Can’t Keep My Opinions to Myself

I don’t think I usually rant on this page. So far I’ve kept it to mainly finished sewing projects and the occasional side-track. In my mind, however, I rant frequently, and since this is a subject that I keep pondering, I’m going to let it spill out here.

I read mostly sewing blogs. I read blogs where they talk about other stuff too, but even those seem to be written by people who sew some of the time. I’m on Instagram and Twitter (as @carihomemaker). I’m on Kollabora, BurdaStyle, and Pattern Review *though not always as regularly as some). In short, I read a lot about sewing. In those reads, there are a few things that keep being said/done that drive me crazy. I’m not going to say I never say/do these things; I know I have at least for some of them, but they still drive me crazy, even when I’m the one perpetrating. Please, can we all agree to limit our use of the following?

Click for source. I really want to make these now.

1) “I just ‘whipped up’ this project.” Have you ever tried to whip cream or make a lemon meringue pie without the use of a stand mixer? It is really, really hard work. It’s much harder than throwing together a 12th Jalie v-neck t-shirt or a 5th Lady Skater dress. If you’re standing there with a cold bowl and a whisk waiting for something to thicken as your fingers turn numb, the last thing you’re thinking is “this is so quick and easy.” I don’t know what the better phrase would be to describe our quick-and-easy sewing makes, but whipping needs to go.

Via Google Images

2) “This pattern fits me perfectly with no alterations whatsoever which makes it the best pattern ever made and everyone should buy it.” I get the excitement. It’s wonderful when a pattern doesn’t need to have six test versions done before it can be made up for real. That feeling when you put something on and it fits like a glove with no pulling, tugging, or adjusting throughout the day? Incredible. If, like me, you happen to be 5′ 3″ and around 185lbs, then my rave reviews in this format may be helpful (or not, depending on your shape vs. mine). If you happen to be 5′ 9″ and 125 lbs, however, you’re likely to feel quite the let-down when you try to duplicate my experience. I’m not saying that we can’t rave about patterns or discuss how wonderful that it was we didn’t have to spend hours on alterations; let’s just agree that having a body that fits a particular pattern company’s drafting block is not the same as that company having amazing pattern drafting skills.

via Google Images

3) “A ‘pop’ of color” If you read through books or magazines from the 1990’s, you’ll see multiple references to a “splash” of color. Somewhere after Y2K the trendy phrase became “pop of color”. This no longer seems trendy, fresh, or even relevant. I don’t know what it needs to be replaced with. Until someone decides, could we just talk about the colors we are using without using a sad, tired cliche. If we must give a further description, maybe we could talk about them in relation to where they sit on the color wheel? Please, everyone, stop popping colors like they are balloons.

Via Google Images

4) “Sorry that all I have are these iPhone pics to post”. I’m not saying that we all need to have professional cameras and arts degrees to be bloggers. I’m saying that if someone is running a hobby blog and they choose to put up pictures from their digital camera or weren’t able to put on makeup that day, they shouldn’t have to apologize. If they are feeling self-conscious about something that has contributed to their pictures not looking like they usually do, it doesn’t bother me to hear the back-story, but they shouldn’t have to go as far as to apologize. They have done nothing actually wrong or offensive. If they are professional bloggers with sponsors, they might owe their sponsors an apology, but as far as readers go, it should be okay to skip the apologies and go straight to “look at this pretty thing I made.”

Via Google Images

5) “You should buy indie patterns because the people who design/sell them are nicer” Nicer than what? People who work for a larger company? Who could even know that? I’m pretty sure there are plenty of nice people working at all kinds of companies large and small. Actually, I think the problem is deeper than just the debate about buying from indie vs. long-standing, established company. If support for indie pattern companies is based mainly on them being “nice”, what happens if someone has a bad day? What happens if they get sick and can’t return e-mails with an immediate, sunshiny response? What happens if customer expectations are way out of line and the designer has to say “no”? What if that happens in a public forum? Is that designer no longer nice? Can we no longer buy from them? What if one designer’s line ends up hitting a trend and another person’s doesn’t? Does that make the one who ends up stopping their line wasn’t nice enough? Don’t misunderstand, I love trying indie patterns. There are some awesome options out there. I’ve had lovely interactions with indie pattern designers (I’ve never met one yet who hasn’t been nice). But when someone puts themselves out there with a serious business venture, I would like to see the support mainly focused on the beautiful products they are offering, including customer service as needed. Selling patterns shouldn’t have to be a Miss Congeniality contest.

