A Triumphant(ish) Return!

Hellooooooooooo! Is anyone still out there? 🙂

After a serious lack of sewing mojo (and opportunity), I finally started sewing for Fall/Winter in November. O_o I also managed to sneak in a very minor costume project back in October, which I will also show you today.

I have missed blogging so much! (And sewing, for that matter.) This was a weird year: in February we found out that Tom would be without a job come November, which was highly stressful to say the least. (This was not helped by the extra-long timeline and a severance worth waiting for at the end of it.) Seriously folks, my hair started thinning and graying during that time because of how stressed out I was about it. I didn’t mention it here because I had no way of knowing how it would work out, and it didn’t seem appropriate to air it and have it hanging over not just my IRL life, but my blog and sewing life as well.

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Bonus cat-in-an-inappropriate-place photo

Happily, I can report that Tom not only found a better job before his end date, but that he still managed to get his severance out of the old place. Yay!!!! But between that whole thing and undertaking several remodeling projects in the Fall–smoke ’em if you got ’em, amirite?–I spent most of the year stressed out, fluttering between self-distracting productivity and creative paralysis (the kind with TONS of ideas but not the will to execute them). 😦 The real death blow for my sewing came in July/August when we had an appraisal done on the house and I had to tear down my sewing space. This was immediately followed by having our upstairs floors refinished, so all my sewing stuff in the attic got buried by a floor’s worth of furniture and clutter that we still haven’t fully put back to rights. And at that point, Tom did not have the new job lined up yet. Say it with me: UGHHHHHH. (Double UGHHHHHH for clinical depression and anxiety on top of all of this, which made everything that much worse.) I still haven’t got my supplies sorted out, but I’ve been able to sew a few things and am slowly relaxing and getting inspired again after being totally wound up for months on end.

So that’s been my last few months. But now we can get back to THE SEWING!!!

First up: a Talvikki sweater!

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Oof, that face! O_o

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The important view of this pattern

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Artsy photo

This was a much-needed “win” project after months of limited sewing time and scarce inspiration. I love the fabric/pattern combo, and think it will be great dressed up or down through Winter!

The fabric is a scuba from Marcy Tilton, and I love it. I hardly ever shop there (it’s an issue of the selection not being totally up my alley and the prices, both for fabric AND shipping) but I’m glad I treated myself to this piece. Initially I thought I’d make a skirt but I have to acknowledge that knit skirts just aren’t my jam. I had *just* enough yardage to get this top cut out–and I mean just. It was worth the tetris.

And now for something unlike anything I usually trouble you with around here: a costume piece!

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Yes, I took outdoor photos of this thing *in December* for you all. You’re welcome.

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The back is the best bit, of course.

This is underwear. 1920s-30s underwear, to be exact. (And yes, those are vintage shoes ca. 1930s also–I love them.) The pattern is Depew Patterns #2029 and I very highly recommend it. I didn’t really follow the directions for sewing it but everything went together beautifully. Really, it’s a relatively easy project if you fancy some old-fashioned (and complicated-in-the-bathroom, since it doesn’t have a snap crotch) undergarments!

You might be wondering why I’d go to the trouble of making costume underwear, especially since I own extant undergarments from this exact time period (that DO have snap crotches). Well…I had an event!

I mentioned it in my Top 5 post for last year, but this event is called “Tales from the Crypt.” It’s held at Green Lawn Abbey and this year, I was honored to be asked to help with the event as an actor once again. (And not as an understudy, yay!) Since the researcher who did most of the work on my “character” and I had more time to talk about a staging setup, we had quite a developed idea going into the event. (Which was definitely mostly his idea!) He was going for a boudoir-like setting: a vanity table, mirror and brush set, and me in a dressing gown surrounded by playbills. (My “character” was a Ziegfeld Follies girl!) I was game, but didn’t want to wear my extant undergarments because they’re ivory and slightly sheer. My skin is also ivory and slightly sheer–not a good mix. 😉 And while awe-inspiring, the setting–a mausoleum ca. 1927 whose interior is white marble, at night, lit mainly by candlelight and gas lamps–didn’t really lend itself to my pasty skin in pasty lingerie standing out against the white background. So I decided to make something!


