotch and did not “stabilize” the seam. As it is now, the seam is stiff and continues to fold, twist and bunch, no matter what. Adding more fabric or thread would only exacerbate those problems.

My original draft was a tracing of a pant made 5 years ago from a woven wool. I intentionally made 1″ seam allowances in the cut and then removed much of that extra fabric in the tweaking. As you can see even a fairly hefty full bodied knit falls too close to the body for a woven draft.

I cut these after a couple month’s worth of cold/virus/whatever and I had lost weight. Much to my surprise food seems to be a good idea again and my size has since changed. These pants are now too tight through the upper hip. Eating will do that! But it is so good to want to eat again, that I’d rather have this pant problem than to be back in bed, guzzling water.

I have another pant cut at the same time, in a bit thinner fabric. A new pattern is coming in soon that may save me from further angst with doubleknit wool. This pair took too long and the fit is like a 80’s sweat suit. On to making tunics.

So, Folks, that’s all I have to say today on the subject of doubleknit wool pants.
The obligatory dog show. Gaely GoLightly is a fun snow dog! She disappears into the landscape.

Wrinkles Change

She loves to roll in the snow.

Joy Rolling

No disappearing in her dog coat! And dressed, she still likes a good snow roll

Roll in the snow


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