Monday, September 15, 2014

Tri-colored Ponte Dress - Part 1

I found this dress on the St. John website...

photo credit:

...and I knew it was perfect for some of the larger ponte remnants I have hanging about.  I've been collecting them to make Miss Lena leggings but some are quite it was just a matter of coming up with a combination that I liked.

I'm not an animal print girl so I was never going to "copy" this exactly.  Here is the fabric combo I'm using...

...not quite as exotic but it will work for my lifestyle. The St. John dress is primarily black, however, mine will be primarily berry. I wanted a more colorful version of this dress than the original. Plus I just really liked the combo above because it's unexpected.

Pattern Alterations ~
I started with the version of my TNT dress last used for my #fatquarterchallenge dress.

The original TNT dress pattern pieces... 

The larger side front piece with tracing paper over it to trace off the center piece. Deciding how to portion off the pieces was arbitrary. I guessed what looked proportional to me and then measured down - making sure that I used the same amount at the top, middle and bottom of the piece.  Then I added a 5/8" seam allowance.

Then the third piece of the front was traced off. Again a 5/8" seam allowance was added to the side.

The two new pieces plus the original side piece where placed with the 5/8" seam allowances on top of each other to make sure the pattern pieces went together properly.

Front pieces fanned out and ready to be placed on the fabric to be cut out. These alterations were simple and I finished them in an hour.

Cutting the Fabric ~
I was worried that I was going to have problems making sure that the fabric worked the way that I wanted but since the back is a solid berry color, I think I will be fine.

I used the four piece dress back patterns that I've been using lately to get a better back fit. I really think that this is going to become my standard back now because it just works for my body and gives me a great fit.

...and that is as far as I got this evening because when I went to thread my serger it got all testy on me!  The nerve of it right?! *LOL* So I walked away and left it. Now I know that I don't need to serge finish the ponte knit because it won't ravel. I just like the clean finish look inside my dress. I believe it's worth the extra effort.

Time just got away from me this weekend so I'll have modeled pics of the finished dress next weekend along with pics of "The Bubble Dress" as I've taken to calling the red fabric featured in the ponte problem post.  

Although I do have a sneaky peek of it on Lulu to share... always more later!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thank you for your kindness...

I would like to say thank you to everyone who left a message on my #WhyIStayed post.  Whether it was to offer support, to say that you too were a victim of physical or emotional abuse, to say that the post changed you, or that the situation angered you...I appreciate each and every comment. Especially after I read a statistic that 1 in 4 women in America suffer a form of abuse, mental or physical. That means that if 100 women gather in a room, reasonably 25 of the women in the room are suffering or have suffered some form of abuse and often in silence.

The only other thing I'd like to say before moving on is that I don't believe I'm brave to share this story and honestly I no longer have any shame regarding this period in my life.  Every one of us experiences challenges in our lives, whether it's the death of a child, terminal illness of a loved one, a degree of poverty, or of one moves through this experience we call life without something affecting us.  

We all have stories to share that can ease someone else's burden as they make this journey.  The challenge is to share those stories, so that we know we're not alone.  The challenge is to show love and understanding, because you don't know what the woman or man standing next to you is going through...but most especially the challenge is to love each other as we love ourselves.

I was truly touched by the response to this post, cried a few tears and cheered a little bit but most sincerely from the bottom of my heart... 

Thank You! 

Now back to sewing...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I had a totally different post that I was going to put up today but after reading several articles about Janay Rice and the trending hashtags on Twitter #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, I realized that I should share my story too.

I'm sure many of you would never guess that I'd been abused during the first years of my marriage.  I don't appear to lack self confidence and if you've met me in person, you know that I'm pretty vocal and don't put up with much ish. I came from a family of two working class parents, reared in middle class suburbia and my father never touched my mother.

So how did I end up in a situation where I was abused?  The amazing thing is that it never happened while we were dating or engaged but it happened frequently and often after we were married.  

My ex-husband and I met at church after I'd been to college and had a 4 year old daughter. I was friends with his older brothers and I thought he was mouthy. We use to hang out as a group because we didn't believe in sex before marriage.  This group of friends went to a concert at Carnegie Hall and I was seated next to a man that I really liked.  He'd acted like he really liked me too, so much so that the other males in our group left me alone, but that night he was just rude...seriously downright rude and nasty.  So my ex-husband changed seats with him, made me laugh and was extremely kind to me.  We started to date after that.  Three months later we decided to get married, oh yeah and somewhere in there I got pregnant.  So much for that no sex before marriage rule!  *LOL*

Anyway, we married, moved with my daughter to our first apartment and about six months in, he started to hit me.  At first it was just a slap here or there. Then it became punches and once he even punched me in the stomach while I was pregnant. Of course, my obstetrician told me to leave.  Thankfully the baby was unhurt.  He didn't touch me again for the rest of my pregnancy so I thought it was over...just a phase.