Via Google Images

As the sewing blog world grows, so does the potential for drama. I’m not intending to try to stir up a lot of drama here, but I can’t guarantee that some of my own thoughts haven’t been stirred by reading other bits and pieces of drama floating around. Anyone out there who agrees with me on any of these? Is there something else out there driving you crazy that I should have mentioned? Keep it clean, and share your thoughts below.

Sewcialist Tribute Month: Like a Sewing Fanatic

This month’s Sewcialist theme was “Tribute”, sewing projects inspired by another sewing blogger. It should have been so easy to choose one, but it was actually quite difficult to try to narrow down the options seeing how many amazing and different sewing bloggers are out there now. I had to come up with some criteria to limit my options. I wanted to challenge myself, so I wanted to try to pick someone whose style is relatively different from my own. If I realize that someone has inspired a project, I usually try to credit them, so I know I have several past projects, like this one, this one, and this one, that were inspired by other sewing bloggers. I wanted to make sure to choose someone who hadn’t already inspired me with a project.

Tribute Dress 5

As I was trying to choose a muse, I began thinking about a particular question posed by Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic a few months ago. She had asked something to the effect of why aren’t there more sewing bloggers making up professional clothing such as business suits and such. I have a couple of theories about this, but the one that runs closest to my own personal experience is along the lines of how someone who is in a position to need really professional clothing on a frequent basis is also probably someone who is terribly busy with work and who thus may not have the time to also make their own clothing and blog about it on a regular basis. It’s easy for me to make excuses for not making more professional clothing; being a telecommuter, I don’t exactly need to wear a suit. On the other hand, if I had a professional event I needed to show up for on short notice, what would I wear? It seems prudent to have at least one option in the closet.

Tribute Dress 2Carolyn seems to be the reigning queen of sewing professional woman’s work-wear. (as an aside, she is also a plus-size woman, so incredibly inspirational for me on the fitting front too) She often makes dresses, usually some variation on a sheath-dress shape. She uses beautiful fabrics and various trims to create all kinds of different looks, despite the similarities in shape between many of them. She recently used Vogue 8972 for a color-blocked dress, and she often uses ponte knits. I thought I’d combine those elements and make myself a sheath dress of my own.

Tribute Dress 4I had this textured black knit (poly or poly blend) fabric as well as the black/ivory colored printed ponte in my stash. The print would have been hard to use on its own in a dress, but I love how it combined with the second fabric. in princess-seamed panels The varying textures made it possible to combine the two, since matching black fabrics is pretty much impossible unless they were designed as coordinates.

Tribute Dress 1The pattern wasn’t designed for knits, even stable ones, but I think it really worked out. It’s one of those patterns with multiple bodices to customize the fit, so I was able to work off the finished garment measurements rather than just body measurements. I lined the dress in black Laguna Cotton (cotton/lycra 95/5%), so it’s really comfortable and not at all see-through. One of my main peeves when wearing poly knits is how itchy they can feel, so lining the dress makes it much more wearable for me. I maybe could have done without a zipper, but I put an invisible one in the center back, as per the pattern, because I hate trying to wrestle things over my head, especially when I’ve already done my hair.

Since this is a sleeveless dress, if I were really going to wear this as business wear, I’d plan to wear a jacket or cardigan of some sort for coverage. It’s summer though, and since I don’t have any board meetings to attend, all my pics are bare-armed. Ignore the arms and just look at these Ann Taylor shoes that happened to match my dress perfectly.

Tribute Dress 6


Thanks Carolyn for being my career-dress muse, and for the ongoing advice on corporate dressing. Even when it seems the younger generation isn’t listening, on some level we are.