Green Lawn Abbey; photo is property of Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association

The teddy fabric is polyester charmeuse but the color is good for the era, and making it myself allowed me to line the entire bodice for added opacity. (No bra was going to work with that back!) I was also planning to make a kimono-inspired robe from Depew Patterns #3039 (also from 1927–how freaky is that?!?) but I picked a brocade that ended up being way too heavy for the shape of the design. I got it most of the way made and tried it on, and thought it looked like an appropriative wizard’s robe. (The fabric had a general Asian motif, since that was very popular in the 1910s and 1920s.) O_o So I scrapped that and decided I would wear my own extant vintage robe, which is a striking lapis blue color dating to the 1940s. The style is very much kimono-inspired, and could pass for something earlier.

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As close the The Charleston as I’m going to get…

And then on the day, the weather was COLD. Like, mid-40s and raining. And this building isn’t heated. The event lasts for multiple hours, and consists of 4 separate monologues for each actor on opening night. So in an effort to protect my health* I opted for a true vintage dress in the end. But I did wear my teddy underneath it! I was very nervous, and wearing something I made always makes me feel more confident in any situation. 😀

*Yeah yeah, I know that the temperature doesn’t make people sick. However, exposure can lower your body’s ability to fend off invading pathogens; since my lungs are vulnerable to infections already, this was not a risk I was willing to take.

Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of my resident paparazzi husband Tom, who was “voluntold” to take photos of the 2nd show that weekend. 😉

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Fancy lady

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You can see Sylvia, my “character,” in the background photo

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Artful makeup application

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Playbills for actual productions Sylvia was in!

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Our intrepid cast this year!

So that’s a lot of words about non-sewing stuff, far fewer about a cool sweater, and probably too many about a silly costume piece made out of polyester. 😉 I’m looking forward to sharing my (likely) final project for 2018 shortly, as well as doing my Top 5 posts for this year. I’ve been pretty absent from this blog lately, and I’ve had a hard time keeping up with my friends, both in real-life and online. Here’s hoping 2019 is a more active year in all those respects!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again soon!


A New Bag and A Sack (Dress)

**Sorry guys and gals: I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft” the other day, so you may have gotten an alert about a new post and then not been able to get to it. Apologies for the confusion or irritation–I’ll try to read my buttons for comprehension (as opposed to color-coding!) from now on, LOL!**

Hi again! It has been a damp few days here in Ohio, and your intrepid blogger has managed to forget her rain boots and then step headlong into many, many puddles wearing suede flats. There was much swearing and lamentation. But it’s also warm enough not to need a coat, so I’m trying to keep it all in perspective! 😀

Today I have actual THINGS to share–hooray! (Well, one finished thing and one started thing.) I’ve been busy sewing (and fabric and pattern shopping…oops) and have really been pushing myself to crank things out while I have the inspiration fresh in my mind. I have a few other ideas swimming around in my skull right now, and I’m hoping to get to them right away; it helps that I am officially done with weeknight shifts at the shop and have those few hours each evening to toil in my sewing room.

First up, the finished thing: a Cooper bag for MEEEEEE! Tom got one for xmas, and I’ve wanted one for myself ever since. I was able to construct the entire shell out of leftover fabric from other projects (those of you who have been reading my nonsense for a little while will likely recognize them) and only had to buy the nylon lining and hardware.

Cooper pieces

Cooper pieces, minus straps

Proudly holding up the bag

Proudly holding up the finished bag (and check out that toothy smile, yay!)

Ripstop lining!

Ripstop lining!


Front, with bonus cat hair and stray thread…



A terrible photo of the bag, but we need a Mulder cameo!

A terrible photo of the bag, but we need a Mulder cameo here!

Apart from working out how to cut the ikat accent pieces, this was a very straightforward project for me. Even the ripstop sewed up without a fuss! I had only purchased 2 yards of the ikat originally (at $17/yard, I felt bad even buying that much!), and since I cut out my Scout tee without thinking about leftovers, I had to pick my battles for these accents. The flap is my biggest disappointment in terms of print placement–I just did not have the right piece of fabric left over to center that motif on the pattern piece, but I am glad I was able to get all the colors in there and kind of echo the flap pattern on the bottom front pocket piece. I was lucky to be able to use the stripe on the flap and the bottom pieces for some design continuity as well, and I was also able to match the stripe going around the bottom of the bag from front to back. The black glazed linen (of vintage Simplicity 1281 fame) was used for the main body pieces, the faux straps, the bottom gusset, and the underside of the flap (not enough ikat for both flap pieces), and I used some leftover orange canvas from Tom’s Cooper for the strap tabs and front body pocket.