Fast forward a couple of months after my second daughter was born and I was slapped, punched, kicked or whatever almost weekly.  So why didn't I leave?  I did several times, but I came back because where was I going to go with two small children?  Home to my parents?  Nope, too ashamed to do that.  The police put him out several times, but he always came back...and all the time we were going to church every Sunday...regular God-fearing folks.

My relief came in two ways.  One I went to work one day with a short sleeve dress on and didn't realize that I had fingerprint bruises on my arm. A co-worker saw them and reported me to Human Resources.  The woman in Human Resources was very kind and offered assistance.  But I went home kinda ashamed that day and with plans to look for a different job.

However, the following Sunday the Pastor of my church stopped my husband & I and told us he needed to see us.  My bruises had been noticed at church too. Guess I had gotten so use to them that I wasn't good at covering them up any more.  Anyway, long story short we got counseling which the church provided and the beatings stopped.  Seriously, he never hit me again.

But everyone doesn't get that lucky/blessed/helped.  Too many times I would be in a circle of women and they would talk about what they would do if someone hit them.  None of the replies made me feel free to share what was happening to me...actually they made me feel even more inferior and filled with self-loathing because I couldn't/wouldn't fight back.  Well that's not exactly true, I did fight back once and ended up unconscious on the floor sort of like Janay.

What I'm saying by sharing my story and what the other women on Twitter and on the internet are saying is that if you feel that someone near you is being abused, be a source of help.  Offer kindness, a place to stay, the ability to watch their children, money...anything that will help them get out of that terrible situation...not words that will shame them or make them feel inferior.  Or baring that, like our mothers use to say, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all!"

I was lucky.  I was helped.  I was no longer beat but my children do bear the scars from that situation and for that I have many regrets. I'm no longer married but that was not the reason for our divorce.  One of the things that I admired about him and still do is the fact that he went to counseling, got help and used the tools he learned in counseling to change his behavior.

I'm going to leave the comments open but if there is nothing constructive shared, I will shut them down.  It's been over 15 years since I was in this situation so there is no need to pat me on the back ~ however, if my story can help one woman break free then it was worth sharing....

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


It took me almost an entire month to make this dress last year ~

The sewing journey was involved and I learned a lot as well as ended up with that amazing dress.  Which by the way, I've only worn twice!  

Originally I'd intended to make a jacket to wear with the dress from the wool tweed which I used for the base of the dress. I spent so much time on the dress that I really had nothing left for the jacket.  So even though the front and back were cut out and attached to the pattern pieces...that's where they still were when I went looking for the fabric.

See this fabric has recently been haunting me.  Seriously, talking to me in the middle of the night...playing around the edges of my mind in meetings...and pushing into my thoughts on my long bus ride home.  I only remembered the jacket pieces, however, when I pulled the fabric out of the garbage bag it was stored in (along with leftover pieces from this jacket), I found a full yard of fabric. As well as another 1/2 yard...enough to make a dress and not the skirt I originally thought about.

My mind basically exploded!  Peeps, the fabric and lace used in that dress was costly and here I had it stored away.  Bet that's why it had started to haunt me! *LOL* Anytoway, (yeah I know that's not a word!) I've decided to use the fabric and the lace with McCalls 6988.

This is View C of the pattern, and the lace will be used in the center panel only, which will make this dress work wearable! Yes!!! I've shown the dress with the three quarter sleeves but if I don't have enough fabric I will change them to the shorter sleeve from View D.

I haven't started working on this yet because I have to finish my ponte dress first but won't this be amazing! I'm so thrilled that this will be my first fall garment especially since I will finally be using the leftover fabric...and it can stop calling to me at all hours of the day and night.

So I'm sure you're wondering what happened with the leggings for Princess Lena...they will be up soon.  I need my model to showcase them but believe me again more easy sewing...seriously easy sewing. Now I know how Katie turns out so many pieces every month.  Again something made entirely on the serger.

This is my next sewing journey which I will be oversharing here on the blog! *LOL* It's getting cooler outside along with getting darker earlier, fall is definitely on the way. This dress will make a great first fall garment!