Stash-busting stats: 38/50, 80 1/2 yards




Would You Like Some Cake with Your Frosting?

Big thanks to Oona this week. After last month’s Sewcialist theme was inspired by her, she made her family choose a few favorite outfits so she could send out prizes. My Kalkatroonan wiggle dress was one of the outfits chosen (blush). Check out all the amazing outfits she inspired over here.

Mae 2

This month’s theme over at The Monthly Stitch is “Cake”. Open to a broad range of interpretations, I’ve opted to use the definition of making clothing that turns out to be “frosting” vs. “cake”. A while back, for another Monthly Stitch theme (November of last year? Really that long ago?), I had made this lovely green/gold taffeta skirt. Who would have thought that a shiny, taffeta, midi-length skirt wouldn’t go with everything in my closet? I did manage to put together an outfit or two, eventually incorporating a ready-to-wear green stretch corduroy jacket that also doesn’t go with many things in my closet, but the blouse has just never been right. Anything shiny slides against the high waist of the skirt and comes untucked creating blousing over the waistband, not a good look with the high-waisted skirt. The best top up till now was the silk jersey camisole from White House/Black Market that is in the blog pictures for the skirt post. Unfortunately, that cami was meant to be a layering piece, so it needed a jacket or sweater kept over it to keep my modesty intact. That’s fine so long as I’m sitting around, but back in June, I ended up doing some end-of-day bathroom cleaning after an Assembly, and it was way too warm to be doing that kind of work with a jacket on. I realize that it probably sounds weird, but volunteering to clean public restrooms is something my dress clothes do need to be prepared to handle because it does come up for me on a fairly regular basis. To be a practical layered outfit, the layers need to be un-layerable as much as possible. I finally faced facts; my pretty taffeta skirt is pure frosting and it needs some cake to anchor it. So I made some cake.

Mae 1.1



This is the Mae Blouse from BlueGingerDoll Patterns. I didn’t make any alterations to the size 18. Between this one and my Winifred dress I may have to try more of these patterns; Abby’s pattern block seems to be drafted specifically for my shape. I liked how the scallops at the neckline echo the scallops at the top of the skirt. Everything went together easy-peasy. The instructions are clear. I skipped interfacing which may shorten the life of the button placket, but I didn’t want anything to show through the eyelets (I know should have used silk organza, but knowing didn’t equal doing in this instance). It buttons in the back which gives it a really clean look in the front and prevents gaposis. The downside to buttons in the back is the part where I can’t button it myself, Pete had to do it for me today.

Mae 4If this fabric looks vaguely familiar, it might be that you saw what Anne made out of it earlier this summer. It was labelled “faux eyelet” when I bought it online, but there are real holes in it, so a white camisole is a must underneath for modesty. I’m loving the retro-vibe of this ensemble. I can still wear my corduroy jacket this way too, though having the option for a cropped sweater/shrug would also be nice.

Mae 5This was stash fabric, so I get to count it for stash-busting purposes too. I know it might look from the stats that I’m not going to make it to 50 by the end of the year, but at some point I will need to do a really dull post with all the kids’ basics I’ve made in the past few months. There were so many T-shirts, and they got snatched up by the children to wear as soon as they saw they were off the sewing machine. I’m going to have to put my camera in the laundry room and try to grab some pics as things get washed.

Stash-busting stats 37/50. 78 1/2 yards

The Cameo Lover Dress

Cameo Lover Dress 1
This dress is so much fun. I wanted it for myself, but since I don’t have many occasions to appear in a hipster music video, I made it up for Guinevere instead. I can’t take much credit for the design of this dress. It was inspired by a dress worn by singer Kimbra in her Cameo Lover music video.

Cameo Lover Dress 6

If only she had a tambourine

Guinevere’s version has a slightly longer and less-full skirt, but otherwise, I think I ended up with a pretty faithful reproduction of the original dress.

