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M6559 Tank Dress: My New Favorite Dress

2014 June 8
by elizabeth_admin

After my wadder last week, I really needed this win.  Truly.

I knew after making my first maxi dress last year that I wanted to make another and that I had definitely found a winner in McCall’s 6559 dress pattern, as so many others have found as well.  What I didn’t realize was how awesome the shorter version is.  Like incredibly awesome.  I used FOE again to bind the neckline and armholes but will never do that again.  I can’t stand the stuff.  So un-user friendly.  From on I’m going to use Karla’s trick to finish the neckline.  Gonna try it out tomorrow on my mom’s dress.  I’ve already cut out her dress and another one for me today.

I made yesterday’s tank dress in a few hours.  It would have been quicker had I not had to wrestle with the FOE (dangnabbit!)  But the finished dress is super cute and flattering (if I do say so myself).  My trusty photographer (the little boy who lives with me) was extra nice and obviously used the “thinnerizer” when taking my pictures.  Love that boy!  I wore it out for a dinner and a movie last night and it was just perfect for a night out on the town.  I felt pretty, comfortable and stylish.  Can’t beat that combo!

Here’s my new dress…





Can you see why I love it?  The fabric I bought with Sherril and Jeanette in LA on my last trip up there.  It’s a textured knit.  It has just the right drape for this dress.  Couldn’t have been more perfect for the pattern.  For realz.  I think Sherril bought some of this too, so I’m sure she’s gonna be whipping something up with it soon.

FYI: I have had to postpone my next shopping trip up to LA.  I just can’t make it up there before June 16th.  I will keep y’all updated on my plans.  Would love to see/meet some new sewers when I’m up there.

Happy sewing!

A Wadder and a Possible LA Sewing Meetup?

2014 May 31
by elizabeth_admin

So, I had not sewn a stitch since the evacuation.  My machines were still packed up and my sewing room was in disarray.  Apparently I don’t have that neatness gene and am completely incapable of putting away patterns after using them.  But yesterday I scraped a clear space on the cutting table and cut out some bibs for friend and a maxi skirt for myself.

The bibs came out okay, but the skirt is a complete and utter wadder.

The fabric was so pretty too, but just too look at.  It was one of those clingy knits.  And I tried to force it into being a yoga waistband skirt.  So wrong on so many levels.  In addition to being a failure, I have come to the conclusion that this kind of skirt does not flatter my figure.  A yoga waistband treatments demands a yoga stomach, a flat one.  I do not have that kind of stomach.  Never did, even before I had the little boy.  Sigh.  That skirt was kinds of wrong on me.  And as much as I loved the print, it didn’t look good as a skirt.  I think I will save it to use as a drapey top.  That is, as soon as the sting of the wadder has worn off.



Anyhoo, at least there was some sewing.

In other sewing news, I’m thinking of going up to LA for the day sometime in the next two weeks before Jack gets out of school.  Anyone game for a shopping meet up?

Still no sewing, but…

2014 May 20
by elizabeth_admin

All the fires have abated.  All the evacuees have returned home.  School is back in session, but my little boy got strep throat this weekend, so he’s still at home sick.  Thank you for all your kind words of concern over the fires here last week.

Today, although the little boy who lives with me still did not feel well, we did a little painting together.  I could not start a new painting without finishing my subway woman portrait, so I did.  Finish it, that is.  I was inspired to finish it after attending another painting class yesterday evening with some friends.  We  painted a snowy mountain scene.  It was so much fun!  Here’s how it turned out.

Our fearless teacher at PaintNVineyard

Our fearless teacher at PaintNVineyard


My snowy mountain

My snowy mountain


And here’s what Jack and I did today.

Jack's masterpiece

Jack’s masterpiece


Woman in a NYC Subway Car

Woman in a NYC Subway Car


The face was very difficult to do and doesn’t match the original photo exactly, but I’m ok with that.  I did my best.  And I’m happy she’s done now.  I love her.

I hope to start  my Mom’s maxi dress tonight or tomorrow.  Hopefully Jack will be back in school tomorrow.  *crossing fingers*

Happy painting!

On fire, literally

2014 May 17
by elizabeth_admin

I don’t know if you heard, what with the Solange Knowles/Jay Z debacle in the news, but the wildfires are already raging here in SoCal.  The first fire in our area was a mile away from my house.  We were evacuated on Tuesday but were allowed back into town on Wednesday.  I was supposed to teach Lego Robotics on Tuesday, but as we could see this view from the school yard, the school cancelled all activities.



And this view from behind our school.



Jack’s teacher’s house was 10 feet from the San Marcos fire.  10 FEET.  She’s still evacuated as there are still hotspots in that fire.  School was cancelled on Thursday and Friday due to evacuations.  It’s been pretty surreal seeing all the plumes of smoke from the 9 fires.