Oh and I didn't buy any more ponte from the Fabric Mart 50% off sale...*sigh* I can't say the same for the 50% off suiting though... always more later!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

I Have a Ponte Problem

As they say in those 12 Step Programs, admitting your problem is the first step. So we all know that I'm a fabricaholic. It's well documented and if you've had the opportunity to visit my sewing cave, you can attest to that fact. But lately, I've found that I have a ponte problem.

Yes, sure some of it is aggravated by the fact that Fabric Mart has an awesome selection of ponte fabric, but honestly I love sewing it and gravitate towards it. Because of that, I own a lot of much that I'm publicly declaring that I'm not purchasing any more until the end of the year - well at least until January 2015.

Really why do I need more...when these beauties reside in the collection...

Blue/Black Circles, Black, Black & Tan Lace Ponte knits from Fabric Mart
Navy & Green stripe from Girl Charlee

Wine & Mulberry Ponte knits from Fabric Mart
Brown floral from Vogue Fabrics
Black/white diamond and green/navy stripe from Fabric Mart

Brown/gold/black houndstooth, Green/white/black/gray stripe
Red/gray/black stripe & black 'n white graphic houndstooth 
All from Fabric Mart

Black/Gray Paisley Ponte from Emmaonesock, Black/white stripe Ponte
Green ponte, Pink Chevron Ponte and Yellow Ponte from Fabric Mart

All 18 of them piled together...

Then there is a cabinet full of them...

I have no idea how much is in here and I'm not counting...*sigh*

...then there's four yards of a black ponte that I found when my daughter was looking for fabric that I didn't even realize I owned, and four yards of a heavy weight black ponte that I bought to make a trench. I'm almost sure there is some royal blue ponte that I didn't photograph and a scrap of a bright teal ponte knit that I was holding onto to make a quick elastic waist pencil skirt.

Honestly, it's time to sew more and acquire less! There's plenty of inspiration in the collection, in every color and loads of prints. To that end, my next dress has been cut out and is being worked on using this ponte print...

So that will be the next completed dress on the blog...and quite a few more pieces will be coming from fabric already in the collection. Now to show some more restraint during those Fabric Mart sales!!! always more later!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

McCalls 6886

My daughter is starting a new job. It's been over a year since she's worked because having Miss Sammy was a little challenging.  Now that Miss Sammy is seven months old, is happy and healthy, her mother has found a new salon to work at.  Which means my daughter needs a few new easy outfits that will work for now as well as carry her into fall.  Trying to sew with three children five and under is challenging to say the least...and since I had some time this weekend...we decided to stack and whack!

We started with McCalls 6886 because it's a simple knit dress with two pieces - one for the front and one for the back. She wanted the sleeveless version for its versatility. You know add a cardigan or shirt over it, or a turtleneck, or a button down with a belt and the dress is a hardworking garment. 

First I tissue fit the pattern pieces to her. A process that she was unaware is that possible when she took sewing classes in high school? Anyway, I made a few changes to the pattern.
  • For the back pattern piece I made a petite adjustment by folding out 2" inches.
  • I used a size 14 for the shoulders, neckline and bustline area and a 16 in the waist and hips.
After cutting out, I used a small zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to baste the dress together so she could try it on.  After trying it on, it was a little loose. I made most of the changes to the back of the dress since she is smaller in the back than in the front. The alterations were made by having my daughter wear the dress inside out. Then I pinned out the excess fabric and serged it off using the pins as a guide.

Pinned the cut off piece to the pattern piece

Pattern Piece after it's been adjusted 
and new cutting line added
  • Then the dress was serged together. 
  • I used stay tape at the shoulder seams for stability.
  • The neckline and armholes were turned under and stitched flat.
  • Stitch witchery was used in the hemline.
Here she is wearing the black version made from a black ponte knit from Fabric Mart...

Subsequent versions of the dress took about 70 minutes (yes I timed it!) to make and only one yard of fabric...a perfect sew.  I made five of these in one day. Three (Two from the black ponte & a black 'n white herringbone ITY) she took home and the rest she'll pick up later this week. 

These two are also from a ponte from Fabric Mart
We  used both sides of the fabric for two new dresses

Now I'm scouring the fabric collection to see if I can come up with five more. Two weeks worth of dresses that can be dressed up, down and around will make getting dressed in the morning so easy...especially since she's got three little kids to wake up and get ready too!