The fabric is a medium to heavy-weight cotton sateen with a bit of stretch. I know I bought it sometime this year, but I don’t remember from where I ordered it. The bodice is self-lined. Yes, that is multiple yards of yellow pom-pom trim offsetting all that pink. Why don’t I get to wear pom-pom trim? Oh, yeah, Pete is afraid I’ll end up like this.

Cameo Lover Dress 3

I put a lapped zipper in it since I didn’t have any invisible zippers in the right shade of pink. 

The pattern is Butterick 4718. I made up size 5, but gave it some length on the skirt to use for growing room. The last sleeveless dress I made for Guinevere with a Butterick pattern had some gaping at the underarms, so I raised them about 1/2″ on this dress and it seems to help with modesty and fit.

Cameo Lover Dress 4


The sleeve flounces are self-drafted. I measured the armscye from each end of where I wanted the flounce to hit and doubled that number for the length. I guessed at how wide would look good, then added seam/hem allowance to each side, After the rectangles were cut, I tapered to each end so they would be flounce-shaped.


Cameo Lover Dress 2


The big question with anything I make for Guinevere is whether she likes it or not. She does like this one. It suits her, and she gets a lot of compliments on it. The first time she got to wear it, she liked it so much she was jumping up and down with excitement.


Cameo Lover Dress 5

Jim is a Rat and Other Cautionary Tales

Hawaii Comic 6This really needs to be the last crazy novelty-print fabric dress I make for a while. This fabric is fun, but like my newsprint dress and my “prom dress“, there are some places I wouldn’t wear this one.

The fabric is the newer Home Sewing is Easy print, the Hawaii edition. The comic appears to center on two women who are trying to get the attention of an (undeserving) male via their sewing skills. Unlike the first Home Sewing is Easy fabric which focused mainly on sewing, there seem to be two overall messages to this fabric:

1) Jim is a rat
2) Feminism is dead

But just look at my cute full skirt.

Hawaii Comic 3It’s a really full skirt, 4 widths of fabric, to be precise (but this fabric was only 45″ wide, unlike my other recent full-skirted novelty). I did no shaping of the skirt pieces; they are just gathered rectangles to keep it easy and to avoid breaking up the print any more than necessary.

Hawaii Comic 4For the bodice, I used a vintage pattern, McCall’s 5255. It’s a half-size pattern with 41-inch bust. I hadn’t tried this particular pattern before, but like all the others I’ve tried in this vintage size, the fit is perfectly acceptable to me without major alterations. When I make another (and I will), I might take it in a bit at the armscye area; the pictures seem to show a little gaping that I didn’t notice in the mirror.

The bodice is faced instead of lined. I know facings really bother some people, but they don’t bother me at all; I grew up wearing a lot of homemade clothes with facings. Let me qualify this a bit, they don’t bother me so long as I have Pete or Guinevere around to tuck them in where I can’t reach them. This facing seemed particularly nifty since it is arm and neck edges all in one. It was like a lot of clipping of curves all at once, especially with the sweetheart neckline, but it was fun to put together and left me with very little hand sewing at the end. The zipper is in the side seam. Hooray, I can reach it to zip myself! The side seam zipper also meant I didn’t have to try to pattern-match across the back.

Hawaii comic 1This is my contribution to Heather’s Sundress Sewalong. There’s still time if you want to sew along too; it runs until the 18th of this month.

I did briefly consider climbing the tree here, but changed my mind when I realized that it would probably:

1) scuff my shoes
2) end with me falling on the ground

Some impulses are best thought about rather than acted upon.

Hawaii Comic 7

Sewing + Knitting: 2014 Outfit Along

OAL 3When Lauren and Andi announced the 2014 outfit along, I was so in. I loved the Myrna pattern, so I downloaded it that day. I got online promptly and ordered some yarn (there’s no yarn shops in my town). I was just sure that it was going to take me the entire time to make the sweater and only a few hours to make whatever dress I ended up deciding to make. Well, the sweater was done nearly a month ago, but I only finished the dress last week.


