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.

The new winter coat project

I’ve started back up working on my winter coat. I gave up on it last fall after I finished sewing most of the coat together and found that the Thinsulate lining I had added for warmth made me look like the Pillsbury Doughboy! I had to take the entire thing apart and remove all of the too-puffy material. (Oh yes, that would be after I hand-basted every piece together before sewing!).

I used Vogue pattern #8626 as my starting point but altered a few design details;

  • changed the collar to a very tall (and hopefully warm) stand-up style
  • and lowered the back empire seam to be at the waistline
  • added a belt at the waist

The fabric is a very soft wool in black and I added a shocking-pink lining. To give it some “pop”! Here’s a photo of the pink lining and the facing…getting ready for its pressing.


I’ve just got a few steps remaining:

  • finish pressing up the hem
  • hand-stitching the lining along the hem
  • adding buttonholes
  • sewing on the buttons
  • making the belt

I’ll post the finished pics later this weekend.

Zig-Zag Fabric Pillow Cover

I wanted something new and cheery for the living room sofa so I found this great zig-zag fabric at IKEA. (They have some great fabrics at amazingly low prices! I highly recommend checking them out, especially for the upholstery-weight fabrics.)

The fabric is a heavy-weight fabric, yet still soft to the touch, so it should hold up nicely as the accent/relaxing pillow on the sectional in the living room.  I made two of them.

The colors are grey, red, pink, yellow and black zig zags, which looks great with the dark grey sectional and the red and orange accents around the living room. (The little orange pillow I made a few months ago.)

The backs of the pillow covers have lapped zippers so that I can remove the covers and throw them in the washing machine for cleaning.

These were REALLY easy and quick to sew.



Copying my favorite knit swing top

My favorite top this summer is a very stretchy swing top from Bisou Bisou.  I figured it would be an easy top to knock-off. . . and it was!

I took measurements from the swing top and drafter my own pattern based on those specs, tweaking them slightly along the way.

Since I was going to use a solid fabric, rather than a print, I decided to add contrast neck and armhole trims as well as a contrast wide hem border to give it a bit of character.

Here are pics of the original (print-fabric) swing top and my knock-off (orange solid fabric with contrast trims) swing top: 





I’ll post a few photos of the work-in-progress soon.  Overall, I’m pleased with the new version, although I’ve already altered the pattern to be a bit less A-line near the hem and decreased the AH trim length (I would have liked it to be a bit more snug to the body).

I may try another version, this time with a drape-y silk fabric rather than the stretch knit.  It’s got enough ease in the chest and sweep to work. . . I think!