Next step…armhole trim

Lots of pics today of the application of my bias trim to make armhole finishings. There’s some great tutorials on Pinterest on how to make your own bias binding. I seemed to always forget how to do it, so a little refresher is a good.

Here’s the bias binding prepped and wound around my pressing tube, just so it doesn’t get wrinkled until I use it.

Note that this is the same fabric as the dress. I’ve made the bias so that the black is the “right” side and the white will be the wrong side.

I stitched the ends of one bias strip so that its circumference fits into the armhole. Then I stitched that bias strip along the armhole (AH) edges, right-sides together of the dress and bias trim, about 3/8″ from the edge all around. On the left side here you can see the bias attached to the AH of the dress.

Then it’s time to PRESS!! Yes, if you want a professional looking garment when you are done, pressing is the magic step. You need to press at EVERY stage, not just at the end. I press my bias trim away from the body of the dress, so that its sticking out from the AH curve.

Okay…I’ve decided to cheat on this AH trim. Instead of turning under the edge of the trim on the inside of the dress (for a clean, beautiful finish), I’m taking a shortcut. No one except me is going to notice the inside, so I’m saving time.

Instead, I’m just folding and pressing the bias trim to the wrong side (the inside) of the dress, and leaving the bias edge unfinished and exposed. But because the trim is cut on the bias, it shouldn’t unravel or fray! (So my cheating is sort of okay!)

Once it’s pressed to the inside, I can run a stitch “in the ditch”. From the front side of the dress, I stitch EXACTLY in the seam where the bias binding attached to the dress. The stitches will sort of fall into the “ditch”, becoming almost invisible.

Check out the AH with the finished trim…

And back onto the dress form until this weekend when I add the neck trim detail.

The edges of the shoulders may look like they stick up at the AH trims, but that’s just because my dress form has more slope in the shoulders than I do! They should fall smoothly once the dress is on my shoulders. 🙂

Next time. . . I’ll walk through the neck trim.


We have a “V”!

I’ve updated the dress neckline with a V-shape.  I just matched up each side of the front body panel at the shoulders and armhole and used a ruler to mark off a nice V depth. Cut out the shape with my mini rotary cutter, and VOILA…a V-neck. Continue reading

In Progress Pics

Here’s a pic of the dress I’m working on. Drafted the pattern from a sleeveless swing top pattern  I made a few months ago.

I still have to cut a V-nk shape at the neck, then I can add the ruffle trims…still to cut out!


And here’s a picture of the new shoes in their almost-finished state. The heels are TOUGH to create. The soles have been attached but my cork fill to even out the heel area before applying the actual leather heel pieces isn’t going so well.  Next time…flat shoes! Ha ha



Back to being creative!

Okay, it’s been quite a while – more than a year, in fact — since my last post.

My current projects are, as usual, varied! Here’s what I’m currently working on:

  • Shoemaking: My first pair of oxford-style 2 1/2″-heel shoes are nearly complete.  The HEELS are the toughest part.  I’ve attempted the stack build twice so far, and have ripped them off because they didn’t look right.  I think this weekend I may go for the 3rd and, if I’m lucky, the last attempt so that I can finally remove them from the last and try them on.   Here’s a picture of them in the stage before I added the leather soles:

    Later I’ll post a picture of them with the soles applied — they are at that stage now, I just don’t have a picture handy.

  • Piano playing: I heard a song in two different movie/tv trailers that I just loved.  After hearing it at the movies on 3 different occasions I finally kept my phone out during the trailers and Shazam’d it, and VOILA! I found out the name of the song is “Mad World”, originally recorded by Tears for Fears. So I went online and got the sheet music.  It’s really a lovely, slow song.  Since my piano playing is best with slow songs, this was perfect!  I’ve been working on the fingering which has been going well — 2 of the 3 pages completed.  I’ll be playing it fully in no time at all now.  I might even unplug the headphones from my piano so I can hear it outloud!
  • Sewing (In-Progress): I drafted the pattern for a cute sleeveless dress, with a tall-ruffle bottom piece and a polka-dot fabric that has black with white dots on one side, and white with black dots on the other side.  As anyone who works with print/pattern fabric knows, it’s rare to have the pattern on BOTH sides of the fabric — so this was a real find! It currently has a crew-neck style, but before I’m done it’s going to be converted to a V-neck with a layered-ruffle trim.  That should compliment the bottom ruffle. Pics coming soon!
  • Sewing (Planning stage): After seeing just about every woman at work (Gap, Inc.) wearing the new off-the-shoulder tops, I (of course!) decided I should make my own version.  I found some cute pics for inspiration on Pinterest and in various mags, so I’ll draft a pattern for it (not that it needs much. . . a rectangle for the body and smaller rectangles for the sleeves. . . with an armhole shape in both to match up) and whip it up pretty quickly.  Big decision is. . . which fabric to use.  Should it be a more light-weight, drapey fabric, or something stiffer or more structured?  Still deciding. There’s always something pretty in my fabric stash to pull from.  I’m thinking that if it works out, these could make great Christmas gifts for family members. 🙂

I’ll be posting pics to go along with these once they are finished.  Stay tuned. . .