There’s plenty I love about the sweater. The short sleeves and v-neckline are perfect for summer layering. The keyhole detail on the back was fun to knit. The peppy magenta yarn is the perfect shade of pink to match all kinds of things already in my wardrobe. If there’s one thing I don’t like about this sweater, it’s the yarn I used. I went with Cascade superwash, and while it’s soft and all, it seems to tend toward sagginess. Overall the effect it gives the sweater is that it is too big. It might actually be too big, but I can’t tell because of the saggy yarn. When I make another, I think I’ll either size down if I use superwash yarn, or more likely, I’ll use some other type of yarn where the fibers will grab onto each other for better support and less sag (and maybe still go down a size).


The last best thing about this particular sweater, is the buttons. I found them on Etsy, marked vintage. They probably are vintage, though they didn’t come on a card. There were, I think, 11 buttons in total, so I have some left for another sweater. I couldn’t have matched the color better if I’d been able to see them in person. Also, this picture is a much better representation of the color of my sweater than those ones above that were taken under way, way too much daylight.



Overall, it was a quick, easy summer sweater. The pattern, of course, was well-written and easy to follow. It is an Andi Satterlund pattern, after all.

Moving on to the dress. The official OAL had an official sewing pattern for a sew-along, but also gave the option to choose any other dress to sew. I didn’t have the pattern that Lauren was using for the sew-along, so I opted to make up a dress I’ve been wanting to make up for myself since long before I made my previous version of it for someone else. (and just to clarify, so there aren’t any misunderstanding’s when I made the other version it was strictly a favor for a friend. She bought the fabric, I provided the labor, no money was exchanged. I’m not filling my own coffers off the hard work that indie [or any other designers] are putting into making up their patterns). Soapbox aside, I’ve been wanting to make myself a Cambie for quite some time, but kept getting distracted by other new, shiny patterns. Also, I figured I would need an FBA and hadn’t been in the mood to mess around with it. I gave it the FBA, but then the darts seemed too far apart. I overcompensated when I tried to fix it, so my darts in my finished dress are a little too close together, but they stayed pointed at an angle toward the apex (which means that yes, they are angled like they shouldn’t be with what is essentially a plaid made of florals). Since they seemed to be aimed in the right general direction, I quit messing with them. I moved on to careful print placement. Just look at those big red roses. The odds of them landing in exactly the wrong place were astronomical. Just another 2 or 3 inches lower….



What is there to say about a Cambie dress that hasn’t already been said by the 100’s of people who have made one before me? I raised the front neckline a little, I made the skirt a couple of inches longer. It maybe would have looked more “well-designed” if I’d used a contrast fabric for the waistband instead of the rosebud portion of the main fabric. I don’t hate the flowers, but there might be more of a “homemade” vibe going on here than I had planned. There’s no print matching happening. I tried to keep the fabric pattern at least lined up enough that the pink flowers could wind their way around the dress without any major breaks in the pattern.



I put the pockets in the skirt, just like the pattern has them. How do I not have any pocket pictures?

This lovely fabric has been sitting in my stash for something like a year waiting for me to get over how the giant geometric design was intimidating me. I still have quite a bit of fabric left. Would this print be overwhelmingly large on Guinevere? I’m thinking it could be a really cute circle skirt if I paired it with a crisp white blouse (and maybe a pink sweater) for her.

Stash-busting stats: 36/50. 76 1/2 yards.

A Tourist in Kalkatroona



This month’s Sewcialist challenge theme was “Oonapalooza”. Named after the one and only Oona of Oonaballoona, the theme was meant to inspire aspiring Kalkatroonans to go forth and sew up outfits inspired by Oona.  I loved the idea of Oona-inspired sewing, but for most of the month I was completely uninspired. It isn’t that I don’t love to read Oona’s blog, I really do. It was just that her style is so completely different from the things I usually make and wear. I didn’t want to make something just to join the challenge, rather I wanted to make something that would combine the best of my own style with a dash of Oona awesomeness. It needed splashy colors, a positive attitude, and fabric devoid of polyester-ness. I love her floaty maxi dresses, but I didn’t have anything in my fabric stash that struck me as particularly Oona-ish. Finally, it hit me. I needed to make a wiggle dress, and it needed to be out of a particular flowery fabric that has been marinating in my stash just waiting for the right project to come along.Wiggle Dress 4