When I evacuated, I made sure to bring all my important papers, Jack’s baby photos, my jewelry, and most importantly, my sewing machines.  It’s important to keep your priorities straight when evacuating.  I just bought that Baby Lock serger.  There was no way I was leaving it behind.  No. Way.

Obviously, there has been no sewing whatsoever going on in these parts.  Although the fabric for my Mom’s Mother’s Day maxi dress just arrived, so I might put my sewing room back together today and start working on it.  I am kind of jonesing for a sewing fix.

Anyway, stay safe wherever you are and remember to keep your sewing machines safe.  Priorities people.  Priorities!

PS: Did you see AnaJan’s post about the flooding in Europe?

Pattern Review: Burda 9-2009-121 — The Dream Skirt and another Grainline Archer

2014 May 11
by elizabeth_admin

The dream skirt is a reality peeps!  It took me a while and a new machine, but I have my dream skirt in real life now.  Thanks to Cidell for the pattern suggestion.  All my pleated  skirt patterns had curved hems and wouldn’t work well with a border print fabric.  Cidell let me know about a Burda pattern she had made a couple of times and I knew it would be perfect for my beautiful silk linen from Paron’s in NYC.  But on to the pattern review…

Burda 9-2009-121 (image from Cidell’s blog)


Pattern Description: “Pleated skirts aren’t always prim and proper! Lots of narrow knife pleats in front and inverted box pleats at the back give the skirt its shape.”

Pattern Sizing:  Sizes 38-46.  I made a size 42.  After I cut it out and started sewing up the pleats, I thought the skirt would be too small.  So I unpicked them and made the pleats shallower.  Of course, I ended up not needing to at all.  Sigh.  Had to take in the side seams then.  Good thing I just basted those in to begin with.  

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?   Yes, except for the fact that my fabric is stiffer than the fabric used in the magazine and therefore not as drapey.  I like it though for this pattern.  The stiffer fabric give the skirt a lot more body and swish factor.

Were the instructions easy to follow?   No clue.  Didn’t look at them.  Burda instructions are notoriously obtuse.  And it was a simple skirt with only two (three if you count the waistband I added) pattern pieces.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?


  • Nice straight hem, perfect for border print fabrics
  • Interesting pleat details, different in front and back
  • Simple pattern, easy to sew.


  • No waistband.  The heavy pleating in front really makes the skirt droop in front.  A waistband provides the dual function of a waist stay and nice easy finishing for the waist.

Fabric used:   A gorgeous silk linen border print that I bought during PR Weekend NYC in 2012 at Paron’s

Pattern changes or design changes made:  I added a straight waistband with a finished width of about an inch and a quarter, heavily interfaced. At first I thought I would make an overlapping band, but it didn’t look good.  I cut off the overlap and just added hooks and eyes as a closure.



Any problems encountered while sewing this pattern?  Not really.  Once I got my new to me serger and was able to finish the seam allowances, I was set.  


Serged with my new to me Baby Lock Imagine and a hand stitched hem


How long did it take you to make it really?   Gosh, I really have no clue.  With stopping during mid-make and questions about seam finishes and waistband finishes, I am a little fuzzy on exactly how long it took.  Maybe 3 or 4 days all in?

Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction?  My Singer Featherweight and my brand new to me serger, the Baby Lock Imagine.  I love them both dearly.

Will you sew it again or recommend it to others?   Definitely.  If I find another great border print, or even just a great fabric, I would make this again in a heartbeat.  I definitely recommend it to others, even beginners with enough patience for all those pleats.



Conclusion:  A great skirt with awesome swish factor.  The pleats in front and back are awesome, but time consuming.  I would definitely add a waistband to keep the front droop factor to a minimum.  I’m so happy my dream skirt is now a reality.







And did you notice the new blouse I’m wearing with it?  Is it another sleeveless Grainline Archer shirt?  Why yes, yes it is, thank you for asking.  I had to have a nice white shirt to wear with my crisp pleated skirt.  Since I didn’t have  one in my closet, I needed to make one.  And since I didn’t have any white fabric in the stash, I needed to buy some.  Luckily, Farmhouse Fabrics had the perfect fabric, a very fine, tone-on-tone white striped cotton.  It is so pretty.  It was a little bearish to work with being so lightweight — my mandarin collar is a little out of shape, but it’s all good.



French seamed side seam

French seamed side seam


Self fabric bias bound armhole

Self fabric bias bound armhole





I am loving the sleeveless Archers.  They are so quick to make and yet still impressive.  Leaving off the sleeves makes them super quick and they look so summery, especially in lightweight fabrics.  I have a ladybug rayon that is screaming to be made up as a sleeveless Archer.  Maybe I’ll make that next.

This outfit is what I’m wearing out to brunch tomorrow.  I can’t wait.

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