I think I have another couple of weeks of unselfish sewing going on.  I bought a pair of leggings for Miss Lena this weekend and I want to compare them to McCalls 6457 (sorry it's out of print) to make up some leggings for her along with a few tops.

McCalls 6457

Then I'm finally going to get back to those Deer & Doe t-shirts for my co-workers! So there's going to be a lot of sewing going on during the next couple of weeks, just not much for me.

However, I am making up my fall/winter sewing list and I can tell you that there isn't much quick and easy on it. I have a lot of clothing now so I feel like I can take my time and really enjoy the sewing journey. Though I have to tell you it was awesome turning out five dresses in one day!!! always more later!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


The "Tribute"  theme for August has come to a close on the Sewcialists blog. If you've visited many blogs lately, there has been a mention of the Tribute series. For July it was to make a garment inspired by my good friend, Oonaballoona and there were some amazing garments made and prizes awarded. 

For August the theme was for sewists to make a garment like someone who inspires you. To my great surprise and even greater honor, two bloggers chose my TNT dresses as their inspiration...

First Marrie from Purls and Pleats...

Okay if this doesn't look like one of my dresses, I don't know what does. She even wore it with a cardigan!  Marrie, I love this and hope that you get a lot of wear out of it. Also, that McCalls pattern you're using is very versatile and I'm sure will make you so many more wonderful dresses in the future.

And then Cari from Cari Homemaker...

Cari made a dress using Vogue 8972 and a ponte fabric.  Cari hit two recent trends, black 'n white and lace.  Isn't her version fantastic!  And the shoes, people, the shoes are to die for! What a wonderful outfit!

Stop the presses ~
I've just been notified in the comments that there is another tribute.  This one from Blue Sunday!

What's so awesome about this tribute is that Nisha is admiring my love of fabric In particular, she used a piece based upon my adoration of border prints.  Didn't Nisha do a great job of using the border print in an inventive way?  To be honest, I've never read Nisha's blog, but I'm rectifying that now by adding her to my blogroll & bloglovin'. 

As the saying goes, "Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery", and you ladies have more than flattered me.  You've honored me that you want to emulate my style aesthetic and my love of fabric!  Thanks so much all of your garments are absolutely awesome!!! always more later!

Sunday, August 31, 2014


My apologies that this is a day late...but peewee football season has started and my daughter, my photographer, spent her morning and afternoon at a football game.  When she arrived late afternoon to take photos, there were three tired and cranky grandchildren accompanying her...not a good combo for we waited until today.

The Introduction ~
In a previous post I stated that I've decided to be very liberal with the requirements of this challenge, because my point was to get a wearable garment out of those fat quarters.  I have to admit that this was a very hard challenge for me.  I will remember that the next time I'm out to dinner with a bunch of women, and there are quite a few pitchers of margaritas on the table, before I sprout off at the mouth!

My first attempt at making a dress was so horrible that one - I refused to take pictures of it beyond the pic I posted to Instagram early in the process (dayum that was four months ago!) and two - my daughter took one look at it and said trash it. That scarred me. Seriously...and I hid the fat quarters in the sewing cave so that I could not see them mocking me.

Then the dayum challenge came back up and I had to come up with something...anything...wearable.

The Idea ~
From my internet travels, I saw the pictures in this blog post and they triggered something in me creatively. Gave me a new perspective and a different way to go. So using it as my basis, I worked from there on a new idea.

I have to say that my first idea was for smaller stripes from the fat quarters - about 1" wide...but because I wasn't sure if this idea would even work...I didn't want to invest that kind of time on cutting and sewing smaller stripes. So I went with the larger ones using my altered TNT pattern, used here.

Construction ~
Of course making the stripes and sewing them together so that they used the majority of the fat quarters was the most important part of the challenge. 

As I stated above, I originally wanted 1" strips as the finished width but settled on 4" strips, that when sewn together made 3" strips. I used 1/2" seam allowances, not the normal quilters 1/4" SAs.  Mostly because I think you need to be really precise with 1/4" seams and I'm just not that precise. Also, I figured out the math better using 1/2" seams! *LOL* Another consideration was that I didn't want this to have a "quilting" feel.  I wanted it to look like a "professional" dress that I would wear to work.

Of course the stripes took a fair amount of time ~ cutting out, sewing, and pressing. One more note, each fat quarter I received is represented, but I added some solid pieces of linen to help with the look of the stripes and erase some of that Hobby Holly Dress look. What my boss called this picture from Instagram.