I omitted the rivets on my Cooper, just because I am a lazy-ass. The webbing on my bag is nylon–as opposed to the cotton I used on Tom’s version–and it was very easy to deal with, although I stuck to finger pressing the folds instead of ironing, just to be safe. If I were to make another version of this bag (and I very well might some day!), I will stick to the cotton webbing. I do not doubt the durability of my nylon webbing, but the cotton stuff I used for Tom’s bag was so much sturdier and heavier and less slippery to the touch, which I (apparently) prefer. That being said, the nylon webbing was much easier for my machine to handle than the cotton version, which was a welcome relief!

I decided that it might be a good idea (mostly for Future Mads, but maybe for a few of you, too) to do a quick list of supplies for each completed project I post going forward, so here is the Cooper list:

  • Cooper bag pattern from Colette
  • Just under 1 yard genuine ikat from Michael Levine (this colorway is sold out, but they carry lots of others)
  • Not quite 1 yard Italian bottomweight glazed linen from Gorgeous Fabrics (long gone, but GF always has great stuff!)
  • Scraps of orange canvas, originally from Fabric.com
  • Almost 3 yards 1 1/2″ nylon webbing from Strapworks
  • 4 x 1 1/2″ nickel sliders from HardwareElf (I used Item # R-005)
  • 2 x nickel magnetic snaps, size 18mm, from Fabric.com
  • Roughly 1-1.5 yards ripstop nylon from Joann Fabrics
  • 1 Microtex needle, size 70/10 (for ripstop)
  • 1 denim needle, size 100/16 (for everything else)
  • Black polyester all-purpose Guttermann thread
  • Orange polyester all-purpose Guttermann thread (for orange canvas pieces only)

As if the bag weren’t enough, I have also started work on a dress!

Coming soon: the Inari Tee Dress!

Coming soon: the Inari Tee Dress!



Inari pieces (taken before I finished my binding)

Inari pieces (taken before I finished my binding)

This post is all ikat, all the time, huh? 🙂 I bought both cuts together, and was originally planning a Scout tee with both versions. And then I decided that I really wanted a sack dress (seriously), and planned to turn my Scout pattern into that sack dress. And then I saw the Inari pattern and liked the vaguely-cocoon-shaped silhouette better than the kind-of-A-line lengthened Scout. I’ll be honest: when Named’s newest collection, Ticket, came out, I was kind of underwhelmed. Nothing really jumped out at me as I scrolled through the page, mostly due to the styling. But once I opened each pattern individually and looked at line drawings and extra photos, I had to have Inari. I instantly knew that I would use this ikat for it, and set out to start working on it straight away. I did encounter a little trouble with the PDF assembly, though:

Wait...something seems "off," doesn't it? =)

Wait…something seems “off,” doesn’t it? =)

Above is Saoirse’s idea of “helping.” Her definition is slightly different from mine! She stayed there until I gave up and walked away to brush my teeth for work, at which time she decided that if I wasn’t trying to work on it, she wasn’t interested in playing with it. Cats, amirite??

Once again, I am not completely thrilled with my fabric layout on this one. I had 2 yards to work with, but 2.5 would have been ideal to wastefully center the vertical motif on the pattern pieces. My layout ended up being rather wasteful anyway, but it was the closest I could get to centered while getting the main design on both front and back. The sleeves and folded hem bands were sort of haphazard, though I tried to make both sides identical. After tracing my pattern from the PDF tiles, I took out my Scout pieces and copied the shoulder width onto my Inari pieces. The Scout is a truly amazing fit in my shoulders right out of the envelope and I didn’t feel like muslining a sack, so this seemed like the best (read: easiest) course of action. After cutting out, my next step was to sew seam binding to every. single. raw. edge. I could have used the overlock on my machine, but this just seemed like a nicer, better-looking option. It was painfully slow work, but will be worth it when my dress seams DON’T fray down to the stitching and fall apart on me. 🙂 I am hoping to have this dress finished by next week so I can wear it–it’s officially Spring here now, and my legs would like to take a break from pants for a while! And of course I will share photos and junk here, so check back!

And remember that little sidebar about pattern and fabric shopping? >=D

Beautiful ombre silk crepe!