Made some new clothes. . .

I was rather creative before I left for the big trip to Egypt making a number of new garments:

  • a knit skirt in red/white narrow stripes (which ended up being too thin to wear without a lining, so it’s still in-the-works).  I need to make a lining for it.
  • a short-sleeve floral-print top with a shirttail hem (based on a new pattern I drafted)
  • a boxy short-sleeve knit top (that ended up looking less cute than the garment from which I knocked it off because I didn’t realize until too late that the original was cute because the fabric was sort-of see-through, meaning you could tell your body wasn’t just a sack of potatoes shape! ha ha. My version wasn’t see through and makes me look huge!)
  • and a 3/4-length sleeve, boatneck knit top with a swingy sweep. This one was my favorite up until the 3rd washing. . . it must have shrunk about 3″ in length!  Oops, so much for being in a hurry to start sewing and not washing my fabric before I cut it out.  Next time I’ll take the time, especially on these knit fabrics.

I drafted the patterns for all of my new items, then whipped up the garments in no time, mostly on my serger with some hem finishing using the zig-zag on my regular machine.

I only took pics of one of the items, my favorite (prior to the shrinking issue!).

3/4 Sleeve Knit boatneck tee with swing at sweep

3/4 Sleeve Knit boatneck tee with swing at sweep

I think I’ll make a few more of this 3/4-length sleeve style since it fit well (at least before I shrunk the heck out of it!). It’s cute with jeans.

It’s Shoemaking Time! Yes, I’m learning to make my own shoes.

I’ve been interested in learning how to make my own shoes for a while now. Thankfully, I found a wonderful online instructor, Sveta Kletina, who has the most extensive collection of videos on all-things-shoemaking! (

Making custom shoes has a lot of similarities to custom clothing projects; working on a form (a shoe last instead of a dress form — see the pic below), creating an initial block pattern and correcting the pattern, then designing a specific style from the block pattern, and cutting and sewing the fabric (typically leather in the case of shoes), and then lasting the shoe (that’s where you bring the “uppers” (the parts of the shoe we are all used to seeing) together with the insole and outsole and heels.

Shoe lasts with altered dimensions for a better fit.

Shoe lasts with altered dimensions for a better fit.

Here’s my initial work on my first block pattern. It starts by taping off the last with masking tape, then transferring that taped “pattern” to cardboard, then making a mock-up on soft paper (like printer paper) and trying it out on the last to see how it fits.

Shoe pattern from masking tape

This is the OUTER half of the shoe’s masking tape pattern, being set on to the cardboard.


Paper pattern on last

Paper mock-up to check the fit on the last.


That’s where I’m at so far. . . more to come!

Lots of new projects in the works

Now that my Egyptology program is over, I’ve got lots of free time to spend on my sewing projects, and I’m on project overload here.

Finished Projects:

  • A wrap dress that is reversible (Simplicity S0567). Easy to make and fit well (after only one muslin fitting). Unfortunately, I didn’t finish it until September so I only got one wearing out of it before it turned too cold for a summer dress.
    Wrap, reversible dressIMG_4330IMG_4331IMG_4332IMG_4333
  • A cowl-neck sleeveless top with a dropped-waist ribbon-tie.  This was knocked-off from a Gap top which is one of my favorites to wear. Fabric is from Marc Jacobs, purchased at Mood Fabrics.

    Cowl-neck, sleeveless top with dropped-waist ribbon tie.

    Cowl-neck, sleeveless top with dropped-waist ribbon tie.

  • Cowl-neck top (side view)

    Cowl-neck, sleeveless top with ribbon tie at dropped waist.

  • Made the pattern and mock-up for my first pair of custom-made shoes, wing-tips (the style is officially called a Full-Brogue Derby).
    IMG_4158 IMG_4159 IMG_4182 IMG_4183 IMG_4184

    Mock up of my wingtip shoe pattern in ultra-suede (purple!)

    Mock up of my wingtip shoe pattern in ultra-suede (purple!)

Here are a few of the works-in-progress:

  • Making a second version of the sleeveless, cowl-neck, dropped-waist tie top — this time in a knit fabric. Here’s the fabric swatch:

    Swatch of Knit floral fabric

    Swatch of the knit floral fabric for the cowl-neck sleeveless top.

  • Finishing the pattern for a new backpack.
  • Making the actual shoe. . . from the soles, up!
  • Creating fabric covers for the 3-D foam rectangles throughout the apartment for Nes.