A Trio of Lady Skaters

Snake Skater 3

Back at the beginning of summer, I made a couple of Lady Skater dresses for everyday wear. I had suddenly decided I had a significant lack of snake-print in my closet, so I bought this navy blue ITY knit. I added a few inches to the skirt length of the lady skater pattern, just like this other dress I had made last year.

I’m a bit annoyed by my print matching on this one. It isn’t mis-matched enough to look like I wasn’t trying, but certainly doesn’t match at the waist seam.

Snake Skater 6 Snake Skater 5

The side seams match prints nicely though.

Snake Skater 1

The Lady Skater dress is such an easy thing to wear during the summer that I made two.

Lady Skater 3

I gave them side-seam pockets which sometimes will work their way out of place and need to be tucked back in, but which are perfect to hold phone and keys for quick errands during the summer when I’m not wearing a jacket or coat with pockets.

Lady Skater 2

This fabric is out of my stash. I like the ditzy striped floral print of this ITY.

While I was thinking about these dresses, I realized I hadn’t ever blogged about this one from last November (as you can see from the old hair style). It’s also an ITY knit Lady Skater with a lengthed skirt. I wouldn’t necessarily have gone to the trouble to go back and blog it, but just look at the stripe-matching all the way across the sleeves. I have to show it off; not perfect, but so much better than one would usually find if looking for an everyday knit dress.

Stripy Skater 2

They match equally well across the back too.

Stripy Skater 3

It’s mostly matched along the sides too.

Stripy Skater 1

Only one of these counts for stash-busting, but it does count, so I want credit.

Stash-busting stats: 40/50. 84 1/2 yards

Can’t Keep My Opinions To Myself: Part 2

After last week’s post about things that annoy me in sewing blogs, I thought maybe I should go for balance and write about some things that I really like when I see them in sewing blogs.

1) I love when sewing bloggers use their local vernacular. Not necessarily that I go looking for non-English blogs, though between Google translate and pretty pictures, I don’t mind “reading” the occasional blog not written in English. Even in English, though, there are different terms for the same thing depending on  where one lives. Vest vs. camisole vs. singlet, for instance. My children’s favorite is British “trousers” vs. American “pants”. I happened to mention it one day and they all unanimously decided to call their jeans “trousers” from that point on. I suspect they’ve done that so they can giggle when people say the word “pants”, though they’ve never outright told me so. I don’t know why the vocabulary differences intrigue me so much, maybe because it’s one of those things that just shows up in natural writing or conversation, making blog-reading much less like catalog reading.

2) I love when sewing bloggers post pictures of themselves wearing what they’ve made. Inspiration can come from all over, so pictures of dresses on a hanger or on a dress form are not all bad. When the person who made something (or the person that something was made for) puts it on for pictures, though, that’s when the finished product really shows. This is where, for me anyway, sewing blogs trump fashion blogs. I don’t deny that it takes some skills to put together an outfit out of ready-to-wear and/or thrifted items, but I’ve noticed that in sewing blogs, more often the outfits that are put together look full and complete without having to add a different pair of shoes and a purse each time. One lobster brooch or maybe a hair clip is all they need to accent their outfits; shoes are just a bonus if we get to see them too.

Via Google Images

3) I love when multiple people sew the same thing. Whether it’s an interpretation of a theme, a color, or different versions of the exact same pattern, it’s fun to watch this kind of creativity. I know some people feel like they get tired of seeing too many of the same pattern all at once (usually I see this complaint in reference to newly released indie patterns, and usually from people who aren’t impressed by the particular pattern they are seeing). I actually really like this phenomenon, and if I do go through a phase where I’m not interested in seeing multiple makes of the same pattern, it’s pretty easy to skip those postings or to put them off until I’m more in the mood for them.

Via Google Images

4) I love when people spontaneously mention the tools they use in sewing. Not the sponsored-post/review kind of thing, but when they discuss their process and happen to mention specific things that work for them (or that don’t), that’s the kind of real-life information that can be usefully applied in my own experience.

5) I love when people call attention to things that inspired them. Links back to other bloggers, Pinterest, or even ready-to-wear sites all might be interesting. Yes, sometimes it can feel like I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole if I start clicking through on multiple links, but it’s fun to see the connections between an inspiration project and what someone else makes. Not to mention that it’s a nice vibe that comes out when people get credit for their creativity and inspirational qualities rather than having to wonder if someone is trying to take advantage of them.

Via Google Images

6) I love when sewing bloggers get things “for free”. Not in that “they don’t even write about their own projects anymore because they’re so busy doing advertisements for other people and maybe they’ve totally lost their blog voice” kind of way (which in my opinion seems to happen most often when people start to get over-committed to multiple projects/sponsors, not necessarily because they’ve agreed to connect with one or two companies in an exchange). No, I’m talking about when sewing bloggers get access to materials or something else they wouldn’t otherwise probably have, and that makes them want to put forth their very best effort to show it off. Whether it’s working in extra-nice fabrics, working with interesting pattern techniques, or making the most of a challenge handed to them by someone else, those postings often have a little extra passion behind them, and that makes them fun to read.

Via Google Images

7) I love when sewing bloggers make and wear exactly what they want to make and wear. One of the best things about making clothing rather than buying it is the ability to break the “rules” about what is “on trend” or what one is “supposed” to wear for one’s shape and size. Being able to hone a personal style without having to worry over-much about arbitrary codes that might be governing whether the items being sought even exist is an interesting freedom, one that exercised well in the world of home sewing.

What do you think? Are any of these something you have a passionate opinion on (even if it isn’t the same as mine)? Any things I probably love but missed on my list?

BurdaStyle 8/2012 #152: Preppy Green Shirt

After some of my recent postings, this seems like a bit of an anticlimactic project. I know not everyone gets excited about seeing kid’s projects rather than women’s clothes. It’s nice to finally get it off my desk though; it’s been sitting around partly done for pretty much the entire summer.

Green Shirt 4

This is BurdaStyle 8/2012 #152 the same pattern as the flannel shirt I made Romeo earlier this year. Ordinarily he’ll be wearing this shirt with a suit, not jeans, but he was feeling lazy when I asked him for pics, so he only changed his shirt. He may regret that decision later; Pete just looked over my shoulder and suggested that he looks so sharp we should start sending him to school in this outfit.

Green Shirt 2

The fit is good, but the workmanship is not my best. Don’t look too closely at those sleeve plackets please.

Green Shirt 3

Workmanship aside, the fit on this shirt is so much better than anything I’ve found him in ready-to-wear in recent years. I’m not sure whether the ready-to-wear shirts I’ve bought him have had drafting issues as the sizes increase, or if they are purposely fit very loose at the neck to accommodate boys who only wear a dress shirt once or twice a year and aren’t used to wearing things that fit that snugly on their necks. Maybe it’s just because he’s slender for his size and they would fit an average boy just fine. The problem he has now is that he’s wanting to wear neckties that actually tie, and if the neck of the shirt is too loose, it doesn’t look right at all. His goal is to learn to tie fancy knots like his Dad (who likes to watch YouTube video tutorials to learn how to tie knots such as the Trinity knot and the Eldredge knot)

Green Shirt 1

The fabric is a simple cotton broadcloth. No drape, but lots of structure. Green has been Romeo’s favorite color for years, so I had bought this fabric specially for him and it’s been waiting around in my stash while I found a shirt pattern that would properly fit his physique.

Green Shirt 5

Stash-busting stats: 39/50. 82 yards.

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