Beautiful ombre silk crepe!

Three loud jerseys and one ginger-y scuba knit

Three loud jerseys and one ginger-y scuba knit

3 new vintage top patterns!

3 new vintage top patterns!

It’s not my fault, guys. (Spoiler alert: it never is!) Gorgeous Fabrics had a sale and I succumbed to my fiber lust. Specifically regarding that ombre silk crepe: I’ve had my greedy little eyeballs on it for MONTHS and finally got up the nerve to buy some. It’s 60″ wide and runs from red at both selvedges into coral, and then to orange in the center. I feel like it NEEDS to become a long, split-to-there dress of some sort–what do you think?? I also got my first-ever cut of scuba knit (with another on the way!), along with some really bold-but-awesome jerseys for tops. The patterns came from the ebay shop Vintage4me2, which I highly recommend. Again, not my fault, there was a sale, yadda yadda yadda. The late 50’s V-neck top isn’t something I ever thought I’d gravitate toward, but it’s super wearable and could work with knits or wovens; it also gave me a vaguely 1920’s vibe, and you know I’m all about that!

I’ll stop here for today, but hopefully I’ll have a finished cocoon/sack/dress-like item to show you very soon. What are you all up to these days? Splashed about in any good puddles lately?

One Million Muslins (aka The Great Coat Conundrum of 2015)

Hello again!

I have already failed at updating weekly while I’m taking my workshop–oops! But it’s because I’ve been beyond busy and am struggling to keep up: I still work 2 nights a week plus weekends at the shop, the workshop takes one other night each week, and we’ve had some house-related emergencies in the last week that required dedicated attention and time off of work (sump pump drain line frozen + lots of snow + thaw = Mads stays up ALL NIGHT and ALL DAY bailing water out of the sump pit BY HAND until a janky-ass workaround can be set up), so unfortunately my blog has been neglected. Hell, I’m lucky I found time to do my homework for tonight’s class!! Hopefully things will settle down soon and I can feel less rushed.

The title of this post is in reference to my homework for class each week; I feel like all I do anymore is make muslins/toiles of this coat and that it’s all I’m ever going to be allowed to sew forever. But my coat has enough fit issues (gee, maybe that’s because it’s for a 12 year old and my body is decidedly NOT that of a preteen…) that I have to keep making a fresh version each week so we can see if we’re getting close, so it is what it is. I think we’re pretty much there now, though, after my last practice version–it’s looking awesome and like a grownup coat for grownups! 😀 (Disclaimer: please ignore the cardboard box pile! Tom got lots of stuff for his studio and I am going to use the cardboard for pattern supports once I have a free evening to cut them all up.)

According to Tom, it looks like "a dirty lab coat." So helpful.

According to Tom, it looks like “a dirty lab coat.” So helpful.

Look at that straight side seam action!

Look at that straight side seam action!

My big girl shoulders are now accommodated by the coat

My big girl shoulders are now accommodated by the coat



So much better, isn’t it?? I’m very excited about how it’s coming together. The side seam issue (they were tipping toward the back the last time I showed this to you) was resolved by taking a slice of bulk from the front pieces and transferring it to the back piece at each side seam. Now they’re falling straight down as they should! We’ve done so many revisions on the shoulders of this coat, but I think we’re finally there (or close). I needed about an inch at each shoulder vs. the original width, which we added last week and which can be seen in action above. (Interestingly, I assumed my shoulders were likely wider than the average, but learned last week that they are EXACTLY average at 5″ each–I was very surprised!) Nina raised the neckline all the way around, but not by too much. She also added height to the sleeve cap, because we NEEDED it. When making my muslin for last week’s class, I noticed that I had a larger armscye than sleeve, which is not okay! Making this week’s muslin, they were pretty much the same size (which makes sense for the era of the pattern, since they weren’t into gathered or puffed sleeves/shoulders), with just the tiniest bit more ease in the sleeve itself, as it should be. I took it upon myself to lengthen the sleeve this week, since I know I’ll need it. There is a cuff and a cuff facing to consider, but I’d rather have too much length (and have to shorten) than to make my coat and end up with a 12-year-old’s sleeves on a 29-year-old’s coat, if you follow me. We scooped out the armhole some more as well, just for ease of movement and what have you. What do you guys think: does it look pretty good?? I am wondering if my upper back will require any extra work; I know I am broader at the upper back than at the upper front, but I’m not sure that I need any extra wiggle room back there.