My only other challenge was to insure that the side seams matched where the stripes joined each other AND to insure that the fat quarter stripes were on the same side front and back.

The rest of the dress was actually a breeze after the stripe placement was determined and worked out. I have to tell you that I was shocked when I got the dress shell together.  Seriously shocked.  My idea worked and it didn't look bad. To make sure that I wasn't just placating myself, I sent a pic to my daughter. After she declared it a success, I forged ahead to get this finished.

We Interrupt this Process ~
However, I'd danced around the process so long that I didn't have time to finish it during the week.  To make matters worse, after a few days I noticed that the fat quarter side of the dress was hanging lower than the linen side. This was because of the weight I added when I used fusible interfacing on the back side of each stripe.
Now somewhere in this process I told myself that I should underline the linen with silk organza.  But being wary that the idea would work, I didn't want to invest that kind of time and resources in a dress that might end up as a wadder.  

Once I realized that the dress worked, I very reluctantly decided that I needed to add the silk organza to it so that it would hang correctly.  So I took the dress apart, cut pieces of black silk organza and basted them to the linen pieces. Then sewed the dress back together.  Do you understand now why I didn't make that Friday deadline?

Back to Construction Details ~
I added a navy blue bemberg rayon lining to the dress.  

Thank goodness that was in the notions stash!  I also broke down and added navy piping to the neckline.  Seriously if I blew past the deadline, I was going all in on this dress.

Somewhere in the construction process, I decided that it was a good idea to make bias binding from some of the remaining pieces of fat quarters to bind the armholes. 

Yeah I was wading deep into the pool of throwing every technique I knew into this dress...or is this just the way I sew now?  Who knows...but what is truth is that there is self made bias binding in this dress also.

Some hems, okay not just some hems...I added navy blue rayon seam binding to the dress hem and a beige lace to the lining hem and the dress was finally done...

...just in time for some photos before it started to rain!

A few more pics of "The Fat Quarter Challenge" Dress...

In Conclusion ~
I can honestly tell you that I won't be doing one of these challenges again! *LOL* What a wonderful way to inhibit my creativity!  I know some people flourish and thrive with these types of deadlines producing amazing garments but me...ummmm not so much!  I have learned several things from this challenge...

  1. You can make a wearable garment for an adult using fat quarters. Just next time I'd like to pick my own fat quarters!
  2. I don't sew well with a deadline (okay I already knew that one it was just reinforced!)
  3. I am incapable now of sewing something simple...seriously, silk organza underlining, piping at the neckline, self made bias binding...I got problems y'all! *LOL*
  4. Never open my big mouth saying I can do something with liquor on the table...

Finally, I have pieces of fat quarters remaining that may show up in the days, weeks and months ahead in the granddaughters have been forewarned! always more later!

Friday, August 29, 2014


Fact ~
My fat quarter challenge reveal should have happened today.

Reality ~
It will not.  Instead it will happen tomorrow.  I've been granted a 24 hour reprieve by the lovely Oonaballoona because I'm just not making it home in time to finish it. Now granted, this is my own fault.  I did drag my feet on this because I was scared, scarred and without hope that I could successfully meet this challenge.

However, I've had a breakthrough and have crafted "a can be worn to work dress" using pieces from all of my fat quarters.

Here's a sneaky peek...

Definitely revealing tomorrow...and since that Annie song Tommorrow is running through my's the trailer for the new Annie movie coming out in December of this year. always more later!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Refresh

I made this dress back in September 2009 during one of my first sewcations:

It's actually been worn only once or twice.  Why?  Because of that looked great when I was standing still but I ended it in a funny place. So in day to day wearing it was just weird.  Therefore, it sat in the back of the closet.

After I moved, I put it in the sewing cave to be altered...before the flood...then I lost track of it after I put the cave back together.  Moving some clothes around last weekend, I found it again and realized that it wouldn't take much to change it. 

Removing the ruffle and trim was easy enough...

But it meant the dress was kind of plain. To combat that I added some stitching at the neckline and sleeve hems.  It's still a very basic dress but I have several cardigans, along with an assortment of necklaces that will make this sing!

Here are a few pictures of the refreshed dress in action...

Worn with a RTW cardigan

I'm glad I took the time to alter it!  It's been a cooler, less humid and hot summer, so this dress is perfect to add to the rotation. I haven't sewn as much this year as I have in years past. Probably because I have a closet full of beautiful clothing and I keep finding treasures like these hidden in the back of it. always more later!


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