No one does wiggle dresses quite like Oona, but as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think my version is too shabby. The fabric is something I never would have managed to find and buy, mainly because it’s orange. I like orange as a color and as a fruit (my house is even painted orange, and yes, we chose the color on purpose). However, the colors that tend to make me look best when I wear them veer toward the soft pinks and navy blues. Orange is usually one of those colors that doesn’t set me off well. When I have worn orange, I’ve spent my day telling people “no, I’m not sick” or “no, I slept just fine.” This particular fabric, though has the orange interspersed with enough green and white that I don’t think it ends up pulling all my color out of my face, and even if it does, what other color could they possibly have made poppies? Anyway, I acquired it in one of those FabricMart bundles, and I may have shrieked in glee when I pulled it out of the box. It’s a heavy sateen type fabric, probably mostly or all cotton from the way it presses and sews. The selvedge was printed with “Smithsonian Botanical Collection”. I suspect it might actually have been intended as upholstery fabric. Can you imagine this fabric as curtains? I used white batiste to line the entire dress. In retrospect, I probably should have used something slipperier for the skirt portion of the lining.

Wiggle Dress 3

The bodice is from the By Hand London Flora pattern. I didn’t make any changes to the bodice from my previous Flora. The skirt is the By Hand London Charlotte skirt. I’ve had the skirt pattern for a while, but hadn’t made it up yet. The initial results of this franken-patterning were very nearly tragic. (but since things turned out okay in the end, you can laugh at this next part.)

Wiggle Dress 6

Here you see the dress in motion. I love how this dress hugs my curves, but as you can see, there’s quite a bit of curve there. When I first attached the skirt, thankfully before I put the ruffle on the bottom, I tried it on. It was nearly 11 p.m. I was tired, but trying this dress on was making me feel much more glamorous than I’m usually inclined to feel at that time of the night. I had been wearing leggings with my dress that day and hadn’t taken them off to do the post-zipper-insertion try-on. I noticed some bunching and decided that I should probably take the leggings off to check the fit properly, since I’ll never be wearing leggings with this dress (though a pair of control-top pantyhose is probably in order). I tried to lift the skirt to doff my leggings, and realized that the Charlotte pattern, as drafted, is too pegged for the hem edge to fit over my hips. Now, if I had been making a skirt, I probably would have just told myself that when I wear it, it will have to come down from the waistline like trousers when using the facilities. I briefly thought about what that would be like in a dress and dismissed it as far too impractical. I don’t really want to have a dress that I would have to take off every time I went to the restroom. I don’t really want to find out if women in public restrooms would zip me back up if I asked them nicely. So much for feeling glamorous. I went to bed and thought about what to do to fix it. The skirt was quite long, even though I’d taken off an inch or so from the pattern as I cut it out. To fix my problem, I ended up cutting off 6 inches from the hem of the skirt, and that brought it up to a point in the skirt that was wide enough to fit over my hips. Then I attached the ruffle, and the finished length turned out to hit at a relatively flattering spot on my legs. Hooray! I could go back to feeling glamorous.

Wiggle Dress 7


I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to wear this dress. It’s got too much va-va-voom to wear to meet for worship. It’s too fancy for the usual running errands and such. It will make a good date night dress. I guess I need to ask Pete out to dinner without the kids.

Since this dress is Oona-inspired, I thought it would be fun to try to have at least one photo similar to a pose/shot that she tends to do. I have this idea that she’s really, really tall because she takes those photos looking down at the camera from a few stairs up that make her look really, really tall. I don’t have any outdoor stairs, though, and my indoor stairs are not at all photogenic, so I had to improvise.

Wiggle Dress 5


I’m pretty sure I don’t look as tall as Oona, but at least my experiment yielded me an interesting picture.

Stash-Busting Stats: 35/50 projects. 73 1/2 yards.