Here are some photos of my previous muslin after last week’s class, and my adjusted flat pattern before I used it to sew up what you see above:

Nina split the sleeve open to show how much height we needed; the marker is to show me where a raglan would go if I wanted one.

Nina split the sleeve open to show how much height we needed; the marker is to show me where a raglan would go if I wanted one.

Previous muslin

Previous muslin from the front

Flat pattern with changes made at last week's class--doesn't that armhole look nice?!?

Flat pattern with changes made at last week’s class–doesn’t that armhole look nice?!?

Shoulder soulmates

Shoulder soulmates

Original sleeve tracing on the left, present sleeve iteration on the right

Original sleeve tracing on the left, present sleeve iteration on the right

Tycho demanded that I stop working and feed him immediately.

Tycho demanded that I stop working and feed him immediately.

I apologize for the lack of photos of the muslin prior to this one; ultimately, this current iteration is a big improvement! We meet for the last time tonight ( 😦 😦 😦 ) so we’ll see what Nina thinks! I haven’t done anything with my facings, collars, cuffs, or cape yet, but having the main body pieces to work from will help me figure out what to do with the rest.

To counteract the very beige nature of this post, here are some photos of some new vintage pretties that I got myself recently:

1930's jacket and skirt!!

1930’s jacket and skirt!!

1920's blouse--this will be fun!!

1920’s blouse–this will be fun!!



These look like fingerwaved hair and are thus some of my favorites.

These look like fingerwaved hair and are thus some of my favorites.



Gorgeous patterns, including 2 with coats/jackets and one 1939 wrap dress!

Gorgeous patterns, including 2 with coats/jackets and one 1939 wrap dress!

Close-up of THAT JACKET THO.

Close-up of THAT JACKET THO.

I got very generous Etsy gift cards for xmas from Tom and my older sister, so I put them to good use at last! And there may or may not be more buttons on their way… 😀

I haven’t made much progress on my pants–tracing the pattern isn’t even done!–and I have been trying to help a friend make a shirt for his 1-year-old nephew, which is coming along nicely. Kids stuff is so mind-meltingly tiny, though! O_o My sewing mojo (“sewjo”) has been kind of missing lately, so hopefully I can find something to make that doesn’t require much effort and that results in something wearable and awesome. I am so tired of muslin!

Inside The “Mads” Pattern Stash

Hello again! Two posts in as many days–wha??? 🙂 I swear my body and mind have not been taken over by pod people! (Although that’s exactly what a pod person would say…)

I thought it would be fun to show you all a few of the things that I’ve added to my collection lately, pattern-wise. I did buy some fabric as well, but haven’t photographed it. (I unwrapped it, “ooh’d” and “aaah’d” over it, and promptly re-wrapped it and put it in my stash bin before Tom could come in and see what I was doing!) For fun, I thought I’d include photos of (almost) the entire pattern stash as well. I have to say, it’s tremendous!


Most of my newest patterns–yay!


One filing box, nearly full!


The other filing box–filled past capacity!!

Aren’t the newest ones just amazing?!? I want to make all of them right now, at once. And I’ve still got plans for that playsuit and a blouse and a bra, so who knows what I’ll end up working on first! I’m going on a fast for a while, since I’ve got wayyyy more patterns than I can possibly use in a reasonable amount of time.

I am so glad that we have a Container Store in Central Ohio–the filing boxes in my photos are the perfect size for sewing pattern storage! Plus they come in all kinds of colors, which is a nice way to add some cheer to my sewing room year-round. (Nevermind that my dining room/sewing room is eggplant purple with metallic copper accents–I had to have the green boxes!) I had started with one filing method–mailing envelopes with a photocopy of the envelope taped to them–but have switched it up to something more reasonable and less time-consuming: comic book bags! The bags I have are “current issue” size, which is way too big for my patterns, but better that than too small, right? And these photos don’t even show the ones that are sitting in a grocery bag, which appear to mostly be assorted pieces of many different vintage patterns; I need to take the time to dig through those and unfold them and pair things up, but haven’t found the motivation yet! 🙂

Have you gotten any new-to-you patterns (or some other item that you love to acquire) lately? Which one(s) are you most excited about?